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Campus Informer – October 24, 2005

Gay frats, campus cults, tailgaiting racists, text messaging as WMD and more news from schools across the country.
Campus Informer, Andrew Garib, Cornell University and Maggie Brock, University of South Carolina, Oct. 24, 2005

Gay frats, campus cults, tailgaiting racists, text messaging as WMD and more news from schools across the country.

By Andrew Garib, Cornell University and Maggie Brock, University of South Carolina

To Cult or Not To Cult
University of Southern California

‘Cult’ is a strong word to throw around in a state that’s home to Scientology, Hollywood diets and Gary Coleman. But, a website dedicated to informing California college students about possible cult activities on their campus, is doing just that, according to the University of Southern California Daily Trojan. Reginald Greene created the organization and subsequent website after his girlfriend joined the Los Angeles Church of Christ in 1990, an organization described with the oh-so-special ‘c’ word by former USC undergrad Janine Marnien in a 2000 USC Catholic Community Newsletter article.

Is the LA Church of Christ truly a cult? Arlene Markowski, a director of the Los Angeles Church of Christ at USC, certainly doesn’t think so. “I grew up in New York and I’m not stupid,” Markowski told the Trojan. “We show faith to people and if they’re open, they’re open. And if they’re not, we move on.” Justin Curtin, a senior majoring in computer science, isn’t sure if that particular religious sect is up there with the Branch Davidians, but he certainly believes that cults exist on campus. We assume he’s referring to the Objectivist Club. “Name a campus that doesn’t have cults,” Curtin said.

Cultists and non-cultists alike may be happy to know that since Marnien’s article, USC has officially recognized both the Objectivists and the Church of Christ on campus. The Branch Davidians, however, failed to register as a student organization for the fall semester.


Rushing For The Other Team
University of Arizona

Homophobia has often been a problem within the fraternity community, but frat boy tolerance has taken one small step in the right direction with the expected University ratification of Delta Lambda Phi, the latest addition to the University of Arizona’s constellation of houses dedicated to beer-chugging, embarrassing hazing rituals and intramural groupthink. What makes ΔΛΦ special? It’s UA’s only gay fraternity.

The new house is designed to help members of the gay and progressive communities experience Greek life, but still suffers from the misconceptions it seeks to avoid (for example, that the frat is simply a dating service for gay students – dating fellow brothers is strictly prohibited). “We are a brotherhood just like any other fraternity,” said ΔΛΦ national president Christopher Newman.

It will take a majority vote by fraternity chapter presidents before the University can recognize the rainbow frat, but Michael Katzman, president of the Intrafraternity Council, says he’s not anticipating much resistance since Delta Lambda Phi is a nationally recognized organization. That means the new fraternity has been honored for its equal contribution towards other, more traditional, lofty Greek goals — the consumption of Busch, the wearing of Abercrombie and Fitch, and the breeching of campus noise violations.


Weapons of Mass Text Messaging
Penn State University

Penn State researchers found what the Bush administration has been looking for since 2001, right in our own backyard. Patrick McDaniel and Thomas La Porta, both Penn State computer science and engineering professors, say that they have discovered a vulnerability in cell phone networks that would allow large scale amounts of text messaging to completely shut down the network, leaving a city vulnerable to crime or terrorism.

Patrick Traynor, a graduate student in computer science and engineering, explains, “Imagine that the voice portion of the network is a six-lane superhighway, but the only way to get on it is through a one-lane on-ramp. If you jam the on-ramp, no one can get on.”

By sending 165 text messages per second continuously, a hacker could shut down phone service to all of Manhattan until the system could process all the messages. Only 325,525 messages per second would shut down service to the entire country, McDaniel said. It sounds like some fast typing, until you think about it. Ever encountered those annoying ads in your text message inbox? That’s right, the capabilities exist (and are fairly widespread) to send text messages from the
Internet. “Connecting the Internet to our national critical infrastructure is inherently dangerous,” McDaniel said. “It invites all.” Without the capabilities of sending text messages from the Internet, he said, sending enough messages to jam the system would be difficult.

Don’t worry, though, these are not your average hackers. “A guy in his basement, probably won’t be able to do this,” McDaniel said. “But a concerted effort by a nation-state or organized crime could likely take advantage of this vulnerability.”

McDaniel hopes that the story will launch more money into researching telecommunications as a way to increase national security.


Tailgate Racists March On
Louisiana State University

Students at Louisiana State University continue to flout both good sense and the demands of the school’s local chapter of the NAACP by flying a version of the confederate flag at tailgate parties outside school football games. In fact, according to The Daily Reveille, the LSU student newspaper, some students are so hostile to the proposed ban on their First Amendment rights to show their support for the confederate side of the War of Northern Aggression, that they would continue to fly the flag of their pro-slavery heroes even if a ban were in place.

The gold and purple version of the banner, spangled only with the stars of the rebelling slave states during the U.S. Civil War, has become popular among LSU sports fans. But campus progressives, in particular LSU’s black community, took offense to the display of the most prominent symbol of the anti-Civil Rights movement in the mid-20th century. The NAACP has moved to have the flag banned on campus in light of that history.

Nevertheless, pro-flag students maintain a vitriolic opposition to LSU’s African-Americans. Some tailgaters became hostile at even the mention of the possible ban.

Wildlife and fisheries junior Jessica Paul, who hung a rebel flag from a tree during a recent tailgating event, didn’t understand what the big deal was. "It might be offensive to some people," Paul told the Reveille. "At the same time, it’s a heritage to us." Other students wonder if the heritage of being sons and daughters of slave owners is something to celebrate.

One tailgater, a lawyer from Baton Rouge, told the Reveille that the First Amendment protects offensive speech, so he would continue to raise the flag in public. Hey, at least he acknowledged that the showing of the racist symbol is offensive. The newspaper also reported, “[A] woman insisted that as long as black people had a Black Miss America and Black Entertainment Television, she should be permitted to wave the flag on campus.”

That’s gold. (And purple.)


George Washington U. Says Former Sex Prof Too Easy
George Washington University

A popular professor of sex at Washington, D.C.’s George Washington University has been criticized as being too easy, and was therefore dismissed by the university. “I didn’t do anything inappropriate,” former adjunct professor Michael Shaffer told the GW Hatchet. “Anyone can take a course and learn facts and figures and parrot them back in an exam,” the candid academic said, but what were more important were the “actions and behaviors of human sexuality.” Earlier justifications for Schaffer’s dismissal cited a desire for the department of exercise science “to move in a different direction,” according to department head Patricia Sullivan. But when pressed for a reason, Sullivan told the denuded former prof to “check your student evaluations.” Perhaps the good professor had an aversion to playing hard-to-get, providing insufficient challenge to more restless students.

Sadly for us, this story is about a professor who is only easy in terms of academics. But the outcome is worse for GW students. The engaging professor was “everyone’s favorite” and the victim of a modern-day puritanical witch hunt, according to former students. Shaffer’s class had been a hit with GW students for 17 years, often among the first to fill up with enrolled students.


Thou Shalt Not Punt
University of Rhode Island

At a URI Honors Colloquium earlier this month, Sports Illustrated editor and NPR contributor Frank Deford said, “Sports are important to all cultures. It is something that seems to be in our DNA.” However, he said that the “invasion by sports” is something that is “only here in America” and is harming our educational system. “You’ll find at all schools a greater devotion into getting athletes in than anyone else,” he said. “I doubt there are any music faculty hanging around the admissions office saying ‘Hey can you get this tenor from Missouri? All his grades are F’s right now and he’s in jail, but he’d be great in the glee club.”

“It is my own minority view that athletic scholarships are the original sin,” Deford said. "They acknowledge that sports are different than every other extracurricular activity.”

He also expressed clear frustration with the inherent corruption between college administrations and athletic departments. Separating athletic departments from education, while it may have been a good idea 15 years ago, he said, has now backfired because athletic departments have “the power of the purse.” While he believes that colleges should get serious about actually fixing the problems regarding how their athletes are treated, Deford just doesn’t see it happening any time soon. He explains, “There are two great myths in sport in America. One is next year soccer will really catch on, and the next is next year the college presidents will really get concerned about athletics and do something.”

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