The Real Epidemic on College Campuses: Academic Dishonesty

While mattress-toting Columbia University student Emma Sulkowicz will be attending the State of the Union address tomorrow as the guest of Senator Kirsten Gillibrand to protest the epidemic of sexual assault on college campuses that’s been pretty thoroughly debunked, there’s another college trend that seems to be flying beneath the nation’s radar. It may not have the cachet of the aforementioned rape crisis, and nobody’s holding hearings or talking about it, but it does appear to be real, according to the latest statistics released by Penn.

Sexual assaults are up at Penn — from three incidents in the 2009-’10 school year among the 10,000-plus undergraduate body to eight in 2012-’13 and seven in 2013-’14, as you can see from this handy chart printed in the school’s Daily Pennsylvanian newspaper. In other words, the number of sexual assaults about doubled, though the numbers were very low. But read down a little further on the chart to the section labeled “Academic Integrity.” That number went from 44 incidents in 2009-’10 to 96 in 2012-’13 and 127 in 2013-’14. That’s right: The number of cheaters nearly tripled in the same time frame.

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Abolish Tipping? The Practice Should Actually Be Expanded

You fly to Chicago. Your hotel has a courtesy shuttle that picks you (and a few other people) up at the airport. The driver has a “tips” bucket in the front of the van. Do you tip him? How much do you tip him?

You arrive at the hotel. A valet greets your shuttle, helps you down with your bags and points you to the reception desk. Do you tip him? How much do you tip him?

Before going to your room, you go to the Starbucks in the lobby. You buy a $4 coffee. Typical of most Starbucks in hotel lobbies you are given a receipt to sign which has a line for a tip. Do you tip the barista who poured your coffee? How much do you tip her?

Later that day you leave your hotel and another valet hails you a taxi from the line of taxis waiting around the corner. He opens your door, tells the driver your destination, and wishes you a good day. Do you tip him? How much do you tip him?

You check out of the hotel the next day. Before leaving your room do you leave a tip for the housekeeper? How much do you leave?

Everyone tips the wait staff. But do you tip the coat check person? Do you tip the cab driver? Your hairdresser? The pizza delivery guy? The furniture delivery guys? The babysitter? At Christmas do you give “gifts” to your postman, your newspaper delivery person, the doorman, your trash guys, your manicurist?  Why should you? Aren’t they getting paid already for their job? Why tip them and not tip other service providers, like the flight attendant or even the SEPTA bus driver? What makes the SEPTA driver different than the taxi driver – aren’t they accomplishing the same thing?

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How “Shocking” Was Tina Fey and Amy Poehler’s Cosby Joke?

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As promised, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler addressed the Bill Cosby rape allegations during Sunday night’s Golden Globes ceremony.

During their opening monologue — which is traditionally when the award ceremony’s hosts poke exceedingly gentle fun at their rich and famous audience – they went after Cosby with what was a very good joke. A solid, well-played, network TV-friendly topical joke.

But judging from the audience’s reaction and Monday’s headlines, you would have thought it was a truly outrageous joke. Here it is, word for word:

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Americans Are Paying Good Money for Professional Cuddling

In the latest sign of the Apocalypse, the Wall Street Journal on Friday had an article on the growth of professional cuddling. That is, people who get paid to lie on beanbag chairs and chaise longues beside other people who pay them for the privilege. Of being cuddled. I know your next question, and here’s the answer: $80 an hour. And I know your next question: Yes, everyone’s clothes stay on. Read more »

The Sad Demise of the Bill Cosby Legacy

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Philadelphia sounded like such a wonderful place. It was the 1960s, and I was a young black kid, growing up on the side of Kansas City where kids like me grew up while attending school on the other side. I took crosstown buses to get there once I was old enough to travel alone.

I’d been places already: They had names like Savannah, Lufkin and Los Angeles, places where I had family. One of those places went up in flames in 1965, the year before I visited: The rioters torched the building next door but spared my uncle’s package store. Three years later, on the night after Martin Luther King was killed, two business districts near my home also went up in flames while I remained indoors, watching the conflagration on TV.

But I had no relatives in the Northeast. I knew nothing about Columbia Avenue, and they didn’t show that one on TV. I did, however, know about the Ninth Street Bridge, and racing go-karts down a street that “went straight down for a quarter mile and emptied out — onto a freeway.”

And that was Bill Cosby’s doing. Read more »

Why Do Trolls Especially Hate Women?

If you’re a reasonably well-adjusted person, you probably don’t spend much time in the comments sections of local news stories — maybe not any time at all.

Before we start, here’s a brief recap of what you’re “missing” from most outlets: racist jab, misogynistic non sequitur, left-field Obama rant, casual grumping that suddenly seems cute by comparison.

Citified, for one, is attempting to keep the conversation civil. Philly Mag’s just-unveiled urban affairs channel will strictly moderate the comments on all posts, weeding out not only the obviously hateful, but the garden-variety dumb and unhelpful as well.

I don’t envy whoever is tasked with sorting through that noise, and I can only hope that a morale-boosting desk puppy was part of the deal. But I’m pretty excited for the new approach — especially for someone who doesn’t, as a rule, read the comments.

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My Life of (Hoodie) Crime

I must have been busy vacuuming pine needles out of the carpet all last week, because somehow I completely missed the news that an Oklahoma state legislator has proposed a law that would ban citizens from wearing hoodies. As a result, I spent much of the past few days in a state of potential criminality, visiting the YMCA, the grocery store, the liquor store and Petco in an outfit that soon could soon cost me a $500 fine in Tulsa or OKC. (Interesting side note: According to Wikipedia, the word “Oklahoma” comes from the Choctaw “okla” and “humma,” meaning “red people.” Don’t tell Dan Snyder.)

Even more shockingly, I bought both my kids instruments of crime for Christmas this year.

I was amazed — make that astonished — to learn that anti-hoodie laws currently exist in 10 other states, including Florida, New York and California. Isn’t California where that Hollister company began? And isn’t every other hoodie you see a Hollister hoodie? Shouldn’t law enforcement do something about that?

If you’re puzzled as to why a staple of the average American wardrobe that miraculously solved the problem of a frigid zone between chin and collarbone has suddenly become weaponized, I guess you’re not Republican, because it’s Republicans who are pushing this legislation, which is intended, they say, to safeguard women and children and other chattel by protecting them from marauders who are disguising their identities by tightening the drawstrings on the hoods of their hoodies.

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Facebook and “Friends” in the Wake of Ferguson

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Scene from last Wednesday’s protest march (top); detail from a controversial post on the Facebook page of a Central Bucks West guidance counselor.

As a 29-year-old woman, this is how my Facebook feed tends to look: baby picture, wedding picture, baby-at-a-wedding picture, Supernatural spoiler (that last one might be my own contribution).

But over the past couple weeks, I’ve noticed an even less appealing trend: racist rant, thinly veiled racist rant, confusing meme that I suspect is a racist rant.

To clarify, I’m from the Northeast.

This is not, necessarily, to say that my hometown is any more backward than your own hometown. (Unless you’re from Amherst — you guys are pretty squeaky clean.) There’s an ugly, dumb contingent in every group of humans, and most of the time, I love that place. But post-Ferguson, I find myself rethinking my Internet relationship to the (Often, But Not Always) Great Northeast.

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One Bizarre Theory About Shane Montgomery’s Disappearance

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UPDATE: The sad news came over the weekend that Shane Montgomery’s body had been found in the Schuylkill river.

ORIGINAL: “Saw your post check this out,” the email was headed, so of course I clicked — and found a link, and then this:

i’ve been following this for about 7 years now with the smiley face killers  there is plenty on the internet but this is a start there was kid booth who was found in ridley and another Guevera who was found in a Wachtung NJ lake with the same MO

I used to work for the Trentonian I believe there to be some kind of religious connection and or a native american one as well with the name sinsinawa used often

And there I went, down the rabbit hole.

The post my emailer referred to was a short piece I’d written on the disappearance of Shane Montgomery, the West Chester University student who on Thanksgiving Eve vanished off the streets of Manayunk following an evening of drinking at Kildare’s Irish Pub. My interest in the case was personal — I have kids Shane’s age, and they’d been out drinking on Thanksgiving Eve — and professional: What journalist isn’t intrigued by a disappearance like that?

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Why Do Philadelphians Just Love to Play With the Word “Philadelphia”?

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When I returned to Philadelphia in 2011 after a few years spent in D.C. and abroad, I couldn’t help but notice Philly’s borderline obsession with, well, Philadelphia.

More precisely, the word “Philadelphia,” which we just absolutely love to mess around with. “Philadelphia” finds its way — in part or in whole, one way or another — into countless other nouns in this toponymically infatuated city.
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