Written by Sarah Kinney
This evening, both Barnard College and Columbia College released the names of the remaining inductees for their 2018 classes of Phi Beta Kappa. Phi Beta Kappa is made up of 10 percent of the respective college senior class, chosen “based on the breadth, depth and rigor of their academic programs” (not necessarily the top 10 percent GPA-wise, but ya know, there’s a lot of overlap). The first two percent of each class were elected last fall, receiving the special honors of Junior Phi Beta Kappa. You can find CC’s fall list here and Barnard’s one here.
Behold! The 2018 class of Columbia College Phi Beta Kappa
Written by Lucy Danger
It’s been almost two years since the medical assistant workers in Columbia’s Primary Care Services voted to join 1199 SEIU, a union with over 5,000 members in New York City. Most of the union members 1199 represents work at the Columbia Medical Center uptown, in addition to more than 500 workers in dining and clerical services here on the Morningside Heights campus. So it wasn’t strange when the eight women who work in Primary Care voted to join the union. But a year and a half, and more than 25 bargaining meetings later, there is still no contract agreement.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Michael Ashby, Vice President of 1199 SEIU. Ashby represents the workers at the medical center and the dining and clerical services at the Morningside campus. He explained that the current situation does not reflect normal contract negotiation procedure. When the other workers on the Morningside campus voted to join the union just over three years ago, it took around four bargaining meetings between Columbia and the union to agree on language for the contract for over 500 workers, compared to 25+ meetings – and counting – for these eight workers. The demands haven’t changed. Columbia’s Director of Labor and Employee Relations for Morningside, Idina Gorman, hasn’t changed. So, what is causing such a different process this time?
When the eight medical staff voted to join the union, 1199 wanted to have them folded into the already-existing contract that they had with the Columbia University dining and clerical services employees. This was a standard decision: it was a small number of new members; the University had already negotiated and agreed to the conditions and terms in those contracts. But Columbia refused, instead electing to revisit every term and proposed benefit. According to Gwynne Wilcox, lawyer for 1199, “the University has disregarded this precedent in bargaining and has effectively ignored the other two 1199 contracts that the University negotiated.” Wilcox added that “it is rare for employers to act like this under these circumstances for eight workers where the Union and employer already have contracts with substantial other workers,” she continued. “In most instance[s], employers would have adopted the existing contracts.” In short, Columbia hasn’t made it easy. However, what no one seems to know is why.
Written by Megan Wylie
On April 25th, Butler Library was briefly occupied by the Liberation Coalition, a collective focused on “decolonizing Columbia.” Bwog Staff Writer Megan Wylie was at the occupation, and had the chance to speak to members of the group to gain insight into their motivations for the protest.
In the midst of the graduate workers’ strike, at about 1:25 pm on Wednesday, a group known as the Liberation Coalition gained access to Butler through entering with a prospective student tour group, and occupied the main stairway between the 2nd and 3rd floors for approximately 45 minutes. Although an administrator who arrived on scene threatened to call the police and take protesters’ IDs, no IDs were taken and the police was not called.
The group was formed in response to CUCR’s speaker series earlier in the year, and is focused on ending what they see as Columbia’s relationship with white colonization and systematic racism. They claim that this relationship, which they outlined in speeches and a flyer they handed out to bystanders, is expressed through racist statues and names on campus, a curriculum centered upon white men and intrinsically connected to colonization, the gentrification of Harlem, and institutional biases against students of color marginalized by white supremacy. Their demands seek to combat this connection between Columbia and colonization. These demands include: “Replace racist statues and names on campus with people of color who resisted oppression;” “Decolonize the curricula by centralizing and privileging the voices and knowledge of marginalized people;” “Stop gentrifying Harlem;” “Provide free tuition for Indigenous and Black students, especially those from the Lenni Lenape diaspora and Harlem communities;” “Allocate financial and legal resources in defense of all marginalized communities;” and “Divest from white supremacy, settler colonialism, military occupation, and fossil fuels.”
Although these demands are significant and wide-reaching, the protesters in Butler today primarily sought to disrupt the normal flow of Columbia life and educate students about their cause. The collective consists of both graduate and undergraduate students, and does not have individual leaders.
As they marched through Butler, they carried signs that referenced the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement, as well as a large banner that said “DECOLONIZE COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY.” In response to their chants, several students began yelling at the protesters, calling them disruptive and obnoxious.
“You have acres of colonized land to study on,” one protestor responded.
Written by Zoe Sottile
Spunky young GSSC Bureau Chief Zoe Sottile brings you the latest and greatest from General Studies Student Council. As always, GSSC meets at 8:15 pm on Tuesday nights in the Satow Room.
This was the last GSSC General Body of the year! Lots of updates, lots of co-sponsorship requests, so little time. And, as usual, there was food.
New GS Dean Lisa Rosen-Metsch made it a goal to attend GSSC once a month; last night’s meeting marked her fourth such visit. She gave shout-outs to GSSC’s success with the gala and encouraged students to take the Student Well-Being Survey.
Dean Rosen-Metsch spoke mostly about her efforts to improve GS’s financial aid and food security last night. She described financial aid as her “highest budget priority” and mentioned the setting aside of a budget next year specifically dedicated to alleviating student food insecurity. When a student asked what her highest priority was for improving student aid, she named GS’s endowment. She stated a desire to “ensure the financial viability of GS going forward” as well as ultimately “meet the full financial need of students”. GS is unique among the undergraduate colleges in that it doesn’t need to hire its own professors. Thus, essentially all of the profits of the endowment go towards increasing financial aid.
Dean Rosen-Metsch also mentioned her dedication to social justice issues, specifically naming the college’s partnership with the Center for Justice. The center is looking to create more educational opportunities for people who were formerly incarcerated; several GS deans are teaching or working at the center on that project and others.
Tags: gs, gssc, i love gssc, i peaked in ninth grade, i want gssc to love me, if you're that guy please be my friend, some guy brought cookies and also milk to dip the cookies, student council, take me back 2 high school, the food smelled so good but i had just eaten, the thought of summer terrifies me
In case you couldn’t tell from the drum circle on Low, the Graduate Workers Strike is in full swing. This subsequently means that us Barnumbia students are missing out on their quality time with 30-something grad students that live in Williamsburg or Astoria or Washington Heights. One Bwog Staffer fills us in on their saga to make a connection with their TA before it’s too late.
Somehow it’s taken me an entire semester, but this last minute stretch taught me that I need to go all out in my efforts to hook up with my TA. Once our final discussion was canceled, I realized I had to get my shit together. So I shaved my legs, threw on a dress, read up on the worker’s strike, and laced up my combat boots.
This is my LAST week to make my relationship with my TA blossom, and it’s really a testament to how committed I am, considering I’m trekking over to Low in an incredibly inappropriate outfit for a labor strike. In the midst of pots being banged and La Croix waters being handed out, I stood by and screamed “What’s disgusting? Union busting!”
But in the midst of me scanning a field of signs for my TA’s coiffed hair, I started overhearing chants and rants. The administration is doing what?? I can’t believe I almost crossed the picket line to support Columbia’s anti-labor, pro-Trump, capitalist scum agenda.
At that point I realized something: I had to join in on the fight against Columbia’s policies, not just the fight to get naked with my TA. I bent down and grabbed a sign and started marching with the crowd of protestors.
So at the end of the day, our love remains unrequited but I did become an avid supporter of graduate student workers collective bargaining. Now can Columbia just pay our fucking TAs so they can stop ignoring us (me)?
In the spirit of the intellectual and creative inspiration that is often imparted by wisdom, this important PSA will be told in the format of an acronym.
What are we looking for?
If there’s a senior you know who inspires you, nominate them to share some parting senior wisdom, so that we may all bask in their wise glory.
Speedy is what you have to be if you’d like to nominate someone, however, because nominations are due tonight!
Email tips@bwog with their name, email, and a brief description of why they deserve a nomination, or just fill out this Google Form.
(That is all. You’re welcome.)
Written by Jenny Zhu
Happening in the World: Dressed in red, blue, and orange, thousands of demonstrators marched yesterday in Hollywood to demand that Turkey recognize the 1915 Armenian genocide, atrocities that caused the systematic killing of 1.2 million Armenians (LA Times).
Happening in the US: Rapper Meek Mill was released from prison yesterday, after a controversial sentence for violating probation. Hours after his release, Mill attended a playoff game supporting the blue-jersey-clad Philadelphia 76’ers (ESPN).
Happening in NYC: The blue whale exhibit at New York’s American Museum of Natural History got its annual cleaning yesterday. With a crowd of onlookers, exhibition manager Trenton Duersken vacuumed the 94-feet-long, 21,000-pound fiberglass whale model, while suspended almost 50 feet in the air (AMNY).
Happening on Campus: Other than the strike? Well, Columbia Health is encouraging students to wear blue denim for Denim Day, a campaign supporting survivors of sexual assault. More information about Denim Day can be found here.
Overseen/Overheard: “Jesus is the original rally…Blacked out on a Friday and woke up that Sunday.”
Blues clues via Bwog Archives
Bwog Science is back with CU Women in STEM, where we highlight the amazing women in science at Columbia. Today’s profile is from Briley Lewis (CC ’18), astrophysics major and Pluto enthusiast!
What subjects are you interested in? Exoplanets and planetary science
How did you get interested in your subject? Can you remember the moment that got you hooked? When I was a kid, I always wanted to be a vet. But in middle school, when you have to dissect frogs and everything, I realized that I am INCREDIBLY squeamish – so, being a vet wasn’t quite an option, and I needed to find a new interest. One of my best friends ended up giving me the book Death by Black Hole and Other Cosmic Quandaries by Neil deGrasse Tyson, and I absolutely loved it. I wanted to learn more about space, and I just kept on learning until I got to where I am now.
Most important research/extracurricular experiences so far: I’ve been a part of two research projects as an undergrad, and both were incredibly important to me. First off, I’ve worked at the American Museum of Natural History for two years (since the summer after sophomore year) as a part of Dr. Rebecca Oppenheimer’s group; we work with an instrument called Project 1640, built at the museum and operated on the Palomar Hale Telescope in CA, which surveys nearby stars to discover new exoplanets through direct imaging. Secondly, I spent last summer at Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, MD, working with data of Pluto from NASA’s New Horizons mission.
What are your career goals? I want to continue pursuing research, earning my PhD and eventually either becoming a tenured professor or maybe a civil servant at NASA. At the same time, I hope to be actively involved in shaping policies about space exploration and astronomical research funding, and also to continue doing lots of outreach and teaching.
Favorite science building on campus? I totally have to pick Pupin; it’s basically where I’ve lived the last four years. Also, it may not have the best classrooms, but it TOTALLY has the best roof – go there when the department does public outreach events to see one of the best views!!
Written by Danielle Mikaelian
Is your ability to get internships better than your ability to get a girlfriend/boyfriend?
Did cuffing season come and go, with you still being single?
Did your two best friends start dating, making you an awkward third wheel?
If so, you aren’t alone! Columbia is known for its hookups, and not everyone can be in a secure relationship. While it is important to be supportive of your friends’ relationships, not everyone is prepared to do this, especially if your cuffing season went from a hopeful start to a disgraceful end. To ensure that you’re prepared for your new role, I asked Columbia students for opinions on how to properly third wheel. Here are their responses!
If all else fails…you have a few other options. Why not break them up, so being a third wheel isn’t an option? Or, you can always find a significant other of your own…and make it payback time.
(Quick shoutout to two of my best friends, who inspired this post. If I have to be a third wheel to anyone, I’m glad it’s you.)
Written by Dassi Karp
Last night’s Barnard Student Government Association Rep Council meeting was officially about the budget for the upcoming school year. While the gathered reps were treated to a vary detailed slideshow of budget requests, allocations, and projections, most of the action came earlier in the hour, when SGA Executive Board spoke about responses to the recently passed referendum.
First, though, kicking off their messages of support for student activist groups, President Angela Beam read a statement of support for 24/7 Columbia, which is currently staging a sit-in in Lerner Hall to advocate for accessible round-the-clock student healthcare. “We stand with them,” said Beam, and encouraged everyone to sign the group’s petition.
Members of Exec Board then took turns reading parts of a statement in response to President Beilock’s recent email to the student body about the referendum results. In the email, Beilock explained that acting on the referendum would “risk chilling campus discourse” and would be “inconsistent” with the college’s mission. She also noted that there is “clearly not a consensus across the Barnard community on whether or how to address the issue.” Because of these reasons, she does not plan on moving forward with the results of the referendum, though students and student groups are of course free to continue the discussion.
Tags: all my classes are in churches this week, are we really going to do this for another year?, can I opt out of student activities fee? I don't read the Barnard Bulletin, CUAD, did anyone think that the administration was bound to referendum results?, don't worry, grandma, greek games are such a waste, hi boo, I was wrong the microphone isn't worth it, is a lerner sit-in effective at all?, let's replace midnight breakfast with...morning breakfast, referendumb, sga, thank you for reading those numbers off of the screen., unpopular opinion let's end bacchanal
Written by Sarah Harty
What’s Happening In The World: A van in Toronto rammed into a crowd on Monday, killing ten and injuring 15. The driver has been identified by police as Alek Minassian, a 25 year old Toronto resident. He is currently in police custody. (BBC)
What’s Happening In The US: Mike Pompeo is about to get confirmed as the new Secretary of State. Overview: He’s like Trump – bigoted and gross – but he’s probably not crazy? More than we can say about the woman who might replace him at the CIA… (NBC)
What’s Happening In NYC: What do we want? Better subways! What are we getting? Double decker buses…on Staten Island. Only slightly less inconvenient than going to London to ride the OG. (Patch)
What’s Happening At Columbia: Former Attorney General Eric Holder (CC ’73) will deliver the 21st Annual David N. Dinkins Leadership and Public Policy Forum Keynote Address. Miller Theatre, 6 – 7pm, but probably best to get there early!
Overheard: “Stacks? ;)”
Written by Thomas Saenz
Blaze it and raise it! Friday marked 4/20, every stoner’s favorite holiday. Columbia students were festive for the occasion, lighting up in honor of the one day a year people don’t care that you’re smoking. Here, in no particular order, are the best stories from this weekend. If you have any stories that you want to add, send them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and you may just see your story added onto this!
Bwog and 4/20:
You’ve probably received an email from Provost Coatsworth about the “possible strike by student teaching and research assistants.” If you attend CC or GS, you also probably received a message from Deans Valentini and Rosen-Metsch about how the strike would affect classes. Perhaps you’ve heard directly from your TAs or research assistants about their plans to strike. Perhaps you’ve seen posters from either the Graduate Workers of Columbia (GWC) or by Student-Worker Solidarity (SWS) about events taking place.
Even with all of this information floating around, it’s quite possible you still have questions about the upcoming graduate workers’ strike that will take place unless administration negotiates a contract before Tuesday morning – which currently seems unlikely. In order to clear things up, we here at Bwog thought that it would be useful to provide answers to some FAQ about the strike.
1. What are graduate workers demanding, specifically? Graduate workers will be striking because Columbia administration refuses to recognize the union they formed nearly a year and a half ago.
A brief rundown on the union’s history:
Written by Abby Rubel
Columbia had a rough weekend. Sports Editor Abby Rubel gives you the deets.
Men’s Golf: The Lions performed poorly this weekend, finishing in last place at the Ivy League Championships with a score of 944. Yale took first place since the first time since 2011 with a score of 880. Columbia particularly struggled in the first round, scoring 332 where the other teams scored in the low 300s. (Princeton, which came in seventh place, scored the next-highest with 319.) And because their second and third round scores were on par with the other Ancient Eight teams, they couldn’t catch up. Individually, first-year Arjun Puri lead the team with a score of 24 over par.
Women’s Golf: The women’s team had a successful weekend at the Ivy League Championships, coming in fourth thanks to a strong performance from senior Nancy Xu. Xu tied for seventh place individually and shot a 73 on Saturday, keeping Columbia’s score that day low and putting the team within range of third-place Brown. But Brown shot 303 on Sunday to Columbia’s 307—good enough to hang on to fourth place but not good enough to catch the Bruins. Princeton won the tournament after a tie-breaker hole with Harvard.
Heavyweight Rowing: Columbia lost the race for the Doc Lusins Trophy for the eighth year in a row on Saturday. The Lions came in third place in all three of the day’s races, losing to both Boston University (the current holder of the trophy) and Syracuse. In the Varsity Eight race, Boston beat out Syracuse by just half a second, while Columbia came in eight seconds later. The other two races went similarly poorly, with the Light Blue coming in third by five or more seconds each time.
Men’s Lightweight Rowing: beat Cornell and MIT, beat Dartmouth
Baseball: won 2-0, lost 10-5, lost 7-6 against Princeton
Softball: won 9-1, won 9-0, lost 9-0 against Princeton
Men’s Tennis: won 4-0 at Brown, won 4-0 at Yale
Women’s Tennis: won 5-2 against Brown, won 6-1 against Yale
Lacrosse: won 14-12 against Brown
Editor’s note (1): Updated on 4/23 at 2:03 pm to address factual errors in President Beilock’s letter, as well as to correct inaccuracies regarding SGA’s and the College’s actions.
Editor’s note (2): Updated on 4/23 at 4:24 pm to add statements from Nas Abd Elal, a member of CUAD, and Aryeh.
Editors’s note (3): Updated on 4/24 at 12:30 pm to correct mathematical errors in a previous version of this post, which had stated that more than 30% of the Barnard student body voted for the referendum (our corrected number is 28.5%). Also, updated to include information regarding SGA’s response to this email.
In an email sent out earlier today to the Barnard community, President Sian Beilock wrote that, if requested, the College will not take action to divest from companies with ties to Israel. President Beilock wanted to inform students of the college’s intentions ahead of the Student Government Association’s (SGA) discussions this week following last week’s student body vote in favor of the CUAD referendum. According to President Beilock, the referendum’s requests do not meet the standards of consideration for the Board of Trustees.
The referendum, which passed last Wednesday by a margin of 28.6% with a voter turnout of 49.9%, could lead SGA to send a letter encouraging the college to divest from eight companies associated with Israel. This week, SGA will discuss their plans going forward. However, according to Beilock, whatever SGA decides is irrelevant, because the College does not intend to take action, as the referendum does not fulfill two standards required for any case presented to the Board of Trustees that’s related to Barnard’s endowment.
These two standards are first, upholding the mission of the College in promoting freedom of expression; and second, an obvious consensus among the student body. According to Beilock, an institutional stance on the Israel-Palestine conflict would “chill the discourse” in which members of the student body should feel encouraged to participate freely. In addition, she wrote that although the referendum did pass by a majority, those who voted to support the referendum represent less than 30% of the student body and thus cannot be considered a general consensus.
Although about 50% of the Barnard student body voted in the SGA elections, not all of these students opted to vote in the referendum. Thus, the 741 students who voted yes represent 28.5% of the student body. Those who voted no represent 15.8% of the student body, and 55.7% did not vote. These numbers are based on a Spring 2018 enrollment number of 2,604 students, provided to Bwog by the Barnard Media Relations department. Our calculations can be seen on the right.
Beilock’s email was initially written to the Student Government Association, then forwarded to the greater student body for transparency. In the email, she mentions thousands of alumnae who opposed the referendum, thereby stating that the College will not be taking action for divestment in order to “foster civil discourse.” In fact, the petition of those opposing the referendum is not composed solely of alumnae–at least 1,051 of the “thousands of signers” are simply listed as a “Friend and Ally” of the College (not an alumna, parent, or donor).
Bwog reached out to Nas Abd Elal, a member of CUAD, and Aryeh, for comments regarding the email. Their responses have been included at the end of the post.
The College has also prepared a Q&A for any questions on the referendum itself. A representative of SGA told us that the Executive Board will be responding to President Beilock’s email during external announcements during their regular Monday night meeting.
At the meeting following this email, the SGA Executive Board issued a statement emphasizing the board’s commitment to the democratic process and to “fulfill [the council’s] duty to advocate for students to the administration.” The SGA leaders expressed that the petition Beilock references does not represent the diversity of opinions held by Barnard alumnae, and that her email trivializes the council’s process and the voices of the students it represents. A past SGA referendum to divest from fossil fuel companies was not dismissed, this statement points out, even though it only received 565 student votes (almost 200 fewer votes than the CUAD referendum). Rather than working with SGA in an open dialogue to discuss divestment, as has been the process in the past, while “SGA was and is in the process of deciding how and whether to bring this issue to the administration, the President and the Board of Trustees have had their own dialogue and have chosen to dismiss the possibility of moving forward.”
Last night, SGA voted to write a letter of support to the Barnard administration for divestment from the eight companies associated with Israel listed in the referendum. The council also voted to write a “dissenting statement” regarding President Beilock’s response, and add it to this letter. During next Monday’s meeting (April 30), the council will vote on the wording of this letter; if it passes, the letter will be sent to the administration that night.
The SGA Executive Board’s full statement and more details on last night’s Rep Council meeting can be found in Bwog’s SGA coverage post for this week.
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