#Ferguson: Reporting A Viral News Story

TowCenter_Horizontal_v5_for_NewsletterBwog writer Taylor Grasdalen spent her Thursday night over at the Journalism School to hear from those reporters and members of the community closest to recent months’ events in Ferguson, Missouri.

“Can a black man in the United States get legal justice? That is the story.” Wesley Lowery of The Washington Post stresses that reporting on scene does not mean that he must himself become the scene.

And for most of their ninety minutes of discussion, the other members of the “#Ferguson: Reporting a Viral News Story” panel concluded similarly. Present were Lowery, Emily Bell of the Tow Center for Digital Journalism (an institute functioning within Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, and that was responsible for the evening), Antonio French of the City of St. Louis, MO, Alice Speri of VICE News, and Zeynep Tufekci of UNC Chapel Hill. Bell moderated the talk, which focused on these individuals’ own journalistic contributions and concerns, and the sociological understanding of #Ferguson.

The case was the evolving use of social media in reporting a story. French, arguably the first to arrive to the events that would last days, weeks, months longer than anyone might have anticipated, is an area representative and resident. He only learned of what was beginning to happen over Twitter, where local news had published that there had been a “mob” response to the shooting of unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown by St. Louis police officer Darren Wilson. He questioned the language in use—”mob” rather than “community” response, particularly—and immediately went to visit the scene.

Discussion of police, media, and the Internet after the jump.

Bwog’s Costume Closet: INITIATION Girl
Some chicken for ya?

Some chicken for ya?

Halloweekend is right around the corner and if you’re planning on taking home the grand prize in our costume contest, you had better start brainstorming. Thank goodness Queen of Halloween Claire Friedman has you covered with Columbia-themed costume ideas coming at you all week! Today, she’s got step-by-step instructions on how to transform yourself into a Butler INITIATION girl aka a piece of art/ porn/??? Here’s a refresher if you’ve been living under a rock/ are a freshman.

You Will Need:

  • A white dress
  • White granny panties
  • A rotting chicken
  • A carton of eggs
  • A bag (so you can easily store your eggs/ rotting chicken on the go)


Step 1: Put on the white dress/ granny panties and swing around your rotting chicken.

Step 2: Break the eggs and rub them over your body. Extra points for cracking an egg on your head and letting the yolk trickle down.

Step 3: Take off your white dress as needed; let your granny panties do the talking.

Cost: depending on the quality of your white dress (and your rotten chicken), this costume will run between $25 and $40.


Illustration via Taylor Grasdalen.

PrezBo Agrees To Meet With Columbia Prison Divest And Barnard Columbia Divest
PrezBo confronted by CPD at the Fun Run

PrezBo confronted by BCD at the Fun Run

In a perhaps unprecedented move, PrezBo has agreed to meet with the Columbia Prison Divest protesters who stood with signs outside 501 Schermerhorn during his popular Freedom of Speech and Press class on Wednesday.  He has also agreed to meet with Barnard Columbia Divest as of this morning.

October 22 was recognized as the official National Day of Protest Against Police Brutality, according to an email sent by Columbia Students Against Mass Incarceration. Columbia Prison Divest members stood in Schermerhorn outside of 501 reading statements and holding signs, in addition to the many flyers speckling the walls of the classroom, in order to attract PrezBo’s attention.

Today, Bollinger agreed to meet with Barnard Columbia Divest protesters at his Fun Run this morning, according to BCD’s Twitter. CPD’s Facebook page also shows a video of the group intercepting PrezBo on Wednesday and getting vocal confirmation that he would meet. According to the video, CPD has been trying to meet with PrezBo for 8 months, and only now has he agreed to “set it up.”  Watch it below:

Video courtesy of Chris Wang, and photo via Barnard Columbia Divest

Writing About Writing In Your Twenties
So fancy

So fancy

Want to write? Scared about what will happen to your writing in your twenties? Max Rettig, a young man in his (early) twenties (so he hasn’t yet reached the HOLY CRAP I’M IN MY TWENTIES phase yet), explored the Writing in Your Twenties Panel and has written a piece about it. 

Late last night, well into the darkness of a late October evening and as high as one can go in Kent, I looked through the window onto an angled but clear view of a well-lit Butler, where just two nights ago, I had spent eight hours working on my first submission for my nonfiction creative writing workshop, the first class in what will likely become my major. Ah, Creative Writing…this was the topic, and host department, of last night’s discussion about writing in your twenties.

The panelists have been, or are currently going through, “that kind of awkward part” in their lives, according to moderator and fiction professor Stacey D’Erasmo. Those panelists were: Jenna Johnson (CC’99, editor at HMH), Jennifer Miller (MFA fiction ’11, author), Josh Edwin (MFA poetry ’14, GS advisor, UW Fellow), and Chris Prioleau (MFA, founder and editor of Apogee). Each panelist had a chance to speak about their twenties experiences, sometimes slightly directed by D’Erasmo but mostly free to say whatever they wished. Chris Prioleau was the first to speak.

Chris’ main theme was that, with writing, unlike for every other profession, there’s no switch that flips and suddenly you understand your life. He made a strong case for developing a very good work ethic, but also not necessarily writing every day. His reason? “Once you’re out of school, no one is asking you or chasing you down for a workshop submission.” Chris drove that point home by mentioning “the bubble”. We, as undergraduates, think of the Columbia bubble as a geographic location. Chris thinks of “the bubble” as an idea, in which we are protected by professors and advisors who care if we are successful or not. Outside of that bubble, save for our family and friends, no one cares. He finished by suggesting that writers get out of their own box and try every type of writing possible.

Next to talk was Josh Edwin, who described his twenties as “untethered and adrift.” His main theme was solitude, and, helped by quotes from James Joyce and others, he went on to discuss the pros and cons of being alone as a writer. Solitude is both his best friend and worst enemy. A positive aspect, he felt, is the absence of people telling him what he should read and the absence of a syllabus of reading assignments. This allowed him to explore hidden gems he wouldn’t have found otherwise. As a con, he mentioned the lack of a community with which to be excited about and get feedback for your work. His most striking point, however, was that “the world doesn’t give a shit, especially about poetry.” Take yourself outside your work, he encouraged, and look at it from a new perspective.

Read more from someone in their twenties writing about writing in your twenties after the jump!

10 Reasons to Watch CU Sports This Weekend
It's all so green and beautiful

On Saturday afternoon, about 10,000 people will be drinking here

The ever athletic Ross Chapman gives you a plethora of reasons to attend this week’s games.

It’s that time of year again. The posters are going up while the supply of beer in local stores is going down. This Saturday, everybody’s getting ready to go up to Baker Athletic Complex on the fan bus, dressed in all of the Columbia University merchandise they can dig out of their closets. Our Ivy League rival Dartmouth is coming to town while we put homecoming, parents’ weekend, and senior day together into one beautiful athletic experience. You might not be a sports fan, but if there’s one time to support the team, it’s right now. Get there early, stay there late, and cheer like it’s the Super Bowl. Go support a winning tradition. Go support the f***ball team, in the European sense.

Be there, when Columbia women’s soccer hosts Dartmouth at 4 PM on Saturday. Here’s why you should be excited:

  1. Columbia athletics are better than you think. This soccer team has played 13 games this season and has only lost two. Neither of the losses came at home. They’re second in the Ivy League (tied with Princeton) and are in a position to battle Harvard at the end of the year for the title if they continue their success.
  2. It’s Senior Day! Before the game, the Lions will honor all ten members of the 2015 class. If you have any senior friends on the team, congratulate them at the game!
  3. The Columbia defense ranks at #15 nationally with 0.567 goals allowed per game. The Lions will not be blown away by the Big Green.
  4. Goalkeeper Allison Spencer earned her second Ivy League Player of the Week award last weekend with her shutout performance against Princeton. Also on the honor roll is Holly Neshat, Ivy League Rookie of the Week, who scored the only goal in our 1-0 defeat of the Tigers.
  5. Saturday is Columbia’s last home game of the season, so you’ll have to wait until next September if you miss this game for more women’s soccer action.
  6. If you’re looking to get plastered with friends, you can avoid stumbling onto campus and stay for the men’s soccer game against Dartmouth at 7 PM.
  7. Columbia spreads the wealth; members of all four eligible graduating classes have contributed goals and assists to the Lions offense this season, meaning that one soccer player on your floor is not going to be on the sideline all game.
  8. Get away from the constant hollering about head coaches and athletic directors at Robert Kraft Field, because the new soccer coach Tracy Bartholomew, was hired just last winter. See how some new leadership can revitalize an athletic program.
  9. The Deli on the corner of Broadway and 218th street changed its layout. Everything’s flipped around and it looks respectable and oh my gosh, you guys, get a sandwich there, it looks so nice.
  10. We should be working to support our good teams. Just because soccer isn’t a big source of revenue for the university doesn’t mean we should all ignore a potential championship team. Reward these student-athletes for a great year of soccer.

Image via Bwog

Bwoglines: Lizard Feet Edition?
Some super cool lizards evolved super lizard feet in 15 years.

Some super cool lizards evolved super lizard feet in 15 years.

Looks like America needs to step it up with national holidays. It could lead to greater happiness in the public. Come on Obama, just add a few already. (BBC)

Rome’s Mayor, registered the marriages of several same-sex couples yesterday, putting pressure on the Italian government to clarify the laws of civil unions. You can do it Italy! (New York Times)

If these lizards can evolve crazy new huge sticky feet in 15 years, I can definitely evolve a math-brain before the final right. (Washington Post)

If you enjoyed Archie comics as a kid, “Riverdale,” a TV show based on the comic books, will be coming to Fox. Can’t believe this was missing during my childhood. (LA Times)


Slimy via Shutterstock

CUMC Doctor Diagnosed With Ebola
Tl;dr of the article

Tl;dr of the article

Earlier tonight it was announced that CUMC physician Craig Spencer was officially diagnosed with Ebola, making him the first patient with Ebola in New York. Although De Blasio earlier told us all to calm down because they’ve got it handled, PrezBo also sent out an email to the Columbia community tonight addressing the issue. PrezBo confirmed that Spencer is currently being treated at the Bellevue Hospital. He also reminds us that the threat of contracting Ebola here at Columbia is very low, but you’re welcome to contact Health Services for answers to any of your paranoid questions.

Read PrezBo’s full email here:

Dear fellow members of the Columbia community:

As you may have seen in the media, Dr. Craig Spencer is being treated for Ebola at Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan.  Dr. Spencer, an emergency department physician at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center, recently returned from a humanitarian mission with Doctors Without Borders to one of the outbreak areas in Western Africa.  We admire and appreciate all of those willing to do this vital and selfless public health work around the globe.

It’s critical to bear in mind what our public health and infectious disease experts have emphasized – that the risk to people in New York City and at Columbia remains extremely low.  If you or anyone has any concerns, please visit the University’s Ebola Preparedness site or the New York City Department of Health Ebola update page.  You may also contact Student Health Services at 212-854-2284 or Workforce Health and Safety for Faculty/Staff with Hospital Responsibilities at 212-305-7590.

We must keep Dr. Spencer in our thoughts and wish him a full and speedy recovery, as we do the vulnerable populations he serves.  We will also continue to keep the Columbia community informed as we learn more from City, State, and Federal health officials.

Lee C. Bollinger

The truth via Shutterstock

Get Pumped For This Year’s HALLOWEEN CONTESTS
Don't just be another kitty in a world of lions

Don’t just be another kitty in a world of lions

We know that you’ve spent any time you’ve had free in the past couple of weeks thinking about your perfect Halloween costume. To pay off for your hard work and brag about your bravery for standing in line at Ricky’s for an hour, Bwog has brought back our annual Halloween Costume Contest. Put those blurry selfies and badly lit photos in the corner of your room to use by sending them to tips@bwog.com.

But wait! There’s more! We’re also bringing back our Pumpkin Carving Contest this year. Send in those pictures of the pumpkin you stole from outside the stores on Broadway and tried to poorly carve a face on with your steak knife in your kitchen. We’ve received some pretty baller pumpkins before, so step up your game this year.

All submissions for both contests are due by November 3rd. We will be posting submissions as we go, so get ready to get *Bwog famous.* Winners take home a coveted six pack (of your choice) and an entire Koronets pizza. May the odds be ever in your favor.

We look the same at 2am via Shutterstock

Ferris Reel Film Society Presents: Ghostbusters
"Who you gonna call?"

“Who you gonna call?”

The Columbia University Ferris Reel Film Society is hosting a free screening of Ghostbusters, cosponsored by Columbia College Student Council (CCSC), tonight at 10:30 in the Roone Arledge Cinema in Lerner Hall.

Entry is free with a CUID, so be sure to get there early grab the good seats.

In the spirit of Halloween, organizers have announced that costumes are welcome! (Note to first years: if you are debating wearing a costume, just know that everyone in college wears costumes given the slightest opportunity and you will definitely stand out if you haven’t spent at least 6 hours painstakingly recreating Dr. Egon’s jumpsuit. Start now.)

Event details, along with a plot synopsis and trailer, are available through the Facebook event.

Now, we don’t expect Bill Murray to be there. But Bill Murray is likely to be where you don’t expect him these days.


Ghostbusters posters via WikiCommons

#TBT: A Bit Of Optimism (In These Dark Times)

Bwog is well aware of how sick and tired everyone is from the hellish two weeks we call midterms, so we decided to bring you a bit of optimism: It appears we have it much better than previous generations. Throwbacker Paula Pineros brings us this week’s edition of #tbt.

Not only do we have a much better chance of actually making it to graduation (note the great difference in numbers), we apparently do so with much more enthusiasm (and class, obviously) Note the lack of smiles (and/or life?) on the impressibly mustached faces. Perhaps exams sucked the life out of them, or this is just the psychological response to the lack of emotional release. After all, they didn’t have Yik Yak to complain, Cannons/1020 to let lose, or StressBusters to massage them, so we should probably give them a bit of leeway. Regardless, they look beat.

So, just think of it this way: you’re half a semester closer to the glorious feeling of self-actualization (and shaking PrezBo’s hand—an achievement in and of itself!) Or be really disappointed and stare of into distance with a beautiful ‘stache, which is just as fulfilling, apparently.

Photos via the Columbia Archives

PSA: Sexual Assault Resource CUID Stickers Available Today
Much like your ID, but more helpful.

Much like your ID, but more helpful.

Stickers with phone numbers for the Rape Crisis Center and Psychological Services, intended for the back of CUIDs, will be available today in Lerner from 5:00pm to 6:00pm.

These stickers are the result of efforts made by Lauren Cardenas, SEAS’16, and the SIC Community Health House. Realizing that mental health facilities and rape crisis resources were not included among the emergency information on the back of student IDs, Lauren has been working since this summer with the Community Health House to organize the order of stickers.

Fitting perfectly on the back of ID cards, there are plenty of stickers available; Res Life has funded the order for 8,000 stickers, which fit on the blank space on the back of the IDs.

Plans are in place to distribute the stickers through CPS, Kent, and Go Ask Alice!, but in the meantime they are available at the Community Health House and at events like today’s. Stickers were also distributed to RAs on Tuesday.

While currently available only to students with a CUID, the stickers should eventually be printed with Barnard numbers and for GS students. The ultimate goal of Lauren and the Community Health House is to have these numbers printed on the backs of IDs for future classes.

Bwoglines: Yes. It’s Still Happening Edition
You thought he'd forgotten, but they're still out there lurking, waiting for you to remember. He was young when you knew him.

Waving to you, a man who was young when you cared about these issues. But they’re still there, just like him.

Oscar Pistorius. Man. Remember that guy? Well, it doesn’t matter; his existence does not rely on your faith. He persists, and his five year prison sentence may soon mean house arrest. (The New York Times)

There was a while when we were all mildly interested in Ebola. Then terrified. Then generally okay, because we moved on. Well, it is still out there, to the degree that the United States is worried enough to monitor travelers from Ebola infested nations. (The New York Times)

Didn’t this already happen, you ask yourself. Certainly, we say, but this is how you get old and jaded, so pretend you’re still excited. A man hopped the white house fence, and is now in police custody. (CNN)

Bedbugs. Trendy for a while, but, like your high school friend at homecoming, still here even though you’ve decided it’s not cool any more. Nonetheless, here’s some tips on how to deal with your revolting little friends. (Gothamist)

It’s self defense, the officials say. We don’t want them to take any more territory, they say. Decide for yourself, whether U.S. statements on Syrian involvement, particularly it’s military training program, are accurate, or old hat (hint: see title). (Washington Post)

Remember Blackwater? Well a jury finally found at least some Blackwater employees guilty. Of crimes committed in 2007. Talk about a throwback Thursday. (Huffington Post)

Happy old man reminding you of all you’ve forgotten, via Shutterstock

ESC: Renovations And Innovations
More outlets, pls!!!!!

More outlets, plz!!!

ESC convened on Monday night to discuss building renovations, Prezbo’s Fireside Chat, upcoming events, and more. We sent Bureau Chief Aparajita Maitra to get the scoop.

ESC was up to its usual business Monday night.

In a meeting with Dean Boyce, ESC talked about a channel for alumni to donate straight to student groups that they care about. Carleton Lounge will be going through renovations and will be closed for a short time, the dates of which will be announced soon in the Mudd Renovations Timeline. More outlets are needed in places such as NoCo and Joe’s.

The post-renovated Carleton is looking to become Butler Café-esque without a kitchen, and it will stay open later. A microwave and a panini maker will be the highlights. Uris, however, will have a full kitchen. In opposition to closing the kitchen in Carleton, one member complained, “I have to take the elevator down from the 10th floor, walk to Uris, wait in line for a sandwich, and walk all the way back.” Also, Uris Café meals are a dollar more expensive.

At the Fireside Chat with President Bollinger, the expansion of the Core Curriculum was discussed. The proposition is that the Core Curriculum include more than just Western/European philosophy. Students believe that adding diversity and adding books with different authors is necessary. University Senate Jillian Ross noted that, “the Core is our foundation for this school, yet there are no people of color and only one woman represented.”

More about the Fireside Chat, small project grants, and announcements below:

Catfish Comes To Columbia

Bwog Video, aka B-Roll Productions, is at it again, and this time they’re delving into the colourful world of reality television. 

If you like to spend your free time photoshopping Channing Tatum into photos of the Catalogue Room, email us at video@bwog.com

In Passing: Reflections On Visibility From A Transgender Man
Illustration by Alexander Pines, CC '16

Illustration by Alexander Pines, CC ’16

Continuing to honor our Athena-like relationship with our mother mag, The Blue and White, we’re rolling out a preview from the upcoming fall issue, hopefully available in wonderful blue print on campus next week. On the cover this issue,  former Bwog features editor and B&W senior editor Alexander Pines, CC ’16, wrote a sequel to his piece about identity and transness from last year

“Do you have blood in your semen?”

This question, the last in a long line posed by my doctor at Columbia Health Services, was what made me realize why no one believed me about my UTI symptoms; everyone from the lady at the reception desk to the two dubious nurses to the doctor assumed that I had a penis. I don’t. Awkward.

“I’m trans,” I said.

He blinked.

So this is what passing really means, I thought. “I still have a vagina,” I said.

“Oh! Then you could definitely have a UTI! You just looked, well, like someone…” he said, trailing off and muttering about getting a urine sample.

Who ought to pee standing up? I finished for him, wishing at that moment that I could, in fact, pee standing up. It would’ve made taking that urine sample a lot easier.

Most of the time, I pass as a cisgender (non-trans) man and my transness is something I am not forced to think about. Moments like this remind me that for most people, trans identities—and, by extension, experiences—don’t exist. In this case, by the time I received treatment for the UTI, it had already progressed into a full-blown kidney infection.

Passing, in the trans sense of the word, is being constantly read as the gender I identify with—in clothing stores, restaurants, airports, bathrooms (always vital in bathrooms), and so on. Most don’t see the needles, the pools of blood that form on my thigh when I mess up a shot, the oily residue I later wash off my hands in the bathroom, the vial of amber liquid, hormones, I keep next to my birth certificate and the social security card on my desk.

Before I came out as trans, I used to jokingly call myself a “hundred footer”—you could clock my queerness from across a room. Short hair, Ani Difranco tee shirt, the works. In other words, I was used to being visible. Once my gender presentation became more intentionally male, this visibility became an anxiety that twisted in my stomach throughout my day—cashiers, security guards, and professors all fumbled for pronouns and stared. Now, I look like any other white guy on line at Starbucks.

His continued genderfeels.