Ivy Infusion: Columbia's Battle of Lexington

Your daily dose of news from around the Ivy League

OUTRAGE AT COLUMBIA over Wednesday's brawl at a speech by Jim Gilchrist, founder of the anti-immigration Minuteman Project. Students stormed the stage, prompting a melee with Gilchrist supporters and an abrupt end to the event. The Spectator had the late-breaking details yesterday, and follows today with the fallout, while national media outlets catch on to the story as well.

In a striking resemblance to the Battle of Lexington, nobody can agree on who's responsible: the Minutemen or their foes. The shot heard 'round campus (and the greater New York metropolitan area) was clearly fired by the protestors, some of whom were identified as members of a Columbia socialist group and the Chicano Caucus. But things quickly escalated once some college Republicans arrived on stage and fought back. The Spec collects official statements from the relevant groups, but can't seem to find anyone willing to take responsibility. A minute-by-minute reconstruction of events might be in order. For now, you can catch a (very) amateur video and detailed account at The Bwog, online home of the Blue and White, a Columbia magazine. (Their ongoing coverage is here.)

The Spec devotes their lead story to the university's investigation of the events, which Columbia announced in a strongly worded statement yesterday. Writing the Spec's headline, a spokesman says that pictures posted on Facebook will be reviewed as part of the investigation:
"Facebook is a public thing," Robert Hornsby, a University spokesman, said. "It's on the World Wide Web, and it's not exempt as a resource. ... Students may disagree with that, but they also have a prerogative to take down their Facebook entries."
Which, now that the Spec has pointed it out, they probably will. Meanwhile, portions of the New York press thinks this story is interesting enough: the Daily News and the Sun. The latter uses the word "Attack" in its headline. Fox News also joined the action, with segments on "The O'Reilly Factor" and "Hannity & Colmes."

The Spec also runs several opinion pieces on the matter. Their staff editorial derides "mob-rule activism." A student calls the protest a threat to free speech. Another, defending the protest, notes that there was violence on both sides. Another rates the riot as a 6, between 1 and 10. And there are letters, too.

Can you imagine the shitstorm if Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, president of Iran, had followed through on his plans to speak there?

THE PRESIDENT OF Princeton's student government makes an interesting case against the school's grade-capping policy, the Daily Princetonian reports, in the wake of a survey that found most students aren't happy with the change. Alex Lenahan says, wait a minute, what if there never was any grade inflation at Princeton? He points to a report from the late 90s that found an increase in "academic 1's and 2's," admissions-speak for the most intelligent students, enrolling at the school. It's a substantial increase: Academic 1's jumped 21 percent between the classes of 1993 and 2002. Ergo, the 11-percent rise in A-range grades over a similar time frame can be explained by the caliber of students, not the lax standards of professors. Ball's in your court, Princeton.

THE EX-PRESIDENT OF Penn, Judith Rodin, made more than $1 million last fiscal year for zero days of work, the Daily Pennsylvanian reports. A spokeswoman for the schools calls it "deferred compensation" for meeting goals in Rodin's decade as Penn's leader. That salary topped current president (and Harvard presidential candidate) Amy Gutmann by at least 325 large.

THE YALE DAILY News has a fascinating, nearly 3,000-word story on college-admissions consultants. There are 3,000 such consultants nationwide, according to their association, a number which has doubled in just the last few years. The YDN calls their advice "controversial" right in the headline, and goes on to detail a few students' experiences with the services. An IvyWise consultant says, "If a student is not making an impact, he or she is going to get lost in the shuffle. We help them put their passions to use."

There's a lot of talk about how much assistance these consultants provide on elements of their clients' applications, especially the essay. The consultants say they don't write them. They also say they don't use "connections" to get their clients into choice schools, though one Yale student, who got free services from IvyWise, says her consultant "had connections with a lot of admissions people at the top schools."

IN IVY OPINIONS, a cartoonist for the Brown Daily Herald proves that artistic skills aren't required to prove a point, which in this case, is that fees for registering your classes late only serve to stress out those students who can't afford the $40 fine. A hastily drawn chart ensues.

The outgoing managing board of the YDN waxes poetic about its time at the paper's helm, and praises the incoming board, "which includes some of the strongest investigative reporters Yale has ever seen."

And the Cornell Daily Sun asks students a "Burning Question": "What are you doing for Fall Break?" A typical response: "I'm going to go home and visit some friends, but I'm mostly going to relax and do some CS 211 homework!"

—Ivy Infusion's dress matches its couch. Send comments, insights, and other fashion snafus to ivyinfusion@gmail.com.