Columbia University

Yes, it’s actually come to this. The New York Times reports:

A law firm hired by the N.F.L. to investigate footballs used by the New England Patriots has formally asked the Columbia University physics department for help in understanding how weather and temperature could affect the pressure in footballs, according to a summary of the communication obtained by The New York Times. …

“[An attorney] would like to consult with a physicist on matters relating to gas physics,” the notes said. …

The communication … appears to show that the N.F.L. is taking seriously the question of whether physics could explain the deflation. [The] call to the Columbia physics department first became known when Brian Metzger, a physicist at Columbia, mentioned it in a Facebook post.

In a bit of physics humor, Metzger then asked in the post whether Brian Greene of Columbia — one of the world’s best-known cosmologists — would “step up to the task.”

 Read the full article.

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If you thought Columbia University administrators could be mistaken for daycare operators whose main duty is to shelter unusually large toddlers from the outside world – well, you might like the school’s marching band.

The band refused the school’s pleas to forgo its annual “Orgo Night,” where it “pokes fun at virtually every group on campus, providing a light-hearted break for the community during the stressful period before exams,” student Bryan Schonfeld writes in the New York Daily News.

See, Columbia was “concerned about heightened tensions after controversial grand jury decisions in New York and Ferguson,” Schonfeld says:

But the failed attempt to cancel Orgo Night is but the latest incident in a troubling trend of censorship at Columbia and other campuses nationwide.

At Columbia, a fear of offense permeates classrooms, administrative decision-making, and syllabi. The comedic marching band has been targeted before: In 2012, a former dean of student affairs asked the marching band to take down posters featuring a “Gaza Strip Club” pun — a joke so offensive that it was deployed on national broadcast TV, on “The Simpsons.”

Schonfeld rattles off more: Barnard College’s student government said that asking a friend out to dinner is a “microaggression,” and a popular Columbia class warns students that they would “confront and contemplate materials concerning death, destruction, pain, violence and cruelty on a grand scale”:

Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker has alluded to this problem at his own institution, bemoaning that Harvard students are “pressured to sign a kindness pledge suitable for kindergarten” and “muzzled by speech codes that would not pass the giggle test if challenged on First Amendment grounds.” Chris Rock recently told an interviewer that he no longer performs for college audiences because they are too easily offended.

The answer? Schonfeld says:

To save the modern university, academics must take a more consistent and more vocal stand for free speech. Let us, the students, focus on our feelings. From our professors, we must hear that education requires diving head-first into the world of ideas and emerging as stronger and smarter individuals.

As students and patriots, our New Year’s resolution should be to make 2015 a year of free-speech renewal. From North Korea to northern Manhattan, free speech must know no bounds.

Read the Daily News op-ed.

h/t Foundation for Individual Rights in Education

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This past Monday, over one hundred University of Pennsylvania students marched through Philadelphia to protest the grand jury decision in the shooting death of Ferguson, Missouri’s Michael Brown:

Protesters walked in fierce solidarity, responding to the leaders’ chants: “No justice, no peace. No racist police.”
“I just don’t want my son, the child of an Ivy League graduate, to walk down the street in fear for his life,” a student who preferred to remain anonymous said at the protest.

This was along the lines of what New York City mayor Bill De Blasio said in reaction to the non-indictment of the officer who used a “chokehold” on (black) victim Eric Garner:

Mr. de Blasio told an audience that he worried over the years if his son Dante would be safe at night before adding, “And not just from some of the painful realities of crime and violence in some of our neighborhoods but safe from the very people they want to have faith in as their protectors.”

Students at other Ivy League schools have expressed similar sentiments:

“I’m scared to go outside,” [Brianna] Alston said. “This is a real fearful situation for the black community.” (Columbia University)

“Business as usual can’t continue, our frivolities can’t continue while people are dying without reason and impunity,” [Stephanie] Amoako said. (Columbia)

“My brother is turning 20 next month, which means that he is solidifying his presence in a demographic of young black men between the ages of 19-25 in the United States who are disproportionately targeted by police brutality,” Karleh Wilson ’16 explained. “I worry about [my brother’s] safety under the hands of the law. My brother should feel safe among the presence of policemen, but he does not, and this is the same for all men of color his age in America.” (Yale)

A student at Harvard held a placard that read “This is Genocide.”

Nadia May recited a poem about “how she will mother her future children intertwined with commentary on racism and police brutality.” (Cornell)

A frequent refrain heard from “progressives” and Democrats — usually in snide rebuttal to conservatives/Republicans regarding global warming climate change — is that they’re “the party of science,” and the “believers in facts.”

So, is it really a fact that Ms. Alston and the others should be “scared to go outside” for fear of being killed by a police officer?

Compared to many other things out there in society, the answer is “hardly.”

Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly this past week devoted a “Talking Points” segment to this issue. Here is what he noted, with sources from the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice, the CDC, the FBI and the Census Bureau:

  • Police killings of blacks down 70% in last 50 years
  • In 2012, 123 blacks were killed by police with a gun
  • In 2012, 326 whites were killed with a gun
  • In 2013, blacks committed 5,375 murders
  • In 2013, whites committed 4,396 murders
  • Whites are 63% of the population blacks are 13%

To be fair, some have taken issue with these statistics. The Tampa Bay Times’ PunditFact site (a subsidiary of PolitiFact) argues that some of the figures are “incomplete” because, for example (in the CDC’s case), “coroners and physicians are under no obligation to detail police involvement in the deaths that they encounter.”

black-white-DryHundredFear.flickrHowever, ironically, PunditFact notes that the “whites killed by police figure” is artificially inflated because it includes Hispanics. But … weren’t we informed by the mainstream media in the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman incident that Zimmerman was, in fact, a “white Hispanic”?? So … which is it? Do we refer to “white Hispanics” as “white” … or do we keep Hispanics as a separate category?

Then there is The Daily Dot which claims to have “debunked” O’Reilly’s “argument about racism in American policing”:

Secondly, what O’Reilly’s statistics show—but what O’Reilly leaves unsaid—is that black people are killed at disproportionately higher rates than white people by police officers. African Americans are 14 percent of the population but 30 percent of the police-shooting deaths. This is double the rate that one might expect from O’Reilly’s fantasy world in which race is not a factor.

The numbers get even grimmer when narrowed down a bit. Police kill young black men at a rate 21 times higher than the equivalent rate for young white men.

Which, unfortunately, completely omits any reference to vastly disproportionate black murder rate noted above by O’Reilly. It is quite disingenuous to expect “proportionate representation” in law enforcement killings when the (race-based) crime rate isn’t even close to being such.

The mainstream media also doesn’t help matters by omitting virtually identical types of stories … but where the races are reversed. For instance, a Trayvon Martin-like tale involved a (black) man named Roderick Scott. Scott shot and killed seventeen year-old Christopher Cervini, who was white. Cervini and two others were stealing from cars when Scott confronted them. Scott pulled out a gun and told the boys to freeze until police arrived. However, Cervini apparently charged Scott, who then opened fire, killing the teen.

After a trial, Scott was found “not guilty” of manslaughter.

Some of the comments afterwards by Cervini’s family sound awfully familiar:

Cervini’s family members say justice wasn’t served. They say Christopher was murdered in cold blood, that he’d never been in trouble and Scott acted as judge, jury and executioner.

“The message is that we can all go out and get guns and feel anybody that we feel is threatening us and lie about the fact,” said Jim Cervini, Christopher’s father. “My son never threatened anybody. He was a gentle child, his nature was gentle, he was a good person and he was never, ever arrested for anything, and has never been in trouble. He was 16 years and four months old, and he was slaughtered.”

With regards to the Michael Brown case, two years ago a black police officer shot and killed unarmed white teenager Gilbert Collar in Mobile, Alabama. But, “despite public pressure for an indictment, a Mobile County grand jury refused to bring charges against Officer [Trevis] Austin, concluding that the officer acted in self-defense.”

Collar was under the influence of an hallucinogen when taken into custody. He was 5’7″ and weighed a mere 135 pounds. Once at the police station, Collar “began banging on the outside windows, then walked in the general direction of Officer Austin, who had his gun drawn.”

Austin shot Collar in the chest, killing him.

You can argue about the reasons we didn’t hear about these stories; however, many would say it’s because it doesn’t fit the (usual) media narrative.

The “party of science and facts” does itself, and everyone else, a big disservice by continuing to stand by a discredited narrative. Once the facts — science — came forth from the Ferguson grand jury that Michael Brown did not, in fact, have his hands up, supporters promptly stated “it doesn’t matter.”

Recently, DC Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton repeated as much. When asked if she had “read all the evidence” in the Brown case, she replied “I did not, and that is not a concern.”

Further, will the mainstream media heavily cover what Erica Garner said (her father being the aforementioned New York City suspect placed in a chokehold who later died as a result, according to a coroner) this week about her father’s death — that it wasn’t a racial matter? That it was more about general police aggression and misuse of tactics?

Any rational and reasonably intelligent American is cognizant of the historic plight of African-Americans. It is certainly understandable that many in that community harbor a degree of mistrust of police; it wasn’t all that long ago when the law made it a crime for black Americans to even sit at the same lunch counter as whites.

But it does no American — black, white, brown — any good to promote falsehoods which serve to shred the entire American community asunder.

We have competent legal procedures in place to rectify a miscarriage of justice — led by the top law enforcement officer in the land, Eric Holder, a black man. The most recent of these unfortunate police killings  (that of  Eric Garner) appears to be a case where the feds can make a compelling case in the typical follow-up investigation.

Dave Huber is an assistant editor of  The College Fix. (@ColossusRhodey)

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INTERIOR IMAGE: Dry Hundred Fear/Flickr

With just days left before California Gov. Jerry Brown signs (or vetoes) the state’s pioneering “yes means yes” sexual consent bill for colleges (SB 967), California students may be wondering how they can possibly prove after the fact that their sexual partners gave consent.

Enter Sandton Technologies, the developers of Good2Go (not to be confused with Washington state’s toll-pass program), a mobile application for Android and iOS platforms. Its Google Play page promises that it will make sure both of you give “affirmative consent” for each sexual encounter, and confirm that you can consent:

Good2Go App includes a sobriety questionnaire so that both parties know if affirmative consent can be granted. If the partner who is being asked if he or she is “Good2Go?” is too incapacitated, consent cannot be granted.

Reason‘s Robby Soave, a former College Fix colleague who earlier this year called for the creation of such a consent app, is singing the praises of Good2Go after playing with it. Sorry, Robby, but I’m going to burst your bubble:

This app is worse than nothing if you want to protect yourself from false allegations or miscommunications in the heat of the moment. Based on its promises, it could conceivably violate federal law as well.

One-Time Consent That’s Not ‘Legally Binding’

Let’s consider how the California bill is structured. It defines “affirmative consent” as

affirmative, conscious, and voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity. … Affirmative consent must be ongoing throughout a sexual activity and can be revoked at any time. [emphasis added]

Since Good2Go uses traditional gender stereotypes of men initiating and women responding, I will too.


Good2Go asks for consent once – in theory, before a sexual encounter has started. Its FAQ page is careful to avoid legal language, telling users the app gives partners “a level of mutual understanding that is well beyond what often exists today” but is not “legally binding”:

No, the app facilitates communication, reduces misunderstandings, and indicates a level of sobriety. It encourages people to discuss what they want to do before they do it, but it is not a contract.

Signing off on the app does nothing to legally preempt a partner who changes her mind about consent from alleging she was assaulted.

This was the situation described by a student at Columbia University who claimed she was anally raped by a partner after starting a consensual sexual encounter. (For more on that case, which drew national attention, read our coverage.)

Who Decides Sobriety – Accuser or Accused?

Back to the California bill: Affirmative consent is not in play when the accused person’s “belief in affirmative consent arose from the intoxication or recklessness of the accused.”

Neither can affirmative consent apply if “the accused knew or reasonably should have known that the complainant was unable to consent to the sexual activity” because the accuser was “incapacitated due to the influence of drugs, alcohol, or medication, so that the complainant could not understand the fact, nature, or extent of the sexual activity.”

That’s a burden of proof that lies with the accused. Good2Go, by contrast, assigns the consent decision to the accuser.

good2go-intoxicated.screenshotAnd the app’s alcohol options are far from objective: “Sober,” “Mildly Intoxicated,” “Intoxicated but Good2Go” (?) and “Pretty Wasted.” Choosing “Pretty Wasted” is the only option that halts the consent process completely.

Considering that the app depends on each partner evaluating their own sobriety, this mechanism is far from reassuring as to judging a person’s ability to consent under the California bill.

This is the crux of the matter in a lawsuit against Occidental College in California for railroading a male student accused of rape. Court records show that his accuser went to great lengths to have sex with him, backed by her text messages, but because she couldn’t remember the encounter after the fact and a professor pressured her to file a complaint, the school contends she couldn’t legally consent – and that her partner should have known.

If public service announcements have taught us anything, it’s that “buzzed driving is drunk driving.” A person may get into a car and consider herself sober enough to safely drive, or get into a bed, click through an app and consider herself sober enough to have sex, and only after the fact decide that she wasn’t – perhaps after talking to friends or a Title IX official.

‘Good2Go’ to Accused, ‘Incapacitated’ to Administrator

Meanwhile, after the initiator approves the partner’s self-described state of intoxication on the app, the initiator has created a digital trail that identifies him as having had sex with a person who may be just shy of “Pretty Wasted,” whatever the hell that means.

This amounts to a confession of sexual assault, should the partner file a complaint and campus administrators (or a prosecutor) decide that the accuser who was self-described “Mildly” or “Good2Go” intoxicated was actually “Pretty Wasted” and unable to legally consent.

Remember – it’s meaningless that the partner herself indicated some appropriate level of intoxication on Good2Go. The bill clearly puts the onus on the initiator to decide if his partner is “incapacitated.” (And we know that students have different definitions of consent than the nation’s leading sexual-assault tutorial provider.)


Anyone who recalls how Internet companies have released reams of personal data to law enforcement on flimsy pretenses should be worried by this FAQ:

The details of any interaction stored on the Good2Go servers can only be released by the operators of Good2Go, and this will only be done when they determine that a proper request has been made by appropriate authorities, such as law enforcement or a university as part of an investigation. [emphasis added]

This could be a smoking gun if administrators want to quickly close a sexual-assault investigation, especially if there are no witnesses in the run-up to the sexual encounter: “Intoxicated but Good2Go” might as well mean “incapacitated.”

Put yourself in the shoes of the accused student in the Occidental case, who had a collection of affirmative text messages from an imminent sexual partner who was intoxicated but appeared to know exactly what she was doing.

Now ask if Good2Go’s sample scenario would have prevented the Occidental situation:

If she answers “Sober,” “Mildly Intoxicated,” or “Intoxicated but Good2Go” (anything other than “Pretty Wasted”), she will be asked to enter her phone number and the app will verify her identity. This process can bring clarity to the situation and help reduce the possibility of miscommunication. If a man does not receive a positive response, he should not start an encounter. [emphasis added]

This is the equivalent of a newspaper horoscope that reads in fine print at the bottom, “For entertainment purposes only.” The difference is the horoscope won’t get you expelled.

Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices

App design is a hot issue at the Federal Trade Commission, which has started cracking down on companies that promise to keep user data private and secure but have “systemic” problems doing so.

The FTC claims that those baseless promises violate Section 5 of the FTC Act, which gives the agency the power to punish “unfair and deceptive” trade practices.

Good2Go doesn’t explain how it protects user data on its servers, but should hackers decide to have some fun with its database and expose a detailed list of who’s having sex on campus with whom and how often, Good2Go could find itself in trouble with the feds. Or California’s attorney general – Kamala Harris is known as a ball-buster in the app industry.

Did You Even Read the Bill?

What’s most troubling to me is that Good2Go’s maker is a strong backer of the “yes means yes” bill.

It promoted a Wednesday rally in Los Angeles in favor of the bill (supporters sound antsy that Gov. Brown might not sign it). And just like ride-sharing services, it’s trying to recruit “ambassadors” on campus to spread the gospel of checklist-aided sex.

Good2Go is also trying to rally libertarian support by citing Robby Soave’s credulous article from June that thinks a mobile app can solve the legal and political rigamarole that is “affirmative consent.” It’s a leading temptation of the smartphone age: We can solve anything with a mobile app!

But it’s not at all clear to me that Sandton Technologies actually read the bill as it was designing the app:

  • One-time consent mechanism
  • Laughably vague series of inebriation states
  • Consenting partner judges sobriety

Good2Go may slow down sex partners from lunging at each other – after all, they both have to log in to record consent and drunkishness – but it is beyond useless for California college students who find themselves in a disciplinary bind.

Students who have the slightest doubt about the competence and fairness of their campus administrators should avoid this app like … well, like Good2Go’s terms of service avoid liability for potentially ruining their lives.

Greg Piper is an assistant editor at The College Fix. (@GregPiper)

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IMAGES: Good2Go screenshots

According to one Columbia University professor, the United States’ effort to stop barbarians from slaughtering and beheading people in the name of Allah is the same as Russia invading and taking over a sovereign, Democratic country that is not currently killing people en masse.

As Young Conservatives reported via Truth Revolt:“Dr. Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, has officially lost it, claiming U.S. bombing ISIS is equivalent to Russia invading Ukraine.”

That he’s “lost it” is one way of putting it. But the truth is professors such as Sachs actually BELIEVE that the two actions are equivalent – and they teach students that, too.

Professor Sachs told Ronan Farrow on MSNBC that it’s all about a “power game” and that U.S. actions against ISIS break “international law.”

Says Sachs:

And in the Middle East, the United States is bombing. We’re engaged in operations to overthrow a government in Syria. And so the messages that are being sent by both these powers are this is a power game. The United States and its allies are going to do what they want to do militarily in the Middle East. Russia is going to do militarily in Ukraine. Each side stands for principle. Neither side is really respecting international law especially and each side is claiming the mantel of international law.

Watch the video:

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Columbia University student Emma Sulkowicz has a twofold purpose in carrying around her twin mattress everywhere on campus: It’s her senior thesis (performance art) and an attempt to shame the school into punishing her alleged rapist.

New York reports:

Sulkowicz is one of 23 students who are part of a federal Title IX complaint filed against Columbia in April for mishandling sexual-assault cases. Though she and two other students reported that the same student had assaulted them, all of their claims were swept under the rug, and the male student was not expelled from campus.

Sulkowicz said in a Time essay in May she was raped on her own bed during her sophomore year. She talks about her project in a Columbia Spectator video. (Sulkowicz actually had consensual sex twice before with her alleged rapist, according to the police report, noted in the Spectator’s original report.)

In a new interview with The Cut, the fashion site for New York, the student blames the media – the lawsuit and her performance art drew wide coverage –  for making her relive the horror of rape:

The reporter response has been really aggressive and not what I expected. It is a sensitive subject, and I can’t be accosted in the middle of campus to talk about it. One guy, while I was carrying the mattress, he just opened up my backpack and threw his business card in, which was a real violation of my space and made me really upset and triggered a lot of memories of being raped.

Yesterday was really stressful because of the reporters on campus. I had a class at 8:40, so my boyfriend helped me carry the mattress to class — we slid it along the sidewall so it wasn’t distracting. Then my next class was at 2 p.m. and that was when two news stations started following me and taking pictures of me. I finally got to class and the people waited outside. I received an email from one reporter, “Subject line: Mattress Girl. Content: I have her contact info and I am going to get her.” I didn’t know that he was a reporter at first so I thought I was going to die, and so I was so scared and really fearing for my life. My boyfriend came and picked me up because I was so afraid of the reporters. [emphasis added]

As dumb as that reporter’s email phrasing was, it’s a little hard to take Sulkowicz’s media criticism seriously when she acknowledges the point of performance art:

I thought about how I was raped in my own bed at Columbia; and how the mattress represents a private place where a lot of your intimate life happens; and how I have brought my life out in front for the public to see; and the act of bringing something private and intimate out into the public mirrors the way my life has been. Also the mattress as a burden, because of what has happened there, that has turned my own relationship with my bed into something fraught. [emphasis added]

Sulkowicz has revealing thoughts about the police investigation into the alleged rape and why she’s not pursuing criminal charges or a civil suit. She also criticizes Columbia’s new sexual-assault policy, which as noted by The College Fix allows both parties to retain lawyers and seeks judges to serve on hearing panels:

Columbia just released a new policy, but in the new Columbia policy it is even harder than it was before to try a serial rapist, and have him expelled. Now they have explicitly stated that each case will be treated separately until the first one has closed. If one person rapes three girls in one night, those girls won’t be able to testify at each other’s cases, the way it currently stands. That to me is really sickening. 

She’d still rather have the school lead rape investigations than law enforcement:

The police don’t seem very well equipped either. It is going to take an administration that is willing to admit that they have done wrong, and make real tangible changes. I think administrations are actually in a better place to make these changes than the police right now. …

I feel like it would take that much longer for [the police to] change, but the universities are filled with people who are progressive thinkers, and who can come up with creative strategies to solve these problems. We have so many intelligent students who think about and care about this issue way more than any of the administration. [emphasis added]

Read the full Cut interview here, and earlier New York article here.

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