Run of the essay mill: Students evade plagiarism detectors by buying and selling original essays

There are several “essay mill” websites which students can go to and have an essay written for them. Depending on the website, this can cost hundreds of dollars. Photo by Hanna Yorke.

There are more ways than one to cheat your way through college.

While the nationwide admissions scandal reaffirmed suspicions about wealth and power in the collegiate system, virtually any college student can pay to have their coursework completed for them. And while technology has made it easier for essay mills to operate, it’s also made it easier to get caught, creating a virtual arms race of cheating and cheating detection.

Close to 16 percent of students have paid someone to do their work for them, and that number continues to rise, according to Frontiers research.

“I paid a friend to do all of my online Spanish homework freshman year, because I was so busy with sports,” said a junior public relations and advertising major who agreed to candor in exchange for anonymity. With the little free time she had, her Spanish assignments were the last thing she wanted to do, so she paid a friend who was good at Spanish $20 per assignment.

“Each assignment took 1-2 hours,” she said. She doesn’t regret paying for the ‘A’ and would pay someone again if she felt squeezed for time.

“I sell my essays to my close friends only,” said another Chapman student who wrote essays for GE classes. This student is aware that getting caught would ruin her college career, but said so far no one for whom she works has gotten caught.

“I’ve only done a handful,” which amounted to a couple hundred dollars, said the student. “The bar isn’t set that high, so as long as I write [the essays] well my friends are happy.”

Chapman’s Academic Integrity Committee (AIC) handles all cases of cheating, plagiarism, and other academic violations. Penalties for academic dishonesty are outlined on the AIC website and can range from a disciplinary warning to expulsion..

The AIC declined to comment on anything which wasn’t already on their website.

“Submission of purchased term papers or projects done by others” is a violation of the university’s Academic Integrity Policy. “Having another person take an exam or complete an assignment for oneself” and “taking an exam or completing an assignment for another student” is also a violation.

“When you come off as intelligent in a class, it’s easy to have a lot of ‘close friends’ who are willing to pay upwards of $45 a page,” said the essay entrepreneur. It’s also easy for her to stay under the radar, because most people wouldn’t expect her to be a good writer based on her major.

“It speaks to nature of capitalism, in that if a rich kid would rather pay me to have more free time that’s just the evolution of the free market,” said the essay entrepreneur.

While students might think it’s easy to get away with cheating, English professor Samantha Dressel said she can usually spot unoriginal copy.

“A lot of it boils down to becoming familiar with students’ writing over the course of the semester and looking at papers with an eye toward their expected style, knowledge base, and writing habits,” Dressel said. “As an English professional, it is literally my job to notice style and usage, so even when I’m not consciously looking for plagiarism, I notice when something isn’t as it should be.”

There are also plagiarism detection services, such as Turnitin, that have made cheating in the digital world more difficult. Turnitin has a database of content including students’ papers, publications and academic journals which the program uses to check for plagiarism.

Turnitin’s Feedback Studio is the system used to detect writing that matches with existing content in the site’s database and works by providing a percentage score for the amount of writing that’s unoriginal. Papers with a match score higher than 50% are flagged for potential plagiarism and must be further reviewed by the educator.

However, Turnitin has its downsides. Random phrases can be flagged, even if they were not plagiarized, because the website has amassed so much content that some words match up by pure coincidence. The system also identifies plagiarized content from online sources, so students can still copy from print publications, states Turnitin.

The program has been effective in decreasing the amount of unoriginal work submitted, according to a study conducted by Turnitin. However, the system can’t detect customized, original essays commissioned by customers.

There is also a plethora of apps and websites where panicked students can go to buy essays, such as EssayMill, EssayPro, and Unemployed Professors. These websites prompt you to enter the parameters of your paper and credit card information. There are also informal arrangements less productive students make with those willing to sell their intellectual labors for a price.

EssayMill charges $17.56 per page, and they also offer services like editing and proofreading for a slightly lower cost. Prices for these services may vary, however, depending on the provider, the type of essay desired, the number of pages needed and the deadline for the finished product.

Chapman students paid by university to create promotional YouTube videos

YouTuber and sophomore creative producing major Megan Umansky (MegsUmansky), has received about 2,700 views on the video Chapman paid her to do promoting the school. A video she made showing her bedroom at her family home scored more than a million views. Photo obtained via YouTube.

Chapman’s digital marketing team is employing a new strategy: soliciting student YouTubers to tout the university in sponsored videos. It’s a new way to sway potential recruits and convince accepted students to commit to the university, according to Assistant Director of Digital Marketing Michelle Leslie.

At least three Chapman-sponsored videos were uploaded to YouTube in the days leading up to May 1, or National College Decision Day. Student influencers, including Megan Umansky, Lindsey Rempalski and Casey Naranjo, uploaded videos discussing their experiences at the university and why they chose to attend.

‘I’m in love with this school. It’s been such a great time and I seriously can’t imagine myself anywhere else,” Umansky says in her video. “The academics are amazing and the teachers are here to help you.”

The increasingly common practice of paying students to promote the universities they attend has raised ethical questions.

“The payment might send the message that positive words can be bought. The value of that testimonial might be called into question,” said Marcia Layton Turner, a freelance writer for the Journal of College Admission.

But who better to sing the praises of a place than the students attending? “Chapman really has shaped me to be a better person,” Naranjo says in her sponsored YouTube video. “The professors here genuinely care about you so much that they’ll go out of their way to meet you after class to help you.”

Neither the influencers or Chapman’s marketing department would disclose how much the creators were paid for making the videos.

Umansky, who often shares videos about her college experience on her YouTube channel, which has 85,000 subscribers – many of them high-school girls –  said she was paid to promote the college, but would not say how much.

“I said yes [to the sponsorship] because I really do love my school, and it fits my channel,” Umansky said.

The other student YouTubers, Rempalski and Naranjo, both agreed to email interviews but failed to follow through after three follow up requests.

“We are satisfied with the [influencers’] excitement to share the reasons they love Chapman, the content they developed and the opportunity to reach prospective students with an authentic account of ‘life at Chapman’ for students,” Leslie wrote in an email to Prowl.

“We chose YouTube because that is the most popular channel for prospective students,” Leslie wrote. “It’s about meeting the audience where they are with the content they are interested in.”

While some people are uncomfortable with the idea of campus influencers being paid to lure recruits to their university, the use of social media to promote colleges is clearly increasing. Universities across the country are testing the waters in marketing with YouTube postings.

The University of Southern California has posted shorter, more traditional advertisements on its YouTube channel to appeal to prospective students. Other schools, including Yale University, have opted to produce longer videos which make the school seem like a social paradise. In Yale’s video, scenes of students playing board games and jazz music evoke a happy summer camp vibe.

Video helps prospective students get introduced to the campus environment, and having real students talk about how much they like their school gives viewers an authentic take, Layton Turner said.

“Awareness campaigns like this spark the interest in younger audiences who are searching for universities, applying for college, or may not have started the consideration at all yet,” Leslie said.

Leslie added that the marketing team hopes to include more influencers in future campaigns.

“Advances in technology and increased use of the internet, social media, etc. are developing new opportunities in these areas,” Leslie wrote. “We hope to explore those new opportunities and evaluate if they align with the University’s Strategic Priorities.”

“Chapman really has shaped me to be a better person, a better creator, more open, more outspoken, more inspired and just better as a human being.” sophomore Casey Naranjo says in her video. “The professors here genuinely care about you so much that they’ll go out of their way to meet you after class to help you.” Photo obtained via YouTube.

Netflix and Instagram are the top websites accessed on university wifi

Freshman Julia Macias binge watches Netflix in the dorms before going to sleep. Photo by Tiffany Chen

Many students moan about oppressive homework loads, but if their wifi use is any indication, they’re spending a lot of time watching movies and TV shows.  

Netflix makes up 35% of all web traffic on Eduroam and Chapman Open, the university’s wifi networks. That means the movie and television streaming service is the most popular website used by students, according to Information and Cyber Security Specialist Ryan Tanovan.

General browsing and Netflix rank top two in most visited websites at Chapman. General browsing, which makes up 67% of web traffic, includes websites such as Blackboard, Leatherby Libraries, and MyChapman among other sites. But no academic site is accessed frequently enough to be recognized in the ranking.

Instagram, Apple Services, Youtube, and Facebook follow Netflix in the rankings on most popular sites.

The data suggests that students using campus wifi are spending more time watching Netflix than using the web for academic work, Tanovan said.

“I watch Netflix in the morning when I get ready at 11am, and when I get home from 3pm to 8pm,” said Megan Tu, a junior communications studies major, who admitted to watching Netflix several hours a day.

“Sometimes, I’ll watch Netflix straight from 3 p.m.- 12 a.m., or even later if I feel like it,” Tu said.

Tu simply doesn’t have much homework to use the web for many other purposes, she said.

“I always watch Netflix before I do homework. I don’t really have a lot of homework as a communication studies major,” Tu said. “However, the amount of Netflix a student should watch honestly depends on what major and how busy they are.”

While the act of watching Netflix may seem like an innocent act that students do to relieve stress, often students spend an excessive amount of time watching Netflix, which leads to binge-watching behaviors and addiction.

“Binge-watching happens when the content itself is immediately gratifying, and you’re watching things that are of interest and stimulating to you. This is normal human behavior, we are all drawn to things we feel rewarded by,” said Hillarie Cash, a mental health counselor specializing in internet and screen addiction.

Binge-watching behaviors can lead to a Netflix addiction, said Cash who co-founded reSTART, a residential treatment center for internet, video game and VR addiction

When a person finds a substance/action pleasurable and continuously pre-long that pleasure, they are over-stimulating the pleasure pathways in the brain. The process of addiction begins when the person loses control of their actions. This becomes a vicious cycle especially when Netflix’s content is designed to keep someone’s attention on the screen, Cash said.

So what exactly makes Netflix so attractive and popular among students?

The lure of one’s favorite show is a powerful draw, students said.

“I see students watching Netflix during lectures and in the library a lot, mainly on the second floor,” said freshman biology major Kelly Ly.

Tu even watches Netflix during her classes. “Sometimes the lectures are boring, so I just start watching my favorite show on  Netflix. It’s a good past-time,” Tu said.

Students watch Netflix in class because they don’t have the stamina to pay close attention to lectures, because lectures may not be immediately rewarding and stimulating to the senses. If students are not interested in the things being taught, it is easy to get bored and give up, Cash said.

Netflix is specifically designed to draw its viewers in for a long span of time to give them an instant escape from stress and reality.

“Netflix is always offering up the next interesting thing that its viewers are interested in, which is what makes it so addicting. They’ve achieved that by collecting data on individual interests, preferences to shows, and recommending new shows for customers to watch,” Cash said. “College is tiring and creates stress and anxiety, so a lot of people have used watching Netflix as a coping strategy to escape.”

But a use analysis shows that the streaming service is also displacing sleep.

The most popular time for Netflix usage is from 12- 4 a.m., according to Tanovan. “During this time, Netflix takes up 56.35% of all web traffic, meaning that half of everyone who is using the internet from 12- 4 a.m. is watching Netflix,” he said.

“What else would you be doing at 12 a.m.? If you’re a good kid and not out partying, you are most likely watching Netflix,” Tu said. “I stayed up till 2 a.m. watching Netflix last night.”

“All addictions are about immediate gratification, which will interfere with one’s life. When you’re addicted to Netflix, you’re going to be watching Netflix instead of everything you should be doing: sleeping, studying, going to classes, which can cause you to fail your academics,” Cash said.

In addition, Netflix addictions can also have some negative long-term impacts on one’s cognitive thinking, behavior, and creativity.

An individual’s creativity is compromised when they are a consumer of someone else’s content, Cash said. The shortening of one’s attention span, poor ability to think in the long-term, and not being able to pay attention and stay focused are all effects of being addicted to Netflix.

“You have to be able to delay gratification and reward, because working hard then getting a good grade is your reward,” Cash said.

Ly and Paola Portillo, a freshman Biology major both prefer sleeping over watching Netflix.

“I only stay up late to do homework” Portillo said.

While Netflix allows students to relieve stress and relax, students should prioritize their school work and organize their time based on their workloads, Tanovan said.  

General browsing makes up for most of the server’s internet use. Netflix and Instagram are identified as the first and second most visited websites, followed by Apple services (ex. IOS updates, Apple website, Apple Music), Youtube, ICloud, Facebook, and Twitch. Graph by Tiffany Chen.

What’s with the parrots on campus? Chapman ornithology professor explains everything you need to know

Flocks of screaming green parrots can be heard – and often seen – above the Chapman campus. Dr. Walter Piper, Chapman biology and ornithology professor, has been studying birds  for 53 years, or “since I was six years old.” The bird lover gave us the lowdown on the noisy birds high above our heads.

Dr. Piper runs The Loon Project, a research project on the nature of loons.
Photo courtesy of Walter Piper


Q: What parrots are on Chapman’s campus?

A: The ones we see commonly around campus are from the genus Aratinga called Mitred Parakeet.  These are the birds that are commonly seen year round and make the harsh screams that can be heard.  There are other species in Orange County including Amazon parrots which are from the genus Amazona. There are sightings of the Amazon Parrots, too but the most commonly seen birds are the Mitred Parakeets.

Q: Are those the smaller green birds?

A: Almost all parrots are green but yes the Mitred Parakeet are majority green with long tails that are narrow towards the end and have reddish or rose colored spots around the face area.  All of the parrots that we see in the area are mostly all green.

Is that a parrot? Many of the green birds seen in Orange are in fact beefy Mitred parakeets.  Photo courtesy of Flickr

Q: How can you tell the difference between the Mitred Parakeet and the Amazon Parrots?

A: The main way we can tell the difference between the two birds is that the Mitred Parakeet have these long thin tails whereas the Amazon Parrots have shorter and stubbier tails.

Q: Where did these parrots originate?

A: The Mitred Parakeet are originally from southern South America, and the Amazon Parrot is from Mexico. A lot of were most likely captured there and then brought to Orange County in the pet trade. They were either released by their owners and then established themselves or possibly released by people who had caught them and were afraid that they would be caught with illegally imported birds.

Parrots from Central and South American have shown an amazing ability to adapt to Orange County.  Photo courtesy from wikimedia.

Q: How are these birds are able to survive in such a different ecosystem?

We have indirectly created an almost perfect ecosystem that allows these birds to thrive in Orange County. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia.

A: The main resource that they need is food.  They get majority of their water source from the foods they eat.  In Southern California humans have set up these communities in which we irrigate and we have established all of these fruit trees that we have put out and as a result this provides a lot of opportunities for these Parrots to eat.  We have set up a situation for them that is just as good if not better than what they would naturally have.

Q: What do they eat?

A: They are very good at finding food ranging from anything like palm nuts, to various fruits and berries that they find on trees.  In the tropics, they are used to eating off all the fruit on one tree then moving to the next tree that is fruiting and it creates a cycle and that is what they are doing here in Southern California.

The mitred parakeet enjoy eating a wide variety of fruits and seeds they find in orange county.  Photo courtesy of wikimedia.

Q: Is their presence cause an imbalance in our ecosystem?

A: I do not think so.  We are setting out these fruit trees that would not have existed here otherwise and now we have parrots here that would not have existed otherwise and they are both unnatural species that are now present in Southern California.  We have made almost the entire region unnatural so I don’t think there is a problem. The parrots do not appear to interact negatively with any of the native species of birds. Some people thought that they might compete for these holes that can be found in trees where they are found to nest but luckily there are not many other species of birds that can live in the suburbs like the parrots, so there are not any other competitors for these nest holes.

We have indirectly created an almost perfect ecosystem that allows these birds to thrive in Orange County.  Photo courtesy of wikimedia.

Q: Do their numbers appear to be rising, falling, or remaining the same?

A: If anything they are most likely rising. San Diego also has a population of parrots and in Los Angeles around the Pasadena area there is a huge population of parrots.

Q: Could these parrots be kept as pets?

A: They are just as wild as the ones that are produced in their natural places in South America.  If you raise a nestling from an egg then it will be tame and it will not bite but if you take a wild caught bird and you try to put it in a cage that was raised by its parents in the wild then it will not make a good pet.

Parrots have thrived in Orange County because they have few predators and their big beaks and aggressive nature often deter any hawks that contemplate conscripting them into meals. Photo courtesy of wikipedia.

Parrots from Central and South American have shown an amazing ability to adapt to Orange County. Photo courtesy from wikimedia.

Q: Do they have any predators?

A: Not a lot here because in the city and the suburbs there are not as many raptors, hawks, and falcons that would normally try to eat them.  It is a pretty good situation for them from that standpoint. Parrots are pretty nasty birds to try to tangle with anyway because they have a tendency to bite.  They have a big bill that makes them pretty dangerous. They have fewer predators here than they would normally have in their natural habitat.

Off-campus housing costs are expected to increase, university housing offers no relief

Students need to brace themselves for higher rental prices, according to a study from USC. Graphic by Hanna Yorke.

Chapman students living off-campus can expect their rents to increase at least 2.5% by 2020, according to a University of Southern California (USC) report. The squeeze is occurring at the same time that new students will be required to live on campus – and be subject to Chapman’s own housing costs – for two years instead of one.

The average monthly rent for in Orange County is expected to rise by $52 to $2,087 next year, according to the USC report.

Students need to prepare themselves for higher off-campus housing costs next year, according to Marshall Toplansky, Clinical Assistant Professor of Management Science, so living in university housing an extra year may spare students from having to face the outside market forces.

“We’re in the midst of the worst affordability crisis for housing in California history,” Toplansky said.

While the surge in housing prices may have slowed, roughly a quarter of the population can afford to buy the median price home in Orange County, Tolansky said. The median home price is about $725,000, according to Zillow. 

This affordability crisis is not limited to low-income houses, according to the USC report. It’s predicted that renters will suffer from increased prices and there won’t be enough units being added to the market.

Increases in monthly rent will also rise the Orange County vacancy rate, which is projected to be 4.56% by 2020. This would give Orange County the highest vacancy rate in all of the Southern California metro markets, the report states.

The rent hikes are occurring against a backdrop of decreasing home prices. Prices in Orange and its neighboring cities, Anaheim and Villa Park, have fallen six percent this year, as a result of inflated housing prices and economic certainty, according to data on CoreLogic.

The lack of affordability is what’s driving down sales, Toplansky said.

The market can be affected by several factors with location being a front runner, said Orange County realtor Nancy Murphy.

“The main thing we’re seeing now is an increase in interest rates, which makes buyers want to wait, especially in an area so heavily populated with students,” Murphy said.

As a result of buying properties at such elevated prices, landlords could have higher costs and will raise rental prices to cover these costs, according to Toplansky.

Students living on campus for an additional year could have an advantage because they will surpass the stress associated with coordinating an off-campus living arrangement, Toplansky said. While there are complaints about the cost of Chapman-provided housing, at least costs are known upfront: Off-campus costs have can also cost more for some students, depending on their rental arrangement.

“At least the university doesn’t have to raise its prices because they own the land,” he said.

Although Toplansky doesn’t foresee Chapman’s on-campus housing prices increasing as a result of the current housing market, the cost of living in the residence halls is not cheap. The least expensive option is a double bedroom in North Morlan Hall, $10,400 for the academic year, according to the 2018-2019 housing rates.

In Chapman’s apartment housing options, rates range from $5,804 apiece for three residents in a Harris Apartment unit to $24,734 for a single bedroom apartment in Glass Hall, according to the 2018-2019 housing rates. Students living in apartments can opt out of the meal plan.

Students can view their housing options with prices on the Chapman housing website, though the prices are subject to change each year. 

The university increased the on-campus living requirement to two years is because there is significant research over the last 30 years linking the residential experience with improved outcomes in higher education, according to Dave Sundby, Director of Davis Community Center. These outcomes include retention, higher GPA, persistence to graduation, graduating in a shorter time and more, he said.

But being at the mercy of Chapman is no better than being at the mercy of the open market, say students who resent being deprived of choice. “I hate the idea of having to live here another year,” said Maggie Kabilafkas, a freshman political science major. “It seems like another way for Chapman to squeeze more money out of me.”

“Having to live on campus for two years doesn’t give students the opportunity to venture out and look for possible cheaper options,” said freshman political science major Giovanna Potestio. Potestio and Kabilafkas are members of the Class of 2022 – which is the first class required to live on campus through their sophomore year.


McKenna Sulick contributed to this report. 

Chapman Then vs. Now: How Chapman Has Changed Over the Years

Chapman Then vs. Now
Chapman Then vs. Now

Chapman is named after Charles C. Chapman, a benefactor of the school and first mayor of Fullerton, California. Photo courtesy of Leatherby Libraries (left). Photo by Carlee Correia (right).


Chapman University opened 158 years ago as Hesperian College. Over time the university has moved locations, changed names and gotten more expensive (shocker!). Read on to see Chapman then vs. now.


Tuition and Costs

Then: The 1978-1979 academic year undergraduate tuition & fees at Chapman University was $3,400. Adjusted for inflation, this equals to around $11,870 in 2018. Tuition & fees covered a little more than half of a student’s education. The remaining cost was met by gifts and endowments. Financial aid was given in the form of grants, scholarships, loans and jobs. The number and amount of awards varied, but more than half of the student body received some form of financial aid.

Now: For the 2019-2020 academic year, undergraduate tuition & fees at Chapman University is $54,540. To combat this steep cost, Chapman offers financial aid to 81 percent of its students. However, Chapman grants and scholarships generally do not increase to meet the higher costs of tuition and room and board. Expect less free money and more student loans.

The building to the left is Memorial Hall, which hosts shows from the student club, Chapman on Broadway. Photo courtesy of Leatherby Libraries (left). Photo by Carlee Correia (right).



Then: Chapman did not have dorms in 1956, but the university still provided housing. Women lived in the now-closed Orange National Bank. They also lived in a house on the corner of Palm and Olive street, which is still there today. Houses surrounding the campus were leased out for men. The first dorms, Harris Hall and South Morlan Hall, were built in 1963 and are still used for housing today.

Now: Chapman has 10 housing options for undergraduates. This includes dorm-style residence halls and apartment communities. Beginning in 2018, Chapman requires all freshman to live on campus for two years. To increase housing accommodations, a new apartment complex called “The K” opens in fall 2019 for upperclassmen.

South Morlan Hall, built in 1963, houses 2018-2019 freshmen. Photo courtesy of Leatherby Libraries (left). Photo by Carlee Correia (right).


Student Life

Then: The earliest incarnation of Chapman accepted students of all races and faiths. In fact, Chapman waited to officially open the school until the day of President Lincoln’s inauguration to make a statement about equality. Chapman has always been a small college, with a student body of only 72 in the class of 1923. After World War II, Chapman saw a huge influx of students, causing them to move from their Los Angeles campus to the larger Orange campus.

Now: With a population of 8,542 students, Chapman has students from 50 states, 2 territories and 82 countries. 20 percent of students are first-generation and 40 percent identify as persons of color. Chapman continues to grow, with a record-breaking 14,170 first-year applications in 2018. Also, more women are obtaining degrees. Chapman plays a part in this upward trend with 40:60 male-to-female ratio. Roughly 9 percent of women earned bachelor’s degrees in 1970 -1971, but 50 percent earned bachelor’s degrees by 2001-2002, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Since 1992, the 100,0000-square-foot Argyros Forum serves as a hub for student life, with lounge areas, dining, classrooms and a gift shop. Photo courtesy of Leatherby Libraries (left). Photo by Carlee Correia (right).



Then: 1861 marked the start of Chapman University. The founding members were part of the Disciples of Christ and in 1956, most Chapman students were still part of that denomination. Students even had to take classes regarding the Old and New Testament.

Now: Chapman is not a Christian college, but instead a church-affiliated school. This means Chapman does not require religion classes or church attendance. The Fish Interfaith Center was established in 2004. Inside the center is the Wallace All Faiths Chapel, open to students of all faiths. Stop by for free events like weekly walk-in meditation and yoga.

There are no permanent religious symbols at the Fish Interfaith Center. Photo courtesy of Leatherby Libraries (left). Photo by Carlee Correia (right).



Then: In 1923, the gymnasium, nicknamed “The Box”, was built and the football, tennis and women’s basketball teams. Due to financial hardship from the Great Depression, the football program was suspended in 1932. Chapman held their first Homecoming in 1957, but without a football game. The Chapman football team took the field again in 1994.

Now: The Ernie Chapman Stadium was built in 2008. Roughly 450 student-athletes train and compete in the stadium. Chapman is NCAA Division III with 21 intercollegiate teams. Seventeen of these teams competed in collegiate championships in 2016-2017.

Since its opening in 1978, the Harold Hutton Sports Center has hosted the NCAA’s first round of women’s basketball playoffs six times. Photo courtesy of Leatherby Libraries (left). Photo by Carlee Correia (right).



Then: During the 1950s, students took one course every six-week block. There were six blocks, each worth five credits. This equals to 30 credits in an academic year, which matches a typical Chapman undergraduate class schedule in 2019. Classes were held from 8 a.m to 12 p.m., with speakers coming on Tuesdays and mandatory Chapel on Thursdays.

Now: Current Chapman students can still take 30 credits in an academic year. However, now Chapman has semesters instead of six-week blocks. Students are also able to take up to 18 credits per semester, totaling 36 credits per year. Classes still start at 8 a.m. but can end as late at 9:50 p.m.

Behind the fountain is the Hashinger Science Center. This was the newest building on campus in 1969. Photo courtesy of Leatherby Libraries (left). Photo by Carlee Correia (right).

Broken door in Hashinger is a result of broken communication

“I have been temporarily locked out before class many times, and it takes a few minutes to jiggle in,” said sophomore economics major Kat Brown. Photo courtesy of Sydnee Valdez

See something, say something.

That seems to be the moral of a recent saga that led to students and teachers being locked out of their class in the Hashinger Science Center basement.

The doors of a Hashinger Science Center classroom locked automatically for weeks –blocking students from class– before it was repaired the day after a Prowl reporter inquired about the problem on April 22.

The double doors in the basement of Hashinger Science Center were broken for more than three weeks, according to sophomore economics major Kat Brown and Jianwei Zheng, a PhD student and Math 203 instructor.

Zheng and some of his students trying to attend class in room 50 of Hashinger fiddled with the lock for minutes at a time, resulting in both lateness and absence from a significant amount of lecture.

Prowl sent an email to Facilities Management on April 22 regarding the broken door and the door was repaired the following day. While the door prompted epic frustration for students and faculty, no one had reported the problem beforehand, according to Associate Vice President of Facilities Management Rick Turner.

Why no one had reported the issue may be explained by two principles documented in psychology research: the bystander effect and diffusion of responsibility. The presence of others discourages individuals from taking initiative and action to solve a problem because they presume – or hope – someone else will do it for them.

“When you walk past that door, it’s a much more efficient strategy to assume that someone else must have seen it, and that I’m not the first one,” said psychology professor David Pincus. “If you always think that you’re the first and only one, and you always try to solve every problem you walk by—I mean go to any major city—you’re going to be helping hundreds of homeless people before you can get a cup of coffee in the morning.”

People sometimes exhibit “not my problem” indifference. In Feb., a toilet in the women’s accessible bathroom stall in the Leatherby Libraries basemen was clogged for 12 days, but Facilities Management only received one complaint, according to Turner. Why don’t people take constructive action to report and solve a problem  instead of complaining amongst themselves? There are several reasons.

Tired of being locked out, Zheng placed a chair between the doors in Hashinger Science Center basement to allow students to enter without hassle. Photo courtesy of Sydnee Valdez.

“I don’t know how to report things to Facilities Management. Is there a form? Is there a hotline? I really don’t know,” Brown said. Zheng confessed that he didn’t know who was responsible for reporting or fixing building issues, either.

“If Facilities Management is interacting with that door every day and it’s a part of their job to make sure that the door is working, then that’s an issue of training and it should be corrected. The responsibility would belong to Facilities Management,” Pincus said.

Zheng was also eager to assign blame to Facilities: “The school should already know that it is broken because they lock the door every day.”

But Facilities Management did not lock the door, said Turner, who postulated that Public Safety or other staff was involved with that task.

Public Safety did not unlock and lock the door daily, and it was confirmed that they did not submit a work order for it, according to Chief of Public Safety Randy Burba.

“Since we did not lock and unlock it daily, we probably would not have known it was an ongoing issue; even if we would have responded to assist the professor in opening it one day,” Burba said.

In this case, the fundamental attribution error, the tendency to blame an individual rather than the situation, would be relevant, according to Pincus.  

“It’s not a question of fault. It’s more a question of how we can find better ways of partnering and sharing information,” Turner said.

After being locked out three times, Zheng called Public Safety and then placed a plastic chair between the doors to keep them open. One time, he re-entered through the Irvine Lecture Hall connected to Hashinger basement, and another time Public Safety had opened the door for him, Zheng said. Other times, he opened the door himself but not without toying with it first.

“It’s super annoying because we shouldn’t be the ones taking care of these kinds of issues, someone else should fix it automatically,” Zheng said.

Although he had called Public Safety, Zheng admitted that he did not report the broken door to Facilities Management. Nor did Brown.

Maintenance of Chapman’s facilities is a shared responsibility between students, faculty and Facilities Management, according to Turner.

“Facilities receives the majority of the work requests from the campus community and those affected by the condition in question,” Turner said. “We rely on the concept of partnering with our faculty, staff and students with the maintenance of our facilities.”

The fact that the door and disabled bathroom were broken for so long proves that this ideal has yet to be met.

Work requests to report maintenance issues can be found on Chapman’s campus services page. For emergencies, you can call Public Safety at (714) 997-6763 or leave a message to (714) 997-6658, Facilities Management’s phone line.


Chapman’s Donation Policy: How money finds its way to campus

“Generally speaking our Executive Vice President and I only get involved for large gifts. So smaller amounts can trickle in without our direct involvement,” said President Daniele Struppa. Photo illustration by Claire Treu.

While tuition fees make up most of the university’s annual income, the more secretive realm of donations has come into question since the emergence of the nationwide college admissions scandal, a provoking exposé in which Chapman was discovered to have a minor role.

In lieu of uproar surrounding the scandal and Chapman’s Faculty Senate resolution to establish a set of policies for accepting donations, Prowl took a closer look at the donation process at Chapman.

Gifts from donors made up 7.8% of Chapman’s revenues in 2017, according to an article in ChapBook Magazine. That percentage represented about $27 million in donations that year.

Donations are managed through University Advancement, a department that solicits money from possible donors. However, donations $50,000 and over must be approved by the Board of Trustees, according to Sheryl Bourgeois, Executive Vice President of University Advancement.

Most of our donations go to restricted purposes to fund a specific endeavor in a school, college or department (professorship, program, etc.) or to fund a specific building project,” such as the new Keck Center,  Bourgeois told Prowl via email. “At larger levels, donors are usually more interested in making a direct, more specific impact.”

Fundraising is one of many responsibilities held by the  university president. Ironically, during an email exchange with Prowl about donations, President Daniele Struppa said he was joining potential donors for lunch in San Francisco.

“At the lunch I mentioned,” Struppa wrote, “I spoke with a donor and asked for a gift to help underserved students. Much to my happiness the donor totally responded to my message and immediately agreed to the gift and to its designation.”

It is common for donors to be called on to help with specific university priorities, but sometimes donors have their own requests for allocation of donations. Especially at larger levels, donors usually want their donation to go toward a specific project or program, Bourgeois said.

“Unless there are problems with their ideas, we usually accommodate the donor wishes,” Struppa said.

While it is illegal to bribe a university official or falsify an SAT exam like we saw in the admissions scandal, donating to a university to better your child’s chances of being admitted is not.

Jared Kushner’s father, real estate mogul Charles Kushner, donated $2.5 million to Harvard University in 1998, which some say is what got Jared admitted.

While some may argue that the loophole is an abuse of power, Chair of the Faculty Governance Council Lynda Hall emphasized the overwhelming benefit that donors have on universities.

Is it wrong that we take $7 million to build a building and maybe, one student gets to come here, but thousands of students get to use the building?” Hall said.

Chapman is working with the Department of Justice to investigate the $325,000 gifted by the Key Worldwide Foundation, the fraudulent charity used as a front for bribe money in the nationwide scandal. The federal investigation has not resulted in donors wishing to rescind contributions to Chapman, according to President Daniele Struppa. Yet, the subject is clearly a touchy one for the university, as officials were swift to redirect or refuse comment to Prowl when asked about donation policies.

Prowl reached out to six donors for comment when Jamie Ceman, Vice President of Strategic Marketing and Communications emailed reporters. Donors had been advised not to respond because “it would be irresponsible for anyone to discuss any aspect of the investigation,” Ceman said.

“I understand you’re looking at donations and not the admissions issue, but out of an abundance of caution while we complete our internal investigation it’s better to not comment on either process right now,” Ceman said.

The fundraising department has also been advised not to comment until the investigation is complete, Ceman said. “The President has every intention of providing all the information he is able to after the investigation is complete.”

Conflict over donations and their influence came to a head in 2018 when the Charles Koch foundation donated $5 million to the university, which some students and faculty complained was used to promote a specific political agenda.

Donation guidelines was on the agenda for a March 15  Faculty Senate discussion. In the meeting, the Senate voted on and passed a resolution that Chapman should forgo donations with “inappropriate influences.”

“You can’t tell us who to hire and you can’t tell the people we hire what they’re going to research,” Hall said. “That statement is our attempt as faculty, and we don’t have a lot of power over this, to share our philosophy about it.”

Usually, the university initiates communication with donors to clarify their intentions, Struppa said.

“We have decided not to pursue specific opportunities we thought were not aligned with our values,” he added.

Smaller donations, however, are generally not restricted for a specific purpose.

If a donation comes in without a [specific] intent, the University tends to place [it] in its general fund, which goes to the most immediate needs,” Bourgeois said.

This “general fund” is “mostly targeted to scholarship money,” according to President Struppa.

Not left enough: Some Chapman Democrats say Biden is too “moderate” to make a good president

“Biden is just the opposite of what the [Democratic] party needs, and I don’t have any faith that he would be able to defeat Donald Trump,” said President of Chapman Democrats Alexis Sutterman. Photo by Claire Treu.

Former Vice President Joe Biden, who announced April 25 that he will join the 20 candidates competing for the Democratic nomination for president, can’t expect much primary support from Chapman Democrats.

Biden, who has received criticism as a political opportunist and for his friendliness to big donors, is not popular among club members, said President of Chapman Democrats Alexis Sutterman. While the club has 138 members on its mailing list, about 10 students regularly attend meetings, according to Sutterman.

Biden is currently leading in the polls, according to a study conducted by SSRS.   

“Biden represents the worst part of the party,” said Sutterman, a senior political science major. “He doesn’t represent new Democrats, who are fighting for progressive causes,” such as Medicare for All, women’s rights and decreasing inequality, Sutterman said.

The disdain in Sutterman’s complaints echo snippets of a larger conversation in the Democratic party about its soul and strategy for the 2020 presidential election. Will the Dems select a brash, plain-talking visionary likely to energize young, idealistic voters or a less controversial, conciliatory candidate likely to appeal to centrists, independents and the undecided?

Biden is “funded by big donors. He is definitely a friend of Wall Street,” Sutterman said. “He wouldn’t be promoting the kind of policy changes we need in terms of tax reform that would benefit working class families.”

Prowl could not find a way to reach a Biden campaign representative on Facebook, Twitter or the campaign website.

The Democratic party is going through a rift as some contend the party is failing working class people and ordinary Americans, Sutterman continued. What Biden would call bipartisanship is seen as selling out by young progressives, said Sutterman.

The largest portion of Biden’s donations came from lawyers and law firms between 1989 to 2010, according to Open Secrets.

The former Delaware senator was recently criticized for what was seen as an opportunistic apology to Social Policy, Law and Women’s Studies Professor Anita Hill for failing to call witnesses on her behalf in order to appease Republican colleagues during the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas in 1991. Hill, formerly an employee at the Department of Education and Equal Employment Opportunity Commision, accused Thomas of a number of inappropriate acts, such as describing pornography he had seen in vivid detail and questioning her about a public hair on his Coke can. Biden did not call the four witnesses ready to testify on her behalf.

Biden has also been scrutinized for being overly hands-on with women and children in the era of #MeToo. Vice News recently published an article called “Why touchy-feely Uncle Joe Biden isn’t funny anymore,” and on Youtube, cringe-worthy videos of Biden being less than appropriate with children have racked up millions of views. However, no public sexual assault accusations have been raised against him.  

Twenty percent of America’s 18 to 29-year-old Democratic voters can be expected to vote for Biden in the 2020 presidential primary, according to a 2019 national poll by the Harvard Institute of Politics (IOP). Sen. Bernie Sanders is still more popular among young Democrats, with an estimated 31 percent of the youth vote. Sutterman is rooting for Sanders, and said that Chapman Democrats’ most active members tend to support him as well.

“Young people now are seeing that they shouldn’t be trivialized anymore and they can’t be bought with memes and stuff – those are fun – but people need to be critical thinkers,” Sutterman said.

“Biden will initially rely on a decades-old network of big donors if he enters the Democratic presidential primary contest as expected, in contrast to the small-donor base that many of his 2020 rivals are racing to build,” the Wall Street Journal reported last week.

While Sutterman is disappointed that Biden is running, she says she will vote for him should he receive the nomination.

Some Chapman Democrats welcome Biden throwing his hat in the ring. Senior political science and screenwriting double major Juan Bustillo said he is “relieved. . .the more moderates there are in the race, the more they will just tear each other down and open [the] way for people who I think are actually viable candidates.” Bustillo is also a member of Chapman Democrats.

Bustillo is pulling for Sanders or Elizabeth Warren to win the primary. “If Biden was to get the nomination, I think Trump would devour him in a debate,” Bustillo said.

Biden “doesn’t really stand for anything, he’s just an amorphous blob who goes wherever money takes him,” said Democrat senior political science and screenwriting double major Juan Bustillo. Photo by Claire Treu.

“I personally like Biden,” said senior history major Barsegh Everekyan, another Chapman Democrat. Though Biden is not his first choice, Everekyan thinks his intentions are honest and sincere.

“Even before he officially announced his campaign, he was polling higher than the other candidates in early states,” Everekyan said.

“In this election, many people are going to have to wrestle with the question: Do we want the progressive who promises everything we want, or do we want the one who can win and beat Trump? And if those aren’t the same person, which do you go for?” Chapman political science professor Gordon Babst.

“Compared to this point in the last presidential cycle, young Democratic voters are more engaged and likely to have an even greater impact in choosing their party’s nominee,” said Director of Polling for the IOP at Harvard John Della Volpe in a 2019 report.

The youth vote will have a significant impact, but that does not mean it will be determining, Babst said.

“Whoever the Democrats pick will end up being popular with the youth, because they very much want not to have Trump again,” Babst said.

The increase of young Democratic voters doesn’t worry junior business administration major Ryan Marhoefer, a member of the Chapman Republicans.

“A lot of young Republican voters are coming out too,” he said.

Marhoefer supports Biden running because “he will be easy to beat.” Ultimately, Marhoefer said it doesn’t matter who runs, because he’s confident that Trump will win again.

Marhoefer said he is confident Trump will be reelected: It’s not even a debate.”

“The county is thriving under [Trump]. I don’t know too many people who are worse off because of him – who are American citizens,” said Republican junior business administration major Ryan Marhoefer. Photo by Claire Treu.