May

25

Eek! GS Valedictorian Made Someone Else’s Joke

Written by

Everyone had a good time at GS Class Day. There was a brass band, there was a Korean pop star, and there was a Valedictorian named Brian Corman who made a speech. This was not an unusual thing for a Valedictorian to do, but Mr. Corman did something out of the ordinary: he stole a joke, just about word for word, from comedian Patton Oswalt. Corman inserted it into his speech as if that very anecdote had happened to him. Whoops!

Bwog really wishes we could relay the joke to you, but as soon as we signed on YouTube to find the video of GS Commencement, we found that the video had become private. We hear from the lucky few who got a look at the video before it was taken down that the joke centered around a scene in a Physics for Poets class, in which a GS student challenged a question on the exam, showing that GS students always think they’re right because they are always right. Watch Oswalt’s original version of the joke here.

A scan of Oswalt’s Facebook page reveals he is none-too-pleased. “Jesus fucking CHRIST,” he writes in response to a link showing Corman’s bit, “Again?” Oswalt is now figuring out how to get the snippet of video with Corman’s joke back so he can send it to the “several big media outlets” that are asking him for it. You read it here first, folks!

A final piece of advice for our readers: if you’re going to steal comedy bits, don’t steal from living comedians who use the Internet a lot. Steal from Milton Berle, he never tweets! A few pieces of evidence below, we’ll update you as events unfold.

Update, 1:30: And Columbia has put the video back up on YouTube! Scroll to 33:56 for Corman’s speech, and indulge in the barrage of comments. Columbia has added a meaty disclaimer to the video:
It has come to our attention that a portion of our Valedictorians address at this years Columbia University School of General Studies Class Day was taken from a comedy routine by Patton Oswalt. Until today we were unaware of this conflict, and as an institution of higher learning that upholds the highest standards of respect for the works of others, we are deeply distressed that this has occurred. Columbia University and the School of General Studies do not condone the use of someone elses work without proper attribution. Mr. Corman has issued an apology to Patton Oswalt. — School of General Studies, May 25, 2010

Update, 4 PM: Dean of GS and Bwog Hero Peter Awn has issued the following statement about the debacle:

It has come to our attention that a portion of our Valedictorian’s remarks at this year’s School of General Studies Class Day was taken from a comedy routine by Patton Oswalt.  As an institution of higher learning that places a core value on respect for the works of others, we were surprised and disappointed to have learned of this matter today. Columbia University and the School of General Studies do not condone or permit the use of someone else’s work without proper citation. The student speaker has appropriately issued an apology to his classmates and to Mr. Oswalt for failing to provide such attribution.

If you’re in GS, send along that apology right quick using our tip form.

Corman has also apologized directly to Oswalt, which the comedian related in a blog post on his website that he titled “Sloppy and Desperate.” Still, Oswalt writes that Corman “owned it all.”

Update, 5/26 2PM: Corman’s email to his GS ’10 classmates:

Dear Seniors,

I would like to apologize to the Senior Class for my actions on Class Day. As many of you know, I used one of Patton Oswalt’s jokes in my speech (the one about the Physics for Poets class). I sent an apology to Mr. Oswalt yesterday, and he has responded on his website. My intention was to have a funny story amidst the more serious parts of the speech to get a few laughs, and I was completely in the wrong for thinking that it was OK for me to take his story and make it my own. I am extremely sorry to the GS Senior Class for betraying their trust and embarrassing the school, and please know that I never meant to harm anyone by this.

My sincerest apologies,

Brian Corman

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143 Comments

  1. Sigh

    Really? Really, Brian Corman?

    Patton Oswalt is a fantastic comedian and I would prefer that our fine institution did not become his antagonist.

  2. Anonymous  

    He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much. Luke 16:10

    GS, reconsider the valedictorian award.

  3. CC

    partying it up GS style, i see

  4. paging Paul Grossman

    how do you feel about this?

  5. Anonymous

    really pathetic. GS students are willing to do anything to get ahead, including using others and taking credit for their work

  6. alum (NOT GS)

    what an embarrassment for GS and Columbia as a whole- this Corman guy is a major league douchebag.

  7. nurr

    Completely embarrassing and horrible for GS. What a dick. He could have at least attempted to change the joke. It doesn't really even make sense being about Star Trek since those sorts would probably be into calc based physics anyway. Figure we'll have about 3 or 4 orgo nights with a GS slam based on this.

    Also, from JamesUrbaniak on Twitter: I hear Brian Corman's apology to @pattonoswalt included a poignantly hilarious account of the time he set himself on fire while freebasing.

  8. Anonymous

    the VALEDICTORIAN of gs took physics for poets?? that class is reserved for only the biggest tards in the college.

  9. GS

    sucks. almost as much as Barnard.

  10. GS student

    As a GS student myself, I'm pretty upset about this situation. Brian is a great guy, but this brings into question his integrity.

    I can only see two possibilities for what happened: he heard this joke and forgot it was from someone famous (perhaps he thought it was a friend's story) or he mindlessly copied the joke thinking that his plagiarism would go unnoticed.

    In the second case, and also slightly in the first place, it brings up the question as to how he became Valedictorian in the first place. Perhaps someone should review his essays, exams, etc, to see if other such situations exist.

    • but...

      if you look at video of the actual joke by the real comedian, a lot of the wording is basically the same. Which makes me think he watched it and then copied it. Believe me, I didn't really care so much when I heard this but because it seems so obvious that he copied it so blatantly, I'm pretty embarrassed.

  11. tsk

    you would think older people would be smarter but apparently that's not the case.

  12. Hum...  

    Alright, I'll ask; who gives a sh*t?

    The man took a joke for a speech that wasn't broadcast on any network, will not be remembered in any significant way and people are acting like he made an entire stand-up gig and got an SNL gig out of it. I would even argue that he may not have been aware of the politics of online humor- not like he had to submit a 'work cited' page.

    Is it a faux-pas? Yes. Like wearing black shoes with a brown belt. But really, I fail to see the outage here. "Shame on Columbia"? "GS students are willing to do anything to get ahead"....Gimme a goddamn break. The guy clearly has more brains than 99.8% of us (CC'11).

    Are we that bored during the summer? Or did the ethics of stand-up comedy in the online age suddenly become a national concern? Again I ask, who gives a sh*t?

    • CC 13

      i see what you're saying-a copied anecdote is not some kind of national outrage, people should calm down a little bit, etc.

      but at the same time...how lazy can someone get? to give a valedictorian speech is an honor, not a job. he earned a spot at the top of the class, and with that came the right to speak to-and for-his classmates. and when it comes to stand up comedy, a joke isn't just a joke-it's part of a comedian's bit, part of his repertoire that will be repeated over and over. so what this guy did is bad on 2 counts-he made a mess of an amazing gift by being lazy, and he stole someone's work. just because it isn't published in a fancy book doesn't mean it's not oswalt's work and livelihood.

      it's just a stupid, embarrassing situation. crisis, no, but terribly unfortunate. it also just adds to the stupid GS put-downs, so it embarrasses the whole school, which isn't fair.

    • ummm

      "The guy clearly has more brains than 99.8% of us (CC’11)"

      Evidently not, otherwise he wouldn't have done something this stupid. Judging from your idiotic comment, though, he's probably still smarter than you. Ripping off someone else's material in a valedictorian speech is analogous to wearing the wrong colored shoe with a belt? What is wrong with you?

    • Seriously

      I'm with you: this has been blown way out of proportion. I mean, it's good that this has come to light and that the appropriate apologies have been made. But that's enough. It was a graduation speech, not a PhD thesis. It's not necessary to burn down the guy's reputation.

    • nurr

      I give a shit because General Studies is showing up at ABC News, NYTimes blog, NYMag, etc. This exposure is negative and will do nothing but hurt GS's eternally embattled reputation. Furthermore, in some places it's just being written as "Columbia Graduate" and CC/SEAS students are likely to be more than a little bitter that someone from GS caused their school to be mocked.

    • someone

      is clearly a Jay Leno fan

    • Matt

      You should give a shit because you should hold yourself and your fellow classmates to a higher set of standards. It may _just_ be a copied anecdote, but it is very telling of someone's character when they blatantly twist something around and present it as their own.

      A valedictorian should uphold a strong set of morals and values in addition to stellar academics and extra curricular activities; he let his class down with his laziness and poor judgment. I'd really like to call it dishonesty, because his actions seemed very intentional, but I'll give him the benefit of the doubt. If he couldn't write a completely original speech, I'm left to wonder what other unsavory decisions might resulted in his other numerous achievements.

      If you don't get this now, then you never will; I pity anyone who doesn't value honesty and integrity over all else. How empty and shallow one must be to take pride in undeserved achievements.

      • Matt

        Furthermore, it doesn't matter that it wasn't broadcast over national networks; degree of exposure of the original work has nothing to do with culpability of a plagiarizer.

  13. OMG  

    columbia plagiarized dean awn!! or vice versa

  14. Matt

    You can watch the stolen joke by itself here:
    http://bit.ly/dikN9G

  15. rich

    A faux-pas? Get real. No one should pass someone else's work as their own. Citation and attribution is about showing respect for people and their ideas and is part of the foundation of serious academic work. This kid knew better and that's what makes it so embarrassing.

  16. This is why

    Columbia should get rid of GS

  17. 2010

    umm what about this Paul kid who he said was the one who got up and told the professor about the error in the "story"/joke? Did that guy go along w/ the lie as well, or did he somehow think this actually happened to him....?

    Also I had a friend who took physics for poets sophomore year and it was definitely a female professor the whole year, so this "story"/joke fails all the way around.

  18. I think

    this is pretty pathetic. I certainly don't condone what Corman did, but I also don't condone press-hungry B-list comedians throwing huge hissy fits to get attention. It was wrong of Corman to use that joke in his speech, but there is a proper and PROFESSIONAL way for Oswalt to deal with this, and it does not involve insulting Tweets and Facebook messages, nor does it involve criticizing Columbia for something one student did. Oswalt needs to grow up and get over himself.

    • Patton Oswalt

      is no B-list comedian

    • Matt

      I agree that he didn't take the most professional route in exposing this plagiarism, but I also don't pretend to know what it is like to pour your blood, sweat, and tears into your comedy routines for years on end without any guarantee of success, somehow rise above the rest and making a name for yourself in the comedy business, only then to find one of your bits stolen - not once, but twice in a month - by some chumps looking to cut corners.

  19. GS 08

    Shut up you privileged little CC kids or I'll call your mommy and daddy and have your allowance halved. One douchebag's actions do not speak for an entire school.

    • Ha!  

      Yes, we the 18-22 post-high school crowd with parents are the ones out of place in this college environment. Clearly.

      • Not GS '08

        2/3 of all undergraduates enrolled in the United States (with data from 2007) are "non-traditional," which means that GS students more than adequately represent your typical American undergraduate. Traditional students like those in CC, SEAS and BC are the atypical minority when compared with the reality of the rest of country. Not making judgements on whether this is a positive or negative, or even relevant thing--I just want us all to be clear who is and who is not out of place in a college environment

        • well...

          in the Ivy League, having 23+ year old students is atypical. Columbia is not a community college or a state school... nor should it compare itself to such institutions.

      • Ha

        I always loved the oxymoron of PC/equality attitude at Columbia mixed with all the snide elitism constantly shoveled on GS students. Save the poor brown people but act like c*nts to your classmates. Keep it up, CC.

    • Hey Douche

      I work and am dependent on Columbia's financial aid. I am also in Columbia College. Fuck you.

    • CC'10

      Go to hell. I have no parents, I worked two jobs almost all four years I was on campus. Columbia paid for my education. I just graduated from Columbia College at 22. Obviously, we're all spoiled rich kids. Get a life, dude. Or better yet, get an education.

  20. uhm...

    "GS 08" = typical GS animosity. Unfortunatley, jokes on you mr./ms. GS because without GS there is no chance you could even get the so called "Ivy League" education that the institution gives you.

    • dur0001

      i'm assuming "uhm" is the alphabet portion of your uni denoting your initials?

      no?

      then shut the fuck up.

      • nurr

        My fingers are crossed in hopes that the one confusing "animosity" with "anonymous" isn't a GS student.

      • GS 08

        I have a diploma that says Columbia University on it. Oh, it also has the words Summa cum laude on it. Yeah, it's not in Latin but I've never encountered anyone OUTSIDE of Columbia who thought any different of it. So the joke is on YOU for spending your teens jumping through some sisyphean set of hoops, exams, tests and whatever.

        • @ GS '08  

          Really? Because I would think the joke would be on the guy who's oh-so proud of obtaining something that all of the "kids" walking around campus talking about cookies and Glee will also have by age 22.

          Congratulations; you got all the work, none of the fun,and about a fraction of the experience treated as a second-class for the duration. Not to mention that bitterness and desperation to belong that keeps you posting on BWOG 2 years after graduating. That's priceless.

          ...Oh and about what, 5 to 10 years too late on the dial? Yeah...joke's on us.

          P.S. Glee was awesome tonight; they finally did Gaga!

          • nurr

            While it's totally appropriate to smack someone down who is getting all braggy, you really never know who has had more fun than who. A number of GS students had an asston of fun after high school-- often part of the reason they don't have an undergrad degree. Plenty of GS students have fun at Columbia, and plenty of CC/SEAS students find their experience to be an incredibly stressful nightmare.

            I've definitely had fun here. I've been to frat parties, dorm parties and off campus events put together by other students. I've made friends with students from CC, SEAS, Barnard, and the law school.

            The only time I really feel like a second class student is when I'm talking to a handful of anonymous CC students on the internet. These are usually the sort who also like to complain about Barnard girls instead of just getting on with homework or enjoying their time in school. Usually this feeling disappears when I get hit on by a sophomore in the college (OK, OK, I admit: it's more often SEAS, but I *am* old.)

        • special stakes

          ohhh "sisyphean" and "whatever"... you are smart AND jaded! wow soo cool!

    • The Aristocrats...

      ...was his back-up joke.

      • well...

        at least he could have made his joke original that way.

        and it would be a good litmus test: what pisses off admins more - plagiarism or politically incorrect sexist vulgarity? My guess is that the latter scares them more.

  21. who's...

    patton oswald?

    seriously. i had to imdb that.

  22. iBeam

    Can't get away with this crap at Columbia. This isn't Harvard!

  23. TO dur001

    i don't care who GS08 is and both can remain anonymous, because if you read what I wrote closely it doesn't matter who you guys are...What does matter is that you both reinforced my point that a great number of GS students have animosity towards Columbia students when you guys are in all reality, fortunate to get degrees of relatively \similar\ merit while paying half the tuition and not having to pass rigorous screening standards.

    What annoys me is the anger that people such as yourself have towards the unergrad population, carrying this resentment of us being \18-22\ and lacking the \real world\ experiences that you may have had.

    • Sigh  

      I have no animosity towards any school, personally. But, paying half the tuition? What on earth are you talking about?

      And, please don't generalize about what GS students are "fortunate" to receive. My high school record and scores pass "rigorous standards," regardless of whatever screening process they went through here, and the worth of my degree now will speak to my efforts, abilities, and contributions while here--not fortune. Focus on the person, not the stereotype.

      The kind of generalizing these comments devolve into is just disheartening.

      • Anonymous

        I agree that the stereotyping of students that don't formally attend CC is becoming old, tired, and petty. All the degrees say: Columbia University at the top. Sad to continually see this bashing of the other colleges.

  24. CC'10

    I've been in a few writing classes with Paul Grossman and I would not put it past him to actually do something like this. When was Oswalt's joke first performed anyways? Would be possible that the joke could have inspired the physics prof's exam theme or that it could have inspired Paul to actually act it out? Kind of a long shot I guess, but the event just seems so believable coming from Paul.

  25. Anonymous

    Brian Corman wasn't valedictorian. He was the class president.

  26. CC'11

    i'm sorry, but like it or not, we cc/seas students are justified in our outrage over this, because like it or not, this incident not only exacerbates the prejudices we have against GS but also now affects the public's view of our degrees, as media outlet sound bites don't have the time to distinguish between Columbia's four undergraduate schools. Thus, they will say (and already have said) that Columbia's class president plagiarized his speech.

    Again, like it or not, the School of General Studies is not what could be termed the flagship school at Columbia (CC and to an increasingly greater level, SEAS are), and so when this happens, it cheapens the massive amount of work that the rest of us have had to do to get to this point.

    What I'm trying to say is: Thanks a lot, asshole.

    • GS alumna

      Look. I agree, this was a seriously douchey thing to do, and I'm just as pissed at Corman as you are. But please do not assume that I haven't worked just as hard, or possibly harder, than you to obtain my degree.

  27. GS'11  

    All I can say is that GS needs to do better than this next year. Corman is a well known self-promoting idiot. And there is nothing more pathetic than an idiot who cannot even cover his own tracks.

    He is already suffering public humiliation, but that is not adequate punishment for what he did. His entire speech was lame and trite. His \valedictorian\ title needs to be revoked and his entire memory should be relegated to the \dustbin of history\.

    Thirty days, next case!

  28. Another GSer

    Hey, I understand the anger over what's happened. I think it's unfortunate that these comments are devolving into squabbling between GS and CC over whether we're underserving slobs/they're entitled jerks. Brian's actions are not representative of GS, any more than they would be representative of CC if this had happened with your valedictorian. This was a bad day for Columbia University - we all ought to be on the same team on this one. What is the point of all this hatred back and forth? Let's just try to respect each other and not besmirch entire groups of people based on either (a) the actions of one person or (b) our perceptions of the attitudes of a handful of people we may know from other schools. We're all at Columbia; the chances are, we all deserve to be.

  29. ...  

    cap'n corman the plagiarizin' valedictorian.

  30. Silver lining

    Let's all just be glad that at least this didn't happen at any of our class days:

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ynews/20100525/ts_ynews/ynews_ts2234

  31. GS'11  

    Well, the tone here hasn't been nearly as divisive as the latin diplomas thread last semester, so kudos all around for that. The fact of the matter is that this probably could not be much worse; it makes GS and Columbia University by extension look sleazy, lazy, and out of touch with one another and the rest of the world. Just as the GS aspect of it plays into prejudices against GS by the rest of the university, the Ivy League aspect as it is being portrayed in the media will inevitably play into peoples biases (right or wrong) against Ivy League students as spineless and elitist.

    So this is a dark day. That being said, I continue to see the light at the end of the tunnel... The thing about GS is that 98% of what we need to feel equal is provided. The quality of a GS education at Brown or even Penn can't compare to having our own school, however much of a rift it creates within the wider University. This day won't change that. What it will effect are the 2% of things that are still very much wrong with GS: it badly needs the opposite kind of publicity. It needs more financial aid, and this probably won't sit well with on-the-fence alums. It will take time to repair the damage that this inevitably does to our reputation.

    Luckily, Brian has apparently owned up to his wrongdoing in a candid and mature way. This is the GS that I know and love... everyone commits wrongdoing (talk to any professor or administrator who's served on any academic honesty board and you will learn how rampant plagiarism actually is in competitive American Universities, CU notwithstanding). It's how we as a school behave in the aftermath of this that will decide the ultimate degree and character of the damage this will have. For now though, I think that it is a testament to the community that not all the comments have been trollish nonsense, even the outraged ones. Everyone has a right to be outraged about this. I certainly am. But at the end of the day we're all in this together, to a certain extent, and I hope and trust that GS will show itself as an institution to be far above board on this, a very trying and unpleasant matter or position to find itself in.

  32. Anonymous

    Despite the reputation and the sometimes creepy dudes, I loved having GS students in my classes. getting the perspective of military vets in various classrooms has been a complete blessing. interesting to see the heat taken off barnard for once, though...

    • bc'10

      Although it's nice to have the attention off Barnard, it doesn't help anyone from any of the CU colleges for this incessant nastiness that flows out of (I presume, a bitter Minority) of Columbia College students in regards to the rest of us.

      Let's start solving some of the world's misunderstandings rather than contributing to them.

  33. Sgt. D --GS

    funny how y'all CC people think you need to attack GS every chance you get -- it shows nothing but your insecurities. Who can condone what this guy did? But I have to say it's not as bad as this disgrace on our university . . .

    http://www.nytimes.com/2002/11/20/nyregion/columbia-students-charged-in-high-tech-cheating.html?scp=1&sq=&st=nyt?pagewanted=1

  34. Cleveland Steamer  

    Brian screwed up - should've plagiarized from a loser comic that no one ever heard of...Patton Oswalt is a monster.

  35. GS Senior  

    So where is this letter of apology from Corman I have heard so much about?

    Double fail!

  36. Sgt. D --GS

    God bless all you liberals at CC who root for the illegal aliens from Mexico who come through our back door every day and get the benefits of our wonderful country. Because we at GS are your illegal Mexicans. And no matter how much you protest us on your blog, we won't go. You need us too much to do the work you won't do -- we pay the school, we don't get caught in elaborate cheating scandals and we top the fellowship awards being granted to the university. Thank you for your support.

    • What?

      Students at one of the most prestigious institutions of higher learning in the country relegated to a lower rung on the ladder of the university's social life are analogous to... what now?

      Move out of your life and get some perspective. Christ.

    • yea

      You don't get caught in elaborate cheating scandals. Apparently you just get caught in cheap, lazy cheating scandals.

      Seriously, these rants make you no better than the CC kids who use this as an opportunity to bash all of GS.

      • Drop the 'kid" crap please  

        Stop it. Stop it now. These "kids" are our future co-workers and collaborators. They earned their degrees just as - one assumes - you earned yours.

        Remember this: every time some GS Urban Gender Basket Weaving Studies diplomate slams his College classmates, God kills a kitten.

        Sincerely yours,
        - GS grad who did his coursework in a physical science, in the company of incredibly younger cohorts he refuses to call "kids," even though he might himself be mistaken for the father of some of them.

    • GS alumna

      That's just ridiculous. I have it nowhere near as hard as an illegal alien. I can't believe you are trying to make that analogy.

      To everyone else: This guy is not representative of anybody else I know at GS. Yeesh.

  37. man

    How hard is it to look at something that an individual did as something that an individual did?

    All this CC/SEAS/GS/Barnard bickering is pointless. There are dumbasses and very smart people in each school. You can't pin your identity to one of these schools for the rest of your life, because people will want to know what YOU can do.

    So yeah, this guy is a hack and makes everyone look bad. Sure. But don't blame GS for it, and if you don't get enough respect, don't blame it on people like him. Blame yourself for trying to let the reputation of your school do the work of your personal reputation.

  38. HOLD UP - CC GRADE

    HAS ANYBODY GOTTEN THEIR CC GRADE? bwog.. i think somethings going on.

  39. Sgt. D --GS

    I'm pleased that my comment was disliked and hidden so quickly. To me it displays how quick you are to shield yourselves from unflattering observations by someone with an opposing view.

  40. Corman's apology

    Dear Seniors,



    I would like to apologize to the Senior Class for my actions on Class Day. As many of you know, I used one of Patton Oswalt's jokes in my speech (the one about the Physics for Poets class). I sent an apology to Mr. Oswalt yesterday, and he has responded on his website. My intention was to have a funny story amidst the more serious parts of the speech to get a few laughs, and I was completely in the wrong for thinking that it was OK for me to take his story and make it my own. I am extremely sorry to the GS Senior Class for betraying their trust and embarrassing the school, and please know that I never meant to harm anyone by this.



    My sincerest apologies,

    Brian Corman

    • Anonymous

      He should be apologizing to all GS students and the entire Columbia community.

    • GS Senior  

      Hey, I'm a GS senior and never saw this email until a friend passed a copy onto me. (It also had a HUGE typo at the opening, TRIPLE FAIL!) The "apology" is just as self-centered as the Corman-jerk who wrote it. The damage he has done to this entire institution is not quantifiable and this e-mailed thing does not address it in any way. He needs to be eating a whole lot of humble pie for a long long time -- and the one place he certainly should NOT be in is a Law School.

      Can they revoke his acceptance? Or have they already? And what about Phi Beta Kappa.... isn't that for people of integrity as well as academic achievement?

      Shame, shame, shame!

  41. not a gs student  

    not many outside the school know the difference between GS and other schools in columbia... which means people think the valedictorian of columbia did this. how disgraceful.

  42. CC '12

    I love that some of you think that the crap we did in high school to get here makes us in any way superior.

  43. ugggh

    Brian Corman: What a twat!

    Though I guess having "PLAGIARIZING IDIOT" come up whenever someone googles you is a just consequence to his actions, there should be academic consequences to his lack of integrity.

    Columbia should closely review all of his academic work and check for plagiarism. If he thought it was perfectly okay to take someone's work when he was given the honor of delivering a speech, imagine the likelihood of him cutting corners in terms of his academic career?

    Furthermore, he should be denied acceptance to UC Berkely Law, or at least forced to take a billion ethics classes!

  44. checkit

    "It must suck to realize later in life that you missed an opportunity for a truly fine education, apply to Columbia's School of General Studies, be accepted, attend classes, complete your finals, be notified that you were the class valedictorian, accept your diploma, stand in front of your peers and then do something monumentally stupid and forever taint everything you worked hard for. Congratulations, Brian Corman. Your resume will say Columbia but a Google search will always say 'plagiarist'. "

    Source: http://www.youtube.com/user/turaho


    See Brian? citing your sources is easy and fun!

  45. CC'10

    And here we go. Front page news on Huffingtonpost.com:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/05/25/brian-corman-columbia-val_n_589339.html

    WATCH: Columbia Valedictorian PLAGIARIZED Graduation Speech

    Thanks, Gorman. You knew that nobody would know (or care) about the difference between GS and SEAS/CC, so you basically just sullied us all with your selfish bullshit. This is how this will be reported in the news for the next week. COLUMBIA student plagiarizes speech. Not GS. No one will respect your little walled garden. We're all in this together now because of the actions of one GS megadouche.

  46. but  

    i wasn't valedictorian of my highschool

  47. This isn't

    the first time that a GS student has taken credit for creative work that wasn't their own: http://bwog.net/2008/10/21/esc-etc-gss-owlnapping

  48. I think we are blaming the wrong people

    Shouldn't the blame fall on the Committee on Instruction for allowing a course such as Physics for Poets to exist in our institution?

    Without the pathetic excuse for a science class, none of this would have happened.

    • ugh  

      Oh shut up. Like you've never taken a class for an easy A ever in your time at Columbia?

      Why should someone with a genuine interest in science but no desire to delve into calculus-based equations be forced to take General Physics? Physics for Poets is more about concepts than the hard mathematics, and there's nothing wrong with that. It's science for non-science students. Get over it.

      • man

        I don't know, I don't like this guy's attitude either but I do think people should have to take some hard science and put some real effort into actually solving problems. It's part of a well-rounded education.

        I never took a class for an easy A because I never paid any attention to my GPA. It seems like a weird thing to do to attend a class and complete work for it if you don't give a shit about it.

      • Anonymous

        Any person who has the intelligence of a Columbia student should be able to use calculus. It is as fundamental as being able to write a decent essay. The leniency the college has towards math/science requirements is shameful.

        • Another GSer

          I would imagine that if any of the media are interested in following up on this story (which, admittedly, they probably aren't), they may be looking at the comments on this blog to get a sense of student reaction. If that is the case, we aren't doing ourselves any favors with the name-calling and the bickering back and forth.

          We should definitely be upset by Corman's actions, but in my opinion, we ought to be above using descriptors like "fuckface," "arrogant shit," "creep," "douche," "schmuck," "low life scum bag," "asshat," "megadouche," "Stalin" (?), "twat," "idiot," "self-promoting idiot" - and those are just the names that Brian has been called in this thread. I didn't even get started on all the spiteful comments we've been throwing at each other.

          It may be that I am concerned when there is no reason to be, but it seems to me that it would be in everyone's interest for us to tone it down a little. Brian made a huge mistake that has embarrassed the entire Columbia community. I don't think anyone's disputing that, so the name-calling is pretty pointless and it looks petty.

          But if we're not going to stop, can we at least agree that referring to Brian as "Stalin" is perhaps a little bit beyond what is necessary?

  49. Cleveland Steamer  

    That's like blaming highways for accidents - that asshat dug his own grave.

    Suck it.

  50. f

    so what's worse: plagiarizing, cheating on finals, or stealing laptops from fellow students and wiping the data?

    admissions offices for all schools needs an overhaul :/

  51. Corman Re-writes History  

    Wow, what a difference a day makes!

    Valedictorian/Stalin-Corman uses his facebook page to whitewash his errors and re-write history... Any comment even hinting of criticism has been deleted, and the entire page is dedicated to missives singing the praises of intellectual property thief Corman.

    What a low life scum bag!

  52. NESCAC

    Last year, I felt really terrible that I was going to a "second-rate" college, and that I was missing out on all the benefits that I could have gotten from going to an Ivy-league school.

    Thanks for showcasing all your petty bullshit and making me realize that I'm literally missing nothing by not going to Columbia, the place where a worthwhile college experience goes to die.

    Cheers!

  53. Anonymous

    NESCAC,

    It's a good thing that you went to a "second-rate" college, because you are not capable to distinguish between the quality of a university and the integrity of one of its students. This institution needs people with more open mind and maturity than you. There is so much more to Columbia than Brian Corman's case.

  54. Anonymous

    It wouldn't even bother me so much if he "just" plagiarised someone's joke. What is insulting and stupid is that he took the joke and presented it as something that actually did happen in his class and he witnessed it. That's not a joke, that's lying to faces of all the people present in the audience. If a comedian said that, everybody would know it's a joke, but in this context, people in the audience will talk to their friends about this funny exam that was given at Columbia with captain Kirk and Spock in it, even though it never happened. The people who don't know it didn't actually happen will think that the physics professor must be an idiot when he writes these kinds of exam questions. This looks bad for Columbia.

  55. another embarrassed gser

    While I condemn Brian as much as anyone here (if not more) and hope this leaves a long-lasting mark on his reputation, the fact is that almost no one will care about this anymore by the weekend. Yes, it makes us all look bad to the outside world and GS look even worse to the rest of Columbia, but this isn't the kind of scandal that lingers. Be pissed off at him, think he's a douche and a schmuck (he is), but take solace in knowing this, too, will pass.

  56. Harmony Hunter

    wait how can we be sure that patton oswalt didn't steal the joke from brian?

  57. Another GSer

    Sorry for the double-post, I initially accidentally put this as a reply to someone who was talking about calculus. Not my intention.

    I would imagine that if any of the media are interested in following up on this story (which, admittedly, they probably aren't), they may be looking at the comments on this blog to get a sense of student reaction. If that is the case, we aren't doing ourselves any favors with the name-calling and the bickering back and forth.

    We should definitely be upset by Corman's actions, but in my opinion, we ought to be above using descriptors like "fuckface," "arrogant shit," "creep," "douche," "schmuck," "low life scum bag," "asshat," "megadouche," "Stalin" (?), "twat," "idiot," "self-promoting idiot" - and those are just the names that Brian has been called in this thread. I didn't even get started on all the spiteful comments we've been throwing at each other.

    It may be that I am concerned when there is no reason to be, but it seems to me that it would be in everyone's interest for us to tone it down a little. Brian made a huge mistake that has embarrassed the entire Columbia community. I don't think anyone's disputing that, so the name-calling is pretty pointless and it looks petty.

    But if we're not going to stop, can we at least agree that referring to Brian as "Stalin" is perhaps a little bit beyond what is necessary?

  58. ...  

    at this point i'm really just worn out. this place has killed me.

  59. This doesn't change...

    the fact that the majority of positive attention the undergraduate student body has received this year was because of GS - BBC, German radio/television, the NYT.

  60. man

    Sandy Koufax briefly attended GS. That's a huge plus in my book.

  61. Frustrating

    What's also frustrating is that this has made the Huffington Post, with a headline that doesn't distinguish the schools (it just says "Columbia valedictorian..."), and it had generated over 300 comments last I checked. It's just terrible, terrible press that makes us all look bad (e.g., people questioning our academic standards, etc.). I just hope Oswalt doesn't make this part of his routine.

    I also wonder - this guy got into UC Berkeley for law school; will they rescind their offer because of this?

  62. GS '10

    As a recent graduate for both a BS in physics and a BA in math, who has spent his time at Columbia essentially living in Pupin, I new Corman was lying the instant he said the dept. chairperson taught the course.

    But this plagiarism is outright disgusting. Not only did this embarrass GS and Columbia University, it forever tainted one of the most joyous days of my life. Not only did Brian Corman steal from Patton Oswalt, he stole from me, my fellow graduates and any of the guests attending that ceremony to watch their loved ones graduate.

    This is an keen example of the fact that grades are not a true indicator of what one has learned at this institution. From the first instances of university writing, we are instilled with the rules of citation, and I fail to be convinced that this was any sort of light hearted mistake. He knew what he was doing, which was committing the most serious of academic offenses.

    As a member of the GS class of '10, I feel at the very least he should have his status of valedictorian revoked. I agree with a previous entry suggesting that all his past coursework (if available) should be reviewed, and I think his degree should be reviewed.

    As far as law school, I should hope his offer of admission be rescinded. If not, let's just hope he's not going to practice intellectual property law. I fail to believe that he will make the sort of positive contributions to his field, or the world, as an upstanding Columbia graduate should.

  63. realistically

    it would be pretty difficult for one anecdote stolen by one individual to really effect the reputation of an entire institution that has been around almost as long as this country. it's like worrying that one pebble could knock an entire mountain down.

    the reputation of schools like columbia exist independently from the minor achievements and failures of its students and faculty. so all of this talk about what students are getting columbia good press and bad press--nobody really cares. it's "columbia." the name means something. when larry summers made his deplorable comments about women and science during his tenure as president of harvard, a far more odious and dangerous mistake, harvard's reputation didn't swan-dive into the mud--and that was the *president* talking! so don't worry so much.

    and at this point i feel a little bit bad for brian. i'm not entirely sure that the punishment fits the crime--we are very sensitive to plagiarism around here, as we should be--but it just seemed like there was something innocent about his mistake. at any rate, i forgive him. i think some people here would benefit from practicing a little mercy--you never know when you'll need it one day.

  64. also

    to all the gs seniors, brian corman's mistake does not in any way take away from your accomplishment. whatever you achieved at the end of your four years, you should be proud of that--no speech adds to or detracts from it.

    • Anonymous

      do we have such fragile egos that we need this sort of insipid assurance? omg, it rained today! don't let that detract from the fact that you're a special person!

  65. Anonymous

    i've definitely heard this joke before. but not from patton oswalt. i can't remember where but it's really gonna bother me.

  66. ...

    yada yada yada (Jerry Seinfeld)

  67. Happy Gilmore

    who gives a flying fuck if he copied someones joke. its funny. keep up the good work brian!

  68. At least he wasn't using

    material from Brian Regan. That guy couldn't tell a funny joke if his life depended on it.

    Seriously, if he tried to be a Jester in the middle ages, he would die of plague before anyone would laugh.

  69. Happy Gilmore

    yeah, if someone used my joke just for fun (not to make any profit or anything) i'd be pretty happy that my joke was chosen out of all the other jokes out there... wouldn't you?

    • Define 'profit' please  

      You have an extraordinarily narrow working definition of "profit": of course he made a profit, in this case the moderately high regard of those who witnessed his performance live. Any profit he made, however, evaporated on revelation of his dishonesty, and he blew all the reputation capital subsidizing his position at the lectern on GS Class Day.

      He's finished: those of us with long memories, resources, patience, and bitter resentment will make sure this shame follows him all the days of his life. He will not enter law school at UC Berkeley in the fall, nor he will not practice law in California.

      • Hahaha  

        "He’s finished: those of us with long memories, resources, patience, and bitter resentment will make sure this shame follows him all the days of his life"

        What is this, an episode of Gossip Girl? Calm the fuck down Blair Waldorf....I guarantee you most people have already forgotten about this, and a lot of the rest realize that it was a goddamn joke and aren't looking to kick down GS or Columbia.

        The man will be more than fine. Start a blog if you're so desperate for relevancy.

    • man

      This is pretty dismissive of comedians. He's not a little kid who would be really happy if some big important person told his little joke. He's a guy who tells these jokes for a living and someone else who didn't spend years of his life writing jokes and developing these routines is telling the same joke front of a huge crowd without acknowledging where he got it.

      What, because it's a "joke" it's o.k. to steal his work?

  70. c'mon

    all he had to do was cite the joke before he said it....and now because he didnt do this he deserves the chair?! crucify him!?

  71. Billy Madison

    Happy Gilmore is right. We have much bigger problems to worry about than this one.

  72. the waterbory

    billy sweet billy boy you are a fucktard

  73. Anonymous

    Who says the joke wasn't cited? We never actually read it....People don't usually read the footnotes when they read aloud

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