I don't see this as a big deal. It's not unheard of for students to write papers on TV shows (any kind: soaps, game shows, reality shows, you name it). I don't know the content of this paper but if you can make the show clearly relatable to the subject at hand, then I don't see the problem.
I definitely agree that the show has lost its consistent creative peak. They lost it years ago. Not worth having a show anymore if all you can crank out is 2, if you're lucky, 3 decent episodes tops a season after that point. My issue is the fandom pot-shots. I just don't see how that's necessary.