Author Archive

Oct

10

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Maggie 2 proudly standing in her sister’s place on planting day last spring

Bwog has done lecturehops, peoplehops, clubhops, and roomhops, but this is our first time “hopping” an entity far greater than ourselves: the Barnard magnolia tree. But wait, you might ask – didn’t that tree die last year? In fact, while Maggie’s main body may be gone, her spirit and her genetic material live on. Senior staffer Betsy Ladyzhets talked to Greenhouse manager Nick Gershberg, who gave her all of the leafy details.

Almost two years ago, the Barnard campus stood still as Maggie, our beloved magnolia tree, was uprooted from her home in front of Lehman Hall, hoisted into the air with a forklift, and moved 30 feet to the left. Although administrators and horticulturists alike were optimistic that the tree would survive the move, the ensuing winter proved fatal. Maggie was pronounced dead that following summer, and the campus mourned the loss of one of its greatest hallmarks (and best crying spot).

However, what many Barnard students don’t know is, the magnolia was never entirely dead. Before the move took place, student workers at the Arthur Ross Greenhouse, led by Greenhouse Manager Nick Gershberg, took five cuttings of the tree. Two of those cuttings grew into saplings that are full clones of Maggie; one of them was planted on the Diana lawn last spring, and the other lives in the greenhouse.

“Whenever you move a large tree, even a tree substantially stronger than [the Barnard magnolia], there’s always a chance that it might not make it,” Nick explained to me yesterday. “The administrators who were responsible for its move decided that it might be a good idea to take some cuttings as a fail-safe.”

What does Maggie’s future look like?

Sep

30

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Elevator or spiritual portal?

One Barnard dorm’s elevators are not like every other dorm’s elevators. Do they contain a dark secret, or have they just not been renovated since the fifties? Senior Staffer Betsy Ladyzhets investigates.

Imagine – it’s 11:30 pm on a Sunday. I’ve got a mound of dirty clothes taking up space beside my bed and a hundred pages of reading due at 10 am the next morning that I haven’t started yet. So, I do the only logical thing: I grab a load’s worth of laundry and head out to the elevator.

But when I haul my clothes into the elevator and start going down, I realize a problem: the elevator button for the basement isn’t lighting up when I press it. Actually, it’s flickering, like a candle during a seance.

I breathe slowly, tell myself not to panic – it must just be a glitch, the elevator is fine. And it is fine, as far as it delivers me safely to… the first floor. The elevator is staunchly refusing to let me into the basement. I press the button a few more times, jamming on it as though breaking down a door, but it doesn’t give. Pissed, I drag my laundry bag out into the lobby, glaring around in the hopes of finding somewhere to redirect my malice.

What’s going on in this elevator?

Sep

24

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What this writer hopes not to look like in Cell Bio tomorrow morning

It’s 8:38 on Monday morning. You roll into your 8:40 lecture, slump into a seat, and lean over your desk, a weight stronger than gravity pulling your eyelids down. It’s too early for this. It’s too early for anything. But you’re gonna be tested on this material in in a few short weeks, so you need to at least take some notes. How do you fight the urge to nap through class? Senior staffer Betsy Ladyzhets has some suggestions.

  • Make coffee the night before: This is a simple but elegant fix. Make your coffee before you go to bed, stick it in the fridge overnight, then chug it right before you head out the door the next morning. If you’re a first-year without a coffeemaker, do this with a cup of coffee taken from the dining hall. For an extra boost, add something special to the coffee.
  • Bring snacks: It’s pretty much impossible to finish a full breakfast before an 8:40, so bring your breakfast with you! Whether your sustenance of choice is granola bars, bagels, or oranges, taking a couple bites every few minutes will keep you motivated. (If you are bringing oranges, though, make sure you have some paper towels.)
  • Psychoanalyze your professor’s clothing choices, body language, etc.: Why is he wearing an orange Hawaiian shirt? Does the placement of her hands on her hips mean that this is going to be on the midterm? Are clues to his marital status hidden in his chalk handwriting? Professors are full of clues, and it could take you a full hour and fifteen minutes to decode them.
  • Challenge yourself to take the best possible notes: Maybe it’s not necessary to meticulously recreate every single diagram on the powerpoint or every word that comes out of your professor’s mouth, but trying your best to do so will help give you incentive to keep from dozing off.

More advice after the jump

Sep

23

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During a symposium at the New York Botanical Garden last week, senior staffer Betsy Ladyzhets learned about an site that allows users to play with the environmental conditions of New York City, and she found it cool enough to share here.

Have you ever wondered what NYC looked like what the first Europeans landed here in 1609? Or are you perhaps interested in how NYC could look in the future, if our city follows the lead of other, more sustainable cities around the world and implements policies to combat climate change? If either of those questions appealed to you, Visionmaker NYC is probably your next procrastination device.

Visionmaker NYC is a site developed by the Welikia Project at the Wildlife Conservation Society (the nonprofit responsible for running the Bronx Zoo, as well as other research and conservation projects around the world). This team of researchers worked on collecting ecological information on the history of NYC, starting with Manhattan, then working outward to the other boroughs. This research has focused on the city’s biodiversity; the researchers hope to find out what NYC lacks in plant and animal communities, and what we could be doing better in order to preserve the wildlife in and around the city.

One major piece of the Welikia Project is public education – bringing the information that researchers have collected to non-scientists of NYC.  The Visionmaker site is a major part of that educational message: it allows users to explore the NYC of the past (“Welikia” means “my good home” in Lenape) and create their own visions for NYC of the future, by adjusting general lifestyles, precipitation levels, and other pieces of the wider NYC environment.

I spent some time playing around with the site today, particularly focusing in on Columbia – we’re (literally) greener than many other parts of the city, but we clearly still have a long way to go.

See some photos of Columbia’s terrain after the jump

Sep

21

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Ah, youth

Sometimes, in our daily lives at Columbia, we see another student do something so inspiring that we feel compelled to share their story with everyone on campus. Managing Editor Betsy Ladyzhets had such an experience a few nights ago.

At first glance, she seemed unassuming. Just another student milling through the Monday night JJ’s rush, her blonde hair bouncing above her shoulders. Only some aimless first-year, seeking fried food and easy procrastination material before returning to some Lit Hum paper.

But then, I looked closer, and realized that this was no typical JJ’s patron. This student was not eyeing the curly fries, joining the omelette line, or even partaking in the slightly questionable salad bar. No, this girl had a goal. A desire. A purpose. She passed lines and snack stations alike in a beeline to one corner, where the popcorn machine stood red and gleaming in the low fluorescent lights.

There is something oddly poetic about the JJ’s popcorn machine. It doesn’t quite fit with the sleek aesthetics of the rest of the dining hall, seemingly pulled from an old movie theater or a country fair. But this student didn’t waste any time pondering the machine’s metaphorical ramifications – she simply pulled open the glass door, popped the top of the take-out tray she was carrying, and began to fill the entire thing with buttery popcorn.

Let me repeat: she filled an entire take-out tray with just popcorn.

An entire take-out tray with just popcorn!

Sep

7

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How much are you willing to pay for these?

It’s not news to anyone that textbooks are ridiculously expensive – a beginning-of-the-semester trip to the Columbia Bookstore can cost as much as a bulk shopping trip to Costco, and that’s just criminal. In order to help you pinch some pennies this fall, editor Betsy Ladyzhets has compiled a list of places where you can buy or rent books for relatively reasonable prices.

1. CLIO: The Columbia library has a vast amount of resources, including many textbooks – both physical copies and PDFs. Search for all of your books on CLIO before you go literally anywhere else. And even if all the physical copies of your desired book have been checked out for the semester, there are likely some extra copies on reserve; if you know you’re only going to need the book a few times for problem sets or right before midterms, you should consider relying on those rather than buying the full book.

2. PDF searches: Another first step before you set out to pay for books is a PDF search. Literally all you need to do is Google “[your textbook title here] pdf” and look through the results. However, before you decide a pdf you found from some marginally-sketchy site is your book for the semester, you should cross-reference a few pages with a physical copy (from the bookstore or library reserves), in order to ensure it’s the real deal. (And then, after you’ve checked, send it to all your friends in the class.)

3. The StrandNYC’s oldest and most famous bookstore boasts that it’s home to 18 miles of books; there’s a good chance you can find at least one you need, probably used or at a lower price than what you’d get at Book Culture. It might be good to check the store’s online database before you make the trek down to the East Village, though. (This one is likely more useful for humanities classes requiring fiction or essays.)

More options after the jump!

Aug

29

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Yesterday afternoon, the Barnard Columbia Solidarity Network (BCSN, for short), an alliance of activist groups on campus, released a welcome letter to Barnard’s new president Sian Beilock. This alliance currently includes Divest Barnard for a Just Transition, Undocumented Students Initiative, Student-Worker Solidarity, Columbia University Apartheid Divest, CU/BC Branch of the International Socialist Organization, and No Red Tape.

The letter begins by introducing BCSN as a” coalition of student groups mobilized in a common struggle for liberation” that opposes consolidation of power, wealth, and resources “in the hands of a few” at Columbia. It then goes on to list a few recent victories for activism at Barnard and Columbia, including Barnard divesting from companies that deny climate change, Columbia divesting from the coal industry and private prisons, and student workers winning a $15 minimum wage.

After this introduction, BCSN cuts to the chase in expressing their concerns about President Beilock’s appointment: “the Barnard community was effectively locked out of the presidential search process”, they write, because student and faculty representatives were appointed rather than elected, and student concerns were trivialized. Debora Spar has left what BCSN considers a troubling legacy, as she failed to address needs of low-income students, undocumented students, students of color, and other groups of marginalized identities. And it seems that BCSN is not particularly impressed with President Beilock’s history, either; they cite her work at University of Chicago taking “a leading role in the administration’s assault on graduate student workers’ right to unionize”. In addition, the writers of this letter found President Beilock’s and Provost Bell’s statement on the events in Charlottesville wanting, as that statement failed to condemn white supremacist ideology, “explicitly defend the rights of students of color”, and “state what you [Barnard] will do… to stand for racial justice”.

See BCSN’s demands and read the full letter after the jump

May

10

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Our home during this hellish week?

Bwogline: A NYC lawyer raced a subway train on foot, and won. He’s no stranger to kicking the MTA’s ass – he previously won the Guiness world record for fastest time to travel through every station in the city – but he claims to be “done with the subway things for a while” after this victory. (NY Daily News)

Study tip: Change locations! Sitting in the same spot in your dorm’s lounge or the same room in Butler for several hours at a time can cause you to stagnate in your studying as well. Even just moving floors can help revive your motivation.

Music: Remember Owl City? Ten million fireflies, songs about the dentist, and instrumentals that were always vaguely reminiscent of outer space? Well, Adam Young, the man behind Owl City, is still making music – last year, he decided to take a break from pop to create a series of instrumental soundtracks for inspirational moments in human history (including the Apollo 11 mission, the first successful climb of Mount Everest, Joe Kittinger’s 1960 parachute jump, and more). All twelve of these soundtracks are great study music, and they’re all free on YouTube, Spotify, and Adam Young’s website.

Procrastination Tip: Turn off your wifi and play the no internet connection/jumping dinosaur game on Google Chrome. Then, keep your wifi turned off to get cracking on that paper.

Overheard: Outside Butler: “She’s more hated than Bwog.” Aw, we love our fans  (´ ε ` )♡

Home sweet home via February Bwog

May

9

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Butler reacts only

If you’re an English major facing a literature exam, or a classics major facing an astronomy exam, or any other writing-heavy humanities major facing any other kind of exam, there’s a decent chance you’re currently panicking about it. This is pretty understandable – you’ve trained yourself to make arguments in Word documents at 2 am, not in little blue books, and test-taking is a skill best honed with practice. To help assuage your despair, resident science/humanities double major Betsy Ladyzhets has some studying advice.

1. Re-type all of your notes. By not only reading through your lecture (or seminar) notes, but also re-typing them, you’ll really engage with the material. If your notes are sparse (or if you tended to take a brief nap around forty minutes into every class), find a friend to share notes with.

2. Make flashcards. Tons of flashcards. Mounds of flashcards. Mountains of flashcards. Every class can be a flashcard class if you believe it can. You can use up all of the paper in Butler to do this, or, if you’d rather not cramp up your wrist, use Quizlet.

Other ways to study for tests.

May

3

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Shreya Sunderram (left) and Allison Emmet (right) celebrating the launch of their podcast

A group of Barnard Speaking Fellows hosted an event last night in honor of the launch of their new podcast, “The Speakeasy”. Betsy Ladyzhets, Bwog Editor and Writing Fellow, attended the event, and was both entranced and inspired by the podcast’s words.

Last night, a group of Barnard Speaking Fellows led by Allison Emmet (BC ’18) released the first season of their new podcast, “The Speakeasy.” The goal of the Speaking Center is to help Barnard students become more comfortable with their voices and with the act of public speaking, and to be more thoughtful in what they say; Speaking Fellows do this through workshops with students, both individually and in small groups. “The Speakeasy” is a less formal extension of the Center’s goal, as its episodes discuss the relationship of speech to other social issues affecting Barnard students. The first season, which went up on iTunes last night, includes four episodes on speaking anxiety, activism, gender, and professionalism.

To celebrate the podcast’s launch, the Speaking Fellows hosted an event in a small Altschul lecture room. I’ve had a class in that room all semester, but when I stepped inside, I almost didn’t recognize it – the space had been transformed with low lighting, string lights, couches, streamers, and even a rug. Blackboards were adorned with Speaking Center mottos and a written-out link to the Center’s website. One Speaking Fellow brought in a group of large silver balloons spelling out the word “SPEAK” a few minutes into the event, just in case attendees were still unclear on the identity of their hosts. A classroom in which I once took an organic chemistry exam now felt like a comfortable space for a study break, where I could forget my responsibilities for an hour or two.

Poems, music, etc.

Apr

29

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As You Like It’s musicians performing on Math Lawn

What better way to recover from V-123 than to go see even more student theater? That’s what Managing Editor Betsy Ladyzhets did last night, when she attended the King’s Crown Shakespeare Troupe’s midnight show (a.k.a. “drunk show”) of As You Like It. The production has one more show, which starts tonight at 8 pm on Pupin Plaza and has free admission.

I arrived at Pupin Plaza around ten minutes to midnight yesterday to watch KCST’s production of As You Like It expecting two things: first, to enjoy an engaging performance of a Shakespearean comedy, and second, to be unable to hear or understand half of the scenes.  The first of these expectations was well met, and the second completely blown out of the water – even at a performance attended by around 150 people, many of whom were drunk.  KCST delivered a show that was expert in its acting, yet fully accessible to its audience, and that submersed anyone watching completely into a fictional world where sins are forgiven, mistakes repaired, and love the highest law.

As You Like It is a romantic drama under the guise of a political drama.  It follows two young nobles, Rosalind and Orlando, as they are banished from the courts of Duke Frederick (Rosalind’s uncle) and Oliver (Orlando’s brother), respectively, and find solace in the forest of Arden.  In this forest, between shenanigans with shepherds and nobles alike, Rosalind tests Orlando’s professed love her by disguising herself as a man and attempting to berate him out of his affections.  The play ends with not one, not two, but four weddings.

Four weddings? Are you serious?

Apr

22

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If you need to get signed into someone else’s dorm tonight, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll forget to pick up your ID on the way out, then panic a few minutes (or hours, or days) later. So, how do you go about asking for it back from the desk guard? Managing Editor Betsy Ladyzhets has put together a handy flowchart to help you figure that out, based on way too much personal experience.

Every possible ID-forgetting scenario?

Apr

15

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Are you at Barnard, or are you… somewhere else?

A few weeks ago, Managing Editor Betsy Ladyzhets argued that the basement of Teacher’s College is a liminal space, a place that exists between one conception of reality and the next. Now, she’s back to evaluate whether another space on Columbia’s campus fits in that same category.

I am sitting in the study room on the third floor of the Diana Center, studying for an organic chemistry final.

The red chair beneath me is stiff and unyielding, the lights above me just bright enough that I don’t feel as though I’m about to doze off. The coffee in my travel mug purchased from Liz’s Place before I started this session is lukewarm, and still needs more sugar. The 3D models of cyclic compounds cluttered around my desk cubicle mock my continued confusion with their sharp edges and incomplete bonds.

I have lost track of how long I’ve been sitting in this study room. It could have been one hour, it could have been three, it could have been ten. I covered the clock on my laptop when I hid my notifications panel with a flashcard, and I am determined not to peek until I have figured out chair-chair interconversion. I’m watching the same video of my professor explaining this process for the fifth time – or maybe it’s the twentieth time – or maybe I have watched twenty different videos all indistinguishable from each other.

Seriously, what’s going on here?

Apr

13

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So much text, so little Kate

Kate Gilmore, the United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, spoke at the Law School yesterday afternoon on the transformative nature of human rights. Managing Editor Betsy Ladyzhets, a human with rights, gives her take on the speech and the discussion that followed.

Few things make me feel cooler than successfully getting into the Law Library without attracting suspicion. Once I found my way downstairs and into a lecture room, however, I soon felt that any coolness I may had acquired paled in comparison to that of the speaker, Kate Gilmore, a UN Deputy High Commissioner and wearer of [stunning] pink pants. Her introduction extolled her past accomplishments, as Assistant Secretary General and Deputy Executive Director Assistant Secretary General and Deputy Executive Director for Programmes with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), and Executive Deputy Secretary General of Amnesty International.

Ms. Gilmore’s speech yesterday was a keynote address marking the end of a speaker series commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Her speech was a powerful rhetorical address challenging the nature of human rights discourse in the world right now, and calling the students in the room to action.

What did she say?

Apr

9

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The West Harlem Piers, from Betsy’s run this morning

Spring is here for good, if the scant outfits we saw around campus during yesterday’s concert were any indication. But there are more benefits to the warm weather than just wearing shorts and sundresses: you can finally set out on a run in Riverside Park without your butt cheeks threatening to go numb. For those of you who are a sudden health kick after Bacchanal degeneracy, have never ventured outside the Hamilton stairs for exercise before, or just get lost really easily, senior staffer (and frequent runner) Betsy Ladyzhets has compiled a list of her favorite routes to run in Riverside. These work for walking or biking, too!

1. Riverside Drive (easy): There’s a pathway at the very top of the park that goes from 120th street to 96th street. This is a good starting route if your endurance is terrible or if you’re nervous that you’ll get lost if you venture further into the park. Be careful of the cobblestones here, though – it’s very easy to trip. Distance: 1 to 1.5 miles one way, depending on where you start.

2. Wide bike path in the upper level (easy): If you go down the pavement path at the 116th Street entrance, follow the path all the way down the hill, then turn left and follow the trail for a few minutes, you’ll find yourself at a wide, paved path stretching from about 110th Street to 96th street. This path is great for sprinting, as it’s completely flat and wide enough to allow for easy passing. The small dog park midway through is a great highlight. Distance: 1 to 1.5 miles one way.

Check out some more difficult routes after the jump

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