Naturally, Microsoft probably isn't all that happy to see PowerPoint used in this way, but it's probably the most publicity a Microsoft Office app has gotten for a while.
Karen Owen's Powerpoint presentation was apparently so interesting that the friends she sent it to kept clicking "forward" in their email client. It eventually ended up in the inboxes of all 14,000 Duke undergraduates, including those involved. That's bad enough, but not all of the details, covering 13 different men, were flattering, either.
Karen Owen wrote her PowerPoint as though it was a thesis; the title, for example, was “An education beyond the classroom: excelling in the realm of horizontal academics.” The first slide said:
“Senior year and college in general often bring about certain situations that result in the seeking of so-called ‘sex.’ Until now, no studies have succeeded in developing a methodology for quantifying and ranking these so-called horizontal academics. In this study, we used data from four years at Duke University to create evaluation criteria for such encounters and applied these criteria to evaluated subjects, hopefully allowing for future maximization of enjoyment of such procedures.”While the media sites hosting the PowerPoint have redacted the names and blurred images, it's quite easy to find the complete report, including names and pictures (one word: BitTorrent).
Many of the participants in Karen Owen's PowerPoint presentation were apparently members of Duke's lacrosse team. That team certainly didn't need any further embarrassing publicity. Duke is one of the nation's most prestigious universities, but still sports a black eye from the 2006 lacrosse team scandal, when a stripper hired for a team party accused three team members of sexually assault. The charges were eventually dropped, but publicity hurt the school and the team.
Given all that history, team member participation in this "survey" surely isn't welcome. Some of the men have even called it harassment.
Karen Owne pointed out that fraternities make lists like this all the time. Still, two wrongs don't make a right. She told Jezebel, "I regret it with all my heart. I would never intentionally hurt the people that are mentioned on that."
Karen Owen may regret it, but she actually might get a job out of the PowerPoint. A HarperCollins editor wrote to Jezebel, “Even though I’m sure she’s horrified that her, uh, presentation, which was intended for a small group of friends, has gone viral, she’s a very good, funny writer, and I’m wondering if she has any interest in writing a book.”
While often these sorts of online SNAFUs live on and cause issues in the future, perhaps even causing employers to look askance at a potential employee, Karen Owen might actually get a job out of this PowerPoint presentation. A HarperCollins editor wrote to Jezebel,
Watch a Today Show report on the "thesis."