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The Chronicle is reporting on the fake Twitter accounts of two university presidents. (Both universities have asked Twitter to suspend the accounts, so check them out now if you’re interested.)

@JackDeGioia is supposedly the Twitter feed of Georgetown’s chief. It consists largely of topical jokes on campus events that also involve sloppy joes. But there are some pokes at how the university is run…

Had to give an honorary degree to my son today so he would take a bath. Really embarrassing. Had to do it in front of the whole faculty. 1:50 AM May 12th

Student asked me today to take action on the chicken madness. Nope. As soon as you take a student suggestion, the university’s about them. 8:15 PM May 13th

…as well as moments of more random humor:

So much human contact. So much. Thousands of beautiful hands touching mine. But now I have to wait a whole year again. 1:40 PM May 17th

In Rome. When in Rome, do what they tell you to do. The Romans, that is, or anybody who ever tells you to do something. about 3 hours ago

The @WilliamPowersJr account, which pretends to be that of the president of the University of Texas, relies heavily on puns on Powers’ last name. There are also, as on DeGioia’s account, occasional gentle jokes about him being a doofus:

I’m hosting Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi the AT&T Executive Center at 7 tonight. Hoping they don’t make me give a speech. 11:25 AM Apr 27th

Dreading going into work tomorrow, but those diplomas aren’t going to sign themselves… 1:45 PM May 17th

We really need a toaster in this office…or a microwave…whatever makes hot pockets, because I’m famished. 12:41 PM May 18th

The fake DeGioia is Jack Stuef, a Georgetown undergraduate who edits a campus humor magazine. The fake Powers is so far anonymous.

Friday update: Powers account has been suspended. The DeGioia is still up.

An Entertainment Weekly blog claimed last week that a New York crowd “staged a ’60s-style sit-in at a Manhattan KFC” after the restaurant ran out of the grilled chicken that Oprah Winfrey had given away free coupons for online. The story has been repeated over and over again since.

But the sit-in never happened.

The EW story was based on a Gothamist post, and Gothamist got it from an anonymous emailer who’d written to say that customers at a midtown Manhattan KFC were “currently holding a sit-in and refusing to leave until they get their free chicken.” But that email was an obvious, crude, and not particularly funny joke — it went on to claim that the store’s “manager ran from [a] screaming horde” who were “spew[ing] racial epithets” and threatening other patrons with “a beatdown.”

If there had been an actual sit-in the New York tabloids and television news would have been all over it, but  a Google news search for KFC protest Oprah “New York” brings up not a single hit from local media. It gets plenty of hits, but they’re all to stories that were based on the Gothamist’s joke.

Were people at that KFC upset about missing out on the promotion? Some of them probably were. Any time a business promises a free giveaway and fails to deliver there are going to be some pissed off customers, particularly if they’ve been waiting in line for a while.

But the crucial element of the Gothamist/EW story is the sit-in angle, and it’s obvious why. Claiming that there was a sit-in brings all the racially coded elements of the story — Oprah, fast food, New York, fried chicken — together, and turns a story about corporate bungling into a story about race. Gothamist cast the story as a story about angry, violent blacks, while EW went for a more sardonic approach, but both made the incident into a morality play with blackness taking center stage.

And so it was inevitable that white racist idiots would pounce on the story, just as it was inevitable that blacks would recoil in embarrassment. But there’s no reason for anyone to be smirking, and there’s no reason for anyone to be cringing.

The sit-in never happened.

palmer9Another student party-turned-riot has been broken up by cops — this one at Ohio University.

Thousands of people attended an off-campus party near OU on Saturday night. Cops moved in when partiers began setting fires in the street, and were greeted by students throwing bottles and full beer cans. Police say five police horses were injured, three of them cut by broken glass.

At one point a group of students tore down a stop sign as another set up speakers in an open window to blast NWA’s “Fuck Tha Police” into the street. Some students claim the cops used excessive force in breaking up the party.

Similar melees took place at the University of Minnesota and Kent State earlier this semester.

(Photo of douche giving thumbs-up sign courtesy of the Ohio University Post.)

Student parties turned into riots at two American colleges last night.

At the University of Minnesota, an off-campus student party associated with the campus’s Spring Jam got rowdy when a fire was built in the middle of a street. Bottles and rocks were reportedly thrown at police, who retaliated with tear gas, pepper spray, and “foam rounds.”

Here’s commenter Sun from the Minnesota Daily website with a first-hand perspective:

“I wouldn’t call this a riot as much as a large get-together that was slightly out of hand. People were not hurting each other or raiding houses. There was a strong communal understanding of respect, however, there was some bottle smashing and fire starting. If you were there you know what I’m trying to get at … the majority of the activity was allotted to mere standing and conversing with occasional sing-a-longs.”

Standing and conversing with occasional sing-a-longs, bottle smashing, and fire starting. Got it.

Only four people were arrested in the UM incident, but KentNewsNet is reporting that police made 125 arrests in the course of an off-campus confrontation at Kent State. There, participants suggest that the party turned into a riot because of police action.

Read the rest of this entry »

The University of Maryland, College Park says it “must allow” the campus Student Power Party to stage a free speech forum tonight, even though that forum will include a viewing of excerpts from Pirates II, the film that the university refused to allow students to screen on campus last week.

Meanwhile, the state legislator who over the weekend threatened to eliminate UMD’s funding if the film was shown is now saying he may seek to cut the university’s capital budget.

Here’s the Facebook page for tonight’s screening, which was scheduled to start at 7 pm, and Gawker’s take on the whole thing.

Tuesday update: The forum and screening went off without a hitch, and the state senator who was threatening to cut UMD’s funds backed down — sort of. He now says that he won’t seek to cut funding over last night’s event, but will press universities to implement policies that say “you can’t have university-sponsored XXX entertainment on campus” going forward.

About two hundred students showed up last night, watching the first half hour of the movie after a discussion of campus speech issues. When asked why they hadn’t shown the whole thing Student Power Party spokesperson Malcolm Harris said “you’d be hard-pressed to find a lot of students who want to sit around for a two-and-a-half-hour viewing of pornography on a Monday night.”

Student government elections are taking place today and tomorrow at UMD, with the Student Power Party running as one of four slates.

About This Blog

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StudentActivism.net is the work of Angus Johnston, a historian and advocate of American student organizing.

To contact Angus, click here. For more about him, check out AngusJohnston.com.

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