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.”

Star Yale Quarterback Lost Rhodes Scholarship Bid After Sexual Assault Allegation; Yale Daily News Buried the Story

Last fall the national press fell in love with Patrick Witt, a Yale quarterback, and NFL hopeful, who gave up his finalist interview for a Rhodes scholarship so he could play in the Harvard-Yale game.

Now the New York Times reports that, in fact, Witt didn’t turn down the interview of his own accord: the Rhodes committee suspended his candidacy and cancelled his interview after someone (who was not a Yale official) informed it that Witt had been accused of sexual assault in September.

It’s not clear whether the Yale official who initially approved Witt to apply for the Rhodes knew about the sexual assault incident, for which Witt went through an informal disciplinary process (and seemingly faced no consequences?) — but it’s likely he did. Interesting factoid: Witt was a member of DKE, the Yale frat that made really horrible headlines for sexual harrassment a few years ago. So this is very ugly for Yale.

Witt is reportedly no longer enrolled at Yale (?) but is still finishing his thesis? Unclear.

But, wait. That the story was broken by the Times probably strikes you as odd; the Yale Daily News — second best collegiate paper in the land – is normally all over these types of scandals like white on rice. In fact, that might be the most amazing angle of this sorry story: Former YDN opinion editor (and IG editor emeritus) Alex Klein reports that the News had known about Witt’s Rhodes woes since as early as November, but the paper’s editor in chief, Max de La Bruyere, elected to sit on the story. We reached out to the News — asking “WTF???” — but haven’t yet heard back.

And, one last quick and relevant reminder: Witt’s football coach resigned in December after it was exposed that he lied about having been a Rhodes scholar finalist.

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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Isn’t Harvard Just the Worst?

That certainly seems to be the opinion of a few journalists recently. Wait,  seems to be? With a headline like “The Disadvantages of an Elite Education,” you just know the author is not too keen on the Crimson. The author is none other than our old friend Cockmaster D (William Deresiewicz for our forgetful readers). Goold ol’ Cockmaster D recently discovered that he was too elitist to interact with a plumber, so obviously the rest of us are just as bad.

Because we’re coddled with extensions on papers and rampant grade inflation, we grow up to be the worst people ever. Also, it’s because we have gates:

The physical form of the university—its quads and residential colleges, with their Gothic stone façades and wrought-iron portals—is constituted by the locked gate set into the encircling wall. Everyone carries around an ID card that determines which gates they can enter. The gate, in other words, is a kind of governing metaphor—because the social form of the university, as is true of every elite school, is constituted the same way. Elite colleges are walled domains guarded by locked gates, with admission granted only to the elect.    

He’s right. Gates might be cool when every other college does it, but how dare we use them to keep people out!

He also points out that George Bush went to Yale, so take that, Ivy League! Yeah that’s right one of the dozens of presidents who went to elite universities isn’t so awesome! Clearly we have no defense to these accusations, but are we really that bad?

No, we’re worse! After the jump, Harvard is destroying the world (and bruising the butts of old ladies).

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What Does A Liberal Look Like? According to Lucy Morrow Caldwell, A Harvard Student (UPDATE)

Caroline GiulianiLucy Morrow Caldwell.

Just yesterday, this name elicited a firestorm across teh_interwebs when Slate ran a “report” showing that Rudy Giuliani’s 17-year-old daughter Caroline, Harvard ’11, was a de facto member of the “Barack Obama (One Million Strong for Barack)” Facebook group.

Links were exchanged, hatred spewed forth like only the ‘Net can provide and backlash — yes, backlash — ensued, offering up the idea that Ms. Caldwell turned a blind eye to news integrity and unleashed this bit of “breaking news” on the world.

Did Lucy Morrow Caldwell invent breaking news for her own benefit?

According to multiple sources, she just may have. Why? Let us ask you this: Is the joining of a Facebook group by a minor who is not eligible to vote truly a reason to get CNN’s news ticker all ticked-off?

For the record, we at IvyGate think Caldwell’s motives are suspect. After all, how long was Giuliani a part of that group? Was it breaking just because someone who is not one of her friends on Facebook noticed? Remember — the noose-tightening line in Caldwell’s piece is that she removed herself from the group at an otherwise-uncollegiate-for-the-summer 6:01 a.m. But where was the news when she originally had joined it?

We’re actually on the side of Insider Chatter on this one:

If Slate’s Lucy Morrow Caldwell is aware of corporate owner WP’s Pentagon Papers and Watergate investigative heritage, it is NOT evident in her “undercover” Facebook reporting. Howard Kurtz is billed as the Washington Post media critic, but he is content to regurgitate a college intern’s inept public posting of a fellow Facebooker’s profile.”

Ouch, and that’s coming from an editor who’s actually been billed as “Howard Kurtz, Jr.”

Do we really care about Caroline Giuliani’s political views? Here’s a little justification to how little this matters for her, thanks to a blistering New York profile of Caroline’s stepmother Judith:

When I ran into Rudy at the White House Correspondents Association Dinner in late April, he told me Judith skipped the event because “she’s up taking care of our daughter [Whitney] at Skidmore.” The locution “our daughter” was hardly calculated to repair his frayed relations with the biological children he shares with [Donna] Hanover, especially 17-year-old Trinity-prep-school senior Caroline, who uses Donna’s surname and reportedly didn’t bother telling him when she was accepted recently by Harvard. (“In the next few months, Rudy really has to repair his relationships with Andrew and Caroline,” says a Republican strategist. “He can’t be the Republican nominee and have his kids estranged from him. That ain’t gonna cut it.”)”

So when the scrutiny comes down on the younger, collegiate Giuliani’s profile, which reveals a “liberal” slant — the most popular of political views on Harvard profiles, and for that matter, Facebook in general — IvyGate smells some agenda-setting.

Allow us to take a look at the even-handed journalistic history of one Ms. Lucy Morrow (that’s with an “o”, not a “u”, as in Edward R.) Caldwell:

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