Dude, I Got Sooooo Redesigned Last Night

Welcome to IvyGate, version 3.0. Zach Ozer, our preposterously gifted business and technology guy, has coded up a pretty major upgrade. We know you want to start complaining in the comments, so here’s just a brief rundown:

  • Speed. IvyGate is now a WordPress blog hosted by MediaTemple, not a Movable Type blog hosted on Yahoo. Hopefully, this means zippier page load times and comments that post immediately, instead of the old 45 business days.
  • Speaking of comments! Now you have to register to register your discontent. You can do so here.
  • Bugs. Please let us know what you find via our fancy bug tracking gizmo.

Think that’s it. You’ve got bitching to do in the comments, and our first guest-editor duo needs to make up for lost time, so we’ll get out of everyone’s way. Except to say once more that Zach, if you need a kidney, just ask.

See you next summer!

–Nick & Chris

To the Summit of Mt. Resume, and Beyond

Hello, it’s your negligent overlords checking in again. We just want to remind everyone of a post that went up last week, in case you missed it: We’re hiring for the summer.

The valiant Maureen O’Connor and Jacob Savage (also Hal Parker!) — of whom we are much enamored, to whom we are much indebted — have been helming the HMS IvyGate since September, and their final post of the semester goes up May 2. Then the site goes dark till June 16, when we return with a new summer slate of guest editors.

We want you to apply. ‘Cause it’s summer, we’re desperate excited to take a look at all comers. Maybe you’re a newspaper geek who wants to enlarge her patrol to all eight campuses; maybe you’re an anthro major with well-penned takes on the tribes and customs of these parts; maybe you’re an inveterate gossip who wants to crown a real-life Blair and Serena.

Maybe you know better. But let’s face it, you attend an Ivy, which means you’ve bit hook, line and sinker on a bad sales pitch before. Make that mistake again! Be an IvyGate editor! The pay is nonexistent, the commenters pustulent. And yet writing this stuff is fun — witness our inability to take the blog out behind the lean-to and shoot it in the back of the head — and there can be rewards. Why, just look at our recent alumni. We promise either a wildly lucrative promotion to the blogging bigs, or a nervy b.

To apply, email ivygate@gmail.com by May 16. 

Cheers,

Nick and Chris 

P.S. Disproving the existence of karma, we have been blessed recently with the talents of Zach Ozer, one of those ridiculously impressive tech guys from MIT. He’s overseeing a big upgrade of the blog that will yield a prettier (shut up) and faster site. Leave your ideas and requests in the comments, where they will be rounded up and shot.

It’s Been Real

It's Been RealAlright, listen up: you don’t like us and we don’t like you, so we’re gonna keep it brief. We’re peacing, and some new people are taking over. They’ll (re)introduce themselves shortly and explain how things will work from now on.

We won’t bore you with too many thank-yous, regrets or What We Learned, but some things must be said: (1) Society is probably the worse for our creation. (2) We couldn’t have done it without a team that was often uncredited — so thank you, stringers and tipsters. (3) We never got a chance to do LOLivies, so here’s one at right.

New guys, go nuts.

Onward,

Chris and Nick

We’re Dark

Amuse yourselves.

IvyGate Summer Session: Meet (and Begin to Heckle) Your Guest Editors

IvyGate Summer Session: Meet (and Begin to Heckle) Your Guest Editors

Writing this blog is fun but not writing it is divine. Our June hiatus has been better than we could have possibly imagined. Our sleep is more restful; our strength is that of ten men; our libido — well, let’s just say there’s a reason you haven’t heard much from Drew Gilpin Faust lately. 

We’ll continue to be on vacation through September, thinking of you. (Half of us is at the beach right now, where there is no shortage of post fodder.) In the meantime, we’re handing the site over to a slate of guest editors, two at a time for two-week stints through July and August. First up: Hal Parker and Jacob Savage, Princeton ’08 and ’06. You’ll meet the others as their shifts come up. Some are funny, some are brainy, and one of them is, like, 17. Be nice!

You can reach the summer team at a new email address: ivygate.guest@gmail.com. (Mail sent to our usual inbox will auto-forward to them as well.) A solid backlog of tips has piled up over the last few weeks, but now would be a good time to unload whatever you’ve been sitting on.

Anyway, gotta go. There’s a Porsche we need to key.

Same Old Trash, Higher Word Count

We’re back, briefly, to post an op-ed we wrote for the commencement issue of the Harvard Crimson. They made us edit out “a publication that many people believe shits tulips,” in re the Crimson (we suggested “poops tulips” as a replacement; no go), but surprisingly, they left in most everything else, including a reference to “Glory Holes of Fame 3.” We’re grateful, and impressed. (Special thanks to our handler, Adam Guren ’08.) Here it is:

Same Old Trash, Higher Word CountBlogging the Ivy League’s Follies

By CHRISTOPHER BEAM and NICK SUMMERS 

One weekend in October, we ruined a kid’s life.

We didn’t mean to. Well, more like we didn’t expect to. At 4 p.m. on a Friday, we posted to our blog a video that a Yale senior had included in his investment bank applications-a ludicrous sequence that, if you believe what you see, shows off his 495-pound bench press, 120 mile per hour tennis serve, motivational schlock, and ballroom dance moves. As other blogs piled on, word spread fast-and faster still when we reported on his shady consulting firm, fake charity, and partially plagiarized book about the Holocaust. All that Aleksey Vayner had wanted was a job at Goldman Sachs. Instead, by Monday, he became the most scrutinized student celebrity since Kaavya Viswanathan ’08 “internalized” another author’s novels.

We launched our web site, IvyGate, last July on the premise that the students of the Ivy League are ridiculous enough to deserve, well, ridicule. If Page Six and The Chronicle of Higher Education had a one-night stand, we’d be their illegitimate daughter.

When it comes to college students acting like fools, Vayner was just the beginning. This year alone, there was the candidate for class president at Princeton accused of setting a squirrel on fire; the University of Pennsylvania grad student found to be commuting to class from prison; the Skull and Bonesman arrested for burning an American flag still attached to a New Haven home. For the sake of all the moms and dads reading this, we won’t even get into kitchen sex at Brown, testes flambé at Cornell, or one fine arts major’s vision of anal rosary beads-let’s just say our tipline stayed hot.

Indeed, all was bountiful in Ivy blog land. But! Every time we posted an embarrassing photo, named a name, or otherwise sentenced a 19-year-old to eternal Googleability, our shriveled little blogger conscience piped up: Maybe it’s not okay to bust on students. Do they deserve the sort of scrutiny the media gives, y’know…grown-ups?

Of course not. But it’s also time that we stopped treating school like Las Vegas, as if what happens at college stays at college. The undergraduate years, the theory goes, are for making mistakes-hooking up with your suitemate, say, or majoring in philosophy-with limited consequences. There’s good reason for this exceptionalism: If everything that happened in college were suddenly in the public domain, students would feel less free to take risks-although it’s debatable whether getting trashed and uploading your drunken rendition of “Fat-Bottomed Girls” to YouTube is the sort of risk schools want to encourage. Subjecting everyone involved in a student government scandal or newspaper plagiarism case to the same treatment as Tom DeLay or Jayson Blair would stunt growth more than thalidomide. Better to let students screw up privately now instead of publicly later.

But the walls around the college experience are crumbling. Between Facebook and YouTube and whatever those crazy twenty-something billionaires think of next, student life is only getting more transparent. There’s no such thing as a purely on-campus issue anymore, now that online discussion threads like Harvard’s BoredatLamont or Brown’s Daily Jolt have elevated anonymous libel to a fully searchable art form. Every time a kid loses an internship because an employer found annotated bong-rip pics on a MySpace page, students clamor that their privacy has been invaded. At IvyGate, we deal with fallout all the time. But what are bloggers and journalists supposed to do when it’s the students themselves who put the material online in the first place, and when, nine times out of 10, it’s their fellow students who cheerfully tell us where to find it? What should we publish, and what should we hold?

For actual celebrities, the decision is easy: A sighting of Lou Dobbs ’67 in Harvard Yard (“looking puffy, greasy, and lumpy all at once…lighting a cigarette as if it might be his last”) is just plain blogworthy. Same goes for students who inject themselves into the public arena. When a Columbia student and Marine reservist started debating campus military recruiting on FOX News, for example, he became fair game; when it emerged in March that he’d acted under the nom de porn Rod Majors in such films as “Glory Holes of Fame 3” and “Touched by an Anal,” fairer yet.

But when it comes to students going about their own business, there’s stuff we regret. In November, for example, a passed-over Crimson staffer sent to his peers a 1,200-word resignation e-mail so livid we ran it under the headline “Unpromoted Crimson Editor Burns Bridges, Collects Ashes, Re-Burns Them; Then Packs Ash Ashes Into Payload Of Nuclear Warhead And Hurls Into Sun.” Did we serve readers by reminding them that behind this august broadsheet is a staff just as fallible as any? Absolutely. But we also ran the kid’s full name, an inclusion that added no humor or news value and only resulted in there being a Google hit for “[his name] AND tool.”

So keeping names out is one way we can keep college blogging civilized. But that may not be much consolation to the hardworking staffs of Harvard-Radcliffe TV and the Harvard College Democrats, whose homemade videos were described by IvyGate commenters as “TORTURE” and a “poo nugget,” respectively. You don’t need a name to go ad hominem.

Every time we try to encourage decorum, or at least accountability, we’re reminded that this medium is by nature carnivorous, and getting faster and more unfeeling with each passing news cycle. It’s up to us-and the other campus blogs, more of which launch every day-to insist on standards, no matter how sophomoric the subject matter. To give fair comment to the people we write about. To respect Google’s lidless eye. To bear in mind our own college screw-ups as we castigate others.

In other words, to rip responsibly. Oh, and to post as many videos as possible of guys lighting their genitals on fire. You really have to check that one out.

Ashes to Ashes, Blog to Blog: The IvyGate Year in Review

Ashes to Ashes, Blog to Blog: The IvyGate Year in ReviewHere we are, wrapping things up for the school year, and what more Ivy way to do it than with a big ol’ dose of gazing lustily in the mirror? Here’s three ways of measuring the year’s top content.

I. COMMENTS As of this moment, we’ve written 572 items this year, and you’ve posted 5,751 comments — almost exactly 10 per, a really outstanding number for which we are truly grateful. We want to thank the vast majority of you for keeping things lively, and in the interest of limping past the finish line without touching off a shitstorm, we’ll leave unsaid our thoughts on the distinct minority that amplified the stereotypes of the Ivy League.

Without further ado, the Top 10 Most-Commented-Upon Items:

(God, we’re a one-hit wonder band. Subtract Aleksey and you get these extras:)

II. TRAFFIC The most objective look at what people consumed most, according to Google Analytics.

(Wow, we’re worse than Right Said Fred and The Knack put together. Subtract Aleksey and you get these extras:)

III. PERSONAL FAVES And then there’s the items closest to our own shriveled, blog-black hearts. In reverse order of appearance:

Aaaand that should do it. Final notes: 1) We never got sued, WTF? (Knock on wood.) 2) You know that scene at the end of The Paper Chase where Timothy Bottoms realizes what it’s all about and paper-airplanes his grades into the sea? This does not feel like that whatsoever. 3) If you’re interested in reanimating our corpse, aka guest editing, get in touch.

Dartmouth Diversity VP Lays On the Sarcasm a Little Thick

Dartmouth Diversity VP Lays On the Sarcasm a Little Thick“Hey, looks like one of our deans got blitzjacked (his email account got hacked, to normal people),” a reader at Dartmouth emailed us yesterday. One look at the attached message, and we had to agree:

Date: 14 May 2007 16:16:53 -0400
From: Stuart C. Lord
Subject: MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!
To: (Recipient list suppressed)

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!

I have amazing news to report to the student body! In just a few months as the Interim Vice President for Institutional Diversity, I am delighted to report that the Campus climate is repaired and we have achieved a standard of excellence other schools only long to attain!

I know this because I had invited students to Campus Climate lunches, and out of the entire student body, only 20 (yes, just 20!!) students responded. I am certain this must be because we have accomplished complete diversity and harmony and almost no one thinks there are any discussions left to be carried on.

However, in the event you think there is still need for discussion, and still need for healing, I would invite you to sign up for one of the lunches. There is plenty of room. There is also probably plenty to discuss. Tomorrow Tuesday May 15 or Next Tuesday May 22, 2007.

Stuart

To RSVP respond to the email and say ___ Yes I will be at Lunch this Tuesday or Next Tuesday.

**************************************************
 We Must Be The Change We Wish To See In The World
                                  ~Mahatma Gandhi
**************************************************

Dr. Stuart Calvin Lord
Vice President for Institutional Diversity & Equity (Interim)
and the Virginia Rice Kelsey ’61S
Dean of the Tucker Foundation
Associate Provost
The William Jewett Tucker Foundation
Dartmouth College

Has to be a “blitzjacking” stunt, right? No administrator would joke about diversity with a sarcasm sledgehammer like that — and certainly not a guy whose name is, terrifyingly, Dr. Vice President Dean Associate Provost Stuart Calvin Lord. And no one seriously has that Gandhi quote as their signature. We were all set to bemoan the continued devolution of the college prank into all-digital form when we got an update: Lord really had sent the message in question.

Date: 14 May 2007 23:43:20 -0400
From: Stuart C. Lord
Subject: Regarding Mission Accomplished
To: (Recipient list suppressed)

The goal of the e-mail I sent earlier was to generate publicity and increase attendance at our campus climate luncheons. In addition, The Office of the Vice-President for Institutional Diversity values the hard work that many members of this community have devoted to raising awareness about issues of diversity. The purpose of the Campus Climate Lunches is to provide a forum [blah blah blah]…

Stuart

Ooooookay then, Stu. Our tipster gets the last word: “Sorry for the false tip. I guess I just never expected a college-appointed dean would be so flippant about a serious campus issue. … Evidently our vice-president for institutional diversity just thought diversity was a joke.”

Summer Approaches; Let the Resume Padding Begin

You people probably assume this picture is about YOUR escape

As most of you no doubt have noticed, we’ve been phoning it in for quite some time now. (Seriously, YouTube’s on speed dial.) And this Friday, by which time five-eighths of y’all will have finished for the semester, we’ll make it official, putting IvyGate into a suspended-animation summer schedule. We’re taking the month of June off; then guest editors will host two-week stints through July and August. So whether you’re building houses in Honduras, poring over foundational texts on the alternative minimum tax on Capitol Hill, researching the first annual Let’s Go: Anbar, or finding personal fulfillment on Wall Street, we’ll still be helping you find new ways to waste time. And come fall semester, we’re looking to shuffle off this bloggy coil and hand the keys to the site over to a new pair.

So, two things: 1) If you’ve been sitting on a tip, email it now or never. We know you’re in finals — traffic has been super-high lately, but our inbox is pretty dry; remember our stuff is only as good as you give us.

And 2) If you’re interested in either guest-editing for a spell this summer, or even (God save you) taking over in the fall, get in touch soonish.

Timothy Ferriss: Out-Vaynering Vayner?

Timothy Ferriss: Out-Vaynering Vayner?We’ve often wondered what might have become of Aleksey Vayner had he never made his hit film “Impossible Is Nothing.” Where would he be in five years? What levels of success would he have achieved?

We’re pretty sure the answer has arrived in the form of Timothy Ferriss, Princeton ’00. Currently a “guest lecturer” at Princeton (sounds a little misleading to us; he’s not in the official directory), Ferriss has honed self-help guruship down to an art — he’s good-looking, well spoken, and he knows you initially assume he’s a fraud. His new book, The 4-Hour Workweek, explains how to work very little (check e-mail twice a day, outsource all your work to Asians for $5 an hour) and still live your dreams. Among the dreams Ferriss has already lived: Motorcycling across China. Dancing tango in Argentina (and on Regis and Kelly). Kickboxing. Skiing in the Andes. Gaining 34 pounds of muscle in 4 weeks. In other words, impossible is nothing.

The book already seems to be taking off. It’s currently ranked in Amazon’s top 10. The site’s reviewers have given it five stars, nearly across the board.

And that’s where it gets weird. The Amazon comments are absurdly positive. Frighteningly positive. Eyebrow-raisingly positive. Just look at the slew of reviews left all on the same day, April 24:

C. Ashenden, April 24: I don’t give away compliments easily but I guarantee that this book will change your life. Don’t wait.

Brian Page, April 24: I’m not a reviewer of books. In fact, this is the only one I’ve ever commented on. So as the first person to review The 4-Hour Workweek, I’m going to make a prediction. Remember, I called it first. This book WILL be a best-seller.

Sherwood Forlee, April 24: Because of this book, I would have to say that my dreams will soon become reality.

Matt, April 24: I don’t know Tim, nor do I have any financial connection to this book. … I have never written a review on Amazon before, but this book compelled me to write my first. I highly recommend you get it, and I guarantee it will get you thinking about making changes in your life.

Lindsay, April 24: I have always been a little wary of books focused arond life-improvement, but “The 4-Hour Work Week” book strikes the perfect balance between practical guidebook with real-world suggestions for how to maximize the work/life balance (something everyone needs to learn to do) and inspirational encouragement that yes, the life you want is just around the corner.

Michelle Bartakova, April 24: I believe this book is going to be a bestseller, will inspire many, and I would go as far as to say it will save lives. … The revolution has began…. If this review sounds little bit over the top, well it is and so is the book. This is my first review on amazon, and who knows my next one might be written by my virtual assistant:)

(Hilarious commenter exchange on that last one is here.) When a tipster pointed out the unbroken slew of over-the-top raves to us, we saw this comment among them:

Smells fishy!, April 26, 2007
Reviewer: cyan (Sydney, Australia)
There are 18 reviews beneath me. Every single one was written on the same day. This is the only review of every single reviewer bar one. I wonder what the odds are of 18 individuals who never review on Amazon logging onto the site on the same day and giving the book 5 stars?

Even more fishily, that last comment is now gone. We have to agree, it’s hard to see more than a dozen glowing, similarly-argued raves spontaneously cropping up all at the same time — from people who have never before reviewed another title. If indeed Ferriss had a hand in arranging them, that’s not necessarily wrong — just really off-putting, really douchey, really … Aleksey.