New York Times opinion columnist Charles Blow is fuming (his word) that his son, a junior chemistry major at Yale, was stopped at gunpoint by a campus cop.

Apparently Blow’s son matched the description of a burglary suspect, and Yale officers “responded to emergency calls from undergraduates in Trumbull College” stating that an individual had gained entrance “under false pretenses, pretending to be looking for someone.”

Yale released a statement on the incident, noting among things that the suspect was “a tall, African-American, college-aged student wearing a black jacket and a red and white hat” … and that “was the description that Yale police used as they converged on Trumbull and attempted to track down the suspect.”

Blow’s son “was briefly detained and released by Yale police.” The actual suspect was eventually caught later that evening.

The columnist took to Twitter to vent his anger (via Twitchy):

Numerous commenters at Twitchy and on Twitter say Blow is way overreacting. Is the fact that his son attends an Ivy League school supposed to insulate the undergrad from police doing their job?

In my late teens a friend and I were approached by a cop car speeding down the street. Right in front of my house the police locked up their brakes, and a woman cop got out of the passenger side yelling at us to “freeze.” She didn’t draw her gun, but had her hand on it in its holster.

It seemed we matched the description of a couple assailants who had beat up and robbed some young kids.

We were very cooperative. Once they checked us out and verified where we had been, they thanked us for our time. There was no real apology, other than something like “sorry for taking so long on this.”

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UC Berkeley students and members of the local community casually entered local shops and restaurants Saturday morning to then begin reading the names of “black men killed by police and vigilantes.”

They also participated in various chants and songs.

Dubbed “black brunch,” the college’s Black Student Union stated the protest “targeted upscale businesses as places to ‘stop business as usual’ and highlight violence against black people in the United States.”

The Daily Californian reports:

“The small inconvenience felt while we disrupted businesses pales in comparison to the nightmarish reality of being Black in America,” the [Black Student Union] press release said.

The demonstrators gathered in front of the Berkeley Amtrak station before marching into several businesses, including Spenger’s Fresh Fish Grotto, the Apple Store and Peet’s Coffee & Tea. Once inside, speakers from the group read a list of names of black individuals killed by police, security guards and self-appointed vigilantes.

Several protesters then took the mic in the middle of a shopping center on Fourth and Delaware streets, including one UC Berkeley student, junior Blake Simons, who read a poem about his experiences with Berkeley police.

“I show my Cal Berkeley ID, and soon he lets me be free,” Simons said while reading his poem. “No ticket, no warning — it’s like he pulled me over just for fun.”

Truth Revolt notes that similar protests took place in New York City and highlights some tweets from protesters in both locations:

TR also includes some tweeted reactions to the protests.

Read the full Daily Californian and Truth Revolt articles.

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They plan to put ‘our bodies and/or privilege on the line in visible, public solidarity’

Eric Garner’s dying words are comparable to Jesus Christ’s greetings to his disciples, according to a group of Catholic theologians calling for “a serious examination of both policing and racial injustice in the US.”

More than 430 theologians from Catholic universities as diverse as Marquette, DePaul, Santa Clara and Boston College; secular schools including Duke and Yale; and priests, high school teachers and other workers for religious organizations have signed the statement as of Sunday night.

It was written by Tobias Winright, a professor at Saint Louis University and former law enforcement officer, and published three weeks ago at Catholic Moral Theology, a hub for North American theologians who “want to avoid the standard ‘liberal /conservative’ divide that often characterizes contemporary conversation.”

“[T]his Advent, hope for a just peace must face the flagrant failures of a nation still bound by sin, our bondage to and complicity in racial injustice,” the statement opens.

The document criticizes “the failures of the grand jury process to indict some of the police officers involved” in the shootings of not only Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., and Garner in Staten Island, but also 7-year-old Aiyana Stanley-Jones in Detroit four years ago and 12-year-old Tamir Rice in Cleveland last month.

“As Eric Garner’s dying words ‘I can’t breathe’ are chanted in the streets, and as people of faith, we hear the echo of Jesus’ breathing on his disciples, telling them, ‘Peace be with you,’” the statement reads.

Citing Martin Luther King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” the statement says the “cup of endurance runs over” again for African Americans: “Our streets are filled with those exhausted by the need to explain yet again ‘why we can’t wait.’”

Just as King challenged “white moderate” Christians on civil rights , the statement reads, the “challenge to the White Christian community is as relevant today as it was over 50 years ago.”

“The time demands that we leave some mark that US Catholic theologians did not ignore what is happening in our midst – as the vast majority sadly did during the 1960s Civil Rights movement.”

The signatories pledged to take several actions, including fasting from meat on Fridays through “the seasons of Christmas and Epiphany” next month; “placing our bodies and/or privilege on the line in visible, public solidarity” with those protesting “deep-seated racism”; and pressuring their bishops to bring anti-racist teaching “to the forefront” of Catholic action.

Beyond calling for common police reforms, the signatories call for the establishment of “publicly accountable review boards” to act as a check on grand juries and local prosecutors when it comes to police misconduct. They also want a “Truth and Reconciliation Commission to examine race in America,” based on a similar 2004 effort in North Carolina. (Other activists are making the same demand.)

“As part of this commitment, we pledge to continue listening to, praying for, and even joining in our streets with those struggling for justice through nonviolent protests and peaceful acts of civil disobedience,” the statement said.

College Fix reporter Nathan Rubbelke is a student at Saint Louis University.

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IMAGE: JInglis26/Flickr



Moderation system is running ’24/7,’ takes down ‘nipple’ pics

Anonymous communication is trending as the common theme among new apps geared toward college students – and common enemy for their administrators and campus leaders.

Unseen, a five-month-old app that the Daily Pennsylvanian describes as “a hybrid of Snapchat and Yik Yak,” lets students communicate with each other on campus by sharing photos with captions – anonymously.

“A picture really is worth a thousand words,” Michael Schramm, Unseen co-founder and CEO, said in a phone interview with The College Fix.

The app’s popularity has grown so fast since its July debut at Texas A&M University, Schramm’s alma mater, that the company created a wait list for new schools to be added.

When users download the Unseen app they enter their university’s name. If that school’s feed has already been approved, users get sent to that feed, and if not, users are told how far back on the wait list the school is.

As of Dec. 9, about 200 schools have their own feed, with more than a thousand on the wait list.

The thought behind Unseen is “what if you could introduce yourself while remaining anonymous?” Schramm told The Fix. “The anonymous world has always existed but never in a way that was truly beneficial,” as Unseen has done, he added.

Student can make more meaningful connections on Unseen than through other social media platforms, according to Schramm. The app just launched an anonymous peer-to-peer function, letting users anonymously “direct message” one another.

Facebook and Twitter encourage users to “share only the politically correct aspects of our life,” whereas Unseen is intended to “unshackle our generation” from the “fear of retribution, fallout or our reputation,” Schramm earlier told the Daily Pennsylvanian.

screenshot-www.youtube.com 2014-12-19 17-32-34As with Yik Yak, Unseen has provoked a negative reaction on campuses where it’s live because of the type of content that dominates it.

A school’s feed might feature everyday successes in college life, alongside photos of girls in sexual poses, guys looking for their next hookup, illicit drugs and racist comments.

Although Schramm told The Fix that no school has directly approached Unseen to discuss the app’s impact on campus, some schools are trying to mitigate what they see as negative consequences.

University of Texas-San Antonio student leaders took to Twitter with a “delete the app” campaign in early November.

“Many of our fraternity and sorority life leaders believe that Unseen is a destructive app that can be detrimental to university communities, especially fraternities and sororities,” Margo Perez, the university’s Panhellenic Council president, said in an email to The Fix.

screenshot-www.youtube.com 2014-12-19 17-33-35“By allowing anonymous picture sharing and anonymous, un-moderated comments, our student leaders saw the app used to harass and bully groups and individuals,” Perez said. “That concerned them.”

Students began noticing some comments of harassment and bullying, both against individuals and the fraternities and sororities as a whole.

The Panhellenic Council encouraged students to delete Unseen and fight cyberbullying, using thehashtag #UTSAActualSororityMove.

About 36 hours after the hashtag’s creation, it was used 270 times and seen by 60,000 people in three countries, according to Perez. (The council tweeted Nov. 12 that the hashtag campaign reached approximately 56,000 people.)


Oklahoma State University officials watched with dropped jaws as the app became a space for racism in late October.

When someone posted a photo of a group of African-American girls dancing at a fundraising event, users left comments such as “Call the zoo, the gorillas got out again,” USA Today College reported.

But what happened next, Schramm said, is exactly what he he had intended for the app when it launched: He said the president of the university used Unseen to promote diversity in the midst of racial tension. (Because Unseen posts aren’t archived for long periods, The Fix could not confirm that the president used Unseen.)

Unseen published an open letter to Oklahoma State after the incident, promising a new system of moderation and updates, though the company hasn’t explained how it works.

“We have teams dedicated 24/7 to both reviewing and moderating content that is created or flagged by users,” Schramm said when asked how the moderation system works.

(Schramm told TechCrunch in August that Unseen “quietly censors” photos that violate its guidelines, such as its “no nipples” rule.)

The company is “still in discussions with” Oklahoma State, and has participated in an “open dialogue” with the administration and student groups “to better understand the problem and learn how we can improve,” Schramm told The Fix.

Despite the adversity Unseen’s founders have to overcome, they see the app as a tool to improve the campus experience.

“Regardless of race, religion, opinion, beliefs, we want to be an open platform that is truly open and truly secure in a way that can unite people and create discussion that you may not have otherwise seen before,” Schramm said.

College Fix reporter Courtney Such is a student at Furman University.

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IMAGE: Unseen screenshots/YouTube, UTSA Panhellenic Council/Twitter


A columnist for Philadelphia magazine weighed in on that University of Pennsylvania frat Christmas card with the Beyonce sex doll The College Fix noted last week, saying everyone’s getting a bit careless in throwing the “racist” claim around:

In addition to the potentially offensive words “Merry Christmas,” the appearance of not one but two Dallas Cowboys shirts, and some guy who seems to be biting into a large fish (for the love of God, somebody page PETA!), the Penn bros also chose to include in their photo a naked blow-up sex doll with brown skin.

Stupid? Yes. Tasteless? Yes. But racist? I dunno, folks. I’d be more offended by the Cowboys shirts. (Or by the fact that the frat is apparently lacking in African-American membership, at least based on the photo.) The photo neither states nor implies that the young men think that whites are superior to blacks, that black people are evil, that there’s anything wrong with being black, that black people are somehow suspicious. …

So they’re not racist, because that is what racism is — a dehumanizing belief in the superiority of one race over another.

It’s just the latest of many overwrought “racist” incidents, columnist Victor Fiorillo says, which includes:

  • an Urban Outfitters holiday party that asked attendees to wear “jutis, kurtans, turbans, saris, lehenga cholis and harem parents”
  • a birthday cake given to a University of Maryland sorority sister stamped with “suck a nigga dick” – possibly “an allusion to the outrageously offensive Three Six Mafia song ‘Suck a Nigga Dick‘”

Thoughtless accusations don’t promote dialogue, Fiorillo says:

You call someone a racist and everybody freaks out. The accused racists are shamed, silenced, and stigmatized. And any chance for a meaningful discourse implodes. And if anything is clear, it’s that a meaningful discourse is exactly what we need right about now.

Read the Philadelphia column.

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IMAGE: Phi Delta Theta’s Facebook page via Daily Pennsylvanian

It’s debatable whether a sex doll of any ethnicity should be in a Christmas photo, but Phi Delta Theta is in trouble for using a “dark-skinned” one in their Christmas card.

The Daily Pennsylvanian reports that the frat president has already apologized for the photo, posted to the frat’s Facebook page, and explaining to the “African Diaspora” campus group UMOJA that “the doll was a Beyoncé sex toy originally meant as a gag gift at the group’s Secret Santa event.”

Because Ferguson just happened, this is terribly offensive, the NAACP Penn chapter president said, and her reaction was mild compared to another group of activists:

“The inclusion of a racially and sexually charged object in such a flagrant fashion displays a serious and immediate need for repercussions that reflect the severity of this misogynistic, racist offense,” a joint statement issued by the 5B — the five umbrella coalitions for minority groups on campus — and the Penn Consortium for Undergraduate Women said. “We—UMOJA, APSC, UMC, Latin@ Coalition, Lambda Alliance, and PCUW—firmly believe that when an event like this marginalizes one of our communities, it marginalizes us all.”

“What particularly concerns us is how flippant this deeply misogynistic and racist choice seems to have been,” an addendum from the PCUW read.


Like many campus activists responding to claimed misogyny, these groups have a complete agenda for redress:

UMOJA specifically called for the chapter to be fined and its rush activities to be suspended until “a council of peers deem it acceptable to resume activity after and instituted education process.” Further, the group urged the Office of Student Affairs/Fraternity and Sorority Life to enforce “mandatory cultural competency courses for all members to resume activity…” and for the fraternity’s national organization to be notified.

So remember, Greeks… keep your sex dolls Caucasian.

Read the Daily article.

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IMAGE: Phi Delta Theta’s Facebook page via Daily Pennsylvanian