Lawsuit-free since 9/14/05

Monday, October 31, 2005

Sexual Assault Week at TBOC

In honor of the upcoming Take Back the Night rally, we've decided to do a series of articles about sexual assault at St. Lawrence University.

E-mail us if you've got something to share.

We've got a lot to share.


Sunday, October 02, 2005

New Writers Sought

Yep. We're looking for new writers. E-mail us at takebackourcampus@yahoo.com. We promise it will be fun.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

A Few Clarifications

After reading through some of the press Take Back Our Campus has been getting, I'd like to offer a few clarifications. I'd also like to add that my clarifications would be entirely unnecessary if any of the journalists from the three television stations had bothered to contact me instead of reprinting St. Lawrence University's baseless allegations against Take Back Our Campus.

From CBS and Newswatch50: Macreena Doyle, a spokeswoman for St. Lawrence University, said the decision was made after determining the most troubling postings had been removed from the Web site called, ``Take Back Our Campus.''

In fact, no postings were removed from the site. St. Lawrence is obviously trying to claim some small victory from this embarrassing and unbecoming episode.

The site frequently posted ``serious allegations,'' including accusations of drug abuse by named students and faculty.

"'[S]erious allegations'"? Why is this in quotes? Whose quotes are these? And when did TBOC ever accuse any faculty of drug abuse? I remain, as ever, mystified.

From News10Now: "We made the determination that since those postings that we were particularly troubled by had been removed and there didn't seem to be a continuing basis for us to pursue legal action. It made sense for us to make the request of the court to withdraw the lawsuit and that request was granted," said Macreena Doyle, spokesperson for St. Lawrence University.

Again, this idea that TBOC removed any posts. We did not. We removed the four pictures over which we were being sued. We did this because the pictures were only graphics to accompany the stories-- in my estimation, not a big deal. The pictures were removed but all text ever printed on TBOC remains on the site. I hope (though without holding my proverbial breath) that corrections will be forthcoming.

What is interesting, though, is President Dan Sullivan's campus-wide e-mail stating that the suit had been dropped because SLU couldn't discover our identities. Couldn't these people at least make their stories consistent?

Regardless, we're far from done. At the moment we're working on some stories about sexual assault on campus. Any tips/suggestions would be greatly appreciated and can be mailed to takebackourcampus@yahoo.com. We promise to keep your identity secret unless you specify otherwise.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Inside Higher Education Article

There was an article about us today in Inside Higher Education. I always hate the way I sound in interviews, but that's almost certainly my fault. Enjoy.

Thanks to reader "Charlie's Helper" for passing along the link.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Re: The Lawsuit

It's over. We won. SLU dropped the lawsuit. You can read about it here, an article in the Watertown Daily Times written by the lazy (and in my experience, kind of pissy) David Winters, who didn't even bother e-mailing me to ask for a quote.

Regardless, I'm looking for a replacement. Why? I won. I beat the stupid and self-important people of the administration. I proved that it can be done.

Anyone interest in joining the new generation of Take Back Our Campus is encouraged to e-mail me at takebackourcampus@yahoo.com.

Monday, August 08, 2005

An Open Letter to Dan Sullivan

In Which I Reveal My Identity

"A working-class hero is something to be."-- John Lennon

Dear President Daniel F. Sullivan and his cronies--

Though you've served papers on whatever ISP address I used to post on TBOC, you're absolutely not even close to confirming my real identity. That's why I'm about to make a real offer here:

You want it? You got it. But it's going to cost you.

But that's never been a concern for you. After all, you've been more than happy to waste tuition dollars (more than $15,000 so far) in an effort to uncover my identity. This time, however, it's going to cost you.

What do I want? It's simple, really. I want $30,000 added to the budget of the Higher Educational Opportunities Program for the 06/07 academic year. I want this money earmarked as personal spending money for the HEOP students. Why? Because the Heop students have an unfair deal. Coming from lower-class families, they don't have credit cards from their Westchester and Connecticut mommies and daddies.

And that sucks. HEOP students have to work demeaning student jobs (taking time away from their studies) where they are treated with typical upper-class disdain for labor by their fellow students. You know the behavior I'm talking about-- the lack of eye contact, the refusal to greet a fellow student by name, putting their money on the counter rather than touch the hand that makes their food, et al ad nauseum.

HEOP students have to think and plan and worry about finances for every little luxury like buying a compact disc, going to the movies, having a meal off-campus, getting a new shirt, picking up a dime bag or purchasing a book for pleasure reading. And that sucks.

Here's how the donation breaks down:

If the prep work for the case has cost $15,000, how much will the trial fees be? I figure you can get $20,000 if not $25,000 easily. Just cut that much out of this year's budget. You'll find the ledger marked, "Finances for Legal Bullying."

Here's the hitch, Dan-o-- I want the rest to come from the finances of you and your cronies. At least $5000 in toto must be personally donated to HEOP by Dan Sullivan, Cissy Petty (recently fired-- I'm sure, for reasons that had nothing to do with the investigative reporting of TBOC) and whoever else has such a mean interest in discovering my identity. Call it blood money, call it whatever you want. But I'm young, I'm angry, I have no respect for authority-- and you've treated me very rudely by banning Take Back Our Campus and filing a frivolous federal lawsuit.

You can save St. Lawrence University the time and money of further litigation by agreeing to this. Just drop me a line at takebackourcampus@yahoo.com saying "yes," send me confirmation that the $30,000 is in an escrow account waiting to be given to HEOP and I'll send along my identity. Oh my stars and garters, I'll even send an autographed picture to everyone who donates.

You can end this, Danny boy, and save SLU a bunch of cash. The onus is on you.

Christian Evangelist
Editor-in-Chief, Take Back Our Campus

Saturday, August 06, 2005

I'm Back

If you're reading this, then I sincerely apologize for my extended vacation. I promise to write more in the coming week, but right now I've a black eye and a broken heart and nothing but vodka and stolen lorazepam with which to ameliorate these injuries.

Thanks for reading. We've got some great stories coming in the next few months, including a full expose of St. Lawrence University's treatment of sexual assault on campus plus more on the lawsuit against Take Back Our Campus.

In the meantime, please read Inside Higher Education's article about us, found here: http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2005/05/13/lawrence.

My favorite sentence is "Many of the site’s posts, of which St. Lawrence has not disputed the veracity, are based on apparently leaked documents." It serves to show that the lawsuit is based on nothing more than legal bullying on the part of the SLU administration, simply because we blogged the truth.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Election Debauchery Like It's November 2000!

In case you've been living under a rock, or simply delete listserv e-mails indiscriminately, there's an election going on for the Thelmo position of Student Delegate to the Board of Trustees. For more information on the position, look no further than the official Thelomathesian website (and you have to love that hi-tech sound the flip-down sign makes). In summary, this person sees to it that the student body gets to hear what goes on at the Board of Trustees' treehouse meetings.

To quote Adam Sandler from The Wedding Singer, "WHOOPIDY DOOOO!"

Currently, a select handful of students are running for the position, from liberal sissies to right-wing nut jobs. But, like an episode of The OC, it wouldn't be complete without drama, sexual tension, drinking, surfing, and the like. Well, not the last few on the list, but it gets good. First, we saw Jason DeRosa disqualified for his campaign manager, not himself (he's in D.C.), circulating campaign fliers via our CMRs. The rules clearly state that there is no circulation of campaign materials allowed in the Student Center. Whoops.

So, after the math, nine minus one, and we're down to eight. But wait! Someone threw the challange flag. Upon revisitation of the rules, the campaign manager isn't mentioned in the rules, and the decision became at the discretion of... uh oh. Wait, let me check my facts again. Oh right, Adam W. Casler. So DeRosa was allowed back in, pending a vote this coming Thelmo meeting.

Now, what are the chances we'd see two disqualifications in a few short days? Better than you'd think, actually.

But first, I wish to discuss an epiphany I had sitting behind the slightly-radioactive screen of my computer. What can be done in 19 seconds? Once, I tried eating as many Saltines as I could in 60 seconds, and it took about 19 seconds for me to realize I wasn't going to pull it off. Similarly, ask any attending physician in the emergency room of any hospital, 19 seconds can be the difference between life and death. In this instance, 19 seconds was the grounds for disqualifying Carla Hunter herself from the election.

To summarize what was passed down to the Larrys and Muffys of SLU by the Thelmo election board, she was disqualified for using a SLU logo on her campaign materials (specifically, part of a parking pass) and not knowing the value of 19 seconds. In the campaign rules, every candidate is allowed a certain number of e-mails distributed via the "listserv" system that can potentially reach every student on campus. To directly quote, "[a]ny new placement of campaign material (visual, physical or e-text) after 11:59 on the eve of the commencement of the election" is prohibited. If you've ever tried sending e-mails out this way, it takes time for those e-mails to go through. She would have been in the clear if it was time-stamped by 11:59:59 Sunday evening, Eastern Standard Time.

12:00:18. Oops.

So now we have the problem of actually taking her (sic) name off the ballot. For anyone who doesn't go to Thelmo meetings every Wednesday like some of us feel this sense of obligation to do, we dropped a few G's on this glorious sytem called eBallot that was supposed to be available to all clubs and organizations. As seen before in last year's election scandal, eBallot is garbage. It's full of bugs and, at first, did not allow voters to NOT vote for particular candidates. Plus, it was inaccessible to Thelmo-recognized clubs and organizations. This year, tech support couldn't make a new ballot sans Carla Hunter's illustrious name or simply revise the old one, we're back to PEN AND PAPER. Jeb Bush himself couldn't have planned this one out.

What's next, literacy tests?

If you feel this has gone too far, go talk to your Thelmo senator , they're your voice in the established representative government we have here at SLU. Tell them you think the voting process needs to be revisited, and tell them the drain in the 2nd shower on the 3000 floor of Sykes is clogged again. Make sure you vote this week, too.

Until next time.

SLUVigilante@yahoo.com (your e-mails will never be shared with anyone without your permission)

Thursday, March 31, 2005

We Get Letters! We Get Lots and Lots of Letters!

Peter Bailey Doesn't Like Us, Misspells Some Things, Pretends to Be a Legal Scholar and Doesn't Have a Sense of Humor

We recently received this bit of unclever (or even well-reasoned) invective at takebackourcampus@yahoo.com.
Dear Take Back,
One difference between Margaret Kent Bass and Rob Loftis and TBOC is that those two people take complete personal responsibility for the intellectual/ideological positions they articulate. Another difference is that they don't hide behind cute pseudonyms, nor do they personally attack students whose positions differ from theirs and defend that activity as "satire." They also know that "a clever mixture of news, wit, satire and commentary" creates nothing but rhetorical confusion, allowing its perpetrators to cloak expressive irresponsibility behind claims of freedom of speech. And now TBOC is suing Professor Bass for exercising her right of free speech in using the blog as a subject for class debate. Great--welcome to revengeland. You understand, I hope, that some liberals in the country would argue that there are larger issues for a publication like yours to be taking on than the SLU administration or the Canton chapter of Young Republicans? Seriously, guys, it's time to graduate from SLU. Your litigation is a nuisance suit, and you know it, and one
that reduces to hypocritical mockery your testimonials to the sanctity of free speech.

Peter Bailey
Professor of English

[In the interest of full disclosure, I must mention that the above text is the second draft of the letter Dr. Bailey sent to TBOC. Being a sport, I replied to his original message and offered him the chance to fix his spelling and grammar errors before his mild bit of rage was put on public display as a silly testament to the politics of tenured professors. He was nice and did so immediately]

But onto the (unbecomingly thick and imprecisely sliced) meat of his message. Bailey first points out the difference between Margaret Kent Bass, Rob Loftis and Take Back Our Campus. Some might call this point needless. After all, no one has ever compared Margaret Kent Bass or Rob Loftis to TBOC. "But what the hell," Bailey must have thought in his safe Carrollian Wonderland of academic outrage. "'Why is a raven like a writing desk?' Why is a raven not like a writing desk?"

Onward now, following Bailey's blunt form: One difference between Peter Bailey and Take Back Our Campus is that we respect the intelligence of our readers, trusting them as capable of separating news from opinion from satire. Another difference is that we don't believe the lack of a punchingly blatant frame "creates nothing but rhetorical confusion." We trust our readers to distinguish a joke from an argument and trust that when our writing (as it often does) injects humor into more serious polemics, our readers will accept the gags in the spirit in which they were offered.

Seriously now (and Petey-- do those words suitably indicate that the following paragraph contains a different point? I'm unsure how much more obvious I can be, but I wouldn't want to add to your "rhetorical confusion"), Bailey seems to think that Dr. Bass' violation of TBOC's copyright is protected by the umbra of "free speech." Though Bailey might claim "fair use" (which would also be a mistake, as Dr. Bass wasn't free to reproduce our work in print form for the purposes of her class), but "free speech" has absolutely nothing to do with the issue.

[Am I the only one who sees a problem in at least two members of the English department not knowing (or deliberately ignoring) the basics of copyright law? Perhaps the administration can use this as a "teachable moment" and hold some kind of remedial seminar for them.]

While it's certainly arrogant of Bailey to presume to speak for the voiceless masses (his group of "some liberals in the country"), I was puzzled by his reference to TBOC as "a publication like yours...." TBOC is a blog about St. Lawrence University and the surrounding area. We always have been. We provide an alternative viewpoint, one not found in University-sponsored publications. We are going to write about SLU issues. While I am solipsistic enough to assume that the world is clamoring for my views on Social Security (Bush is looking to privatize Social Security to boost a failing Wall Street and raise the economic indicators just enough for Republicans to win in 2008), Iraq [our next target is either Azerbaijan, Sudan, or (again) Venezuala-- just follow the oil], or Terri Schiavo (only her body died today-- her brain's been dead for fifteen years. And who decided that a woman with an eating disorder would wish to have a feeding tube?)-- for now TBOC will continue writing about St. Lawrence and the surrounding community. However, it is obvious that the subtext of Bailey's argument is that we should cease the deserved scrutiny of the administration and SLU Republicans. Why? It makes him a little nervous. While academics and their administrative bosses (Saul Bellow here: "wasn't a college dean a kind of executive?") ostensibly encourage debate, occasionally support free speech and rally to issues both politically correct and politically unimportant, they detest personal accountability. "Why, oh why," they lament in successive fugues (an example of which can be found here, which I will be sure to expound on in coming days). "Must we be held accountable for the things we do and say? Can't everyone just be nice and let us do whatever we want?"

While I found humorous Bailey's invocation of the uncharming staples of Grade Seven forensics (e.g. "Seriously, guys..." "and you know it..."), I was mystified by his inability to understand a joke. Why didn't Bailey, the author of a well reviewed book about Woody Allen, understand that my announcement of a lawsuit against Margaret Kent Bass and St. Lawrence University was a bit of parody meant to highlight the betrayingly illiberal and unacademic nature of SLU's lawsuit against TBOC?

In the hopes of nudging him a little further to the punchline, I sent Bailey a nice note, asking what he thought of SLU's lawsuit against TBOC vis a vis TBOC's lawsuit against SLU. Hoping to establish a friendly tone (he had, after all, addressed the TBOC staff as "guys"), I addressed the letter to "Petey," asked his opinion on Woody Allen's latest feature and wrote "Personally, I've always thought that Interiors was Woody Allen's funniest movie." [For non-Allen fans, Interiors is a stark drama that doesn't even have music, much less any jokes.]

At the time (and no, I hadn't mirthfully been smoking hashish by myself all evening while reading Jonathan Safran Foer's latest novel, which I highly recommend), I thought Bailey might have been charmed by this bit of insousiance. I was so wrong. The next day, I received this:
Christian Evangelist,
I responded to one e-mail addressed to "Petey," but if you want to have serious discussions about significant issues with adults, you need to cut out the sophomoric, wiseass forms of address and the "I-think INTERIORS-is-Allen's-funniest-movie" bullshit. Then we'll talk.
Peter Bailey
Michael Chabon (in The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay) wrote about the latter titular character, "[l]ike all of his friends, he considered it a compliment when somebody called him a wiseass." I'll follow Sam Clay's lead.

If Peter Bailey refuses to discuss an issue without first being addressed in whatever hierarchical manner he deems appropriate (inconsistent with the colloquial tone he originally established by addressing the TBOC staff as "guys"), then he can continue to jabber at whatever sycophants will use his title. But at TBOC, we've always ignored self-important and hierophantic behavior, instead choosing to address the merit of the argument. Indeed, that's the only way to impose on the artificial power structures built by academia.

But in spite of all the evidence, journalistic balance forces me to write that Peter Bailey's probably a nice guy who might even have an argument if he bothered to coalesce his thoughts into something more coherent than his folksy use of "bullshit." Just don't try to tell him a joke.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

TBOC Set to Sue SLU for Copyright Violations

US Code Title 17 Chapter 1,111(b) Secondary Transmission of Primary Transmission to Controlled Group.— Notwithstanding the provisions of subsections (a) and (c), the secondary transmission to the public of a performance or display of a work embodied in a primary transmission is actionable as an act of infringement under section 501, and is fully subject to the remedies provided by sections 502 through 506 and 509, if the primary transmission is not made for reception by the public at large but is controlled and limited to reception by particular members of the public....
So it would seem that the "primary transmission" of Take Back Our Campus, the fragile existence of which rests on Blogger (owned by Google) to provide us with free web-space in exchange for posting third-party ads (most often from the Republican party or some conservative think-tank), is only on http://tboclives.blogspot.com (as described in the "controlled and limited to reception by particular members of the public" statement). We gladly provide our work to the persons who visit http://tboclives.blogspot.com, free of charge, and have never asked for any more remuneration than your comments on our efforts.

However, our "primary transmission" (via Blogger) has been infringed upon. Margaret Kent Bass, in her Fall 2004 class "10 Ways to Fight Hate on Campus," felt free to make print copies of our work (on at least two separate occasions) and distribute the illegal copies in her class. She even assigned her students to write essays about our articles.

The situation is exactly the same as if Dr. Bass had taken a chapter from a book (a "primary transmission"), photocopied it and distributed it to her class ("secondary transmission to the public of a performance or display of a work embodied in a primary transmission"). That Take Back Our Campus exists in a digital rather than printed medium is not a factor. At the least, Dr. Bass should have asked TBOC for permission to reproduce our works for the purposes of her class. Though we would have gladly given reprint permission (in exchange for a fair donation to the charity of our choice), Dr. Bass decided to ignore all our rights (and our entitlement to reprint fees) and declined to even send us an e-mail telling us that she had assigned our work to her class.

Thus, we feel more than free to exercise our legal right to file suit against St. Lawrence University for Dr. Bass' obvious "secondary transmission to the public [i.e. her class] of a performance or display of a work embodied in a primary transmission [i.e. http://tboclives.blogspot.com]," which, as the above quoted text states, "is actionable as an act of infringement under section 501, and is fully subject to the remedies provided by sections 502 through 506 and 509...."

We never wished to engage in the ugly and unbecoming business of litigation. For a time, we were willing to ignore Dr. Bass' violation of our rights. We encouraged her students to send us their essays about TBOC. We even sponsored a contest for them. But as the SLU administration has chosen the lesser path of legal bullying rather than engaging us in dialogue, we've no option but to respond in kind with our own more meritorious lawsuit.

Indeed, our case against SLU is much more firm than theirs against us. They can't possibly claim "fair use," as an academic class is not a journalistic outlet, or "innocent infringement," as Dr. Bass and any other professor or administrative figure knows the proper procedure for reproduction of a work for the purposes of an academic class. (Would it be fair to say they've infringed upon our "reproductive rights"? Probably not, but I wouldn't want to be accused of losing humor in fury.)

As for Dr. Bass and the rest of the SLU Administration, well, let's call this a "teachable moment"-- don't throw stones when your Ivory Tower is made of glass.