Author Archive

Dec

16

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It's like Winter in Florida, except without the beaches, humidity, and being in Florida.

It’s like Winter in Florida, except without the beaches, humidity, and being in Florida.

Did we do the time warp again? Why is it so warm outside? Isn’t it supposed to be Winter in December? Bwog superstar Britt Fossum engages in the discourse regarding our unseasonably warm weather.

The End is Nigh.

How are we expected to study for finals when it’s a balmy 60 degrees Fahrenheit every day, when the sun is constantly shining, when the sky is a pure cloudless blue? Are we really supposed to be able to ignore the sound of flip-flop soles smacking against the tile floor of the ref room? Or that the study guide post-its we’ve stuck to the walls above our bed keep sliding off thanks to the humidity condensing on every interior surface?

We were Ready. But we spoke too soon. Now we must pay for our folly in sweat, tears, and the resulting dehydration headaches.

Give me a Cold Day in July, give me Hell frozen over, give me anything but this Second Summer. Give me a reason to hide away in the steamy booths of the Noco library, to pour endless cups of hot coffee straight down my throat.

Learning is impossible if your brain is already boiling.

Pass the sunblock via Shutterstock

Dec

15

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Editor's note: This image has been altered due to safety concerns.

Editor’s note: This image has been altered due to safety concerns.

Fall 2015 marked the fourth semester in a row in which a new board took the helm of Bwog: in August we lost former Editor in Chief Taylor Grasdalen to Duluth, Minnesota. Britt Fossum, CC ’16, took Grasdalen’s place as EIC. Joseph Powers, CC ’16, took Fossum’s place on the board as Internal Editor, with Courtney Couillard, BC ’17, continuing as Managing Editor. Our triumvirate’s time is up: we are replaced by the dynamic duo of Editor in Chief Mason Amelotte, CC ’18, and Managing Editor Maddie Stearn, BC ’17, long may they reign. We are additionally sad to say farewell to Publisher Jake Hershman, GS/JTS ’16, who is graduating this semester and heading off for the greener pastures of business. He is replaced by a new team: Publisher James Fast, CC ’19, and Associate Publisher Nikolas Huth, CC ’19. Courtney will continue her active involvement on Bwog as Alma Bwogger, a position that basically entails making snarky comments at meetings. Britt and Joseph are seniors and need to start getting their shit together with regards to post-college life.

The Semester in Brief:

Some things around here got better.

Psychological services on campus attempted to make improvements.

Laundry became free for Columbia students (sorry Barnard).

Football won a game or two (and Bwog lifted its ban on the f-word after a semester on probation).

In related news, Homecoming was Lit (and for once, Bwog went).

Just in time to save us from the stress of midterms Beta Jam returned from the grave.

The dreaded tarps are notably still absent.

Barnard’s Board of Trustees approved changes to the school’s admissions policy, beginning in Fall 2016, that allow trans women to be admitted to the College. Meanwhile Columbia Board of Trustees voted to divest from prisons.

FLIP introduced new initiatives and the Swipes application.

Luca Springer became our first Rhodes Scholar in a LONG TIME (and first ever GS Rhodes Scholar).

Sweetgreen sux tbh but it’s here to stay. Also Deluxe left and came back but still sucks as much as it always has. Also Friedman’s took campus culture too seriously and started assaulting people.

Barnard Winter housing policy somehow blindsided everyone even though Barnard has never provided winter housing. Seriously, they just got a bit stricter about it.

The Tab: Columbia arrived on campus, The Lion appointed a staffer to the position of editor-and-chief, and Spec ed-board changed. Farewell Michael Omelette.

But wait there’s more

Dec

2

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You'd better recycle all those

You’d better recycle all those

The Culture of Butler Library is strange indeed, especially in the dark days of finals. People sleep, eat, and brush their teeth in the library. Wars are waged over seats in the ref room. People lose their humanity in there. One particular example is the peculiar habit of accumulating piles of garbage around an individual’s dedicated workspace. While in a more civilized library (like noco) where drinks are forbidden people throw out coffee cups and red bull cans once they have been consumed, the denizen of Butler just lets them pile up throughout the day. This explains why so much of the library reeks of piss and stale coffee. Here Editor-in-chief Britt Fossum provides a handy calculation to convert the quantity of garbage at a given neighbor’s desk to approximate hours spent within the bowels of the But.

B-of-the-E Assumptions, Empirically Derived:

  • One small coffee (hot) (12 oz) is consumed in approximately 20 minutes.
  • One medium coffee (hot) (16 oz) can be consumed in 30 minutes.
  • Anything larger (hot) will be consumed in approximately 90 minutes: the first half at a normal rate, the second half at twice the normal rate because it has cooled to lukewarm and is drank only grudgingly.
  • All iced coffees are nursed over at least 120 minutes.
  • One red bull, monster, or other energy drink will only take ~15 seconds to consume but will provide for at least 180 minutes of uninterrupted studying.
  • Candy, pastries, and power bar wrappers add 10 minutes each.
  • Any other kind of food: add 30 minutes.
  • WEIRD things (jerky, beer, halal): infinite minutes. This person lives in Butler. No calculation necessary, just don’t let them hear you complaining about how long you’ve been working.

Get ready for the ~math~

Nov

13

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He's smiling but he's dead inside

He’s smiling but he’s dead inside

Ah, the Hungarian Pastry Shop. Everyone’s favorite problematic (cash only? seriously?) hideaway spot. Except recently, the peace in this small Eastern European oasis is being threatened by a new species of customer – the Tinder folk, anxiously embarking upon their first dates. Does this anger you as much as it angers us? Either way, join our Editor-in-Chief Britt Fossum in the fight to make Hungarian great again! 

There are very few quiet and warm places to study near Columbia that will tolerate a student lurking in a corner hunched over a textbook for hours without buying more than a cup of coffee. In fact, only one comes to mind: Hungarian Pastry Shop or, as a friend regrettably calls it, “Hungz.”

But this sugar-scented haven has recently been scourged by an unforeseen menace. Though the Shop itself eschews internet, it is not immune to the effects of web-based dating sites. On the average weekend afternoon and weekday evening, many of the tables are occupied by couples meeting uncomfortably for the first time after matching on Tinder.

So, a simple request. Please don’t take Tinder dates to Hungarian. Or, really, any local coffee shop. It’s true, Hungarian lends itself much more naturally to a cozy-but-awkward meet-cute than the corporate atmosphere of Starbucks, the sterility of Joe, or (god forbid) ButCaf. But just don’t.

First, the selfish argument. No one else wants to hear your attempts at conversation: not the older couple who have been coming for years, not the small child making a mess of their tiramisu, and certainly not the frazzled looking undergraduate who has now read the same paragraph five times thank to your inane chatter. Maybe you’re talking about how you like your salads prepared, or maybe you’re apologizing for how bad you are at coming up with fun facts about the book of Job (but you can at least explain the origin of the word “khaki!”). Even your date would like you to shut up, as demonstrated by their frequent attempts to change the conversation back to commentary on the weather.

But if you refuse to let the judgement of others move you, just think of the inevitable embarrassment you’ll feel when the time comes to pay and you don’t have enough cash to cover your date’s Viennese Coffee and TWO whole almond horns. What are you going to do: ask for your date to chip in? The gesture of buying them coffee is somehow lost if it requires a Venmo transaction. Sprint to the nearest ATM and belie the claim you made entering the shop that you came “almost every day”? Or just avoid the problem entirely by going somewhere that will take your cash, credit, flex and spare yourself the embarrassment.

Finally, don’t ruin Hungarian for yourself. The same way you would never plan a break-up for your favorite park bench, you should never plan a Tinder date for your favorite coffee shop. Should your Match turn out to be somewhat creepier than their profile conveyed, you don’t want to risk running into them again at what they now know to be your favorite place to study. And god forbid some memory of the disastrous conversation links itself to the place! Just please, please, never make a habit of taking dates to Hungarian. Ever.

But you should take my advice with caution. Although I have decided to delete Tinder forever after writing this rant, I am currently attempting to communicate via the bathroom wall with a David Foster Wallace Fan. I’m planning a date for next Monday.

“Thanks for ruining this for me” via Shutterstock

Oct

23

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Still confused about who to support for the 2016 Election? Why not use some back-of-the-envelope statistics provided by Bwog, written by the all-seeing election guru Britt Fossum.

Sanders and Clinton captured while laughing at the Republican candidates.

Sanders and Clinton captured while laughing at the Republican candidates.

B-of-the-E Assumptions (based on Facebook):

  • There are 304 likes on the “Columbia Students For Hillary” Facebook page. Assume the 84 likes on “CU Ready for Hillary” Page overlap completely.
  • There are 271 likes on the “Columbia and Barnard for Bernie” Facebook page. Again, assume overlap with the other smaller Bernie pages.
  • Assume that ⅓ of the Hillary likes are from 2015 and more recent efforts of her campaign and only ⅔ of her likes are from this time last year.
  • Assume that all of the Bernie likes are from 2015
  • Extrapolating from the number of my mutual friends who have liked both groups, assume an overlap of 138 likes, people who have liked both pages and did not rescind their Facebook support of Hillary’s campaign upon turning to the Bern
  • Assume ~20 students are feelin’ the Bern so strongly that they unliked “Ready for Hillary” entirely

Mathemagic:

  • (304)*(⅔)=202.6 rounded to 203 students who were “Ready for Hillary” in October 2015
  • (138+20)=158, the number of students who were ready for Hillary last year
  • 158/203= 78% of students who were ready for Hillary last year and are now suffering from 3rd degree Berns

What conclusions can we make?

Oct

20

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This was basically the author's experience at the chat.

This was basically the author’s experience at the chat.

Bwog Editor-In-Chief Britt Fossum had the fortunate opportunity to attend one of PrezBo’s intimate “fireside chats,” bringing a junior staffer along as her escort. The pair report back about the exclusive event to you here–lucky you!

Another year, another fireside chat. Milling about in a crowd of freshmen and administrators, I felt like an expert at this kind of thing. I explained how many bottles of water President Bollinger typically drinks, the posture he adopts as he awkwardly perches on his tiny stool, and–to the wonder of the junior staff writer accompanying me–showed where the unopened texts from the Lit Hum and CC syllabi are kept in the Presidential Library. It is heartening to meet and interact with our campus administrators, and while they certainly speak candidly, the fireside chat is not the place to hear any major announcement or deep confession.

That being said, Monday’s chat touched on a much wider scope of topics than any chat I had attended before, and Bollinger took more time to engage with the students by asking questions of us and passing questions on to other administrators. Additionally, many of the attendees were first-years and chose to ask less serious questions. One such freshman asked what alumni usually regret about attending Columbia, to which Bollinger replied, “the feeling that people always express is too much pressure, not enough community” but added the caveat that “the overriding sense is that people are happy.” He mentioned that alumni from the 70s and 80s in particular struggled with attending Columbia due to the inhospitable social climate of NYC during that time.

Read on for more of PrezBo’s words of wisdom.

Oct

14

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Columbia faculty saving the world, one drop of water at a time.

Columbia faculty saving the world, one drop of water at a time.

Columbia faculty do all types of great things for the world. Editor in Chief Britt Fossum interviewed one of them, Kartik Chandran, who recently earned a MacArthur Fellowship for his work on transforming wastewater

The office of the Chandran research group is located at the very end of a quiet Mudd hallway. In fact, I’m not even sure that the office is occupied until I tried opening the door and inadvertently walk in on a conversation between a few research students who directed me to Professor Chandran’s already open door.

He had just gotten back from class: Chandran teaches Environmental Engineering and Environmental Microbiology in the Engineering school. It was during one of these classes that he was first called with the news. Upon returning to his office, the only sign that he was the latest recipient of one of the most prestigious awards were a few missed calls on his cell phone from an unrecognized number. It was not until a third call came through on his office phone that he received the news.

Find out how Chandran responded to the news after the jump

Oct

13

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Seeking: you

Seeking: you

Seniors in CC, SEAS, BC, and GS, Bwog wants to hear about your first tentative steps into real life. We are seeking applicants for a series of weekly columns to run through the rest of the Academic year describing the job hunt, applications to graduate or professional school, and other paths, along with the accompanying angst and excitement.

This is your chance to chronicle the trials and tribulations of your final year: to vent, to celebrate, to offer your fellows a helping hand…

The format will resemble a journal entry: 100 to 300 words on your experience that week, with a focus on what you are doing to prepare for imminent future.

We are looking for those of currently undergoing law and med school applications, those applying for jobs, anyone who doesn’t even know what kind of job they are qualified to apply for; we want people who are excited to graduate, or nervous, or relieved. Essentially, a representative sample of the student body.

For a chance to share your wisdom (or to regret your lack thereof), complete the application after the jump and send to tips@bwog.com. The sample refers to a sample of what you would contribute as a columnist.

Satisfy your narcissism and share your wisdom

Sep

15

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This is exactly what happens when you write for Bwog.

This is exactly what happens when you write for Bwog.

While there is no last chance to #RushBwog and swing by our open meetings at 7 PM in the SGO, today is your last chance to fill out an application for a more permanent position on our staff. Send ’em in to editors@bwog.com by midnight tonight (that is, 11:59 PM on Tuesday, September 15).

  • Application For Daily Editor. Daily Editors are responsible for scheduling and creating content one day a week for the site. You will have the chance to take on a more managerial role on staff as well as generate original content.
  • Application For Staff Writer. Staff writers have an expectation to attend Bwog meetings and contribute to articles and other content on the site.
  • Application For Graphic Design. If you are more interested in creative posts and prefer M.S. paint to M.S, word (and real graphic design software to either) then apply for our graphic design team.

Feel free to apply to one position, two positions, or even all three. Make sure to indicate your preference on the application if you do submit to multiple positions.

 

Rare documentation of Bwog Staff typing out an article via ShutterStock.

May

6

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For Reading Week, Bwog is sharing a walk a day leaving from Columbia’s campus. Today’s Walk to Remember comes from Internal Editor Britt Fossum, who has been known to stress-walk approximately 500 miles when faced with looming finals.

Your Destination: West Side Community Garden

Your Destination: West Side Community Garden

When you get kind of stir crazy after a long day in Butler, head off campus to 114th street and cross to Columbus. Then just walk south until you hit 89th street. Turn right and walk about 200 feet. See the West Side Community Garden in all the glory of its spring tulip festival. Fall to your knees. Take a few pics for Instagram. Then take a seat on a bench and zone out or do some reading (hopefully for fun since this is supposedly a break from work, but this is a good place to catch up on CC/Lit Hum if you really have to). Stay until it gets too dark to read or you’re bored of peace and quiet. Walk back up to campus along the same route.

  • Total Time: ~20 minutes both ways according to Google maps and Bwog experience. At least an hour should be spent enjoying the flowers.
  • Suggested Soundtrack: Tame Impala and Patsy Cline
  • Alternate Routes: This walk is mostly about the destination tbh. For a more scenic route, head to Riverside park (will about 10-15 minutes walking time). There is also a 1 stop at 86th and Broadway and a B/C stop at 86th and Central Park West.

Apr

26

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Bwog Chopped is back after a long hiatus with Internal Editor Britt Fossum attempting to create a culinary masterpiece out of the bare cabinets of our Arts Editor. This week’s recipe is for those with a strong constitution and an excess of tomato soup.

Pappa al Pomodoro al Bwog

Pappa al Pomodoro al Bwog

I was told that all I would have to work with as ingredients today would be a 12 pack of Campbell’s tomato soup and some (high quality) vinegar and my wits. It turns out that my wits saved the day: I noticed an abandoned plate of deli sandwiches and a handful of ketchup packets on the table that proved to be key components of a “Pappa al Pomodoro” style soup served with cheesy toast. This is good comfort food for when you are seriously desperate, lazy, or procrastinating studying during finals week.

Ingredients and Kitchen Tools:

  • One can Campbell’s tomato soup
  • Tomato paste (if you’ve got some) or 8 ketchup packets (if you don’t)
  • One packet easy mac cheese powder
  • 2.5 abandoned deli sandwiches with cheese, tomatoes, and cold cuts
  • The dregs of a package of dry roasted edamame
  • Good olive oil and vinegar that Ina Garten would approve of
  • One spoon
  • Grater
  • Microwaveable bowl

Recipe:

  • Pick apart the sandwiches that you found laying on a table in Schapiro. Discard the meat and lettuce, keep the cheese/bread/tomatoes (ed note: this was when our staunch Arts Editor ducked out saying, “I can’t look at food that looks funny.” his loss.)
  • Chop the tomatoes finely and mix with some salt and vinegar to marinate.
  • Grate all three bottom halves of the sandwich rolls into your bowl and one of the top halves. Try to avoid slicing off a finger and discard any chunks of bread that are too soggy. Mix with the packet of cheese powder for depth of flavor.
  • Open one can of tomato soup and pour directly into bowl. Add olive oil by the Bwog shotglass until the mixture is smooth. Using olive oil instead of water helps disguise the MSG flavor of the canned tomato soup.
  • Microwave on high for 3 minutes, covered with a bit of paper towel to avoid splattering.
  • While the soup is heating up, turn the oven on pre-heating. Arrange the two remaining pieces of bread on a napkin and lightly brush with olive oil. Arrange the pieces of cheese salvaged from the sandwich to cover the entire surface of the bread. Place directly on oven rack.
  • Remove soup from microwave and stir. Stir in marinated tomatoes and heat for another 2 minutes until it reaches the temperature of molten lava.
  • Remove cheese toast from oven either when lightly browned on top or when you start smelling burning cheese.
  • Garnish soup with a bit of olive oil and a small handful of roasted edamame, for crunch. Artfully place cheese toast on top.

Apr

1

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Jeffrey Sachs

Jeffrey Sachs

Yesterday, Internal Editor and scientific savant Britt Fossum headed to Hamilton to listen to Columbia’s resident boss Jeffrey Sachs talk ethics and universities.

Yesterday evening was the first talk in a new series hosted by the Masters Program in Bioethics at Columbia titled “What is a Moral University in the 21st Century?” The speaker was none other than Jeffrey Sachs: economist, professor, and opponent of the university-as-business model that is all too prevalent. According to him, moral discourse is just not as normal as it should be. Many problems brought up during the daily functioning of Columbia should be regarded as moral issues as well as economic or social issues: fossil fuel divestment, sexual misconduct, plagiarism and academic property rights, admissions, and issues of free speech.

Sachs is the director of the Earth Institute at Columbia and was an economics professor at Harvard and so focused his argument on moral issues in these two fields—the need for fossil fuel divestment and the legitimacy of professors taking on private consulting jobs with Wall Street. He spoke against the dominant position of the day which he defines as a libertarian one with the University governed only by the board of trustees and state and market law. Morality needs to be pushed past this “web of contractual obligations.”

There are four types of moral problem facing a modern university according to Sachs: those of daily life and interpersonal relationships, of academic research, how teachers should impart moral knowledge to students, and the role of the University in a global context. Sachs elaborated further on this last (most complicated) issue by giving examples: this is the realm of morality that should govern Columbia’s decisions on use of the endowment, development in Manhattanville, accepting donations, and allowing outside employers for professors and departments.

Sachs speaks out against the Harvard president and more after the jump!

Mar

5

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The undergrad nanny

The undergrad nanny

Bwog’s Internal Editor Britt Fossum is passionate about chemistry, Discworld, and taking care of your children. In this edition of In Defense Of, she tackles the stereotypes of being a babysitter while in college.

I usually like to stay close to campus on weeknights. I get a bit anxious if I’m too far away from Butler and my books when I still have classes to study for the next day. But every so often, I’ll get a text invitation that I just can’t turn down. I drop off my backpack in my room, grab my subway card, and hop on a bus for the night. My destination: Marymount School for the afternoon pick-up. Or a ballet studio, or robotics practice.

I am a junior in college and I still babysit about once a week, mostly for the children of two families. One moved with me from my hometown of Omaha, Nebraska; the other is the family of one of my professors. Sometimes I pick up their children from school, other times from activities. Sometimes I have to stay all the way until bedtime and fall asleep playing with the family cat, while on Mondays I’m just the designated subway chaperone for a two-hour round-trip. I’ve been a babysitter for my own siblings since I was in middle school, and all through high school I tutored and babysat plenty of family friends and younger students from my K-12 school. I didn’t expect that it would ever be something I would be judged for.

I’d honestly rather spend a Thursday night hanging out and watching a couple of very sweet, very smart kids whose parents I know pretty well. I don’t know why some of my peers act like it’s something shameful to make a bit of extra money doing something that is — for the most part — fun and not at all inconvenient. When I answer a request to go out by saying that I’ll be taking one of my charges to Irish step class and then home for the night, people respond with confusion followed by eye-rolling. When they hear it’s for my professor’s daughter, the judgement increases exponentially. I get one of two comments; either I’m asked if I feel like I’m being taken advantage of or wasting my time, or if I can give them the contact information of any families looking for part-time nannies.

Response to that side-eye, fast cash, and more after the jump.

Jan

25

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Bucket List represents the intellectual privilege we enjoy as Columbia students. Welcome to our first Bucket List of the Spring Semester! Our recommendations for this week are below and the full list is after the jump. If you notice any events that have been left off the list, or a correction, please leave them in the comments.

Recommended

  • “Black Odysseys: Artists in Conversation” Low Library. Wednesday January 28, 6:30-8:30 PM. Elizabeth Alexander, Marilyn Nelson, Rowan Ricardo Philips. Registration Required.
  • “The Nonfiction Dialogues: Wayne Koestenbaum” Room 501 Dodge. Wednesday January 28, 7:00 PM.
  • “Exhibit Opening: The Dreamer from the Northern Lights” IAB Harriman Atrium. Thursday January 29, 6:00-8:00 PM. Andrey Bartenev, Natasha Sharymova.
  • “The Cultural Politics of French Hip-Hop” Buell Hall East Gallery. Thursday January 29, 6:00-7:30 PM. Felicia McCarren, Barbara Browning, Madeleine Dobie.

Monday, January 26

  • “What’s Next? The Ukraine Crisis in the Global Context.” IAB 1501, 5:00-7:00 PM. Alexander Cooley, Valery Kuchinsky, Kimberly Marten, Jack Snyder.
  • “The Politics of Russian and Western Responses to Refugee Displacement from Eastern Ukraine” Sulzberger Parlor, 6 PM. Raphi Rechitsky.
  • “Whose Modernism? El Greco and Art’s History.” 612 Schermerhorn, 6:00-8:00 PM. Charles Barber.
  • “Film Screening: The Unvanquished.” IAB 1219. 7:30-9:30 PM.

Tuesday, January 27

  • “How to Run for an Office: the Art of Campaigning.” IAB 1201, 1:15-2:30 PM. Anna Matukova.
  • “Front Propagation in Population Dynamics and Combustion” Applied Mathematics Colloquium. Mudd 214, 2:45-3:45 PM. Christopher Henderson.
  • “Book Talk: Whither the World: the Political Economy of the Future.” IAB 1512, 5:00-6:30 PM. Grezegorz Kolodko.
  • “M.S. in Sustainability Management Information Session.” Faculty House, 6:30-8:00 PM.

Read more after the jump!

Dec

10

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When you're trying to schedule a CPS appointment

When you’re trying to schedule a CPS appointment

Dear Bwog,

One of my friends is having a hard time finding mental health help.

She has panic attacks and really severe depression. She was really triggered by the recent death, and went to counseling services in search of immediate counseling and medication to control her panic attacks. She asked Furman for immediate counseling and medication, and the best they could do was give her an intake appointment next Thursday, with a vague reassurance that she would get her help soon.

Is there anywhere on campus or affiliated services that she can receive immediate mental health counseling and medication? I want to be able to point her to somewhere she can get help from more immediately instead of having to wait ALMOST A WHOLE WEEK to even have an intake appointment.

Thanks,
A very concerned friend.

Hello Concerned Friend. My name is Britt Fossum. I’m going to start of by listing some of the resources available at Columbia:

  • CPS Drop-In Hours & Locations
  • CPS After-Hours: (212) 854-9797
  • Columbia/Barnard Nightline: (212) 854-7777
  • Check other universities with graduate programs in psychology or social work. They often have an affiliated clinic or know of local clinics that can see people at a low cost.
  • Go to a therapist-in-training at a local training institute in psychology and social work. These are typically offered at a low cost, and the student counselors are supervised, so you will be in good hands. You can use the search services at the American Psychological Association or the National Association of Social Workers to find a counselor.
  • Free and low-cost health clinics in NYC if you’re still looking for other options. However, these often have very long wait lists, so beware.

Bwog knows those panic attack feels (TW: anxiety)

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