NYT: Operation Ivy League “Typical,” Except for the “Ivy League” Part

Written by

The New York Times published a story today that calls last week’s bust of a drug ring involving Columbia students “unremarkable, but for one thing: [the] Ivy League clients.” Below, we highlight some relevant new information that our (full disclaimer!) very own Eliza Shapiro helped report:

  • The original anonymous call to Crime Stoppers that prompted the investigation happened towards the end of the Spring ’10 semester, “leading the police to begin an investigation that focused on one Columbia student in particular: Harrison David.”  There is still no public information about the context or content of that call.
  • Harrison David “unwittingly led undercover officers to everyone else charged in the indictment.” He connected an undercover cop to his dealer, Miron Sarzynski.
  • Most of the drug purchases were in “relatively small amounts,” such as an ounce of marijuana or “a few pills” or Adderall or ecstasy.
  • Concerning disciplinary actions resulting from things such as the smell of marijuana, Shollenberger says that Columbia’s “threshold of proof is much lower than law enforcement’s for us to move forward.” However, he noted that it is not Columbia’s policy to actively search dorm rooms for drugs.
  • Shollenberger also commented that the rise in the recorded number of disciplinary actions taken as a result of drug usage possibly went up recently due to recent changes in policy, such as increased training for RAs.
  • Some personal info about the suppliers: Lagares, a supplier of cocaine to David, operated a Mister Softee truck. Sarzynski and Asper, marijuana suppliers from the East Village, were dating and eventually “planned to start a juice and health food business one day.” On her boyfriend, Asper says: “Miron is small potatoes. I thought the police had bigger fish to fry.”
  • The Times also notes that given the depth “notorious New York City drug cases, these suspects seem somewhat unremarkable,” and that “illegal drug use is an issue on virtually all university and college campuses in the United States, and Columbia is no different.”

Tags: ,


  1. Anonymous  

    "was a operated a Mister Softee truck"?

  2. Anonymous  

    congrats eliza!

    • Anonymous

      Yeah, funny how the daughter of the NY Times Foreign Editor gets to contribute to the NY Times.

      • Anonymous  

        whoaaa really?

      • Eliza  (Bwog Staff)  

        Oh you clever, clever thing! Why would the editor of the website that has covered this story most extensively ever be asked to help with an investigative piece? Nepotism: it rules the world!

        • PWND  

          Get em girl. Haters gon hate.

        • Well  

          I guess you have "reported" on this topic more than other "journalists" but you are not exactly privy to any information inaccessible to other people through a simple internet search. Bwog has also previously posted significantly inaccurate information on this topic, because let's face it, you guys don't exactly rush to verify all of your sources before posting.

          So if your father is up there as an editor of the NYT then nepotism probably came into play even if you weren't explicitly told that that is why you were being contacted. Just saying...

          • Eliza  (Bwog Staff)  

            From your multiple delightful comments on this post, I can tell that you don't like me very much. That's unfortunate! Happy holidays!

          • Sorry  

            I think it is just my misplaced sexual frustration showing again. Its nothing personal. You wouldn't happen to be into BDSM and want to hang out in the stacks later?

          • Katie  

            Happy holidays to you too, Eliza.

            There is nothing wrong with using the connections that have been gained by your family. Some people don't like to admit it, but one of the main reasons that any of us decided to come to this school is because of its reputation and the connections that it will help us make with other influential people. Some people know more people coming in, but doesn't that also help the less well connected (or at least the ones who are not blinded by jealousy or the ones that need to be the most influential of all of their friends)? Even if a person's connections only help them, how can they change their situation?

            I think that we should be happy that we at least have a voice in a mainstream publication. I don't know Eliza personally, but it seems to me that she cares very much about student opinion on this campus. Unlike a number of reporters on this issue, Shapiro, Kovaleski, and Secret were not trying to make Columbia as a whole look bad just because it is an ivy league school. I appreciate this. If it takes a connection to make a student's voice be heard with regard to this story, then I am all for using the connection.

          • if we go down...  

            your stream of thought, then maybe people shouldn't feel bad that they have millions to spend while women are being worked to death in their parents' factories. it's no their fault is it? they're can't help the situation they were born into.

            your privilege-blind argument aside, it really is whatever. I don't know Eliza either, but clearly she's source regarding information on this campus, and she works in reporting the news. if someone sought her out, well they had a reason. so haters, keep hatin'!

          • Katie  

            I take your point: especially when a parent is doing something criminal or immoral, a child may want to reconsider that career choice. But even children with bad parents sometimes suffer from having a shared last name even if they choose a completely different life path.

            Yet, it does feel a little you are stretching my point to a tenuous extreme just to call me privilege-blind. I, like Eliza, have a parent who is well-known in the field I want to enter. For years, I was very troubled by the fact that every application I sent to potential employers would have an inherent advantage over others simply because of the last name on the application. But I was helpless. So yes, instead of driving myself crazy with guilt about my connection, I have come to accept the fact that I can't do anything to undo my parent's influence in my field (which isn't polluting rivers or making babies cry or anything nasty like that). If a connection (in addition to other personal achievements) can get someone a job for which they are qualified, they should not turn it down simply because other people are going to feel jealous. And that's what was happening here: people are jealous of Eliza and making nasty personal attacks on her and I think that she shouldn't be ashamed to contribute to the NY Times just because her parent is important there.

          • sexist asshat  

            its her mom, not her dad. douche.

        • Curious

          how the thumbs up/down feature is disabled on all the anti-Eliza Shapiro comments...

      • Anonymous  

        she has connections, that's how she got it

      • jeez  

        you guys are such assholes!

  3. Anonymous

    this isnt journalism, this is tabloid coverage. dont you have something better to do than exploit the personal lives of some of our classmates? providing sensationalist campus knowledge to a new york times fluff story is not something to be commended.

  4. Anonymous  

    inc 250+ comments

  5. Toot toot  

    Is the sound of a BWOG editor tooting her own horn for being an anonymous source in a NYT article.

  6. give me  

    hawkma, or give me death

  7. So

    Is Harrison just in jail til his next court date at this point since it seems like noone is paying his bail? Can't his fam/friends get together the money needed for a bond at least?

  8. Good coverage  

    I think this piece is refreshing. Finally, this story is put in perspective. In a larger context, this whole scandal is indeed "small potatoes."

    Also, I think you're great Eliza. You always respond to negative comments in an appropriate way without getting too mean. And if you mummy/daddy works for the New York Times then so be it. I don't see why that matters at all.

  9. Anonymous

    Do you think anyone will dress up like the c5 next halloween? Too soon? Just soon enough?

  10. person

    As a member of the Columbia community, I think you ALL must be really in GREAT shape for your final exams if all you can find the time to do is make such STUPID and MEAN and SACTIMONIOUS comments on Bwog. There are a lot of not so good things that have happened over the past week to members of YOUR COMMUNITY. It is actually all quite SAD. I will be the first to say that I think Eliza and her staff have done a great job this year . Eliza has been a super editor. She has raised the quality and readership by her leadership. Her staff has written some amazing pieces. You have all had the opportunity to read them. I am looking forward to great things in 2011. -- signed from a non affiliated Bwog person/ alum

  11. his friends

    cant. no one has money for this kind of thing. his rich ass father has control over this. there's no excuse

  12. nyu  

    interesting (and not terribly surprising) that this seems like a small operation tied to major rings at NYU. of course, no one notices when nyu students are busted for drug dealing; it's just the status quo!

  13. Anonymous  

    mike wymbs, currently on facebook chat

  14. the 4 who are out on bail...

    are they back on campus and allowed to take finals? or are they suspended/expelled?

  15. Anonymous  

    eliza, whether comments about your connections are fair or not, its unprofessional as a writer and a editor to engage in petty discussions like this. people say mean things, that's what happens on blogs. let it go

    • So far

      She's not getting paid, so she's not professional. But it's true; responding to flamebait in any way, shape, or form does make you look amateurish. Do yourself a solid, Eliza: the next time someone posts an unfavorable comment about you, consider if you really need to defend yourself. Then don't, and post anonymous comments to do it for you.

  16. Mat

    Y'all know damn well she's killin this s**t

  17. Hey Eliza  

    Can you like write a book on how to deal with haters and negative comments/publicity, it would seem you'll be the perfect PR person, cool under any sort of fire, I need to know your secret

    • Anonymous  

      Yea..and has anyone thought of WHY we're so mad about this article? Most of this article is largely untrue, had multiple typos (you would have thought the daughter of the editor of the NY TImes site would have thought of using this thing we like to call "spell check" or just plain proof-reading), and was put together in a way that made it sound awkwardly dramatized. If she cared so much about what was really going on or what people really think, then this article was clearly a step NOT in that direction. It was just a childish and ridiculously terrible piece of work.

      "Haters" ..HA. As if there was anything to hate on except how awful this article was...

  18. ahhh  

    i saw the article on before reading about it here and then saw that eliza contributed to reporting!!! congrats girl!!! and go bwog!

  19. Anonymous  

    When's Orgo night?

  20. alum

    Harrison's court date has been changed to 12/20 instead of 1/18...

  21. broke enough for free lunch

    Best spend the rest of your time at Columbia networking instead of complaining about people who have connections (and are adorably excellent writers.)

  22. anonymous

    eliza I think its really sick that you got mentioned in the new york times so never mind all the jealous haters. This is awesome.

  23. Eliza  (Bwog Staff)  

    My stars! This Dada-esque comment thread about me and my mom (who is one of the shortest and most delightful people on Earth) has been a trip, but I'd really better get back to studying for my Modern Germany 1900-2000 final on Monday. Thank you for the kind and un-kind words that I should definitely not have responded to in the first place.

    In the end, I think we've all learned a thing or two about friendship. Bye guys!

  24. Xavier speaking da truth?  

    Mike Wymbs was Xavier's M&M student of the day on December 1, 2008. Maybe Peanut M&Ms were going to be his new LSD product after demand for altoids cooled off...

  25. best quote in this article:

    Asper says: “Miron is small potatoes. I thought the police had bigger fish to fry.”

    I didn't know people talked that way except on Law and Order...

  26. Anonymous

    harrison's court date was listed as today?

  27. anonymous  

    yeah you're such a victim. You poor, helpless, well-connected thing, you.

    Hope you're at least putting your position to good use for other people who aren't so lucky, Ms. Eisenhower, Madame Kennedy, or whatever your name is.

  28. anonymous  

    yeah you’re such a victim. You poor, helpless, well-connected thing, you.
    Hope you’re at least putting your position to good use for other people who aren’t so lucky, Ms. Eisenhower, Madame Kennedy, or whatever your name is.

© 2006-2015 Blue and White Publishing Inc.