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Student Paper Apologizes for ‘Racist’ Article About Native American Event

by Suada Kolovic

With racist rants at UCLA, degrading emails at USC and now insensitive journalism at Long Beach, we’re starting to wonder what’s in the water in the Golden State. Haterade, perhaps?

The Union Weekly, a student newspaper at California State University, Long Beach, is apologizing for running a negative critique of a Native American cultural event held on campus. In the article, entitled, “Pow Wow Wow Yippee Yo Yippy Yay,” campus editor Noah Kelly equated the annual cultural event hosted by the school’s American Indian Studies Program and American Indian Student Council with a “large, Native American themed flea market.” Kelly continued his rant by mocking the food and a traditional dance that involves some spectators throwing money to the performers, which he described as disingenuous and cheap. He went on to say, “Donations are great, and necessary, tossing them unceremoniously on the ground is crass and borderline obscene. Even the homeless have hats and cups.”

After a huge backlash – and even death threats – Kelly has published an apology where he explained, “What originally was meant as an unflattering view of the event itself has been construed by many as an assault on an entire culture. That was never my intention and I meant no malice towards Native Americans. What occurred was nothing less than a lapse in fact-finding, cultural awareness, and sensitivity on my part.” Do you think Kelly’s sincere when he says his piece was an attack on the event and not Native American culture?


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Robbed Victim Posts Video of Laptop Thief on YouTube

by Suada Kolovic

Getting a computer stolen could be a nightmare for a college student but for one tech-savvy Bentley University freshman, it became a viral dream come true.

Mark Bao discovered his MacBook Air had been stolen but was still able to access several of his hard drives and Web-Browsing history via an online backup service. What did he find? A thief with dance fever. In addition to several pictures of the thief, Mr. Bao found recordings of him dancing, which Mr. Bao took full advantage of and posted on YouTube that same night. “I thought it was hilarious,” Mr. Bao said of the evidence. “I couldn’t believe he didn’t reformat the hard drive or cover up his tracks. It was in plain sight.”

After getting a well-deserved chuckle at the expense of his robber, Mr. Bao notified Bentley’s campus police department and early Tuesday morning, the laptop was turned in to the campus police station. Though the alleged thief emailed Mr. Bao to apologize and requested that the video,“Don’t steal computers belonging to people who know how to use computers,” be taken down, he didn’t oblige. Mr. Bao says he doesn’t plan to press charges and intends to sell the stolen laptop – since he replaced his – and donate the proceeds to support the relief efforts in Japan. Do you think the thief had what was coming to him? Should Mr. Bao take the video down now that his laptop has been returned? Let us know what you think.


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Shooting Hoax at Ramapo College

Man Faked Shooting Attack in Effort to Get Ex-Girlfriend to Pay Up

March 25, 2011

Shooting Hoax at Ramapo College

by Suada Kolovic

We’ve all gone through breakups before, but what do you do if an ex owes you $1,000? The average Joe would probably take their case to small claims court but for one West Orange, N.J. man, that course of action just didn’t have enough pizzazz for him. Instead, he pretended he had been shot and was being held for ransom in hopes that his former flame would come to his rescue...without ever contacting the authorities. Yup, that’s definitely the wrong way to get an ex to pay up.

Twenty-three-year-old Gil D. Jaffe was arrested after he allegedly claimed he was shot at or near Ramapo College in efforts to elicit $1,000 from his ex-girlfriend, authorities said. Jaffe and Leonid Shtaygrad, 21, are accused of running the hoax. According to police, a call was placed to Jaffe’s ex-girlfriend, a 22-year-old former Ramapo student, Wednesday night saying he was shot twice in the shoulder because he owed the shooter money. Shtaygrad, posing as the shooter, then allegedly got on the phone confirming the story and told Jaffe’s ex to send ransom money. The woman called police, prompting a campus lockdown, and Mahwah officers were eventually able to identify Jaffe’s location by tracking his cell phone in West Orange. When police arrived, they found Jaffe had no gunshot wounds then arrested him for violating a restraining order by contacting his ex.

In court Thursday, Jaffe was charged with violating a restraining order, false public alarm and attempted theft by deception. His accomplice, Shtaygrad, was charged with creating false public alarm and conspiracy to attempted theft by deception. Money allegedly owed to you by your ex: $1,000. Bail: $25,000. Proving on a national level that you aren’t boyfriend material: Priceless.


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GOP Congressman: Pell Grants are Becoming ‘The Welfare of the 21st Century’

by Suada Kolovic

The GOP is no stranger to controversy and Friday’s interview with Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.) was no exception. In a radio interview with Blog Talk Radio, Rehberg went on a rant in which he compared the Pell Grant Program – the nation’s largest financial aid program – to the likes of welfare and denounced the fact that students who receive them don’t have a graduation requirement. "You can go to school, collect your Pell Grants, get food stamps, low-income energy assistance, section 8 housing, and all of a sudden we find ourselves subsidizing people that don’t have to graduate from college.” Rehberg added under the federal program, a student could "go to school for nine years on Pell Grants and you don’t even have to get a degree."

Jason Delisle, director of the Federal Education Budget Project at the New America Foundation, took issue with Rehberg's comments. "I don't know if it's a fair characterization that someone has decided to go through the hoops of applying to college, getting enrolled and showing up every day because it's the welfare lifestyle," he said. "If the issue is people are being lazy and living off the dole, so to speak, I don't think their first step is to enroll in college."

For the 2012 fiscal year, the Pell Grant program is set to exceed $40 billion. Some lawmakers have been exploring ways to reduce the cost of the programs by lowering the maximum grant size – which is currently $5,550 – or restricting eligibility. In Montana, Rehberg recently voted for the House GOP budget resolution, which would reduce the maximum Pell Grant to $4,705 and narrow the eligibility of applicants. If you’re eligible for Pell Grants, what do you think? Are Rehberg’s assumptions out of line?


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Professor Arrested for Battery After Closing Student's Laptop Screen

by Suada Kolovic

Laptops are as ubiquitous in lecture halls as pulling all-nighters are during midterms and finals. But students should think twice before surfing the web in class: They might walk away with a bruised ego…as well as a few bruised fingers.

According to the Valdosta State University Spectator, assistant professor of mass media Frank Rybicki was arrested for assault after he shut a student’s laptop screen during class. Why? She was allegedly web surfing as opposed to taking notes. Students told the Spectator that the incident took place following an argument between Rybicki and the student, Krista Bowman, on March 25, during a Law & Ethics of Media lecture. Bowman filed a complaint – claiming she has sustained injuries to her finger or fingers following the incident – and university police arrested Rybicki on a charge of battery. He has since been released on a $2,500 bond and university representative Thressea Boyd released a statement saying the charges are under investigation.

In an interview with Inside Higher Ed, Rybicki confirmed his arrest and suspensions, but insists he had never physically harmed a student. Do you think the professor was out of line when he shut Bowman’s laptop, possibly harming her? What should professors do to combat the problem of students blogging, tweeting and Facebooking instead of paying attention to class? Is it really their responsibility to monitor students that closely?


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Campus Safety, Are Guns the Answer?

7 States Considering Legislation to Allow Guns on College Campuses

April 7, 2011

Campus Safety, Are Guns the Answer?

by Suada Kolovic

What comes to mind when you think of guns on college campuses? If you’re like me, you think of the senseless tragedies at Northern Illinois, Virginia Tech, Pima Community College in Arizona and, most recently, Southern Union Community College in Alabama, where students lost their lives at the end of a loaded gun. And yet, despite those events, seven states across the country are considering loosening or changing laws when it comes to firearms on campus:

  • Arizona

    A bill that passed in the state Senate on March 14 would allow students, faculty and staff to carry concealed weapons on college campuses.
  • Nebraska

    A bill proposed by Nebraska Sen. Mark Christensen would allow professors at public universities to have guns on campus.
  • Nevada

    Nevada legislators are considering a bill that would bar colleges from banning firearms on campus. Amanda Collins, a University of Nevada student who was sexually assaulted on campus in 2007 and testified in favor of passing the bill.
  • New Mexico

    New Mexico officials are considering a law which would allow those with a concealed carry gun license to have guns on public college campuses.
  • Oklahoma

    A bill which would allow those licensed to carry concealed weapons to do so on campus has passed the state Senate, and is now under consideration by the Oklahoma House Public Safety Committee.
  • Tennessee

    Tennessee legislators are considering a bill which would allow professors to have handguns on campus.
  • Texas

    A bill allowing students to carry guns on the campuses of state universities is predicted to be voted into law, to the dismay of a number of Texan students.

According to Armedcampuses.org, an anti-gun site which lists postsecondary institutions that allow firearms on campus, the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators (IACLEA) said, “There is...a real concern that campus police officers responding to a situation involving an active shooter may not be able to distinguish between the shooter and others with firearms” at colleges that allow guns on their premises. We’ve witnessed the tragic outcomes guns can have on campus, so how do you feel about gun rights activists pushing for legislation in the other direction? And when it comes to students’ safety on campus, do you think guns are the answer?


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Penn Student’s Plea to Minority Applicants: Don’t Go Here

by Suada Kolovic

After a run-in with racism, a University of Pennsylvania student wrote an open letter to future minority applicants discouraging their attendance at the elite university. African American undergraduate Christopher Abreu said that his time at Penn has been filled with harassment, racism and an overwhelming sense of not belonging. “Ever since I came here, I have been self-conscious...I grew up in the projects, surrounded by crime and drugs. I came from there to here without much help, and in May I will graduate cum laude. But that isn't good enough. I've always felt like an outsider here,” he wrote.

Abreu elaborates that for the most part, racism at Penn was usually subtle and something that most minorities came to accept as a way of life. But two “blatantly” racist encounters with students led to his open plea to minorities. In one incident, he claims four white students spoke to him in mock slang and asked him repeatedly, “You belong here or what?” while in another, Abreu claims that a white student called him a racial slur and asked him where he could, “get some fried chicken.” “I'm lucky that I only have a month left here. The social atmosphere and unwelcoming environment for minorities at Penn is more draining than any class you could ever take,” he said.

Future college applicants, what are your thoughts on Abreu’s personal encounters with racism at the University of Pennsylvania? Do you think that directing blame towards the university is misguided and his solution problematic?


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University of Iowa Professor Under Fire for Brash Email

by Suada Kolovic

University of Iowa Professor Ellen Lewin had some choice words to the school’s chapter of College Republicans: F- YOU! According to the Iowa City Press Citizen, the message was sent in response to a mass email from a campus Republican group promoting “Conservative Coming Out Week,” a week for conservatives in Iowa City to “come out of the closet” and promote right-wing values. The events included a screening of the 2002 film “Journey’s with George,” in honor of George W. Bush, a blood drive and an “Animal Rights BBQ.”

Less than a minute after the email was sent, Lewin fired back with “F- YOU, REPUBLICANS.” According to reports, she took issue with the tone of the email which she claimed used the rhetoric of traditionally marginalized groups to announce conservative events. Lewin was also offended by the belittling of animal rights and an event mocking the Wisconsin union protests.

Iowa Federation of College Republicans Chair and IU student Natalie Ginty responded to the vulgar message by requesting a public apology. "We understand that as a faculty member she has the right to express her political opinion, but by leaving her credentials at the bottom of the email she was representing the University of Iowa, not herself alone," she wrote in an email to Anthropology department head James Enloe, reports the Press Citizen.

Lewin complied with Ginty’s request by apologizing for the brash language but insisted that the conservative group’s mailing was unwelcome and distasteful."I do apologize for my intemperate language, but the message you all sent out was extremely disturbing and offensive," she wrote. "I would really appreciate your not sending blanket emails to everyone on campus, especially in these difficult times." Do you think Lewin let her emotions get the best of her? Or do you think her reaction was justified? Let us know.


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The Plagiarist’s Weapon of Choice

Plagiarism Flagged at Social and User-Generated Websites Most Often

May 2, 2011

The Plagiarist’s Weapon of Choice

by Suada Kolovic

Looking over your peer’s shoulder during a test or copying from the encyclopedia are out but plagiarizing off user-generated sites – ones that your peers had a hand in publishing – is in, according to a recent study.

The findings were released by iParadigms, the creator of Turnitin, a plagiarism-detection service that checks for possible plagiarism by comparing submitted papers to several databases using a proprietary algorithm. The study consisted of analyzing 40 million papers submitted by high school and college students over a 10-month period. Chris Harrick, vice president of marketing at Turnitin says the findings show, “that plagiarism in sourcing work is going the way that everything else in the world is going. People are relying more on their peers than on experts.”

It’s important to note that the study does have its faults. Turninit specifically detects “matched content” and not outright plagiarism. So, while the software will flag material from a paper mill, it will also flag material that has been properly attributed and cited. That aside, here’s the breakdown of study:


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Mork Family Donates $110 Million to USC

by Suada Kolovic

The University of Southern California has secured a major donation – the fourth of more than $50 million given to the university this school year alone – from Julie and John Mork. The couple donated $110 million to USC to fund the Mork Family Scholars Program, which will provide high school seniors “of extraordinary intellectual talent and capability full tuition and $5,000 living stipends,” the university said in a statement.

John Mork, a trustee who graduated from USC in 1970, is the chief executive officer of Energy Corp. of America, a private company that handles the exploration, extraction, production and transportation of natural gas and oil, based in Denver. “Attending USC is the dream of talented high school seniors from all walks of life,” said John Mork. “We hope this gift will help transform hundreds of young lives.” Julie Mork, who graduated from UCLA, is the managing director of the Energy Corp. of America Foundation, a charitable organization that focuses on children and education. According to the LA Times, about 100 undergraduates will benefit from the scholarships each year.

Now while this is the single largest donation in the university’s history for undergraduate scholarships, it isn’t the Morks first philanthropic gift to the school. In 2005, the family contributed $15 million to the USC Viterbi School of Engineering that resulted in the naming of the Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science after the Mork family. And this time around, to show their appreciation, USC will place a plaque with the names and images of the Mork family at Bovard Auditorium.


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