Hey, Students! Here’s How to Make Sure Your Life Isn’t Shit in 2014
This year, around 2.5 million people will live the student life. You poor, fuckers. For many of last September’s freshmen, there will be as much as $30,000 worth of debt to look forward to the moment they collect their diplomas and get that precious first glimpse down the barrel of graduate despair.
Those who have been students for a year or two now will be starting to realize that, beneath the tranquillizing veil of $3 pitchers and student discounts, their prospects are actually pretty horrible. While tuition increases at public and private school has been slowing down recently, reports show that net costs—what you and your parents pay after scholarships and grants—are at an all-time high.
So, these days you can add academic profiteering to all the usual troubles: deadlines, mono, freshmen 15, finding yourself, losing yourself, and Tinder dates over $5 stone-baked bar pizzas. Then there’s the legal-high Russian roulette the government is aiding by instantly banning any new substance to emerge from Hangzhou’s chemical factories.
A School in Ontario Staged a Fake Massacre for a Police Training Exercise
Journalism students at Sheridan College, near Toronto, were ordered to take down video and photos (which you can see in the gallery above) of a mock school shooting that have ruffled some feathers with the school’s faculty and administration.
On November 25, the college hosted a training exercise for the Halton Regional Police Department. Students from the school’s musical theatre program acted as if they had been shot dead, complete with fake wounds and blood.
The scenario took place with two shooters played by plainclothes cops. About 100 students and staff participated in the event, with 15 playing dead and a further 10 playing wounded.
The Exploited Laborers of the Liberal Media: Interns
Editor’s note: For years, VICE has used part-time unpaid interns—a practice that we recently halted. Our current policy is to pay interns $10 an hour and limit them to 20 hours a week during the school year and 25 hours a week during the summer.
I was 21 years old when I took out my earring, combed my hair, and tried concealing my distaste for power and Washington, DC, in order to ask questions at press conferences. It was the summer of 2006, and I had just left college to go work for a small, do-gooding nonprofit that covered Capitol Hill for public radio.
I went through the whole experience of being a journalist in the nation’s capital: attending deadly boring policy luncheons, interviewing near-dead lawmakers and dead-inside lobbyists, and dying a little inside myself every time I saw my work “edited”—turned into shameful garbage—before going on air.
Like any other reporter, I pitched stories at morning meetings and then did the legwork to put them together, in the process learning the job. While my gut impulse at first was to righteously confront the powerful with strident questions highlighting their logical inconsistencies and factual errors, I soon found it was often smarter to affect an earnest demeanor just a hair shy of sarcastic. You need to let the person being interviewed explain why he is terrible, which is more easily done when he thinks you are stupid or on his side.
On August 31st, during a University of Iowa–Northern Illinois football game, 22-year-old Samantha Goudie was arrested at Kinnick Stadium for public intox. At the police station, it was recorded that she blew a .341 BAC, a level so high that it’s the equivalent of being in a medically induced coma. Experts (and concerned citizens) concurred that she was lucky just to be alive. Elsewhere, inspired in part by Goudie’s hilarious livetweeting of her arrest, her behavior was all but celebrated—after all, here was a chick who out drank all the frat boys at the big game.
A confession: I attended a major football college, and Goudie’s “epic” party behavior isn’t all that surprising, even if her BAC is. Another confession: When Goudie’s story surfaced, I was sort of proud of her. I mean, certainly proud enough to comment on a friend’s post that she was “a role model for American women everywhere.” In hindsight, I may have been drunk when I wrote that (just kidding—I don’t drink anymore.)
The sad thing is, it’s kind of obvious, especially to those of us who have survived football school, that Goudie is basically a bourgeoning alcoholic. Sure, her tweets were nothing short of Apatow-movie glory—“Girl waiting for court with me goes ‘I wish I knew the girl who blew a .341’ I said hi” [sic]—but then her Vine clips surfaced on a college-party–themed website called Barstool U and they reveal a beautiful, elaborately eyelashed young woman pounding shots, hanging out on her futon alone with her dog and cradling a handle of Hawkeye vodka, and, in one clip, looking kind of frozen in terror. At least for me, all of my creepy, latent hero-worship for “Vodka Sam” was sucked out in an instant, eclipsed by the dense shadow that inevitably falls late at night over a day of drinking that began at 2:30 kickoff. I remember it all too well.
We recently went to Towson University to speak with Matthew Heimbach, the founder of a group that advocates for “persons of European heritage.” We also met the students who want him off campus… or at least muzzled. ‘White Student Union’ is a documentary about race, class, and self-righteous college students yelling at each other.
Matthew Heimbach insists he’s not a racist. This comes as a surprise to his fellow students at Towson University, in the suburbs of Baltimore, where Matthew has formed a group called the White Student Union that advocates for “persons of European heritage”—what most of us call “white people.” It also comes as a surprise to the African American students who feel targeted by the night patrols the senior history major began conducting in March. The patrols target supposed “black predators,” Matthew wrote on the WSU’s website, citing (among others) a case in which an African American man pulled out a knife and his penis, and wagged both at a co-ed couple who were copulating in a parking garage. “White Southern men,” he wrote, “have long been called to defend their communities when law enforcement and the State seem unwilling to protect our people.”
Also surprised by Matthew’s claim that he’s not a racist is Duane Davis. “You are a fat, racist little bitch,” the scrappy, dreadlocked man told Matthew one sunny Tuesday this April. There was a rally going on, organized by the Student Government Association and the Black Student Union. In a field behind Duane and Matthew, about 100 students protested the White Student Union by reading unity-themed slam poetry from a microphone. When Matthew showed up on the edge of the crowd, a dozen protesters had come to confront him. Down the façade of a parking garage, a banner unfurled reading, wsu gtfo (translation: White Student Union Get the Fuck Out).
“There’s no need to insult me,” Matthew told Duane, who looked one wrong reply away from punching the 21-year-old.
Matthew has the look of someone who’s been bullied his whole life: he puffs out his chest to hide an abundant belly, wears unfashionable drugstore spectacles, and on this day sported what vaguely resembled a Morrissey T-shirt.
“Who is that on your shirt?” Duane said, jabbing Matthew in the chest. The onlookers leaned in to hear the answer.
“Ian Smith,” Matthew said, before rattling off the biography of the former prime minister of Rhodesia, a white supremacist who resisted efforts to end white rule there in the 60s. “He’s one of my heroes.”
A svelte woman in a dashiki interrupted. “If you were dying and needed a heart transplant,” she asked, “would you accept one from a black person?”
Yesterday morning, 50 students at Cooper Union in New York, took over their university president’s office. They promise to remain until he resigns.
The occupation is the latest battle in a war to keep Cooper Union free. Cooper Union is one of the only colleges in America that doesn’t charge tuition. But on April 23, Chairman of the Board Mark Epstein announced that, starting in 2014, the college would cost students $20,000 a year. That’s a 2 zillion percent increase. It was, according to protesters and students, a betrayal of the principles on which Cooper Union was built.
"Education should be as free as air or water," the school’s founder, industrialist Peter Cooper, once procliamed. Cooper was the most progressive of the robber barons, a simple-living abolitionist Unitarian who invented Jell-O. He founded his university to provide an education to cash-strapped geniuses of both sexes. He positioned it where Bowery meets Broadway, as a geographic nod to class transcendence—where the upper and lower classes collide.
Since 1859, Cooper Union has been free. Cooper’s original endowment is supplemented by donors, alumni, and, most crucially, rent from the land under the Chrysler Building, located 39 blocks away.
Growing up in New York, I viewed Cooper Union through the filter of legend. Because it was free, it took only the best.
My friend Zak Smith, a Cooper art graduate who went on to exhibit in the Whitney Biennial, told me via text: “The great schools in the US are all too often just places that make rich families richer. Cooper Union was the exception.” Smith comes from a working-class family, but thanks to a free education at Cooper, he landed a Yale scholarship for his master’s degree and later became a world-renowned contemporary painter. “Not anymore. If it wasn’t for Cooper, people like me wouldn’t get to be artists.”
Partying in Panama City Beach - Harmony Korine’s Spring Breakers
An overview of the eight-week period of spring break in Panama City Beach, Florida, when hundreds of thousands of students take over the usually sleepy beach town. We talk to the mayor, the chief of police, the owner of the largest club in the United States, and an evangelical street preacher who protests spring breakers with a bullhorn and says that “Spring break is just another excuse for people to sin.”
There’s nothing fundamentally offensive, really, about the new Odd Future Stone Wash Pajama Zubaz uniforms that adidas rolled out on Thursday in preparation for the NCAA tournament later this month. Aesthetically, maybe, there are some things to disagree with—the color-schemes apparently based on flavors Gatorade invented, like “Frost Cascade Crash”; the shorts that resemble something a Jacksonville-area steroid dealer might’ve worn in 1991; the Notre Dame uniform, which looks like a Shamrock Shake with a tall dude trapped inside it. These are reasonable things to notice and take issue with, although it’s useful to remember that these uniforms were made with that purpose in mind—ruffling people square enough to care about college basketball uniforms, and ruffling them into using the word “adidas” if at all possible. This has worked—I’ve now done it twice in this column, and did it elsewhere yesterday—although it would have worked less well if there was anything else to talk about in sports right now. So, mission accomplished. Remind me to tell you about adidas’s patented ClimaCool Zones, an exciting new fabric technology that might well solve forever whatever pseudo-problem it purports to address, for all I know.
There’s a certain baseline squickiness to non-stories like this, which are essentially and inescapably re-heated press releases served with a side salad of Hot Take. It helps (if that’s the word) that these uniforms are undeniably something-a-skateboarding-cartoon-dinosaur-would-wear gaudy and legitimately strange. But the conversation they generate is mostly crypto-promotional noise. It’s familiar, too—think of those popular videos that get posted to every traffic-seeking site on the web along with a couple paragraphs about how stupid this video-meme is; think of the branded factoids and drowsily re-reported press releases that are the stock in trade of the widely loathed ESPN Brand Enthusiast Darren Rovell. These things are forgettable spurts of spume generated by the internet’s relentless, affectless churn. It’s hard to know what percentage of the web consists of ostentatiously and unapologetically content-free content like this, but it’s a two-digit number that probably starts with a seven or an eight and ends with a LeAnn Rimes upskirt.
I’m not as much of a fan of the nerdier-than-thou webcomic XKCD as I used to be, but this one-panel strip has stuck with me:
It gets at something that not many fans or commenters like to admit—sports are only personal because we make them personal. There’s nothing inherently heartwarming or heroic about a bunch of men competing for arbitrary achievements on ritualistically demarcated fields and courts. If you like, you can take a step back and view athletes and statistics and win-production machines: “Tom Brady is my favorite football player because he accumulated 4,827 yards and 34 touchdowns while only accumulating 8 interceptions. This positively affected the Patriots’ win-loss record, and the Patriots are the favored team of the geographic region in which I came of age.”
But of course athletes, like Dungeons & Dragons characters, are not just collections of numbers—they require backstories to get our attention. The most common athlete backstory is the Upstanding Young Man. Upstanding Young Men have high Charisma scores and generally Lawful Good alignments. They’re married or in long-term relationships, usually to a high school or college sweetheart; they either don’t drink or don’t drink too much; they Inspire Their Teammates and have Leadership Qualities; occasionally their lives may be Touched by Tragedy, in which case they are even more Upstanding for having Overcome Obstacles (almost all successful athletes have Overcome Obstacles, otherwise there’s not much that can be written about them).
Until yesterday, Manti Te’o, the star linebacker at Notre Dame, was an Upstanding Young Man among Upstanding Young Men. He was a Mormon (no danger of him Succumbing to Temptation!), he had Leadership Qualities out the wazoo, and his life had been Touched by Tragedy thanks to the death of both his grandmother and his saintly girlfriend. He still played in a game when he could have gone to his girlfriend’s funeral and intercepted two passes in a Notre Dame win—talk about Overcoming Obstacles!
The short version of the story is that Lennay Kekua, the saintly girlfriend who loved Manti with all her heart and died with his name on her lips and inspired him to etc. etc., never existed. She was a hoax, an invention of some malicious people who (Notre Dame and Manti say) fooled a naïve—and potentially no longer all that Upstanding—kid for reasons that are yet to be revealed.