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In Praise of The Ithacan and Kitsch

I think it goes without saying that both The Ithacan, South Hill's student weekly, and Kitsch, East Hill's student semesterly, are doing the type of in-depth investigative reporting that should be done by students in a college town. It's always a joy to read these types of articles written by students, and I can only hope that more are on the way.

Consider, for example, the recent Ithacan article on the town-gown tensions that exist at both CU and IC due to their tax-exempt status:

“There’s a natural logic for the university contributing back to the city some set of resources to offset the cost to providing those services to the university,” said Stephen Golding, vice president of finance and administration at Cornell.

While giving money to the city and school district is a welcomed effort, claims Tim Joseph, chairman of the Tompkins County Legislature. But Cornell should not be allowed to count the $3 million given to TCAT as a voluntary payment because its students and employees make up such a large percentage of riders.

“[Paying for local schools and municipal services] ... are good things for [Cornell] to do, but I don’t think it comes close to the burden placed into the community by being here, so I wouldn’t say it’s enough,” he said. “On the other hand, IC doesn’t do anything, so it’s more than that.”

Or how about Kitsch's recent foray into Cornell's Greek system, documenting the use of strippers as a recruiting tool to attract pledges:

The interactions between college-age males and exotic dancers have come under much scrutiny since a dancer accused three members of the Duke lacrosse team of raping her after a private performance, leading to the cancellation of their season and igniting a nationwide scandal. The rape charges against the three players have recently been dropped.

A similar incident occurring at Cornell would likely occur in a slightly different setting. “If something like the Duke lacrosse [scandal] happened at Cornell, it would be a fraternity, not a sports team,” said Leo, a senior and a rush chair for a fraternity, citing the greater number of males in fraternities than on sports teams.

After the Duke incident, Kuma stopped sending girls to private parties. However, two of the girls who work at the club still do private performances, some of which are fraternity recruitment events. As a pair, Nevaeh (“heaven” backwards) and Ella have done “five or six” private parties at Cornell fraternities so far this academic year. Older fraternity brothers, usually seniors, come to the club, pick them out, and ask them to perform at an event. They are usually paid $300 for an hour plus $100 prepaid in tips. The two almost always hire someone to serve as their bouncer. Sometimes the boys will be so ambivalent about the cost that they’ll pay up to $450 an hour, because, according to Nevaeh, “It’s their parents’ money.”

Other examples abound. Like Kitsch's look at a local elementary school struggling to manage under the mandate of No Child Left Behind, or The Ithacan exploring the nature of student-town relations two years after Ithaca's noise violation ordinance was passed. I don't think I am the only one hoping to see both The Ithacan and Kitsch published on a more timely basis.

Matthew Nagowski | Posted on April 05, 2007 (#)

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