Today in academia: spamming your college newspaper, "Buddy the Elf," a redesigned common application, and, yes, Harvard's endowment is fine.

  • Cornell does soul-searching after 'Christmas Elf' wins student election.  A freshman who really wanted to win class president decided to dress up as "Buddy the Elf" for two weeks to give his campaign a little publicity, and he won. But an editorial in the school's student newspaper seems a bit saddened by the result: "As long as students continue to vote for the more theatrical campaigns, these campaigns will continue to be successful and could escalate even more towards the absurd." We're looking for a parable in there, somewhere.[Cornell Daily Sun via IvyGate blog]
  • And you thought no one would read your college newspaper. One byproduct of student newspapers putting their archives online is that all the stupid, offensive or unflattering things that people were quoted saying or doing in their school paper now live on Google. But USA Today's College site notices a curious trend going on: former students flooding their schools websites with comments in order to push old offenses further back in search results. Says one student who spent what seems like a lot of effort just to conceal his underage drinking offense: "It's not a story that many people can find, since my name has been in so many articles that it’s flooded." [USA Today]
  • Undergrads are very tired of hearing: 'wait until you get to the real world.'  That's another overused phrase that probably should be retired. It's more than a little annoying to feel chided by people in the workforce when you're taking massive amount of classes at school and still trying to manage a side job. Inside Higher Ed contributor Justin D. Martin understands what you're going through. So read his essay if you have time, you probably do. [Inside Higher Ed]
  • Don't discount all those smart guys who run Harvard's endowment holdings. The dark days of very big losses look over for the moment for the nation's most prestigious university. Just like the "on track" Yale endowment forecast, Harvard was surely pleased to announce that it's mammoth endowment "earned a profit of $4.4 billion in fiscal 2011, growing to a robust $32 billion," reported the Associated Press. [AP]
  • The Common Application is getting a redesign, not that there's anything wrong with it. The Times' Jacques Steinberg says lots of students and parents wrote to him to vent about technical glitches would chop off sentences midway through filling out the application. Which seems like a very frustrating thing to happen for a tool many public schools use. Yesterday, the makers of the App announced they'd be redesigning online version. But the App executive Rob Killion got a little defensive when asked by the newspaper if the glitch was a reason for the face-life: "There is no 'glitch' that you discovered," he wrote to Steinberg. [The New York Times]