For CC ’14er Gabby Beans, last night’s Class Act was a welcome opportunity to, as the 75-page NSOP manual put it, “sit back, relax, and enjoy.” But she found that difficult to do with a thousand little kazoos buzzing in her ears, and the sounds of Michael Bublé inexplicably wafting over the freshpeople-packed room. Her report follows. PS: Write for us! Go to events and tell us what you see! Take pictures, help us with layout, hang out with us, do anything you’re good at. firstname.lastname@example.org.
After being herded in to Roone Arledge Auditorium like the bright-eyed freshman cattle we undoubtedly are, I encountered, alongside he more conventional event program, and a sporting event calendar, a miniature kazoo. That little kazoo foreshadowed the surreality of what lay ahead.
The performance began with a slideshow featuring a quiz about Columbia and Barnard’s history: SEAS was the “School of Mines”, etc.. Next they dimmed the lights for another slideshow filled with more of that “important” information. I think it’s safe to say that maybe two of our class of over 1,600 actually read this info, as the combination of Michael Buble and the incessant cheering of OLs was not conducive to attentiveness.
The program continued with a skit involving Alma Mater on the phone with Dean Shollenberger. Next followed a surprisingly enjoyable and well-made 50’s style NSOP PSA video. In addition to providing “real talk” about what we new kids can expect from our NSOP experience filtered through a kitschy, “Leave it to Beaver”-esque lens, there was excellent use of the word “willikers.” Things only got stranger from then on. (New!) Basketball Coach Kyle Smith performed what he called “a little 1989 diddy from Public Enemy” and Justin Ifill, CC’06 and Vice President of the Columbia College Young Alumni, beatboxed with alarming proficiency.
However, the highlight of the event, the Varsity Show presentation, truly engaged the audience. Highlights included the opening dance-number replete with admissions letter envelopes and a skit about RAs. Although enjoyable, I found the number involving the boy in love with his phone slightly foreboding (Editor’s note: ROLM phone skit– a Class Act favorite for years! Columbia’s ROLM phones were also featured on This American Life, hosted by Ira Glass). Hopefully in the next week, none of us will be so lonely as to look to an automated voice messaging system for love and attention.
The program concluded with a presentation of the class banners and a procession of the new students down Broadway through the 116th street Gates. The procession meant parading past manic OLs, disgruntled Morningside Heights residents, CUMB, and an especially spirited dude with a killer Jamaican accent.
Even though the OLs seemed genuinely psychotic, I would be lying if I said that it didn’t make me happy to see people so excited for our entry to Columbia. Mr. Ifill said that “before the cyclone begins [we should] make time for some fun.” Class Act was bizarre, but it was most definitely fun. Who knows, maybe next year I’ll be one of those orange clad-maniacs.