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Elika Roohi

Study Finds Where You Drink as Important as How Much

A new study published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs found that when drinking, where you do it matters as much as the quantity, when it comes to sexual assault and aggressive behavior. This provides a new dimension to those who have traditionally believed binge-drinking to be a major factor when it comes to dangerous scenarios for sexual assault.

The study followed the partying and hook-up behaviors of more than 1,000 straight men over four semesters, from the beginning of the freshman year. It found that men’s attendance at “drinking venues,” i.e. bars and parties, was a better predictor of their sexual aggression than their binge-drinking habits or attitudes about sex.

To some, however, this might seem a little obvious.

“I think if you survey college women, [they] know that when you go to a frat house, you hopefully [think to yourself], Okay, I need to be on edge. This is a danger zone,” says Rory Newlands, a graduate student at the University of Nevada at Reno and the lead author of a critical review of some sexual-violence-prevention programs on college campuses.

“If you’re at home drinking alone, you’re probably not going to perpetrate against someone,” she says. “But [it’s different if] you’re going to this environment where you’re already primed to be thinking, like, This is a hookup hot spot, and I’m drinking, so I’m going to have sex.”

For universities that are grappling with what they can do to prevent sexual assault on campus, this new research suggests that focusing on certain spaces could have an impact.

This was certainly the thought behind recent protests at Swarthmore College last week, when a group of students calling themselves the Coalition to End Fraternity Violence seized Phi Kappa Psi’s fraternity house. The move to seize the frat house came after some internal document from Phi Kappa Psi were leaked to campus news outlets, which revealed (among other things) that a room of the house was referred to as the “rape attic.”

According to the recent study, hot spots, such as Swarthmore’s Phi Kappa Psi’s “rape attic” are an unfortunately common phenomenon.

See also: Is Your Drinking Dangerous?

Not all Fun and Games: Drinking and Drug Abuse in College

Heavy drinking may be sign of bigger problem

The Resistance Will Be Cross Stitched: Interview with Shannon Downey

Shannon Downey, of the Instagram account @badasscrossstitch, learned how to cross stitch when she was young and rediscovered her love of the craft when she found herself burnt out by her day job and looking for a creative outlet.

Downey picked up a few patterns at first but quickly found that she was interested in creating her own. Cross stitch—no longer the territory of the prim ladies of yesteryear—became a voice for her to process what was happening to the world around her.

She stitched a large sign for the women’s march that read “I’m so angry, I stitched this just so I could stab something 3,000 times.” Shannon Downey stitched another piece—the one that launched her Instagram account into the public eye—in response to the release of the infamous Access Hollywood tape. That piece reads, “Boys will be boys held accountable for their fucking actions.”

We reached out to Shannon Downey for an interview to ask her about Badass Cross Stitch, and her new project: Badass Herstory.

College News: First, tell us about Badass Cross Stitch and how it began. Cross stitch as an art form has mostly been associated with housewives and grandmothers, so it seems an unusual choice for someone who’s a young feminist activist.

Shannon Downey: I ran my own digital marketing company for 10 years. Around year seven, I started to get really cranky. I was connected to a device 24-7, and it was really having a negative effect on me. I stumbled across a Star Trek cross stitch pattern on Etsy. I decided I should definitely buy it and cross stitch myself a Captain Picard. I hadn’t cross stitched since I learned in fifth grade. I stitched it up and felt transformed. I felt creative and calm and there was real satisfaction in having made something with my hands. I kept stitching and the more I stitched the better I felt. It really evolved from there into an expression of and tool for my activism.

I think it’s a perfect art form. It’s personal, calming and expressive—so there is a real depth and value to the process of creating. For the viewer, it’s quite unexpected and there is great power in that. I can say really controversial things in stitch, and folks will stop and spend time with it because the delivery mechanism is unexpected. Additionally, it is absolutely a reclaiming of a medium that has been historically used to teach girls how to be domestic. The art of it has been undervalued for far too long!

CN: We’ve seen this idea of art as resistance gain a lot of ground recently and within that lies ‘craftivism’ where women are reclaiming these activities that have traditionally been dismissed to make their own political statements, like the knitted pussy hats in the Women’s March or your cross-stitch patterns. What do you think is the role of art and crafting in activism and resistance?

SD: Art and artists have always been at the forefront of politics, religion, activism and resistance. What I am most interested in is the power of art to not just move people emotionally but to create opportunities for others to engage in activism in order to bring about actual social change. Art as a catalyst for action is the space I live in and I’m thrilled to see so many creatives taking a similar approach. The question I always ask myself when I’m creating is simply: How will this move people to action?

CN: Your art went viral after a photo of your piece that said “Boys will be boys held accountable for their fucking actions” was shared in response to the Harvey Weinstein news breaking. What was it like to suddenly have a much larger audience to share your message with?

SD: When that piece took off it was because millions of survivors were using it as the illustration to accompany their #MeToo stories. It was astounding to me that a piece I made was connecting with so many survivors. I was deeply humbled. The digital community that grew out of that moment (particularly on my Instagram) is amazing. I’m not talking about numbers—I’m talking about depth. The folks that engage with me and my work regularly on Instagram are some of the bravest, most honest, open, thoughtful, challenging, critical thinkers I’ve ever had the pleasure of engaging with online. It fills me with hope every day that social media can, in fact, be a tool for connections, conversation, growth and change.

CN: Amid the barrage of content coming from all sides at the moment, why do you think your art is resonating so deeply right now?

SD: This is going to sound cheesy, but I deeply believe that the primary driver is the intention behind my work. We can all spot a bullshitter a mile away. We know who is creating noise and causing division and who is legitimately trying to move us all forward as humans. I approach my work in a way that is authentic to me and everything I believe. I’m not here to be an influencer or get a brand to pay me to post shit. My intention is to move people to action around issues and I believe people feel that and know that. Beyond intention, I think it’s the content of my work, the medium and the framing of my positions.

CN: Right now, you’re working on a new project, Badass Herstory. Tell us about that!

SD: Yes! This is my most ambitious project to date. I’m asking all women, female identified, and gender non-binary folks on the planet to participate. The quick overview is that folks are asked to “tell me their story” on a 12 inch x 12 inch piece of fabric. Then, send it to me. There will be a giant public art installation and a digital museum. I want 1 million stories. I want the world to see the complexity and diversity of stories from the most marginalized voices.

Low key though, this is a community organizing project because everything is more fun when you are doing it WITH other people. So, I’ve been traveling all over hosting free community workshops where I introduce the project, teach folks how to stitch, and then get them started on their pieces. Folks are then getting together after I’m gone to stitch together again and again. They are becoming friends and allies. They are identifying issues in their communities that they want to take action on. I have about 600 ambassadors from all over the world signed up and they have been gathering folks together to participate in the project. It’s amazing. I want every college campus to have a Badass HERstory group!

Everyone who is interested in either making a piece or starting and participating in a stitch-up group should immediately go to www.BadassHERstory.com and learn more. Feel free to hit me up on social too!

CN: Thanks, Shannon, for this interview! We look forward to following Badass Cross Stitch and Badass Herstory!

Find Shannon on Instagram at @BadassCrossStitch and @BadassHERstory, and on Twitter at @ShannonDowney.

See also: Need Motivation? Meet Astronaut Abby

Why Feminism in Teen Shows Today Matters

This is not a story highlighting the difference between real life and TV. This is not even a story lamenting the shallow subject matters of teen shows.

That story is well-worn and also complex. Getting into why chick flicks, teen shows and soap operas get a bad rap would require a lengthy exploration of patriarchal influence on what’s considered worthy of our time.

And for that matter, I’ve always loved teen shows. Going back to the days of recording Degrassi and Gossip Girl on the DVR, I loved the storylines about navigating growing up and finding love. They were engrossing and dramatic, and I was always hooked.

But before we move on, it bears mentioning that growing up and finding love is pretty much all these shows covered. Barely passing the Bechdel test, the popular teen series of my adolescence glamorized sex while leaving out some of the tragic realities that come with being a sexually active 16-year-old—abortion, sexual assault, rape and sexually transmitted diseases. They glossed over current events and how they might affect the characters, and they definitely didn’t portray their characters as advocates for causes they might care about.

That’s all changing now.

Fierce feminist characters

Riverdale, the CW drama loosely based on the central cast of the Archie comics, began airing in 2017. Similar to Pretty Little Liars (2010-2017), which followed a group of four girls trying to unravel the mystery of their friend who went missing, Riverdale homes in on the violence inflicted on high-school students by their peers.

Yet unlike Pretty Little Liars—which, among so, so many other things, depicts a relationship between an underage student and her teacher—Riverdale shows main characters Veronica (Camila Mendes) and Betty (Lili Reinhart) begin a crusade against slut-shaming in the third episode when they discover that Riverdale High’s football team keeps a record book of alleged hookups.

“We’re objects for them to abuse,” Betty says. “And when they’re done with us, they shame us into silence.” She spits out her lines, calling the book “dehumanizing.” By writing this in dialogue, rather than as subtext, the show’s writers turned the vague, simmering rage of so many silent teen girls into a rallying cry.

This might just be anecdotal, but it feels revolutionary to have teen stars standing up for themselves in this way on TV.

And it’s not just confined to Riverdale (which, yes, is violent, dark and not free of problems). Shows like The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (Netflix), Jane the Virgin (CW), Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (CW) and GLOW (Netflix) also are putting a feminist ethos decidedly to work in their storylines. And if you’re feeling nostalgic but can’t get through old episodes of your favorite shows without yelling “Comeon!” at the characters, the reboots of Gilmore Girls and Degrassi are both updated for 2019’s charged climate and increased consciousness.

Why this matters

Sexual assault didn’t just start when #metoo started trending. American culture tends to bury its ugly sides, until there’s too much of it under the surface and it spills out.

Back when Pretty Little Liars aired, there were young women getting taken advantage of by older males in their lives who held positions of power. And without depictions of the damages of those relationships, seeking recourse for those women was just one more step out of reach.

Today, hopefully, just one more woman finds courage to call out abuse, inspired by Betty and Veronica on Riverdale.

Yes, it seems trivial. It’s a show about serial killers and drug rings. But stories matter because we find ourselves in them. And when we find ourselves in stories of youth standing up for what they believe in (even if the story is Riverdale), we become youth who can also take a stand.

See also: Harvard Dean Under Fire for Representing Harvey Weinstein

Mad About Maca: Health Benefits of Maca Powder

If you, like us, have most experimented with maca by ordering the occasional maca latte from your local independent coffee shop, then this article is for you.

Maca—different from the highly prized green tea matcha traditionally from Japan and China—is the powdered version of the maca root from the South America Andes. The superfood tastes earthy and (some say) like caramel.

Health benefits

Nutritionists say the maca provides major health benefits. “[Maca] may benefit our hormonal health by regulating the endocrine system—the collection of glands that produce hormones to regulate metabolism, growth, sexual function, reproduction, sleep and mood,” said performance dietitian Jessica Spendlove in HuffPost Australia.

A study published in the journal Pharmaceuticals tested the effects of daily maca consumption by 175 participations. At the end of the 12-week study, researchers concluded that maca positively affected the participants’ mood, energy and health status.

Now for the dubious claims

Maca is often credited with being a major libido-booster, but when you start to unravel that, there’s probably not a whole lot of truth to the claim.

Maca root’s ability to get you in the mood is more of a theory than something that has been confirmed through scientific research, said Dr. Keith-Thomas Ayoob, EdD, RD, FAND to Elite Daily.

So maybe don’t chug a maca latte before your next date.

How to incorporate it into your diet

Maca powder is incredibly versatile. Stir a serving into your morning coffee, add it to a smoothie, mix it into a stir fry or even put it in hot chocolate.

It can be frustrating to invest in a whole bag of a superfood without knowing if you’ll like the taste or if you’ll notice its health benefits. Some retailers sell individual packets of maca, which are smaller and less expensive. Not only will you be able to try out the ingredient for yourself without going home with a year’s worth of powder, but the single-serving pouches make this the perfect product to take on-the-go to work or the gym.

As with any dietary supplement, you might want to check in with your doctor before you commit to incorporating maca into your daily meals.

“If you take medications or have a medical condition, herbs are not something to just play with,” Dr. Ayoob said. “Some can have serious interactions with medication or in people with certain medical conditions.”

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), “Extracts from maca might act like estrogen.” As per the NIH, if you have any condition that could be made worse by extra estrogen exposure, you shouldn’t use maca without a doctor’s permission. People with hormone-sensitive conditions such as breast cancer, uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, endometriosis or uterine fibroids should be extra cautious.

See also: Expert Tips on How to Breakup with Your Phone

Read These Poets for National Poetry Month

“It was an April morning: fresh and clear,” wrote William Wordsworth in 1815, perhaps not realizing that two centuries later, those words would mark not just the freshness of spring in April, but also National Poetry Month.

To us, celebrating the beginning of spring with its budding trees and blooming flowers with our favorite poets seems only too apt.

“The spirit of enjoyment and desire,/And hopes and wishes, from all living things/Went circling, like a multitude of sounds,” wrote Wordsworth once upon a time.

So, if like us, you’re looking for some literary inspiration this month, here are our favorite contemporary poets to read this National Poetry Month.

Sarah Kay

You might remember her from the incredible 2011 TED talk, or perhaps you came across her 2014 book, No Matter the Wreckage. Either way, Sarah Kay, founder of Project VOICE, has made a name for herself in the poetry world today. Kay tours the world, bringing poetry into classrooms, empowering kids to express themselves through words.

If you’re just getting into Kay’s work, start with Peacocks.

The line that gave us chills? “I’ve been searching for my favorite constellations everywhere, but I haven’t seen any yet. The spaces between stars are all different here, much wider.”

Anis Mojgani

Another master of the art of spoken word, Anis Mojgani is a half-Persian, half-black poet from Portland. Mojgani has authored five books, most recently In the Pockets of Small Gods. The two-time National Slam Poetry champion is perhaps best known for his poem Shake the Dust.

If you’re just getting into Mojgani’s work, we recommend For Those Who Can Still Ride An Airplane for the First Time.

The line that gave us chills? “I dream too much and I don’t write enough and I’m trying to find god everywhere.”

We also recommend following Mojgani on social media. His tweets and instas bring a little bit of joy an introspection into our feeds—something we all need more of these days.

Patricia Lockwood

Sometimes referred to as the poet laureate of Twitter, Patricia Lockwood rose to internet fame after her poem Rape Joke was published by the Awl in 2013. Since then, Penguin Books has published her second collection, Motherland Fatherland Homelandsexuals.

If you’re just getting into Lockwood’s work, start with this excerpt from Rape Joke:

The rape joke is that you were 19 years old.
The rape joke is that he was your boyfriend.
The rape joke it wore a goatee. A goatee.
Imagine the rape joke looking in the mirror, perfectly reflecting back itself, and grooming itself to look more like a rape joke. “Ahhhh,” it thinks. “Yes. A goatee.”
No offense.
The rape joke is that he was seven years older. The rape joke is that you had known him for years, since you were too young to be interesting to him. You liked that use of the word interesting, as if you were a piece of knowledge that someone could be desperate to acquire, to assimilate, and to spit back out in different form through his goateed mouth.

Rupi Kaur

Rupi Kaur: the Instagram poet. Love her or hate her, it’s certain that you’ve stumbled across her work in the explore feed at some point.

Kaur is the author of two books, Milk and Honey (2014) and The Sun and Her Flowers (2017). She’s gone on a world-wide tour to promote her work, and on top of that, manages a flourishing social media presence where she regularly releases her work.

Just wading into Rupi Kaur’s poetry? Start here:

Screenshot courtesy of Rupi Kaur’s Instagram

Warsan Shire

British Somali poet Warsan Shire is another noteworthy contemporary poet, known to many as a compelling voice on black womanhood and the African diaspora. Her work has been featured everywhere from high-brow literary magazines to Lemonade, Beyoncé’s visual album.

Just starting with Shire? Begin with this excerpt from home, the poem featured on Lemonade:

“you can’t make homes out of human beings
someone should have already told you that
and if he wants to leave
then let him leave”

Tracy K. Smith

Tracy K. Smith is the current poet laureate of the United States, a role no longer reserved for old white men. She has published four collections of poetry, one of which won a Pulitzer. Smith also produces a daily podcast called The Slowdown, to make contemporary poetry more accessible and offer a different way to see the world.

Just getting into Smith’s work? After subscribing to The Slowdown, we recommend starting with her poem My God, It’s Full of Stars. Here’s an excerpt:

Perhaps the great error is believing we’re alone,
That the others have come and gone—a momentary blip—
When all along, space might be choc-full of traffic,
Bursting at the seams with energy we neither feel
Nor see, flush against us, living, dying, deciding,
Setting solid feet down on planets everywhere,
Bowing to the great stars that command, pitching stones
At whatever are their moons. They live wondering
If they are the only ones, knowing only the wish to know,
And the great black distance they—we—flicker in.

Rudy Francisco

Poet Rudy Francisco is another spoken word master. He’s written four books: Getting Stitches (2013), Scratch (2014), No Gravity (2015) and Helium (2017) and won numerous awards for his performances. His work has been featured widely, including on the Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.

If you’re just starting with Francisco’s work, we love Complainers.

See also: Sylvia Plath’s “Newly Discovered” College Story

Our Favorite Films Directed by Women This Year

With increasing concern about representation in Hollywood—not to mention the serious allegations of sexual assault following the #metoo movement—it seems more important than ever before to support films directed by women.

To help you on your quest to make informed decisions about your media consumption, here are our favorite women-lead movies from the last year.

Free Solo (directed by Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin)

Free Solo is a documentary about mountain and cliff climbing done without gear. It follows professional rock climber Alex Honnold as he attempts to conquer the first free solo climb of El Capitan’s 900-meter vertical rock face at Yosemite National Park. The cinematography is stunning and also a little vertigo-inducing, as Hannold courts death through his risky climbs.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (directed by Susan Johnson)

Last summer saw a bit of romcom resurgence, thanks in large part to Netflix’s “Summer of Love” releases. Arguably the cutest one of the lot was To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, based on the novel of the same name by Jenny Han. The story follows Lara Jean Covey as she finds herself in a mess once her secret love letters get mailed out to her former and current crushes. To get herself out of the mess, she concocts a plan that only leads to further complications (and, spoiler alert: love).

Set It Up (directed by Claire Scanlon)

Another Netflix romcom from last summer, Set It Up feels like the older sister of To All the Boys. The story follows two personal secretaries of high-strung execs who conspire to set their bosses up to ease a bit of the pressure of off their own lives. Of course, complications ensue. For her part, Scanlon’s directorial experience includes The Mindy Project, The Office, The Good Place, GLOW and Fresh Off the Boat, so it’s no wonder that Set It Up is charming and hilarious.

A Wrinkle in Time (directed by Ava DuVernay)

If your feminist susceptibilities needed any more reasons to watch a movie starring Oprah, Mindy Kaling and Reese Witherspoon, we can confirm that A Wrinkle in Time was also directed by a boss lady. The 2018 film adaptation of Madeleine L’Engle’s 1962 book, is a science fantasy adventure story about a young girl who sets off on a quest to find her missing father.

The Spy Who Dumped Me (directed by Susanna Fogel)

The only thing better than a BFF-spy-action-comedy is one directed by a woman. Starring hilarious-SNL-darling Kate McKinnon and That ‘70s Show’s Mila Kunis, The Spy Who Dumped Me is an undeniably fun movie about two friends who unwittingly become entangled in an international conspiracy when one of the women discovers her ex-boyfriend was actually a spy. Yes, please.

Mary Queen of Scots (directed by Josie Rourke)

This royal historical drama that stars Ladybird star Saoirse Ronan as Mary, Queen of Scots, and Wolf of Wall Street actress Margot Robbie as her cousin, Elizabeth I. The film delves into their complicated relationship with each other—and the men who are trying to take their power.

Dumplin’ (directed by Anne Fletcher)

Based on the young adult novel by Julie Murphy, Dumplin’ is a coming-of-age comedy film about an overweight teenager (Danielle Macdonald) who’s the daughter of a former beauty queen (Jennifer Aniston). The movie is a feel-good empowerment story set to a Dolly Parton soundtrack. What else do you need?

See also: Selma Blair’s Incredible Moment at the Oscars

Words of Wisdom on International Women’s Day

Expert Tips on How to Breakup with Your Phone

I’m on my phone too much.

You’re probably on your phone too much.

Most people are on their phone so much that we’ve been lulled in complacency about what “too much” actually is. This is despite the research about how smartphones are ruining our eyesight, disrupting our sleep and affecting our relationships with the living, breathing human beings around us.

One day, we’re going to look back at this period of time in horror, said Digital Minimalism author Cal Newport. “You’re gonna look at allowing a 13-year-old to have a smartphone the same way that you would look at allowing your 13-year-old to smoke a cigarette,” he said to GQ.

From the physical (there’s a 15 percent chance that your iPhone carries the bacteria E. Coli—and if it doesn’t, it has a whole host of other germs on it) to the emotional (smartphone usage is linked to increased rates of depression, anxiety and self-harm), the way we interact with our phones is having a huge impact on who we are.

Science journalist and self-identified tech addict Catherine Price decided to research the subject based on her own phone addiction and wrote How To Break Up With Your Phone. Here are her most practical tips on fighting our most-modern affliction yet.

Ride it out

Borrow a trick from smokers who are trying to quit when you’re working on quitting yourself and ride out the cravings. If we acknowledge our discomfort and ride out the wave, Price said, the craving will fade on its own. Instead of fighting the urge or berating yourself for wanting to check a notification, pause, take a breath and notice your want. Don’t surrender to it or try to distract yourself, simply recognize it and “see what happens,” writes Price.

Accountability

All goals benefit from some accountability, and the chances are that most of your friends and family want to start being a bit more conscious about their tech time too. When you mention that you want to look at your phone less, invite them to join you when they respond, “me too!” It will make the process more fun and less isolating.

Face your reality

The first step to recovery is acknowledging you have a problem. Coming to terms with how much you actually use your phone and for what will help you focus on how to use it less. Price recommends downloading an app to help you measure your usage like Moment or OFFTIME. This will help you collect hard data on your own habits.

Once you know how much time you’re spending on your phone, the apps that suck away your time and how often you pick your phone up, you can make specific goals to cut back on these things. It’s hard to make progress when your goal is vague, Price says. Ask yourself questions like: Do I want to use my phone only when working? Only when I absolutely need to? Does zoning out and mindlessly scrolling relax you? But do you want to limit that time? Consider these things, otherwise you’re diving in with no direction, which usually leads to failure.

Boundaries

Price recommends turning off all notifications, including email and text notifications. If you are worried about missing a call from someone, put them on a special VIP list so they will be able to reach your immediately.

She also recommends creating no phone zones like the dinner table and the bedroom, and imposing time limits like no phones after 6 p.m. She encourages deleting social media apps from your phone and only checking them from a desktop. And if you can’t delete social media from your phone for work? Download an app blocker.

Phubbing

We’re all guilty of phubbing, the act of checking your phone when in the middle of a conversation, meal or otherwise with other people. It’s become so common that it’s almost not rude anymore. However, it doesn’t change the fact that checking our phone when we’re with others disengages us from our surroundings and removes us from being fully present. Price recommends putting your phone away entirely when you’re in social situations.

Just a break, not a breakup

After following Price’s guidelines for three weeks, she recommends tackling a full 24-hour period without your phone. This trial separation is meant to test your discipline that you’ve developed up until this point, but it also meant to “allow serendipity to reenter your life,” Price writes. The 24-hour period will hopefully reinforce the fact that there are so many other interesting things to do that are far better for you than looking at your phone.

Phone enlightenment

As you slowly shift your habits away from the endless feed that is modern life, Price writes that you can now use that time to trying something new. Go for a hike, visit a museum, learn a new recipe, take a class or read a book that you haven’t had time to get to. All of these activities are healthy, substantive and productive uses of time that will ultimately make you a happier, healthier person.

See also: Five Books About Climate Change You Need to Read Now

College-Admissions Scandal Exposes Famous Parents

In case you missed it, news broke on Tuesday that dozens of wealthy people had been charged in a widespread college entrance exam cheating scandal. Rich parents were enlisting the help of a shady college preparatory program to get their children into elite private colleges through fraudulent means.

CNN called the situation a “national conspiracy.”

Fifty people, including Full House actress Lori Loughlin and Desperate Housewives star Felicity Huffman, are facing federal fraud charges following an FBI investigation called “Operation Varsity Blues.”

Everything about the scandal raises many questions. How does one commit college application fraud? There’s a way to cheat on the SATs? Why did no one catch that students were being recruited for sports they had no history of participating in? How much does this sort of scam even cost? And aren’t there less illegal ways for rich people to buy their way into competitive schools? We address all your questions.

How did this work?

According to indictments unsealed in federal court in Boston on Tuesday, William “Rick” Singer, a Southern California business executive, ran a for-profit college counseling business called Edge College & Career Network and a charity called the Key Worldwide Foundation. Singer allegedly used both businesses to help wealthy parents get their children into colleges and universities across the country.

The scheme scammed the admissions process in two ways. First, in return for payments ranging from $10,000-$75,000 per test, Singer paid other people to either take standardized tests such as the ATC and SAT in place of the children or correct their answers after the fact.

Second, parents paid Singer collectively more than $25 million to get their children into top universities by bribing college coaches and administrators into designating their children as recruited athletes when they were not. In general, athletes tend to be held to lower academic standards in college admissions.

But really… how did that get past anyone?

One of the more stunning details of this already outrageous case is the brazen way Singer faked application details. According to details released in the court document, he would find stock images of athletes and then use Photoshop to insert applicants’ faces onto the bodies of legitimate athletes. Once students started at the university, they would claim to have injuries, so they did not have to participate on the sports team for which they had been recruited.

In one case, a basketball profile was created for an applicant who was 5’5”, falsely listing that he was 6’1”. It’s unclear how the young man was expected to justify the discrepancy between his stated height and actual height when he arrived on campus, but he was admitted to the University of Southern California regardless.

The most common tactic used by Singer when faking sports history was to send bribes to coaches so that applications would be marked as an athletic recruit. The former Yale University women’s soccer coach allegedly accepted $400,000 from Singer to designate a student as a soccer recruit. He resigned soon after, saying that he wanted to “explore new opportunities.”

Aren’t there less illegal ways for rich parents to get their kids into school?

In a story with many head-scratching elements, perhaps the most perplexing is why an elaborate criminal scheme had to be used in the first place. Plenty of people on Twitter wondered why anyone would spend $500,000 on getting their child admitted into a college through fraudulent means when there are so many legal ways for rich people to buy their way into elite schools.

We’re wondering about this too.

Who’s taking responsibility for this?

So far, the athletic coaches named in the federal indictment have either been placed on administrative leave or fired by their respective universities.

Those arrested on Tuesday—a total of 40 people, including famous actresses and CEOs—will face numerous federal charges at future sentencing hearings.

Singer has plead guilty to all charges he is facing and plans on fully cooperating with the FBI.

As for the children whose admissions were allegedly facilitated through crime, the U.S. attorney leading the case says that they are “still considering” whether or not they’ll press charges.

See also: Harvard Dean Under Fire for Representing Harvey Weinstein

Adnan Syed from “Serial” Won’t Be Getting a Retrial

Adnan Syed, who has spent nearly 20 years in prison for the murder of his ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee, has been denied a new trial, the Maryland Court of Appeals announced Friday.

Syed’s conviction gained international attention after it became the subject of the wildly popular podcast Serial, which investigated whether he could be innocent. Serial didn’t come to any conclusions, but it did open the doors to further actions that could be taken with regard to Syed’s case.

In March last year, Syed and his legal team had a small victory when the Maryland Court of Special Appeals rules that his “Sixth Amendment right to effective counsel was violated” by a failure to investigate a potential alibi witness, Asia McClain, who said she saw Syed in the library at the time Lee was murdered.

However, Maryland’s highest court denied Syed a new trial in a 4-3 decision last week, reasoning that while there had been a failure to investigate an alibi witness, that deficiency did not prejudice the case overall. The court also said that Syed waived his ineffective counsel claim.

Syed’s attorney, Justin Brown, said the legal team was “devastated” by Friday’s ruling but would “not give up on Adnan Syed.”

All the news about Syed’s case comes right at HBO has released a new documentary series about the case called The Case Against Adnan Syed. While most of the first episode is reportedly quite similar to the Serial investigation, the documentary promises to share new information.

Hold on, what’s this case again?

In January 1999, Hae Min Lee, age 18, went missing in Baltimore County, Maryland. Her body was found four weeks later in Leakin Park, bearing signs of manual strangulation. Her ex-boyfriend, Adnan Syed, was convicted of first-degree murder in February 2000 and given a life sentence plus 30 years.

Lee’s murder initially only generated local interest, until it became the subject of the first season of Serial 15 years later. The podcast, which was downloaded 175 million times, brought international attention to the crime and called Syed’s conviction into question.

While Serial’s investigation didn’t prove anything definitively, it exposed certain inconsistencies in the case, such as the court failing to call a witness who could have potentially corroborated Syed’s alibi and the general failings of Syed’s lawyer overall. After spending a year investigating the complicated case, reporter Sarah Koenig said, “the case is a mess.”

Following the release of the podcast and its tremendous popularity, the Innocence Project redoubled its efforts to bring justice to Syed.

See also: What’s Going on with R. Kelly? A Guide

 

Words of Wisdom on International Women’s Day

In honor of International Women’s Day—a day to celebrate all the amazing women across the globe, and the endless work of striving toward gender equality—College News has rounded up our favorite words of wisdom from our favorite women to inspire you.

Michelle Obama, former First Lady

“No country can ever truly flourish if it stifles the potential of its women and deprives itself of the contributions of half of its citizens.”

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Supreme Court justice

“Women belong in all places where decisions are being made… It shouldn’t be that women are the exception.”

Maragaret Thatcher, former U.K. Prime Minister

If you want something said, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman.

Malala Yousafzai, Activist and Nobel Prize Laureate

“I raise up my voice—not so I can shout, but so that those without a voice can be heard. We cannot succeed when half of us are held back.”

Eleanor Roosevelt, former First Lady

“Well behaved women seldom make history.”

Sylvia Plath, writer and poet

“And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.”

Tina Fey, actress

“Know what? Bitches get stuff done.”

Frida Kahlo, artist

“I used to think I was the strangest person in the world, but then I thought there are so many people in the world, there must be someone just like me who feels bizarre and flawed in the same ways I do. I would imagine her, and imagine that she must be out there thinking of me too. Well, I hope that if you are out there, and read this, and know that, yes, it’s true I’m here, and I’m just as strange as you.”

Toni Morrison, author, professor, and Nobel Prize winner

“You wanna fly, you got to give up the shit that weighs you down.”

Elastigirl (of The Incredibles)

“Leave the saving of the world to the men? I don’t think so.”

See also: Your Seven Day Break on the Pill is Bogus—Here’s Why