Oct

19

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On October 13, President Donald Trump announced that he would decertify the Iran nuclear agreement. What exactly does this mean for global politics and energy policy? Staff writer Zöe Sottile trekked to the School of International and Public Affairs to find out.

Foreign affairs leaders announcing the framework for the Iran nuclear agreement in 2015.

This Wednesday morning, three top global policy experts took their seats on the 15th floor of SIPA to engage in a lively discussion called “Decertifying the Iran Nuclear Deal: What Does It Mean?” Jason Bordoff, moderator and founding director of the Center on Global Energy Policy, introduced the panelists: Richard Nephew, former Principal Deputy Coordinator for Sanctions Policy at the Department of State, who helped design the current U.S. sanctions against Iran; Avril Haines, former White House Deputy National Security Advisor, and former Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency for the Obama Administration, and Helima Croft, Head of Commodity Strategy at ‎RBC Capital Markets. I was clearly the youngest person there and also the only one wearing jean shorts, which made for a great start to the morning.

The panel began with a discussion of what exactly Trump’s decision means. Richard Nephew explained that the Iran nuclear deal is an international agreement designed to limit Iran’s nuclear programs by providing sanctions relief, with specific legislative frameworks for its implementation signed by each involved country. Essentially, the U.S. agrees not to sanction Iran, and Iran agrees not to build nuclear weapons. Every ninety days, the president is required to certify both that Iran is complying with its obligations and that the deal is in America’s national security interests. While no one disputes that Iran is complying with its obligations, Trump has started trouble by claiming the deal isn’t good enough for the U.S. In particular, according to Nephew, the Trump administration claims that the deal isn’t long-acting enough and that it doesn’t address non-nuclear issues. Trump wants to impose sanctions again on Iran – a quest Nephew called foolish because “the nuclear deal explicitly allows the U.S. to use sanctions in nonnuclear ways.”

So if we withdraw from our agreements with Iran, what do we do then? Avril Haines pointed out that the next step of action lies with the majority or minority leader of Congress, who can introduce legislation in the next sixty days that would be subject to an easier, expedited legal process. Most experts agree, though, that the U.S. would have to reimpose all of the old sanctions to receive this expedited process – in other words, sanctions against Iran are all or nothing. Moreover, the U.S. government, has the option to reach out to the United Nations and trigger a process that would reenact the sanctions the UN held before the agreement. This would put pressure on other countries to sanction Iran in ways inconsistent with the existing agreement.

Nephew built on Haines’s thoughts, adding that U.S. sanction law is extraordinarily complex. It has many different sources of authority, ranging from national emergency to specific statutes. There are many sanctions against Iran, but also many waivers making those sanctions temporarily void that the president has to recertify every 120 days. So even if Trump comes out with a clear decision about snapping back the old nuclear sanctions, it’s unclear what he’ll do about the current waivers.

One of the key comments of the talk came from Haines, who pointed out that the objective of the nuclear deal in the first place was to make it harder for Iran to develop nuclear weapons. Whereas before the deal, the nation was only a few months away from having nuclear weapons at any moment, now it would take at least a year. In other words, the deal has worked so far. Haines also commented that much of the rhetoric around withdrawing from the agreement involves claiming that the U.S. can’t trust Iran. Haines pointed out that it’s because we don’t trust them that we have to make a deal with them to keep their nuclear weapons in check.

Helima Croft, finally, addressed the impact of these nuclear negotiations on the energy market. She said that Trump’s decision has injected a “political premium” into the oil market. The price of oil, she predicts, will rise by a few dollars and the price floor will solidify out of fear that Iranian exports may be reduced.

Nephew closed the discussion by connecting this specific decision to the larger Trump administration. He described the current government as having a “strong regime-change focus”, leading them to make drastic changes like decertifying the nuclear deal. On the other hand, he claimed that the administration doesn’t have enough staff to manage imminent crises, so they’re forced to deal with them on a situational basis. Faced with the mass of different policy crises sparked by decertification, Nephew imagines that Trump will likely sign on to a deal quite similar to the original nuclear agreement – leaving us where we started in the first place.

The panel was recorded and should be available online in a few days.

Photo via Flickr / U.S. Department of State.

Oct

19

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Are these the very “pinwheels” that were served in John Jay?

If you were to read the January 27, 2013 brunch menu for John Jay Dining Hall, you would find that the dishes served were not all that different from the cuisine provided by John Jay today. January 27’s menu offered the familiar John Jay plain pancakes, the made-to-order omelette line, the obligatory dishes of beans and a fancy grain you’ve never heard of before coming to college (in this case, couscous), and…pizza?

Yes, John Jay once had pizza. While the selection might not have quite been the Ferris array, this particular day had cheese pizza, broccoli pizza, and “pinwheels.” According to other historical menus courtesy of CU Dining, other varieties included BBQ chicken pizza, mushroom pizza, mushroom jalapeno pizza, and vegan cauliflower pizza.

Further research concluded that reviews of said pizza were mixed. While one Yelp Reviewer called the dish “palatable,” the Columbia Lion described this John Jay staple as “a crime.” Out4lunch.tumblr.com said: “The pizza often has a soggy crust and is literally dripping in oil. I usually have to dab it with napkins so I don’t feel like I’m going to go into cardiac arrest after finishing a slice.”

Regardless, John Jay would later discard the pizza station; in October of 2013, Student-Worker Solidarity gathered a petition with 1100 signatures demanding lower temperature working conditions at John Jay dining hall. Despite worker requests, the administration reportedly refused to install air conditioning units in the kitchen, which reached temperatures up to 110 degrees Fahrenheit. This issue set off a series of events in an administrative search for solutions, both long-term and short-term.

The first major culprit that the administration recognized was the pizza ovens – because they provided a major source of heat in the kitchen, Columbia Dining at first moved pizza baking downstairs. On October 9, 2013, the administration decided to get rid of the John Jay pizza altogether.

Thus, the community saw the end of an era – a mysterious, greasy, overheated era completely unbeknownst to current students. And with this end, Columbia ushered in a new era, one of better working conditions and sushi rolls, composed of pairings both simple (cucumber and avocado) and strange (celery and pear). But what can we compare it to? It’s the reality we know.

Little Wheels of Dough via Pixabay

Oct

19

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With Family Weekend beginning tomorrow for Barnard students, you may find yourself wondering if there’s a playlist out there that can transition from a much-needed Bed, Bath and Beyond excursion with your parents to your average weekend debauchery. Luckily, Bwog has you covered! Check out the list of songs below.

Your mom will definitely be posting this exact picture on Facebook this weekend.

  1. Uber Everywhere by MadeinTYO: This is a classic pregame anthem that, for the weekend, could become your reality because your mom probably thinks the subway is dirty and dangerous.
  2. Little Lies by Fleetwood Mac: It’s not actually hurting anyone when you tell your parents that you haven’t really been letting the Columbia stress culture get to you, that you’ve been washing your bedsheets twice a month, or when you assure them that you have been eating regularly and healthily.
  3. Working for the Weekend by Loverboy: This is what your parents are convinced you’ve been dedicating your time to in the days leading up to their arrival, blissfully unaware of the impending terror that will set in on Sunday night when you’re met with the responsibilities you’ve been putting off in favor of brunches and sightseeing.
  4. Breakfast in America by Supertramp: “It’s been some time since we last spoke, and this is gonna sound like a bad joke, but mama, I fell in love again…” It’s still too soon to determine if that hookup from NSOP is ever going to develop into a real relationship, which is a shame because you probably won’t have another opportunity to introduce your parents anytime soon. But that won’t keep you from telling your mom about it if she asks about your love life, in hopes that it will alleviate her fears of never having grandchildren.
  5. Let’s Groove by Earth, Wind, and Fire: Putting this one on the playlist almost feels like cheating. Earth, Wind and Fire is one of the few musical acts that somehow manage to completely transcend generation and are guaranteed to both get the party started and put a smile on your dad’s face and make him think that maybe your generation isn’t a lost cause, after all. 
  6. So Fresh, So Clean by Outkast: This is how it feels after you convince your parents to let you use their hotel room’s bathroom and you finally remember what it feels like to shower without shoes on. This song is exactly four minutes long, so it should only take about seven plays to last the duration of your shower.
  7. Should I Stay or Should I Go by The Clash: Embodies the dilemma you’ll face when you receive that “Come to Mel’s” text just as your parents are asking if you want to go to one last dinner with them before their flight leaves tomorrow morning. You should choose your parents, if for no other reason than you never appreciate the free dinners you have until they’re gone.
  8. Miss Independent by Ne-Yo: For anyone whose family isn’t from a city like New York, they will no doubt be impressed at your ability to navigate the entire ten-block radius around campus. The illusion that you are, in fact, fully independent might bring your mom to tears, but the weekend will also be a sobering reminder that you may never stop relying on your parents for some things, like the Chobani Flips you’ve been depriving yourself of for weeks because you can’t justify buying them yourself.

Photo via Barnard First-Year Blog.

Oct

19

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Intoxication for a general requirement we’d rather not fulfill isn’t something foreign to Bwog staff. Last night, one Bwoggie channeled her inner Jenny Slate and got high as the stars for her Astronomy lab.

It all started when someone recommended that I watched Jenny Slate talking with Seth Meyers about going to her astronomy lab at Columbia stoned. Yes, a true valedictorian. I thought it would be a great way for me to honor Jenny Slate, and might possibly set me on the path to becoming Jenny Slate herself.

So, the other night, before my astronomy lab accompanying my astronomy class that I’m only taking to fulfill my science requirement, I smoked a bowl. It hit me right before class started, and even though I only took two hits so that I wouldn’t be too zoned out, I stayed high for the entire 3-hour lab.

High enough to confuse astronomy with…you know.

I rushed over to my class building, worried I would be late. I arrived a full 10 minutes early, but then spent 7 minutes of my extra time in the bathroom washing my hands because, according to the notes I was taking, “the water felt so good.” I walked into class two minutes before it started and found myself the only one in the room with the TA, thus having to make conversation until everyone else arrived. “A lot of this is just going to be shutting the fuck up so I don’t say anything stupid, I thought to myself.” –Direct quote from my notes, third person reference to myself and all.

Only minutes in, I realized something important: I was hungrier than I had ever been in my entire life. I only had coffee with me, so I spent most of the rest of the time fantasizing about what I was going to eat at JJ’s after getting out of there. “Umm wish I had food,” I wrote in my notes.

(more…)

Oct

19

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Don’t do them in pen.

We know, it seems like they’ve been going on for weeks, and they’ll go on for weeks after this. However, today is officially designated as midterm date by Columbia’s registrar and academic calendar. This means you can no longer ignore them, but you can add them to your list of things to procrastinate. (Or you could be, you know, a good student and study. There’s always that option.)

Whatever your midterm season shapes up to be, good luck!

Oct

19

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Happening Around The World: Egypt’s government has heightened its crackdown on LGBTQ+ individuals, ordering café raids in Cairo and tracking dating apps to arrest those it finds deviant. More than 60 people have been arrested in the last month. The intensified scrutiny comes after a widely publicized incident in which rainbow flags were waved at a rock concert in the capitol. (Washington Post)

Yeah, we don’t like to make phone calls either, but we’re not the POTUS.

Happening In The US: For someone who’s always on his phone, you wouldn’t think President Trump would find it hard to make a call. After waiting nearly twelve days to call the widow of Sgt. La David Johnson, who was killed in action in Niger, Trump reportedly told Myeshia Johnson that her husband “knew what he signed up for”. Yikes. (The Guardian)

Happening In NYC: Saw the city lit up in orange and thought we were getting ~spooky~ for Halloween? You thought wrong: It’s DeBlasio showing his “desperation” for Amazon to put their new headquarters. Today’s the last day for cities to submit proposals, so here’s hoping we have something better to show Bezos than fancy lights. (Gothamist)

Happening At Columbia: ‘Tis the season…for srat charity events! Following Delta Gamma’s Anchor Splash and Alpha Chi Omega’s Runway Warriors is Alpha Omicron Pi’s AOKaraoke! According to AOII, it’s a “bracket-style competition in which fraternities and sororities sing karaoke songs on-stage and compete for a grand prize, with all tickets proceeds from the event going to our national philanthropy, the Arthritis Foundation.” Check it out tonight in Roone Auditorium at 7.

Overheard: “I’m not a Democrat.” *audible gasps*

Oct

18

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Students of Columbia who walked in on Suzanne Goldberg’s class earlier this month to protest received a disciplinary email Monday from a member of the faculty named Melissa Begg. In the email, the students were told they must attend a meeting with Ms. Begg in her role as “temporary rules administrator.” Students are under threat of a possible “simple” rules violation, which could entail punishments such as public reprimand.

The students who received this email are requesting that the allegations “be immediately dismissed and expunged” on the grounds that the statute of limitations for disciplining them for a Rules of Conduct violation, which is 5 days, has passed. In a response to the email they received, one student called initiating an investigation after the statute of limitations has passed “a clear violation of Columbia’s policies” and said that to do so “deprives [the students] of our right to a prompt investigation within the time frame Columbia provides.”

The administration is arguing that they are allowed to go beyond the statute of limitations due to Professor and EVP Goldberg’s conflict of interest: as the University Rules of Conduct Administrator for Columbia, she would normally be the person to begin investigations regarding possible rules violations. However, because she is also Executive Vice President of University Life, under which she handles Title IX-related claims, and because it was her class that the protest occurred in, the administration is arguing that the statute of limitations does not apply because they needed extra time to find an alternate administrator to send the disciplinary email. Despite the fact that the administration themselves failed to address this conflict previously by hiring someone new for one of the positions, it seems they will continue to make this argument.

Details, context, what’s next

Oct

18

Secret spaces

At Columbia, we often fall quickly into niche identities. Econ kids rarely mix with the Film majors, and so often we have no idea where people from different departments hang out. Staff Writer Gabrielle Kloppers investigates the locations you’ll only know about if you’re in the major.

I often wonder where people from the more niche majors hang out, far from the monotony of Butler or the crowded insides of Joe Café. Some of these unique places simply aren’t available to us normies; but, here are the secret department-specific locations you hardly knew about.

The Stronach Center (Art History)
Surprisingly enough, on the 8th floor of Schermerhorn Hall is the Stronach Center for Art History. We are all jealous of that fragment of classical sculpture and beautiful wall of books. The Stronach Center was renovated in 2009 and is now an extremely beautiful place to gather informally or study. It’s only really used by Art History graduate students so if you want someone who can tell you all about Vorticism, this is where to find them. We wish we could use their computer lab and Media Center, but alas…

The Bone Lab (Anthropology)
The Bone Lab is home to many fragments of bone and other relics. It isn’t a place for the squeamish, and is only open to those with special access through the Anthropology department, but if you have a passion for bones, this is the place to go. The Bone Lab is also located in Schermerhorn, where all the cool kids are, apparently.

Knox Hall (MESAAS)
Knox Hall is open to people other than MESAAS majors, but most people don’t even realize it exists. The courtyard here is extremely beautiful and a great place to study away from the crowds on the Steps.

More cool places after the break!

Oct

18

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Sara Ahmed and Prof. Tina Campt sit to discuss institutions with the audience after Ahmed’s presentation.

What is the role of diversity in large institutions? How does diversity work mold and change an institution? Staff writer, Ramisa Murshed, attended Sara Ahmed’s lecture on how “social justice projects require making usage into crisis” to find out.

As the Diana Event Oval filled up on Monday night with people eager to listen to Sara Ahmed’s lecture titled “The Institutional as Usual: Diversity Work as Data Collection,” Tina Campt, Director of the Barnard Center for Research on Women, welcomed the audience and introduced Ahmed, a feminist scholar who, in Campt’s words, “modeled and reshaped what it means to be a feminist activist of color.”.

Ahmed then took the podium and joked about her cold, saying that she hoped that her voice would be able to last through the evening. She then began to define the “institutional as usual,” providing the audience with an anecdote of a diversity worker’s experience with the institution: the diversity worker enters a room to find it occupied by several white males, sharing their memories of breakfast at the University of Cambridge. When the diversity worker, a woman of color, entered the room, the occupants of the room just kept talking to each other as if she was not there. The diversity worker, recalling the event, said to Ahmed, “I realized how far away they were from my world.” Ahmed used this experience to introduce the purpose of her lecture, to think about diversity and universities through use.

More details on the event below!

Oct

18

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Grass rolls!

Rolls of what seems to be grass were spotted outside of the patch of dirt that we once called South Lawn. The project is projected to be completed today. A special shoutout to Facilities for reaching out to us; we love you! The students shan’t revolt.

*soft, sustained, stressed, depressed, mildly excited screams*

MoHi farmscape via Youngweon Lee

Oct

18

Apps = appetisers

As ‘Internship Season’ approaches and we see more and more of our classmates attending banking information sessions, decked out in penguin suits, the higher our anxiety over our own futures gets. Staff Writer Gabrielle Kloppers investigates the phenomenon known as the “cover letter.”

At first, the cover letter seems exciting, especially if you’ve found a great opportunity in a field that you’d really like to work in. What is more likely is that you are writing this letter to a mid-level HR manager in a finance/consulting firm, a field which you, in troth, care nothing for. Yet, they’re the only ones hiring. There comes your first grief in the cover-letter writing process; authenticity. Where do you find authenticity? And how do you fake it so someone will hire you? You dig deep into your wellsprings of enthusiasm, but there just seems to be… nothing there. Perhaps it’s the extra shot of vodka you took at Homecoming yesterday, perhaps it’s the fact that you have three midterms next week and this letter seems really trivial compared to Calculus III, but you’re finding it really difficult to talk about your … passion for stocks and bonds.

The next stage of grief comes over formatting. Sure, you could use one of the hundreds of cover-letter formats that are available on Google, but that just seems really impersonal. Besides, if it’s the top Google search, wouldn’t every applicant use that one? Shit. You’re lost. You don’t even know what the purpose of a Cover Letter is, so how are you supposed to know how to format one? Why does that seven page paper about Wordsworth now seem so extremely tempting? Anything but this. Solution to this stage of grief: just get a template from your most successful friend. You know the one, they had an internship the summer before freshman year and enjoy talking about the latest articles in the Economist. Yeah, they didn’t use the top search on Google. Luckily for you, they slogged through the hard miles for you. Don’t be afraid to take advantage of their labour.

Finally, the worry is: what actually do you have to show them? Why should they hire you, above all the other surely dazzling applicants? Honestly, nobody ever knows. How do you really show off what you learnt at that internship last summer, save an incredible knowledge of Excel Spreadsheets? Bwog advice would be: just be honest about it, and tell them that you learnt about Spreadsheets. Sometimes, the basic skills are all that are needed. Besides, you’ll probably just be printing, copying and filing papers anyway!

Awk hand model via Pixabay

Oct

18

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it’s that time of the year again!

Happy Wednesday! Bwog’s GSSC Bureau Chief, Alex Tang, is back with updates from yesterday’s meeting. This week, GSSC specifically acknowledged the fact that we’re all in the midst of midterms season. In the words of GS VP of Policy Raisa Flor, “remember to take care of yourselves during midterms week. Eat, drink, get enough sleep, and don’t be too hard on yourself.”

Today is Columbia’s annual Giving Day! The bulk of the General Studies meeting was focused on publicizing Giving Day and the various events that are happening on and off campus. Prizes (such as Flex points) will be given away throughout the day for specific challenges. Here are some ways GS students can enter to win prizes today:

  • Post a photo of yourself and/or your pet in Columbia blue. Use #ColumbiaGivingDay and be sure to call out GS. The winner will be posted by CAA on Twitter/Facebook when announced.
  • Show us the next generation of Columbians – Post a photo of your baby or child (nieces, nephews, grandkids, or friends are fine too!) wearing Columbia gear. Use #ColumbiaGivingDay and be sure to call out GS.
  • Send a Snapchat to @columbiagiving calling out GS. The winner will be posted by CAA on Twitter/Facebook when announced.

Furthermore, the Giving Day Celebration, hosted by GS, is taking place today between 5:30-7:30pm at the Penn/Columbia Club on 44th Street, between 6th and 7th Avenues. Get your tickets here, and show up to meet fellow alumni and students and to grab some free refreshments.

GSSC President Sam Demezieux started the meeting by reviewing the purpose of Giving Day, characterizing it as an “opportunity for the Columbia community to come together in friendly competition” to see “who can raise the most funds for student initiatives.” Demezieux went on to state that a significant part of the funds raised by GS on Giving Day would go towards student scholarships, a large priority for the school. The president encouraged alumni and friends of GS to donate, while at the same time stating that students are not explicitly expected to donate.

Read the other talking points from yesterday’s meeting here

Oct

18

Once a Tunnock teacake exploded on a V bomber

Happening Around The World: Terry was launched into space! Terry, a chocolate Tunnock’s teacake from Glasgow, was sent into the Earth’s atmosphere at a peak altitude of 37,007 metres. Terry launched into the atmosphere, glided over the Earth’s curvature, and landed back in a tree in Galloway Forest Park. Terry is made of marshmallow and chocolate. Don’t worry, you can still watch the two hour expedition on Facebook. (Sky)

Happening In The US: Bigfoot has been spotted once again at a lake in Northern California by self-proclaimed paranormal expert, Jeffrey Gonzalez. Bigfoot sightings are not uncommon in Northern California, as there have been at least three more sightings in the past five years. In one particular orchard in East Fresno County, two young men have claimed to have seen Bigfoot and another man claimed to have see five creatures. Gonzalez asked what’s on all our minds: Is this for real? (Fox)

Happening In NYC: A loose bull was running around Prospect Park in Brooklyn, New York until recaptured by animal officers. After being seen running about near 17th street in South Slope and injuring a child in a stroller, the bull made its way to Prospect Park. Animal officers were ultimately able to tranquillise and recapture the animal. It is still unclear where the bull ran away from. (ABC)

Happening On Campus: The CU Asian-American Alliance (Triple-A) and YELLOW JACKETS have come together to present, “Unpacking Lunchbox Politics“, a panel discussion on media representation, East Asian privilege, and “how we must challenge ourselves and our peers in crossing the threshold from talking to taking action”. The event is happening tonight from 8:00 to 9:30 pm at Lerner 569 and is open to everyone.

Bop Of The Day: Man’s Not Hot (Big Shaq Diss) by Shaquille O’Neal & ShaqIsDope

Teacakes via Twid

Oct

17

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Dark wings, dark words.

Each week, rain or shine, healthy or sick, snow or drought, ESC Bureau Chief Finn Klauber reports on Engineer Student Council’s activities. For the first time in multiple weeks, ESC actually had an open discussion section—and, boy, was it a doozy. 

As most people at Columbia are aware, Lerner Hall experienced a number of protests last Tuesday night due to the speech of the infamous Tommy Robinson, co-founder and previous leader of the English Defence League. While Columbia reiterated its policies that peaceful protest is entirely within the realm of acceptable behaviour, the administration also accosted protesters physically disrupting the event, collecting UNIs and serving the offending students with notices of rules violations. In the wake of the protest and drama surrounding Robinson’s speech, ESC internally wrote, voted upon, and approved their own official statement regarding the various incidents. However, as VP Policy Zoha Qamar recalled before opening this week’s discussion topic, VP Student Life Ben Barton—among others—privately told VP Qamar that he had issues with the statement. As a result, VP Qamar scrapped the entire official statement until after ESC could discuss the various incidents as a general body.

Both VP Barton and 2019 Representative Asher Goldfinger described how the discarded ESC statement lacked any significance or meaning. Specifically, Goldfinger claimed that the “main part of the statement is something that was in our constitution,” and that any ESC statement “should be something new and meaningful.” Barton, on a slightly different note, criticized the discarded statement on grounds that “it’s totally fine to take stances on an issue.” Barton advocated that “all future statements from ESC should be more divisive,” and that such statements “shouldn’t be non-partisan.” In response, VP Qamar attempted to address how these issues were actually raised in the process of writing and approving the original drafted statement—namely, that “you should publicly disagree if you want to disagree.” VP Barton answered that “maybe people didn’t want to themselves to seem to disagree with the language” of the statement, essentially claiming that nobody would stand out alone and disagree with the apparently milquetoast statement for fear of being identified as supporting or condemning the statement’s diction.

What does the class of 2019 say?

Oct

17

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Sometimes, life brings you lemons, and sometimes life brings you the 12:00 to 4:00 pm shift at Public Safety in East Campus during Homecoming. This unlucky Bwogger watched Columbia get rowdy from the other side of the security desk. Here are some highlights. 

Rare shot of a CUPS work-study student?

More trials and tribulations of a busy night in EC after the jump

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