Commencement Approacheth

It’s that time of year again. The end of the semester is a few weeks away, and the bleachers are starting to go up on Low Plaza. Seniors are starting to frantically take part in campus life any way they can, desperate to cling to their last weeks at Columbia. The rest of us have to weave our way around the construction on our way to class. Meanwhile, a new generation of frosh continue to awkwardly introduce themselves on Facebook.

Class of 2014, are you ready to leave?

How #Blue Are You?

The critical question for any Columbia student: how #blue are you? Do you represent #OurBlue? We know you’re #dying to find out.

LectureHop: Guns, PMCs, and Steel
Looking stately

Roosevelt president and VP with their panelists, looking stately

Last Thursday was the Roosevelt Institute’s annual policy forum on the topic of the future of the U.S. defense industry. Never one to miss a good panel discussion, we sent defensive defenestrator Julia Goodman to report.

In case you’re unaware, the Roosevelt Institute is a nonpartisan think tank with chapters on college campuses across the nation. The Columbia chapter, among other things, knows how to put together a good panel discussion–they organize at least one forum a year. This year’s focus was the American military-industrial complex, which Eisenhower famously warned against in his 1961 farewell speech before leaving the White House.

The panel was an interesting group of people, and considering that there were only three speakers, the Institute leaders did an impressive job of capturing the diversity of experience within the defense industry. The speakers were Austin Long, a professor and consultant for various defense engineering companies; Ken Nevor, an executive from one such company; and John Schiffer, a GS student who served in the Marines. The dynamic between the three was quite interesting–as the youngest (and lowest-ranking) speaker, Schiffer seemed to carry less respect with the two older panelists, who frequently whispered loudly over him. Nevor, meanwhile, insisted on reading from a prepared sheet of responses. (He initially said this was because he was tired, but then said that he “ha[d] to,” which added to the sense that he was toeing the company line.)

Nevertheless, all had insights to share. Responding to questions about how they view the relationship between the military and private companies, none of the three speakers seemed to have any moral qualms with it. Nevor explained that, from his perspective, Eisenhower was warning against a nation in which the government would spend all of its time and energy on military technology (as Soviet Russia was perceived to be doing at the time) and thus outsourcing such work to private companies is actually in line with what Eisenhower would want. He also pointed out that side the military is “designed and tailored to meet the needs” of the U.S. government, outsourcing work to private companies does not mean the military will suddenly be doing things the government, or taxpayers, wouldn’t be okay with.

Long had a less uniformly positive perspective, saying of private defense contractors, “Sometimes they’re helpful, sometimes they’re not, sometimes they’re just really weird.” To corroborate this statement, he shared the story of the private contractor whose job it was to make all the keys on one base Long worked on. When he needed a new key, Long had to go to the edge of the base to visit this man, known only as “The Keymaster,” and listen to him tell strange stories for a while before eventually getting his key. Schiffer added that because private contractors are nonmilitary personnel, they can technically choose not to work whenever they want, and can’t be ordered to go into the field. He occasionally witnessed significant problems with this, especially when private translators in Afghanistan would refuse to accompany a mission.

But there must be pros to contracting private labor, too?

Take Back The Night 2014: Rape Culture Is Not Some Buzzword
Take Back the Night

Take Back the Night

Take Back the Night is an annual campus event that provides a voice against local domestic violence and sexual assault. Taylor Grasdalen attended Thursday’s march and rally.

It would be entirely too easy to call Take Back the Night “moving,” or to call it by any related synonym, with as much stress as there has been this year on the terminology and language and circumstance surrounding issues of “gender-based misconduct and sexual assault.” Rather, I’ve never seen so much feeling; considering this event in the context of this word instead, this noun, seems to make far more sense than any descriptor. That there was feeling suggests a much greater thing.

And indeed, Take Back the Night really is about a greater thing, something big, something loud and important, a group rallying. This is exactly as it’s been for years’ events past, I know, but considering the modern energy of these issues makes that feeling stronger.

Take Back the Night began just before eight, with announcements and introductions. I was immediately regarded as “press” and could not speak to any other marcher or participant. Our key speaker–Morgaine Gooding-Silverwood (CC’14)–began the actual rally itself, by briefly discussing her own experiences and then for some time considering the University’s place in this cause. Her speech really clarified the purpose I’d hoped for this event: she gave more than just statistics, she gave thorough definition to “rape culture.” It’s any form of non-consent, anything without decision. She brought up Columbia’s Manhattanville expansion, where, too, students are not being heard. As she put it, “Rape culture is not some buzzword.” In a year of Town Halls and constant emails, administrators deflecting blame and students becoming restless, her concentration on language here felt incredibly timely.

She went on to name and address President Bollinger.

Bwoglines: Anomalies In The Universe Edition
Let's dive in

The portal home?

A baby is on the way! Grandma for president 2016? (Politico)

Kepler -186f isn’t the catchiest name, but it might still make for a good home after we fuck up Earth too badly to live on it. First settler gets naming rights! (CNN)

Ewwww these insects are having the wildest sex of any of us. We don’t know what that image is but we can’t even look at it. (The State Column)

Forget sugar and cream–just stir some straight butter into your coffee. We’re sure that would spruce up a big cup of Ferris roast. (Gothamist)

One bitch of a commute via Shutterstock

The Heights Is Back?

After The Heights succumbed to the Great Citibank Fire of January 2014, we feared we would never see it again. We keened and wept, depressed at the prospect of 1020 being stuffed with freshmen forevermore. We made a list of the bleak alternatives to having The Heights in our lives…

But then, today, we started hearing rumors. A Facebook post here, a private event held Sunday night there, all indicated that, like a phoenix, The Heights had been reborn from its ashes more splendid than ever. It seemed like happy hours were upon us once again.

However, when we called The Heights we just got a recorded phone message saying it had burnt down. And Spec says it will only be open by invitation on Friday.

Yet there’s a sign out front saying it’s open, serving drinks but not food. As far as we’re concerned, The Heights is back!

the heightsLest We Forget

Also, The Heights’ website says that “The Heights was founded in 1996 from the ashes of Nacho Mama’s Burritos which met its demise earlier the same year.” Is the location inherently fire-prone, or could the Heights be locked in an eternal cycle of rebirth and flame?

King’s Crown Recipients Tackle Sexual Assault

The King’s Crown Leadership Excellence Awards are coveted by some, as they are given to “students which have offered outstanding leadership to their community/ies with exemplary commitment and energy.” The awards ceremony began tonight at 6:30 in Roone, and some of the students being recognized are wearing red tape on their wrists in solidarity with recent attempts to fix Columbia’s sexual assault policy. Those wearing tape signed the following statement:

To the students, faculty, and trustees of Columbia University and Barnard College:

Tonight we are all honored, thankful, and humbled to have been nominated by our peers for King’s Crown Leadership Excellence Awards. Your support and recognition means a great deal to us. We are also deeply grateful for the work that so many others have done this year to make Columbia a safer, more supportive place.

This past year, students have pushed the University to take several important steps to reform the University’s inadequate, opaque services and policies for preventing sexual violence and supporting survivors on our campus. We want to recognize the years of work that both students and staff have spent and the positive changes that have taken place this year. But as we receive these awards, we need to say, unequivocally, that those steps are far from sufficient and that this work is far from done.

The system has been slow to change.

#tbt Greek Games Edition

This week’s #tbt is brought to you by the Columbia Spectator Archives and Britt Fossum, who kind of wishes she went to Barnard. Have anything you’d like to see featured? Send it to tips or use our anonymous form.

Bacchanal is a fairly recent development in Columbia’s history, starting only in the 2000s. But long before Bacchus was honored yearly with Keystone Light and lame outdoor concerts, the University still paid homage to the Greek Gods. Barnard College was once host to the greatest feats of strength and tests of skill since ancient Athens: the Barnard Hunger Greek Games. They ran continually through 1968 and now are honored only by a curious statue on campus and intermittent attempts at revival. Maybe the students found chariot races and elaborate opening rituals too silly to continue? Maybe the Freshmen were tired of losing to Sophomores over 60 times? Maybe it was because the student musical performers for the 1968 games were kidnapped by another student group?

Highlights from Spectator Archives (and one NY Times!) covering the much-anticipated event include:

  • “Greek Games is an attempt to authentically reproduce an ancient Greek Bacchanal.” 27 April 1965.
  • “DIGNITY TO PREVAIL IN BARNARD GAMES…Instead of trying to learn to walk in the Greek fashion, the students have practiced marching in an orderly and dignified procession.” 11 April 1917.
  • “But although they dedicated themselves to Aphrodite, it was the Goddess Fortuna who gave the class of ’61 the laurel wreath when two members of the ’62 hoop race relay team lost their hoops. 13 April 1959.
  • In 1958 Columbia students or “invading Barbarians” disturbed the games and required that “the Barnard gym was disguised as an Athenian Temple.” 21 April 1958.
  • “BARNARD SOPHS WIN THE HELLENIC CONTEST; They Had Zeus with Them at the Start, and Couldn’t Lose. STILL IT WAS PRETTY CLOSE Closer Than the Score, 36 to 25, Might Indicate — There Were Feats Both Mental and Physical.” 24 March 1906.
  • This entire 1944 article though: “Barnard Sacrifice Men for Greeks–Temporarily!” “Turn the Barnard Gym into a small-size Coliseum with hordes of blood-hungry spectators,” “athletic orgies,” and “Prometheus, the Athenian version of Thomas Edison.” 14 April 1944.
Colbert Report Filming Spoof of Fox News
Tareq

the interrogation begins

Tired of Fox News? So is The Colbert Report, who is on campus right now filming students. We caught up with a CC senior who had just been interviewed for the segment to mock Fox News making Columbia students look stupid.

“So The Colbert Report is coming on with unreasonable demands—he holds up a picture of somebody and swooshes it by really fast and asks them to name which political official it was. The humor is that Columbia students are really smart and answer correctly, and he’s trying to make a funny shot and gets pissed off. So I was just interviewed to answer what are the three branches of government. I actually got 2 of them right the first time, and then they did the shot again where I got all three of them right—he said ‘Son of a bitch!’ and stormed off.”

How many takes would it take you?

World Premiere Of Evening-Length Dance At Columbia

Two Barnard seniors, Julia Discenza and Marjie Shrimpton (BC ’14) have taken on the challenge of creating, directing, and producing a collaborative piece of evening-length dance. What does evening-length entail in the dance world? An evening-length dance piece is a piece of choreography greater than 60 minutes usually that tells a self-contained story of some sort. But HERE isn’t just about dance, as the directors chose to incorporate elements of “music, film, and performance art to address the significance of place, space, and community throughout different aspects of the human experience.”

Their endeavor will be the first independent dance project of its kind that Barnard has ever seen. The directors decided to go above and beyond the scholastic requirements for their capstone project to create HERE, a piece that gained life and momentum from every artist involved. The piece is a conglomeration of short scenes inspired by “real and imagined spaces and places from the creators’ and cast members’ lived experiences.” The story of HERE is a story to which everyone can relate.

From co-creators Marjie Shrimpton and Julia Discenza:

“It has been an incredible adventure to conceive and create this work with a team of such gifted artists, and we hope to bring audiences on a transformative and exciting journey. The whole creative team has taken the idea to heart and made it their own, so the production is so much bigger than just our original vision. It’s been really thrilling and beautiful to see our cast invest themselves in our dreams for this work, and graciously contribute their ideas to our creative process.”

HERE performs Saturday, April 19th at 3 pm and 7 pm in the Glicker-Milstein Theatre. Tickets are $5 with CUID and can be bought online or at TIC.

From the Issue: Bluenotes
Illustration by Angel Jiang, CC '15

Illustration by Angel Jiang, CC ’15

Each issue of The Blue and White has three short pieces that depict some interesting tidbit of campus or New York life, in 300 words or less. This issue, Senior Editor Luca Marzorati, CC ’15, brings you the story of pirate radio in the city, contributor Nia Brown, CC ’17, presents the history of the Croton Reservoir Aqueduct, and contributor Alex Warrick, BC ’17, unwraps the mystery of the controversial “STUPID PEOPLE SHOULN’T BREED” bench on Barnard’s quad. The issue is on campus now, pick up a copy!

Who owns the air? This philosophical question is painfully real for some, including DJ Fresh Kid (AKA Sean Bruce, age 40) who was arrested last July in Brooklyn for operating a pirate radio station. The Fresh Kid was a regular DJ on the Fire Station (104.7 FM), which broadcasted Caribbean music in the outer regions of Brooklyn without a license. Because of a change in New York state law that designated unlicensing broadcasting as a class A misdemeanor, both the Fresh Kid and Solomon Malka, a Fire Station employee, could face jail time.

Fire Station’s collapse marked a shift in the decades-long battle between pirate radio and its legal competitors. Supporters of “big radio” and the Federal Communications Commission claim that unlicensed stations interfere with broadcasts, while pirate radio backers counter that they provide an essential service in underserved communities: only 51 percent of New Yorkers speak English at home, yet 86 percent of FM stations are in English. And besides, they argue, the air should be free. But the threat of jail time has forced many pirate radio operators into hiding, or online streaming.

A Freedom of Information Act request revealed that WKCR, Columbia’s radio station at 89.9 FM, is not spared from the interference of pirate operators. In the northern reaches of Manhattan and pockets of Brooklyn, some hopeful WKCR listeners instead hear “Quisqueya FM”—a station aimed at Dominican listeners broadcasting from the Bronx at 89.7 FM—or “Love Gospel Radio”—a Caribbean gospel station run by Grace Assembly Deliverance Temple on Boston Road. Attempts to contact these operators were unsuccessful; perhaps many fear becoming the next DJ Fresh Kid.

Nonetheless, pirate radio remains a presence on the New York soundscape. Turn the dial just past the static, and a world of eclectic music awaits. Walking around New York with a portable radio reveals the depth of unlicensed transmissions: the drone of Hebrew prayers in outer Brooklyn; the mellifluent tone of a French Creole talk show in upper Manhattan; the sticky urgency of patois on the streets of the Bronx. In a city of a hundred tongues, the pirate beat goes on.

- Luca Marzorati

What about that Croton Reservoir Aquaduct?

Bwoglines: Conspiracies Abound Edition
Hmmmmm

Hmmmmm.

Does the government have an imperative to keep graduate-level education so expensive? Maybe. (Slate)

Is Paul Ryan a phony? Yeah. (Salon)

Is Don Draper going to hijack an airplane? Maybe. (Slate)

Does sexism perpetuate the “confidence gap”? Yes. (Huffington Post)

Is there an entirely haunted island? YES AND IT IS FOR SALE. (Time)

Are all the big fast food developments — the Waffle Taco, the McRib, the Hot Dog-Stuffed Crust Pizza – just gimmicks? Yes. (Salon)

Hush hush little one via Shutterstock.

Online Selection IRL
He just got a blind McBain Double

He just got a blind McBain Double

Are you super weirded out by the prevalence of online selection this year? Do you have no idea what to do? Bwogger Anna Hotter’s got you covered.

While most of Columbia has already braved the apocalyptic mayhem that is housing, some wretched souls still don’t know which exact shoebox they will call their home next year. An astounding pool of 1,181 students opted for online selection, which means that many will not get that spacious Schapiro single they’ve been eyeing for months. Because Bwog is also lost in the depths of uncertainty cares about your future, we have compiled a list of the most viable housing options for your enjoyment. The number of available rooms noted below are approximations and may vary depending on circumstances.

Here’s what’s left.

Town Hall On Sexual Assault
Bwog is always early.

Bwog is always early.

***Trigger Warning: Discussion of sexual assault policy, and issues of sexual assault and gender-based sexual misconduct on campus.***

This afternoon, Taylor Grasdalen attended the Town Hall on Gender-Based Misconduct and Sexual Assault for Bwog. She reports on the administration, the students, and the newest concerns.

Today brought Columbia’s latest installment in its series of Town Halls on “Gender-Based Misconduct and Sexual Assault,” though that name itself was thoroughly questioned. Conducted—almost inaccessibly, perhaps—at noon today in Havemeyer 309, we heard from Senators Matt Chou and Akshay Shah, Michael K. Dunn, Senator Marc Heinrich, Terry Martinez, Sharyn O’Halloran, La’Shawn Rivera, Lisa Mellman, and Teacher’s College student Barry Goldberg, who were all consequently subjected to another fine Q&A session.

Despite the event’s significance on campus and to campus, it was not well attended in any regard. After experiencing the first Town Hall, where so many students wanted to partake that some were unable to even enter the space, today’s Town Hall had the exact opposite problem. Fewer than half the seats were filled; at noon, when the event began, there were maybe only fifty people in the audience altogether, the majority even obviously not BC/CC/SEAS undergraduates. I have to wonder if students were precluded based on the event’s time, as its lunch break timeliness certainly allowed many adults administrators to attend (Barnard’s Amy Zavadil was in the audience, and many other faculty and staff faces).

Sharyn O’Halloran moderated today’s meeting, eloquent despite inexperience with speaking into a microphone. Matt Chou and Akshay Shah were the first to speak, breezing over the details of data that will soon be released — data of aggregate anonymous statistics, a number of interim measures, reported information on the responsible parties, and sanctions on such responsible parties, upcoming changes in sanctions, and the average number of days that each case takes. I wish I could have heard more of these details, but we quickly moved on  to hearing from Terry Martinez. She really wanted to let us know—to paraphrase the best I might—that it is neither truthful nor helpful for us to question the commitment of the “people in this room” to the cause we’d gathered for today, which may or may not have been a problem at the previous Town Hall.

This did not set a very positive tone.

Days On Campus: An Alternate Perspective
steps on steps on steps

Good thing no one took him to Ferris.

One staffer’s prospie loves Bwog so much that he even decided to come to one of our meetings. We liked him, and thought we’d ask if he wanted to write an article about his experiences at Perspectives on Diversity and Days on Campus. So, continuing this year’s trend of posting about the pre-frosh, Evan Morris, CC ’18, gives you this look at the accessibility issues at Columbia’s weekend for admitted students.

To everyone who tried to make Columbia accessible this weekend: Thank you. You tried, but crutches and this campus just don’t mix well.

I arrived as stupidly eager as everyone else. I thought I was well prepared. Armed with my access map, permission to use the elevator to upper campus, and my experiences getting around with a cane during Columbia’s summer program for high school students, I figured I would be fine. The weekend was only so long and I had access to a wheelchair just in case.

I had no idea how many little problems would add up to make this weekend exhausting and painful. At every turn, there was something that I had to sit out or work around because of my disability. My first night (that is, the same day as Bacchanal) was annoying but manageable, though I got my fair share of sad looks as I stumbled up the steep bus steps on the way to our quasi-mandatory boat tour. The three stories of stairs up to the boat proper, though, were the worst. I assumed that because the average Columbia student might not be on a boat on a typical Saturday night, the organizers wouldn’t be terribly familiar with the accessibility of the venue.

Sorry Dan Savage, it doesn’t always get better.