Author Archive



Written by

img May 02, 20178:07 pmimg 2 Comments

Butler 209 will be hosting at least one thing this finals season.

A team of five sophomores from Columbia College and the School of Engineering and Applied Science is currently on course to endow the entrances to Butler 209 with bidirectional movement sensors to collect data for Seatz, a new Columbia Libraries seat-tracking app. An older app, CU Density, utilized WiFi data via campus routers to estimate the available space in various well-traveled areas, but has been plagued over the past years with spotty technical support, glitches, and UI issues.

Seatz, which instead utilizes data assembled from Raspberry Pi units and small processors installed at various doorways, will incorporate machine learning programs to analyze incoming data and estimate the capacity of each Library room. The largest challenge in such an endeavor, Project Leads Deniz Ulcay (SEAS ’19) and Lora Beltcheva (CC ’19) recounted in an interview this afternoon, involves the number of students who leave their materials in a room immediately after placing their belongings at an open space. While the bidirectional motion sensors will accurately record the number of students who have entered and exited the room, this statistic alone may not accurately imply how full the room is.

Ulcay’s team believes they “can statistically work around this,” given Butler Library’s Administration partnership with Ulcay in this project so far. In conjunction with the data analysis from the motion sensors, Butler Library’s VP for Digital Programs and Technology Services Robert Cartolano and Interim Librarian for Collections and Services Barbara Rockenbach have offered to collect real-time data on occupancy during Seatz’ beta testing period. “The libraries are trying to do a lot of stuff to destress students,” they explained, and “they’ve been quite supportive so far.”

We asked for a banana picture for size reference



Written by

img April 25, 20171:24 pmimg 1 Comments

And they’re like, it’s better than yours.

This week’s ESC meeting focused on getting others involved in the Mental Health Task Force and collaborating with CCSC in the future. Oh, and we’re all hoping for JJ’s milkshakes.

Note (April 26, 2017): In a previous version of this article, specific references were made to the efforts of CC University Senator Sean Ryan under the influence of his participation in the Mental Health Task Force to transform the Schapiro Gym, a space open to all Columbia students, into a semi-privatized space for one specific community at Columbia, efforts crassly referenced in the irreverent tags of the article. While some of these tags were almost immediately removed by Bwog staff as they could possibly be seen as hostile towards said community—and I want to clarify that in no way were such criticisms intentionally meant in a hostile manner against any private person—I want to explain the purely political criticism of said University Senator’s endeavours to privatize this space.

This transformation under the University Senator was first raised in an aside at a previous ESC meeting, and was determined with minimal democratic participation of the student body in making such an impactful choice—especially given the earlier commendable decision to turn unused space in Lerner into a new semi-privatized area for this specific community. In the opinion of this specific journalist in the role of a political correspondent, the manner in which the transformation of the Schapiro Gym was determined has infringed upon the values which our Student Councils hold dear; that a democratic consensus ought to be attained, whether in the discussion of an elected and representative body or in legitimately gathered data, before instituting such wide-reaching policy and space changes. No announcement has been made to the student body of this plan, as far as I am aware, beyond the confines of my ESC coverage—despite the massive impact on all students who use this space already and the potential impact on student choice of dorms in Housing Selection. It may be that this change in status of the space is necessary and proper. However, the process of restricting access should impose a reasonable burden of proof upon those seeking limitations upon what is now a decidedly public area.

This criticism is launched against the University Senator not out of personal hatred or bias, but out of anxious concern from a Columbia College constituent and journalist who covers the efforts of the Mental Health Task Force and has found severe fault in such endeavours as led by the University Senator—endeavours the University Senator publicly defended on the most-watched conservative news show in America. This issue was brought to mind given the discussion in ESC of a desire to expand the Mental Health Task Force beyond undergraduate students in Columbia College and, specifically, those students primarily active in Columbia College Student Council and student government. As a journalist in a privately funded, staffed, and maintained news organization, who is intimately familiar with the mechanisms of student government, I desired to express the full magnitude of these concerns, which, while aimed at the University Senator, are intended to be based in a purely political context. Furthermore, Bwog may travel in satire, but it is never our intent to engage in satire which is either unnecessarily or undeservedly critical.

Budget and Policy Reconciliation

VP for Policy Zoha Qamar reported her meeting with CCSC’s Nicole Allicock regarding future collaboration between councils. As there are now multiple positions between the two councils with the same goals (i.e. diversity reps, Student Services, etc.) there will be closer interactions between CCSC and ESC. Starting next semester, there will be at least one joint CCSC-ESC policy-wide meeting, so as to further this collaboration.

In terms of budgetary reconciliations, VP for Student Life Ben Barton explained how there is a lot of intertwining debt among the different school councils, with councils having accrued a certain level of debt so as to hinder interactions and planning between them. Therefore, there will be a giant meeting with the VPs for Student Life from across the three Columbia schools, their counterpart in Barnard’s SGA, and the council advisors. The goal is to “have everything fresh with no debt.”

More on ESC



Written by

img April 21, 20173:48 pmimg 1 Comments

Peter and Jerry, deep into their stressing and illuminating conversation.

In another foray into theatre, Internal Editor Finn Klauber attended the performance of three one-act plays written by playwright Edward Albee. Through the absurdity and confusion, he managed to pick up on some essential thematic substance at the core of performance. 

At no point in the CU Players production of “Both Houses, a Plague” did I ever lose a deep seated sense of bewilderment. The play, an adaptation of three one-act performances penned by American playwright Edward Albee, consistently seemed to mock the dramatic structures integral to theatrical performance, juxtaposing the absurdity of plotlessness with dialectics on meaning and purpose. Though the three acts were connected theatrically by Director William Sydney (CC ’19), whether through the manipulation of theatrical space or unstated thematic links, the pure absurdity of the performance in some parts muddled the deeper meaning—if such meaning even exists.

It’s simple to recount and summarize the plot elements present in the three acts, despite this. In the first act, “The Sandbox,” Mommy, played by Ariana Busby (BC ’18), and Daddy, played by Rowan Hepps Keeney (CC ’20), set down the doddering and seemingly senile Grandma, Mommy’s mother played by Lily Whiteman (CC ’19), in an onstage sandbox. A shirtless Young Man, Spencer Tilghman (CC ’20), performs vaguely wing-like calisthenics while standing rooted in place above her, and a Musician, Olivia Loomis (BC ’19), plays a cello softly. The brunt of the act seems to concern Mommy and Daddy grappling with some unstated but critical decision, while Grandma addresses the audience and flirts with the Young Man. After a night has passed, Mommy and Daddy are spiritually rejuvenated, and they leave the decrepit Grandma in the sandbox. In opposition to the Young Man’s prior confusion over his name and purpose in this performance—a meta conflation of the dramatic performance with the reality of the play—he now leans down, realizing he is the Angel of Death, and takes Grandma away.

Peter and Jerry are up next



Written by

img April 18, 201711:39 amimg 1 Comments

ESC plans to take steps so that incidents like this won’t ever happen again.

Large portions of this meeting consisted of discussion regarding expectations and crowdsourced guidelines for ESC member behaviour. However, the brunt of the discourse last night was in reference to the Physics TA incident which occurred a couple of weeks ago.

Sensitivity Training and the Physics TA Incident

About one and a half weeks ago, we reported that a Physics TA and GSAS graduate student from Russia had torn down an inclusive, pro-LGBT sticker and replaced it with a notice referencing the Biblical annihilation of Sodom and Gomorrah. Addressing this issue, both in terms of how this incident was reflected in the experiences of council members and what ESC could do in the long term to prevent such controversies from occuring in the future, though newly-elected President Aida Lu recounted how, in her meeting with Deans Kachani (Senior Vice Dean, Columbia Engineering) and Morrison (Vice Dean of Undergraduate Programs), Dean Kachani mentioned that some departments have printed and installed these stickers en masse.

2019 Representative Walker Magrath opened the discussion by explaining that he was a student of this physics TA, apologising in advance if comments seemed emotional charged. Notably, Representative Magrath’s stance was decidely hostile towards the Physics administration for the “absolutely unfathomable” decision to allow a graduate student with such a bio on the Physics website to TA an undergraduate class. The bio in question (which is still live) commends “Orthodox Christianity, the only true faith.” To an applause of snaps, Magrath proclaimed that it is imperative that ESC “strongly condemn these actions,” which “affect so many people in such a personal way.”

More on ESC



Written by

img April 11, 201711:31 amimg 0 Comments

This week’s ESC meeting was a little uneventful. The current council members shared event updates and touched upon the lack of funding from other student groups. The final moments of the meeting touched upon some successful initiatives during this past year. 

Yesterday evening, Engineering Student Council met for one final melancholic meeting with the current council’s members. However, this wasn’t too sad given the election of many current members to new roles within the upcoming ESC council. As such, this short meeting focused on a few updates, while the council members then transitioned from a group hug into explaining any transition information to the council members-elect.

Final Events Updates
The Residence Hall Leadership Organization (RHLO) is hosting its annual send-off on Butler Lawns, Thursday April 10th, between 5:00 and 8:00 PM. They’re going to have inflatables, a pseudo-dunk tank (which will be “less dangerous”), and other activities. Similarly, April 30th is SEAS the Day, which “will be huge.” There will be a waffle truck, Shake Shack, giveaways for flip flops, tank tops, and SEAS shirts, drinks, food, a “beach-ish theme,” and (hopefully) good weather.

More on ESC



Written by

img April 04, 201711:33 amimg 1 Comments

Lerner spaces have been proposed to accommodate student groups.

The discussion on GS swipe access continued at this week’s ESC meeting. ESC has proposed to reconfigure several unused spaces that can be utilized by student groups on campus. 

The penultimate meeting of Engineering Student Council was punctuated by intermittent reminders of the upcoming transition in council members. The main topic of discussion at this relatively short meeting (internal transition discussion and picture-taking consumed the last 10 to 15 minutes of sessions) consisted of continued discussion regarding the reconstituted General Studies Swipe Access resolution.

General Studies Swipe Access Resolution: Part Deux
After Vice President for Policy Sidney Perkins recused himself as parliamentarian for the moderated caucus discussing this resolution—as Perkins is the primary sponsor of the resolution—two representatives from General Studies Student Council spoke in support of passing the resolution. The two representatives essentially contextualized the Swipe Access Resolution in reference to nearly 15 years of GS advocacy for more equitable swipe access, especially as the last few years have engendered a unique campus atmosphere for this issue. They explained how GS students do no automatically receive access to certain CPS offices, certain group events (which GS students subsidize in their tuition), study groups with friends, and memorial services for peer students held in residential dorms. At a larger level, they continued, GS students are “feeling otherized [sic]” in a manner which is “destructive to community.” They emphasized how ESC has focused this year on increasing student wellness, one aspect of which is increasing student space, claiming that opening up more spaces to GS students will work within the space available at Columbia to combat the lack thereof. Finally, the GS representatives referred to prior commuter student and GS polling data to point out how GS students utilize residential amenities at a lower rate than commuter students, who can obtain swipe access, thus proving that opening up these spaces to GS students will not negatively affect CC/SEAS student life.

Did this resolution pass?



Written by

img April 01, 20171:18 pmimg 0 Comments

“Who do you know here?”

It’s a Friday night, you’re texting your group chat about what your plans are for the night, and you’ve hit an impasse. Sure, you can go out to the bars, hitting 1020 and Mel’s towards the end of the night, but what will you do to pregame. There might be some parties in your dorm (most likely Carman) but those are a little blasé at this point. The beer pong and flip cup is definitively minor league, and you trust their jungle juice about as a far as you can throw it. Then suddenly it hits you. Just go to a frat party! Free alcohol? Check. Open flirting and a chance to score? Check. Absolutely zero responsibility for breaking things or messing up the place? Check.

The attempt to brush aside and minimize the presence of fraternity men on this campus is absolutely atrocious. When you want to “get turnt” on a weekend night, who is there for you with an open house and heart? We are. We slave away during the day, cleaning the place and mopping up, always trying to provide the best location for Columbia to have a good time. We spend hundreds of dollars for each party, gathering and organizing various types of alcohol, which is to be freely distributed to anyone thirsty during the event. We literally open up our homes to a wild throng of GDIs, out of the kindness of our hearts.

The rest of this op-ed below



Written by

img March 31, 20179:56 pmimg 0 Comments

The performance kinda matches this art style in retrospect.

Although he doesn’t often review theatrical performances, Editor Finn Klauber felt it his responsibility to release a measured review of a recent performance of Seneca’s Troades, which will have two final showings tomorrow afternoon and evening. 

Syncretizing the performance of a Classical tragedy with artistic elements reminiscent of modernity is no small challenge. As key imagery from the Classical world appears strange, at best, or unplaceable and alien, at worst, director Yujhán Claros of the Barnard Columbia Ancient Drama Group would struggle to construct any performance drawn from Greek or Latin drama. These issues are compounded doubly given the source material for Claros’ tragedy—that is, Seneca’s Troades, or Trojan Women in English, offers little concrete textual support for stage direction or characterization. Whether Seneca’s Trojan Women was even written with explicit performance in mind remains an unanswered question. Entering the Minor Latham Playhouse, my mind fluttered with the artistic possibilities which the Trojan Women presented, hoping Claros’ vision would offer new methods of envisioning the characters whom appear in Columbia’s Core and have been transformed into cultural archetypes.

Seneca’s Trojan Women deserves a word of caution for any viewers unfamiliar with the tale of the victorious Greeks and downtrodden Trojans between the Iliad and Odyssey of Homer and the Aeneid of Vergil. Following the brutal sacking of Troy utilizing the infamous Trojan Horse, all that remains of the city are burning buildings and dejected women and children. The heroes of old—Achilles, Hector, Priam, and Ajax—are all dead or, in the case of Ulysses, Pyrrhus, and Agamemnon, disgraced with the brutal rape of “the pillar of Asia.” The remnants of the once great people are a crowd of mourning women and children, deprived of their husbands, fathers, and birthright. This is especially apparent in the case of Hector’s remaining family, as Hecuba, Priam’s wife, and Andromache, Hector’s wife, must see to a depressed throng of Trojan women as they await their division among the Greeks for enslavement, which is often sexual in nature. This final enslavement is slow and painful, though, as the Greeks are marooned in the Troad until the winds pick up again—a familiar issue for the Greeks, and one which Agamemnon will especially suffer for. This situation intensifies once the ghost of Achilles (supposedly) appears, demanding the sacrifice of Polyxena, a surviving daughter of Priam and Hecuba, and Astyanax, the young child of Hector and Andromache. If you expect the Greek “heroes” to do anything except viciously murder a defenseless boy and girl, to nominally appease the shades of Achilles and dissolve the bonds holding the Greek fleet at bay, then this is the wrong drama for you.

More on this play below



Written by

img March 28, 201711:33 amimg 5 Comments

Scantrons give us chills.

ESC continues to fight the good fight with trying to change the finals schedule, 3-2 student housing, and  COÖP. Students have also petitioned to expand representation of the African American and Latino communities. 

After first referencing the tensions apparent in the last meeting, including “tones, faces made, [and] laughter that went on,” President Neha Jain reflected that the ESC Board wants to encourage an environment where everybody can project their thoughts and opinions in a respectable manner. Such a tone dominated the remainder of the meeting, which mainly focused on a final exam resolution and a (previously covered) petition concerning representatives in the Activities Board of Columbia.

Finals Schedule Policy
Proffered by University Senator Izzet Kebudi, this resolution would encourage a reformation of Columbia’s policies in regards to the number of final examinations an undergraduate student can have within a certain period of time. That is, the current policy regarding a maximum of two final exams in one “day” is often subverted by implacable professors, or that, in its current definition of a “day,” the Columbia Registrar allows up to 4 examinations in a 24 hour period and thus propagates Columbia’s stress culture. Kebudi’s resolution encourages defining a day in terms of this 24 hour period, advocating further, in light of questioning by 2019 Representative Walker Magrath, for a more automated system to be implemented by the Registrar. Harvard’s registrar, for example, is automated in such a way that students’ exams are automatically rescheduled if the system detects conflicts. The Columbia Registrar, in comparison, is drafted in the beginning of each semester, with final examination times designated based upon the specific “time slot” and days in which every Columbia class is scheduled. Languages, among other subjects, are granted a higher degree of flexibility in finals times, however. The solution to any final exam conflict which occurs, as a result, is dependent upon the cooperation of each individual professor, some of whom refuse to reschedule.

What about midterms though?



Written by

img March 21, 201711:26 amimg 4 Comments

Everyone deserves to get into Carman!

This week’s ESC meeting took time to debate GS swipe access to dorms and other Columbia undergraduate buildings. GS students’ restricted access has affected their participation in events and club meetings. ESC is trying to take action to give GS students swipe access. 

The Forward Swipe Access Update And Resolution

The main topic of discussion yesterday evening concerned a resolution penned by Vice President for Policy Sidney Perkins, in whose place 2019 President Richa Gode presided. This resolution would essentially reiterate a recent resolution from General Studies Student Council which requests increased swipe access (or some mechanism allowing increased swipe access) for GS students. Utilizing a bevy of polling data, the Swipes Resolution highlights how GS students suffer from restricted access to Columbia dorms where university-sanctioned events and club meetings are sometimes held.

Although some members of ESC doubted whether this constitutes a real issue among the GS student body, as when Vice President for Finance Piyushi Bishnoi commented that perhaps these events are restricted to this degree due to differences in financial sponsorship among the various student bodies, even VP Bishnoi acknowledged that she supports GS students receiving equal swipe access in theory. In fact, the main opponent of the core tenets of GS swipe access, that GS students deserve swipe access on a similar level to other undergraduate students of Columbia University, was found in the Representative for Disabilities and Acessibility Adriana Echeverria.

More on Swipes here



Written by

img March 07, 20173:35 pmimg 0 Comments


When it’s 3am and that person next to you in Butler won’t shut up…

Columbia University’s HeForShe and King’s Crown Shakespeare Troupe (KCST) brings Antigone into the twenty first century. Antigone highlights the significance of gender roles and morality in the play that provides a new and fascinating experience for all. 

In the past century or so, Sophocles’ tragedy Antigone—arguably his greatest work—has gained an entirely new thematic aura. That is, it is only since the rise of the Nazi Party that Antigone has been performed entirely under the penumbra of resistance to imperial injustice. Yet Sophocles’ tragedy contains few references to the state of the original Athenian audience, instead dedicating itself to thematic and character development. This means that any adaptation of Antigone must do away with the heavy-handed and holier-than-thou political commentary with which we are so accustomed to in this era of American politics—a fact which director Talley Murphy, BC ’17, understands impeccably.

More on Antigone



Written by

img March 07, 20171:42 pmimg 2 Comments

Ann Thornton can’t screw around with this library at least.

Yesterday’s meeting of Engineering Student Council only entertained about half of the voting representatives, as the other half were, presumably, intensely studying for midterms this week. As such, Engineering Student Council Bureau Chief Finn Klauber only covers the few scant topics that were touched upon last night.

New NoCo Study Space

The discussion topic of the night consisted entirely of Representative for Technology Vinay Mehta, SEAS ’18, explaining the preliminary results of a seemingly ad hoc NoCo library space tribunal, in which Mehta represented undergraduate engineers. Supported by mock ups of the new space—pictures which are not published here as ESC has not made meeting notes or minutes public since their January 30th meeting, contrary to their promises—Mehta explained that the area up the stairs from the main library space is to be redone to make it less of a transient study space. Tables for group work will be added, as well as an area with stools (whether cushioned or high-back, the NoCo tribunal has not decided), and new lounge chairs, one of which will cost $1500.

The area is aimed to be more collaborative, as the library’s rules against food has prevented areas of study from being created which can accommodate multiple “study spaces” for laptops, work documents, etc. When asked why this is to be a study space and not a “lounge space,” Mehta responded that the tribunal first wanted to revamp the sixth floor of the library into a “cool student lounge area,” but that “fire codes” forced the team to instead create this “half in between compromise.” While looking to be expensive, Mehta clarified that the money for the upgrades come from Columbia, and would be applied to NoCo regardless later this year, as much of the furniture needs to be replaced. Furthermore, when questioned regarding the quality of the frameworks used in engineering spaces—according to VP for Communications Anthony Kim the tables in Mudd Lounge wobble annoyingly—Mehta responded that the pieces used will be slightly different and more expensive than those in Mudd Lounge, though they both come from the same manufacturer.


  • ESC is encouraging the completion of this Swipes Access Survey about whether GS students should have swipes access to more Columbia buildings. Over 225 responses have been logged so far, but VP for Policy Sidney Perkins desires more SEAS responses.
  • The Student Affairs Committee of the University Senate is preparing a presentation regarding proposals for Student Space™ at Columbia. In what must be an effort to rework her horrific image, Librarian to the Stars Ann Thornton has responded to calls for improvement of student mental health by putting self care reminders around the library and “increasing the amount of fun activities.” We seriously doubt her true loyalty to the mental health cause.

Image via Columbia University 



Written by

img February 25, 20174:06 pmimg 0 Comments

Imagine an opera but like in Barnard Hall.

Although he doesn’t often go to arts events, Internal Editor and Late Nite Extraordinaire Finn Klauber last night tried his hand out going to a “real” arts event. Although he had only been to Barnard four or five times in recent memory, he found his way to Sulzberger Parlour and the symphonic recital that was awaiting him in that lacquered and effeminate den.

Up until the minute I entered Sulzberger Parlour in Barnard Hall, I had no idea what exactly a “heteronormative to homoextraordinary recital” would actually consist of. The event description seem to just be a smattering of artistic buzzwords interspaced between the names and works of Romantic composers and poets—for all I knew, of course. Entering Sulz Parlour didn’t help to orient me in any way, unfortunately, as the patterned walls illustrated with decorous songbirds, the pseudo-realistic portraits of Barnard presidents, and the Gilded Age furniture all clashed with the modern femininity which Barnard so effortlessly projects.

As I silently pondered whether a broken grandfather clock being placed directly in the cold stare of portrait-Debora Spar were some sort of political statement, the star of the evening, Brenda Patterson, began her introduction. Patterson, an acclaimed mezzo-soprano opera singer and alumna of Juilliard and Barnard, was to perform three different cycles of music: an adaptation of Schumann’s “A Woman’s Love & Life,” with new lyrical poetry adapted from Emily Moore, a performance of a selection from Berlioz and Gautier’s Les Nuits d’Eté, and a new performance of a selection from American songwriter Ricky Ian Gordon.

What was the thematic push in Patterson’s singing?



Written by

img February 21, 201711:26 amimg 0 Comments

JJ’s 22 hours a day would be a blessing and a curse.

This week, ESC mainly touched upon ensuring the mental and physical health of Columbia students. Some changes have been proposed to benefit students such as having JJ’s open for 22 hours a day and creating mental health workshops for ESC. Due to the input in this week’s meeting, it is expected that positive change will result from the student council’s initiatives.  

A somber tone settled over the ESC meeting yesterday evening when the Representative for International Students, Pranav Arora SEAS ’19, announced his resignation to the collected council. Yet ESC, as ever, marched forward to work through a meeting very much lacking in the theatrics with which we’ve recently been accustomed.

President and Policy

Executive President Neha Jain and Executive VP for Policy Sidney Perkins worked this week towards implementing student leader “gatekeeper training” sessions. Such training aims to educate individuals—in this case student leaders, undergraduate and graduate TAs, and COÖP and NSOP leaders—of suicide prevention techniques to create a safety net, of sorts, for commonly affected swathes of the student population. These sessions would be similar to current SVR requirements in length and necessity.

Otherwise, VP Perkins met with CCE to discuss the response from the CCE Survey. In his own words, Perkins referred to the meeting in that “it was really frustrating.” The Policy representatives were questioned why they even authored the report in the first place, that CCE knew about the issues with career representation and CCE function in general but had no concrete plans to resolve them. When Perkins suggested that CCE incorporate students who already have relationships with these desired companies, the CCE administrators announced,  “wow, why haven’t we thought of that!”

What else happened?



Written by

img February 17, 20177:31 pmimg 0 Comments

Dear Vape God,

Who are you? What inspired you to engrave your dankness upon the driven snow? I could only imagine the scene, a bundled figure at the peak of the blizzard, staring towards the North Star while dramatic clouds blend into the snowy sky. And you would be alone, of course, because you’re a Vape God. And that’s not something you can just scream to the world. Who would understand your world of mods, your custom built rig, your dank homegrown vape trick Vine account. This is the life you’ve chosen, after all. The road you follow is paved with good intentions, but is so often obscured in the incipient haze of life. Are you in an EC Highrise single right now, projecting vaporwave mixes onto your wall? Or are you an alt denizen from across Broadway, leaving your tag on some faraway hold? Regardless, for one crystallized moment in the calm after the storm, we admired your art. Surely such creations are not meant to last, but your legend lives on in all of us.

Dank clouds via Bwog Staff

© 2006-2015 Blue and White Publishing Inc.