Universities in Review

by by Beatrice Igne-Bianchi

Wesleyan’s Street Cred

This semester, Wesleyan expanded their course offerings to men committed to both hitting the books and jail time. The privately financed experiment in higher education gives inmates at the Cheshire Correctional Institution in Connecticut—some of them murderers and drug dealers—the chance to receive an elite college education while inside the confines of high-security prison walls. The inmate-students will absorb knowledge from top-notch academics in their given fields, everything from political science to biology.

Wesleyan has chosen to maintain its exclusive admissions process even in this state prison. Out of the 120 inmates who applied for the University’s special program, only 19 were accepted.

Most of the inmates are learning for the sake of learning. Several of them they will likely spend the entirety of their lives in prison wearing khaki uniforms with six-digit numbers printed over their hearts and will have no chance to put their college credits towards a career. Their reasons for enrolling? As reported by The New York Times, many inmates revealed that spending time in jail has drawn them back to idea of school—homework and all. It’s not just out of idle curiosity that comes from being imprisoned, but also a pure intellectual interest in engaging in mentally stimulating discussions. At the end of the day, these inmates want some self r-e-s-p-e-c-t.

Grade: A

Liberal arts educations should be available to anyone eager to put their nose to the academic grindstone—no matter how punishable their pasts may be.

Princeton Tries Too Hard

Next semester, Princeton University will offer a new African-American Studies/Comparative Literature class. “Model Memoirs: The Life Stories of International Super Models” promises to deliver exactly what the title states; students will read and discuss memoirs written by American, African, and Asian super models. After offering a class on the sociological dimensions of Bruce Springsteen, Princeton felt obligated to keep pushing that academic envelope.

The new course aims to look at identity and cultural standards of beauty through models’ lenses, and will include “guest lectures by fashion editors and models” as the class description reads. Professor Wendy Belcher’s reading list looks as skinny as a professional poser with only three books: Alek Wek's memoir, Alek: From Sudanese Refugee to International Supermodel, Irina Pantaeva's Siberian Dream, and Jillian Shanebrook's Model: Life Behind the Makeup. While the new course needs a bit more meat on its bones, the Ivy’s $47,000 cost of tuition could be worth every penny if students get to see Anna Wintour lecture on global fashion in a seminar-sized classroom.

Grade: B

A valiant effort to bring pop culture to the classroom, but a reading list with three autobiographies lacks serious substance.

Mr. Yale Gets a Makeover

Like many things on its New Haven campus, Yale’s big popularity contest has been boys-only—until now. Senior Jen Ivers is changing the rules of Yale College Council’s Mr. Yale contest, becoming the first female to ever compete for the crown.

Traditionally, one guy is chosen from every residential college to represent his dorm. But for residential college Timothy Dwight, Ivers received the majority of votes among her dorm mates. At first, the College Council disqualified Ivers’s nomination because, well, she isn’t a boy. But after re-reading their terms, which have no rule explicitly prohibiting women from competing, the YCC apologized to Ivers for a "miscommunication” on its behalf. Still, Ivers doesn’t see herself as the first woman to compete for the title of Mr. Yale; the Illinois-native told the Yale Daily News that she identifies as neither male nor female, and does not identify as transgender. Ivers feels that gender is a non-issue in her life and should not hold any influence in the contest.

Grade: B+

Kudos to both Ivers and Yale for going gender-neutral. But why didn't this happen sooner?

Duke’s Sexy Science

New research conducted by Duke University’s student health workers and professor Dan Ariely, a behavioral economist, asks women to spend time masturbating with different sex toys. Last month, ads were posted all over campus to recruit female students for this “sexually explicit” study involving questionnaires on sexual behavior and attitudes as well as “parties” to choose toys to test drive at home. Researchers want to “examine the influence of Tupperware-like sex toy parties on sexual attitudes” among females in order to look at the effect of group mentality, reported

While many ladies see this as a sweet study, Duke’s Catholic Center criticizes the experiment. The promiscuity on campus greatly troubles Father Joe Vetter, the Center’s director. Although he admits he hasn’t found a solution to this alleged problem, he doesn’t believe “it’s a good developmental practice to just tell somebody to just sit around and masturbate,” according to However, Duke’s vice president of public affairs, Michael Schoenfeld, said that while he believes all research is valuable, “not all research will make people comfortable.” Fortunately for Father Vetter, the ads he finds offensive are no longer posted since all the study’s slots have been filled.

Grade: A-

For cutting-edge science, exploring female sexuality, and not letting anyone get in the way of either.

Beatrice Igne-Bianchi B'10 took it S/NC.