Larry Flynt

Posts Tagged ‘College Report’


Wednesday, October 1st, 2008
The Tagline in Question

The Tagline in Question

A St. Cloud State University off-campus bookstore tries to boost sales—and ends up precipitating a major censorship dust-up. Making herself available to cover the story is student Becky Kuschel.

A seemingly innocuous article of clothing caused a major uproar on the campus of Minnesota’s St. Cloud State University. During the first week of fall classes, Campus Book & Supply gave customers a free T-shirt bearing a message that touted the establishment’s inventory of used texts at affordable prices. Rankling some students and women’s organizations were the three lines of text emblazoned on the front of the white cotton shirt: “I’M CHEAP/I’M USED/I’M AVAILABLE.”

Although the words were positioned directly above the image of a book, the meaning seemed to vary among beholders. “It’s talking about the person wearing it,” insisted Kira Nelson, a senior marketing major. “It’s disgusting!”

Jared Fossum, also a marketing major, said his reaction when he first saw the shirt was that the message was “not what they’re intending.”

Both Nelson and Fossum claimed they would never wear the bookstore’s shirt. Not sharing those sentiments was Derek Lossing, a graduate business student who also holds down a job as director of sales and marketing for a private company. “I would wear the shirt,” he said with a grin.

“It’s a T-shirt marketing a bookstore. There is only a problem with the shirt if you’re looking for a problem.” Lossing added that he did not feel the T-shirt would say anything about him personally were he to wear it, and he did not find it derogatory toward men or women. As Lossing pointed out, “The bookstore was giving them to everyone shopping there, not just a specific demographic.”

The Women’s Center, along with Women’s Action and similar groups, quickly reacted to the message on the shirt. “We did generate a petition and gathered signatures, which we will mail to Campus Book & Supply,” admitted Women’s Center Director Jane Olsen.

In the meantime she also expressed the center’s views in a letter to Campus Book & Supply: “‘I’m cheap, I’m used, I’m available’ sends the message that women and men are available for sex any time and with anyone. It’s demeaning to both women and men.”

Olsen, who doesn’t feel the Women’s Center petition infringes on First Amendment rights, stated, “Just as Campus Book & Supply had the right to produce and distribute the T-shirt, others who found the T-shirt offensive have the right to express their disagreement with the message on the shirt.”

Mark Zsoter, the regional manager for Matthews Book Company—the operator of Campus Book & Supply—had only heard positive reactions from students. He said he was unaware that the context of the shirt was taken by some to mean gender instead of books. The wording, Zsoter explained, was taken from another store that  had used the message as a slogan for its books. Zsoter said the T-shirt is no longer available. 

To help challenge sexist advertising, Olsen urged students to get involved in organizations like Women’s Action or Students for Sexual Consent. The Women’s Center, she said, is “talking with students [and] in classes about the harm coming from advertising and media messages such as this.”

“This shirt is a marketing tool being used by an off-campus business,” Lossing observed. “It has, from an outside perspective, been effective in marketing that particular bookstore. Of course, people are going to see a double meaning in the Tshirt. If they weren’t supposed to, Campus Book & Supply would have handed out shirts that said, ‘I’m highlighted, I have bent corners, and you can purchase me on Division Street!’ Would this be as effective a marketing tool as the current shirt? Probably not.”

Becky Kuschel is a mass communications major at St. Cloud State University. She also plays a mean violin.

Attention college reporters: If you have an idea for a story involving your school—streaking, stripping, partying, pranks, protests, political or censorship issues—contact us at


Monday, July 14th, 2008

Noah Cohen and Stephanie Takach chronicle a Drexel University coed and her preppy boy toy who lived the high life via cyberfraud.

The jet-setting (and allegedly illicit) odyssey of Jocelyn Kirsch, 22, a senior at Philadelphia’s Drexel University, and her boyfriend Edward Anderton, 25, is now history. On December 5, 2007, the cohabitants of a high-end condo were arrested on charges of conspiracy, forgery and identity theft after a neighbor informed authorities that the duo had opened a credit card account under her name just three weeks after moving in.

An investigation soon discovered that the suspected con artists had netted more than $100,000 while indulging themselves with fancy clothes, the latest technological gadgets and luxury getaways. Photos recovered from their condo showed the couple smiling and relaxing in Paris, the Caribbean and other exotic locales.

Friends said Kirsch—the daughter of a Winston-Salem, North Carolina, plastic surgeon—was no stranger to accusations of thievery. Suspicions of dishonesty date as far back as 2002, when Kirsch was a counselor at Camp Cheerio, a children’s summer camp in the Blue Ridge Mountains. “Honestly, when I heard about it, I wasn’t shocked at all,” former camper Megan Rahn declared. “We had a couple of incidents of stealing at our cabin.” According to a bunkmate, Kirsch snatched some food, a pair of rainbow flip-flops and a fellow counselor’s cell phone.

Said another, anonymous Camp Cheerio alum, “Stuff started to disappear. Then Jocelyn got fired.”
Former college friends insist that Kirsch’s deceit went far beyond petty theft, and the police investigation bore this out. At Kirsch and Anderton’s residence, investigators reportedly seized four computers, a scanner, two printers, keys to neighbors’ mailboxes, dozens of credit cards and an industrial-size machine for manufacturing IDs. Billing statements for one neighbor and the passport of yet another were also uncovered, as well as a closetful of designer clothes, three safe lock boxes, around $18,000 in cash, a tome titled The Art of Cheating: A Nasty Little Book for Tricky Little Schemers and Their Hapless Victims and a newspaper article with the headline “How to Spot Fake IDs.”

Neighbors might not have been the only ones being scammed. A source close to the investigation believes that Anderton—a University of Pennsylvania grad and onetime financial analyst originally from Everett, Washington—was also being fooled by the seductive Kirsch. “I always wonder why she stayed with him,” the source said. “She could wrap any person around her finger.”

Former friends recalled that Kirsch—a former sorority sister—would flirt with gal pals’ guys and developed relationships while dating Anderton. Despite her flirtatious nature—according to both the police and friends of the couple—Kirsch was allegedly able to convince Anderton not only to take a final exam for her at Drexel, but also to eventually become her alleged accomplice in the elaborate identity theft scam.
Meanwhile, Drexel University administrators have issues of their own to deal with. Kirsch, an international area studies major, allegedly pretended to be an adjunct professor in order to get a free parking pass, and—according to a staffer—she allegedly made use of computers at the school’s Language and Communication Center. “That wounded my pride,” the staffer said, “because I thought I had a pretty good BS detector.”

Kirsch—whose provocative attire, remarkable figure (reputedly enhanced) and long, dark hair inevitably turned heads—got in more hot water when she strode into Giovanni and Pileggi, an upscale Philly hair salon, to be fitted with a set of auburn-brown extensions. The coed paid with a $1,700 check, and when it later bounced, a salon employee tried to contact her by phone, then with a text message.

Kirsch allegedly replied by text: “Hello. You don’t know my name, but I know yours. I also know your nice place…and how you get home at night. You’re the one who should be worried.”

“The hairdresser made a police report after the incident,” a police source said. “Kirsch was charged with terroristic threats, along with other charges when she was locked up.”
Kirsch’s high school boyfriend said that she was always trying to be someone she was not. “Jocelyn was always sucking the life out of every person she met,” he recalled. “When one group of friends or individuals would find out who she really was, she would sneak away and immediately get another group of friends.” He also remembered that when Kirsch worked as a lifeguard at a water park, she feigned a South African accent to dupe friends into thinking she was foreign.

Kate Agnelli, Kirsch’s best friend in high school, confirmed the ex’s story: “She felt the need to lie, and I think that is Jocelyn Kirsch. She is not comfortable with the truth or who she is.”
After being released on bail in excess of $100,000 each, Kirsch is reportedly staying with her father, while Anderton returned to Washington State. The defendants, dubbed “the Bonnie and Clyde of Identity Theft” by police, were briefly reunited in a Philadelphia courtroom on February 12.

Noah Cohen, a senior studying communications and criminal justice at Drexel University, is editor in chief of the campus newspaper The Triangle. Majoring in communications, freshman Stephanie Takach is The Triangle’s assistant news editor and a contributor to the New York Post and CBS Online.

Attention college reporters: If you have an idea for a story involving your school—streaking, stripping, partying, pranks, protests, political or censorship issues—contact us at


Sunday, June 15th, 2008

Rhonda K. Baughman ruminates on a murdered coed with a secret sideline that made her more “newsworthy.”

When Emily Sander, 18, disappeared, few of her classmates at Butler Community College in Kansas noticed. When her body was found six days later, 50 miles from the El Dorado campus, it got minor attention in local papers. When it was revealed the quiet brunette had been living a secret life as an Internet model named Zoey Zane, Emily Sander became good news. Sexy news.

“PORN STAR MURDERED!” screamed Chicken Little headlines.

“SEE DEAD PORN STAR PUSSY!” squawked random blogger trolls.

Much of Zoey Zane’s personal information and photography have been removed from the Internet, but this hasn’t entirely stopped the necrophile crowd from creeping in. No doubt, postmortem hits for Zoey Zane have exceeded those when Sander was alive. Odd, one might think, for someone deemed a porn queen or star on the basis of a few scant details of her foray into online nude modeling. But then equally odd were the words queen and star. Uh, what were all those movie titles again? Emily Sander was neither royalty of adult entertainment, nor, truthfully, was her Internet site naughty enough to warrant star status.

Notably, the facts of this case seem entirely unrelated to Sander’s extracurricular endeavors. One night, Sander met Israel Mireles, 24, at a bar in El Dorado. They left together, without Mireles’s very pregnant 16-year-old girlfriend, Victoria Martens. Six days later, Sander’s body was found. Mireles was charged with capital murder, rape and aggravated criminal sodomy, the clues being a missing bedspread and a copious amount of blood in his motel room. The suspect’s flight to Mexico caused a stink: The Federales insisted the Yanquis not seek the death penalty. U.S. authorities promised the worst they’d demand would be life in prison.

Neither the public nor Sander’s classmates have details of her death, but it has been stated that nude modeling had no connection to her fate. In fact, the only reason anyone outside Kansas even heard about her demise was because of the young woman’s cyberspace activity. It’s only Emily Sander’s risqué alter ego that has given the case national attention.

Welcome to the erratic pulse beat of America’s Heartland—Sander in Kansas, myself in Ohio, both of us barely blips on radar screens, average students in the middle of nowhere: free spirits, the invisible class, women in transition. Sander was one of thousands of anonymous faces and bodies floating in the ether. She may have dreamed of parlaying her sideline into something else. Who knows? To be human is to dream. I can tell you, as both a student and instructor, all students have some kind of dream; otherwise we wouldn’t be students.

Reactions to the story at my school, Antioch University McGregor, and at the one where I teach remain as nonchalant now as at the story’s initial break in November 2007. It’s business as usual. People love good tragedy, enjoy hashing particulars or making some up, especially if bare breasts and a flash of ass are involved. Get the story, report the facts, quickly move on to the next one.

At least in the headline of reporter Roxana Hegeman’s AP article, the word student preceded porn star. Nothing I read mentioned that Sander also worked as a secretary. In the U.S. we tend to let our vocations define us. Some of us forget that the actual person is a separate entity from his or her job description.

What 18-year-old—student or otherwise—doesn’t need extra money? Moreover, Sander’s cheeky poses, bikinis, nudity and bright smile hardly constitute porn. The word porn itself is hysterically relative anyway. Whether or not hard-core exposure of Sander as Zoey Zane ever existed isn’t really important.

An overused quote remains the only evidence regarding Sander’s personal life: “She enjoyed it,” recalled Nikki Watson, one of her friends at Butler Community College. “She was a young teenage girl, and she wanted to be in the movies and enjoyed movies. She needed the extra money. Nobody in El Dorado knew besides her close friends.”

Apparently. And Emily Sander is no longer here to tell us about it.

Rhonda K. Baughman, a graduate of Antioch University McGregor in Yellow Springs, Ohio, now attends Chicago’s Argosy University and teaches creative writing at Brown Mackie College. She is also an online movie critic and poetess whose My Transvestite: A Novella of Love & Death, Porn & Revolution is soon to be rereleased by B&R Publications.

Attention college reporters: If you have an idea for a story involving your school—streaking, stripping, partying, pranks, protests, political or censorship issues—contact us at

Yale’s Naked Parties

Thursday, May 31st, 2007

David Thier takes a peek at unclad revelry.

Naked parties aren’t uncommon at Yale University. During the day we might be taking notes about “War and Peace in Theory and History,” but at night we party in the raw. Naked parties are usually hosted by a secret society known as The Pundits, and they typically entail around 40 to 50 people. Every once in a while there’s a full-on rager, with hundreds of naked kids drinking, dancing and gawking. Some shindigs have themes, particularly Halloween, when nude vampiresses slapped with red paint majestically turn up. Or Cowboys and Indians, where revelers are encouraged to wear feathered headdresses or leather chaps, but jeans are banned.

Nobody attends a naked party simply to wear a cowboy hat. People come because they want to ogle the opposite sex, can’t control their curiosity or just fucking hate clothes. But anyone expecting a Romanesque orgy (without togas) will be disappointed.

A naked party at Yale is like any other group get-together, except for one difference. You’ll see classmates from your bio seminar, or from down the hall or even the girl you hooked up with the other week, all in the buff. Everyone hobnobs and dances, and there’s an occasional whiff of weed. Some people might be acting more intellectual and “normal” than usual, but that’s just to prove that they don’t feel weird. If Nietzsche is coming out of a guy’s mouth, you can bet that tits are on his brain.

But naked parties aren’t about false pretenses. After an hour or so, even the most nervous types are loose enough to check out how everyone shaves, and which guys are packing heat. There are always rumors about a few guys to watch out for at a naked party. Owners of big cocks become celebrities, and these blessed individuals shouldn’t be surprised to be drawing awkward downward glances and the occasional wide-eyed stare.

Looking is all you’re supposed to do, though, because intimate liaisons are strictly forbidden. A Pundit wanders around, trying to deter couples from sliding into a secluded place where they don’t belong. According to one such Pundit: “If excessive kissing or groping happens, the offenders are separated with a dirty 18-inch dildo. There have been occasions when students have had to be physically separated during the act of sex. Naturally, kids still hook up.”

When you get a bunch of naked guys and girls together, some of them are bound to put two and two together. At one patriotically themed party, no amount of dildo-whacking could separate a pair of star-spangled lovebirds as they played hide the salami. But your odds of getting down at a naked hullabaloo aren’t any better than at a normal one—it just provides a better opportunity to see what you’re getting into.
You might think that being nude is just halfway to fucking, but sporting wood at naked parties is a bad move. In a room with 50 unclothed college students, the guy who makes it clear he’s open for business will ensure he doesn’t get any customers. Liquor helps keep the little fella under control, but the only solid way to hold off nature is just to relax and enjoy the fact that you’re at a party where everyone is naked.

Advice to fellow students: Don’t be afraid to eyeball somebody who looks good, or feel weird around those who don’t, or worry about which category you fall into. Naked parties are often touted for shattering social norms and liberating minds, but according to one Pundit, the idea is much more simple: “Yale students like going to naked parties because the parties are naked, and it’s fun to be naked.” Just feel the breeze on your balls, grab a drink and go nuts. And you may want to keep your stomach flexed. That girl with the big tits is looking at you.

David Thier is a sophomore at Yale University’s Davenport College, whose course load includes environmental studies and acting. Besides reviewing video games and music, he writes feature articles for the arts and leisure section of the Yale Daily News. In Thier’s free time, he plays squash and the banjo.

Attention college reporters: If you have an idea for a story involving your school—streaking, stripping, partying, pranks, protests, political or censorship issues—contact us at

Deaf, But Unwilling To Be Silenced

Thursday, May 3rd, 2007

Joshua Feldman reveals how Gallaudet University students made themselves heard through militancy.

In 2006 Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C., underwent turbulent change. At stake: the presidency of the world’s only higher education institution whose entire curriculum and services accommodate the deaf and hard-of-hearing.

A fierce internal battle was waged right in the nation’s capital. It all started last spring when the Board of Trustees, ignoring the majority of the student body, selected Dr. Jane K. Fernandes to be Gallaudet’s ninth president. If you came to Gallaudet and asked a random student to appraise Fernandes, chances are the response wouldn’t be positive. She had already been an administrator at Gallaudet for about a decade before being named one of the three finalists in the search to replace Dr. I. King Jordan, the school’s president since 1988.

As provost, Fernandes had made numerous bad impressions on students, spurring us to nickname her the “Ice Queen.” She seems heavy-handed in her social skills, an important characteristic in the deaf world, especially at Gallaudet. In a crowd, Fernandes hangs back. She doesn’t approach people, and much of what she says seems planned and awkward. Also, the student protesters believed that during her reign as provost, Gallaudet’s academic standards had been declining every year, and many felt Fernandes was the root of the problem.

When Fernandes was named one of the three finalists, the student body went crazy, making sure our disapproval was heard. We filled out polls and surveys, making it obvious we did not want her to be our next president.

Nevertheless, in May, the Board of Trustees disregarded our widespread opposition and picked Fernandes, angering many students in the process. It wasn’t just about Fernandes now. It was also about how the Board had slighted Gallaudet’s most important asset: the students. Deciding we would not take it lying down, we marched to the front gates, setting up camp there. We made the university entrance our home, propping up tents and holding rallies. But the timing was wrong. Within two weeks the university closed for the summer, and many students went home. However, we promised to resume the battle when classes started up again in the fall.

On October 2, about five months after Fernandes’s selection, what the world came to know as “Tent City” came back to life. We set up camp, occupying the gates again, demonstrating our belief in a better Gallaudet, which did not include Fernandes.

Two weeks into the protest, President Jordan approved the arrests of demonstrators blocking an entrance to the campus. In all, 135 students, faculty and supporters who believed in Gallaudet’s future were dragged away and taken into custody.

But not even a mass arrest could stop us. We proceeded to lock down a building, close all but one of the entrances to the university, and for a few days shut down the entire campus. We had a message to be heard. We would not give up until our demands were met.

Twenty-seven days after we restarted the protest, the Board of Trustees gave in, dismissing Fernandes from the post of president-designate. At last, our message had been heard.

The Board later appointed Dr. Robert Davila as interim president, and he assumed office in January. So far, the response is good. We think Davila will be a good leader who hopefully can help us make a better Gallaudet.

Gallaudet University is still repairing bridges, healing wounds, trying to restore harmony. Meanwhile, Gallaudet’s well-organized protesters have shown other students how to exert their power to effect necessary changes that benefit all.

Joshua Feldman is a sophomore English major at Gallaudet University and associate editor of the student newspaper, The Buff and Blue.

Attention college reporters: If you have an idea for a story involving your school—streaking, stripping, partying, pranks, protests, political or censorship issues—contact us at

Jefferson Be Damned!

Thursday, May 3rd, 2007

Michael Dickinson on the deity who spurred press censorship at two universities in the Founding Father’s home state of Virginia.

With Mohammed’s image effectively banned from any type of public satire, another movement—one that would cause Thomas Jefferson to roll over in his grave—is afoot to give Christianity’s most revered figure that same protection. Last spring, at Virginia’s Radford University, the student-run Whim Internet Magazine published a cartoon series titled Christ on Campus. It was a far cry from the Gospels, as Jesus was depicted in various offbeat scenarios—from questioning if he had a penis to violently confronting a nonbeliever who called the “Son of God” a “glorified Easter Bunny.” Outraged by the spoof, a small number of students complained to university officials. When no action was taken to remove or censor the comics, this same group addressed the local media.

“When I drew the cartoon, I thought it would be funny to have Jesus as the main character,” recalls sophomore Christian Keesee. “The whole point was never to make fun of Jesus or God, but it ended up turning into a thing where I made a point about religion and Christianity. People didn’t like having their flaws pointed out. When it became obvious that groups were offended, the magazine staff basically told me, ‘Okay, don’t stop, but don’t go out of your way to be a dick. Definitely don’t back down and keep drawing!’”

Whim staffers eventually published an apology, expressing that while they were sorry some found the cartoons to be objectionable, they were going to continue publishing them. Norleen Pomerantz, Radford’s Vice-President for Student Affairs, issued a statement condemning the Christ on Campus series, saying that the university administration encouraged the student media “to consider the tastes and sensibilities of others. … Some of the cartoons published by Whim fall short of these standards.”

A similar situation ensued at the University of Virginia this fall when the campus newspaper printed several panels from Quirksmith, an “experimental comic.” This time, instead of just offending a number of students, the cartoons in question became the target of a special-interest group. The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights demanded an apology after The Cavalier Daily published a pair of cartoons that satirized Jesus.

“I came up with the idea for the ‘Christ on a Cartesian Coordinate Plane’ comic in high school, while in calculus class,” says Grant Woolard, the UV student who draws the Quirksmith strip. “I thought it would be funny to superimpose Jesus on the two axes, resembling his crucifixion, and making his arms form a parabolic curve. In the other cartoon, ‘Nativity Ob-scene,’ I made reference to Immaculate Conception and how it is often mistaken as the Virgin Birth, suggesting that Mary ‘immaculately’ contracted a sexually transmitted infection. It was not meant to subtly bash Christianity and incite a national controversy, but rather to amuse those who could take a joke.”

Ultimately, The Cavalier Daily issued an apology for running “the offensive fare” and pulled the comics from its Web site.

In the “Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom” in Virginia, Thomas Jefferson wrote that “our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions, any more than our opinions in physics or geometry … the opinions of men are not the object of civil government, nor under its jurisdiction … all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge or affect their civil capacities.”

Jefferson, a Virginian, penned the Declaration of Independence and, in 1825, founded the University of Virginia.

Free-speech advocate Michael Dickinson is a Ph.D. candidate at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Attention college reporters: If you have an idea for a story involving your school—streaking, stripping, partying, pranks, protests, political or censorship issues—contact us at

Education With a Chaser

Thursday, May 3rd, 2007

Jeremiah Bickham looks at why the University of Texas is now America’s number-one party school.

The Princeton Review has once again released its annual list of top party colleges. While Brigham Young University had the dubious distinction of being voted Most Stone Sober, the University of Texas at Austin was named America’s “Number One Party School.” To earn its second major national title—along with the 2005 Longhorns’ football team—UT beat out the likes of Penn State, West Virginia University and the previous party champ—the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Most UT students weren’t shocked, though. “We’ve always partied hard here,” says my brother, senior Samuel Bickham.

The Princeton Review hands out its “merit” based on a survey of 115,000 students. More than likely, UT’s respondents had memories of Rose Bowl victory celebrations still fresh in their minds. “This year was above average as far as partying. I would say because football is so big here, and the team gave us a lot to celebrate over, and on a university-wide scale too,” explains junior Andrew McIntosh.

After a dramatic win in 2005’s highly anticipated Ohio State game, students flooded Austin’s Guadalupe Street, which connects the east and west campuses. “It was like a mob/parade,” student Mike Streich recalls. “People were shouting and dancing on cars and singing the UT fight song in unison over and over again.” Ultimately, the street was closed, and police had to be called in to ensure that the revelry didn’t take a violent turn.

To put partying potential into perspective, consider that UT has over 50,000 students. Most come from the Lone Star State, which has the nation’s highest beer consumption per capita. The Princeton Review survey placed UT second in the use of hard liquor, third in beer drinking and 13th in pot smoking. According to the University Health Services, at the time this report was written, over 70% of UT students said they had consumed an alcoholic beverage in the past 30 days. Almost half admitted they had imbibed within the past week.

UT has more than 1,000 student groups, including 50 or so Greek social organizations. Much to the chagrin of administrators, various fraternities have been making headlines here for some time. A Phi Kappa Psi party featuring rap artist Mike Jones drew 3,000 students, while Sigma Alpha Epsilon’s annual Jungle Party (costing approximately $70,000) has been recognized for years as one of the top-ten collegiate bashes in America. Most frats hire security personnel to patrol parties, making these monstrosities much safer—physically and legally.

From time to time, however, incidents do occur, such as the hazing death of a UT student in December ’05. Phanta “Jack” Phoummarath was a pledge at Lambda Phi Epsilon, whose pledge class was expected to consume untoward amounts of liquor at a party where security was not present. Phoummarath, with a blood alcohol concentration of .50%—over six times the legal limit—passed out and died. Nowadays, any form of hazing is taken very seriously by the University of Texas, especially when alcohol is involved. Lambda Phi Epsilon was suspended from campus until 2011.

Nevertheless, administrators and students alike feel that the tragedy was an exception and not the rule. Most students who “go out” graduate minus an M.I.C. blemish on their record. “Minor in Consumption” is a frequent occurrence among students, but rarely elicits a police citation. (Texas’s legal drinking age is 21.) “Oh, underage drinking goes on,” admits student Chris Murphy. “This place is a haven for it. I don’t even think the cops care that much. I mean, this is Austin! It seems like the cops pretty much know it goes on and don’t care as long as you’re not endangering someone else.”

Indeed, minors find avenues to unwind and get plastered in all sorts of places, not just at frat parties on campus. Along Sixth Street, the city’s famous bar scene, the use of fake IDs is widespread. “We all know where to head downtown and get in as minors,” says an anonymous student. “Basically, if the bouncers have seen you before, or they think you won’t cause trouble, they don’t look too hard at your ID. It also helps to be a really good-looking girl.”

Despite rampant underage consumption, the University of Texas is a safe place to learn, as well as to have fun. Most students here seem proud of their partying accolades, because the school is also renowned for academics. “Between Sixth Street, the ridiculous Greek parties and the fact that Austin is a pretty liberal environment, it’s real easy to have a good time,” student Brent Schakett proclaims.

“I’m glad we got recognized for not only studying hard, but playing hard too,” adds Schakett.

It looks like my fellow students can have their liquor and drink it too. Party on, Texas!

Dallas native Jeremiah Bickham, a junior at the University of Texas, is preparing for a career as a certified public accountant.

Attention college journalists: If you have an idea for a news story involving your school, contact us at

Prof Vs. Horowitz

Thursday, March 1st, 2007

Student reporter Lena Chen investigates what prompted a noted Harvard University graduate to battle one of America’s most notorious right-wing agitators.

When David Horowitz’s book—The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America—went on sale in early 2006, a storm of controversy and outrage erupted on college campuses nationwide. The book was essentially a hit list of “liberal” professors, and possible targets held their collective breath while flipping through the incendiary pages.

Harvard University, however, could rest easy. Despite its liberal climate and prominent reputation for Progressive thought, Harvard—located in Cambridge, Massachusetts—was one of the few top schools that had remained unscathed by Horowitz’s critique. Well, almost unscathed.

While Horowitz didn’t pick any current faculty member among his 101 “most dangerous,” he did include Joel Beinin—a 1974 Harvard graduate. Beinin, who now teaches Middle East studies at California’s Stanford University, has made a name for himself as a respected scholar and as a critic of Israel’s human rights abuses.

Beinin’s background and political leanings make him an easy target for conservatives. (founded by Horowitz’s right-wing pal Daniel Pipes) attacked Beinin’s credibility in the classroom due to his “pro-Palestinian” viewpoints. Beinin, who is Jewish, argues that the U.S. and Israel should negotiate with the Palestinian Authority as a means toward peace.

Horowitz is a longtime critic of the outspoken professor, labeling Beinin an “apologist” and a “self-hating Jew.” This past summer the neocon went a step further, publishing a pamphlet titled “Campus Leaders on Terror,” which described Beinin as a supporter of the Palestinian Liberation Organization. Beinin’s photograph even graced the cover, although Horowitz didn’t have permission to use the image.

Disputing the allegations, Beinin has struck back. But rather than pursue charges of libel (usually difficult to prove in court), the tenured Stanford professor has taken a clever—and less risky—tack. First, Beinin obtained legal rights to the pamphlet photo from the photographer, then later sued Horowitz for using it without authorization.

Shortly thereafter, in a letter to The Stanford Daily, Horowitz fired off a cannon shot of his own: “If Joel Beinin thinks that my assessment of his work…is false and is an attempt to ‘destroy his reputation’…why doesn’t he sue me for libel? The answer is that truth is a defense against libel, and Beinin (or his lawyer) knows this.”

The right-winger also claims that the lawsuit is meant to intimidate him into silence, violating his freedom of speech. Horowitz maintains that Beinin is taking an “underhanded” approach by suing him over a copyright that the plaintiff did not own at the time “Campus Leaders on Terror” was published. The Horowitz-Beinin clash has already sparked debate on both the Harvard and Stanford campuses.

Harvard sophomore Frances Martel says that Professor Beinin shouldn’t be surprised to find himself in the limelight. “If you’re going to attack Israel, especially in academia and in this day and age,” she says, “you have to expect that reaction.”

Argues Harvard student Chris Murphy: “The root of Horowitz’s argument is in the text, not in the photograph. Beinin is pushing for censorship in this case.”

Considering Horowitz’s pamphlet a threat to academic freedom, Professor Beinin vows to battle to the bitter end. “If you don’t fight back,” he told the San Francisco Chronicle, “[if you] allow the Horowitzes to do and say what they want, it pollutes the political environment to the point where you can’t have intelligent discussions about what we do in the world.”

As a result of the lawsuit, Beinin’s now-copyrighted image has been removed from future printings of “Campus Leaders on Terror,” but the ideological debate rages on.

Lena Chen, a sophomore sociology major at Harvard University, writes for the Ivy League school’s venerable daily newspaper, The Harvard Crimson.

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First Amendment Battleground

Thursday, January 4th, 2007

Grad student Michael Dickinson recounts his persistent efforts to restore free speech at Virginia Commonwealth University.

In the fall of 2005 an exhibit sponsored by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) caused a major controversy when it came to Virginia Commonwealth University as part of a nationwide, 28-campus tour. Photographs depicted animals being used for experimental and testing purposes or slaughtered for their skins. Other images drew a correlation between animal abuse and the physical and emotional suffering endured by slaves and Native Americans during the early history of this country. Uptight students were enraged.

While PETA’s artistic comparison may have been offensive to a select group, the Student Government Association (SGA) felt it was offensive to all 30,000 VCU students and wasted no time publicly condemning PETA. A statement was issued, approved by the Student Senate, calling the animal activists’ presentation “insensitive, morally reprehensible and wrong.”

That edict was an assault on free speech, and the ripple effect has been staggering. Most noteworthy, The Commonwealth Times has stopped publishing political satire altogether, afraid of offending virtually anyone, especially politicians.

How could this happen at an American university, a supposed bastion of free speech? It happened because The Commonwealth Times is controlled by the SGA, whose 200 student members can be viewed like the Mafia. The SGA manages the draconian Student Activity Fee (approximately $200 per student), which is incorporated into tuition costs and earmarked for various campus organizations, including the media. In simple terms, The Commonwealth Times has no public accountability.

I wrote well-structured letters and editorials—some in the mode of HUSTLER’s own Asshole of the Month column—and sent them to the paper. I dealt with social issues, focusing on politicians. The Times’ editors were particularly offended at a joke I made about Virginia Attorney General Bob McDonnell—not only a big Pat Robertson supporter, but also a public figure who can be openly criticized in the form of editorial satire. The newspaper would not publish my missives, I was told, because they did not like what I was saying.

When I persevered, I was ignored—denied my right to exercise free and protected speech. School administrators told me that policies involving The Commonwealth Times were “student matters” and that they had no authority over them.

I filed a complaint with the Student Media Organization. I soon found this to be another fruitless endeavor. The SMO simply forwarded my complaint to the Student Media Commission, basically another name for SMO’s leaders. Sounds like the cronyism rampant in the Bush Administration, right? I quickly realized there was no hope of having my dispute addressed. Alas, none of my writings were published in The Commonwealth Times at that juncture.

But I wasn’t finished fighting for the right to tell people what they may not want to hear. When Commonwealth Times officials publicly told me to “shut the fuck up,” I went to war.

To initiate change, the student body had to become galvanized. I knew this could be a tough task in the conservative South, where young people are vastly undereducated when it comes to Constitutionally guaranteed rights. Still, I dug in.

At first only a few students joined the fight for free speech, because most knew nothing about the First Amendment. So I went radical. I announced to whomever would listen that free speech still exists! I contacted the Free Speech Coalition and received permission to open the organization’s first-ever student chapter—the Free Speech Foundation.

Since then, VCU has experienced a free speech revolution. Students have shown support for us, even in the face of opposition. (Unfortunately, some advocates have been intimidated and threatened.) While just three students showed up for the first FSF meeting, more than 60 attend regular gatherings these days. Campus rallies and information tables at community events have proven to be very popular.

Earlier this year I took my activism to the next level, running for office on a platform of “Free Speech and Student Media Reform.” I received 430 votes—enough to earn a seat on the same Student Senate that had condemned PETA and attacked the First Amendment!
Virginia has always been famous for Patrick Henry’s call, “Give me liberty or give me death.” As a fellow Virginian, I can now proudly proclaim that free speech still reigns in my home state and America…and that I’m still alive.

Michael Dickinson is pursuing a doctoral degree in public policy and administration at Richmond’s Virginia Commonwealth University. He became interested in First Amendment struggles as a high school freshman after reading an article about Larry Flynt.

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Cult of Personality

Wednesday, December 20th, 2006

Infiltrating a secretive Lyndon LaRouche compound, UCLA student journalist Garin Hovannisian gets a frightening lesson in idolatry and indoctrination.

While heading to class along UCLA’s main pedestrian thoroughfare, a daytime hangout for young prophets and propagandists among others, I run into an old friend for the first time in two years. Back in high school, C.J. was a real character—a no-nonsense, call-it-like-it-is skeptic, jokester and poet. I soon learn that he’s been recruited by the LaRouche Youth Movement (LYM). After attending a weekend retreat at what he refers to as a “cadre school,” C.J. promptly dropped out of college, deserting family, friends, personality and every vestige of his past. Now living in a commune, he’s a full-fledged LYM member.

Born in 1922, the enigmatic Lyndon Hermyle LaRouche Jr. is a perennial Presidential candidate, prolific author and founder of several political organizations. Critics counter that he’s a trumpeter of outlandish theories, an extremist, a cult leader, a homophobe and an anti-Semite, but with 22 cadre schools in the U.S., LaRouche’s army is growing, his doctrine gaining more clout.

Since 1999 LYM has offered college dropouts a regimen of pseudo-intellectualized socialism, absolutist musical theory, post-calculus mathematics and a view of history as an ongoing clash between the forces of good and evil. LaRouche’s current whereabouts are unknown, but he communicates to his followers via messengers and Internet broadcasts.
So what turns an outgoing guy like C.J. into a politicized pamphleteer and peddler?

Spiritual enlightenment? Is my old pal playing a sinister joke on me?

In search of answers, I sign up for my first meeting. To my horror, I find myself in a secretive group of young revolutionaries seeking college-educated recruits for brainwashing.

LYM’s Southern California headquarters is a decrepit two-story structure in Eagle Rock, a short hop from downtown Los Angeles. C.J., who is waiting for me at the back door, escorts me inside. LaRouche propaganda is everywhere, even in the kitchen and bathroom. The largest area is set aside for volunteers who work the phone lines, talking it up with potential recruits.

In the library I find texts by Plato, Kepler, Gauss, Leibniz and Schiller, but Aristotle is banned. Sir Isaac Newton? According to LYM leaders, he’s a fraud and plagiarist. Only “pro-mankind” intellectuals are permitted. Charter member Cody Jones explains to me that science, economics, politics, culture and music are all measurable by a “mankind yardstick.” Pro-mankind: LaRouche, Plato and Bach. Anti-mankind: Aristotle and Rachmaninoff.

Later, everyone is summoned to the conference room, where an ensemble performs Bach chorales. Phil Rubenstein—a balding, spectacled fellow in his 50s—takes the stage for “the weekly update.” Rubenstein, who claims to be a minister, fires off a homily on the “major political force in the U.S.—the LaRouche Youth Movement!” This becomes a routine reassurance, I soon learn.

There are conspiracy theories (“The economist George Schultz is behind it all!”) and hush-hush secrets (“Tuesday, Lyn [LaRouche] had a private, off-the-record meeting with 12 development sector embassies”). Rubenstein’s camaraderie with the younger members gives him easy access to their malleable minds.

Once the official program concludes at 8 p.m., I stick around to mingle, hoping for casual conversation. My efforts prove futile. LYM followers never watch movies, don’t listen to music (other than the prescribed dose of classical), don’t tell jokes and don’t have hobbies.

Individual egos have been replaced by a collective identity. Every pursuit, aspiration, passion, emotion and thought revolves around “Lyn,” as members reverently call LaRouche—“the founder…the genius among geniuses…the leading prophetic figure of modern history.”

Dreadfully tired, I cannot survive any more of this. I say goodbye to C.J., gather my bags and leave LYM’s little empire.

UCLA senior Garin Hovannisian, 20, is editor of The Bruin Standard, a campus alternative newspaper. The Los Angeles native is also a freelance writer and blues addict and can be contacted at

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