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# Back Of The Envelope: How Warm Is It On Low Steps?

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January 20, 20185:30 pm 0 Comments

Thinking of a warmer time

Many of us know that you can measure a cricket’s chirps to determine how warm it is outside. But did you know that there’s another way to scientifically estimate the temperature in Morningside Heights? When it gets a little warmer, you can use this one neat trick to figure out how warm or cold it is on everyone’s favorite fake beach, the Low Steps.

Materials

• Outdoor temperature between 32 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit – Columbia students will not crawl out of their dorms in the freezing cold.
• A view of the Low Steps – the South Lawns are an ideal location.
• Thermometer (or, let’s be honest, a weather app)
• Scratch paper

Procedure

• Go outside to check out the Low Steps.
• Pick either the left of right half of the lower steps, right underneath Alma Mater.
• Count the number of people sitting on the Low Steps. Ignore anybody walking, as the extra motion can complicate counting.
• If you would like to increase accuracy, count the second half and average the count of the two halves.
• If a majority of students have laptops, multiply the count by 1.25.
• Add 20 to the number of seated students. This will provide the approximate temperature in Fahrenheit.
• To calculate the approximate temperature in Celsius, learn to use Fahrenheit instead.

Rumor has it that this formula was first found in a 1932 fraternity handbook. Try it out yourself when it gets a bit warmer! Deantini would be proud of your highly scientific estimations.

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# Nostalgia Ain’t What It Used To Be

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January 18, 20185:30 pm 0 Comments

♪ Things just ain’t what they used to be… ♪

Nostalgia, the longing for a return to home and past, was not always just something to be exploited by Facebook pages. When physician Johannes Hofer introduced the term in 1688, he referred to a psychological illness, a meaning the word kept until the start of the 20th century. Nostalgia affected (mostly white, mostly male) patients on three continents, and its effects could be deadly. In a book talk, author and Columbia Assistant Professor Thomas Dodman discussed his book and the history of nostalgia with Columbia Professor Emmanuelle Saada and Princeton Professor David Bell.

The event took place in the Maison Française, and the two Columbia professors were members of the French department. It shouldn’t surprise, then, that the discussion focused on how nostalgia ravaged the French military at the start of the 19th century, one of the case studies for nostalgia in Dodson’s book. French soldiers were particularly at risk, first because of their long separation from home (nostalgia was also called maladie du pays, or homesickness), and second because of the alienating, dominating nature of the organized military. Nostalgia came to be understood as a particularly French illness, one which English and American soldiers and citizens were relatively immune to.

How did people die from nostalgia? That’s what one audience member, a doctor, wanted to know. If someone died of nostalgia today, how would it be diagnosed? Nostalgia was more of an umbrella term, which encompassed modern concepts such as psychic trauma and depression. Two people undergoing nostalgia (whose French military treatment was a three month’s home leave) could be under very different circumstances. Suicide was common among victims of nostalgia, and nostalgia was even used as a handwaving diagnosis to ignore addressing larger concerns in the military, in industrializing cities, and in slave and settler colonies.

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# Stanford Linguist Presents On Police Racial Bias In Language

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December 06, 20172:13 pm 0 Comments

Dan Jurafsky gave an impassioned presentation on racial bias on Tuesday

Dan Jurafsky, the chair of the linguistics department and computer science professor at Stanford University, presented on Tuesday in Schapiro CEPSR about his current studies and findings on police language. Titled “Does This Vehicle Belong to You: processing the language of policing for improving police-community relations,” Jurafsky’s presentation focused mainly on two papers, one published and one a work-in-progress. The 2017 paper, which Jurafksy co-authored, reveals linguistically the open secret that “police officers speak significantly less respectfully to black than to white community members,” even after taking into account other factors such as the severity of the perceived infraction and the race of the officer. The presentation offered insight not only into how police officers ought to better build respect with communities, but also shined a light on methodological breakthroughs in linguistics.

How could a scientific study measure how respectful police officers are towards community members? The presentation started by explaining how the researchers sorted through tens of thousands of pieces of police body-worn camera footage from Oakland police in April 2014. They chose to use vehicle stops resulting in warnings or citations (no arrests) as a window into everyday, non-severe police interactions. From there, researchers created a subset of about 1,000 videos of vehicle stops with black and white community members (as identified in police reports). Professionals then transcribed the entire data set to allow coders to rate the way police spoke on factors like respectfulness and formality.

Researchers can use natural language processing to isolate elements of factors like politeness. Building on previous papers, Jurafsky and his team used cues of “negative and positive politeness” such as apologizing, expressing gratitude, formal titles, and introductions. Using these cues in conjunction with the result of subjective rankings of police interactions, the team is training an automated classifier to take more bodycam audio, transcribe it with the knowledge of what officers usually say, and then analyze it for markers of respect.

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# Share Meals Fails To Learn Lessons From Past Food Insecurity

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December 03, 20173:23 pm 1 Comments

meal vouchers from the still-active Emergency Meal Fund

Have you heard of Columbia’s the Share Meals app? Bwogger Ross Chapman covers this latest attempt to combat food insecurity on campus, and reminds us of the last time Columbia attempted something similar.

The launch of Share Meals, an app meant to aid food insecurity, has once again highlighted the difficulty of the Columbia community to provide for its students in need.

For the last three years, student councils and other organizations have busied themselves with finding solutions to Columbia’s increasingly visible food insecurity issue. Juniors and Seniors may remember Swipes, an app which was meant to connect students with meal swipes to students in need of entry to dining halls. Within a year, Swipes had shut down, but its ability to help food insecure students went down dramatically after the first few weeks. In a press release from November 2015, student groups claimed that Swipes was not performing as well as it could because not enough students were downloading and using the app, in part due to problems in promotion. Putting aside logistical issues, Swipes depended on a continued, active, face-to-face donation system which could be stressful or embarrassing for students in need of assistance.

Student councils and the First Generation Low-Income Partnership (FLIP) announced last month the launch of Share Meals, an NYU-sourced app that attempts to reduce food insecurity on campus by connecting students with meal swipes to students in need of entry to dining halls. The recently revealed service seems unaware of the problems which plagued Swipes. While its food map and diet-tagging features are helpful, it has been similarly plagued by a lack of activity. In four weeks of checking on the app, I have seen less than five opportunities for students to either get a swipe to a dining hall or to attend an event with free food. Share Meals has been advertised even less than Swipes, and has only 100 downloads on the Google Play Store – most of which come from non-Columbia students.

2

# In Defense Of: Breathing In Butler

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December 02, 20171:43 pm 0 Comments

People are allow to LIVE in here

It’s 2 am on Monday morning, and you’re working on a particularly hopeless 10-page paper. You’ve staked out the perfect seat in Butler Library – optimal lighting, plenty of table space, and far enough away from the bathroom that leaving your seat to pee feels like a break. The room’s silence keeps you in the zone, and you think you’re about to make a breakthrough until something terrible breaks your train of thought. Listen closely – you can hear it too, can’t you? In the distance, a student breathes. Sighing, you tab to your email, to ask your professor for an extension.

If this sounds like you, you might need to calm down and let people live.

Some Columbians hold their fellow library guests to more than a simple Butler code of etiquette. The slightest motion becomes a distraction, and any noise sets them off. Columbia should have good study spaces, but recognize that everyone uses and is allowed to use our libraries, and that the buildings might not be as silent as catacombs.

Let this be a reminder: when people are studying in Butler, they are also living in Butler. They breathe, they sneeze, they occasionally spill their water bottles. Extend the benefit of the doubt to your fellow students. Maybe the person with a runny nose can’t study in their room because of a nearby party. Maybe the one whispering to their friend is trying to figure out how to finish a problem set. We all make noise sometimes. Columbia already does enough kicking people out of Butler – you shouldn’t also make the space any less welcoming.

The library is quiet enough. Any attempts to make a more enforced “quiet zone” would require a secret police force to drag away students if they accidentally dropped a pencil on the floor. Let people live, and let people breathe.

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# Fire In Ruggles (And Wien) Hall(s), Because Columbia Is Constantly On Fire

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November 30, 20171:47 pm 5 Comments

Students last night were forced to evacuate the burning residence hall.

Ruggles Hall decided to do its best impression of our hearts and minds this finals week by setting itself ablaze. At about 11:30 pm last night, Bwog started receiving tips about a growing fire on 114th Street. When windows started to shatter, we could tell that this was not your average false fire alarm. You can follow along with the full coverage of the fire through last night’s tweets.

One of the most afflicted rooms was visibly black with soot and ravaged by the flame. It took about a dozen firefighters for the situation to get the situation under control, and most Ruggles residents were put out of their homes for hours.

As though conspiring to prevent the Fire Department of New York from getting any sleep, another alarm went off in Wien Hall around 1:45 am. Our sources who live in that dorm reported that floors 7, 8, and 9 were “smokey”, but that the situation was resolved relatively quickly; students were able to re-enter after only a half-hour of sleep deprivation.

As one new arrival in Morningside Heights remarked, “I’ve never been to a school that’s so bad at not being on fire.” This semester has been more plagued by an incessant spree of fire alarms, which have spurred a variety of responses from students. But fires have constantly plagued Columbia and Barnard, from the famous 2015 fire which spelled the end of Ollie’s (which was supposedly accidental) to a 2016 Schapiro incident which Public Safety later classified as an arson. Butler Library got a scare in 2014, and Elliot Hall joined the fun in 2016. Has Columbia ever considered not being on fire?

UPDATE, 11/30/17, 6 pm: Earlier this afternoon, Columbia students received an email from Joyce Jackson, Tara Hanna, and Bryan Violetto (Columbia’s Housing Director, Res Life Director, and Fire Safety Facilities and Operations Manager, respectively) with more information on the Ruggles fire. They wrote that the fire started on the third floor of the dorm, due to clothing that was placed on top of a halogen lamp connected to electricity via an extension cord; halogen lamps and extension cords are both prohibited items in Columbia residence halls. This fire, the directors hope, will be a useful incentive for all students to review general fire and kitchen safety procedures. Housing and Res Life also confirmed that the building was evacuated without any reported injuries.

Photo via Bwog Staff

16

# Columbia Football: Ivy League Champions?

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November 16, 20173:50 pm 0 Comments

With moves like these, how could they not succeed on the field?

As dozens of articles from inside and outside of the Columbia community have already mentioned, Columbia Football is good! Furthermore, they used to be bad! At Bwog, we’ve taken a look at what some football alumni think of the Lions’ newfound success, and we’ve given the professional advice on how to be a bandwagon fan. But with only one game remaining, one question remains – could Columbia become champions again?

The Lions (4-2 Ivy, 7-2 overall) have a clear path to the championship, a feat they have only accomplished once before. Columbia will have to defeat Brown (0-6 Ivy, 2-7 overall) up at Lawrence A. Wien Stadium at 1 pm on Saturday, November 18th, and they will also need the Yale Bulldogs (5-1 Ivy, 8-1 overall) to lose in New Haven against the Harvard Crimson (3-3 Ivy, 5-4 overall). Thankfully, the Ivy football season does not have a needlessly arcane and surprisingly emotional tiebreaker system like Ivy basketball. If the Lions and Bulldogs both end the season at 5-2, they will share the Ivy title honors. And if Dartmouth also ends the season at 5-2, there could be a three-way tie at the top of the league.

The 2017 Lions are lucky to still be in the hunt for a title. A 5-2 team has not won the Ivy League since 1982, when Harvard, Penn, and Dartmouth all tied at the top. (Columbia that year finished 1-6 while giving up 36 points per game to Ivy opponents.) This year’s Ivy League might not have the one dominating force that often rises to the top of the Ancient Eight.

Yale Sports Analytics, one of the leaders in Ivy football and basketball analysis, doesn’t give Columbia great odds for getting a share of the championship. While they pegged a Columbia win over Brown at 80% odds, they consider Yale similarly prohibitive favorites at home against the stagnant Crimson. With Harvard at only a 30% chance of victory, the odds of Columbia winning and Harvard losing work out to only 24%.

One piece of good news, though, is that The Game between Harvard and Yale will start at 12:30 pm, while the Lions will not start playing until 1:00 pm. Fans in the audience will get to follow along, and will know whether or not the Lions’ hopes remain alive.  Columbia would love to control its own destiny for the championship. But considering that Columbia Football has not had a meaningful final game of any season since 1971, Saturday’s game is a cause for celebration.

Dance, Lion, Dance via Columbia University Athletics

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# The Food Bank At Columbia To Hold Silent Auction Today

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November 15, 20171:00 pm 0 Comments

Boxed supplies to be disbursed by The Food Bank at Columbia

If you’re interested in materially affecting Columbia’s food insecurity issue, take a look at an event being held today by The Food Bank at Columbia. Bwog has already taken a look at The Food Bank this year as it aims to provide consistent and meaningful relief. Coming up today from 4-7 pm in Lerner 555 is a silent auction to directly benefit The Food Bank.

Highlighting the auction are guest speeches from Paige West (an Anthropology professor at Barnard) and Peter Awn (Dean of the School of General Studies). But some of the offered items might catch your eye better than a dean’s speech. Mark Gyourko of The Food Bank tells us that auctioned items will include Apple iMac computers, a gift certificate to Toast, and unlimited board play from Hex & Co. The event is targeted to the Columbia community at large, so students are welcome! If you want to buy anything, though, make sure to bring cash or check – Venmo and credit will not be accepted.

Image via The Food Bank at Columbia

1

# What Happened To Spirit Halloween Last Night?

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November 01, 20178:30 pm 0 Comments

You will be remembered

When a tremor went off at midnight on November 1st, none of the costumes and props in Spirit Halloween suspected a thing. The skeletons were used to having their bones rattled, and the pumpkins had experienced a good shake or two. But Spirit’s ghouls and ghosts started to worry when the quaking did not dismiss but grew.

What was happening to their dear store? For a month they had enjoyed new friendships from all of Morningside Heights. Children rushed in to become superheroes. Students jumped at the possibility of wordplay-based costumes. Just the weekend before the shakes, hundreds stopped into the store for pairs of animal ears. Spirit was thriving – so why was the ground now opening up as if to swallow them?

Video game characters jumped off the walls as vampires flew to escape. But the doors locked were shut, and the tremors made it harder and harder to see and move. A loud crack shot off, the trembling floor threatening to swallow a display of hair dye. With one final quake, tiles started to shower. Costumes and props tumbled into a widening cold abyss. Powerful bursts of wind gusted up from the depths and juggled high-hanging masks off the wallss. Those which were spared the deep fall only fell onto the far floors, but they too would soon crumble.

From the frosty sinkhole beneath Spirit Halloween rose a gingerbread spire. Like a screaming herd of banshees, jingle bells ascended and hooked themselves to Spirit’s walls. The growing tower of Christmas spirit shattered steel beams and blew off the store’s facade, but as though held together by magic and cheer, the building remained upright.

Reindeer came up like bats from hell, towing a brand new sign to hang along Broadway. In a final blow against Halloween, the Spirit storefront now read, “Merry Christmas.”

Alas, poor poo via Ana Rael and Youngweon Lee

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# EC Shut Down: Guests Turned Away, ID’s Held By Public Safety

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October 29, 20171:36 am 2 Comments

One of many groups of students who were denied access to EC tonight.

As Halloweekend reached its climax, hundreds of East Campus partygoers and residents faced delays and denials as Public Safety attempted to keep order in the busy residence hall.

We’ve already written about how many people sign into EC on an average night, but tonight topped any other day of the semester so far. The problems started early, as EC’s electronic ID-recognition system was inoperable. Public Safety officers signed in students with a manual, handwritten sign-in log that was ill-equipped to handle EC’s volume. As the queue of students built, Public Safety kept the lobby relatively clear, but did so by forcing students out into the building’s vestibule and outside porch. As a result, the mass of students (some residents, some signing in, and some signing out) extended far outside of EC.

Around 12:15 am on Sunday, after a change of Public Safety guards, one officer stationed at the front door began to announce that students who were not residents of East Campus would not be allowed to enter. “If you don’t live here,” he proclaimed, “start leaving.” As the message slowly reverberated through the cloud of students, tensions rose. Students shouted at and occasionally pushed against Public Safety officers, who shouted back. Residents of EC were herded through the bottleneck in the vestibule, and their residency status was checked before they were granted access. Hopeful sign-in recipients were predictably outraged at their inability to enter the building, whether they wanted to party or to reach significant others. People attempting to sign out were the most upset, as many of them were stuck in the line, cut off from their student or government-issued ID’s. Hundreds of tired, confused, and/or thirsty EC-goers were forced to wait for up to half an hour before Public Safety restarted the queues to allow people to enter and exit.

Even before the statement that guests would be turned away, Public Safety caused frustration with their pace. Guests who got in line for East Campus at 11:40 pm were still outside waiting to enter the building proper a half hour later. As has become the norm, multiple Public Safety officers attempted to control traffic by directing students against EC’s south walls, an order which is rarely obeyed for long. Tonight’s long lines were the capstone in a series of frustrating waits. Why is East Campus, by far the most popular dorm for sign-ins, equipped with the same system as other buildings? And why were non-residents with swipe access denied entry to a building they had never before been turned away from? Any experimental change to East Campus’s sign-in system (or to Columbia’s system as a whole) would be a welcome one.

As the night rolled closer to 1:00 am, the electronic sign-in system came back into place, and while officers insisted that only residents were allowed in, a few lucky nonresidents were able to fight their ways through.

Image via Youngweon Lee

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# Hip-Hop “Fight The Power” Event Fights Little Power

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October 26, 201711:30 am 0 Comments

Row Row Fight the Power

When an all-star lineup of hip-hop dancers gathered in Columbia’s new Lenfest Center for the Arts, the Committee on Global Thought promised “a global conversation exploring hip-hop and social consciousness” in their “Fight the Power” event. The panel discussion, however, failed to live up to its name. While the performers adequately discussed their personal experiences with hip-hop, they and their moderator failed to properly discuss social consciousness and the dance genre’s ability to rebel.

The panel was led by Mamadou Diouf, the department chair of Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies (MESAAS). Joining him were some big names in hip-hop dance, each of whom was accompanied in their introduction by a video. First up was Jonzi D, the founder and Artistic Director of Breakin’ Convention, an event which was heavily advertised at Wednesday night’s talk. Talking next was Salah, a “living legend in the world of hip-hop dance.” Multiple panelists pointed to Salah, the solo-performing French dancer, as an inspiration. Following Salah was Lanre Malaolu, co-founder of the competitive dance group and established theater company Protocol. Last to speak was another French performer, the founder of the dance group Yeah Yellow, Bee D. The panelists combined to provide a multitude of experiences on beginnings and success in hip-hop.

The panel got off on the wrong foot when Diouf’s first question became impossible to discern. He asked to “actually have a conversation around the creative tension between the very fact that hip-hop culture was born in a specific place, expanded all over the world, and has been shaped and reshaped by different places in history,” but proceeded to tack on a few more questions onto the already complex topic. By the time Diouf turned the mic over, Salah was visibly confused. When he asked what exactly to answer, Diouf responded, tongue-in-cheek, “You take them the way you dance. Improvise.” Most of the performers discussed their origins in hip-hop in response. Many admitted that they started off by copying other performers they saw, until the hip-hop community began to chastise them for “biting,” or plagiarizing. “We all do that [biting] at the start, because you have to,” explained Malaolu. “You have to peel through that to find who you are.”

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# Did Columbia Football Deserve Its Dartmouth Win?

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October 23, 20171:13 pm 2 Comments

Defensive Lineman Alexander Holme is trying out for the baseball team.

It’s a common fallacy of sports journalism to rest an entire game on a single play. In a 60 minute (or 3 hour) game of football, a point scored on the opening play matters just as much to the final score as a point as the clock expires. If a last-second touchdown is a team’s last chance, then they had dozens of other chances beforehand.

In that sense, it’s not right to focus only on the final play of the Columbia Football team’s (6-0, 3-0 Ivy) victory over Dartmouth (5-1, 2-1 Ivy). The final play wouldn’t have mattered had Columbia not racked up four 3-and-outs during the last half, or had quarterback Anders Hill not lobbed the ball into triple coverage when the Lions had a chance to close out the game with ten minutes left in the fourth quarter. Similarly, Dartmouth could have made the last play irrelevant by converting their third down attempts (0 for 9 on the day), or by making a chip shot field goal at the end of the first half. And, per head coach Al Bagnoli, Dartmouth would have been stopped earlier were it not for an illegal block below the waist call made during that fateful final drive.

With all of those disclaimers in mind, the end of the Dartmouth game was an absolute mess.

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# Consent and Intoxication With Title IX Coordinator Marjory Fisher

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October 20, 20172:07 pm 0 Comments

Anonymous work from the Sexual Respect Initiative Arts Option

CW: This article discusses sexual assault as well as incapacitation and memory loss due to alcohol.

On Thursday, Title IX Coordinator and Associate Vice President Marjory Fisher sat down with a small group of students for one of many Sexual Respect Initiative workshops offered during October. All incoming students are required to participate in one of the many and varied SRI options. Fisher’s event focused on the topics of incapacitation and consent with particular attention towards alcohol, and how the university as an adjudicating institution thinks of the connection of those ideas.

Fisher’s first major point was that it is possible to have consenting, positive sexual interactions while using alcohol or other drugs. For Columbia and for the state of New York, intoxication occurs on a scale. While intoxicated people can give consent, incapacitated people are incapable of doing so. Incapacitation occurs when an individual lacks the ability to knowingly choose to participate in sexual conduct because they lack the ability to understand their decisions and make rational, reasonable choices. Signs of incapacitation considered by the university include dizziness, slurring, unawareness, and vomiting, among others.

Fisher also emphasized that even blacked out individuals may be able to consent under Columbia’s and New York’s definitions. Blackouts occur when the hippocampus cannot write memories, resulting in the inability to recall events in fragments or en bloc. Fisher shared anecdotes from her experience of men and women with no memory who were, by bystander accounts, totally lucid and aware during their periods of amnesia. Because memory-writing may be independent from other functions, Fisher explained that a respondent may not be able to use their blackout as evidence of their inability to consent at the time of a sexual encounter or assault.

However the state of intoxication may affect a survivor, respondents cannot use their drunkenness as an excuse for sexual assault. Even if a person was too drunk to determine if a partner could consent, the burden for committing Gender Based Misconduct comes when an individual “knows or should know” of the incapacity of another. If a reasonable sober person could tell that a survivor was incapacitated, then that shows to Columbia that their assaulter “should have known” and can be held responsible. Conversely, if the respondent had no reasonable way of knowing that someone was incapacitated (for instance, if the respondent did not see any alcohol consumed or observe any signs of incapacitation), that may make it challenging for Fisher to push forward with a case.

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# Back Of The Envelope: How Many Sign-Ins In EC?

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October 16, 20174:09 pm 0 Comments

Pictured: the EC elevators in a rare moment of full light.

Signing into and out of East Campus on a weekend night is a special kind of hell. The lobby is so crowded with Barnard students, NYU folk, and miscellaneous friends & family that guests can hardly move. If you do manage to get past the gates, your (pitch dark) elevator ride up to the 20th floor will make you wish you had just stayed in. How many people face this terror? We attempt to calculate, using our Frontiers of Science/Beginner’s Mind techniques, how many sign-ins EC handles on the average Saturday.

Assume that the number of sign-ins required is equal to: (Number of suites/townhouses in EC) * (Rate of parties per room) * (Number of people per party) * (Rate of sign-in need per partygoer) + Non-party sign-ins.

Number of suites/townhouses in EC
East Campus has 719 residents, split among 80 high-rise suites, 40 high-rise doubles, and 50 townhouses. There are 8 floors of suites in the high-rise. Suites and townhouses total to 130.

Rate of parties per room
Assume that on any given Saturday, there are two major parties on each high-rise floor of EC. This puts the rate of parties at 20%. (If Thursdays and Saturdays have equal party rates, then 20% implies that each suite has a major party about once every 2.5 weeks.) We can also extrapolate this 20% figure to the townhouses. Of 130 suites and townhouses, 26 would host a party on any given Saturday. Doubles, unfortunately, are not cool enough to host parties.

4

# The Food Bank Sets Eye Towards Future With Columbia Ribbon Cutting Today

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October 04, 20173:08 pm 0 Comments

A photo of the food bank, ready for more photos

Food insecurity is a pressing and prevalent concern here at Columbia and finally (why did it take so long?) we have a food bank! Bwogger, Ross Chapman, gives us an update on the new Food Bank at Columbia, as well as highlighting the university’s past food insecurity-related failures.

The Food Bank at Columbia will hold a ribbon cutting ceremony at 4:30 pm today at its new location, in the Southeast corner of Lerner 5. The photo opportunity and publicity event will feature members of the food bank, as well as VP of Campus Services Scott Wright, Associate VP of Student Life Ixchel Rosal, former GS Dean Peter Awn, and a host of members of the Food Bank board. Bwog sat down with one of The Food Bank’s co-founders, Ramond Curtis, to once again overview the state of food insecurity on campus.

Today’s ribbon cutting ceremony represents a major advancement for The Food Bank at Columbia, which will replace by-appointment disbursements with weekly open hours at a stable location. Their new location was previously a storage closet, but has been converted with the help of Lerner Hall and Campus Services into a proper food bank. Ramond Curtis said that all they asked from Columbia was “four walls and a door,” as they previously had no permanent location. A regular disbursement place and time (1-4 pm on Wednesdays), Curtis believes, will provide an opportunity for all students while clearing up logistical issues.

The new logistical simplicity contrasts with several food insecurity initiatives over the past two years. Swipes, an app which matched swipe-givers with swipe-receivers at campus dining halls, depended on a mobile infrastructure which stopped receiving support soon after its Columbia launch. And the Emergency Meal Fund asked students to receive one-time meal vouchers from the dining offices at JJ’s place and then present them to the dining halls for a maximum of only six meals per semester. Curtis compared the food bank, a concept which has existed successfully, to a wheel. Attempts to find alternative ways of meal disbursement (Swipes, EMF) were unnecessary if a food bank could be pursued instead. In addition, The Food Bank at Columbia can call upon infrastructure and resources of other food banks such as Feeding America and the Food Bank for New York City. Most importantly, The Food Bank could receive long-term support, while previous initiatives relied on constant and individual student support.

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