In Response To ButCaf’s New Standing Desks
Also a standing desk.

Pictured: celestial change

In a room high up in Butler library, a man has received a great honor.

He is not a man in the traditional sense, but then neither is the room a room.

Like the Israeli city of a certain great Someone, or a mountaintop in Greece, dotted with crumbling palaces, the room is given its form and substance, as intrinsically as it is ineffably bound, by a place very much like it, down below. In this case, the earthly counterpoint goes by a name less impressive than Jerusalem or Olympus: Butler Café, or Butcaf for short. It too is a café, or something like one. There are tables and chairs, resembling the ones you’re familiar with, and these are arranged similarly. It must be much be bigger however. It would have to be, there are so many more people, although it hard to say for sure, this room defying an exact sense of space.

It also feels much grander, but that is likely due to the nature of the company inside. Some have their name chiseled in stone on the walls outside: the Homers, Platos, and Aristotles. Some are prominent in their own right: Foucault and Hemingway and Einstein are among a few. Others are entirely fictional, and one or two still walk the earth. Obama stops in sometimes to chat. They are the Columbia pantheon and a man has just been invited to talk with the greatest of them.

He is apprehensive, and has good reason to be. He has never been popular up here. His reputation has waned and waxed with the political season, but even at the best of times he’s never been liked as much as he is out in the world. Maybe it’s due to Hamilton, once rival and now drinking companion, who was, for a time, had a seat at the more prominent tables. More likely it is because of his hypocrisy. It is a hypocrisy shared by many of his contemporaries, but then that is the price to pay for so thoroughly symbolizing an ideal; you must represent the failure of that ideal as well.

Legacy is a strange thing. Just ask Kant, glowing so magnificently over there in that corner, brilliant bright but blurred, revered but not really understood. Or Nietzsche, sitting across from him, a comic book character with a comic character’s mustache, hyperactively shouting his catch phrases but rarely allowed to talk long enough to explain himself.

As schools of thought are fitted into to new narratives, the men and women here associated with those schools, and oftentimes those who are barely related, find themselves changed, their faces morphed, their character radically altered, all to better embody the ideas that they consist of. A conversation is enough to have an effect. A joke. A story. Especially a story.

Today it is barely a story. An old bit of credit really, mistaken credit to be technical. He didn’t invent the idea. Indulged in it might be more appropriate to say. After all, the words that got him into this room in the first place were themselves stolen: We hold these truths to be self evident…

And so, because of an idea that wasn’t his, and an old association that so few below must even be aware of, he walks forward just a little taller, with a bit more of a spring in his step, stopping when he reaches her.

“So Mr. Jefferson, “ Alma says, “tell us about these new standing desks of ours.”

Anyhow. There are standing desks in ButCafe now.

Fire And Snow: Updates On Both
This is magical...The current situation not so much

This is magical…The current situation not so much

As of this morning, Barnard’s 600 dorm is fully functional. Dean Hinkson emailed the community informing students that both heat and hot water have been restored in the dorm and there are measure being taken to clean the air. 600 is livable and residents should feel safe to return to their suites. Any students still concerned about their dorms, however, will be accommodated by Residential Life upon request.

Monday night’s fire put not only Barnard’s 600 dorm out of business, but it also (temporarily) put Ollie’s and Vine out of business for some time. Don’t worry, though. Ollie’s is going the extra mile and supporting their valued customers during this short yet tragic loss. Delivery is still an option from the restaurant! Vine, on the other hand, doesn’t have gas and therefore will remain closed until it is restored.

Today’s current disaster hitting Morningside Heights—the snow—has not put Columbia out of business. However, students should be warned that most of the non-main gates are closed due to the snow. Plan for extra travel time to classes, and be careful out there!

I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain (snow) via shutterstock 

Ode To Altschul
The majestic beast circa 1982

The majestic beast circa 1982

Ever noticed the aura of mystique surrounding Altschul Hall? Well, we did. Bwog sent Barnard Bearoness Maddie Stearn on a recon mission to find what lies behind Altschul’s harsh exterior. Her findings may surprise you. 

In case you didn’t know, Altschul is absolutely divine. It’s like 13 Rooms of Requirement stacked on top of each other, masquerading as a tower of brutalist architecture. Clearly I’m not referring to the Altschul Auditorium in SIPA (who would refer to that?), but to Altschul Hall on Barnard’s campus. Over the course of my mission I found my heart softening toward this misunderstood building. Maybe yours will too.

The Atrium: a space for whatever

I am extremely fond of the atrium, but I usually only remember to go there when I have no place to eat my pizza in the Diana. Once I end up in the atrium, though, I am extremely content. Those floor-to-ceiling windows do wonders for my Seasonal Affective Disorder (ugh, winter). If the sun hits you just right as you’re reclining in one of the green chairs then you can close your eyes and kind of pretend that spring is coming.

The atrium is also like a freaking chameleon because I have yet to find a purpose it cannot serve. For example, it can be a…

  • …wicked dance space. Tango Club knows what’s up.
  • …concert hall. There’s a piano for your musical needs.
  • …romantic date setting. Short on cash? Unable to brave the cold? Go to the atrium and enjoy some sexy easy-mac while gazing into your date’s eyes.
  • …circus venue. Really, who is stopping you?

More after the jump.

Bwoglines: Videos That Matter Edition
annnnnd confess

Annnnnd confess

Sunday, March 8th is International Women’s Day. Emma Watson announced via Facebook Video, that she would be holding an event in London to discuss the He For She movement and celebrate the day. You can get an invite to this event if tell Emma how you, personally are making an impact to reach gender equality. (Huffington Post)

The Smithsonian released a very cute video of Bao Bao, a 16 month-old panda cub, playing in the snow. (Today)

An anonymous priest is, as of March 16, accepting confession via snapchat video. Other priests take issue with this idea of snapchat confession. Reverend Tony Vilano, claims that Catholicism requires you to visit a priest face to face or behind a divider for the confession to be legit. Add @priestDavid if you want to give it a try. (HNL)

A small island in Japan, Aoshima, has a human population of 22 and a cat population of 120. Here’s a video of felines ruling a island.  (NBC)

Video marker via shutterstock 

NINJa Run-In

Butler is definitely not this romantic

Ezra Koenig once said about a former hookup at Columbia, “How am I supposed to pretend I never want to see you again?” On the other hand, not-so-lovestruck Lili Brown explores the awkwardness of (almost) running into a hookup from the past in the wee hours of the night (in Butler).

There are many a life hack for dodging whomever you randomly wound up with that one Saturday night under the haze of short-lived interest. You’re typically armed with a phone and headphone pair, where you can evade a potential wave or faint smile at your significant other for all of two hours two weeks ago. You can take off your read receipts and give your phone to your roommate to help you out in phrasing “I don’t really want to see you again” in a way that enables you to still have a hold on your dignity.

These interactions are part of the general college social scene, small and arbitrary rites of passage as you waft through your four years in the undergraduate world. You’re one of a million; good job, champ! Be socially awkward and keep your stride on College Walk.

The Columbia Printing System has instead facilitated my most recent run-in to a hook up long gone, an event that was so specific to our own university that its one-in-a-million chance completely startled me.

I absolutely despise Butler for its associating social construct–you’re bound to run into someone you know, and how much do you actually get done after the fact? This truism culminated upon popping my printing-in-Butler cherry by sending a completed essay to Butler 213a and noticing that the UNI-turned full name stacked above mine was that of a first semester hook up long forgotten and avoided this entire semester.

Columbia, you brought us together and here you go again, by the grace of NINJa approving those couple of late weekend nights we can call our own.

Do they run into each other?? Your answer after this suspenseful jump…

Found Poetry: “A Breakup Politicized”
Are we crying over our breakup or the quality of this poem?

Are we crying over our breakup or the quality of this poem?

This afternoon, we pried ourselves out of our usual Butler nooks (slumped over in the Edward W. Said reading room on But 6, behind the desk in 401, or on the other side of the desk in 401, harassing the attendant) and journeyed into the stacks, looking for the right words to express ourselves (and the relationship troubles we’ve been going through recently).

First nights:
Consider the lobster,
Cretaceous carbonate platforms,
A world cut out with crooked scissors–
Undertones of insurrection.
A rift in time, then,
When we leave each other.
No sure victory–
There’s the colonizer and the colonized,
Citizen and subject,
An unsuccessful man.

At least we didn’t put in a line about why storms are named after people via Shutterstock

Barnard Announces Ambassador Samantha Power As 2015 Commencement Speaker
Samantha Power

Ambassador Samantha Power

This afternoon, President Debora Spar and Dean Avis Hinkson sent an email to all Barnard students announcing Ambassador Samantha Power as the keynote speaker at the college’s 2015 Commencement. Power currently serves as the U.S. Permanent Resident to the United Nations. Prior to her role as ambassador, Power is a Pulitzer Prize-winning author who served as a Special Assistant to President Obama. On behalf of Power, President Debora Spar remarked, “Her experiences and insights will surely inspire our graduates, whose own lives and careers will contribute to the future of our nation in an infinite number of ways.”

In addition to her address, Power will also receive the Barnard Medal of Distinction during the ceremony. Other medalists for this year’s Commencement will include Simi Linton, Nadia Lopez, and Diana Nyad. Bios on all of the medalists can be found below in the email.

Commencement for the senior class of 2015 will be held on Sunday, May 17, 2015 at 2:00 PM at the Theater at Madison Square Garden. Each Barnard graduate will be allotted seven tickets for the ceremony. Please find the full email sent to students below.

Dear Barnard Seniors and the Barnard Community,

We are pleased to announce the distinguished speaker and medalists for Commencement 2015. We are very honored that Ambassador Samantha Power, the U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, will deliver the keynote address and receive the Barnard Medal of Distinction. The Pulitzer Prize-winning author previously served on the National Security Council staff as a special assistant to President Obama and, in her role as ambassador since 2013, she has been a global leader in the fight for human dignity, liberty, and equality.

Joining her on the platform to receive Medals are Simi Linton, consultant and public speaker whose work focuses on disability and the arts; Nadia Lopez, innovative principal of Mott Hall Bridges Academy, a public middle school in Brooklyn; and Diana Nyad, champion long-distance swimmer and author.  Read full bios of the medalists:

Barnard’s 123rd Commencement will take place on Sunday, May 17, 2015, at 2:00 p.m., at the Theater at Madison Square Garden. Each Barnard graduate will receive 7 tickets to the ceremony. Before the ceremony, we hope you will attend the Baccalaureate Service at 9:30 a.m. in St. Paul’s Chapel. Following the Baccalaureate, the Class of 2015 will gather on campus for a celebratory reception with friends, family, and faculty. Bus transportation to Madison Square Garden will be provided for all graduates, departing from Barnard at 12:45 p.m.

The University Commencement will take place on the morning of Wednesday, May 20th. More information and any updates will be posted over the next several weeks

We very much look forward to celebrating the spectacular achievements of the Barnard Class of 2015 on May 17th.

President Debora Spar

Dean Avis Hinkson

Read an official press release with full bios on the medalists here.

Teach-In: Fight For $15 Tonight

cu fight for 15Tonight on campus there will be a teach-in to get students to mobilize for the Fight for 15, a national movement of fast-food and other low-wage workers calling for their right to unionize and to earn $15/hour. The teach-in is in preparation for the planned National Day of Action on April 15th.

Tonight, Professor Matthew Vaz will be speaking, along with some adjunct professors and fast-food workers. The teach-in aims to raise awareness about the importance of this movement and to educate college students on why and how to get involved.

The teach-in is tonight from 7:30 to 8:30 at Room 136 in the Thompson Building at Teacher’s College. Pizza will be provided. You can check out the Facebook event here for more information.

Image via CU Fight for 15 Facebook page

Violentology: Studying Colombia At Columbia With Stephen Ferry
White on white? smh

Maybe font color choice is not his strong suit

Yesterday, SIPA hosted a talk by Stephen Ferry on photography and human rights in Colombia, and Ross Chapman was there to bring you the details.

Few countries have a part of their history explicitly called “The Violence.” One rare exception is the nation of Colombia, whose civil wars have spanned on and off for over a century. The specific war period of La Violencia lasted most of the 1950s and claimed about 200,000 civilian lives, and its scholars were called Violentologists. In his photojournalistic reporting of violence in Colombia since then, Stephen Ferry borrowed the name and bestowed it upon his book, Violentology.  Ferry gave an hour-long lecture in which he described the photos of his book page by page for a small, substantially Colombian crowd in the IAB yesterday, followed by another good hour’s conversation about the current political climate. The result was a history lesson with quality journalism and impassioned conversation at its finest.

“I had this chip in my head that this was a drug war,” Ferry explained. He first visited the country in 1995 when giving a talk to Colombian photojournalists. But he soon discovered that the conflict was mainly political. Unlike many civil wars, it had nothing to do with race, ethnicity, or religion. But this didn’t make a huge difference for journalists. The government didn’t want photos of their atrocities publicized, and the insurgents didn’t want some of their tactics to come to light. As a result, most prominent journalists were bombarded with threats, and dozens have given their lives for their coverage of the events.

Since the formal end of La Violencia, three main parties have maintained the conflict – government forces (funded by nations such as the United States), guerilla forces (primarily the FARC and ELN), and paramilitary forces. Officially, the government and paramilitary were unconnected, but signs of collusion are abound, and both fear and despise the guerilla groups. Much of that animosity stems from kidnapping – the FARC especially was notorious for taking hostages from the civilian base. But the other parties are hardly saints; the national government would often kill civilians and dress them up as guerilla insurgents to show progress to the world, to the tune of an additional 4,000 civilian deaths. To give an idea of just how widespread this chaos is, over 10% of the nation of 45 million is internally displaced.

More about photography, violence, and the Columbian dialogue after the break

Bwoglines: Bodies Edition
"Help, I'm alive"

“Help, I’m alive”

Here’s an article on early Kotex ads (you know, before the blue liquid). (Jezebel)

From Couch, the New York Times’s column on therapy: a writer muses on a pebble collection. (New York Times’s Opinionator)

The conclusions drawn from this article may be dubious (@Frontiers of Science), but hey, we’ll take any justification to keep drinking that we can get! Apparently, a glass of red wine is “equal” to an hour at the gym. (My Daily)

Here are the profiles of ten people who live on the “social margins,” from a man with a micropenis to a woman who is scared of vomiting. (NY Mag)

“My heart keeps beating like a hammer” via Shutterstock

Fire At 600 West 116th

A fire has broken out at Barnard dorm 600 West 116th Street. New York fire department is currently on the scene, and the building has been evacuated. A tip reports that smoke reaches all the way to 121st and Broadway and the entire quad is now being evacuated into Lefrak gymnasium. Email if you have any additional information about this emergency, and follow Twitter for information as it comes.

Please remember this is a serious incident thus everyone should exercise caution in the area. Students should feel safe going to Lefrak if they live in the area/the quad.

Update: 11:27 PM: “Ollie’s Broadway walls burst, with shrapnel hitting bystanders. Spectators closed off from Broadway 115-116.”

Updates after the jump.

Hold On, We’re Going Home

Magnolias in Medford

No matter how long you’ve been at Columbia, going home still feels weird. Bwog Babe Rachel Deal did just so this past weekend and tells us about her feelings on the relationship between being in college while also retaining a sense of belonging to your home.

I went home this past weekend for my siblings’ tenth birthday, taking the 1 train to Penn Station and then a five-hour bus to Cambridge, Massachusetts. I arrived at my house at a little before midnight on Thursday. My parents hugged me and heated up some leftover Chinese food, and I gave my slumbering siblings two big kisses on their foreheads, not wanting to wake them up on a school night.

I live in a suburb of Boston called Medford—the home of Tufts—on a dead-end street where there was once an orchard. My neighborhood is currently cloaked in snow—my dad, who towers over the rest of my family at 6’4”, is barely visible as he shuffles down our slippery walkway, snow piled high on either side of him. In a few weeks, the snow will melt and our magnolia tree will bloom just in time for my birthday in late April. None of my friends at home live near me, really—I went to school in Cambridge, bordered on either side by Mt. Auburn Cemetery and the Charles River and not far from Harvard, with kids who commuted from towns like Newton or Belmont or Wellesley, suburbs of Boston much wealthier than my own.

It was my first time home this semester, the first time in about six weeks (which, I’m sure, doesn’t feel like that long for those of you who live far from New York). I saw family and friends and former love interests. I did little work. I took my sister out for ice cream. I got ramen with a pal at the new place in Harvard Square. I went to a party on my friend’s floor at MIT. When I got back to campus on Sunday night, though, I felt drained—my head ached, my skin was peeling, and I thought that maybe I shouldn’t have gone home. Maybe I just felt like that because my bus ride through the snow took seven hours, but home also felt different—temporary—and I wondered if I would ever start referring to the city (or, maybe, to my dingy Carman double) as “home” instead.

All of the feelings after the jump.

BunsenBwog: Kids These Days

Yeah science, bitch!

Even though it’s March, the “new year, new us” mindset is alive and well. We’re bringing back an element of our past with the revival of BunsenBwog—a brief review of some of the science-related findings and contributions done by members of our campus community. We enlisted the assistance of Bunsen Burner Belle Briana Bursten to enlighten us with her scientific wisdom. 

Everyone knows that a cellphone is the number one item in a millennial’s starter pack, so we think it’s pretty smart that Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health and College of Physicians and Surgeons decided to capitalize on the usage of this technological necessity for health purposes. Earlier this year, kids were sent text messages reminding them to get their second flu vaccination. The results? Text messages both increased the receipt of the vaccination and also brought children to receive their vaccinations sooner.

A new magnetic technology developed by doctors at Columbia known as MAGEC (MAGnetic Expansion Control) is now being used to treat early-onset Scoliosis in children. While growing rods are effective in correcting the curvature of the spine for children with Scoliosis, the child is also subjected to multiple surgeries throughout their youth in order to adjust the size of the rod. However, the MAGEC permits surgeons to lengthen the rods with a handheld external magnet, thus avoiding surgery and additional costs for parents.

According to a CUMC study, children and adolescents with autism have an excessive amount of synapses in the brain. This excess affects cognitive development, particularly during the “pruning process.” Knowledge of this neurological finding can perhaps lead to a cure, as there are drugs available that may work to restore synaptic pruning.

Outbreaks of Kawasaki disease in Japan, a rare childhood condition that causes inflammation of the blood vessels that later leads to heart disease, may be traced to wind currents coming from northeast China. A study by Mailman School of Public Health reveals that instances of the disease peaked when winds that originated from a region with “vast cereal croplands” swept over specific locations.

Missin Walter White via Shutterstock

A New Re:vision On Campus


Is there a Serial-shaped hole in your life? Finally getting sick of blasting 1989 on repeat all day? (xoxo love you Taylor.) Bwog’s got the midterms fix for you. Our friends over at The Blue and White (specifically: Managing Editor Hallie Nell Swanson, Layout Editor/Publisher Jessie Chasan-Taber, and Culture Editor Alexander Pines, all CC ‘16) are launching a new literary podcast called “re:vision.”

Re:vision, which is interview-based, will feature Barnard/Columbia undergraduate writers in conversation about their writing lives—where they work, thoughts on the literary community in New York and on campus, rants about Girls, and more. For now, the podcast will be released once every two weeks and focus on writers working in fiction, poetry, literary nonfiction, longform reportage, etc.

Re:vision’s first interview will be up later this week on Soundcloud and Tumblr. Know any writers on campus you think are amazing? Nominate them by emailing re:vision here.

Update: Check out their first podcast with Adina Applebaum below.

SGA Learns About Barnard BLUE Program

The Barnard BLUE Program’s mission is to present workshops and dialogue for the promotion of social justice and equity

It’s almost the halfway point in the semester, which means we’re moving into Stage 2 of Midterm Stress: Anticipatory Stress (Stage 1 was Anticipation of Anticipatory Stress; Stage 3 will simply be Oh-Shit-I-Guess-This-Is-Happening). During this time of turmoil it’s nice to know that SGA continues to run its meetings like a well-oiled machine. Barnard Bearoness Maddie Stearn is back to report on the agenda that featured presentations on Student Life initiatives, the Quality of Life survey, and JCCC updates.

Associate Dean of Student Life Alina Wong regularly attends SGA meetings as the group’s advisor, but on Monday night she was present in a slightly different capacity. Dean Wong and her colleagues—Assistant Dean Jenn Wells and Program Coordinator Luz Ovalle—provided SGA with a general overview of the Office of Student Life and gave an update on current initiatives. The majority of the presentation was devoted to discussing Barnard BLUE (Building Leadership and Understanding Equity). This relatively new program has three components: 1) the Barnard BLUE Summit, 2) the Barnard BLUE Series, and 3) Discover Barnard BLUE. The summit will take place later this month and will focus on how individuals can incorporate a wide variety of experiences, backgrounds, and identities into leadership development.

In the meantime, Student Life has been sponsoring the Barnard BLUE Series, a set of dialogues and workshops that promote the practice of social justice and equity. Last month the Series sponsored “BLUE Actions: Addressing Racial Microaggressions,” a workshop where participants shared experiences with microaggressions and how these instances can be prevented in the future. The next Series, “Leading Through Transition and Change,” will be held on March 11th at 6:30pm in Diana 302. The workshop will cover how students retain the culture of their club/organization during changes in leadership.

More SGA news after the jump