PRINCETON: Check your definition of privilege

In an email to IvyGate, Tal Fortgang, P ’17 and author of a viral article in the Princeton Tory, charged us to “[m]ake me look bad!” Well Mr. Fortgang, with your blessing…

Tired of being oppressed for being a white male in America, Fortgang (who hails from Westchester) wrote the infamous Tory article detailing why he has earned the immense privilege he gets from being both male and white. The article has been covered everywhere from The Blaze to Slate, and republished in Time. Comments on the original post have ranged from praise to disbelief.

Consider the idea that a person who loses an argument is the only one who gains something from the exercise. That will turn you into a person with the ability to grow and not just someone others perceive to be an entitled asshole.”

Great article! Well written and with great eloquence. I commend you on taking an unpopular stance in a politically correct/liberal leaning society.”

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Columbia Daily Spectator to go digital

At a staff-wide meeting tonight, EIC Abby Abrams, BC’15, announced plans for the Columbia Daily Spectator to go digital-first, the first Ivy League daily paper to do so. The plan is not completely finalized yet — the board of trustees is voting on it this weekend — but is expected to go into effect in the fall. In a follow-up email sent to the staff, Abrams explained that the paper will print once-weekly on Thursdays, planning to “showcase in-depth news stories, weekend sports and arts coverage, and opinion content.” 

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Come On Guys: Columbia Theta Throws Stereotype Themed Party

ugghhhh not again

Team Mexico via Bwog

Last night, Columbia University’s Theta sorority celebrated what looks like a good ol’ stereotype-filled Beer Olympics. Groups of girls dressed up as Mexican, German, Japanese, Dutch, French, and Jamaican, according to pictures obtained by Bwog and the Columbia Spectator. Bwog notes that the mixer was held in SigEp–though no pictures of the young men have surfaced yet–and should have been registered with the administration, per Columbia Greek life policies.

At this point you’d think these young women would know better than to participate in a culturally appropriative theme…or at least to not post the damn pictures all over Facebook and Instagram for all to see and screenshot.

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Columbia Admins Will Watch Bizarre Quantum Mechanics Lecture

After a video of Columbia Physics Professor Emlyn Hughes’ unusual introduction to his Frontiers of Science lecture began circulating the web yesterday, The Spectator has reported that Columbia administrators will review the video to determine … something. According to Columbia’s statement, the university will judge “excerpts” from Hughes’ lecture — in which he stripped to his boxers, showed video of 9/11, and brought ninjas onstage, among other still unexplained actions — to see if he potentially crossed “academic freedom” and entered “things that have nothing to do with quantum mechanics.”

Frontiers of Science, or FroSci, is a mandatory part of Columbia’s Core Curriculum (freshmen are preregistered for the class). According to its website, the course’s goal is to “change the way students think about questions of science and about the world around them.” Columbia’s administrators should keep this in mind when watching Hughes take his clothes off to Lil Wayne’s remix of “Drop It Like It’s Hot,” because after Monday we doubt any FroSci student will be thinking of their professor the same way.

Below is a video Hughes’ FroSci introduction, courtesy of Bwog, and click through after for Columbia’s statement, courtesy of The Spectator.

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Columbia Inter-Greek Council Warns Greeks Not To Let Accused Hazers ‘Forcefully Extract Information’

Following the recommendation of Columbia’s Inter-Greek Council Judicial Board, the school’s Zeta Beta Tau chapter lost its charter this week due to a hazing infraction, The Columbia Spectator reports. Although it has not been revealed what exactly ZBT did to lose recognition, their national organization will be appealing Columbia’s decision.

A tipster forwarded us an email sent Thursday night by the IGC’s Director of Public Relations and Marketing cautioning the Greek community to remain tightlipped and alert in this time of “heavy scrutiny.” Perhaps more seriously, he foresees a Columbia where the newly outlawed ZBT brothers have become modern thugs, terrorizing campus and turning Greek against fellow Greek. We imagine something like The Warriors. Or maybe Mad Max.

Our tipster sums it up pretty nicely: “Stick together, because we’re a Greek family … but watch out, because ZBT might try to forcibly extract information from you.” You know, because they haze.

You can read the full email below: Read the rest of this entry »

Columbia ‘Unequivocally’ Denies Report of Dean Pulling Strings for Spectator Editors

Earlier this week, we received an anonymous tip about a post on SpecSucks, a blog unhealthily obsessed with the Columbia Spectator. The post details a fairly ridiculous story of a group of Spectator editors breaking into the Columbia Provost’s office, using their connections in the Deans’ office to get out of trouble, and then calling in favors at Bwog to keep everything out of the headlines. Perhaps worth noting though, there’s now an update on the post that mentions “a dozen or two factual issues with [our] post.” So there’s that.

While we corresponded with several people who anonymously vouched for the veracity of various parts of the story, representatives from each accused organization have all denied involvement. This morning we reached out to Columbia Dean Terry Martinez, who was accused by SpecSucks of “sticking out her neck” to help the Spectator editors. Below is the university’s statement:

“While federal student privacy law prevents us from commenting on specific cases involving student discipline, we can say unequivocally that any claim of an improper relationship involving Dean Terry Martinez is completely false and without any factual basis. Moreover, Dean Martinez has no role in adjudicating these types of disciplinary matters. Reports made earlier today in this vein fail any standard of journalistic credibility and should be promptly retracted.”

“With respect to the Columbia Daily Spectator, it is important to note that like any news media organization, the student newspaper is completely independent from the University, and we have no comment on its handling of this matter.”

Here Are The Three Paragraphs A Columbia Spectator Editor Plagiarized From The New York Times

UPDATE: Jade Bonacolta has been fired from The Spectator for plagiarism.

Earlier today, we reported on a Columbia Spectator article that had a suspiciously similar lede to a certain other paper’s coverage of the same topic: the university’s acquisition of architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s archives. Since then, The Spectator has removed the article in question and replaced it with an Editor’s note confirming that at least three paragraphs in the story “were largely identical” to ones in The New York Times aka the Grey Lady aka the national newspaper of record. (The full text of the now removed Spectator article can be found at the end of this post.)

To make matters worse, the Columbia student — Jade Bonacolta, a Spectator associate arts and entertainment editor — stole the material from New York Times writer Robin Pogrebin: a Yalie. This is just like Jonah Lehrer ripping off Fareed Zakaria, amiright?

Presented below are the three plagiarized Spectator paragraphs alongside their original New York Times source material:

Spectator:

“Frank Lloyd Wright was notorious for saving everything, from his personal correspondence to scribbles on Plaza Hotel napkins. Since Wright’s death in 1959, these relics have been locked in storage.”

New York Times:

“The Modernist architect Frank Lloyd Wright wasn’t a hoarder. But he did save just about everything — whether a doodle on a Plaza Hotel cocktail napkin of an imagined city on Ellis Island, his earliest pencil sketch of the spiraling Guggenheim Museum or a model of Broadacre City, his utopian metropolis. Since Wright’s death in 1959 those relics have been locked in storage at his former headquarters —Taliesin, in Spring Green, Wis., and Taliesin West, in Scottsdale, Ariz.”

Spectator:

“Among the University’s future collection are the famous original drawings for Wright’s Fallingwater, a home designed amid a rushing stream in Pennsylvania, and the Robie House, a Prairie-style building on the campus of the University of Chicago.”

New York Times:

Among the gems in that material are drawings for Wright’s Fallingwater, a home cantilevered over a stream in Mill Run, Pa.; the Robie House, a Prairie-style building on the University of Chicago campus; Unity Temple, a Unitarian Universalist church in Oak Park, Ill.; and Taliesin West.”

Spectator:

“‘While Wright is typically thought of as a lonely genius, you move him into the Museum of Modern Art, and he’s dialoguing with Le Corbusier in the company of Mies van der Rohe, Alvar Aalto, and Louis Kahn,’ said Barry Bergdoll, chief curator of architecture and design at the MoMA.”

New York Times:

“While Wright is typically thought of as ‘a lonely genius,’ Mr. Bergdoll said, ‘you move him into the Museum of Modern Art, and he’s dialoguing with Le Corbusier in the company of Mies van der Rohe, Alvar Aalto and Louis Kahn.’”

There you have it. And not only did Bonacolta lift basically full sentences from The New York Times, she went a step further and took a full direct quote from someone she most likely never even spoke to and changed it. Fact: if it’s not in quotation marks, they probably didn’t say those words.

Click through for the full text of the original Spectator story. Read the rest of this entry »

Did The Columbia Spectator Pull a Jonah Lehrer/Fareed Zakaria?

UPDATE 2: The Spectator has posted an updated Editor’s note, and has verified “that at least three paragraphs were largely identical to those in the New York Times piece.” The writer’s other work is now also being investigated by the paper.

UPDATE: The Spectator has removed the story in question. Click through at the bottom of this post to see the original article.

Columbia’s recent acquisition of architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s archives is a huge score for the university, and any art-aware student should be very excited. In fact, the arts writers at The Columbia Spectator were so excited, they seem to have gone right out and copied The New York Times. Uh oh!

Some of you may know Columbia best as the former home of noted poet plagiarist Jonah Lehrer, and his legacy seems to be alive and well. A tipster alerted us to some, let’s say, similarities in The Spectator’s and The New York Times’ opening paragraphs covering the archive’s move.

Here’s the lede from The Spectator’s story on the acquisition, published September 5th:

“Frank Lloyd Wright was notorious for saving everything, from his personal correspondence to scribbles on Plaza Hotel napkins. Since Wright’s death in 1959, these relics have been locked in storage.”

Now, here’s the lede from the New York Times article covering the same news, published two days earlier (bolding ours):

“The Modernist architect Frank Lloyd Wright wasn’t a hoarder. But he did save just about everything — whether a doodle on a Plaza Hotel cocktail napkin of an imagined city on Ellis Island, his earliest pencil sketch of the spiraling Guggenheim Museum or a model of Broadacre City, his utopian metropolis. Since Wright’s death in 1959 those relics have been locked in storage at his former headquarters —Taliesin, in Spring Green, Wis., and Taliesin West, in Scottsdale, Ariz.”

And, just for reference, here’s the official press release. Not a mention of a Plaza Hotel napkin in the whole thing…  Read the rest of this entry »

IvyGate Endorses Columbia Student Senate Candidates; Spectator Sucks at Journalism

Behold the hard-hitting, principled, serious newspeople of the Columbia Spectator, guided by the platonic ideals of independent journalism. Consummate professionals, they are. Just you try to dictate the terms of the newspaper’s coverage. You think that’ll work?

Actually, it probably will.

This week, the Columbia College Student Council Elections Board attempted to nix the Spectator’s endorsements for University Senate elections (for which voting is now underway). The board has strict policies proscribing any campaigning outside a certain window of time — from April 4 through 5 p.m. on April 10 – and the CCSC made very clear it intended to rigorously enforce those rules. Thus, the board demanded that any endorsement run by the Spec be published before the 5 p.m. deadline. Somehow, publishing anytime thereafter would amount to a violation of election rules on the part of the endorsed candidates (even though interviews were conducted during the campaigning period). The Spectator condemned the Elections Board’s attempted breach of its journalistic autonomy. And then, like the submissive children they apparently are, the Spec’s editors decided to accede to the CCSC’s demands.

As explained in an editorial:

For the University Senate elections, we endorse no one…A series of unfortunate events, due to policies imposed by the Columbia College Student Council Elections Board, made it impossible for Spectator to suggest candidates in the 2011-2012 election.

Seriously, Spec? The Columbia Student Council doesn’t have the authority to tell you to do jumping jacks, much less run (or not run) endorsements. So, why the hell did you give in? You at least had a good reason, right? Nope.

[The] Spectator’s independence could not shield the candidates themselves from potentially disastrous consequences, and that was a risk that we were not willing to take.

Know this: When confronted with absurd, empty threats, the Spectator’s editors will acquiesce, with little or no resistance. But they want you to know that they aren’t one bit happy about it!

We object on principle to the conception that Spectator—or any independent news outlet—should have to answer to a governing body. The Elections Board’s actions reflect a profound misunderstanding of the relationship between the press and political entities.

Surely the Elections Board is quaking in its boots. “Oh gosh! The Spec objects!”

Lucky for you, Columbia readers, IvyGate is perfectly comfortable taking the risk of issuing endorsements. That in mind, we’ve reviewed all the pertinent campaign literature, and will put our support behind two candidates: Chris Canales and Steven Castellano. We wholeheartedly encourage you to vote for Chris and Steve. Our rationale?

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Princeton and Columbia Have Semanticky Blog War, Nobody Cares

Not to state the obvious, but it must be kind of boring in Princeton, NJ. That’s the best explanation we can muster for the doofy e-war that’s been waging between the Columbia Spectator and The Prox, which is really more of an exercise in blowing-shit-out-of-proportion than anything else. (Allow us to join in that exercise.)

Princeton got their panties in a bunch last week about a poll published in the Spec, which asked students about Columbia’s 32-percent increase in undergrad applications. Roughly 68 percent of Columbia’s student body responded, “Suck it, Princeton.”

Not organically, mind you. The other three prompts of that poll were so beyond dumb that “suck it, Princeton” was really the only viable choice. One option, for instance–”My kid’s chances of getting in are plummeting!”–rather richly assumes that (a) the Spec has readers over 30 that aren’t Columbia grads or Columbia parents, or else (b) there is an epidemic of hipster pregnancies at Columbia right now. Both of which seem unlikely. But anyway.

So Princeton must have been either jonesin’ for a fight or high on Dinky Line fumes, because they interpreted “Suck it, Princeton” as “Princeton sucks.” (In fairness, the Spec did pull out that interpretation in the title of their post, but no one takes titles seriously.) The offending phrase got regurgitated on The Prox as “Princeton ‘sucks’”–note the addition of scare quotes–which made the Spec all pissy. And so they struck back with the following kernel of wisdom:

1. We don’t think Princeton “sucks,” we think Princeton sucks.
2. It’s not 67.65 percent of Columbians who think Princeton sucks. The more “exact” number is 100 percent.

…Sorry, we just drifted off there for a second. Could it be that everybody sucks in proportion to the amount that they actually care about this? Don’t you guys have a cappella rehearsal or something?

For our part, we think Princeton and Columbia are both superstars. Nobody sucks! Candy for everyone! Somebody play some Beach Boys!