Bwog Joins Take Back The Night


Thursday night Bwog’s Maddie Stearn attended Take Back the Night for the first time. Read on to hear what she took away from the opening remarks and the march. 

Where are you? This is what I wondered as I looked at the crowd gathered in front of Barnard Hall. The group was sizable, but nowhere near the 454 people who clicked “Going” on the Take Back the Night Facebook event. I suppose that’s the nature of Facebook events. You decide to go, but something else always gets in the way. I can’t fault anyone for this–who knows how many times I have been in the same position.

But really, 454 isn’t that many people to begin with. This is concerning.

This number is indicative of the problems with institutional feminism, problems that are prevalent on our campus as well. Certain voices are still shut out of the sexual assault conversation. Feminism remains a predominantly white, straight, cis-gendered female institution. By extension, sexual assault is strongly focused on this very limited perspective. As Nissy Aya, the guest speaker at TBTN, put it, voices are not being heard. This is not a societal problem, something far off that we can rail against while comfortably thinking, “At least that’s not going on here.” Voices are silenced on our campus, and not just by the administration. We, the student body, are still giving precedence to white, straight, cis perspectives.

To those of you who did attend, I hope you were listening. I was. I think we all needed to hear Nissy Aya’s speech. We can all take something away from her words. I only wish that more people had been able to hear her. But that’s part of the problem, isn’t it?

Aya’s speech provided incredible momentum for the start of the march, momentum that I believe propelled us through the entire route (marchers sustained the same pace and level of energy throughout the entire protest). TBTN members led everyone through Barnard’s gates, and proceeded to take over Morningside Heights. Due to my role as “Press” I kept to the sidewalk during the march. While I took notes and snapped photos, I heard snippets of conversation from other sidewalk observers. Some shouted in support, others looked on in confusion, and some ignored the protest altogether. For those who decided to vocalize support, I wondered why they didn’t join. A man in a suit said to his companion, “I really respect that shit.” I wasn’t sure what to think of that. Later, I heard a girl ask her friend, “What is this?” “Rape,” he said. She just nodded. Their nonchalance bothered me.

The entire time I felt like I was straddling the line between the marchers and the outside world. I sensed a troubling mixture of vague curiosity and ambivalence from the observers. Regardless, the marchers’ energy was high and many lost their voices by the time we completed our route. I was impressed by their inexhaustible energy. I was also glad for it. Their unfailing energy made it difficult to dwell on anything, and even as an outsider I felt buoyed by the voices of the marchers.

The experience was intense, to say the least. My mind still feels like it’s buzzing from Aya’s words and the marchers’ chants. Looking back, I believe that Take Back the Night was successful in embodying its slogan: “unique in our experiences, united in our purpose.” I just hope that the rest of the world catches on.

Taking back every part of the day via Take Back The Night’s Facebook Page

Who Are You At 1020?

From The Mag: The Greatest Dean in the Greatest College In the Greatest City in the Greatest Country in the World [EXTENDED]

The April Blue and White is now on campus. Budgeting meant that the printed interview with Dean James Valentini was truncated. Enjoy it here in its full glory.

James Valentini has been Dean of Columbia College for four years. Before then, he taught in the Chemistry Department, most notably Gen Chem. His tenure began inauspiciously amidst the resignation of Professor Michele Moody-Adams over questions of the university’s commitment to undergraduate education. Since then, Dean Valentini has had a minimal and inoffensive presence on campus. On a sunny day in March, Daniel Stone and Hallie Nell Swanson trudged up the Hamilton steps to join him in his office. Also present was Sydney Gross, Columbia College’s Director of Communications.

Daniel Stone: Do you remember your college’s Dean?

James J. Valentini: No, I don’t know who the dean was. It’s interesting, I remember who the president was, though I never met the president—well I saw the president, but I never talked to him. But for whatever reason, I don’t remember who it was.

DS: How, then, do you come to have an impression of what a dean looks like or does?

JJV: So that’s interesting. When I was teaching Gen. Chem, I got to know a lot of students, and they had certain attitudes about what a professor looks like, what a professor’s background is, and I realized my background wasn’t what they expected. So I started class by giving a two or three minute bio. Then I’d say to the class, “now would you send me your bios by email.” And about two thirds of the class (people like to talk about themselves) would send me their bios, and I learned a lot about the class that way because people would sometimes write two or three pages about their lives. But they didn’t know how you came to be a professor. I didn’t really know how you got to be a dean. I’ve known lots of deans because I’ve been at a university for 25 years now, but I never really thought about it in terms of having a life plan: someday I want to be dean.

I became dean under unusual circumstances. My predecessor resigned suddenly, just before the beginning of the academic year, and the resignation was problematic in that it was the beginning of the year. President Bollinger asked me to be the dean Friday September 2nd at 1 o’clock 2011, and I became dean Friday September 2nd at 4 o’clock 2011. So I didn’t have a lot of time to think about it.

And I sort of knew what a dean did, but not really in detail. And I did it because the president asked, and they needed a dean, and I love Columbia. But I really wasn’t sure what I was getting into.  I had been on every committee the college has that a faculty member can be on—some of them twice—so I had some sense. But not really.

DS: So how do you learn how to be a dean?

JJV: You learn by doing it. There was a good preparation, I just didn’t know it was a good preparation. I had been chair of the chemistry department. It’s not the same as being dean, but it does have responsibility, and I had also been director of undergraduate studies. And the combination of those two has in it really the essential elements of being dean. One because you’re being an administrator, guide, leader, of an academic enterprise, but at the same time that academics enterprise focuses on students, so that your interaction with students is really important. So I found that being dean is just a combination of being department chair and director of undergraduate studies. It’s just that the scale is bigger.

I know lots more students now than I ever did in chemistry. But I don’t know any individual student as well as I did the fifty or sixty chemistry majors who I knew practically everything about. I don’t know that about 4,500 students. So the scale of the department and of the college is very different, but it’s similar.

Hallie Nell Swanson: Do you also feel there is a relationship between the academic discipline you’ve come from and the way you approach being dean?

JJV: I have no doubt there is, because the academic discipline you’re in develops in you a certain way of approaching the world, a certain way of thinking, a certain way of processing. I think it’s most evident if I try to step out of myself and look at myself as dean. It’s very quantitative, very analytical. When we discuss what to do, I always want to ask what’s the reason why, what’s the evidence we have to support wanting to do this. It’s very outcome oriented. Experiments have outcomes—you’re aiming for an outcome. It’s quantitative and analytical in that sense.

That’s the part that chemistry really contributes to, but the part that chemistry doesn’t contribute to is the biggest part, which is dealing with people. That is more based on everyday common experience I have had, maybe as director undergraduate studies chair. I’ve worked a lot of places in my life, and have a lot of experience. But dealing with people, chemistry doesn’t specifically prepare you for that. Maybe if you had a phd in psychology that would be better.

What are your majors?
Prepared to be shocked! Read on…

Bwoglines: Smog Fines Edition
It's fine!

It’s fine!

China’s smog issues have gotten so bad that residents have taken to leaving the country for “breathers,” vacations for the sole purpose of dodging air pollution. The government, meanwhile, oscillates between accepting that the pollution is an issue and pretending that it doesn’t exist. (New York Times)

In an effort to break the Chinese government’s silence, officials at U.S. embassies and consulates in the country have been recording pollution data and publishing it via Twitter. The results aren’t pretty. (Quartz)

Meanwhile, in India, the Delhi government has taken steps to reduce air pollution and poor garbage disposal at construction sites. At least they seem to care. (NDTV)

And closer to home, residents of Idaho’s Treasure Valley have been exposed to dangerous levels of air pollution after meteorological changes trapped emissions close to the ground. Regulatory bodies are now pushing for measures to curb congestion on highways and to tighten regulations on business emissions. (Idaho Statesman)

The tip of the iceberg via Shutterstock

Barnard SGA Results Are In
Celebratory Magnolia pic

Celebratory Magnolia pic

After open voting via my.barnard this past week, SGA has released the results of their elections this afternoon. The winners are published below in a press release from SGA. Congratulations to you all!

Dear Barnard,

Thank you to all our candidates and everyone who voted during SGA election! Congratulations on successful, innovative, and productive campaigns.

Following is the list of SGA officers for 2015-2016. The results are posted on We look forward to an amazing year with the new leadership!


SGA President
Shivani Vikuntam | | 2016

VP for Campus Life
Prianka Jhaveri | | 2017

VP For Finance
Helen Cane | | 2017

VP For Communications
Elizabeth Stam | | 2016

Results for the class and representative councils next.

Mental Health Task Force Releases Policy Proposals

campus-nightThe Columbia Mental Health Task Force (MHTF) has just released a press release including their suggestions sent to President Bollinger later last year. Following the death of Joshua Villa in December, MHTF sent a memo to President Bollinger in regards to student concerns for mental health at Columbia. Some of the students’ proposals reflect the numerous opinions of Columbia students, including hiring more staff and offering extended hours for CPS. However, MHTF has still not received an official meeting with President Bollinger, as previously promised, to further discuss the memo. Co-founder of the task force, Sejal Singh CC ’15, praises the efforts of CPS to support students over the past semester, but Singh calls on President Bollinger to “lead a conversation” about fixing the gap between student needs and the actual services offered on campus.

To further educate the community on mental health issues at Columbia, MHTF will be hosting a Teach-In this Wednesday, April 22, at 8:30 PM in Pupin 214. All are encouraged to attend. The Teach-In will also allow for attendees to offer input on the proposals previously sent to President Bollinger.

Update, 7:51 PM: MHTF also released their survey report, which can be found here.

Please find the entire press release from MHTF below.

Student Advocates Express Serious Concern About Inaction of Central Administrators

Today, the Columbia University Mental Health Task Force (MHTF) called on University President Bollinger to respond to a student policy memo on mental health concerns submitted to his office in early December 2014. The MHTF publicly released this memo of comprehensive policy recommendations, along with the results of a survey assessing student experiences with Counseling and Psychological Services’ (CPS) care for identity-based mental health concerns.

The MHTF’s policy memo (link here) addresses a wide array of student concerns with mental health care on campus, and includes a series of specific proposals to expand CPS staffing and space, extend drop-in hours to midnight and into weekends, emphasize more diverse hiring, strengthen the University’s crisis response, and create a mental health-related orientation program for all incoming students. Many of the proposals are informed by the findings of the MHTF’s identity-based concerns survey.

Read the rest of the press release here.

PSA: Revisions To The Rules Of University Conduct Open Forum Today
Maybe if they held the Forum on the lawn everyone would get along?

Maybe if they held the Forum on the lawn everyone would get along?

The University Senate will present their proposed revisions to the Rules of University Conduct, which govern free speech and protest on campus, in an Open Forum today from 4:00-6:00PM in Havemeyer 309. Today marks the last opportunity for members of the community to voice their concerns regarding the proposal before it is voted upon by the entire University Senate. Anyone with a CUID is welcome to attend and registration is not required.

Detailed below is an email from university senator Jared Odessky that includes highlights of the current draft’s proposed revisions, as well as a link to the Rules Committee’s full proposal:

For the first time in decades, the rules governing free speech and protest on campus are being revised by the University Senate. The Rules of University Conduct are designed to protect the rights of free expression while at the same time ensuring the continued functioning of the University and the protection of the rights of those who may be affected by such demonstrations.

The Rules Committee will present its proposal to the Columbia community at a University Forum TOMORROW, April 17 from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. in Havemeyer Hall, Room 309. This is the last chance for public input about the Rules before the proposal moves to the full University Senate for a vote.

The current draft’s proposed revisions include:

  • A new procedure which replaces an external hearing judged by an independent arbiter with an internal University hearing.
  • Students accused of violating the Rules will be heard by the 5-person University Judicial Board (UJB) and appeals will be heard by a panel of three Deans.
  • When the UJB determines that a student has violated the Rules, sanctions will be issued by an administrative Sanctioning Officer appointed by the Provost.
  • Several additional potential sanctions have been added, including community service and revocation of degree.

The Rules Committee’s full proposal is available here.

We encourage you to voice your thoughts and concerns either by coming out to the town hall or by contacting us directly.

Get up-to-date with all things regarding the Rules of University Conduct here. For those unable to attend, follow along with us on Twitter as we live-tweet the Open Forum.

CUPAL’s Film Fatale Is Special
I bet he was the killer

Mystery! Intrigue! Black-and-white-ness!

Last night, CUPAL’s put on a performance called Special Project: Film Fatale. We sent Film Fanatic Ross Chapman to check it out.

I would love to be able to call this show, “An X with a twist,” but with so much going on in CUPAL’s Special Project: Film Fatale, I really can’t explain it that concisely. Film Fatale was written by Director Rachel Shafran (CC ’16) and producer Emma Finder (CC ’16) as a film-noir style murder mystery. They wanted their show to be like an old silent movie on stage, so they dressed the actors in grayscale and used makeup that matched. The dialogue of the show slowly faded during production as composer Ethan Fudge (CC ’15) replaced it all with music, leaving only a few lines of dialogue to be projected onto the Black Box Theater like text cards. All in all, their vision of a silent movie on stage came to a spectacular head yesterday at opening night, when the experimental concept and jazzy score got their first real trial with a Columbian audience.

The crew immediately set the scene for the viewers by handing out programs that were arranged more like a police dossier than a playbill. Instead of cast and crew notes, each character is described in terms of their relationship to the crime and the victim. As we read, the pit musicians played a number of swing standards. The five-person combo consisted of two violins, a cello, a bass, and a baritone saxophone, and the prominence of the sax and the plucked bass made the group sound much more jazzy than orchestral. The music during the show, in general, gave each character and scene their own motif. Some of them sounded very close to classic songs such as “Summertime” from Porgy and Bess, but he insists that those similarities are only coincidental. The music also, at times, directly imitates the happenings on stage. For instance, when Detective Charlie Dixon (Nathaniel Jameson, CC ’18) laughs to himself, the saxophone plays high, scooped notes that sounded to everyone in the audience like a “ha, ha, ha.” Considering the responsibility of conveying everything that the dialogue once did, the composer and all of the performers did a fantastic job.

More on the show next!

Bwoglines: To Your Health Edition
future health things yay

future health things yay

Doctors from universities across the United States have petitioned Columbia University, urging they take Dr. Oz of Oprah fame off of the medical school faculty. In other news, apparently Dr. Oz is on the medical school faculty! (ABC News)

Health news that can help trick your prospie into thinking you’re cool: E-cigs are increasingly popular among the high school set. Be sure to practice for a few days before they get here. (New York Times)

It appears hormones involved when humans bond with their babies also appear when humans bond with their dogs. This will no doubt please both dog lovers and baby haters. (Fox News)

In an important but somehow disappointing sign of our generation’s rise in influence, the Federal government is releasing hospital ratings based on user feedback, as inspired by Yelp. (Time)

In your regular Ebola update, analysis of the current strain of Ebola finds it no more deadly than it was fifty years ago. (Medical News Now)

An Apple product a day will be your doctor someday via Shutterstock


Lit Hum Syllabus Changes Tentatively Decided
One of many casualties

One of many casualties

According to anonymous sources, the committee in charge of next year’s Lit Hum syllabus has arrived a series of changes to the curriculum. While not final, these changes are not expected to undergo much revision.

Shakespeare’s King Lear, one of the most resilient texts in the history of Lit Hum, will be absent from next year’s syllabus. The play had been taught from 1937 until 2006 and then again from 2009 to present. It is to be replaced by the Bard’s The Tempest, which has been taught in brief bursts since 1941.

Euripides’s Medea, and The Book of Job are also set to be removed entirely. Medea has been on the syllabus since 2003 and has been taught sporadically since 1937, while Job has been taught continuously since 1990 and for most years before that. The final fatality, Goethe’s Faust, has enjoyed long stretches of obscurity on the syllabus, most recently from 2001 through 2012. It returned to the syllabus in 2013, but its journey seems once again at an end.

Readings from Cervantes’s Don Quixote and Montaigne’s Essays are to be reduced, but those—both mainstays of the syllabus—will remain on the official syllabus.

Returning to the curriculum in addition to The Tempest are Boccacio’s Decameron (last taught from 1986 through 2011) and Milton’s Paradise Lost (taught exclusively between 1937 and 1973).

All of this will come with some restructuring, as well. Genesis, in an effort to bring it closer to its proper chronological place, will be read directly after the Odyssey. Vergil’s Aeneid will also move up a bit so that it’s read in the first semester, nearer to its friend the Iliad.

Syllabus history from the Lit Hum website.

Hottest Buns On Campus 2015

Scissor Sisters are back at it with an informational guide (and maybe even how-to!!!) about the lump of hair on your head and what It Says About You.

Princess Leia Buns

You’re a quirky adventuress, and your spirit cannot be silenced. You’re probably double majoring in, like, Ethnic Studies and Biochem. Your favorite show is Twin Peaks. You wear an ungodly amount of beige. You want to be an astronaut.

Screen Shot 2015-04-16 at 2.26.45 PM

A little off-kilter

Man Bun

You are hip. Also, a fuckboy. You dumped your last girlfriend because she didn’t think Yeezus was the best album since Y2K. You will not have a job when you graduate. You will probably engage in performance art at one point or another in your 20s. Consider transferring to Gallatin. Realistically you will sell all your principles by 30 and go into the consulting job your dad set you up with.


Yes, we did take this picture of Zayn Malik on Low Steps. You didn’t know he’s a GS student here now?

Apparently babycore is a thing now?

Update On Barnard’s New Building
You will be missed...

You will be missed…

In December of 2015 Lehman Hall will close its doors in preparation to be demolished and revamped. The ugly, but symbolic to Barnard, exterior of the library will go, but in its place will come a digital commons and much more! Here is a brief outline of the additions that are being incorporated to Barnard’s campus.

The new library is projected to be 50 percent larger than the current library and able to accommodate a 75 percent increase of student study space.

The digital commons mentioned above will occupy the main floor of the new library. It will include, a modern digital production studio, a roomy space dedicated to creativity, a modern Empirical Reasoning Center, a Digital Humanities Center, and an innovative Movement Laboratory that will be suitable for analyzing the science of movement, dance, and performance. The full extent of the digital commons will be revealed in the fall.

Lefrak Gymnasium is scheduled to refurbished starting in June 2015. An additional floor is being added to temporarily house the faculty being displaced by the closure of Lehman Hall. The first floor of the gym will serve as the library beginning in the spring semester of 2016. When the books can return to their new home in August of 2018, the first floor of Lefrak will continue to serve its previous role as the gymnasium. The new addition of the second floor will act as BCIT’s new office space.

In May, the website with updates on the building process will go live. Be sure to check it out.

Housing Coverage 2015, Day 7

We can’t believe we are saying this, but today marks the final day of housing selection 2015. After days of tears, cowtails, bad playlists, and harassing our fellow classmates, we will be stationed outside The Cage for the last time today.  Things are looking pretty bleak at this point considering McBain was wiped clean yesterday and not much else is left in the other dorms for groups. If you haven’t picked yet, it’s most likely online selection city baby. Housing should run until a little past noon today, so we’ll be here to cover the remaining action. Per usual, leave any questions you may have about housing in the comments. It’s been a pleasure, kids.

The Red And The White

What’s under that apron?

Bwog takes another step towards becoming the erotic fanfic blog of Columbia University.


It was a Thursday and I was beyond gone. The previous four hours had been a blur of empty cups and imposing men asking me for identification. Things ended early when I handed a bouncer my student ID. It probably didn’t help that I’d dropped it a few times first. “You’re done,” he said as he pointed back out into the cold. “Maybe tomorrow night.” Whatever, dude.

I wove my way through empty sidewalks, grinning at my numbness like an idiot. After what must have been only a few minutes, I found myself stumbling along Riverside Drive. I seem to remember seeing a sign for 162nd Street, but that can’t be right.

I needed food. My first thought was HamDel, but I only had five dollars and my debit card was a casualty of the night. Halal, then. I scurried over to the first cart I saw and demanded lamb over rice. The man seemed not to hear so I asked again, louder this time.

What did he say next???

Bwoglines: What Celebs Have Been Up To Edition

Watch your arm!

Hillary finally hit the campaign trail on Monday! Like any normal human being she got hungry and obviously wanted Chipotle (a woman after our own heart). It is reported that not a single person in the Ohio Chipotle recognized her. Bwog could probably spot Hillary from a mile away… (CNN)

Paula Deen, after a run in with racism and diabetes, is back. She is taking over Pigeon Forge, Tennessee and opening a “family style” restaurant. It is guaranteed that you will walk out with a higher cholesterol. (Jezebel)

Former NFL player for the Patriots, Aaron Hernandez, was convicted with the first degree murder of Odin Lloyd. He was sentenced with life without parole. Later this year Hernandez will go on trial again in Boston for the murder of another two men, whom he allegedly shot to death outside of a nightclub. (NBC)

Unfortunately, Tori Spelling got a little too excited about the onion volcano at Benihana and burnt her arm! The C list went to the hospital to get skin grafts earlier this week. #benihanaburn! (E! News)

Hibachi dinner via shutterstock