Daily Archive: March 6, 2018



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1878 called and it wants its goddamned wooden death trap back.

It was once said that all great designers, whether they design skyscrapers or artwork, challenge themselves to design the perfect chair: beautiful when seen, yet invisible when in use. I’m pretty sure I heard that on a podcast at some point. In any case, Columbia clearly didn’t recruit any “great designers” when considering which chairs they should use to populate the campus. Save a select few, all the chairs are wrong.

Take John Jay dining hall. The chairs are uncomfortable to sit in and take up so much room, from their thick handles to their round-seated design. This makes it tough to navigate around the dining hall; the spaces between chairs are so small you either have to squeeze between them, possibly spilling your food and invading the personal space of others, or take a lap around the entire dining hall, searching for an inch of space you can use to your advantage. Their thick design makes them durable, but bulky. It’s safe to say the chairs are wrong.

The study desks in Pupin have the opposite problem; they’re made out of a low-grade plastic, with a tiny piece of laminated wood to use as a desk. Besides blowing away in the wind, the biggest problem these chairs have is the unappealing tilt of the desks which, when combined with the smoothness of the “wood”, makes it unsafe to put anything on them lest it slide off seconds later. Their lightweight composition also causes the desk to swivel easily; more than once I’ve rested my elbow on the side of the desk, only to have it flap up and crash back down in the middle of someone saying something about Dante and capitalism or whatever. The poor quality makes these chair-desks unsubstantial and unusable. These chairs are definitely wrong.

The Butler chairs, as seen in the image above, combine the worst of both worlds: uncomfortable design and lightweight materials.  After a long day pretending to be productive, my back always aches from the un-ergonomic backrest composed of wooden rods. More than once I’ve been tempted to smash the chair over my knee, which would probably take as much strength as pulling a tissue out of a tissue box. While the chairs may be right given the context (all students in Butler give off the appearance of quality with no structure underneath), they are unequivocally wrong.

Unless you’re pulling off an Inception-style dream-dive, you don’t need to occasionally experience the stomach-churning feeling of freefall, sorry not sorry.

Don’t even get me started on these Library Tycoon wannabees. What possible justification could you have for wanting chairs that tilt back a little bit, other than wanting to scare students half to death? My current theory is that in order to increase membership rates into the Bloomingdale Insane Asylum, they stashed these chairs in cafés nearby to induce people into insanity. Then they gathered the chairs back up when they opened Columbia. No one has ever actually had the thought “Hm, you know what I’d love right now? If my stomach went from a solid to a plasma” while studying. Also, the softness of the cushions juxtaposes badly with the hardness of the wood. These chairs are wrong.

Do you have a least favorite chair? Yell at the person next to you about it or maybe put it in the comments.



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This picture really spoke to me – that’s why I decided to major in Archaeology.

If you’re a second-semester sophomore in CC, March 6-March 9 is major declaration season! That’s right, it’s finally time to choose between Option 1 (Econ) and Option 2 (Comparative Lit in Gaelic & Tibetan) – you know which one your family wants you to do, but the stock exchange is looking so ripe this year…

For most majors, you can use the online declaration system. However, if you’re declaring in one of the following majors, you need to get written departmental approval by taking this form to the appropriate department. You will need to get your advising dean’s signature and bring the completed form to the Berick Center for Student Advising in 403 Lerner.

These departments require additional approval:

  • Archaeology (965 Schermerhorn Extension)
  • Architecture (500 Diana)
  • Art History and Visual Arts (joint major; permission required from Visual Arts: 310 Dodge)
  • Astronomy (1328 Pupin)
  • Astrophysics (1328 Pupin or 704 Pupin)
  • Biochemistry (211A Havemeyer or 1208 Northwest Corner)
  • Comparative Literature & Society (Heyman Center, B-101)
  • Creative Writing (609 Kent)
  • Drama and Theatre Arts (507 Milbank Hall)
  • Earth & Environmental Sciences (556-557 Schermerhorn Extension)
  • East Asian Languages & Cultures (meet with Prof. Anderer, pja1@columbia.edu)
  • Film Studies (513 Dodge)
  • Hispanic Studies (Casa Hispánica)
  • Italian (502 Hamilton)
  • Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies (513 Knox)
  • Physics (704 Pupin)
  • Portuguese Studies (Casa Hispánica)
  • Sustainable Development (Hogan Hall Suite A110)
  • Urban Studies (meet with Prof. Yatrakis, kby1@columbia.edu)
  • Visual Arts (310 Dodge)

For more information, see this page.

If you’re a Barnard sophomore, the deadline for declaring was March 1. I just declared today, so don’t worry too much – just get your form in before spring break. The Barnard form requires both departmental approval and your first/sophomore year advisor’s signature. Check this list for procedures by department.

Happy declaring!!

Me in 5 years via Flickr



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img March 06, 20182:00 pmimg 1 Comments

Meet today’s CU Women in STEM profile, Amita Shukla, who’ll be shaping the way that governments use technology in the future!

Bwog Science is back with CU Women in STEM, where we highlight the amazing women in science at Columbia. Today’s profile is from Amita Shukla (SEAS ’20), whose interests lie in computer science and public policy!

What subjects are you interested in? I’m majoring in Computer Engineering and minoring in Political Science. I’m interested in just about everything though! When I study abroad in two semesters I’m going to deliberately study something that isn’t either of those.

How did you get interested in your subject? Can you remember the moment that got you hooked? It actually wasn’t too long ago that electrical engineering and public policy, my two big current interests, were among the most boring things I could imagine. They both have pretty steep learning curves before things start to get interesting, and that’s basically where most people get alienated from them.

While I’ve been interested in building and designing things for a long time, which is a typical engineering backstory, I’ve always been a lot better at subjects in the humanities, like English.

I started computer engineering mainly for the intellectual rigor. Doing something that’s not your strength rewires your brain really noticeably. I feel like a lot more methods of thinking are available to me now, and my headspace has become a lot more varied and interesting. I’m staying with the major because I’ve started getting past the initial discomfort and found the subject matter to be really elegant and worthwhile.

Most important research/extracurricular experiences so far: This academic year, I’ve been working at the U.S. Department of State, creating a platform using interactive maps to help new diplomats get acquainted with their regions before deployment. Last year, I interned at the Harmony with Nature initiative at the U.N. and helped build a platform for scientists and policymakers to collaborate on proposing and passing international laws on sustainability.

What are your career goals? I want to work in the public sector to help governments build data aggregation and analysis tools, which would allow the government to work more efficiently and develop closer relationships to people.

Favorite place to study on campus? Watson Library in Uris. The space I take up in the B-school is the payment I require for putting up with pitches about joining their AI-blockchain-neural-networks-for-Uber in exchange for 1% equity.

Click here to learn more about Amita (and to read her great advice)



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img March 06, 201812:29 pmimg 2 Comments

The concept of “Beyond Barnard” conjures up way more majestic images than it should.

Didn’t catch last night’s meeting of Barnard’s Student Government Association last night? We can’t imagine what you were doing that was more important. In any case, Barnard Bureau Chief Dassi Karp was there, and she reports back about Beyond Barnard and other initiatives that just might work.

Barnard’s SGA meetings have fallen into a consistent pattern in the past months: administrative or student guests, time for questions, then vote on an endowment fund proposal. This week, the guests were Nikki Youngblood Giles and A-J Aronstein, Associate Deans of Beyond Barnard. The two spoke about, you guessed it, Beyond Barnard, the school’s new initiative/department that combines certain student services. The meeting ended up being a whirlwind of assurances of quality and organization with illustrations of how things might not actually get better. Sound fascinating? I actually learned some things–read on and you can too.

Beyond Barnard combines Barnard career development, student employment, internships, and fellowship programs into one space and one integrated team of seventeen full time staff. Career development and student employment reorganized themselves last year as well (I spent such a long time in the wrong office once, before I realized), but hopefully this time it will stick. “We had all these great services,”said Youngblood Giles, “and we wanted to bring them all together in a way that will target resources from the very beginning.” This involves creating intentional activities and programs under a “single and unified entity.” This is a big promise, as the reorganization hopes to create a clear and helpful system instead of the mess of services that have existed until now. A common complaint among Barnard students is the need be savvy about using employment and advising services, instead of them being readily accessible to all.

Beyond Beyond Barnard after the jump



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img March 06, 201811:34 amimg 2 Comments

$$ money baby

Did you ever think Bwog was gonna give you money advice? Yeah…neither did we…but here we are! Enjoy the first in a series of Bwog Finance columns, where we advise you on how best to save/spend your $$$.

The “best” bank account depends on what you’re looking for. Is the best bank the one that doesn’t invest in fossil fuels (or other bad shit–note: this bank does not exist)? Or is it the one that offers you the best bang for your buck? We’re going to go with the latter.

Most savings accounts offer a measly interest rate of less than 1%, and most checking accounts offer none at all. On top of this, some bank accounts require a minimum monthly balance, or a minimum number of monthly deposits, or they charge a monthly fee. Here’s a lowdown of bank account options for Columbia student. They all offer online/mobile banking, as well as chip-enabled debit cards, and low or no minimum opening deposit.

Santander: The Student Value and Simply Right Checking accounts are both solid options. Santander has ATMs on campus, as well as a small office in Lerner. There’s no monthly fee for the Student Value account, nor for the Simply Right account, as long as you use it once a month. The downside is that neither of these accounts earn interest!

More bang for your buck after the jump



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Because this is exactly what we need more of.

What’s Happening In The World: 

Hopefully some news that will high-ten your spirits – A district in Estonia, recently having undergone a government shake-up, has voted to make the cannabis leaf their new flag. Even though marijuana is illegal in Estonia, the mayor is on board with it. (BBC)

Happening In the US: On Monday, the Florida State Senate narrowly passed a gun control measure in a 20-18 vote. The bill proposes raising the minimum age to purchase a firearm as well as instituting a three-day waiting period for most weapons. Now it’s up to the House of Representatives and Governor Rick Scott to agree, and, well, let’s try not to be too optimistic about that. (BBC)

What’s Happening In NYC: It’s going to snow! Again! The city can expect 6-10 inches on Wednesday from a nor’easter that’s hitting the, um, Northeast. There’s only two weeks left of winter, but like midterms, they have to drag it out as long as possible. (amNY)

What’s Happening At Columbia: Tonight from 6 – 7:30 pm in the Diana Oval, “1968 and Its Afterlives: Reflecting on Campus Activism Past, Present, and Future”.  Given how the administration handled student protests against CUCR’s speakers last fall and against Barnard’s own president this spring, this could be interesting.

Bop Of The Day: Ansel Elgort’s permanent smirk annoys me as much as the next person, but his song is a banger, so here you go.

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