Archive for U.S. News

clusterFlunk raises $1 million in new funding from Lightbank, launches nationwide

default_gigantic_avatarclusterFlunk, an app that allows students to get better grades by asking questions and uploading/downloading files, has come out of a private beta and made the entire app available to all university students.

Students join the app/website, and get help from students studying similar subjects, courses, or even the same professor. From there they can post questions, and upload/download files to get the help they need instantly. Best of all, clusterFlunk is completely free.

The app that gets students better grades will use their latest round of funding to help every student in the U.S.

They have recently closed a $1 million seed round. Lightbank led the round and was joined by Built by Iowa, an Iowa-focused early stage fund. This investment was primarily for their national launch, as they were in a closed beta at the University of Iowa, after seeing massive success.

While in beta 15 thousand of the 21 thousand undergraduates were using clusterFlunk at Iowa.

“As students, we were frustrated by the lack of access to classmates in our large lecture courses, and we wanted to create a way for more collaboration outside of the classroom,” said clusterFlunk co-founder AJ Nelson. “clusterFlunk provides students with instant help, allowing them to ask questions and upload/download any kind of file (study guides, past exams, lecture notes), for free.”

clusterFlunk launched at the University of Iowa in January 2013, and more than two-thirds of the students on campus have joined the platform. Additionally, three-fourths of clusterFlunk’s users visit the site at least monthly to share notes, ask questions, and collaborate on assignments.

After seeing that success the company has decided to make the app/ website available nationally.

“Students have a lack of resources to connect in an easy way online. Current options such as Facebook don’t offer the tools necessary to share files and truly engage with classmates,” said Paul Lee, partner at Lightbank. “clusterFlunk is changing the way students study, interact and plan on campus. The metrics from their initial launch are impressive, and we’re excited to see the platform expand to other campuses across the U.S.”

More than 65 percent of clusterFlunk’s users said their grades enhanced as a result of the platform, and 38 percent said they made at least one new friend after using the social network.

To learn more about clusterFlunk, visit, or download the app in apple’s iOS store.

Cannabis Crusades 5K run 3K walk at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo

The Cannabis Crusades, a 5K walk / 3K run, will take place at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo on Saturday, June 13, 2015 at 8:00 am.  The purpose of the race is to collect signatures, to raise awareness, and to show support for the Ohio Cannabis Rights Amendment sponsored by Ohio Rights Group’s initiative to legalize medical marijuana and protect the interests of Ohio farmers.  The cost of the event is $35 which also includes all day admission to the zoo.  A portion of proceeds will also be designated to to help fund their signature-gathering efforts.



Contact:          Phil Satayathum

Tel:  216.299.5813



2014 word of the year “vape”

With competitors such as “bae, budtender, normcore, and slacktivism”, the word “vape” won the 2014 Oxford Dictionary Word of the Year.  Vape is the action of inhaling and exhaling the vapor produced by an electronic cigarette or other similar devices.

The Oxford Dictionary Word of the Year is chosen each year based on the trending of the word throughout the calendar year. It is also based on the cultural significance and the potential for longevity in the English language.

According to the online Oxford Dictionary the usage of the word “vape” was prevalent through the year, but peaked in April of 2014 when there was controversy around the idea of being able to vape inside of public places.

Past words of the year have included: podcast, unfriend, GIF, and selfie.

When asked about the word of the year professor of English at Bluffton University Jeff Gundy first responded with “what does that mean?” He then proceeded to talk about how this year’s word in relation to past words of the year stating, “it is not as ambiguous as selfie, since I am on Facebook I see more selfies than I see people vaping” and “podcast is still in use…selfie is also still prevalent…it’s hard to tell what is going to happening with the e-cigarette and vaping”.

Even though “vape” has been chosen as word of the year this does not guarantee it a spot in the Oxford dictionary.  Unless the word secures longevity it will not be considered for placement in the dictionary.

Another woman accuses Bill Cosby of rape

Some nasty allegations are circulating around America’s number one family man, a man who was looked up to and idolized by countless fans. For about a decade now, Bill Cosby has been accused of sexual assault by women who say he forced alcohol and drugs on them.

Cosby and his lawyer have repeatedly said that the allegations are untrue. Bill Cosby has never been charged or prosecuted.

Since 2005, a handful of women have claimed to be victims of sexual assault at the hands of Bill Cosby. This year, those accusations resurfaced, and on Monday (November 10, 2014) one of Cosby’s accusers, Barbara Bowman, turned public once again with an article in the Washington Post. She has also spoken live with CNN.


Bowman claims she was drugged then raped, though she said she never saw drugs. “I woke up out of a very confused state not in my clothes.” She said she knew her body had been touched without her permission. She explained that she woke up in this state several times in the course of her contact with Cosby. She told CNN that Cosby told her she had been drunk.

Bowman was an aspiring actress at the time. She told CNN that Cosby was a mentor to her; someone who she thought would mold her talents. She expressed that she loved him just as America loved Dr. Huxtable. Bowman met Cosby at the age of 17 in 1985. She claimed the abuse started after she turned 18.

According to CNN, when asked about the allegations Saturday during an interview on NPR, Cosby did not respond — instead shaking his head “no,” according to the interviewer, Scott Simon.

Again, Bill Cosby was never prosecuted on any charges.

On Monday, the comedian (pretty sure it wasn’t Bill) – or whomever is in charge of his Twitter account, put out a challenge with a picture of Cosby in a cap: “Go ahead. Meme me! #cosbymeme.”

The Internet didn’t hesitate to humiliate Cosby in reaction to the allegations.


One Twitter user’s response to the challenge issued by Cosby’s account.


Does this change your perception of the comedian? What questions do you have for the victims? Could this tarnish his reputation? Should Bill Cosby drop his silence and speak out? Let us know what you think!

Atlanta grandmother attacks kids on school bus [video]

An Atlanta grandmother jumped on an elementary kid on a school bus, and will soon be in front of a judge to decide her punishment. Grandmothers are very protective of their grandchildren; but did Claudette Peters take it too far?

From my understanding of the situation, two school boys have had altercations for some time now. The grandmother, Claudette Peters, attacked eight year old Jashun Stephens Jr. after he tried protecting his younger brother from the much older granny. Peters attacked Jashun’s younger brother first (the one in the fight with her grandson) at which point Jashun jumped in to help and she began to attack him.

Rightfully so, the father of the victim is upset with Peters’ actions. He believes she deserves to be punished for her assault. He says his son suffered minor bruises and will be okay.

Watch the news clip here. How far across the line do you think this Grandmother stepped? What do you think her punishment should be? Let us know what you think.


Pepsi recently conducted taste tests of a Doritos-flavored Mountain Dew. (Yes, you read that correctly.) Pepsi Company offered samples of the new Nacho cheese Doritos/ Mountain Dew flavor-blend called “Dewitos” at Kent State University.

A Reddit user was apparently one of the lucky Kent State students that got to taste a sample of the new “Dewitos” beverage. He told Reddit: “It tasted like orange with a Doritos after taste. It tasted like straight Doritos afterwards though. Weirdest thing I’ve ever drunken.”

If you aren’t convinced as to how real this product is, Quartz writes, “A Pepsi spokesperson has confirmed that these product tests are indeed in progress.” A statement to Quartz via email said, “We are always testing out new flavors of Mountain Dew, and giving our fans a voice in helping decide on the next new product has always been important to us. We opened up the DEW flavor vault and gave students a chance to try this Doritos-inspired flavor as part of a small program at colleges and universities.”

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Dewitos are real people! What is the world coming to? Nothing was the same (in Drake Voice). Would you ever try Dewitos? What do you think they will come out with next? Let us know.

No Shave November breaks forth

by: Alexander Lugibihl

As Halloween festivities are ending and people start looking ahead to Thanksgiving, Christmas and the New Year, one major movement is often looked over. No shave November, also referred to as Movember. It is a movement that typically involves males, although females are welcome to participate, in the act of not shaving anything for the entire month of November.

In an article by Matt Johnson through VidetteOnline, it’s said this movement’s official beginning can be traced back to 1999 when a group of young men from southern Australia grew out there beards for charity. In 2004 a similar movement occurred with funding for specifically men’s health issues. By 2006 No Shave November was a part of American culture. Currently No Shave November is linked with a major movement to help raise awareness for prostate cancer and other men’s health issues.

At Bluffton University, many men are ready to participate, and all for very different reasons. Many students like Sophomore Theran Carroll have a personal tie to the cause. “Prostate cancer runs in my family, and I want it to be fought better” Carroll stated. There are many others like junior Sam Stucky who stated, “No shave November is my favorite holiday. In fact, I haven’t shaved in twenty years!” Amidst all of these jokes there is also a certain air of masculinity that accompanies this month. As sophomore Daniel Piero said “No Shave November is a time honored tradition among men.”

In a survey conducted by student journalists at Bluffton University, 50 college males and 20 college females were asked if they were participating in No Shave November and why; the results were relatively predictable among males. 76% of males said that they were participating, and those who said no either had well-trimmed facial hair or had trouble growing a satisfactory amount. In turn, only 15% of females interviewed said they would participate. When asked why they felt the way they did many responded that it was something only men do while those who said yes seemed to be enjoying the idea of a month of no shaving.

As this month takes off, there are sure to be many more furry people on campus, however do not let that distract you from the real reason for all of this face fuzz.

Four charged in hazing case

Approximately three years after the hazing death of Robert Champion, four members of Florida A&M University’s Marching 100 are now being charged with manslaughter and felonious hazing.

In light of Champion’s death the marching band was banned from competing for over a year and the issue of hazing in collegiate bands drew national attention. It is said that Champion was “crossing Bus C” when he was fatally injured. “Crossing Bus C,” which is the term the band used to describe the hazing ritual, entails walking down the aisle of a bus while band mates bludgeon new members with drum mallets, drumsticks, and fists.

After he reached the end of the aisle, Champion vomited and expressed that he felt unable to breathe. He soon fell unconscious and was unable to be revived. An autopsy concluded that Champion’s cause of death was “hemorrhage shock and extensive internal bleeding”, a direct result of the hazing.

The four band members charged have pleaded “not guilty” to the aforementioned charges.

Somewhere Across the Street from the Rainbow

In Topeka Kansas, what seems to be the ultimate neighborhood rivalry is drawing attention to one of the largest equal rights movements of our time. The Westboro Baptist Church, a group known for its extremely homophobic teachings, found their new neighbors, dare I say, colorful. Across the street from the “church” lies the Equality House, the bungalow is painted to resemble a rainbow, the universal symbol for LGBTQ rights. The Equality House is funded by the charity Planting Peace and has become something of a safe haven for members of the gay community.

Oddly enough, it is said that despite the opposing views of the neighbors, daily interactions have remained “cordial.” In the 18 months since the conflict was presented with the arrival of the Equality House, interactions between the two groups have included small talk, and acts of compassion from both sides of the street. When someone stole the Equality House’s pride flag and placed them on the church’s lawn, its members kindly placed the flags in the House’s mailbox. Alternately, members of the Equality House once sent text messages to members of the church to extend their condolences for the loss of Fred Phelps, the church’s founder. The two groups have exchanged home numbers.

Unfortunately, not all interactions are positive. Rebekah Phelps-Davis of Westboro stated “We are friendly with them” but still adds “we will not be friends with them.” Most of the conflict between the two groups has taken place on social media. Davis Hammet, a charity worker for Planting Peace, describes the Equality House’s social media interaction with Westboro saying “One time we tweeted them a picture of rainbow pancakes and asked them if they’d like to come over for breakfast. They just tweeted back that we should burn in hell.” Contrastingly Westboro is said to have challenged the Equality House to a strange variation on the ALS ice bucket challenge by dumping ice water on a “Hell is Eternal” placard.

YikYak: Harmless Fun or the Worst Thing to Hit College Campuses in Years?

YikYak is a new form of social media that has recently become extremely popular among college students.  It is an anonymous forum where one can post whatever they want about their school and the people that attend the school with them.  With the emergence of this new technology there are both people who love it and see it as fun way to interact anonymously with classmates and others who think that this form of social media is harmful and that its whole premise is grounds for anonymous cyber bullying.

This app was created and launched by Tyler Droll and Brooks Buffington both students at Furman University.  In three months the app already has 100,000 monthly active users and there are roughly 15,000 messages that go up every day (Crook). According to creator Tyler Droll “Yakking is the welcoming, authentic and anonymous version of tweeting”.  According to psychiatrist Keith Ablow this translates to a chat room where people can post his or her comments completely anonymously regardless of if they are untruthful, mean, or character-assassinating.  He also states that psychologically YikYak removes all human characteristics such as empathy and connecting with other human beings because when you are anonymous behind a screen these emotions are not there (Ablow).

When a student gets onto YikYak, they feel like they can do whatever they want because no one will ever know who it is and that gives them power. Some things posted on YikYak can harm a person’s self-confidence and reputation even if they aren’t true.

Since its launch YikYak has already received flak from many schools and organizations because of the ease of causing problems not only among people but also causing problems in whole communities and schools. There have been schools in Massachusetts, Chicago, Connecticut, and California who have had to evacuate because of shooting and bomb threats made on YikYak that are still unsolved.

YikYak has already infiltrated Bluffton University’s campus.  If you were to get onto the app right now there would be a newsfeed of a variety of things.  Some of these things are harmless and fun while other posts are vicious and target out specific people on campus.  These kinds of posts can deeply traumatize the people that they are directed at. How would you feel if you were the one being targeted? Would you want your reputation tarnished or your heart broken by a fellow classmate? Is what you are posting something that you would want to see about yourself? Would you post this post if everyone could see who was saying it? These are all things that you should consider before you post anything about anyone on this anonymous app.