I Helped Division I Athletes Cheat in College
People were outraged when basketball player Rashad McCants admitted on an episode of ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” that student athletes pay tutors to write their term papers. What the former University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill basketball player revealed wasn’t a big surprise to me. But the sports world freaked out and commentators, columnists, and fans bickered over ethics, the lack of oversight in the NCAA, and the opportunistic nerds who get the athletes A's.
For years, I willingly did homework for a number of student athletes. To this day, I don’t consider any of it unethical. It all started back in 2007, when I was finishing up my degree in radical economics at the University of Utah, which is also a Division I school. To help cover food and booze, I worked a variety of odd jobs including tutoring undergrads.
Tutoring worked like this: I’d tell the campus tutoring center which classes I could tutor, and when a student came in and asked for help in one of those subjects, the center would pair us together. The students would pay $10 for a “slip” from the tutoring center. They’d give me that slip at the end of each session and I’d turn it back into the tutoring center and wait for my measly check. I made a whopping $6.25 per hour, which was just enough for a pint and a bagel. The school pocketed the leftover $3.75 an hour—I guess they had to make theirs too, on top of my massive tuition and the beaucoup bucks coming in from sporting events.
This is the story of how I took $5,000 of someone else’s money and used it to buy a Mike Jones concert.
No one really mentions this, but if you go to college you really should join a bunch of clubs and campus organizations. Not because campus groups are cool or fun—they’re definitely not—but because they have access to a ton of money, and you can use that money to do things like hang out with Mike Jones and his girlfriend in your dorm room in 2013.
Porn School Was a Disaster
How much money do you spend on porn? Unless you really, really like masturbating, it’s likely that the answer will be nothing. Free video sites have forced those in the business to get more inventive in their quest to keep turning sex into money. Steve Steele, porn director and the creator of Porn Weekender, is one such person.
Porn Weekender is an interactive model of porn consumption that offers customers the chance to come down to the set to watch, direct, and perform in the action themselves. Some of the people who show up are aspiring porn-industry professionals; others are simply people for whom the experience of sitting at home watching porn is too lonely, remote, or unfulfilling.
The weekends are usually held in Prague, where $1600 will get you a place on set and accommodation for the weekend. But given that around 80 percent of Steve’s clientele are flying out from the UK, he thought he may as well set up in his home country and decrease both the journey and the price tag (which drops to $240 for a single Saturday afternoon). A few weeks ago, I went along to the inaugural UK edition of the Porn Weekender to see what watching porn IRL with a bunch of other human beings is like.
What I Remember from Getting an MFA in Creative Writing
There’s a long running argument about the benefits and bullshit of getting an MFA in creative writing. Some people say it turns you into a cookie-cutter fuckboy, others say it helps you get a job. After I finished undergrad and realized I wanted to write instead of joining the real world, I devoted all of my time and energy toward staying in college, which meant I’d get an MFA whether I needed one or not. In hindsight, the whole experience kind of bleeds together into a mass of time I look back on not unfondly, but I’m also curious as to what exactly I got out of spending two more years on education instead of becoming a functioning member of the American workforce. For better or worse, that time is gone. Here’s what I remember.
1. On my first day in the dorms I went to the bathroom to brush my teeth and saw reflected in the mirror an older woman naked in a bathtub behind me. I’d heard the dorms at my school were haunted, having been built in like the late 1800s or something, but when I turned around she was still there. There was actually a bathtub in the public showering area. It was a co-ed bathroom, and she was sitting in it buck naked washing without the curtain closed. She loudly introduced herself as one of my classmates and said she was from Milledgeville, Georgia, home of Flannery O’Connor. It feels appropriate that my earliest memory from getting an MFA is checking out a granny’s boobs in a public toilet.
2. People said the room next to mine was famous because Bob Dylan screwed the student who lived there when he came to play the school in the 60s. Whoever was staying in it while I lived next door apparently decided to keep that spirit alive, because many nights I could hear the sex noises… or maybe that was sexual ghosts.
But then there’s high school football, where very young people make mistakes and older people sit in the stands and yell the worst things they can think of at other people’s children. Again, it’s your life and your thing, and if confessing in a scoutish, authoritative tone to a bleacher neighbor that some 15-year-old you’ll never meet “kind of fagged it up” on that play is what you need to do, then certainly good luck getting well. But if we’re going to draw a line, we might as well draw it here. Or maybe slightly further out, somewhere around the increasingly overstated and reliably depressing stretch that culminated earlier this week with college football’s National Signing Day.
How to Pay Your Student Loans Without Actually Paying Them
There are two rhetorical positions commonly adopted when addressing the topic of student loans, one held by those with robust monthly incomes, the other championed by magical thinkers whose earning powers border on the anemic. Try to guess which is which:
1) “You shouldn’t have gotten into so much debt in the first place if you didn’t have a responsible plan to pay it off. Quit complaining and get to work.”
2) “Student loans exploit children by luring them with the promise of non-existent careers into borrowing inconceivable sums. The system is broken; defaulting counts as civil disobedience.”
If you’re partial to the first of these arguments, then you should stop reading this immediately and go hang out in your bathtub full of gold-plated caviar (or whatever it is you people do), but if you’re listing towards the latter position, then it only stands to reason that you should get out of your student loan debt as quickly and painlessly as possible. And there are actually ways to do that. Check it out