Lecturehop: Bill Drayton, CEO of Ashoka
Bill Drayton holds the world up to see

Bill Drayton holds the world up to see

Entrepreneurship enthusiast Karen Yuan brings word from the mouth of a THE self-styled social entrepreneur, Bill Drayton.

Social entrepreneurship – that’s a buzzword that nobody really understands, but Bill Drayton defines it as any “innovation initiative for the common good.” At 71, Drayton is the granddad of social entrepreneurship, having coined the phrase himself about 30 years ago.

Drayton came to speak at Columbia on Thursday night about Ashoka, the social entrepreneurship empire that he built in 1980, around the same time the very concept of social entrepreneurship began. Ashoka has a network of over 3000 Fellows in 70 countries, with over half of them changing national policy in their first 5 years. Fellow Kailash Satyarthi won the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize alongside Malala.

In a fireside chat with Ashoka Fellow Greg Van Kirk, Drayton focused on three major points. His speech was part-lil pellets of wisdom, part-call to action.

1. We’re all living in a turning point right now.

So this got a bit doomsayerly, but Drayton spoke about how everyone was living in a turning point in history right now. “Society is shifting from a system of repetition to a system of change,” Drayton said. “Before, our focus was on efficiency and repetition – assembly lines, school systems, and the like. But this system is failing, and change is the new game.”

According to Drayton, Detroit missed a turning point about 50 years ago, which contributed to its decline from a prosperity to bankruptcy. “If we don’t do anything, we could all become Detroit. But it wouldn’t take 50 years – it’d take 15.”

Do what, though? Drayton said to spot areas for creating value, and, more generally, to start practicing empathy.

2. Give yourself permission.

“Give yourself permission to change things,” Drayton said. He spoke about a 12 year old girl who set up a bicycle system to bring fresh food into the food desert of Oakland. It grew from her practicing empathy: Having an autistic brother, she would intervene in the mistreatment of special needs kids at school.

“The new system of change is inherently equal,” Drayton continued. “Everyone is powerful and everyone can give.” You couldn’t be a good person just by diligently following the rules. The most important skill you needed in this new world of change was empathy, like the young girl from Oakland. “Young people are not children. They’re ready to be change makers, too.”

3. Social entrepreneurship is not business.

Drayton was quick to stress that “social entrepreneurship” wasn’t about making cash. Many people thought of TOMS Shoes as an example of it, but the truth was that social entrepreneurship was basically synonymous with change. “I hate the phrase ‘scaling up’ when talking about an idea,” Drayton said. “If your goal is to double the number of students in your program, for example, then you missed the point. It should be about changing mindsets, patterns, the way things are done.”

Social entrepreneurship was actually more political than financial, since it was often an invisible mechanism that majorly influenced politics, such as activism for equal pay impacting policy in D.C.

Despite his emphasis against business, Drayton still preached teamwork. “The most powerful thing in the world is a big idea … collaborate on them.”

 Social entrepreneurship via YouTube

Overheard: Preaching to the Choir
Accurate depiction of Dodge

Everyday sight in Dodge

A student tour guide was overheard singing the praises of Columbia’s fitness offerings near the entrance to Dodge:

“We have all kinds of sports and activities, including yoga and aerobics—like what middle-aged moms do.”

The tipster noted that the group was mostly middle aged moms and their kids. This might not be what they mean when they say “know your audience”.






Health-conscious human via Shutterstock

From The Issue: The Guide To Living

Rounding out our reproductions from our dear mother magazine, The Blue and White, check out Senior Editor Luca Marzorati’s, CC ’15, review of The Alphabets of Life: A Simple Guide to Living Simply by La-Verna J. Fountain, Columbia’s Vice President for Construction Business Services and Communications (in other words, the woman who fields all of the media questions about the Manhattanville expansion). 

The Alphabets of Life: A Simple
Guide to Living Simply
by La-Verna J. Fountain
Travers Pr, 241 pages

The late comedian George Carlin was no fan of self-help books. “There’s no such thing as self-help,” he said. “If you did it yourself, you didn’t need help. You did it yourself!”

Carlin would have undoubtedly dropped at least one of his seven dirty words when reading The Alphabets of Life: A Simple Guide to Living Simply by La-Verna J. Fountain. The book, published in 1999, is a collection of 26 alphabetized advice essays, from “Accept What You Cannot Change” to “Zealously Pursue Your Life.”

In her day job, Fountain is Vice President for Construction Business Services and Communications at Columbia, which has made her a de facto press secretary for the Manhattanville expansion. When not defending the university in the press, Fountain is a motivational speaker, part of a $10 billion industry dedicated to telling people how to better their lives.

The Alphabets of Life demonstrates Fountain’s ability to simplify complex problems into pithy statements, a skill conducive to success in both motivational speaking and defending a university accused of ripping off the neighborhood it is taking over. Hearing Fountain tell the Columbia Spectator that “Columbia, as a landlord, is doing exactly as tenants expect” sounds slightly less bizarre coming from someone who repeatedly insists that “Facts change” throughout her book. Fountain’s aphorisms range in quality from charming to cringe-worthy: in a single chapter, her prose ranges from “Emotions are like a spice” to “The mind. Wow.”

Like most in the motivation industry, Fountain does not operate in life’s grey areas. Her book begins, “What can you change? Then, change it! What can’t you change? Then, move on!” This Nieburhian adaptation is simple enough; the reader cannot be judged for wondering how Fountain will fill the other 25 alphabetized chapters. Yet fill them she does, with anecdotes from family and friends, religious proclamations, and a page of exercises and questions at the end of each section.

Such book, much review.

CMTS’s Rousing “The Drowsy Chaperone”
She really doesn't care about anything

Actors portray the two main emotions of the audience

Champion of the arts and drama devotee Ross Chapman bravely surrendered his Friday night to a viewing of CMTS’s “The Drowsy Chaperone”—all for you, dear reader.

After our talks with members of the Columbia Musical Theatre Society, The Drowsy Chaperone seemed like a great way to spend a Friday evening. A well-sized crowd in Roone Arledge agreed, picking up fancy playbills and filing into the same chairs you sat in for those mandatory NSOP events. At promptly 7:35 P.M., Man In Chair (portrayed by Talmage Wise, CC ’18) took his seat in the eponymous seat and set the musical into action.

Everything starts with a paradoxical monologue. “I hate theatre,” Man In Chair laments, but he goes on to elaborate that he really hates new theatre. He longs for a simpler time, one where a “gay wedding” was just a happy, heteronormative event and plot, that thing that links otherwise unrelated production numbers, was only as important in musicals as it was in porn (his words, not mine). So he puts on a record and transports the audience to the past.

The opening number, “Fancy Dress,” sets up the show in two ways. It introduces the concept of the play-within-the-play, the marriage of Robert Martin (Sam Balzac, CC ’17) and Janet Van De Graaff (Lacey Bookspan, BC ’17), and all of its ancillary characters. It also establishes the mood, one of a decidedly farcical and nonsensical piece of fun fiction. Throughout the musical, a tension emerges between the whimsical world of Man In Chair’s vinyl and the harsh realities of his failing life. “The characters are two-dimensional and the plot is well-worn” in the fictional 1928 musical, and the piece explores Man In Chair’s relationship with that sort of setting.

The play harps on and indulges in incongruity between plot and production. Its only truly reprised number, “As We Stumble Along,” inserts itself into the middle of a scene with very little pretext. Its catchy tune and huge production help The Chaperone send out her anthem to drinking. The character of The Chaperone is an older and alcoholic friend of Janet’s. According to Man In Chair, The Chaperone was portrayed in 1928 by an older and alcoholic actress who reminds Man In Chair of his mother. (The Chaperone is played in Roone by Molly Heller, GS/JTS ’15, who is older than Lacey but is decidedly not an alcoholic.)

Entertaining things occur without any reason within the musical. In “Fancy Dress,” every character introduces themselves, including Trix, an aviatrix. She flies in, sings her verse, and leaves, only to return as a deus ex machina in the final scene. And “Bride’s Lament,” Janet’s song of sorrow, has lyrics about monkeys that Man In Chair admits have little to do with the beauty of the music. The actors handled this ludicrous play well. In the best way possible, The Drowsy Chaperone was tastefully overdone. It was self-aware, and got serious when it wanted to. It referenced tropes of musical theatre and used them while maintaining an analytic lens and amusing the audience.

But we heard there was racism! How did that go?

Bwoglines: Hangover Rollercoaster Edition

Another glass couldn’t hurt

Good news! A study by the CDC of 138,100 U.S. adults has found that 90 percent of Bwog staffers heavy drinkers are not actually alcoholics.

If that has you feeling at all good about the state of humanity, an outbreak of bubonic plague has struck Madagascar, killing forty and threatening to spread further.

But, hey, a survey by PRRI found that 70 percent of Americans claim to “experience a connection to all life” every day or most days. On the off-chance that that warms the cockles of your heart, the same survey found that 49 percent of Americans see recent natural disasters as evidence of “biblical end times”.

A police raid of Chinese General Xu Caihou’s house revealed twelve truck-loads of cash and precious gems, all stored in boxes carefully marked with the names of the sources of the bribes.

Improbably-named Portuguese ex-PM Socrates has been arrested and charged with tax fraud, corruption, and money laundering. Here’s hoping things go better than last time.

Responsible adults via Shutterstock

FREE FOOD: SFSFS Open House Tonight
Dangerous substances

Just say no!

If you’re looking for a wild night of debauchery and excess, Students for Substance Free Space’s open house may be the event for you. From 7-9 PM in Wallach 9C Lounge, you can mingle with current members to learn about SFSFS, play GameCube, and indulge in the most dangerous substances known to man: Pie and ice cream.

SFSFS (try it out loud) is also a Special Interest Community, so with tonight’s spring SIC housing deadline coming up, that may also be of special interest.

Peer pressure via SFSFS FB Event

Debut Bwog Video Meeting Tonight!
That blank space could be your face!

That blank space could be your face!

Do you crave the feeling of being a star? Do you dream of writing an Oscar-winning screenplay? Have you ever wanted to learn to bake special brownies, to be dragged across the floor in Teacher’s College, or to stink up the SGO while wearing business attire? Don’t worry— CU (No Budget) Sketch Show aka CUSS aka the artists formerly known as Bwog Video can help you achieve all these dreams and more!

Come to the Bwog Video meeting tonight at 6:30 pm in Hamilton 317. Get to know the team and be sure to bring ideas!

Blank screen that could be you via Shutterstock
Last Call For Spring SIC Housing
SO many types of houses!

SO many types of houses!

Is your roommate messy/obnoxious/ inconsiderate/a serial killer? Well today might be your last chance to get the hell out of there make other living arrangements for next semester.  The priority deadline for SIC spring housing is today, so get those apps in!

Information about the applications can be found here; just don’t pay attention to the dates behind the curtain (or the dates on this page, for that matter).

Of course, if you love/can tolerate your roommate but still want to experience the SIC life next fall, you have until January 25 to apply.

Sick filter via Shutterstock

PACSA Give Updates, PrezBo Talks Rules Of Conduct At USenate Plenary
PrezBo's thoughts of freedom of speech at Columbia

PrezBo’s thoughts of freedom of speech at Columbia

It’s a big year for Columbia; holding all the town halls and working on changes for many different ways in which the school operates. Joe Milholland, our trusted Columbia Administration reporter, gives us the talking points from Thursday’s USenate Plenary.

“I know there’s a debate about freedom of speech on the campus,” said PrezBo at Thursday’s USenate Plenary as he gave his opening remarks. While admitting that “the first amendment does not apply to Columbia – it’s a private institution,” he also said he wants to “embrace” freedom of speech “as defined by the first amendment” on campus. Prezbo wants rules that are “consistent with the history of Columbia, consistent with our values, consistent with where other great universities are at this point.”

Prezbo said that sexual assault on campus is “a set of issues we want to attend to in all their dimensions.” Law School student senator Zila Acosta said that PACSA will give a report to the senate in Spring. “One of the things we’re looking at is what type of info the senate would like to see from PACSA,” she said. Columbia College Usenator Marc Heinrich is on the Forum Subcommittee, which focuses on how PACSA “is going to be communicating with the community” to make sure voices from the community are heard, and the Communication Subcommittee, which focuses on communicating to the community what PACSA is doing.

Other Updates:

  • Christopher Riano, co-chair of the rules of conduct committee, said that he has heard from the three town halls so far, “a strong desire for the committee to decide to undergo a review and rewriting of” the rules of university conduct. “The committee will most likely decide at our next meeting on a vote on whether we will engage in writing proposals for the rules of university conduct; however, I can never promise that because I am only one of 15 members,” Riano said.
  • Epidemiology professor Ian Lipkin from the School of Public Health gave a talk about Ebola and Columbia. He wants to continue research in west Africa on infectious diseases, and he mentioned that, in his time doing research at Columbia, Columbia’s been involved in 10 infectious diseases. It takes three days for the Ebola virus to become detectable. There is no cure, only supportive treatment to prevent live and kidney failure. Columbia has held a design contest to combat Ebola. Eight of the submissions received an initial fund of $150 and were given more money later.
  • Howard Worman, Chair of the Committee on External Relations, told the senate that, in real dollars, funding has been flat from ’09-’13. This is about a 10% drop in funding when accounting for inflation. The university is lobbying the federal government for more funding money. In some departments, much of the money comes from funding. He also mentioned that “the committee seemed a little bit burned out on smoking policy.”

Beautiful campus view via Shutterstock

Bwoglines: Energy And Mass Edition
No beard zone.

No beard zone.

This day in history: In 1905 on November 21. Albert Einstein published “Does the Inertia of a Body Depend Upon Its Energy Content?” leading to the formula E=mc^2.  Did you learn that in FroSci? (PBS)

China is delaying indefinitely the opening of the new Hunger Games movie and in Thailand several cinemas have cancelled showings of the movie (Washington Post).

In other news, Michael Phelps has a beard. Thoughts? No shave November or just a new look? (Washington Post)

In real news Obama has announced that nearly 5 million illegal immigrants will not be deported (BBC).

Five Guantanamo detainees were released and sent to Europe (Los Angeles Times).


Coquettish grin via Shutterstock

PrezBo Wants To Review F***ball Team
"Can you guys shut up about f*ball?"

“Can you guys shut up about f***ball?”

Tonight Capital published an email from PrezBo sent to the football alumni calling for  M. Dianne Murphy to commission a review of the f***ball program. Considering the unsurprisingly horrible past season for the team, PrezBo is finally ready to figure out what’s wrong with the program and why we suck. The review is asking former coach Rick Taylor to lead the review. Taylor led a successful review of Dartmouth’s program years ago, so here’s to hoping he can work some magic at Columbia. Further, this review does not call for the resignation of current head coach Peter Mangurian as many would hope as a solution to the failure of the team.

The full transcript of the email sent to the alumni can be seen after the jump.

Better Than CULPA: Professor Edwards Plays Facebook Antihero

The first stage of registration may be winding down, but we all know this is only the start. Soon will come the waitlists, the petitions, the trading of class spots on message boards and in dark corners of New York City streets.

It is a world of risk and betrayal, soaring victories and devastating loss. It is a world where you need allies. Allies like Professor Stephen Edwards.

Leaping into the Facebook fray, Professor Edwards has been witnessed guiding students away from his class. Quite seriously, and evaluating their situation from a purely objective standpoint we’re sure.

So if you’re deciding between PLT sections, or just really want to take CS (because you are a masochist), issue a Facebook call for help. Maybe you’ll be the latest to catch a glimpse of Columbia’s newest antihero.

If not, Bwog has you covered. Check out our Actual Wisdom feature with Professor Edwards.

dealing with his fans

Dealing with his fans

Sometimes you just can't get there in time to save them...

Sometimes you just can’t get there in time to save them…

#TBT: Madison Avenue Campus

Once again, Anna Hotter dives into the archives to investigate Columbia’s past in the city. She returns with pictures and tales from Midtown East, where the College made its last, brief stop before coming to Morningside. 

As we mentioned in last week’s instalment of #tbt, Columbia moved to Madison Avenue and East 49th Street in 1857. During the College’s tenure in Midtown, Barnard College became affiliated with the school. It was initially housed in a nearby townhouse. The Madison Avenue Campus was also where Columbia was finally given its current name, Columbia University, making it one of the country’s earliest establishments of graduate education. Columbia didn’t stay in Midtown for long. In 1897, only 40 years later, the school moved to the current location, replacing Bloomingdale Insane Asylum.

Photos and drawings via the Columbia Library Archives

FroSci Gets A Makeover (Sometime In The Near Future)
They all sat on the side opposite Bwog because we're too intimidating.

Everyone sat on the side opposite to Bwog because we’re too intimidating.

As part of Columbia’s effort to revamp the Core science course, an open forum was held last night allowing for student input.  FroSci Fault-Finder Eric Cohn reports.

Last night, to a surprisingly sparse crowd, the Committee for Science in the Core held an open forum as part of its effort to formulate a new Core science course.  The committee was formed last September upon the recommendation of the Educational Planning and Policy Committee after a comprehensive review of FroSci in 2012.  The committee has been exploring alternatives to FroSci, which were discussed at the forum—albeit somewhat nebulously.

Two co-chairs of the Committee—Earth and Environmental Science Professor Peter deMenocal and Philosophy Professor Philip Kitcher—led the forum alongside two student members, Violet Nieves, CC ’15 and Ari Schuman, CC ’15.  At the beginning of the event, all four expressed their commitment to hearing student input to improve their ideas for a seminar-based course that would likely take one of two forms: the class would either be a chronological survey of the history of the universe, or it would focus on science’s “greatest hits” since the advent of the scientific method.

The “history of the world” version—tentatively known as “Humans in the World”—would consist of weekly topics broken down into very specific phenomena for scientific study to emphasize a particular way of scientific thinking.  Thus, whereas this form of the seminar would bring in the scientific skills along the way with the content, the “greatest hits” version—tentatively called “Scientific Inquiry”—would start with the skills as a foundation and then introduce the content.  Still, Nieves emphasized that the finalized version of the course could be an intermixture of these two proposals.

Nieves began—after a fervid assurance that the “Columbia bureaucracy” would not be staging a “coup” against students on the Core science front—by emphasizing that the committee wants to be in a “quite open” dialogue with students to create “not exactly transparency, but translucence.”  A student later rejected this claim, saying that there was very little transparency until now.  The committee did not revisit this retort, although the holding of a forum seems to be at least a step in the right direction.

Following Nieves, Kitcher—in his dapper purple shirt and beige suit—opened his introductory speech with an apology, anticipating the process to be rather slow.  The audience swooned over his accent and gladly accepted his apology, although I was somewhat disappointed that I may not see the fruits of the committee’s efforts in my tenure.

Midway through the forum, a student proposed that the committee write a list on the Schermerhorn chalkboard of the key components of a new Core science course.  By the end of the forum, the goals (though relatively nonspecific) included:

  • Getting students to think scientifically
  • Curing the fear of science
  • Creating a sense of wonder around the science discussed
  • Teaching scientific literacy
  • Giving students the opportunity to experience cutting-edge research

Read about the specific critiques of FroSci after the jump.

CMTS Director And Actor Talk “The Drowsy Chaperone”
But is drinking allowed in Roone

Unlike alcohol, this show won’t leave you drowsy or needing a chaperone

“This show will leave a tune in your head, a tear in your eye, and a huge smile across your face.” –Jason Eisner, director

The Columbia Musical Theatre Society is putting on a production of The Drowsy Chaperone, a 2006 Tony-winning musical comedy that pays homage to 1920’s and 1940’s musicals. CMTS will have shows tonight (8:00 P.M.) and tomorrow evening (7:30 P.M. and 10:00 P.M.), with tickets starting at $5 for Columbia students. Drowsy correspondent Ross Chapman sat down with the director, Jason Eisner, and an actor, Sam Balzac, both CC ’17, to hear about the musical. Below are excerpts from two interviews with the creative geniuses.

 What is The Drowsy Chaperone?

Jason: The Drowsy Chaperone is a rip-roaring, side-spitting musical within a comedy. It is about a lover of musical theatre who invites the audience into his apartment, and he puts on his favorite musical of all time, called The Drowsy Chaperone. And when he puts the record on, the musical comes to life in his apartment. It takes place in the 1920’s, and the plot is so convoluted and nonsensical in the most amazing way. The characters are very aware that it makes no sense. But it’s about a bride and a groom about to get married, and she’s a showgirl, and her producer doesn’t want her to get married… and mayhem ensues. At its heart, it’s about what we individually love so much. We all have something that we love that keeps us going. This is a man that has his flaws, he’s a very real person, but he’s us. It’s about what keeps us going.

What is your personal relation to The Drowsy Chaperone?

Sam: I’ve always been especially drawn to the music of the 1940’s and the golden age musical. I was raised on that music, which is sometimes considered that of the most tuneful musical era. My mom was really into musicals. She played in the pit a lot in high school. My parents are from New Jersey, so they went to a lot of shows while they were growing up. In that way I very much identify with the narrator. He was introduced to musical theatre culture by his mother, who saw all of these shows when she was a kid. I similarly kind of feel that displacement of being out of the time period but still being in love with that kind of music.

Jason: A few years ago, I started a list on my phone of musicals to direct when I got to college – yes, I was that person – and this was at the top of my list. Last year, I was the assistant director for a couple of shows here. I didn’t want to waste any time putting together a show, so at the end of last year, I put together a team, thought about the vision of the show, how to make it different from the original production, and how to also pay homage to it. So I proposed to the CMTS board. We got accepted, and six months later, two days before the show, here I am.

Themes, yellowface, and Hell Week after the jump