Author Archive

Apr

18

Written by

img April 18, 20183:01 pmimg 0 Comments

I’ll be honest: This aesthetically pleasing poster was part of the reason I decided to attend this lecture.

This Tuesday, staff writer (and honey bee fanatic) Jake Tibbetts had a bee-rrific time traveling to the other side of Broadway to listen to Dr. Jonathan Snow, an assistant professor of biological sciences at Barnard College, deliver a lecture about his research on the ways that honey bees respond to stress on the cellular level and about his attempts to connect cell biology to topics related to sustainability. In this piece, Tibbetts writes about his experience sitting in on a science lecture that even a humanities geek like himself could understand, learn from, and appreciate.

As a sociology and political science student, I don’t often find myself attending STEM lectures after classes wrap up for the day, regardless of how many opportunities there are here in Morningside Heights to learn more about the most pressing scientific issues of our time. As a die-hard fan of Jerry Seinfeld’s 2007 computer animated comedy film Bee Movie, however, I do take special notice when events centered around everyone’s favorite pollinators take place.

When I found out that Dr. Jonathan Snow, an assistant professor of biological sciences at Barnard College and a man who is perhaps just as passionate about bees as I am, would be delivering a lecture on Tuesday evening titled “What Does Cell Biology Have to Do with Saving Pollinators?”, I knew that, despite knowing very little about cell biology (or, to be honest, the process of pollination itself), I would need to stop by—and I’m quite glad that I did.

This talk, the third in the Barnard Noyce Teacher Scholars Program’s Current Issues in STEM Education colloquium series, was held in a large classroom on the fifth floor of the Diana Center and began at 6:30 pm. After Professor Snow, who has taught at Barnard since 2012, was introduced by someone from the Scholars Program, he dived right into his talk, aided by a slideshow presentation. He began by letting the audience know that his talk would be divided into three parts. First, he would discuss cell biology as a whole, its relationship to biomedical research, and his initial research. Then, he would discuss the reasons that he decided to begin studying bees. Finally, he would explore the question posed by the title of the talk: what, exactly, is the connection between cell biology and the protection of honey bees?

beez after the jump

Apr

16

Written by

img April 16, 20181:00 pmimg 1 Comments

Unless the Columbia administration agrees to begin bargaining beforehand, the Graduate Workers of Columbia will begin striking on April 24th.

This morning, the Graduate Workers of Columbia (GWC-UAW Local 2110), having just voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike, announced in a post on their website that they will go on strike April 24 at 10:00am if the Columbia University administration does not declare its intention to begin bargaining with the union before then. The union also noted that it had sent a letter with these demands to President Lee Bollinger. If the university “continues to defy both labor law and the democratic voice of its workers, and does not agree to bargain by that date,” the union writes in the post, it will begin striking immediately. This strike, if initiated, will last until the end of the day on Monday, April 30th—the last day of classes this semester. The union notes that this “is only the beginning;” if the university still refuses to meet graduate workers at the bargaining table following this strike, the union will call for another strike in the future.

The union notes that their decision to strike follows both a democratic vote (in which 1,832 out of 1,968 participants voted in favor of a strike) and over 1,000 organizing conversations across departments that have taken place over the course of the past few months. Department leaders will be reaching out to graduate workers this week to develop more detailed plans for the strike, and the union will be holding a general body meeting tonight at 7:00pm in Avery Hall 114 to answer questions about the strike. In their statement, the union calls, once again, on Columbia to begin bargaining immediately so that a strike isn’t necessary; however, because graduate workers “would like the opportunity to continue [their] work with all the security a contract provides,” they “are prepared to strike if Columbia makes such an action necessary.”

If the strike does take place, the union will be operating a picket line from 11:00am to 3:00 pm on April 24th, 25th, 26th, 27th, and 30th. More information about how graduate workers can sign up for picketing shifts will be made available soon.

The full statement is available after the jump.

Read the full statement after the jump.

Apr

13

Written by

img April 13, 20182:30 pmimg 0 Comments

Staff Writer Jake Tibbets attended the Just Violence panel last night, held at Teacher’s College, talking about modern morals in the practice of torture by police officers in India. Dr. Rachel Wahl, the author of the event’s namesake book Just Violence: Torture and Human Right in the Eyes of the Police had a lot to say about the perceived standard of equality and justice. 

On Thursday, April 12, in Grace Dodge Hall at Teachers College (which is not to be confused with Dodge Hall at Columbia University, which is where the event was said to be taking place on the Institute for the Study of Human Rights’s Facebook page), Dr. Rachel Wahl, an assistant professor in the Department of Leadership, Foundations, and Policy at the Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia, spoke about her new book, Just Violence: Torture and Human Rights in the Eyes of the Police, a case study detailing how police officers and military officials in India are able to make sense of the human rights violations that they regularly and openly commit. The event was small and intimate; including myself, the speaker, and two facilitators, there were only fourteen people in the room. The modest setting, however, made it easier, in many ways, to digest the complex ideas that Wahl was bringing to the table (and I mean that literally—most attendees sat at one of four tables in the room, which had been arranged into a square). Even in the company of a relatively small number of people, Wahl was able to deconstruct human rights terminology, social contract theory, the modern moral order, and liberalism as a whole in just as eloquent and intriguing a manner as an academic in a more “high-key” setting would have been able to.

Thankfully, the location of the event was listed correctly on this flyer. If it weren’t, I would have spent my afternoon searching for Room 359 in Dodge Hall, which doesn’t exist.

After she was introduced by someone from the Institute for the Study of Human Rights, which organized the event, Wahl jumped right into her talk. Aided by a slideshow presentation that she had designed, Wahl began by briefly discussing how she came to become interested in this somewhat niche topic. During graduate school, she explained, she had become interested in Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor’s conception of a “modern moral order.” According to Taylor, this modern moral order is predicated on the assumption of a fundamental good centered around the prevention of suffering. Making this a bit more easy to understand, Wahl explained that the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights is representative of this order. Wahl, motivated by Taylor, wanted to explore what may be being displaced by this modern moral order. Her studies, like Taylor’s, would be rooted in a certain philosophical anthropology; in other words, she believed that it would be impossible to know an ethic until she saw it enacted. She also operated under an assumption of the primacy of moral orientation. To her, to know who you are is to know where you are oriented in moral space. What she intended to do through her studies was to get to the bottom of what she calls the “social imaginary,” a set of values, institutions, symbols, and laws through which we imagine our “social whole.” To do this, she thought that it would be worthwhile to study the beliefs and actions of police officers and military officers in India during an era in which human rights ideology is almost ubiquitous. In summary, she said, she wanted to study how ideas are lived and what happens when the ideas by which people live are challenged, particularly by forces who seek to change things through education and activism.

Read more about human rights violations, liberal political philosophy, and more here

Apr

6

Written by

img April 06, 201812:25 pmimg 0 Comments

Note: There are far fewer actors in this production than there are people in this drawing.

This week, the Columbia University School of the Arts New Plays Festival, which features original works by members of the 2018 MFA playwriting class, kicked off at the Lenfest Center for the Arts, where the first two plays of the ten-play festival will debut. One of those two shows is River Rouge, a riveting tale about workers, bosses, love, passion, industry, and art written by Andy Boyd and directed by NJ Agwuna, both of whom are MFA candidates. Bwogger Jake Tibbetts, who couldn’t turn down an opportunity to attend a play written about his favorite Trotskyist muralist, was lucky enough to catch the Thursday night premiere

The title of MFA candidate Andy Boyd’s newest play, River Rouge, may seem fairly self-explanatory upon first glance; after all, the majority of the play takes place at and near the Ford River Rouge Complex, which Diego Rivera visited at the invitation of Edsel Ford in 1932 in order to gain knowledge of the American capitalist mode of production so that he could prepare to paint his Detroit Industry Murals. One only needs, however, to see the first few minutes of the show, which begins with most of the players coming together on stage and singing “Union Maid” by Woody Guthrie, to realize that the significant of the color “rouge” extends far beyond being part of the name of the play’s setting. This work, which focuses primarily (but far from exclusively) on the relationship between revolutionary artists Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo and wealthy industrialists Edsel and Henry Ford, is quite open about where it stands politically, depicting factory managers as almost cartoonish villages and giving its revolutionary characters more than a few opportunities to sing songs like “Union Maid,” “Solidarity Forever,” “Bread and Roses,” and, of course, “The Internationale.” The show is red as hell, and damn proud of it, too.

What is perhaps most fascinating about what this show had to say on a political level, though, is that it refuses to oversimplify complex debates which were relevant in the early 1930s and which remain relevant today. While the tale is a framed as one in which Rivera’s (and Kahlo’s) Marxist view of the world comes into conflict with the realities of capitalist America, Henry Ford, played by Roger Lipson of the Actors’ Equity Association, rejects the label of “capitalist,” as he doesn’t feel that he is motivated by profit. (Marxists, of course, would find this argument laughable.) Edsel Ford, the president of the Ford Motor Company, is depicted as being somewhat sympathetic to Rivera’s views, even if his class interests are fundamentally opposed to the interests of the class that Rivera seeks to uplift through his work. Rivera, an avowed communist, is unable to stop himself from thinking about his desire to increase his revenue. Even when the show seeks to depict divisions that exist between communists and capitalists, those on different sides of those divisions are rarely if ever portrayed as one-dimensional ideologues.

Find out more after the jump

Apr

4

Written by

img April 04, 201811:53 amimg 0 Comments

In this review, we’ll be tackling Hotel Furnald, one of the quieter dorms on campus. Whether you’re an incoming freshman who’s looking for a place to crank out UWriting drafts in peace or a bitter sophomore who’s trying to, for some reason or another, distance himself from the rest of his class as much as possible, you may find Furnald, a quaint corridor-style dormitory located mere seconds away from Lerner Hall and Butler Library, to be the place for you.

The Furnald lobby is undoubtedly one of the most aesthetically pleasing lobbies on campus.

Location:
2940 Broadway, right near the gate at 115th Street. It’s tucked between Lerner and Pulitzer.

Nearby dorms:
Carman is the closest dorm; John Jay, Hartley, and Wallach are also nearby, separated only by Butler.

Nearby Stores/Restaurants:
Morton Williams, Pret A Manger, Sweetgreen, Shake Shack, Starbucks, Amir’s, some random halal cart, Häagen-Dazs, and International are all right nearby.

Class Makeup:
Many freshmen and a fair amount of sophomores.

Cost:
$8,412/year for freshmen; $9,538/year for upperclassmen.

Amenities:
Cleaning: Kitchens and bathrooms are cleaned daily (Monday through Friday), but trash removal is the responsibility of the student.
Lounge: Each floor has a lounge with a kitchen and a television. These lounges are fairly spacious and contain four armchairs, a coffee table, and a kitchen table with another four chairs. There is also a spacious main lounge located in the lobby with plenty of seating area.
Kitchen: The communal kitchens, located in the floor lounges, have two microwaves, two stovetops, and an oven.
Bathroom: Bathrooms are communal. They are co-ed on the first and second floors and divided along gender lines on floors three through ten. Each bathroom has three showers, three toilets, and five sinks.
AC/Heat: It technically has both, but it’s not always reliable.
Floor: Hardwood in rooms; carpeting in hallways.

Read more about Furnald here

Mar

22

Written by

img March 22, 20185:00 pmimg 0 Comments

I spent half of my day looking at Zagat reviews of restaurants in places that I’m planning on visiting this summer. In other words… Day well spent.

One of my favorite things to do when I have free time, which I rarely do, is people-watch—and as far as I’m concerned, there’s no better place to people-watch on campus than the computer lab on the third floor of Lerner Hall. Because my laptop is on its deathbed, I’ve been visiting the lab regularly this semester in order to complete assignments, and the more time I spend in there, the fonder my heart grows. Some of the things that I’ve seen in there are hard to describe. Just this past week, I saw someone laughing hysterically at something on his desktop, only to discover that he was staring at the log-in screen. A few days ago, I watched someone rush into the lab, grab a seat, take what looked like a container of some type of pill out of his bag, crush a few pills on the surface of the desk, swipe the pile of pill dust into a sandwich bag, and leave the lab as quickly as he entered.

Last month, the Student Affairs Committee announced at a University Senate plenary meeting that the computer lab will soon be converted into a meeting space, and though this transformation is yet to begin, I already feel, in a way, as though I’m grieving. In honor of this truly special space, I decided to spend my snow day doing what I normally do on Wednesdays: sitting myself down in a chair in the corner of the room and attempting to get work done. This time, though, I documented (almost) everything… for eight hours.

10:00am: After grabbing breakfast in John Jay, my dining hall of choice, I head over to the Lerner computer lab. It’s quiet: only three other people are here. This is fairly abnormal; I’ve never been in here when it wasn’t at least half full. The snow outside, I imagine, is to blame. Most people are likely sleeping in. I would have loved to do the same, but that simply wasn’t a possibility—I have a paper to write.

10:22am: It’s still disturbingly quiet. I’ve never seen anything quite like this. All three other people are keeping to themselves, and they all appear to be working on academic assignments. Good for them. I, personally, am distracted beyond belief: For twenty-two minutes, I have been looking at reviews of restaurants in Southwest Florida on the Zagat website.

10:37am: Finally, things are getting somewhat interesting. A dude walked in with a banana, left the banana on a desk, and disappeared. He’s been gone for about ten minutes. Here’s hoping that he comes back.

10:39am: Banana guy came back and retrieved his banana. All is well.

10:43am: A well-dressed middle-aged man has entered the room wielding what appears to be measuring tape. I would assume that he’s with Facilities, but he isn’t wearing anything to indicate that he works for the university. As I type, he’s measuring how tall one of the desks is.

10:57am: Someone entered the lab, sat next to me, looked at the computer screen, shouted an expletive, and moved to another computer. I’m dying to hear the story behind that, but I wouldn’t dare ask.

More of the finest Columbia has to offer after the jump

Mar

9

Written by

img March 09, 201811:30 amimg 1 Comments

This school needs a Core class on how to properly ride an elevator.

Bwog Staffer Jake Tibbets is tired of all of you not knowing how to ride elevators with decency and no, he’s not going to write an op-ed about it. 

When, during my senior year of high school, I learned that I had been accepted to what some (i.e., Deantini) may consider to be The Greatest College in the Greatest University in the Greatest City in the World™, I was told by countless peers, educators, and relatives that I would be spending the next four years of my life surrounded by some of the best and brightest students in the world. When I first heard this, I believed it entirely. Upon setting foot in Furnald Hall for the first time during NSOP, however, I quickly realized that not everything was as it seemed. Sure, Columbia University is home to countless high school valedictorians and salutatorians, plenty of National Merit Scholars, masses of award-winning musicians, hordes of top-tier athletes, and (perhaps too) many aspiring entrepreneurs—all of whom are hard-working, resourceful, and intelligent. But underneath the student body’s skilled, accomplished surface, there lies a terrible, terrible problem: almost no one here seems to know how to ride an elevator.

 

To be clear, I’m not arguing that no one here knows how to use an elevator on a technical level. After all, riding an elevator is a fairly simple process that requires an individual to press one button, enter a metal cage, press another button, wait, and exit the cage. The problem, however, is that far too few people seem to care at all about the unwritten rules about elevator use that underpin interaction and relationships. When people fail to follow these rules, they, whether they know it or not, risk letting society disintegrate entirely. As Bwog’s resident social assassin, I have decided to take it upon myself to write down some of these unwritten rules in order to ensure that riding an elevator at Columbia is an enjoyable-at-best-and-insignificant-at-worst experience and to maintain order and therefore, you know, prevent everything from going to shit.

Rule #1: Let people exit the elevator before you enter. This rule is similar to the unwritten rule that dictates that you allow the car that stopped first at a four-way intersection to go first. People who are coming from the inside of the elevator have the right of way. If you violate this rule, you’re in the wrong, and people will judge you for it. Period.

Rule #2: Don’t use the elevator unless you’re travelling up more than two stories or down more than three stories. It should go without saying, of course, that this rule doesn’t apply for a.) disabled individuals or b.) individuals who happen to be carrying an item that can’t be transported via the stairway. If you don’t belong to either of those two groups, however, consider taking the stairway. By doing so, you’re saving the time of the people using the elevator who actually need to use it and you’re giving them extra space. Besides, every single one of us should seize the opportunity to burn off the caloric equivalent of a JJ’s mozzarella stick when presented with it.

We got more rules, we ‘count em

Feb

28

Written by

img February 28, 20185:31 pmimg 2 Comments

On Tuesday evening, Bwogger Jake Tibbetts made his way to the Maison Française East Gallery to listen to Professor Bernard Harcourt discuss his new book, The Counterrevolution: How Our Government Went to War Against Its Own Citizens, with fellow political theorists Seyla Benhabib of Yale University and Uday Singh Mehta of the City University of New York. The conversation, in which members of the audience were given the opportunity to participate, was a lively one, and though Harcourt’s

Even the cover of Harcourt’s newest book reminds us that the world in which we live has, in many ways, become utterly dystopian.

book outlines a number of uncomfortable truths about politics and civil society in the twenty-first century, he made sure to focus during his talk on the hope offered by movements that seek to resist the logic of counterinsurgency.

Bernard E. Harcourt, Professor of Political Science and Isidor and Seville Sulzbacher Professor of Law, is, in many ways, something of a twenty-first century Renaissance man. In addition to teaching at both the undergraduate and graduate levels here at Columbia University, Professor Harcourt, who earned both his J.D. and his Ph.D. at Harvard University, serves as Executive Director of the Eric H. Holder Initiative for Human Rights, Founding Director of the Columbia Center for Contemporary Critical Thought, and directeur d’études at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris. In his spare time, he is an active defense lawyer, currently representing a number of inmates in Alabama who have been sentenced to death or to life imprisonment without parole. His previous books, including The Illusion of Free Markets: Punishment and the Myth of Natural Order, Occupy: Three Inquiries in Disobedience, and Exposed: Desire and Disobedience in the Digital Age, have all been met with widespread acclaim. Considering the breadth and depth of his work, it shouldn’t be a surprise that Harcourt’s fans—including students, fellow professors, and members of the larger community—completely filled the Maison Française East Gallery in Buell Hall on a Tuesday night in late February in celebration of the launch of Harcourt’s latest book, The Counterrevolution: How Our Government Went to War Against Its Own Citizens.

The book launch, which took the form of a somewhat informal panel discussion followed by a section during which Harcourt answered questions posed to him by audience members, was chaired by Seyla Benhabib, Eugene Meyer Professor of Political Science and Philosophy at Yale University. After introducing Harcourt, Professor Benhabib welcomed Professor Uday Singh Mehta, a Distinguished Professor at City University of New York and Harcourt’s interlocutor on the panel, to the stage. Harcourt first met Mehta, who specializes in the study of the intersection between liberalism and postcolonialism, while the former was an undergraduate student and the latter was a doctoral student at Princeton University, and the two political theorists have remained in close contact ever since. Once introductions wrapped up, Benhabib began to discuss Harcourt’s motivations for writing the book. In the post-9/11 era, we have witnessed the use of torture during the use of CIA detention and interrogation and the expansion of the drone warfare program abroad as well as the instatement and reinstatement of NSA warrantless wiretapping programs, the surveillance of Muslim-American communities by the New York City Police Department, and the militarization of police forces across the country at home. According to Benhabib, Harcourt argues that the tools that the government once reserved only for imperialist warfare are now being used for purposes of domestic repression. In other words, as Hannah Arendt once said, “the chickens have come home to roost.”

Read more about the discussion between Harcourt, Benhabib, and Mehta here

Feb

13

Written by

img February 13, 20187:30 pmimg 0 Comments

There is nothing that staff writer Jake Tibbetts loves more than cafeteria-style buffets, and there is nothing that he despises more than unreliable technology. Like any rational human being, Jake believes that the best way to address Columbia Dining’s failure to keep its online menus updated and accurate is to air his grievances online. He’s got a lot of problems with the Dine@CU app, and now you’re going to hear about it.

Expectation vs. Reality

For me, an unabashed carnivore who has pledged himself to #teamjohnjay, Meatless Mondays have never been easy. Regardless, I’ve always been willing to do whatever it takes to get by. Because I’m a stubborn man who refuses to accept the constraints that Big Veggie seeks to impose on college students, I often find myself strolling into enemy territory (i.e., Ferris Booth Commons) on Monday evenings in order to load up on something that at least somewhat resembles poultry. When I woke up on February 12th, 2018, I opened the Dine@CU application to see what was going to be served for dinner in Ferris, and I was genuinely excited by what I saw. I surprisingly couldn’t wait to stop at Ferris in between evening classes to dine on herbed chicken, plantains, sautéed kale, baked yams, and rice pilaf. When I arrived later that evening, though, I was confronted by a terrible sight. Fifty or sixty hungry Columbia students were standing in line to fill their plates, but there was neither any chicken nor any plantains nor any kale nor any yams in sight. Instead, the dinner station was occupied by trays full of pork Italian sausage with peppers, beef meatballs in marinara sauce, “cous cous” pilaf, spaghetti with parsley, and broccoli with olive oil and garlic. Disappointed, I rushed over to the soup station, hoping to find the split pea with ham soup that Dine@CU promised me. Once again, I discovered that I had been lied to: Ferris was serving a chili and a chowder, but the soup in question was not being offered.

If this were an isolated incident, I would take it in stride. Crying over one instance of missing soup is, after all, equivalent to crying over spilled milk. Sadly, however, the Dine@CU application is so ridden with incomplete and faulty information that I have come to expect to be disappointed every time I walk into a dining hall.

Read more about about food-related disappointment here

© 2006-2015 Blue and White Publishing Inc.