Archive for the ‘Story Ideas’ Category

Drunkorexia.  Over the past academic year, the five-syllable word has become the most publicized new disorder impacting college students.

A growing number of students, researchers, and health professionals consider it a dangerous phenomenon.  Others dismiss it as a media-driven faux-trend.  And still others contend it is nothing more than a fresh label stamped onto an activity that students have been carrying out for years.

The affliction, which leaves students hungry and at times hung over, involves “starving all day to drink at night.”

As a new report in The Daily Pennsylvanian at the University of Pennsylvania further explained, it centers on students “bingeing or skipping meals in order to either compensate for alcohol calories consumed later at night, or to get drunk faster. . . . At its most severe, it is a combination of an eating disorder and alcohol dependency.”

Drunkorexia surged into the spotlight most prominently last fall after an an eye-opening study by University of Missouri researchers revealed “one in six students said they restricted food in order to consume alcohol within the last year.”

Why are these students allegedly engaging in such behavior?  The Calgary Herald confirmed, “They say they’re aiming to get drunk faster, they want to save food money for booze, and they want to keep their weight down.”

To read the rest, click here or on the screenshot below.

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The Dartmouth University hazing scandal first brought to light earlier this semester in the school’s student newspaper is featured prominently in the current edition of Rolling Stone.

Confessions of an Ivy League Frat Boy: Inside Dartmouth’s Hazing Abuses” is a “meditation on class, violence, and power in Dartmouth’s overheated campus culture.”  The piece premiered online yesterday to oodles of interwebs chatter.

The hazing fanfare began in late January, with a column in The Dartmouth by senior Andrew Lohse (pictured in the screengrab above) outlining the many degrading acts he allegedly endured while pledging a fraternity in 2010.

As he wrote in the piece, headlined “Telling the Truth”: “I was a member of a fraternity that asked pledges, in order to become a brother, to: swim in a kiddie pool full of vomit, urine, fecal matter, semen and rotten food products; eat omelets made of vomit; chug cups of vinegar, which in one case caused a pledge to vomit blood; drink beers poured down fellow pledges’ ass cracks; and vomit on other pledges, among other abuses. Certainly, pledges could have refused these orders. However, under extreme peer pressure and the desire to ‘be a brother,’ most acquiesced.”

The Rolling Stone report explores some of the extreme activities Lohse describes, while also turning a spotlight on him.  In respect to the latter, an IvyGate post calls it “a comprehensive character assassination of its main subject– Lohse– whom editor Janet Reitman portrays as a violent, pretentious, alcoholic, mentally ill, status-anxious, back-stabbing drug addict.”

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A pair of stories that would fit snugly into the diversity beats of most campus press outlets caught my eye in Ivy League student newspapers recently.  They are both reminders that diversity issues are present on every campus beyond the gender spread, skin color, and birthplaces of the student body and staff.  In these cases, they are also hanging on the walls and assigned as readings.

Story 1: Near the start of the month, The Harvard Crimson published a piece on the homogeneity of the individuals featured in the artwork displayed at Harvard University– and a professor determined to make them more diverse.  As the Crimson confirmed, “[O]f the approximately 750 oil paintings that hang throughout the campus, about 690 of them feature white males. From marble busts to stained glass, Harvard’s art collection is stunningly grand and yet remarkably homogenous.”

A November 2010 post on the Crimson blog Flyby explained the context: “When most Harvard students look around at their peers, they see diversity. Diversity of races, orientations, religions, cultures, ethnicities, and just about anything else is easy to find among students at Harvard. However, there’s one thing at Harvard that isn’t quite so diverse: our walls.”

Story 2: A day after the Crimson portrait piece, The Cornell Daily Sun published an op-ed by a Cornell University professor criticizing the selection of a novel that all freshmen are required to read as “particularly insensitive vis-à-vis diversity issues on campus.”  As he asks, “How are our Arab and Muslim students supposed to read this novel?  Where is their representation in it?  More broadly, what kind of a message does it send to underrepresented ‘minorities’ about their representation on campus?  That is, what kind of a critical inspection did it receive in terms of the diversity baggage it brings with it?”

Questions for Related Reports

Who is featured in the artwork displayed around your campus?  And who created them? What level of diversity do both the creators and creations represent as a whole, in respect to gender, race, ethnicity, class, and even time period?  How are decisions made on which art to purchase and display, and who makes them?  How much say do students have in the selections?  And what is the diversity of the artists and art genres studied within your school’s art program?

Separately, who selects the ‘common readings’ at your school?  What are the criteria for choosing the finalists and ultimate winner?  How much say do students have in the process?  What trends emerge when examining the characteristics of the finalists and winners in recent years, in respect to the diversity or homogeneity of the authors, main characters, the plots’ geographic locations and time periods, and the main themes or worldviews espoused?

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Roughly 650 copies of The Unfiltered Lens have been reported stolen at the Community College of Rhode Island, prompting speculation the thefts may be a response to Lens reports on campus cockroach sightings and food safety violations.

Noting that other publications distributed on campus were noticeably still stacked like normal in their newsstands, the paper’s editor-in-chief Robert Armistead said “it leads me to believe that it is something specific with our newspaper, and more specifically with this issue.”

The issue’s front-page features two items: an article on cockroaches (“Roaches storm CCRI Knight Campus”) and a feature on the health inspection troubles of a CCRI campus café.  The cafe has apparently been flagged for improper food storage, employee “hand washing infractions,” and the absence of “an air gap, a necessary feature to separate the sink workspace from the sewage system.”

CCRI’s president: “This behavior represents a chargeable offense and the college will take full disciplinary action should this continue.”  (Question: Shouldn’t there be full disciplinary action toward what has already happened, regardless of whether it continues?)

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The Oklahoma Daily is leading the charge to bring gender-neutral student housing to the University of Oklahoma.  In today’s issue, the paper splashed a special editorial calling for the housing policy’s approval across its entire front page.

As editor-in-chief Chris Lusk explained in a separate letter from the editor, “While a newspaper must inform, there are times when a newspaper must speak up for what’s right.  After much discussion, debate and deep thought, the Daily editorial board decided today was one of those times.”

In the spirited editorial call-to-arms, the paper declares gender-neutral housing a seminal part of “this generation’s civil rights movement.”  As it contends:

“The gender-neutral housing option students will present today to President David Boren would give students the choice to live with students of any gender. This is an important right for all OU students, but it is particularly important for GLBT students because it provides a safe home on campus– something many do not have.  Gender-neutral housing means the choice to live with someone whom students know will be supportive of their sexuality or gender identity.  It means freedom from discomfort, discrimination, harassment and fear.  It means the choice to live with those who are most comfortable with them, and, in turn, to live in the environment they find most comfortable– a right taken for granted by every other student at OU.  It means one small step toward equal treatment for GLBT citizens. It means a step into the 21st century for OU and for Oklahoma. It means the University of Oklahoma being a true leader.  It means equality.”

A separate video features Daily staffers offering their personal rationales for the paper’s decision to give over its front page to this important issue.

In the words of section editor Lindsey Ruta, “The decision to put the editorial on the front page is a really big thing.  It’s not what we typically do.  But big issues and big events call for big responses. . . . This is a social issue we can directly affect.  We can’t change the national standard. . . . But here we can influence a policy on our campus that is discriminatory and hateful against a certain group of our students. . . . I don’t think any of us can be proud to call ourselves Sooners until we know that we attend an institution that respects the equality and the rights and the liberties and the happiness of all of its students.”

My take: BRAVO.

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George Washington University sophomore Audrey Scagnelli once burnt the croutons she was toasting, triggering a fire alarm that led to a campus building evacuation.

Embarrassed, the political communication major brought local firefighters who raced to the scene some raspberry napoleons.  She also turned the experience into a magazine spread.

Scagnelli is the founder and editor-in-chief of College & Cook, an online student magazine working to “prove college students should not be stereotyped by cold pizza and Easy Mac.”  Its larger aim, according to Scagnelli: bringing student foodies together to share innovative, edible stories.

“There is a growing presence of food on the Internet, especially with food blogs and food photography,” she said.  “Food porn, some call it.  But there isn’t much out there that’s college related and really nothing out there that kind of unites universities across the country with such a range of food topics and food content.”

Cue College & Cook.  From the moment the first issue of the planned quarterly premiered earlier this semester, the magazine has been eaten up.  It registered roughly 6,500 hits on its Issuu page two weeks after its rollout, spurring a related Washington Post feature.

According to the Post, “[I]t took a mere eight months for [Scagnelli] to envision, develop and publish College & Cook magazine, a nationwide online effort geared for her demographic.  That particular slice of the population pie– college students in the United States, for starters– is at almost 20 million, which is enough to make media moguls smack their foreheads and wish they’d thought of the concept first.”

In a podcast chat recorded last month, Scagnelli spoke with me about C&C’s concept, explained her motivations for launching it, and told the full crouton fire alarm story.

Interview: Audrey Scagnelli, College & Cook

Write for College & Cook!  Scagnelli and staff are eagerly seeking contributors.

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Bottled water is bad.  That is the thrust of the campaign Linfield College students Collin Morris and Annika Yates have been waging in an attempt to stop the product from being sold on the Oregon school’s campus.

Inspired by the larger movement triggered by Food & Water Watch, the students have held events at Linfield attempting to educate students about the apparent wastefulness and pointlessness of buying something they can already get for free.  The pair also put together “Tap That,” a short documentary further explaining both the alleged ills of bottled water and the relative value of its chief competitor, water that comes from the tap.

The doc’s gist: Bottled water is not healthier than tap water, and at times is simply tap water repackaged.  The plastic bottles are environmental boondoggles.  And the entire bottled water industry is a cash cow at consumers’ expense.

The bottle-tap fight has many combatants espousing many perspectives, including those who argue tap is less healthy than bottled and filtered water.  But the anti-bottle contingent has been notably gaining ground on some campuses and earning related media attention.

A mid-February post on The Salt, National Public Radio’s food blog, confirmed, “Bottled water is trickling away from college campuses nationwide, thanks to the efforts of student activists and the non-profit groups that support them.”

In a recent podcast chat, Morris discussed the campaign he and Yates are waging and the documentary they created to help their fight.

Interview: Collin Morris, Linfield College

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