Fraternal Publicity

23 12 2010

This entry is a bit unorthodox, but since the Greek houses are gearing up for rush in a few weeks, it’s apropos. I was curious to see what houses came up were most frequently requested in the search bar, and what Greek house photos were most popular. Give two and a half years and about 125,000 houses, there’s a good-sized chunk of data to work with. Any combo of the house’s name, with or without Cornell, is considered. Plural searches or searches geared towards chapters at other schools are excluded.  Since wordpress gives the option, I’m dividing the results into two groups: all time (since June 2008) and the past 90 days.

Here’s the top five search entries for specific Greek houses in the past three months:

1. Psi Upsilon – 201 searches, henceforth called “hits”

2. Sigma Chi – 191 hits

3. Delta Chi – 183 hits

4. Delta Kappa Epsilon – 120 hits

5. Chi Phi – 99 hits

…and for all time:

1. Sigma Chi – 816 hits

2. Chi Psi – 605 hits

3. Delta Chi – 562 hits

4. Psi Upsilon -631 hits

5. Chi Phi – 362 hits

Interestingly enough, Psi U splits its hit almost evenly between “psi upsilon cornell” and “psi u cornell”. Sigma Chi, Delta Chi and Chi Phi are dominated in searches by their full name (“sigma chi cornell”), and Delta Kappa Epsilon was mostly searched for as “dke cornell” or “deke cornell”. Only about half of houses on campus had more than ten hits in the past three months. At least five had no hits at all. My old house has a grand total of seven hits in the past 90 days. Looking at search entries, it seems that the recent favorites are in general perennial favorites. DKE had a total around 350 hits and was sixth on the all time list.

Sororities are apparently unpopular searches. The highest all time was Delta Gamma, with 113 hits. If it were a frat, it would be about 19th on the search bar popularity list. Hell, Telluride had more hits (123).

Looking at the images, the results play out a bit differently for the past 90 days. They’re a bit harder to classify, since I can only go by the number of times people downloaded the full-size photo of a house. But, if we make the assumption that the number are roughly similar, then we can make some form of a conclusion. Anyways, here’s the 90 day results, followed by the “all time” results:


1. Chi Phi’s house (23 full image downloads)

2. DKE’s house (15)

3. FIJI’s house (13)

4. Pi Kappa Phi’s house (10)

5. Alpha Delt’s goat house (10). Their house photo had (9) hits.


1. Chi Phi (118)

2. DKE (82)

3. Sigma Chi’s house (77)

4. Zeta Beta Tau’s house (63)

5. Delta Chi’s house (61)

So, it’s obvious that there’s a flow and ebb of publicity going on here. Like for search bar entries, some houses are much more popular than others, although it looks like every house photo had at least 3 downloads. Keeping in step, my own house had an almighty 11 downloads over the past two and some odd years.

Partly out of curiosity, I decided to commit the sin of going to collegeACB to do a quick search to see what were the most popular houses.

Psi Upsilon, searching for “psi u” alone, came up in 256 threads (aside: what the hell? Don’t you psi u obsessed folk have lives?). Searching Psi Upsilon spelled out fully and making a half-hearted attempt to pull threads where psi u is already mentioned pulled in only a couple more hits.  Sigma Chi was mentioned (either as “sigma chi” or “sig chi”) in over 170 threads. Delta Chi appeared in 127 threads.

In comparison, Alpha Delta Phi, which would’ve rounded out the top ten in the search bar, comes up in over 250 threads, and SAE, which was also in the upper part of the top ten, had 278 threats threads. Less searched houses drew relatively few threads from the gossip site (generally 50 or less; of the five houses who had no searches in the past 90 days, none returned more than a couple dozen gossip threads). So, there might be a very general correlations, but it definitely doesn’t match up perfectly.

Well, whether it’s raving or ranting, publicity is still publicity, I s’pose. I hope those who search are mindful that the info here is sparse, and that the opinions of collegeACB are about as respectable as a hooker in church.

Construction News Tidbits, 12/18/10

18 12 2010

A few articles have popped up lately that merit a brief writeup.

The BJ’s Wholesale Club and 12 senior apartments planned for the grass lot next to the Shops at Ithaca Mall (behind the YMCA) hit a snag when the county industrial authority voted down a tax break for the residential portion of the project in a 4-3 vote. While this makes the project less likely, it is not entirely dead, and the town of Lansing still supports the project. However, it’s the  village of Lansing that demanded the residential component as a buffer between houses and shopping areas. Some involved with the project contend that the votes against were by Ithaca-centric legislators who’d rather see the potential sales tax dollars go to the city (i.e. build the store on a site in Ithaca City). BJ’s has no interest in any local site except the one currently proposed, so in conclusion everyone’s getting their panties up in a bunch, and the project is at the very least on hold in its current form.

Out in Dryden, a 144-unit apartment complex is being proposed. Called “Poet’s Landing” (perhaps as a nod to John Dryden, the British poet for whom the village/town is named), the project consists of a 72-unit senior living apartment building, 7 other buildings containing a total of 72 units, and a community center. 48 of the 72 non-senior units are proposed low-income housing, which has managed to rile up the locals with fears of higher crime rates and drugs (the project is across the street from Dryden High School). the project is by Conifer Realty, who also own the Linderman Creek complex over on West Hill.

Lastly, a little closer to Cornell, the Collegetown Terrace Project is waiting on three things – site plan approvals, approval of a zoning variance, and a “certificate of appropriateness” from the Landmarks committee, who are not doubt still seething after the city okayed demolition of Delano House in exchange for the restoration of another house on the property and some public signage displays of the site’s history. If the project can clear those final hurdles, a late spring or summer start for site prep is likely.

Bob Saget Loves Seal and Serpent, Part II

9 12 2010

I live in my grad student bubble.  So I was pleasantly surprised when Matthew Nagowski over at Metaezra happened to write an entry about the A&E Channel’s airing of the episode of “Strange Days with Bob Saget” that has everyone’s favorite dad from Full House “pledging” and joining the fraternity, complete with formals, toga parties and pledge activities. Conveniently, the episode is free to watch on A&E’s website.

I remember writing up a brief entry last spring after this blog was swamped with questions in the search bar asking why Bob Saget was on campus, and then quickly forgot about the whole thing. It was a minor newsmaker, sure, but it was just one event in a stream of activities taking place around and about campus. The only time it ever came up again was when Seal or someone in their house would come up in conversation, and if this conversation was with someone else in the Greek system, the line “I can’t believe that Bob Saget went to Seal to film his show” often followed suit. Not many people in the system were pleased about Seal hosting such a high-profile event, since Cornell’s Greek Life would be publicized (and stereotyped) as a tudor-style house on Thurston Avenue. It seemed to be the general sentiment that there were low expectations for the episode, because it was thought its portrayal (either on the show’s part or the brothers’ part) would be unflattering and give a bad impression of the system.

I’ll admit that as a member of another house, I was a bit weary of Seal’s involvement. I actually had been to the house on a number of occasions because one of my best friends at Cornell was engaged to a senior in the house (they are now happily married). The first floor, with its wood finishes and giant Seal and Serpent lineage flow chart, did not fail to impress. I was less enamored by the party area in the attic (which is a bit abnormal, since most houses have party spaces in the basement) and some of the eccentricities of members (between friends, we affectionately referred to one brother as the “Beer Pong Nazi” while a second brother was infamous for a comment regarding the difference between “rapeability” and “rape-ability”, which is better left unwritten), but overall, they struck me as a fairly harmless bunch of guys, not without their quirks but with a very well-heeled and active alumni base.

So I watched the whole episode through. I thought it was entertaining. It was certainly enjoyable to see some of the guys I knew in Seal dressed up and being polite and respectable in front of the cameras (especially since I knew better). I thought that the impression they gave of Cornell’s system was adequate and not particularly offensive. I was also watching the episode while keeping in mind some of the details of what went on behind-the-scenes.

It was explained to me over the weekend as they were filming that there were some alterations from reality (even more so than pledging that only lasts a weekend). For the party scene, they couldn’t serve to anyone under 21 due to legal obligations. Well okay, that makes it less realistic, but that’s to be expected. However, they could only play generic rock music at the party so they could avoid issues and fees with copyrighted material. That seemed even more unrealistic to me than the lack of underage drinking. At least the show did pick up the tab for the brothers’ party costumes and food/drink, which were more impressive than your typical toga party fare. If I recall correctly, Bob Saget was also at an “IFC Meeting”, but it appears any footage that might’ve been taken from that event was cut from the final production.

Watching the show and treating it as just a show with creative license made the episode much more enjoyable. The episode cast Cornell in a positive light, and lewd jokes aside, it wasn’t offensive to anyone. I wouldn’t call it accurate, but it’s entertaining, and that’s what matters, I suppose.

Being an Alum

4 12 2010

So, letting go of undergrad is hard. But being an alumni doesn’t mean that everything simply ends.

While visiting a friend up in Vermont this past summer, she mentioned over lunch how she volunteered in the local alumni network there, of meeting with accepted students and going to alumni events and so on. Feeling a bit nostalgic (and realizing that I don’t want grad school to complete dominate my life, although it’s coming real close), I found myself signing up to be a part of the local chapter of CAAAN. CAAAN is the “Cornell Alumni Admissions Ambassador Network”, which is divided up into about 300 chapters and 8000 volunteers who take on the opportunity of evaluating applied prospective students.  I figured that I could spare enough time to meet with high schoolers and answer questions they might have about CU, as well as pose a few queries to them for their “evaluation”. To be honest, I remember my meeting being uncomfortable because I was meeting them at the restaurant I worked at in high school, and since they arrived twenty minutes early, I seated them without realizing it was the alum I was supposed to meet with. When they looked at my nametag and asked me if I would be ready to talk about Cornell with them in a few minutes, I promptly excused myself and proceeded to have a royal flip out in the dishroom.  Luckily for me, I told my boss ahead of time about the planned meeting, so she took over the register and let me off a few minutes early.

It’s probably a bit peculiar since if someone asked me what I thought of Cornell while I was there, I would have had some lovely comments worth sharing (though not in front of children). Yet here I am, volunteering to meet with fresh and enthusiastic high schoolers and to try and promote a good image of Cornell. Hopefully.

Being new to the whole thing, I attended a meeting at a local hotel that the local alumni association was doing as an orientation for CAAAN.  The first thing that struck me when I walked into the room was the realization that I was easily the youngest person there. There were about 15 people, almost all of whom were middle-aged (40 and up) professionals, and as I sorta stopped in the doorway, the local chapter head looked at me and said “[Y]ou must be the new guy. I recognize everyone else here.”

What followed was a passing out of “current facts of Cornell” and some admissions and evaluation guidelines. It became quickly apparent that being the young guy had an advantage. They spent several minutes asking me to describe recent changes on campus and how the new financial aid plan was working and random questions about if some aspect of Cornell has changed in the past 10/20/30 years. For once, this blog proved to be useful on a personal level. I also managed to make several of them feel extremely old when describing the new West Campus houses.

It was different. It felt a little strange, but it felt right at the same time. I may be getting older, but I’m still quite young as alumni go.