Colbert says ASU a 'degree mill,' but the Editorial Board thinks that's hooey

In not so shocking news, ASU has been scrutinized by the media once again. We've heard it all: we've been called party school, and now as Stephen Colbert put it, a degree mill.

At this point, every ASU student is used to the hate that comes with being a Sun Devil. So, quite honestly, we're letting it roll right off our backs. We know our University is innovative and breaking out of old stereotypes, it's just a running bit in the media at this point.

Read More: 7 times ASU was referenced in pop culture

Here is what our Editorial Board thought as we saw our name alongside Colbert's renamed universities of prestige.

Desiree Pharias, opinion editor

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At this point it's just annoying. Yes, we have a lot of students, but the ones that graduate aren't the same students that have given us a stereotype. Anyone that has sat through a class or taken a walk through campus knows this isn't actually how ASU is. We've won our awards, we've established ourselves as a worthy institution, yet we're still not recognized as a place of learning. Looks like we probably never will be, and that's OK, because nowadays, getting a degree isn't enough anyway, it's all about the internships and experience you get in tandem.

Ben Moffat, photo editor

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Of course I think ASU is better than Colbert’s characterization, but that’s not why it’s upsetting. More important is the laziness of the punch line. Would it kill his writing staff to find another school to tie it off? I don’t mind jokes at our expense, as long as they’re funny. It’s not entirely surprising when "The Simpsons" or "30 Rock" takes a dig at our fair University, but frankly, I expect better from Colbert.

Peter Northfelt, managing editor

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Colbert called us a “degree mill.” I think there’s some validity to this, with a caveat — you have to make ASU worth your time and money. You can slouch through your four (or more) years here, or you can go out of your way to make it worthwhile. Get a campus job, join a club, make an academic relationship with professors and students or just dedicate yourself to your studies; you can find anything you want at ASU simply because we’re such an enormous University. You can get the same opportunities that students at “prestigious” universities can, you just have to work for it, girl.

Aimee Plante, assistant news editor

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When I started applying for colleges, I refused to consider ASU up until the last moment. I envisioned myself studying in San Francisco or Chicago or any other major city when I was high school, because I played into ASU’s party school stereotype and assumed it would offer zero professional value. However, once I began to consider the cost of college, I had to face the facts: ASU is a comparatively affordable college with an outstanding journalism school. Now that I’m here, I couldn’t imagine myself anywhere else.

Ben Margiott, executive editor

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Dear Stephen, you’re so much better than this. Did you run out of time before the show and just choose to reference the classic party school from your college days? Were you just too lazy to do the legwork? Next time, try poking fun at Syracuse, Iowa or West Virginia, schools that have actually appeared on party school lists lately. A quick Google search would have revealed that ASU hasn’t appeared on party school rankings in years. Do a little research, and maybe people would actually start watching your show. P.S. Call me out on your show. You won’t!

Kelcie Grega, news editor

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Is it bad that I don’t care? ASU is fun to pick on; I do it too. When I first decided to go to ASU, I knew that it had a party school reputation. (i.e. I’m Shmacked-Arizona State University-Halloween Weekend) It doesn’t matter to me what people think of my school, what matters is everything I’ve accomplished while earning my degree.

Stefan Modrich, sports editor

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I don’t usually (ever) give Stephen Colbert the time of day, and I won’t be baited to overreact to this ill-conceived dig. Frankly, most of the people I interact with on campus on a daily basis are so far above any of these persistent stereotypes that any of these feeble jokes (which are so 1980, by the way) just aren’t something I take seriously. Colbert has more important things to worry about, like the fact that he’s costing New York taxpayers $16 million to keep his show in Manhattan. Imagine how many ASU diplomas that could buy, Steve!

Shelby Slade, editor-in-chief

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Colbert’s semi-witty jab at ASU’s reputation is nothing new. Everyone has been mocking ASU since the school started. Have you heard Alec Baldwin’s "30 Rock" character talk about a downward spiral that ends with a child attending ASU? Colbert can join the less than prestigious list of comedians that pick an easy target. ASU may not be on the party school list, but the general public will take a lot longer to win over. So, just keep doing your thing Sun Devils.

Andrew Nicla, online editor

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Stephen, my man, this is disappointing. Why are you still using this tired joke? ASU ranks in the top 100 universities in the world and was just named the "most innovative" school in the U.S. The times are changing Stephen and your jokes should change as well. Thanks for the free advertising!

Johanna Huckeba, assistant photo editor

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We all know ASU isn't what it used to be. Stanford's fake online university's name is "Stanford & Son," but you know who wasn't ranked most innovative school? Stanford was recently named No. 2 most innovative school overall, and Arizona State? No. 1, baby. And not a single one of those other universities listed even made the top five. Sit down, Colbert.

Danica Barnett, social media editor

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Before I came to ASU, I assumed ASU was a party school. Whenever I told anyone that I was soon to be a Sun Devil, they would ask why I was leaving a state with so many great schools to pay out-of-state tuition and major in partying. I'll admit, even I wondered how getting a degree from such a notorious school would affect my future, but I was too in love with the idea of being a freshman to care. My first semester, I quickly realized why ASU has fallen off the party school lists — the students are too busy doing better things. Before school could even start, I was already getting involved with a variety of organizations from paraprofessional clubs to committees that enact University-wide change. More importantly, the classes that I'm being offered are shaping my education with an abundance of research opportunities and learning experiences. ASU might be a party school to the media, but I'm too busy attending an amazing school to care.

Claire Cleveland, copy chief

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Let’s all just take a breath and relax. So, ASU gets a lot of flak. To be honest, it deserves it, but not anymore than any other university does. Higher education is a damn mess and it’s a never-ending and inescapable cycle that we are all doomed to. Is ASU as easy as scrolling through a page and clicking print? No. Do I care that Colbert is making fun of my university? No. Am I happy to not be spending $80,000 on a journalism degree that will never yield the amount of money I spent on the degree? Yes.


Want to join the conversation? Send an email to opiniondesk.statepress@gmail.com. Keep letters under 300 words and be sure to include your university affiliation. Anonymity will not be granted.

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