On April 22, 2018, an article was posted on Odyssey's site titled, "Sorry Not Sorry, My Parents Paid For My Coachella Trip." The article was written from the perspective of a millennial girl named Kaycie Allen and described her trip to Coachella that was bankrolled by her parents. The article went on to state that Kaycie was tired of being made to feel guilty for all of the things that her parents have given her such as her trip to Coachella, an Escalade and even a dolphin.
In summary, Kaycie revealed herself as, for lack of better words, a rich, privileged snob. As you can imagine, the Internet went crazy. The article received over a quarter million views and sparked numerous debates.
It was soon revealed that Kaycie Allen was not, in fact, a college-aged girl, but rather a 28-year-old man named Chris Spies who applied to write for Odyssey at a university in New York under the pretense that he had graduated from there. When this information came to the attention of Odyssey, they removed the article and replaced it with a message saying that the information in the article was unable to be verified and, thus, was removed.
However, the buzz about Kaycie Allen and her (or rather his) Coachella article did not end here. Articles on other sites began surfacing that criticized Odyssey for allowing a 28-year-old man to “catfish" his way on to the site. One article from BuzzFeed used language such as, “the site's notorious reliance on clickbait, sourced mostly from college-aged women who receive minimal editing and bear the brunt of the internet outrage cycle," making Odyssey sound like a company with no integrity or regard for its creators.
I'm not here to point fingers or say who's at fault for allowing a fake creator to join the site. Rather, I'm here to share my experience with Odyssey, which is very different from what BuzzFeed described.
I am the president of Odyssey's team at Miami University and have been with the team for almost two years. Before becoming president, I served as both a content creator and contributing editor, so I know pretty much all the ins and outs of Odyssey. I've always loved writing, so after my freshman year of college I sought out Odyssey in the hopes that it would be a creative outlet for me. And it has been just that.
In my two years with Odyssey, I have had the opportunity to learn and gain so much. I've been able to share what I'm passionate about with thousands of people, which is an incredible feeling. I've grown not only as a writer but also as a person as I've been able to delve deeper into these passions. I've also had the chance to grow as a leader, and I strive to make writing for Odyssey the best experience possible for my team. I could go on and on about how Odyssey has positively impacted me, but so as not to bore you, I want to set the record straight on a few of the things about Odyssey.
Odyssey is a platform that strives to enable young people to not only talk about the issues they feel passionate about, but also to create conversations about these passions by getting others involved in the discussion. Our goal is not to find writers who have an extensive background in writing and who are pursuing a career in journalism. Our goal is to find writers who have a passion both for writing and the things that they write about. A common misconception about Odyssey is that we'll accept anyone who applies, and while mistakes can happen and people like Chris Spies can pose as Kaycie Allen, this does not mean that Odyssey is an inferior site. Even large publications such as The Guardian, The New York Times and Rolling Stone have caught writers in the act of falsifying stories for their articles.
Odyssey gives young writers the opportunity to have their voices heard in a capacity that they may otherwise never have. For this reason, I stand with Odyssey. Some silly article about Coachella written by a guy wanting to try out a new voice for his writing isn't enough to damage Odyssey's reputation or change what they stand for.