Good Night, And Good Luck

Dear Columbia — to our fans, part-time fans, naysayers, haters, and our primarily unruffled, ambivalent readership — we’ve had a strong semester. I say “strong” because it was not quite a good semester but a powerful one, passionate and encouraging. If sometimes too apologetic, you can’t negate our — Bwog’s — interest in the activity we’ve seen on campus over the past four and a half months. A lot has happened, particularly in recent weeks, and I can’t understate my appreciation for your engagement. Not just as a writer and observer but as another student, I am so grateful for a community that persists and is willing to argue against the circumstances you, or I, or anyone else, faces here. I appreciate this persistence.

This is at once our compulsory “Bwog Out” post for the end of the year, and a call for further action. I so love my peers for the work they do on top of academic stress and strain, social and familial and financial and school-related anxieties, adversity and upset, pressure, heartbreak, impairment, invalidation. I ask that you persist and continue. Keep up the good fight (against The Man, perhaps). Send me your thoughts, concerns, stories, ideas, essays, and pitches; I want to know what’s on your mind, what you want to hear about, know about. Write to me personally at taylor@bwog.com. Write to greater Bwog, day or night or upon the witching hour, at tips@bwog.com.

Congratulations on completing the fall 2014 semester! Congratulations on your graduation, imminent graduation, first semester of college, or mid-(college) life crisis! Bwog — as an ambiguous, free-form, yet possibly mammalian entity — and I, support you. We wish you a safe, healthy, warm, and fruitful winter break, and hope to see you at our first meeting come January. There will be snacks.

Sincerely,

Taylor Grasdalen, Editor-in-Chief

Some Questions For Our Administrators Come Winter Break
Really, guys?

Really, guys?

A few questions for those at the helm of the University this holiday season. Preferably to mull over during family dinner.

Of President Bollinger, we ask:

  • How exactly will Columbia be a “good neighbor” in Manhattanville?
  • Will you call the cops on us every time we congregate in groups of three or more?
  • How will you create community among students who feel so divided and hurt by their status or identity?—racial, sexual, economic, social, or otherwise?
  • How many more students could join the Class of 2018 if we were to direct your $700,000 raise toward financial aid?
  • Will you attend any of the spring’s town halls, maybe field a few questions on sexual assault policy at Columbia? We’ve really missed you at the past few town halls!
  • Are we global enough for you?

Of President Spar, we ask:

  • What’s the point of expending millions on a new library when your students hardly have a place to live?
  • Is Barnard’s consideration of trans* students really such a “complicated issue”?
  • How likely is it that every Economics major at Barnard might receive an internship with Goldman Sachs? We hear you’ve got connections!
  • Could we maybe start a Barnard fund for bikini waxes and blow-outs?
  • JJ’s Place? PLEASE?

Questioning_authority_dot_jpeg via Shutterstock.

Party Testimonial: Back On The Scene With John Donne
Party animal

Party animal

He thought he’d left his hard-partying days behind him. No more shots and no more dancing and certainly no more hooking-up with his exes. But something always sucks him back in (hint: letting loose after finals leads to bad things).

It’s been months–well, at least one month—since I last attended any sort of large social gathering. The events of the last few weeks have reduced me to a “stay in my room and talk with my cat while steadily growing angrier about my writing” kind of person. But alas, my oldest friend found me in my seclusion.

He was dressed impeccably but already somewhat tipsy at the hour of 4 PM, still carrying the musty tomes he had been using to write some terribly boring term paper but ready to party. He yanked open my drapes, but to no real effect as the sun had already set and so only the dim light of dusk crept in through my windows. He turned to me and stretched out a hand holding an invitation. He said to me, “You will be my plus one?” I blinked blearily and wondered whether this was meant to be a question. I knew that if I didn’t agree to join him at this thrice-damned party that I would be forced to entertain him on my own. I nodded agreement.

We wandered far, to gladder lands. Beneath the river East whispering through garbage-strewn banks; the subway walls trembled like the trepidation of the spheres.

We enter some dull den of brick, with throbbing bass oozing out of speakers. I am not drawn into the dance, but into the kitchen. There I am handed some far-too strong drink that tastes worse than mandrake root. I turn to the beautiful hostess I have just been introduced to and try to come up with a pick-up line that doesn’t involve a blood-sucking insect (too creepy, too morbid). Unfortunately, she is called over by a friend in the middle of one of my more inspired metaphors

Now two, now three drinks more! I am a passionate soul, yes, but also a thrice-cursed lightweight! My head turns and spins.

I am a metaphorical man! One minute I am standing on a table, declaiming to the world that Christianity isn’t for suckers; the next moment I am sharing the bathtub with a brand-new acquaintance. We speak of things I have said to no one else before.

I grabbed his arm, whispered in his ear, “My love, thine eyes have blinded mine.”

He looked me in the eyes and said, “Dude, I am so stoned right now.”

I nod in agreement. My heart sinks and my stomach churns. After this moment, the night passes in blurs and visions. I beg for sleep, but am dragged from one den of iniquity to another. I awoke the next morning feeling my mortality most violently, but grateful that it would be months before I was foolish enough to go out again.

Your Families, And Why You Should Fear Them More Than Finals

To those of you still here, we here at Bwog can offer you some perspective: every page left in that final paper, every hour until that absurdly late final exam, keeps you protected from the interrogation you will face upon your return home. To remind you of this, and to help you prepare, we have compiled a list of the full range of questions you will face.

Romantic

  • So do you think you’ve met your spouse yet? Because we still hate your ex.
  • Are you dating someone? I see a lot of pictures of you with [insert friend here], are you guys A THING?
  • Are you using protection?

Existential

  • What do you want to do with your life?
  • Are you happy?

Academic

  • What’s your major?
  • How are your grades?

The Looming Future

  • What are you doing this summer?
  • I think this semester we can afford your tuition, but what are your employment prospects?
  • Do you have any internships lined up?
  • How hard could it be to get an internship with The Economist?

Health and Wellness

  • How’s your nutrition?
  • Do you eat lots of vegetables?
  • How’s the dining hall?
  • How much do you smoke?
  • How much do you drink?
  • Are you so busy studying that you don’t have time to go to the gym?
  • How’s your social life?
  • Where do you spend all your money?
  • Why do you withdraw cash every weekend from an ATM located near someone named Tom?

And finally, the kinda sweet?

  • Are you coming home for spring break?
Actual Wisdom: Tom Harford
Tom Harford

Tom Harford

Although we may only have one for you this semester, we bring you an Actual Wisdom from Tom Harford, Columbia professor and Dean of Students for GS. Enjoy.

Justify your existence in 30 words or fewer: To justify my existence, you will need to consult my creator, Dean Peter Awn, who had me designed in a bio-genetics lab to serve as his avatar.

Claim to fame: Back in the day, while performing in very bad experimental theater, I was singled out for “achieving a new low” for my depiction of Orestes in a Euripides revival.

What’s your most valuable or unexpected college experience? Being tossed out of my first University as an undergrad—which was more valued than unexpected.

Back in my day… The CBGB scene was full throttle and no one could have possibly envisioned that its infamous restroom would become a Met art installation in 2013 (Punk is truly dead).

What’s the craziest student excuse/extension story you’ve heard? The student who tried to convince me she couldn’t write her paper while “Mercury was retrograde.”

Would you rather give up oral sex or cheese? As a member of the nascent but growing Tantric Cheese Movement, I now recognize that this question presents a false option.

What are three things you learned at Columbia?

  1. Teaching Contemporary Civilization to GS students is as transformative in practice as I thought it would be in theory. I am continuously amazed by them.
  2. Living in Morningside Heights is as dull in practice as I thought it would be in theory.
  3. If you try to find the University Mail Room through Schermerhorn Extension, it’s likely you’ll never be heard from again.

What’s your advice to students/academics/the human race in general? 1) Beware of lumberjacks with soft hands; 2) celebrate paradox; and 3) enjoy every sandwich.

Bwog In Bed: Getting The Hell Out Edition

Bwog is still in bed, but won’t be for much longer. To those poor souls who won’t be out of finals until 10:00 tonight: we’ve stood by you as long as we can, but it’s time to pack up and go home. Maybe after just a few more moments under these warm covers… In the meantime, here’s your daily dose of finals news, study tips, and procrastination. 

Bwogline: If you fear you’ll never escape finals, take comfort in the story of American aid worker Alan Gross, whose release from Cuban prison represents the end of 53 years of diplomatic estrangement. Just hope you’re freedom won’t require intervention from President Obama and the pope. (New York Times)

Study Tip: Feeling down? Go for a run! Run and run and never look back! Collapse in a small town in the Midwest and take a job in the local quarry! Find confidence in your promotion to foreman and finally buy that engagement ring! Look at the family gathered around your hospital bed, generations brought together over Thanksgiving dinners and Fourth of July picnics (too many to possibly remember but too precious to forget, even now, as the years take their toll), and take pride in your life as you slip, content, into darkness! Or, if you don’t like street running, try the treadmills in Schapiro!

Procrastination: Enjoy comedian and alumna Jenny Slate, singing “Landslide” in the voice of her online persona, Marcel the Shell.

Overheard: In the Schapiro lounge

Guy to his friends: “I forgot how to spell exotic on my arthum exam today. I was like E-X-H-A-U-T-I-C.”
His friend: “Did you… choose a different word?”
Guy: “No I just went with it”

Meditations On Carman
Those fluorescent lights tho

Those fluorescent lights tho

Now officially on winter break, Daily Editor and Carmanite Rachel Deal reflects on her first semester spent in Carman.

On move-in day, it takes three tries to unlock the door to my “suite.” The room isn’t as bad as she thought it would be, my mom says, but she grimaces when she looks into the bathroom. We stretch a navy fitted sheet over my mattress while my dad hangs up an obligatory string of Christmas lights, and my siblings peer out the windows at Lerner’s brick side. I cover up as much of the greasy white walls as I can—I put up a Vampire Weekend poster, screencaps from Twin Peaks, a Columbia banner, photos from proms and birthdays and that time in Aaron’s backyard, my map of the world in Arabic. My mom still sometimes asks me about people we met that day, in the elevator and on the sidewalks of 114th, but I don’t remember their names or what they look like. A few days into NSOP, my lights and photos of family and friends slip from the sweating walls, and I leave them on the floor behind my bed.

When my friend visited from Harvard, he joked that Carman reminded him of a prison (which, in turn, reminds me of that Sylvia Plath quote: “Your room is not your prison. You are.”) It’s true, though—Carman is stark and institutional, institutional in a different way than muggy Hamilton classrooms and the names on Butler’s façade. It is not the Columbia you see on campus tours—it is not the striking grace of Alma Mater, and it is not red brick and blue roofs like Kent or Mathematics. Carman is fluorescent lights and white walls and vomit-stained carpeting and crumbling ceiling tiles and glowing neon red exit signs—blunt and unpretentious.

I have a few upperclassman friends who have refused to enter Carman since moving out at the end of their freshman years. Too many bad memories or something—memories of elevators reeking of urine, of sweaty parties and body odor and tiled floors sticky with Crazy Stallions and Lime-A-Ritas. The carpeted hallway, too, is always encrusted with something—the day after study break, it’s tortilla chips and Oreo crumbs, and after Saturday nights, it’s grains of rice and shreds of lettuce from (drunkenly) spilled halal. One night while we’re lying on our filthy hallway floor, our RA tells some friends and me that he loved Carman as a freshman. The first night of NSOP, he had us all write down a hope or dream for the semester on notecards. Afterward, he hung them all up on the bulletin board in front of the elevators, but some kid from another floor tore it down when he was drunk.

It’s a weekend night, and I have a big Comp Sci project or Lit Hum paper or something due the upcoming week, but lacking the motivation to go to Butler and search for a seat, I end up in the floor lounge with my laptop. Between the techno music coming from one suite and the smell of weed leaking from underneath the door of another, though, I get nothing done, but I like watching the people on my floor come and go. Sitting at the end of the hall, I don’t take my eyes off people as they walk its length, the glow of the fluorescents obscuring the outlines of their features. The elevator dings, and one guy stumbles back in a suit, zig-zagging down the hall to his suite, his tie loose. It dings again—another boy, this one wearing glasses and a backpack, slumps back to his room from the library. The glow of the lights is heady, and I can still feel their buzzing as I return to my dark suite, clicking the heavy door shut.

Holidays On The Cheap
What the fuck is jelly character

What the fuck is jelly character

We’re all friends broke around here. We know where your last $10 REALLY went. But your friends are weirdly into Christmas/Kwanzaa/Hannukkah/nondenominational winter holiday, so you’ve gotten roped into celebrating the festivities like a real family.

Here’s how to get by this holiday season, poor student style. For all your gift-giving needs, a by-no-means-definitive analysis of what you can get for $1 and under in this fine neighborhood of ours.

Duane Reade

  • 2.5 dark chocolate covered marshmallows
  • Half an 8.4oz Red Bull (on sale though!! Only 2 for $4!!)
  • 1 candy cane with “jelly character”
  • Nice! brand gelatin dessert
  • 1 Disney princess lipstick, with the princess of your choice

Rite Aid

  • 1 pack Hawaiian Punch flavored Hubba Bubba
  • 1 2-liter Simplify diet cola
  • A tin of cat food (recommendations: Friskies tasty treasure or Fancy Feast tender liver and chicken)

M2M

  • Wheat cake
  • Half a carton of banana tofu dessert

More thoughtful (?) gift ideas after the jump.

Senior Wisdom: Kathy Yuh
Kathy Yuh

Kathy Yuh

Sadly, we bring you our final Senior Wisdom for this semester with another early graduate, Kathy Yuh.

Name, Hometown, School, Major: Kathy Yuh, the 925 Bay Area, CA, CC, Economics

Claim to fame: Having a very pun-able last name. Sister of Alpha Chi Omega. And the one obviously non-Slavic person working at the Slavic Department in Hamilton 708 for the past 3.5 years. This also meant I walked up the stairs to the goddamn 7th floor of Hamilton at least once, every single day of the semester since fall 2011.

Where are you going? In about month, to Thailand to volunteer at an elephant rescue camp!

What are 3 things you learned at Columbia and would like to share with the Class of 2018?

  1. Be okay with being perceived differently than you’re used to.
    Isn’t it weird, how when you come to college, for the most part no one knows who you are? Sure, you can tell people you were a varsity letter athlete, a student activist, a musician, etc., but that is not how people will see you. And soon enough, that outdated version of ‘you’ will no longer be how you identify yourself, either. While it’s hard to question your identity that you’ve been attached to for the past 18 years of your life, these 4 years are really your only chance to go out there and create a different and (hopefully) better version of yourself that you want—whatever that means to you—a version that’s not dictated by your past or by anyone else’s expectations. Be okay with the fact that you’re not who you used to be, and be proactive about finding out what you can be. I can’t think of a better place than Columbia to do that.
  2. Be okay with feeling completely average.
    It’s okay if you’re not the student making front page of New York Times. It’s okay if you don’t make president of a club during your 4 years here. Have faith in yourself that you are more than a title or an award that will, let’s be real, be forgotten years, if not months, later. It’s difficult not to feel self-doubt when we’re surrounded by some of the smartest, most passionate, and most genuinely nice people we’ll ever meet in life. But I’ve come to realize I’d rather spend my time celebrating my peers’ good news, not fretting over whether I deserve to be here at Columbia just as much as they are. Take feeling average as a blessing for all the wonderful people you get to meet, and know that your time to shine will come in due time. And when it does, remember that it’s just news.
  3. Be vulnerable.
    I’m borrowing this piece of advice from a past senior wisdom that really touched me. “…I thought I would never visit CPS or call Nightline because I had it together. I’m glad to have learned otherwise.” I am too. It takes a lot of courage to seek help at Columbia. Please do it even if you think you can handle it by yourself.

Selfies with DSpar and Deantini advice after the jump.

Bwog In Bed: Bring The Noize Edition

Whether you’ve already fled Morningside Heights for the next month or you have a couple more exams left, Bwog is definitely still in bed.

Bwogline: The last episode of The Colbert Report airs tomorrow evening–check out this article that details how Colbert’s show began and speculates about how it may end. (New York Times)

Study Tip: Treat yourself. No, we don’t mean by going to JJ’s–we mean by making time for yourself. Wake up more than twenty minutes before your exam, make yourself some good coffee, and for a few minutes, do something you actually enjoy.

Procrastinate: This website encodes your IP address as a haiku–is this what computing in context means?

Vampire Weekend Isn’t The Last Columbia Band

An all-Columbia student band on campus called Ampersand just put out a new video that they’ve apparently been working on for almost a year now. We think their music is pretty cool so we wanted to share yet another music-related post with you tonight to give you something to spend five minutes away from studying to watch. The band consists of Corey Dansereau CC ’14, Sahil Ansari CC ’15—also made the video, Eli Aleinikoff CC ’15, Vlad Bernstein CC ’14, Emilie Schattman BC ’15, and Jon Perkins CC ’15. Take a look and check out their other music while you’re at it.

The Final(s) Push Playlist

We really get that it feels like we’ve been preparing for/taking finals for about a month now. While you may be feeling a bit angry towards Columbia/New York/finals in general, keep your head up and remember that you will be heading home no later than Friday hopefully. To restore some faith in this city/school and offer a bit of motivation for studying all at once, check out this playlist we put together to help you pull through. It even includes some tunes from Columbia’s own to remind you creativity can occur on this currently bleak campus. Keep your head down and Work.

At Two Swords’ Length: Am I Clean?
Illustration by Zane Bhansali, CC '17

Illustration by Zane Bhansali, CC ’17

For your enjoyment during the miserable bowels of finals, we hereby present another piece from our beloved mother magazine, The Blue and White. This month’s ATSL, written by senior editor Alexander Pines, CC ’16, and contributor Mabel Taylor, BC ’18, ponders a questions that I’m sure we’ve all wondered about in the past few days: am I clean? Like what you read? Pick up a copy of The Blue and White on campus now!

Affirmative by Alexander Pines

I am a diamond. Flawless. My aura is porcelain perfect. If I were a toilet you could eat your dinner straight out of my bowl. But then I would have your tongue on me and doubtless it is disgusting. You should really get the smell of your breath checked out. It could kill me.

Do you see my teeth? They’re like chiclets. Sometimes I catch myself smiling in the mirror and I want to pull them out and pop them into my mouth and chew and chew because that’s how cute and nice and square they are.

And I only use Fiji water to wash my face. It’s pure, unlike the swill everyone else seems content to douse themselves with (and I imagine they drink it too!). That’s why my pores are invisible. It’s like they’re not even there. Unlike yours, I’m sorry to say.

I had a special copy of the Oxford English Dictionary made so my picture could be printed next to “perfect.” Because I’m funny, too. Extra prints are selling on eBay for up to three thousand dollars. I’m a minor celebrity in Akron, Ohio, okay? This face? It’s basically a collector’s edition.

And they love me on Tinder.

Drugs? Of course not. Well, not dirty drugs. I make sure that the pharmacist filling my Abilify prescription wears gloves and a respiratory mask the entire time. I even make them double-seal the bottle. Because a little bit of dust and…who knows what symptoms a tainted antipsychotic might trigger? Besides, my piss is as clean as a newborn’s, I’ve never failed a test. Of any kind, actually. I joined Mensa when I was…five?

That baggie, the one that you’re looking at, over there? That’s clearly on my roommate’s desk. It’s obvious which side of the room is hers—that fan is from K-Mart, for Christ’s sake. K-Mart. You can even tell from looking at the carpet. I think hers might contain sentient life. That is, if you could see it through the small mountain of polyblend and, God, I think she even wears straight up plastic. Like plastic bags. For when she runs out of panties. I had to start carrying Febreze to escape the toxic cloud of JJ’s leftovers whenever I walk in. It’s her you should be talking to.

Look, I don’t know anything about arson. And even if I did, it would be for the better that all of those horrible tacky things got burned up, okay? The world doesn’t need any more neon pink jeggings, so whoever set those fires was doing society—no, humanity!—a favor. And like, yeah, it’s sad and all that sometimes the fires happened when people were still wearing the abominations but still—hey! Put those handcuffs back on that slimy rubber belt of yours, these are freezing! And filthy, you pig! Do you have any idea what this could do to my nails?

What do you mean fingerprints at the scene matching mine? Fire burns shit up, duh, how could there be fingerprints? Besides, I never leave the house without gloves. My father will have something to say about this, officer. Expect to hear from our lawyer. I’m clean!

Check out the neg after the jump.

Senior Wisdom: Cesar Rodriguez
Cesar Rodriguez

Cesar Rodriguez

We bring you our next Senior Wisdom from one of our seniors graduating this winter: Cesar Rodriguez.

Name, School, Major: Cesar Rodriguez, Columbia College 2015, Biology and History

Claim to fame: I think I pretty much succeeded in infecting most of my friends here at school with what they like to call, “Cesar lingo.” Many of them have permanently added such wonderful words such as “realtalktho” or “that’s a force” or the classic “sauced!” to their everyday vocabulary. Not only that, but I do see that sometimes they tweet with the hashtag #realtalk and I, of course, take full responsibility. I would have to say, then, that my claim to fame over the past four years would have to be the linguistic interplay between the slang of Framingham, MA and the halls and dormitories of Columbia. Also, maybe being named in a New York Times article about Model U.N….

Where are you going? “It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out of your door,” he used to say. “You step into the Road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there is no telling where you might be swept off to.”

What are 3 things you learned at Columbia and would like to share with the Class of 2018?

  1. “No one gives it to you. You have to take it.”-Frank Costello in The Departed.
  2. Learn to motivate yourself and fend for yourself, because no one here will help you do anything unless you learn to be pro-active and search for answers.
  3. “All we have to decide is what to do, with the time that is given to us.”-Gandalf; No one is going to tell you how to budget your time or what to do with it, the onus is on you to plan everything out or pay the price for not doing so.

Lightsabors and cheese after the jump.

Student Falls From 8th Floor Of Wien Hall

Last night, a student fell from the 8th Floor of Wien Hall. Police responded shortly after and transported him quickly to St. Luke’s while he was in critical condition. Sources confirmed he was stable and breathing once he arrived at the hospital. An email from Cristen Kromm, Associate Dean of Residential Life, was sent to students late last night informing them of the accident. Kromm assured students that support is available for them through their RAs in their residence halls, or by going to CPS this morning. You can view her email as well as our tweet in regards to the incident last night below.

Read the email here.