Plagiarism Enthusiast Defends Plagiarism by Plagiarizing

“Fight the Power” Friday (Part 2)

Kenneth Goldsmith, a English professor at Penn, has a unique take on authorship, that being: Plagiarism ain’t so bad, necessarily!

Goldsmith’s argument (we think) has something to do with authorship being pretentious and paternalistic, especially in our hyper-connected day and age, when information is cycled and recycled millions of times every day, at the speed of an electron. (Maybe?) To that end, he teaches a class each year called “Uncreative Writing,” in which students are actively encouraged to rip-off their classwork from other writers. Seriously.

Straight from the horse’s mouth:

Students are penalized for showing any shred of originality and creativity. Instead they are rewarded for plagiarism, identity theft, repurposing papers, patchwriting, sampling, plundering, and stealing.

Aaaanyway: Crimson columnist Isabel E. Kaplan wrote a pointed critique of Goldsmith’s philosophy earlier this week, which basically amounted to, “This is bullshit.” And we were interested in the good professor’s response. So we shot over an email asking what he thought of the criticisms. In his reply, Goldsmith referred to the column as “stupidity,” then threw the question to some former students, at which point things got a little bit weird.

Read the rest of this entry »

Breaking: Tyra Banks Says Harvard Is HARD

From the Huffington Post:

“I think they make [Harvard] hard on purpose,” Banks told the massive crowd at her “Modelland” book signing in New York of her strict education. “Once you get done reading one assignment, you get another.”

At the same signing, she also claimed that Boston is “like Paris.” So thank you, everyone, for playing “Two Truths and  a Lie” this afternoon.

The Facepalm Hall of Heroes:

Inductee #2: Penn Student Sends Email, Shames Penn

When we first conceived the Hall of Heroes, our intent was simply to single out Ivy students whose opinions deserved a gentle bit of mocking. But then we happened upon the following story, which doesn’t precisely fit this column’s mission, but certainly produced the same end result: FACEPALM.

Most college seniors are probably sending out a veritable avalanche of cover letters these days. The economy is getting worse, and nobody has a job, so it’s time to pitch your skills like a common whore, at the street corner of every I-bank in lower Manhattan. Pretty standard.

But one unidentified Penn senior, in his job-seeking gusto, accidentally sent out one mass-email to every single person on Wall Street. Wall Street then proceeded to mock him vigorously.

Here is the offending correspondence:

Sent: Tuesday, September 27, 2011 $;31 PM
Subject: University of Pennsylvania Senior interested in Analyst Position upon graduation


My name is <redacted> and I will be graduating from the University of Pennsylvania this may. I am very interested in pursuing a career in investment banking upon graduation and I wanted to know if your firm would be hiring analysts this coming summer. I know you are busy and would appreciate any time you could give me. Thank you in advance and I hope to hear from you soon. My rsum [sic] is attached.

Best regards,


And, behold, an unbelievable screen-grab of the actual email, right after the jump!  Read the rest of this entry »

Old Guy Attacks Cornell Police After Jaywalking Citation

“Fight the Power” Friday (Part 1)

Man, oh man. If we had to single out one overarching theme of this new semester, it would have to be that everybody is pretty pissed off at one thing or another, all of the time. Maybe something’s in the water. Maybe it’s some weird psychic osmosis from the Wall Street protests. Whatever the case, people be angry. (Especially this past week or so!)

As such, on this fine Friday, we’ll be highlighting just a few of the more notable examples of Ivy League orneriness to emerge.

First up: GET OFF MY LAWN. Ha ha, just kidding! We have to admit that we sometimes have trouble talking the elderly seriously when they get all riled up. Even when, as a result, they try to beat up on police officers — which is exactly what happened in Ithaca yesterday.

You see, the Cornell Police Department, not content to be universally reviled for all the normal reasons, decided to dole out hundreds of tickets on Wednesday and Thursday for the heinous crime of jaywalking. (Seriously, there was a “jaywalking crackdown” in Ithaca this week. Dumbfounded, we are.)

Most of the perps just accepted their tickets and griped about them afterwards. But one elderly man, upon receiving a jaywalking citation, promptly lost his shit:

“When the officers tried to confront him with the citation, he starting swinging at the officers and went into a karate stance,” Zoner said. “He was creating so much of a disturbance that the officer had no choice but to arrest him for disorderly conduct.”

The unnamed man is not affiliated with Cornell, and so was referred to the Ithaca City Court.

Editor’s Note: We’ve used an image of Clint Eastwood in “Gran Torino” as artwork for this article (low-hanging fruit) — but what we’re really picturing is the old dude from “Up,” before his heart grew threw sizes from kidnapping and endangering a boy scout. Either that, or Andy Rooney

Fake Penn Student Fools Real Penn Students Out of Thousands of Dollars

Call it “Skullfucked: The Straight-to-DVD Sequal,” if you will.

A group of Penn students found out the hard way last Spring that sometimes when your roommate doesn’t seem to be going to class, ever, it isn’t just because he doesn’t do morning sections. It may actually be that he’s not a student at all, and he’s just waiting until you leave the house in order to pilfer your bank account

Penn junior Zach King — along with another (heretofore unnamed) student — brought charges against a guy named Eugene Tinsley (no relation) last June, after it became clear that Mr. Tinsley was not, as claimed, a student of Penn, but rather an artist of the long-con variety.

Tinsley apparently met King sometime last year, and quickly insinuated himself into the Penn student’s life. The two began rooming together — though Mr. Eugene, of course, didn’t pay any rent — and it wasn’t too long stuff got real.

Per the Daily Pennsylvanian:

After not receiving rent from Tinsley for several months, King and his roommates “nicely kicked him out,” King said. Tinsley left for a period of time before moving back in with them around winter break last year. Later in the school year, when King went to buy gas for a trip, his card was denied, even though he knew he had enough money.

When Penn Police investigated the matter, King discovered Tinsley stole about $1,300 in checks from him. Tinsley also “involved another student who had been duped the same way,” King said.

Yikes! But how did the con man do it?  Read the rest of this entry »

Harvard-supported Harvard Grad Mitt Romney Criticizes Obama for being a Harvard-supported Harvard Grad

Good ol’ scrappy Republican “man of the people” Mitt Romney has been using Barack Obama’s elitist, Ivy-League pedigree as a punchline in recent campaign speeches, deriding the president’s foreign policy as no more than a ill-advised surrender scheme cooked up by effete snobs in the “Harvard faculty lounge,” out of touch with “what they know on the battlefield”.

Ignoring the laughable notion that Mitt Romney ever even got close to a real battlefield, we find a lot of reasons why this most recent spat of Harvard-bashing fails the giggle test (and miserably so).

RagTime: Drunks and Dunks Edition

Stuff happened this weekend, most of which sounded pretty cool, even if nobody noticed. Here are your Monday headlines:

  • Brown: If a dirty beat drops at Brown, but no one comes to listen, did it even really happen? [Daily Herald]
  • Brown: The battle over ROTC rages on. [Daily Herald]
  • Columbia: Spectrum bloggers have way too much free time on their hands. [Spec]
  • Cornell: “Oh, haha, did I say I was robbed at knife-point? What I actually meant was the opposite of that. Sorry for the misunderstanding. No big deal, right? Right, officers?” [Daily Sun]
  • Cornell: Drowning victim’s parents to Cornell: “For the life of us, we cannot fathom how you have been able to accept drowning after drowning and not have taken substantive action to put an end to these tragedies.” [Daily Sun]
  • Harvard: This year’s iteration of “The Game” will feature less underage drinking, in theory — though probably not in practice. [The Crimson]
  • Penn: Basketball players play basketball. Merriment is had by all. [The DP]
  • Yale: America’s second horniest college freaks out about “Sex Week.” Campus leaders explain and address the controversy. (Oh, hi there Alex.) [YDN]

Buddy the Elf Wins Cornell Student Assembly Election

A day in the life of student politics: Peter Scelfo (pictured right) handily won a seat as a freshman representative on Cornell’s Student Assembly this week, scoring 146 more votes than his nearest competitor. His performance is largely attributed to a strong campaign platform, namely: “Vote for me. I’m dressed like a Christmas Elf.”

Scelfo’s victory is also a win for any Cornell student desperately searching for some reason — any reason — to actually care about the S.A.; though a bitter defeat for those who would ask that student governance be taken seriously, for fuck’s sake. (That is, other members of the S.A.)

An editorial from today’s Cornell Sun.:

Scelfo’s campaign — and victory — continued a recent trend in campus elections away from the issues and toward theatrics. Flashy campaign videos, Facebook groups and, now, even costumes have become the featured aspects in successful student campaigns. Name recognition matters above all else. While this has generated more interest in student elections, it has also reduced their legitimacy.

The big mistake here — assuming they had much legitimacy to begin with — betrays the starry-eyed naivety of someone not very well acquainted with how these things go.

Note: This post originally stated that the aforementioned Cornell Sun editorial was a letter to the editor from freshman Ross Gitlin, who finished second to Scelfo in the election, and also earned a seat on the S.A. What looked very much like Gitlin’s sign off was actually just a disclosure, by way of the Sun’s staff, that his brother is Ben Gitlin, the paper’s editor-in-chief. A third brother, Adam Gitlin, is the S.A.’s executive vice president. The Gitlins, it turns out, are Cornell’s answer to the Emanuels.

Cornell Frat Presidents Plagued With Selective Memory

In today’s Cornell Sun was a letter from six fraternity presidents who urged all houses to come together and implement reforms to help save the Greek system. Which was all well and good. A kid died last spring, and some changes are in order. Nothing wrong so far.

It wasn’t all that long, though, before the writers jumped into one of those forceful — and predictable — declarations of victimhood you see every time a Greek system at any school winds up in hot water:

Most chapters are using safe practices and following all of the rules that are in the recognition policy. Unfortunately, what we do every day, every week and every semester is overshadowed by the shortcomings in judgment and leadership of a select few houses.

They go on to talk about all the philanthropy and public service they do, and how, in spite of that, they’re still unfairly villainized, or something along those lines. This is boring.

What is interesting, though: One of the letter’s cosigners, Ryan Yeh, is president of TKE, the fraternity that absorbed 16 SAE pledges after that house was kicked off campus. That being the case, remnants of one of those “select few houses” who screwed the pooch are actually, in a way, represented in this letter. Symbolism. Read the rest of this entry »

Yale Daily News Among the “Gutsiest Campus Newspapers,” Just For Heckling James Franco

In a column this past February, YDN writer Cokey Cohen griped that her classmate — MacArthur Genius and Yale Ph.D candidate James Franco — was bad at Twitter. Little did Cohen know at the time the firestorm she’d set off, nor could she have understood its (apparently) enduring impact.

As we all now remember, Franco — upon reading Cokey’s pointed critique — proceeded to MSPaint the angriest self-portrait to ever take a shot at the News. (We’re guessing.) And, while we made light of it at the time, the episode has apparently done more than just fuel the actor’s weird, long-standing, and often uncomfortable performance-art experiment — because Mother Jones magazine just recognized it as one of the “gutsiest” acts of college journalism in 2011.

We reached out to Cokey yesterday, wondering how she felt about the accolade. Theretofore unawares, she sent us the following reply: “Wow, that’s unexpected. I don’t really think that whole incident lives up to the standard of gutsiness Mother Jones set with their other examples.*” Which, you know, is a pretty good point. Strange choice, MoJo.

*Among the other examples to which Cokey referred: Columbia’s Bwog — not actually a newspaper —  was singled out for its amazing reportage of the Columbia Five drug bust last fall. There was an honor well earned.