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Mar

10

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Midterms are over. Papers are done. You’re either getting as far from campus as possible, hankering down in your dorm room for an extended nap, or already wildly drunk. Whatever you’re doing this spring break, you need to get a ton of sleep – and we’ve created this handy quiz to help you figure out how much. This is our last post of the week, so catch some z’s, Columbia, and we’ll see you next Monday.

Mar

9

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Exercise is actually a means of procrastination?

Managing Editor Betsy Ladyzhets is not nearly as good at managing her life as she is at managing Bwog, but most of her casual acquaintances, classmates, and daily editors don’t know it. She shares some crucial tips for maintaining a veneer of respectability when, in truth, your life is collapsing faster than a biochem major’s ego after the return of an orgo midterm.

1. Make your bed every morning. This is one of the simplest ways to make yourself appear more on top of your schedule than you are, even if only your roommate sees the evidence. They’ll think, wow, what a motivated person, actually pulling the covers up. Plus, jumping on top of your bed to tuck in all the edges is a nice way to get your energy going.

2. Dress well. Or at least, dress in clothes that match. Or at least, don’t wear the same shirt two days in a row. (You could probably alternate between free Columbia shirts.) Nobody will be able to tell that you’ve been wearing the same pair of socks for half a week because you haven’t had time to do your laundry.

3. Get to class precisely thirty seconds before it starts. Your classmates will think you calculated the precise amount of time it takes to walk from Plimpton to Altschul. They’ll have no idea that you actually left ten minutes later than you planned, sprinted down 120th Street, and jaywalked three times.

Read on for Betsy’s other tips.

Mar

3

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Yeah, this is the whole library

In the last installment of our library review series, Bwog reviews Journalism Library, the smallest library on campus. This library might be considered a “hidden gem”, or it might be considered too small to bother with – you decide.

Location: Pulitzer Hall, first floor. Go inside the Student Center and turn left.

Hours: 10 am to 8 pm Monday through Thursday, 10 am to 6 pm on Fridays, closed on Saturdays and Sundays.

Contact: (212) 854-0390; [email protected]http://library.columbia.edu/locations/journalism.html.

Seats: Five total; four at a circular study table, and one a computer desk.

What amenities does this smallest library ever have?

Mar

2

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It’s taking more than seven meetings to get a printer in here…

Sidney Perkins, SEAS ’17, is the Engineering Student Council Vice President of Policy (or, as he puts it, the “leader of the policy juggernaut of ESC”). He’s been prominently featured in our ESC coverage recently because of a resolution he tried (and failed) to pass in order to put Legos in an engineering student center, as well as other resolutions related to mental health on campus. Managing Editor Betsy Ladyzhets sat down with him to talk about these resolutions, his view of ESC, and the role of student government in general.

Bwog: How did you get involved with student government at Columbia?

Sidney Perkins: My sophomore year, I ran for class council, because I wanted to help plan events for my classmates, help get them in touch with prospective employers, and then my junior year I did that again because I really enjoyed it. And towards the end of last year, having spent a lot of time on the policy committee as a committee member, I felt a pretty big calling to work on the executive board in that capacity.

Read on for Sidney’s philosophy on student government.

Mar

1

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‘Where can I get a machine gun to shoot Putin?’

Yesterday evening, Russian graphic artist Victoria Lomasko spoke at the Harriman Institute about her new book, Other Russias, an anthology of her work documenting protesters and disenfranchised, “invisible” social groups in Moscow. Managing Editor Betsy Ladyzhets was the youngest, the most inspired, and the most likely to take advantage of the fancy cheese person in attendance.

I go to IAB pretty frequently – by which I mean, I use its elevator to take a shortcut from EC back to Plimpton at least once a weekend. Last night became a nice change in this routine, as I took the elevator up rather than down; I ascended to the Harriman Institute on the twelfth floor, where a small reception room awaited the presentation of one Victoria Lomasko. That elevator ride would soon prove to be symbolic ascension as well as literal, as I heard Lomasko describe her work and became inspired to join her legacy.

Lomasko is a Russian graphic artist, and/or journalist, and/or activist. Her work draws on a traditional Russian style of graphic reporting, yet focuses on parts of Russian society that would never have been considered appropriate subject material in any older regime: protests, sex workers, children in juvenile detention centers, and other people occupying unconventional societies. Yesterday’s talk focused on her new book, Other Russias, and advertised a solo show of her work downtown, opening this Saturday. She spoke with the help of a translator, but easily commanded her audience – the majority of which appeared to be fluent in both Russian and English.

Other Russias has two major sections: “invisible,” which includes portraits Lomasko did before 2012, and “angry,” which includes sketches of the 2012 rallies in Moscow protesting Vladimir Putin’s reelection. Lomasko explained her motivation for beginning to go into the city and seek out interesting people to draw as one of widening her worldview. People from her circle did not know how people of other circles lived, she said. To this end, she sketched in public places, then began to write down what she heard people saying as well.

More about Russias after the jump

Feb

15

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A horn almost as majestic as the real thing (from the concert’s selfie station)

When Managing Editor Betsy Ladyzhets was picking a band instrument in fourth grade, she asked her mom if she could play the French horn, and her mom said no, it was too expensive. Now, after hearing the French horn quartet Genghis Barbie perform at the Miller Theater last night, she is deeply regretting not pushing her mom to let her pick that instrument anyway.

At a rehearsal of the CU Wind Ensemble last Monday, my friend Brent told our saxophone section that, at a particular point in the piece he had composed, they needed to express their love of saxophone in the way that they played the melody. It seemed like a ridiculous direction to me, as I laughed about it with my stand partner. But near the beginning of Genghis Barbie’s concert at the Miller Theater last night, I suddenly understood exactly what Brent was talking about.

Genghis Barbie describes itself as “the leading post post-feminist feminist all-female horn experience.” It is a group of four classically trained French horn players who play pretty much anything that can be arranged for four French horns – which is a more versatile collection of music than you might expect. The group consists of Rachel Drehmann (a.k.a. Attila the Horn), Danielle Kuhlmann (a.k.a. Velvet Barbie), Leelanee Sterrett (a.k.a. Cosmic Barbie), and Alana Vegter (a.k.a. Freedom Barbie). Not only do they excel at their instruments, they love their instruments  – and they demonstrate that love through their performance.

Last night, the group performed at the Miller Theater in the theater’s series of free pop-up concerts. Unlike most concerts, however, this one was dedicated to its theme: prom night. The theater had elaborate, romantic decorations of pink and red, all of the ushers and attendants wore “prom queen” sashes, and there was a selfie station with tiaras, flowers, and cardboard French horns for audience members to pose with. The event also boasted a free open bar. The theater was packed, with people sitting on the stage as well as in the theater itself; this event was more popular than the average Miller pop-up concert.

Did they play any Beyonce though?

Feb

11

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nobody saw me dance here, hopefully

Imagine this: you’re back at your old middle school. You’ve gone to an evening event in support of some younger sibling or cousin, and you have to get up halfway through to go to the bathroom. The bathroom closest to the auditorium is locked, so you wander through the hallways in search of one that the custodians might have neglected to close during their rounds.

The hallways are dark and empty. As you tread from one bank of lockers to the next, motion-activated lights flick on above you, illuminating student artwork and trophy displays in eerie fluorescence. The soft thuds of your footsteps are the only noise you can hear. You think back to your own time at this school – to racing through the halls with your friends, yelling across a cacophony of LL Bean backpacks and plastic folders – and it becomes impossible to reconcile that nostalgia-painted scene with this strangely lonely trip to the bathroom. You start to wonder if you’re not looking for the bathroom after all but for some feeling that has long evaded you – happiness, perhaps, or love.

Find out what a liminal space is

Feb

1

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No worms were harmed in the meeting of this club.

When two friends of Managing Editor Betsy Ladyzhets told her they were starting a book club at Barnard, she was amazed – there are college students who somehow want to do even more reading? The concept seemed fairly fantastical. Betsy went to the group’s first meeting last night to find out how they plan to operate, and to remind herself that reading doesn’t always have to be a source of stress.

LeFrak 117 has held bad memories for me ever since my first-year seminar last year, during which a gray-haired history professor droned on about twentieth-century Europe while his students tried to ignore his poorly-concealed distaste for their entire generation. But last night, the room seemed entirely transformed – rather than a boring professor, disengaged students, and unread texts, I found kind smiles, engaging conversation, and several varieties of tea and cookies.

A sign on the board proclaimed that this was the interest meeting for Barnard Bookworms, the college’s first ever book club. The meeting’s stated start time was 8 pm, but its organizers, Kira Mitchel, BC ’19 and Shruti Varadarajan, BC ’19, waited a few minutes for latecomers (and snack consumption) before getting started.

The meeting’s first piece of official business was to find out all of the attendees’ favorite books. This question was quickly amended to be either a favorite book or a book you read recently, because several people immediately complained that choosing just one favorite was impossible. Answers ranged from The Martian to Howl’s Moving Castle, and I found myself writing down several titles so that I would remember to look them up later.

Wait, STEM majors read novels?

Jan

24

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Getting ready to argue...

Getting ready to argue…

Yesterday, Bwog Managing Editor Betsy Ladyzhets attended a talk that focused on Trump’s energy and environmental plans for the next four years. Featuring environmental advisors to President George W. Bush, it seems that the United States’ environmental policy won’t be heavily affected by the change-of-hands between presidencies. The question remains: how can things not change if the leader of the free world doesn’t believe in climate change?

When I walked into the Pulitzer Hall World Room yesterday afternoon, I was pretty excited – and not just because the room is gorgeous. The panel I was about to attend promised to shed light on the ramifications of Trump’s presidency on America’s energy and environmental policy (that was, in fact, pretty much the title of the event). Its three panelists were all former senior energy and environment advisors to President George W. Bush, and, as the room filled, I realized that most of its audience was comprised of graduate students and people who dealt with energy and environmental policy in their careers. Still, I did not feel entirely out of my depth – as a biology major and, more broadly, human who cares about the future of the planet on which I live, I care a great deal about environmental policy. I hoped that this panel would alleviate at least some of my uncertainty about the next four years.

The panel began with a brief opening by Jason Bordoff, the director of SIPA’s Center on Global Energy Policy. He introduced the three panelists: Jeff Kupfer, former Acting Deputy Secretary of Energy; Jim Connaughton, former Chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality; and Bob McNally, former Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for International Energy, National Security Council. Bordoff also reminded the audience that the event was being livestreamed online. (The full video is now available on the Center on Global Energy Policy website.) Each panelist then talked for a few minutes about his perspective on the effect of the new presidential administration on energy and environmental policy.

“It’s really dangerous now to try to… say what’s going to happen, because it’s anyone’s guess,” Jeff Kupfer began. He explained that, although Trump made many promises during his campaign, he left many policy-makers wondering about what exactly the details of those promises would entail. But Kupfer also reassured the audience that he believes a great deal of policy in the White House will remain the same as it was in the past, due to the slow nature of the bureaucratic political machine.

“It’s always easier for something not to happen in the government than for something to happen,” Kupfer said.

More politics after the jump

Jan

23

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How do we know that this bagel is, in fact, a bagel?

How do we know that this bagel is, in fact, a bagel?

Have you ever thought about the metaphysical implications of believing New York City bagels are the best bagels on earth? Managing Editor Betsy Ladyzhets has, and her findings are more concerning than they are comforting.

A couple of weeks ago, I got into a discussion on Twitter about New York City bagels. One of my friends from home, whose writing I had been editing, had posted a couple of screenshots of our conversation on her Google Doc, in which she aggravated me by suggesting that the main characters in her story all ate their bagels dry. Her tweet was captioned, “i love knowing exactly how to torment a new yorker.” One of our mutual friends (this one a former New Yorker now living elsewhere in the US) replied in solidarity with me… and, long story short, I ended up agreeing to mail her half a dozen bagels from my favorite bagel place. I purchased the bagels yesterday and am sending them off this afternoon. To say my far-off friend is excited about this development would be like saying the staff at Absolute Bagel are only nice.

Dive into the metaphysical…

Jan

19

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Will they give him one of the top floor classrooms though?

Will they give him one of the top floor classrooms though?

This morning, we received a press release that Jacob “Jack” Lew, the outgoing Secretary of the Treasury, will become a visiting professor at the School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) next month. While at SIPA, Lew will “lecture, teach graduate students, and work with faculty members at the school and across the University on the subjects of international economics, fiscal and trade policy, and a range of other public policy issues.”

Lew graduated from Harvard College and Georgetown University Law Center, before becoming a legislative aide in Washington. From there, he worked on multiple financial committees, served as the President’s Chief of Staff, then became the Secretary of the Treasury in 2013. As treasury secretary, he “helped lead the U.S. economy to its current foundation of economic growth and declining unemployment.” He also has been a managing director and chief operating officer at Citigroup, and executive vice president and chief operating officer of NYU.

The faculty at SIPA is excited to have Lew join them. Dean Merit Janow said, “At a time when we are all concerned with issues of global economic growth, trade and finance, our federal budget, tax system and the challenge of creating economic opportunity, Jack Lew brings insights borne of years of experience from the academy and the most senior decision making roles in the US and global economy.”

President Bollinger is also enthusiastic about the Treasury Secretary’s new position; he called Lew “an invaluable addition to our faculty, and an asset for our students who will benefit greatly from all that he has to teach them.”

Lew starts at Columbia on February 1.

Read the full press release after the jump

Jan

18

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Braving the cold (and the human interaction) for those sweet, sweet tix

Braving the cold (and the human interaction) for those sweet, sweet tix

This Friday, Columbia’s TIC office will open in Lerner, selling Columbia students discounted tickets to Broadway shows, the Metropolitan Opera, Carnegie Hall, and more. But even these discount tickets are often fairly pricey – a ticket to Aladdin in March, for example, is $59. To help out those of you not quite ready to shell out money at the TIC, Managing Editor (and penniless arts lover) Betsy Ladyzhets has put together a list of places you can get cheap tickets to shows, concerts, and other arts events outside of Columbia.

  • Broadway Week: Two for one tickets are being offered right now with a special promotion that lasts from January 17 to February 5. Speed is of the utmost importance for this opportunity – many shows are already sold out.
  • TKTS: The Theater Development Fund (TDF) has three discount ticket booths in NYC: one in Times Square “under the red steps” in Father Duffy Square at Broadway and 47th Street; one in South Street Seaport, at the corner of Front and John Streets, near the rear of the Resnick/Prudential Building at 199 Water Street; and one in downtown Brooklyn, in 1 MetroTech Center at the corner of Jay Street and Myrtle Avenue Promenade. These booths have same-day tickets to Broadway and off-Broadway musicals, plays, and dance productions between 20% and 50% off regular prices. You can see which tickets are available at any given moment on TKTS live. If you plan on trying TKTS, it’s good to get there at least half an hour before the booth opens to secure a decent spot in line.
  • Playbill: This list has information for rush, lottery, and standing room only policies for all Broadway shows. Playbill has rush and lottery information for many off-Broadway shows as well.
  • TodayTix: This app boasts last-minute Broadway deals and other theater tickets; you can both get tickets at discounted prices and sign up for daily lotteries for many popular shows.
  • Tix4Students: Anyone at least 18 and currently enrolled (part time or full time) in an undergraduate or graduate program at an accredited college or university can create an account on this site, which then gets you access to Broadway and off-Broadway tickets at heavily discounted prices. (The average is $40 per ticket.)

More (non-theater) ticket info after the jump

Dec

21

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When Ann Thornton asks a band alum to donate to the library...

When Ann Thornton asks a band alum to donate to the library…

It’s been eight days since the Marching Band announced that they had been banned from playing Orgo Night in Butler 209 this semester – an edict that originated in the devious mind of Vice Provost and Head Librarian Ann Thornton. Senior Staffer (and Band member) Betsy Ladyzhets tried to get into that very mind by imagining what Ann Thornton’s life must be like, now that Orgo Night is over and most “disruptive” marching band members have migrated off campus.

5:29 pm

Headed home for the night! Time to not think about administrative meetings or official documentation for a few hours, and maybe watch a Netflix documentary.

5:31 pm

Shit, did I remember to send that email to Dean Kromm? I know she so values my opinions about which groups should and shouldn’t be allowed to hold events on the lawns…

5:33 pm

It’s fine, I can send it tomorrow.

5:57 pm

The subway gets more and more disgusting every week. There should be designated different cars – one for people who want to gossip with their friends, one for people who want to loud, ear-damaging music, and one for people who actually want to spend their time in a productive way. I’m going to write a strongly worded letter to the MTA.

6:18 pm

Did someone… poop… on my doorstep?

Did someone poop?!

Dec

8

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Could you rate the correlation between two of your identities with Venn diagrams like this?

Could you rate the correlation between two of your identities with Venn diagrams like this?

Yesterday afternoon, Dr. Bonita London, CU Graduate School of Arts and Sciences ’06 and Associate Professor at Stony Brook University, gave a presentation on barriers and bridges to STEM engagement among women, focusing in particular on undergraduate students. Betsy Ladyzhets, senior staffer (and woman in STEM), describes Dr. London’s talk.

When I arrived in 614 Schermerhorn yesterday, the room was already half-full. Unlike most events I’ve written about for Bwog, this presentation appeared to have an audience primarily consisting of undergraduates – I even recognized a few faces. All of us were the women in STEM typified in the event description, and all of us were hoping that Dr. London could present new insights that would help us look at our majors and possible careers in new ways.

Dr. London began her presentation by stating the general purpose of her psychology research lab at Stony Brook. “The basic, general theme of the work I do in my lab is understanding how social identity affects everything,” she described. “Everything” includes health, mental wellbeing, and academic relationships, and numerous other facets of a person’s life. This type of research is called social health psychology.

She then explained why her research on women going into STEM fields is so important. STEM fields are growing at an incredible rate (80% of the fastest growing careers are in STEM fields), yet these fields have a very high attrition rate. For example, on average, 59% of students interested in computer science will change direction before completing their major or program. And these attrition rates are disproportionately high for women. Dr. London cited that in middle and high school, girls are actually taking part in advanced math and science classes with an increasing interest compared to boys, but this interest drops off some time between entering college and entering the workforce. Her research aimed to look into why this attrition occurs.

Dr. London went on to talk about disparity in STEM fields from a social identity framework. She explained that “STEM departments in particular tend to value natural ability over effort,” thus setting “a standard that many students can’t meet, but is a hallmark of what STEM faculty think is needed to be successful.” This standard is particularly dangerous when combined with the common stereotype that women are not good at the logic problems and rational thinking characteristic of STEM fields.

“This creates an environment that you have to be a genius, and you don’t have what it takes,” Dr. London said.

She described how she and her team more closely examined the challenges women in STEM face using the lens of social identity theory. She defined the terms “STEM identity” (extent to which an individual feels connected to or invested in their STEM field) and “Perceived Identity Compatibility”, or PCI (belief in conflict or compatibility between gender identity and STEM identity). If STEM and gender identities are in conflict, women are most likely to disengage from one of them – and they will usually choose to let go of their STEM identity rather than their gender identity.

In addition, social support can heavily influence how women going into STEM fields deal with the challenges they face. Dr. London explained that networks of support (especially of women) can buffer stressful experiences, such as going to college. The transition to college is particularly stressful, because students’ concerns about abilities, “fitting in”, and potential for success often become exacerbated during this time.

Dr. London and her team did a multifaceted experiment on undergraduate students interested in STEM fields at Stony Brook to examine “how women live the experience of their identity in the college context.” They collected data on 247 first-years who identified as women interested in STEM fields, first by having the students complete structured daily diaries during their first twenty-one days of college, then by having them complete weekly diaries during their second semester. These diaries asked students to rate how they felt they had performed in their STEM classes, how supportive they felt their friends and family were of their majors, how they felt they belonged in their STEM majors, and how likely it was that they might change majors.

Before the diaries started, the researchers did initial surveys that allowed them to attach a PCI ranking to each student. They found that for women with higher PCI rankings remained motivated in their STEM classes even when not doing well, while women with lower PCI rankings became less motivated when they failed. The researchers also found that perceived support buffers women when they’re struggling. They were also able to use PCI rankings calculated from survey data at the beginning of the spring semester to predict students’ end-of-year STEM engagement; students with lower PCI were more worried about others’ perceptions, and had lower GPAs in STEM courses.

Dr. London’s conclusion of her team’s study was that “PCI and social support are important for STEM engagement, particularly when female STEM students are struggling academically during the early transition to college.” However, they also found that, even though a high PCI rating and strong social support act as buffers when women in STEM are feeling less confident about belonging in their majors, on average, many of the women they studied ultimately will contribute to the high attrition rates of women in STEM fields. On average, the researchers saw drops in PCI, perceived support for students’ majors, and sense of belonging in STEM – and increases in expectations of dropping out of those STEM majors.

All of this research seems disheartening. How can we, women hoping to go into STEM fields, combat the entrenched societal pressures that seem to be dead-set against our success? How can we hold onto our confidence and support systems when kids in middle school classrooms told to draw a scientist all draw balding white men?

Dr. London provided a few recommendations at the end of her presentation. The most important ways of helping women succeed in STEM, she said, are exposure to role models, mentors, and reducing gender bias; as a result of her research, Stony Brook is working on applying these ideas directly to courses. Perhaps, someday, Columbia will make similar efforts (and when it’s finally completed, Barnard’s new TLC is supposedly going to promote STEM majors). But for now, all we can do is stick together, mentor each other, and remind ourselves that we belong in our STEM classes, laboratories, and discussions just as much as men do.

Fun with Venn diagrams via Dr. London (photo via Betsy Ladyzhets)

Dec

4

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These doors will never open on a Sunday night again...

These doors will never open on a Sunday night again…

This semester, Barnard’s late night dining moved from Hewitt Dining Hall to Diana Cafe. Many of the students who visit the dining halls between 8:30 and 11pm are the same, but has the very nature of late night become intrinsically different while they were celebrating the new uses of their meal swipes? Senior staffer Betsy Ladyzhets reflects on the changes she’s seen.

Once, in a bygone era (i.e. last year), you could always find me in the same place on Sunday nights: Hewitt late night.

Sundays were often the most stressful days of my week; I would wake up panicked about how much homework I had to do, procrastinate on that homework by taking an extremely long time to eat breakfast, attempt to get through a lot of it (and fail miserably), go to a string of evening club meetings, then find myself exhausted, overwhelmed, and above all else – hungry. That hunger would without fail take me to Hewitt for a late dinner, at which I would tear through three or four pieces of pizza while getting very slightly less behind on reading.

The dining hall, with its trapezoidal trays and piss-colored tables, always seemed to me like an oasis of comfort within a school that was often too much for me to handle. Hewitt has almost a homey atmosphere – maybe it’s the small tables, or maybe it’s the friendly staff, or maybe it’s the vaguely yellowish haze that always seems to hang over the place, like a nostalgic filter in a romantic movie. And if you’re a Barnard student, especially a first-year, there’s a very high chance that you’ll run into someone you know there – especially during late night, when it seems as though everyone wants to delay doing their difficult reading just a little longer.

Delay doing your difficult reading with the rest of this post?

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