In the Sunday Times, there was a short article about Harvard's new magazine, "02138". As the article makes clear, the purpose of 02138 is to further associate Harvard with Cartier watches and second homes in the Hamptons:
In the magazine trade, 02138, which receives financing from Atlantic Media, the parent company of The Atlantic Monthly, is what is known as a luxury lifestyle book. Luxury lifestyle books, like Hamptons Magazine, Palm Beach Illustrated and the subtly titled Rich Guy, are magazines that are essentially about the people who subscribe to them (or, in many cases, who are given complimentary subscriptions) and are easily identifiable by their thick, glossy paper and ads for Polo, Prada and the kind of diamond jewelry that is usually called “encrusted.”
As a child of immigrants rejected from Europe, I have always been extremely proud of various facets of America's self-image that were distinctively non-European. Generally, American society has looked down upon inherited wealth, and our political rhetoric eschews social class. But now, America is developing one of the most impenetrable class hierarchies in the first world, and I find that the institutions I serve are non-trivially involved in furthering just the value system I find most abhorrantly un-American.
UPDATE: Here is a brief Time Magazine interview with Daniel Golden, author of “The Price of Admission: How America's Ruling Class Buys Its Way into Elite Colleges—and Who Gets Left Outside the Gates”, and here is a brief comment on the social value of an Ivy League degree, also from the same issue of Time Magazine (thanks to Ruchira Paul for the pointer).
UPDATE: Here is an excellent article from this week's Economist on the "new gilded age" in America -- scroll down ("Pushy Parents, Driven Brats") to see a good discussion of the culpability American Universities have in the matter (thanks to Axel Gelfert for the pointer).