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img August 29, 20152:00 pmimg 12 Comments

A letter from editor emeritus Taylor Grasdalen:

It is with great sadness that I tell you that I am leaving Bwog. Personal circumstances have necessitated my leaving Barnard, Columbia, and New York. Consequently, I have to forfeit my role as Editor in Chief. I knew I would join Bwog from the day I was hit in Lerner by a paper airplane which, when opened, told me the time and date of the first meeting (and included a screen shot of a nasty comment). I was intimidated but excited and Bwog quickly became my favorite thing about college. I know we’re widely criticized (and often fairly so), but that never made me love writing for — and later running — Bwog any less.

This thing is in good hands as I step down. Britt Fossum has been here as long as I have and now takes my place; Courtney Couillard is brilliant and so, so sharp, and continues as Managing Editor; Joseph Powers, one-time UVA transfer and all-around verbose arts writer, is the new Internal Editor. Most of our staff will stay this year and do even more. I’ve loved my time with them and I’ve loved my time with you. Have a great semester and say hello to the woman at the newsstand on Barnard’s side of 116th for me.

Taylor Grasdalen



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img May 14, 20155:59 pmimg 7 Comments



You’ve done it. You’ve completed your final year of college, or your first, second, or third. A lot has happened in these months since late August, and Editor in Chief Taylor Grasdalen reviews them for you here. (And wrote her own byline.) Enjoy and remember.

September ushered in controversy and action, from the Students for Justice in Palestine protesting on 9/11 to the advent of the Carry That Weight movement. No Red Tape and other anti-sexual violence groups began to make more noise; “rape shouldn’t be part of the college experience,” though Columbia’s own data illustrated the campus reality. It also turned out that Barnard students were never supposed to be in JJ’s in the first place. And you might have heard some things about Bwog, but don’t mind us.

In October, there was one very sketchy Town Hall. Questions were asked and askers were asked to ask their questions. “BoSchwo” arrived (thanks, Alex Chang), though we too now call it “Bernie’s.” We saw the first Carry That Weight Day of Action, and Columbia released some choice words in response:

We understand that reports about these cases in the media can be deeply distressing, and our hearts go out to any students who feel they have been mistreated. But galvanizing public attention on an important societal problem is very different from a public conversation about individual students and cases, which colleges and universities do not discuss.

A doctor from the Columbia University Medical Center briefly had ebolaWe lost UNI Café. We tried to host an open forum. The University Senate began to review the Rules of Conduct.

November brought us Beta-induced anger, an impostor amongst the Class of 2018, and some contentious fines for the Carry That Weight demonstrators. Students sought to give President Bollinger the raise he deserves. …Speaking of PrezBo, he’s been disappointed with the football team for a while. CCSC and ESC considered raising your activities fee by $4.50. And Bwog might not have an official office, but at least we don’t have to worry about finding feces in our elevator.

December was busy and painfully cold, if nothing else. We lost Joshua Villa. Another student fell from the eighth floor of Wien. We began to talk about mental health. The Michael Brown and Eric Garner cases led to a “die-in” on College Walk, the night of the Tree-Lighting Ceremony. Orgo Night made people upset. Carry That Weight protested their fine. CUSS arrived! (And so did I.) Beta annoyed.

But what happened during the Spring semester?



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img April 24, 20151:30 pmimg 0 Comments

What's for dinner?

What’s for dinner?

Recent months have brought low-income students’ straits to the attention of the greater campus and administration. Bwog Editor in Chief Taylor Grasdalen reports on the issue of food accessibility and what Columbia University students are doing to fix it.

Two weeks ago, the Columbia First-Generation Low-Income Partnership (FLIP) launched a campaign to promote their “Microfund,” intended to assist Columbia students with the costs of meeting relatively everyday needs. The “microgrants” indeed start small: a meal ($10), cold medicine ($15), and psychiatric care copay ($20); larger donations can afford students a week of groceries ($50), their cap and gown ($55), winter clothing ($100), or a visit to the emergency room ($250). As of today, $3,560 has been raised — surpassing the original $2,500 goal — and will begin to be granted on the basis of applications come fall 2015.

FLIP was founded only this past fall 2014, the product of many cross-University students’ shared concerns about the status and understanding — or lack thereof — they received from Columbia. Toni Airaksinen, BC ’18, and Maureen Lei, CC ’15 (though a junior graduating a year early), tell me that there exist “significant constituencies of low-income and first-generation students” presently underserved by the University. Not only is there a vastly “assumed financial ability,” but plenty of “assumed privilege.” These assumptions tax those FLIP seeks to represent, and this has played out popularly on their Columbia University Class Confessions Facebook page, where students submit anonymous confessions detailing their financial and social burdens.

“This isn’t normal,” Maureen says. She and Toni break down just how not-normal Columbia is with its (assumed) commonplace wealth and attitudes: most people in the United States are not of this stratum, do not have hundreds of dollars to spend on clothes and coffees and dinner, do not have a few thousand to spend on “travel.” Toni relays a story about one friend this fall who refused to believe that Toni couldn’t afford to take a quick vacation to Washington, D.C.; the friendship deteriorated with the onslaught of socioeconomic division between them. Maureen, unlike Toni, is not considered a low-income student and is not the first in her family to attend college, but relates instead to the cultural isolation many students feel, an isolation she sees as intersecting with FLIP and its goals. She is the daughter of Chinese parents, whom she describes as “social climbers,” highly educated yet thoroughly traditional; Maureen’s first language is not English, and she shares anecdotes about growing up with non-western eating utensils and not knowing “the difference between a cheeseburger and a hamburger.”

After the jump: where culture and cost collide, speaking with Sejal Singh and the dining halls.



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img March 30, 20151:03 pmimg 14 Comments

13516_1564058453847337_4970421760927303638_nAfter an arduous week of deliberation and contest, Bwog has decided to endorse The Community Party for a Better Tomorrow in its run for Columbia College Student Council. This is not a resolution that came lightly, it must be noted, but was made after innumerable meetings with candidates for all councils and Senate, as well as phone calls and late, antagonizing nights.

TCPFABT consists of five Dan(i)s:

  • Daniel Stone, President
  • Daniel Garisto, VP Policy
  • Danielle Crosswell, VP Communications
  • Daniel Chi, VP Campus Life
  • Daniel Bergerson, VP Finance

While we are especially motivated by their stance on institutionalized naptimes,* they present compelling green initiatives and thoughts on transparency, better use of the Lion Tamers, and significant student wellness considerations. Perhaps most immediately impactful is their goal to instate pizza vending machines, though long-term changes will too be achieved through more frequent study of students’ quality of life, taken via Quality of Life Pop Quizzes. Bwog has always kept students’ wellness close to its wretched heart.

We do urge TCPFABT to speak out on accessibility, though the party’s intention to cooperate between fellow councils via intermarriage demonstrates their potential here. After many off-the-record interviews with candidates for GSSC and ESC, parties and individuals with more concrete plans for the issue, we can rest knowing that the intermarriage solution should reap progress in terms of accessibility — whether that’s accessibility in actual physical use of buildings and campus or financial barriers, though TCPFABT’s stance on the student life fee, among other things, may be directly pointed toward the latter.

So this Tuesday, please vote TCPFABT for your Columbia College Student Council. We believe they will serve you well.


Taylor Grasdalen, Editor in Chief

Courtney Couillard, Managing Editor

Britt Fossum, Internal Editor

From our live-tweet reportage of the CCSC debates, we leave you with the following sentiment from the party:

  • Bergerson “takes his cues from admins.”
  • Crosswell “wants to transparentize student government.”
  • Chi “carries around candy in [his] pockets and throws it around.”
  • Chi “wants tattoo(s) of Roaree.”
  • Garisto has “no experience on CCSC. Been to 4 or 5 CCSC meetings. Goes to debates. Understands that being VP Policy is difficult.”
  • Garisto, as stated while literally lying down, “worked at Spec Opinion, knows best opinion on campus, experience with opinions will allow him to do well.”
  • Garisto, in his closing remarks, believes there will be “cooperation among the group because [they are all] named Dan.”
  • Stone “wants to open the tunnels. Tunnels open through the campus, to solve a lot of issues of accessibility.”
  • Stone “agrees with Peter [Bailinson, of It Takes Two CCSC party], would do exactly what Peter does. Peter’s weakness has been in free food department.”

*From the party’s official platform: “Mandatory siestas will be instated. Several rigorous studies compiled over the past 5 decades have shown that naps = very good. From 1PM-2PM Mon-Fri, Columbia campus shuts down. Gates are closed. Everyone drops what they are doing and takes a mandatory nap, except public safety. This counts as a mandatory class for all CC students (10 credits/semester). Being found awake will be detrimental to your grade.”



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img March 25, 20157:04 pmimg 22 Comments

Hosted at the J School

Hosted at the J School

On Tuesday night, The Current hosted what their editor in chief referred to no fewer than three times as a “groundbreaking” discussion about the psychology of pedophilia. Thrilled just to be invited, Bwog’s own Editor in Chief Taylor Grasdalen attended to learn more. Trigger warning: mild discussion of sexual abuse.

I’ve never given pedophilia much thought. To attend a 90-minute lecture and panel on pedophilia, then, probably totals all the time I had ever prior given the disorder. “Pedophilia,” defined: “sexual feelings directed toward children.” The panel, introduced by The Current‘s Joshua Fattal, CC ’15, was comprised of Luke Malone, journalist with Matter and This American Life and Columbia Journalism School ’13; Elizabeth Letourneau, Director of the Moore Center for the Prevention of Sexual Abuse with Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health; and James Cantor, from the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto. These three offered a surprising diversity in their training and opinions — particularly useful in this conversation — though they wholeheartedly consense in teaching “society” and “culture” to see pedophilia as something biological and entirely separate from status as sexual offender.

Only this way, we learned, can we become more empathetic. We’re generally not inclined to empathize with pedophiles, but Cantor’s research and description of those affected as having developed their disorder in utero — and Letourneau’s and Malone’s own research and reportage — leads change here. Cantor proposed homosexuality as apparently analogous to pedophilia, that it’s something one is born into, but diverges in action; where gay men (and gay women, too, though the stress was on men) can safely act on their sexuality, pedophiles cannot. Upon action, they do become sexual offenders. There’s no doubt, as Letourneau explained, that harm is done when children are party to sexual acts. But we see pedophilia synonymous with sexual offense, and this view compromises our ability not only to treat but to prevent offense, the “action” and fulfillment of pedophilic fantasies, the harm.

Malone, in his thesis at Columbia, wrote about teen pedophiles and what Letourneau calls the self-directed “dreadful terms” that young pedophiles use for themselves. There’s “awful internalization,” again paralleled by the panel to homosexuality with its radical self-loathing, depression, thoughts of suicide, thoughts that “I am a monster.” No one would choose this. Cantor’s work over the last decade has involved diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), also called a diffusion MRI, with which scientists like himself may map and read brain tissue and its changes when stimulated. Recently accepted for publication (and received with applause by this crowd), his research concludes that there’s no single “sex center” in the brain but a network that together decides, ultimately, “what’s sexy” to the individual. These factors in the brain include face recognition, motor control, and reaction suppression.

Suppression of reaction is important to pedophiles in more than the context of a research laboratory. Letourneau discussed her dream of an intervention program, believing that there might be a window in adolescents’ life where their “brain plasticity” could allow preventive treatment, though estimates its cost between one to two million dollars. The trials, the programming, the implementation. It would primarily be done online, with some therapy supplement. There’s also the potential of actual treatment for pedophiles who have already offended and been caught, people in prison, people whom Cantor currently characterizes as recipients less of justice than of vengeance (at least in the American “system,” he says).

More on what can be done after the jump…



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img March 09, 20156:47 pmimg 43 Comments

The venue, now accommodating <50% of you

The venue, now accommodating <50% of you

Bacchanal has already sold out. However, many members of the Columbia community are upset about this year’s new charge for the show, which limits the amount of concert-goers this year to just 4,000 — excluding most graduate students and outsiders. Editor in Chief Taylor Grasdalen and Managing Editor Courtney Couillard report on the situation.

For the first time in Bacchanal history, students will have to pay a ticket fee to see the annual Spring concert this coming April. The fee, $7, is small but controversial. With major headliner Big Sean after previous years’ less exciting names, students are again looking forward to celebrating this tradition, yet most of the conversation now revolves around the new charge instead of the act.

Bacchanal has indeed faced numerous changes in the past year. Complaints from students and the administration cited that Bacchanal was an “unsafe experience” due to its nature, that it engenders excessive student drinking and dangerous behavior. These complaints led to the cancellation of a potential Bacchanal concert this past Fall 2014 semester. The committee (headed by Ben Kornick, CC ’16, and Mare Venerus, SEAS ’15), with the help of the administration, has in response focused on making the concert a safer experience. One of these changes includes the “Lion Tamers” initiative, where student volunteers will join the concert crowd to watch out for their peers.

While students expected these changes to the concert experience after the Bacchanal committee shared a letter earlier in the semester, many were surprised by today’s news that tickets would cost them. Some argue that $7 might be cost-prohibitive for many (though the show sold out my within the day that tickets were available), and others point out the Activities Fee — which has historically helped cover Bacchanal’s costs — all students already pay in to Columbia.

There is discrepancy over the cause of the new fee. Bacchanal is a group under the Activities Board at Columbia, which allocates funds for Bacchanal to pay for the concert, primarily for the cost of performers. Speaking Sunday evening with ABC President Tony Lee, CC ’15, the Bacchanal Executive Board “did not state that they would be charging money for tickets.” Knowing their intent to charge “would have probably lowered their allocation, since instead of each individual’s student life fees going to Bacchanal, students would be paying directly to attend Bacchanal.”

ABC is still in discussion over the issue, but Lee was able to comment further: “A few important factors would be their margin after ticket sales and also the proposed Student Activities Fee increase. If we can divert enough of the increased funds to Bacchanal such that students don’t have to pay for tickets, that could be an option. But I would assume that without more money, we would give them fewer Student Life fees since they’re charging students directly, although I don’t have a vote as President unless it’s a tiebreaker.”

“This news is literally news to a lot of students,” Lee says, and may in fact be cost-prohibitive for some. “I would assume that for some members of our community, having to pay extra out of their pockets for an event that has always been covered by their student life fees would be prohibitive. ”

Outside of cost, there is also debate over the effect the concert’s crowd limit will impose on the community. In previous years, Bacchanal was open to all undergraduate students as well as graduate students. CU students could bring one guest to the concert. The only provision students faced was flashing their ID before entering the concert space. “In terms of attendance,” Lee continues, “I would assume that it would limit attendance at the hard cap of 4,000. I don’t have the exact numbers, but I am pretty sure a lot more than 4,000 students attend Bacchanal each year from the four schools (and including alumni).”

Bwog reached out the Office of Undergraduate Student Life, which did not comment and deferred to the Bacchanal Executive Board. The Bacchanal Executive Board declined to comment, but will release a non-exclusive statement later tonight on the sell-out.

Correction: A previous version of this post listed Mare Venerus’s name and school incorrectly. We regret the error.



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img February 25, 20155:00 pmimg 4 Comments

We waited in line for this

Britt Fossum and Taylor Grasdalen happily represented Bwog last night

Last night, we were invited to President Bollinger’s first undergraduate fireside chat of the semester. Editor in Chief Taylor Grasdalen attended, and reports back here. (Please note that Internal Editor Britt Fossum also went, having won a seat by submitting the question “Do you read Bwog?”)

I must acknowledge that this was not my first Fireside Chat, though it was my first amongst other undergraduates. That said, the questions asked of President Lee “Ask Me Anything” Bollinger were nearly identical to those that I’d heard from graduate students. This tells me that whatever your school or year within Columbia, whatever your area of study, we’re ultimately concerned with the same things.

Let’s get “right into the thick of it,” then, as the first student to raise a question began. He asked about the difficulties of receiving a good or service from elsewhere in the University, particularly for a club, and how “departments have a monopoly on their own service.” Not only are costs incredibly high, but there’s an irrational amount of administrative work required. Bollinger had no answers, “[knows] nothing about it,” but had plenty for the next student.

This young panderer asked about the role of transparency in free speech, politics, and western democracy. Bollinger was happy to respond: “Every society has to discuss this kind of balance.” How much information are you willing to allow the public, after all? He considered the press and the public’s own roles in government transparency; while the press may publish whatever it can “get its hands on” with full constitutional protection, the “leaker” (he used Edward Snowden in example) may be prosecuted and receives no First Amendment rights under the Espionage Act. He felt that there’s been a shift “in favor of too much openness,” though citizens — the press included — must too be charged with representing the best interests of the government, for the sake of the country. It’s not only the editors in chief of The New York Times and Washington Post who have information today, but too the likes of Julian Assange, who certainly has no interest in protecting the United States. And on that note, the original asker said, “I’ll just take your class.”

Columbia Prison Divest, Manhattanville, money, and more transparency after the jump.



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img February 20, 201511:30 amimg 0 Comments

Alma Mater, feat. the cast of V121

Alma Mater, feat. the cast of V121

On Thursday night, the Varsity Show cast and crew put on their best black leggings and presented a preview of what we might expect come May. This took place in the very happening Diana Center Events Oval. Although they both very enthusiastically attended, Taylor Grasdalen primarily writes this review, with contributions from Mason Amelotte.

We were initially promised a “dramaturgical cosmos” by a less brooding, more turtlenecked John Lipton-type guy. He identified himself from the Barnard podium as the “head theatre critic for Bwog,” and has seen about four plays. Mason and I agreed that this was very fair and laughed; the crowd loved Michael MacKay, CC ’15, and his ambiguous accent. So began the West End Preview for the 121st Annual Varsity Show, directed this year by Molly Heller, JTS/GS ’15.

While plenty “dramaturgical,” the thirty-minute preview was a bit short of “cosmos.” It’s understandable! It’s okay! We’re “on the drug of musical theatre” here. We don’t learn the plot of V121 until the show premieres, and the songs and tangents are of course unruly without a plot to keep to. MacKay’s character was our guide through the vignettes and three songs, and did very well connecting these spots.

The show started with a financial aid office nightmare, the aid officers snorting coke and stuffing dollar bills in their mouths as students rang them up with their concerns. They swung at FAFSA and danced to the “short-change Charleston.” We were warned not to “drink the financial Kool-Aid.”

The frenetic first song was followed by a profoundly less screwball but better directed jab at the average Columbia seminar. Set in a gender studies class, students argue and compare struggles: “My ancestors are Irish so I completely understand,” “The reading reminded me of my mission trip to Bolivia…where the culture is just, like, different.” But the lines turned toward a tiny little story of love, how “love’s more fun when I fundamentally disagree with you.” Gabrielle Bullard, BC ’18, and Isaac Calvin, CC ’17, work really well, harmonize well, and fight respectably the awkwardness of being showered by condoms. They’re also both too beautiful for me to acknowledge anything else bad about this song.

Although choppy here and there, it all seemed to work as we built to the final song — set at senior night in Bernheim & Schwartz (“the Jewish German version of Chili’s”). Even within this piece itself, things got progressively sloppier, progressively stompier. But April Cho, CC ’17, turned on some real operatic skill, Megan Litt, BC ’17, rocked the lederhosen, and Sophie Laruelle, CC ’17, elicited a few whispers of “too real” from the audience.

Great were the musicians there pacing the night: Casey Adams, CC ’15, on drums; Sofia Geck, BC ’17, on piano; and Andy Shimm, CC ’17, on bass. I really look forward to the band’s playing more at the full show. Sam Balzac, CC ’17, and Fernanda Douglas, CC ’16: keep the songs coming — I still have the financial aid song stuck in my head.

Final thoughts:

  • I ship Bullard and Calvin’s characters.
  • April Cho needs more lines.
  • Michael MacKay shouldn’t change a single thing he’s doing. The turtleneck is working.

Featured image courtesy of The Varsity Show on Facebook.

Non-professional photography courtesy of the author.



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img February 12, 20158:02 pmimg 24 Comments

Bwog Editor in Chief Taylor Grasdalen discusses the recent news.

On Wednesday, February 11, Columbia undergraduates received emails from their schools’ deans alerting them to a new sexual respect program. The “University Initiative on Sexual Respect and Community Citizenship,” as Deans Valentini and Boyce refer to it — or Dean Awn’s gentler “Sexual Respect: Engaging the Columbia Community” — requires that all Columbia College, School of Engineering and Applied Science, and General Studies students participate in some way. Barnard College has not mandated its students’ participation.

Dean Awn writes that “since your participation is required — and given the wide range of backgrounds, knowledge and experiences that students bring to these issues — we will propose multiple options for engagement so that all students can choose to participate in the way that works best for them between now and mid-March.” The deadline to complete the program, based in CourseWorks, is March 13. Students new to Columbia this semester already met the requirement during their orientation.

What Awn’s message demonstrates, and Valentini and Boyce’s reiterate (“undergraduates have a range of learning styles, backgrounds and experiences, and preferred ways of engaging, there are numerous options available for you to fulfill this requirement, ranging from workshops to film and talk-back discussions to individual or group art projects”) is that there is no exemption from this program for Columbia University undergraduates — unless one were a Barnard student, of course. Survivors, while presented with a fairly diverse set of options to complete the program, are regardless forced to confront the “sexual respect” material.

One student emailed Bwog, questioning the policy: “Why isn’t there an option to allow a CPS or outside counselor to exempt you? Do they seriously think that someone going to weekly counselling after an assault might not feel comfortable in a room full of people talking about triggering shit? Survivors for sure should be part of the conversation — but not without the option not to be.”

The program seems rushed, on an early deadline. Perhaps due to pressure from a semester’s worth of protests and more than a year’s worth of media attention, Columbia University has chosen to require its students to fulfill immediately a large “initiative.” Seniors must complete the project before graduation, and rising juniors and sophomores must as well find the time before March 13. This places a great weight on students nearing midterms and in the thick of job applications, when it might better have been addressed during the New Student Orientation Program, or through some, any, timelier process.

Survivors — especially those who have chosen not to share their history with their peers — are now subjected to a program from which they cannot necessarily be easily or quietly exempted. There are no statements in the program which outline an exemption process for students triggered by issues of sexual assault and gender-based misconduct, but rather, there are “alternatives.” There are film- and art- and storytelling-related options, but none that allow their rightful exclusion. There are “tell your story,” “post-trauma,” and “mindfulness” workshops.

Although this program represents an excellent step toward “ongoing efforts to prevent gender-based misconduct, strengthen the response to such misconduct when it occurs, and enhance our campus climate,” Columbia’s implementation and rules do not seem to naturally enhance the campus climate. While survivors — those reported and those quiet — are still exposed to material so outright triggering, the issue has not yet fairly been addressed.

Images of the program on CourseWorks may be viewed here.



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img January 30, 20151:11 pmimg 21 Comments


Molly before her injuries.

Recently we learned about one Barnard student whose medical complications have taken her out of school and uprooted her life. Editor Taylor Grasdalen spoke with her to learn more.

Molly Mittler entered Barnard College as a first-year in August of 2014. Just one day before orientation, Molly had a concussion and chose to follow up by scheduling to meet with a doctor in Barnard’s Primary Care Health Service. The appointment was routine; of course they discussed her recent injury, but also took her blood pressure, went over her health history. Molly disclosed to her doctor that she was taking bupropion, a medication unrelated to her concussion and which she’d started using before coming to school.

Bupropion is notable for its brief removal from the market as one particular side effect—risk of epileptic seizure—was discovered. The doctor with Primary Care failed to inform Molly that bupropion, when combined with her traumatic brain injury, dramatically raises that risk. “So,” Molly tells me, “I had a seizure, right in the middle of Broadway. I got a skull fracture, a second concussion, contusions, and a subdural hematoma.” She tells me that the mortality rate from suffering a subdural hematoma (a collection of blood on the surface of the brain) is approximately 80%, and she’s been one of the minority to survive it. This happened in September.

Molly had to leave school and return home to Massachusetts. Her family struggles with the rapidly accumulating medical bills, and in December she created a Go Fund Me page. Soon, she decided she might contact alumni from the community of which she was now supposed to be a part: “I did the modern day version of going door to door to fundraise—I contacted a few famous Barnard-Columbia alumni.” She felt that at worst, she would be ignored; at best, she’d receive positive support.

“I got responses from quite a few alumni, all of which were positive,” but they were “from CC and SEAS alumni—none from Barnard.” She did not reach one single Barnard alum. Instead, she received a phone call from Dean of the College Avis Hinkson, “chastising me for advocating for myself. She told me that she received complaints from alumni about my email, and asked me to explain. I told her ‘I don’t care.’” Dean Hinkson explained to Molly that all alumni donations should go to the school and not to individual students. But when a student is on medical leave and not presently attending Barnard, where does that put her? Would Barnard really spend its endowment on the medical bills of one student? Molly suggests that “maybe instead of using the alumni donations to raise administration’s six figure incomes, they could use them to actually help students.”

“I am disgusted that Barnard has produced women who, rather than just ignoring the email, would go as far as to complain to Dean Hinkson.” Most of the donations that Molly has received through her fundraising page have come from other students or high school acquaintances. “I am not connected in any way to people who can just hand out money left and right. I have taken my promotion to management at work for the raise, and more hours so I can make more money. I have also gone as far as to sell any belongings that I don’t consider to be ‘necessities’ on Amazon.” She has undergone physical therapy to relearn to walk, occupational therapy for her double vision, and speech therapy for her memory.

She doesn’t know where to go from here. Her story is complicated. But she does plan to continue her recovery, and to pursue legal action. “A legal malpractice research team is reviewing my information. It is necessary to have a very strong case in malpractice lawsuits, as [they] are difficult to win—especially when your opponent has incredibly more access to resources than you do.”

Photo via Molly Mittler’s Facebook.



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img January 29, 20155:10 pmimg 9 Comments

In the interest of full disclosure, Bwog has reformulated our Standards and Practices. As a publication we aim to honestly report events without bias or judgment and these new practices reflect that aim. These standards are formed with consideration given heavily to and adapted from the Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics, a group dedicated to free media and its own critical self-regulation. As always, the comments section is meant to act as a forum for discussion on these policies and our decision to release them to our readership.

Taylor Grasdalen, Editor in Chief

1. Seek truth and report it.

  • Test and research all sources’ information.
  • Never misrepresent or distort through story, quotation, or image.
  • Never plagiarize.
  • Tell the story of the diversity and magnitude of the human experience boldly, even when it is unpopular to do so.
  • Examine your own cultural values and avoid imposing those values on others.
  • Avoid stereotyping by race, gender, age, religion, ethnicity, geography, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, or social status.
  • Support the open exchange of views, even views you find repugnant.
  • Give voice to the voiceless; official and unofficial sources of information can be equally valid.
  • Distinguish between advocacy and news reporting. Analysis and commentary should be labeled and not misrepresent context.

2. Minimize harm.

  • Show compassion for those who may be affected adversely by news coverage. Use special sensitivity when dealing with inexperienced sources or subjects.
  • Be sensitive when seeking or using interviews or photographs of those affected by grief, or involved in sensitive or tragic issues.
  • Recognize that gathering and reporting information may cause harm or discomfort.
  • Pursuit of the news is not a license for arrogance.
  • Recognize that private people have a greater right to control information about themselves than do administrators and those seeking power, influence, or attention.
  • Only an overriding public need can justify intrusion into anyone’s privacy.
  • Show good taste. Avoid pandering to lurid curiosity.
  • Defer to Editorial Board (Editor in Chief, Managing Editor, Internal Editor) when in question.

3. Act independently.

  • Research proactively and prolifically, though all work published on Bwog must first be drafted and edited by a second individual. Exception given to breaking news, which may be immediately published at the allowance of the Editorial Board.
  • Avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived.
  • Remain free of associations and activities that may compromise integrity or damage credibility.
  • Disclose unavoidable conflicts.
  • Be vigilant and courageous about holding those with power accountable.

4. Be accountable.

  • The majority of work to be published on Bwog must be accredited to an author. Exception given to Bwoglines and articles otherwise simple notifications, as well as anything your parents or future employers shouldn’t find.
  • Admit mistakes and correct them promptly.
  • Abide by the same high standards to which we hold others.



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img December 18, 20147:00 pmimg 27 Comments

Dear Columbia — to our fans, part-time fans, naysayers, haters, and our primarily unruffled, ambivalent readership — we’ve had a strong semester. I say “strong” because it was not quite a good semester but a powerful one, passionate and encouraging. If sometimes too apologetic, you can’t negate our — Bwog’s — interest in the activity we’ve seen on campus over the past four and a half months. A lot has happened, particularly in recent weeks, and I can’t understate my appreciation for your engagement. Not just as a writer and observer but as another student, I am so grateful for a community that persists and is willing to argue against the circumstances you, or I, or anyone else, faces here. I appreciate this persistence.

This is at once our compulsory “Bwog Out” post for the end of the year, and a call for further action. I so love my peers for the work they do on top of academic stress and strain, social and familial and financial and school-related anxieties, adversity and upset, pressure, heartbreak, impairment, invalidation. I ask that you persist and continue. Keep up the good fight (against The Man, perhaps). Send me your thoughts, concerns, stories, ideas, essays, and pitches; I want to know what’s on your mind, what you want to hear about, know about. Write to me personally at Write to greater Bwog, day or night or upon the witching hour, at

Congratulations on completing the fall 2014 semester! Congratulations on your graduation, imminent graduation, first semester of college, or mid-(college) life crisis! Bwog — as an ambiguous, free-form, yet possibly mammalian entity — and I, support you. We wish you a safe, healthy, warm, and fruitful winter break, and hope to see you at our first meeting come January. There will be snacks.


Taylor Grasdalen, Editor-in-Chief



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img December 10, 20142:19 amimg 4 Comments

Ahh, 2am

Ahh, 2am

What’s going on at two in the morning after the first day of reading week? The Starbucks on 110th Street is closed; the Starbucks on 113th is open. There are many more drunk students making their way home, Public Safety vans prowling. Undergraduate ladies in very high heels and bare legs, and guys in sweatpants with ambiguous brown bags in their hands. The Presbyterian Church on Broadway glows purple and its Christmas wreaths are well lit.

The dining halls don’t open for at least six hours. There are lines visible inside Morton Williams and Westside, despite one pretty barren Broadway. People buy Red Bull and Bud Light in individual cans, trail mix sold by the pound, and plenty of candy bars and Emergen-C. Is there another cold going around?

Those still in Butler are either asleep at their seats or talking quietly in the lobby and lounge. It’s raining again. There are plenty of umbrellas at the more prepared students’ desks, while others wear their hair slightly damp. Some here are on Netflix, some have their heads in their books (or on their books), but most are not at work.

A steady stream of Taylor Swift and J. Cole plays from headphones of passersby and sleepersby and campersby. Maybe they are just gathering the inspiration to make it over to Morton for that next energy drink or until Ferris opens to grab some oatmeal or a bagel, but their days still seem long from over.

The church that always has excellent signage via late night Bwogger’s cell phone camera



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img December 02, 20144:31 pmimg 1 Comments

True Blue

Most beautiful luminescence

Taylor Grasdalen goes on a walk and thinks about some things.

It is six in the morning. Morningside Heights is sleeping, but there are to see massive and stretched bags of trash on the streets, taxi drivers falling asleep at their wheels, winter citrus rolling from its display at Westside Market. It’s very beautiful at six in the morning.

This mild weather and this dark sky make me want to work. It is December and it’s the last week of fall semester classes, and there is so much to do. Instead of working — as productive as the dearth of passersby so early makes me feel — I walk north to 116th Street and enter Barnard’s campus. Nothing is open to me but Butler Library, I think, and I can’t really yet justify going there.

I enter Barnard Hall, take the stairs, second floor, opening the one door in the building that I must have never tried. It’s to the running track. I’ve come here before maybe three times. The center of the room holds LeFrak Gymnasium, the track elevated well above it like a moody halo. There is barrier made up here by geometric black iron fence against the space. The track itself is dark and solid, and the lighting is filtered, the lights are off; the windows that overlook Claremont Avenue compose most of the far wall, and they are long and open.

It’s not even half past six but I’m motivated by those windows’ weird light and this hardwearing ground. This reminds me of the walks I take along Riverside, which is now too cold to stand for longer than an hour. I sit against the wall, below a small green bulletin board, and take from my bag some reading for some class. I highlight it, almost all of it. I both highlight and underline the sentence that reads: “Such writing is commonly called tendentious.”

I do see the sun rise from here. I’ve taken forty-odd minutes to read thirty pages. I should’ve gone to Butler this morning, maybe, maybe I should start going to Butler again. Before final exams set in. But I like the weirdness of this running track and the walk I take to some place new and the feeling I get when I read about something I didn’t prior understand in a place I didn’t used to know.




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img November 15, 20148:03 pmimg 1 Comments

Bwog recently faced the challenge of the minimalist pantry in Chopped: Bleak But Flavorful Edition, and now we’re back at it. We entered one frantic Furnald snacker’s kitchen for another grueling round of making something out of gruel nothing.

This week, we are proud to present Chopped: Chicken And A Triscuit Edition, where we turn the inexplicable remnants of your late night cravings (or at least your post-JJ’s Place cravings) into a real meal.

Today’s basket:

  • Frozen white rice
  • Unidentifiably-herbed chicken (is it sweet? is it spicy?)
  • Sweet green chili sauce
  • Rosemary & olive oil Triscuits

Rosemary and olive oil-crusted chicken over rice:

  1. Reheat the block of white rice from your refrigerator by microwaving for two minutes and stirring at 30-second intervals. Set aside.
  2. Grind four Triscuit crackers in a small bowl. You want these to become a very fine crumble. Set aside.
  3. Slice the chicken into inch-long, half inch-wide pieces and microwave for one minute.
  4. Coat the chicken in the Triscuit crust. Toss gently together.
  5. Spread rice onto serving plate. Make it look really nice.
  6. Place crusted chicken atop the rice, and garnish with amount of sauce as desired. In this case, little sauce was desired.
  7. Serve and enjoy immediately within the peace and quiet of your patron’s Furnald single.

Time: 5 minutes (no dish-washing required; there were only disposable utensils and wares to be found)

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