Written by Asya Sagnak
Yesterday, the Columbia School of Journalism hosted a two-hour long discussion on “The American Dream” in the context of modern democracy — a broad topic of conversation that could cover anything from immigration to belonging. Wooed by the prospect of knowledgeable speakers, open debate, and free lunch, Staff Writer Asya Sagnak dutifully skipped a midterm revision session to check it out.
“Awakening Our Democracy” was the first installation in a new conversation series on the race, ethnicity, and justice issues at the forefront of America’s consciousness. Held in Pulitzer Hall, the event featured a wide array of speakers from different backgrounds: TED Fellow and vocal Muslim-American comedian Negin Farsad, Columbia University Assistant Professor Van C. Tran, and Dream Action Coalition Co-Director Cesar Vargas, with Al Jazeera analyst Duarte Geraldino serving as curator. Although the title of the lecture prioritized democracy, the speakers were very clearly focused on current attitudes towards immigration — how have they evolved with time? How does language impact our point of view? Armed with personal experiences of injustice, they provided us with an understanding of not only different forms of oppression but also different strategies to combat that oppression in our day-to-day lives.
Farsad started the discussion with a simple statement: “So… guess who just crushed the MTA?” Her excitement was clearly uncontainable, and she waved her arms around her head as she elaborated on the federal lawsuit she had recently won against the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. As an avid “social justice comedian” (a term Farsad uses to label those like herself who seek political action through the use of satire), Farsad tried to counter Islamophobic subway advertisements by creating her own series of satirical response advertisements that aimed to normalize the word “Muslim” in American society. The day they were scheduled to go up, the MTA banned “political viewpoint messages” and rejected her proposal. Farsad sued over violation of her First Amendment freedoms.
“They proved our point,” she explained. “Our ads were meant to be about how everyday messages could be politicised or made violent just through the inclusion of the word “Muslim.” Examples of Farsad’s ads include posters saying The Ugly Truth About Muslims: They Make Great Frittata Recipes! and Fact: Muslims Invented Justin Timberlake. She went on to clarify: “Funny stuff, dirt bag comedian stuff – nothing charged. Either that, or I’ve missed some sort of recent food scandal, and frittatas are now a hot button political issue.”
Tran, on the other hand, prefered a method of political activism he called “one-on-one change.” This method places emphasis on personal relationships between immigrants and natural-born citizens and tries to eradicate the existence of a clear social boundary between the two groups. So, the problem arises from people of minority status being understood as a component of American life, but not actually being considered a component of America. “The way many people see it now, it’s us and then them,” Tran stated, his voice grave. “But if enough personal links are made between the two groups, the them will become the us — and there’s no way we would mistreat our own people.”
Out of all the speakers, Vargas was the most emotional, perhaps because he was the one to share some of the most personal experiences with the audience. “I’m an undocumented immigrant,” he stated, with a pause. “My mother walked across the desert with nothing but the clothes on her back just to get me here. How could I be ashamed of that?” His point is crucial, and under-emphasised in most conversations. Why does the word “immigrant” carry so much shame? Just like “Muslim,” it seems to be weighed down with an inherent stigma — a stigma that is used to pigeonhole very large and very varied populations into a reduced parody of themselves. As Vargas pointed out, immigrants are seen as inferiors even after they are granted citizenship, which negates the argument that they are scorned on legal grounds. It seems as if xenophobia in the United States runs rampant still, the irony of which was pointed out by Farsad, who laughed and challenged the audience with a question — “How many of you are really American? By that, I mean, how many of you are native American?”
As the lecture was coming to a close, the topic of immigrants within the Columbia community was brought up by a graduate student sitting in the front row, who identified herself as undocumented with a nod towards Vargas. The speakers seemed to agree on one key issue — immigrant or not, minority or not, we are all part of the Columbia University community, and that gives us a sense of belonging a lot of people don’t have access to. “It’s better here because you have to build connections with people from all across the world,” said Tran, “and with familiarity comes acceptance.”
From the perspective of an international student coming from a Muslim background, I couldn’t agree more — especially with the concluding points about acceptance at Columbia. Of course, that’s not to say that oppression is non-existent within the boundaries of campus. Far from it. As Farsad says: “People will always find a reason to discriminate. I was born here but I’ve been told to go back to my country multiple times.” But there is truth in how the University binds us all together — although we went through dramatically different processes to get here, each of us are here, sharing the same cultural experience of Morningside Heights. And hopefully, the administration’s push for more open discussion on the issue will only serve to further this on-campus integration.
Tags: columbia community, damn wish i could afford to skip a midterm revision tho, down with stigmas! up with fritattas!, i luv emotions, i want a good fritatta recipe, immigration, islam, lecturehop, luv comedians man luv em, muslim, omg yay my bb asya is such a good reporter :') <3, this is so cool, yoooo justin timberlake lmao
Written by Mia Lindheimer
Have you ever heard of moresche? No? Staff writer Mia Lindheimer heads to the Italian Academy to discover what it’s all about—and why no one but renaissance music enthusiasts seems to know about it.
Opera, to most regular people, is simply a high class way to entertain oneself with music. It’s so exclusively high class, in fact, that you’ll probably have to learn an entirely new language to understand fully. Moresche, however, isn’t opera: it’s kind of pre-opera, with lots of similar musical flairs but also a little more relatability and a lot more (often crude) humor. That’s what makes a moresche performance actually pretty entertaining to watch, even if you’re the youngest person in the room. (Trust me, if you’re a Bwog reader and you go to a moresche concert, you will almost definitely be the youngest person in the room).
Moresche, put into a broad context, is a form of commedia dell’arte, which can be basically understood as renaissance Italy’s Saturday Night Live. Performers would often wear masks and impersonate stereotypical figures from Italian life: you’ve got your pathetic street boy trying to woo a girl out of his league, the annoyingly witty bachelor, the lofty rich boy, and the basis of moresche, African slaves.
Using slave culture as comedy here troubles me on a pretty fundamental level. Aside from the blatant and cruel racism, which was of course a seemingly inherent part of European culture at the time, the way moresche uses very direct attacks to personal identities of the slaves to derive laughs from an audience is pretty despicable.
Before the performance, the director of the Ensemble gave a talk about the creation of their performance, where they found the information about the wedding at which all these pieces were performed, and a bit of what European culture was like at the time. However, all he really mentioned about this genre’s focus on parodying slave culture was that, during the early 16th century, Italy (and Europe as a whole) was experiencing an influx in African slave labor. While it’s easy to brush off the racist humor with the acknowledgement that it was simply part of their culture back then, is that really how we should take it?
During the performance, the woman next to me was having a truly fantastic time. She laughed (albeit politely and quietly) at almost every joke, even though they were rather uncomfortable when framed against the significantly less (at least blatantly) racist background of New York City in the modern day. Here are a few examples of the jokes in the songs (the gibberish was a common way to make fun of Kanuri, the language of the Bornu empire that most of the slaves came from):
“Lucia: Giorgio, you are filthy,
you pissed the bed!
You tell me it’s sweat like wilting leaves
—he smells like fish!
Bornu man, unfaithful!
Zeekay leezee, dirinidirinidina! Bastard who comes from Bornu!
Giorgio: I am from Bornu.
“Katarina: The pox can come to you,
Like a wretch, you son of a bitch.
Get out of here, drink your fill
in the kitchen like a black cat.
Giorgio: Since you don’t want to show yourself,
I’m leaving forever.
Katarina: Away, slave thief,
Son of a bitch,
My lady would be found, never,
In Georgio’s arms, never,
behind any door, never”
“Giorgio: All black people are struck dumb
when they see white people.”
Though the music proved entertaining, the voices beautiful, and the instruments well-played, I left the performance thinking a little more about why many in the audience laughed at a paid maid treating a black man like an animal who should drink off the kitchen floor. It makes sense to me that this genre is not one of Italy’s most popular; though full of perky beats and fun, audience members are forced to face racism head-on, and I suspect that isn’t so fun for many.
Magical costuming via The Italian Academy
Tags: "he smells like fish" is another good line, "you tell me it's sweat like wilting leaves" is my new go-to sexting quote, commedia dell arte, gotta love the italians, it aint over till the fat lady sings, moresche, oh you italians and ur funny descriptions, opera, tbh i want to see this, ye olde bwog
Written by Juliet Larsen
Got a bad score on your calc midterm? Can’t go out with friends this weekend because you’re too busy studying? Or maybe you just got that bug that’s been going around campus this time of year?
Either way, this playlist is here for you, to help you commiserate and maybe cry over your homework if you need to. (Not that I did that, of course). Here’s your go-to mixtape for teen and post-teen angst.
We Rule the School by Belle and Sebastian: The title of this song is deceptively confident (just like you, right before midterms), while in fact it is a woeful and beautiful song.
Honeymoon by Lana del Rey: If you need an escape from work, listen to Lana’s moody dream pop ballad and be instantly transported to an era of forgotten glamour and troubled wives.
Such Great Heights by Iron and Wine: This stripped-down cover of The Postal Service’s famous love song is soothing on a stressful night.
Between the Bars by Elliot Smith: I mean, of course Bwog doesn’t advocate drinking, but….if you’re of age and feel like crying over a beer and Russian homework, there is no song better than this one.
Helplessly Hoping by Crosby Stills Nash and Young: The title is self-explanatory in this case: if you’re helplessly hoping for an A on your Gen Chem midterm, you gotta listen to this one. Ignore the fact that it was written about forlorn lovers and not a college test.
Chelsea Hotel #2 by Leonard Cohen: “I need you, I don’t need you, I need you” is part of the chorus in this song, and can easily be applied to both your Nyquil cough syrup for the cold you’ve got, or your English homework. Do you need it? Who knows. But you need this song in your life.
Off You by The Breeders: Listen to this one when you feel spaced-out and just want a tender indie rock song to experience feelings with. It was featured in the movie Her too, so maybe listen while you take a study break and form a meaningful relationship with Siri. Siri always listens to you.
Take Care by Beach House: This is the perfect jam for when you’re drifting off to sleep. Dreamy and smooth, Beach House even sings “I’ll take care of you, if you ask me to.” What more could you want from this lovely lullaby?
Check out the playlist below:
As midterms become a terrible reality for most at this point in the semester, we had staffers Betsy Ladyzhets and Phoebe Newton put together some haikus to help you get through the stress of studying and your woes in Butler.
Boy sits in Butler.
He can’t remember when he
Was not in Butler.
Professor stops speaking.
Silence – then one hand shoots up:
“This on the midterm?”
“When did you last sleep?”
“I think it was Tuesday. You?”
“I don’t even know.”
You drown in flashcards.
Rivers, lakes, seas of flashcards.
Not enough flashcards.
All we want is to
Sleep. To rest. To stop. To end.
To cease existing.
Tags: @bio: just f*ck me up, bwog gets artsy, bwog gets creative, gotta love midterms, haikus, help my grades have fallen and they cant get up, i dont even own sweats man :'(, i dont remember sleeping either lol, midterms more like memeterms, poetry, take econ they said it was easy they said, these are too real
After canceling part of her tour in 2013 and taking a bit of a hiatus, Selena Gomez has finally admitted to the public that she is living with lupus, a chronic autoimmune disease that weakens the immune system. Lupus is a serious invisible disability that can make sufferers prone to anemia, viruses, and even heart attacks and stroke. Selena has undergone chemotherapy and we wish her a healthy recovery! (CNN)
The California Coastal Commission has made a splash in the world of animal rights recently. This Thursday, they ruled that Seaworld must not only expand the space in their exhibits, but also that there would be no further breeding of its animals. If you don’t think that’s cool, just wait until you find out the number of people attended the Long Beach Convention Center to debate this issue: exactly 420. Equal animal rights, am I right? Pretty rad. (NBC)
In one rather confusing twist of fate, Donald Trump invited a Colombian woman onstage during one of his rallies this week. The Trumpster made sure to show his affection for her presence, and publicly kissed her on the head. She enthusiastically proclaimed, “I’m Hispanic and I vote for Mr. Trump!” This means he’s not racist now, right? (USA Today)
Yikes! Spooks! Gadzooks! The most bone-chilling discovery of this Halloween season aren’t just the tacky Minion costumes that plague every Spirit Halloween store. Nope, this is much worse. According to crop experts in Illinois, there may be a pumpkin shortage this year! Better stock up on your orange buddies while you can, folks. (CBS)
The tragic couple via Shutterstock
Tags: 420 blaze it, 420 whales, 420 whales it, dont h8 selena we all have bad exes, GOP stands for Good Old Pumpkins, i love pumpkins, oh trump when will you go away, oh trump wil we ever grow old of you, pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkins and trumpkins, save the whales yo, tbh selena probs was infected by justin bieber's horrible attitude, the whales appreciate it, whats going to happen to the pumpkin spice lattes tho, why is trump kissing this random woman tho
A shadowy group styling itself as “Senior Aboveground” made itself known with an email to the entire senior class a few hours ago. The email appears to be some kind of strange, cryptic, free verse poetry, composed by those who would rather be conspiring than studying for midterms.
The email reads as follows:
To hell with Senior “Ünderground”
We’re legit as fuck.
We don’t hide in a hole.
We’re on the roof of Low.
We also know that $15 ≠ $5.
And we don’t have two balls an umlaut weighing us down.
Look out for more soon.
Who is running this strange new organization? Is it at all related to the slightly-better-known Senior Underground, or is it something else entirely? What does “$15 ≠ $5″ mean? What events do they have planned? Why did they choose the roof of Low instead of the roof of Butler for their meetings? Are there snacks at their meetings? Can they really call themselves “Senior Aboveground” when, technically, they’re still underground in the conventional sense of the word? This email has truly left us here at Bwog with more questions than answers.
More on this shadowy organization as it develops.
The majestic Hawkma via Bwog Archives
Tags: "two balls an umlaut", bwog also wants senior aboveground to continue sending cryptic emails - this has been fun, bwog brings you the scoop on all columbia news whether underground aboveground or just plain on the ground, bwog wants senior aboveground to explain itself, conspiracybwog, hawkma, is columbia possibly the set for a new spy movie, like if you remember who hawkma is, seniors 2016, strange free verse poetry
Written by Sarah Dahl
Last night, The Stop Mass Incarceration Network hosted a panel about police brutality, featuring Cornel West. We sent Bwogger Sarah Dahl to check out the event and report back on the discussion.
Last night in Roone Auditorium, despite resistance from the University in securing a location, Columbia students and The Stop Mass Incarceration Network hosted a panel of speakers condemning police terror. The panel included some big names: philosopher and Union Theological professor Cornel West; Vagina Monologues playwright Eve Ensler; writer, Columbia film professor, and former Black Panther Jamal Joseph; Revolutionary Communist Party USA founder Carl Dix; Columbia Law professor Kimberlé Crenshaw; and activist Nicholas Heyward Sr., whose son was unlawfully shot by an New York police officer in 1994.
Though finalization of a location came less than 24 hours before the the event, the auditorium was full with students from across the city. During the day before the panel, student activists used their voices and flyers to announce the talk on College Walk and Low Steps. In addition, 3,000 people were invited to the event on Facebook.
The turnout to the panel was well-deserved. Each of the panelists delivered powerful speeches, using personal stories, history, facts, and emotion, to ask why police terror is so prevalent, and demanding that we fight for change.
Written by Juliet Larsen
It’s Thursday and we have yet another fun story found deep in Columbia’s archives. Before we danced to Vampire Weekend at Bacchanal, The Grateful Dead apparently played a show on Low Steps. Music Maven Juliet Larsen brings us the tale.
Remember that time when The Grateful Dead played an exclusive concert for Columbia during the protests of 1968? It’s okay, most current students don’t, despite it being an odd and important piece of the school’s history.
Long before Ferris Booth Commons was known for its ridiculously long pasta line and too-many-options soda machines, there was a revolution occurring – right on the terrace of good ol’ Ferris.
That’s right, it was 1968 and people were ready to fight. There was a war going on, both in Vietnam and within the Columbia campus.
Starting April 23, 1968, the students of CU rallied together in protest of both the research for the Vietnam War that Columbia funded (gross), as well as the gymnasium under construction on public Morningside Park territory that only allowed minimal access to the Harlem residents it surrounded.
Tags: #tbt, can you imagine if the police (Sting's band) came to campus, columbia students make change happen!, confirmation that ferris has always had quality music, how can we get the police (Sting's band) to come to campus, how hard do you think it was to find a seat in ferris that day, i mean it's practically impossible already ... and then you add in a live rock concert, the era of sex drugs and rock n' roll is still going strong in carmen tbh
Written by Megan Fillion
Yesterday, a panel called “Refugees and Migrants on the Move: The Moment of Truth for the EU and the Middle East?” was held in IAB. We sent Bwogger Megan Fillion to see what the panelists had to say about the topic.
“Idealists stubbornly insist on giving the same rights to refugees that are given to citizens.”
That statement was a strange start to a three-hour panel about the refugee crisis currently occurring in Europe and the Middle East. Professor Elzar Barkan, Director of Columbia’s Human Rights and Humanitarian Policy Concentration, boldly started off his introduction with this claim and never really returned to it, rendering most of the audience uncomfortable and confused. Unfortunately, this was not the only incoherent and slightly inappropriate line uttered during this event.
The first panel, moderated by Dirk Salmons, the Director of the Humanitarian Policy track in SIPA, was mainly a discussion about the refugee crisis from a more theoretical and academic standpoint.
Michael Doyle, a panelist and Columbia professor , started his argument with a rather interesting remark: Because most of the refugees today flee their countries due to economic downfall or political tumult, refugees do not fulfill the “standard of persecution” set in the 1951 UNHRC convention. This convention stated that a country is obligated to take in refugees if they are subject to genocide or direct physical violence inflicted by the regime in power. Therefore, because the refugees are fleeing from a different type of violence than the one explicitly described in the convention, countries aren’t technically obliged to take them in. Doyle appealed for the modernization of such documents to fit the situation we see today.
Yes, those incredible rumors you heard are true: there are free bagels on campus! Right now! If you drop everything and run over to Carman, there might still be some poppy-seed ones left!
Every year around this time, CCSC hosts Bagelpalooza, a celebration of the most important values of any college experience: talking to new people, the struggle to pull yourself out of bed in the mornings, and free food. They bring the bagels to various Columbia residence halls on different mornings during the fall semester. (You can check out the Facebook event here.) The schedule is as follows:
Thursday, Oct. 8 – Carman
Thursday, Oct. 15 – John Jay
Wednesday, Oct. 28 – Schapiro
Monday, Nov. 9 – EC/Wien
Tuesday, Nov. 24 – McBain
Monday, Dec. 7 – Broadway/Hogan
Today, the bagels will be at Carman until noon. Bagels are advertised to come with free coffee and smiles from your favorite CCSC members.
Happy bagel via Shutterstock
Tags: bwog loves bagels. especially free bagels, ccsc, free food, the bagelpalooza hype is real, the real question is: what kinds of condiments are they offering with these bagels, what's better than free bagels? free coffee and bagels, when will bagelpalooza come to barnard though (sga we're looking at you)
Today, the New York Historical Society will unveil plans for its new Center for the Study of Women’s History, which aims to celebrate women’s contributions to New York City. The center’s home will be the redesigned fourth floor of the Historical Society, and will feature an interactive wall, a 15-minute immersive film, a transparent staircase, and 100 illuminated Tiffany lamps. It’s scheduled to open in early 2017. (New York Times)
Speaking of women’s contributions: yesterday, top House Democrats accused Jason Chaffetz, the GOP Chair of the House Oversight Committee, of refusing to share unedited footage of recent undercover videos targeting Planned Parenthood. The edited videos allegedly show Planned Parenthood officials secretly meeting with an anti-abortion group, but Democrats believe that the full, unedited footage will disprove the current allegations against the organization. (The Hill)
Meanwhile, in Providence: The Brown Daily Herald, Brown University’s student newspaper, removed one and added a significant editor’s note to a second racist column. One of the columns was based on eugenics while the other made a racist interpretation as to how Native Americans should view Columbus Day. Both were written by the same person, and both sparked debate within the Brown community. (Talking Points Memo)
And finally, a note of hope for other worlds: last night, NASA launched a rocket from the Wallops Flight Facility in Chincoteague, Virginia. This launch was the first successful launch from the site since October, 2014, and was visible for many people on the mid-Atlantic coast. The mission aims to test new technology that will hopefully make future space missions less expensive and less risky. (USA Today)
One fancy-looking rocket via Shutterstock
Tags: a word of caution: do not read the comments on those brown columns, bwog gets excited about a lot of things, bwog gets excited about lamps, bwog gets excited about space, bwoglines, chaffetz may not be the coolest dude but what a cool name, friendly reminder that the third star trek reboot movie is being filmed right now, space. the final frontier. these are the voyages of the starship enterprise. jim kirk rips his shirt. spock calls things illogical. uhura is badass. etc etc etc
Written by Betsy Ladyzhets
Have you ever pondered contemporary Russian poetry, framed by the overarching authority of the Soviet government? Bwog hadn’t, but we sent Daily Editor Betsy Ladyzhets to a literary evening with Lev Oborin anyway to discuss Russian poetry over fancy cheeses and wine.
Russia is, in many ways, a nation characterized by powerful leaders. From the Czars to the Soviets, men with strong ideals have governed the country and controlled the modes of expression that its artists could use. In the twentieth century in particular, the Communist Party strictly forbid writers from supporting any opinions outside of the Party Line. But the poets of that era still wrote, as poets tend to do – and their writing became an important way of expressing themselves and fighting their censorship that carried through to the twenty-first century, even after the fall of the Soviet Union.
The Literary Evening with Russian poet Lev Oborin hosted by the Harriman Institute yesterday evening attempted to describe some of the poetry that resulted from this phenomenon. A group of approximately twenty people, most of them fluent Russian speakers and none of them undergraduates, gathered in a conference room on the twelfth floor of the International Affairs building. Refreshments were served: fancy crackers and an exquisite cheese-and-fruit platter, accompanied by an array of red and white wine.
Written by Amara Banks
Bwogger Amara Banks brings you the scoop on last night’s lecture with sociologist Michael Kimmel on how to engage men in the fight for gender equality.
With the recent debates on campus about gender issues in society, Michael Kimmel’s lecture yesterday could not have arrived at a more perfect time. Simply titled “Engaging Men in Gender Equality,” he discussed exactly that, and opens the minds of Columbia students who may or may not have already thought that they were feminists.
He discussed the issue that women have been articulating for centuries—men need to realize that gender inequality exists, sucks, and should not be a societal norm. Another plus: he delivered his ideas with humor and simple language, making his message accessible and easy to comprehend.
Kimmel is our privilege poster child: a white middle class male—and he knows this. In fact, the anecdote he gave in the beginning explaining the moment he realized his privilege was so loaded that it could have been a lecture in itself.
Before, he immediately thought of himself as an ordinary human. But when he overheard two of his female peers discussing their ideas of identity (one white, one black), one said that she immediately thought of herself as a woman, and the other said she immediately thought of herself as a black woman. This was when Kimmel had his revelation: people who are privileged cannot see their privilege, and therefore do not realize that they are treated differently in society. This is why men do not realize that gender inequality exists and affects women everyday.
Spirit week is finally upon us. There will be fun, food, and prizes according to the Facebook page for the event, with everything planned out by our newly elected student councils ESC, CCSC, SGA, and GSSC. So come on out and spread some school spirit, because we’re seriously lacking in that department.
Between Monday 10/12 and Friday 10/16 there will be a photo scavenger hunt (never heard of a school scavenger hunt before) and a residence hall banner competition. We don’t know exactly how halls will crowdsource their banners, but there’s a hall wide prize for best banner.
On Thursday 10/15 Barnard will be hosting a Homecoming Carnival. There will be face painting, balloon making, magic, games, and interactive activities according to the Barnard alumnae page. We’re gonna need some of that magic to beat the Quakers.
Written by Joe Milholland
Student government extraordinaire Joe Milholland is back again this week, covering the General Studies Student Council meeting, featuring the Roosevelt Institute, food insecurity, budget changes, and more.
On Tuesday night, the General Studies Student Council. tabled a co-sponsorship proposal to fund $200 to the Roosevelt Institute and requested the group seek funding from the Joint Council Co-sponsorship Committee (JCCC).
The president of the Roosevelt Institute came to the meeting to request the money to fund the travel expenses for the GS members taking a trip to DC. These travel expenses – including transport to and from DC, transport within DC, and food – had already been covered for CC and SEAS students earlier this semester by the Student Governing Board, which then recommended the group seek a co-sponsorship from GSSC to fund the expenses from GS (SGB hasn’t yet made an official response).
The Roosevelt received 51 applications for the trip, of which 10 were from GS students, and accepted 37 people, of whom 5 were GS students.
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