For-Profit Blues

The explosion of for-profit 'proprietary' colleges, some NYC teachers charge, is leaving too many low-income students without degrees—and with a pile of debt

Freelance writer Rob Sgobbo's article "For-Profit Blues" was removed from the website after the Voice learned that Sgobbo had invented a character, "Tamicka Bourges," who claimed she had amassed a large debt at Berkeley College without obtaining a degree.

We first learned that there might be a problem when Berkeley College denied that one of its spokespersons, Kelly Meisberger, had spoken to Sgobbo. Berkeley later added that it had no record of Bourges as a student. At about the same time, the GAO called to inform us that there was no spokesperson there named "Matt Fraser," whom the story quoted.

TCI College president Bill Talbot adds that Sgobbo invented material about his school as well, including a nonexistent student and spokesperson.

Illustration by Danny Hellman

Details

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The Voice apologizes sincerely to Berkeley College, TCI, and the GAO that this false material appeared in our education supplement,

Tony Ortega
Editor
The Village Voice

 
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11 comments
Lisa
Lisa

From my personal experiences with Berkeley College, I have always found that it is a great school offering support for students and faculty. The school offers students a prime opportunity to continue education and receive a well deserved degree.

Rob
Rob

Just fire the so & so who besmirched the names and reps of these institutions!! Make certain his name is plastered all over so that any [other] self-respecting periodical will be on the look-out for this sorry excuse for a journalist!!

Tony
Tony

I hope the Village Voice is doing something to correct this atrocity they committed against Berkeley College. Sayin "I'm sorry" does not cut it.

NYC123
NYC123

This is appalling. He is attacking preparatory schools and their academic integrity but maybe Berkeley College would have taught him that you can't make up sources and quotes in this "Google Age" that we live in something I guess the prestigious Columbia University forgot to teach.

I have encountered many students who attend or attended Berkeley College in New York and they are and continue to be successful in their careers and lives. I know this because I work in Higher Education and see it everyday. Yes there are shady For-Profit schools out there that need to be closed but I know that Berkeley College is not one of them.

Shame on Sgobbo for lying and shame on the Village Voice for reporting and printing this without doing enough Fact Checking.

Student05
Student05

I am personally a student at Berkeley College and this is by far one of the craziest stories I have ever come across. Berkeley College takes pride in their students and is there for them every step of the way. I have not once had a problem with the College and actually have received much more attention than I ever expected. They are full of compassion towards their students and are willing to help us succeed even through the toughest of times. I will be graduating from Berkeley in the Summer of 2011 with a degree in Marketing and I couldn't be more proud to say I am part of the Berkeley Family. As a student, I have had so many positive experiences with the staff, professors, and even the maintenance people on campus. For someone to claim they "amassed a large debt at Berkeley College without obtaining a degree" is completely out of line. You get what you pay for, and in the end, you walk away with a degree that you deserve!

Breathtaking fail
Breathtaking fail

You fire Wayne Barrett so you can run J-School fabricators? You guys are sick.

Walteryost
Walteryost

were there any red flags at columbia or any of the other universities he attended that sgobbo was someone who made up the news as he went along? hard to believe this was his first stab at fabricating.

American Dreamer
American Dreamer

This is a terrible affront to the honorable name of the Village Voice. It is my sincere hope that the Village Voice does the right think and takes legal action against this young writer instead of just yanking his story. On behalf of my friends and family on Gawker I must insist upon it.

Cecilrhodes908
Cecilrhodes908

The author's data is incorrect. CUNY's Hostos Community College has a graduation rate of 10 percent after three years according to the federal IPEDS source. No CUNY community college comes close to a 50 percent rate in two -- or even three years. Before you publish, do your homework.

 
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