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Ariana Cannavo, 23, a bubbly blonde whose name tag read Brown ’08, said: “If I saw someone with a Brown name tag and I don’t know them, I might go up and talk to them because of that. I know we have a bond.”
Ms. Anderson, 30, a real estate lawyer in Los Angeles, founded the Ivy Plus Society there in 2006. She was running events for Yale’s young alumni club of Southern California and finding the turnouts weak. She began giving parties on her own that were open to other select universities, and the Ivy Plus idea was born. A San Francisco chapter followed two years later, and the New York City group was created in May. A Washington chapter is set to start later this month.
Ms. Anderson said that the “plus” institutions — including Stanford, Duke, M.I.T. and West Point — are those with a “natural affiliation” with the Ivies, in addition to top business, law and medical schools. “If you wanted to describe these schools, these are all highly selective, academically rigorous institutions,” she said, although social reputations also come into play. “The Duke people are so much fun. There’s just some schools you want to make sure you include.”
To the cynically inclined, Ivy Plus is a meet market for the pedigreed. One young Dartmouth graduate, declining to give his name, said: “It’s a singles party masquerading as a networking event. Look around, it’s clusters of guys and girls just staring at each other.”
Ben Pike, a 2006 Georgetown graduate, was settled into a copper-colored sofa in the back of Gates lounge. He said he hoped to meet New York women who were more than merely gorgeous. “I’ve been in the city three years and dated girls who are legitimate models, and that gets old,” said Mr. Pike, who works in private equity. “I have high standards. I’ve met people who are really smart but don’t have it together socially, and people who are fun but may not offer more mentally.” The total package, he explained, is tough to find.
Despite the air of educational exclusivity, there were no Ivy Plus police to bar anyone who went to a college further down the U.S. News & World Report rankings. “If you’re hearing about the events, you’re probably connected to this academic community,” Ms. Anderson said, “and we certainly welcome you to attend.”
That sat well with Jessica Habib, 31, who attended even though neither of her alma maters, Wesleyan or Fordham Law, are on the Ivy Plus list. “I feel like I travel in these circles,” said Ms. Habib, a corporate lawyer, who was not bothered by the omission of her colleges. “Although, Wesleyan calls itself a potted ivy,” she said, thinking twice about it, before determining the list seemed a little arbitrary.
Michal Albanese, a sales executive for a fashion trade show who graduated from Brown in 1999, confirmed that the list did breed insecurity in some at the group’s last party. A couple of guests were called out for not having gone to Ivy Plus universities, she said, and one gentleman began rattling off his other accomplishments.
“The guy went to, like, Illinois,” she said, trying to recall the college.
“I don’t remember,” she added. ”But his friend kept saying, ‘You’re not even a plus.’ ”Continue reading the main story