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# Optimizing The Soda Line: A Study

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November 25, 20155:04 pm 3 Comments

spoiler alert: everyone just drinks Coke

The Coke Freestyle machines in the dining halls are confusing. Ever since their latest UI change, getting something as simple as water is harder than ever. But even in the face of this harsh adversity, we can make it easier on our fellow students. What should you do after you get your drink? Should you leave the machine on your selection, or should you go back to the main menu? Maybe you should set it to the “all drinks” page instead? Or is sorting by flavor the one true system? In an effort to answer these pressing questions, we decided to investigate.

Doing his best Shamus Khan impression, a Bwog reporter stood nonchalantly against the wall in JJ’s place on a weeknight, recording the soda choices (and keystrokes to get there) of everyone who used the machine. Here are the basic statistical findings:

• During our sampling hours, water was not only the plurality but the majority of student drink choices. 55% of students chose to drink water, while 45% chose sodas, sparkling water, lemonade, and other assorted “non-waters.” Of those non-water selections, about 15% of them were mixes of two or more of the default flavors. 71% of non-mix, non-water selections were “basic” flavors (e.g. Coke instead of Cherry Coke).
• From the main menu, the mode number of keystrokes required for water was two, while non-waters were mostly three stroke events.
• The mean number of keystrokes for water was about 1.7. This is because students in line behind someone who got water did not have to make the full trek from the main menu. Some students, though, pressed for water even when the option for water was still selected from the previous person in line – an unnecessary but recorded keystroke.
• 22% of non-water selections did not select the “all drinks” menu, but instead the low-calorie, fruit-flavored, or caffeine free menus. While this helped them search and removed the possibility of having to go to the second page of the “all drinks” menu, it did not reduce the average number of keystrokes needed to get a drink.

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# What’s For Dinner: FLIP, Accessibility, And Leftovers

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April 24, 20151:30 pm 0 Comments

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.”

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# Baby Boringside: Ferris Tries To Get Better

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January 12, 201411:24 am 9 Comments

So different…and yet so familiar

Ferris has made some upgrades over break and they are literally life-changing. No, not the staircase. They’ve given us some swanky new tables and room to breathe by adding new bar areas. So now, on your way to get more triangle hash browns, you’ll only crash into four people and knock over two bags.

The downside? If you go to Ferris during peak hours, you’ll probably have to sit next to your friends in a long line at the bar. Have fun playing telephone if your group is more than three people!

So, to recap, here’s a list of things you can do in the new Ferris:

• Pass people without one or both of you dropping your food (but still not on the staircase…)
• Struggle to ever find a seat at an actual table
• Sit at the bar area and really freak out watch the people on the ramps
• Brush up on your telephone skills

# Sep

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September 23, 20139:00 pm 3 Comments

In our continuing coverage of Columbia’s sheen fading, Resident Artist Lauren Beltrone shows us the various paths to being totally over the dining halls:

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# In Defense Of: The Ferris Staircase

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September 19, 20134:42 pm 6 Comments

You have to go deeper…into the abyss

To start up our In Defense Ofs this semester, Staircase Snob Alexandra Svokos decided to tackle one of the most universally abhorred features of Morningside Heights: the Ferris Booth Staircase.

Walking down College Walk this morning, I overheard two girls complaining that the university does not provide any space for students to actually interact with each other and meet new people.  To that I say: but what about the Ferris staircase?!  This glorious installment in our fine dining hall provides a perfect opportunity to introduce yourself and become quickly intimate, without the need for some social lubrication.

In fact, the staircase thrusts the sort of immediate intimacy one only  sees on a crowded subway train.  Suddenly, this stranger, walking up as you’re walking down, has to slide past your body in an acrobatic shimmy, giving you that physical interaction you’ve been craving since Saturday night.  You become connected in this moment, both after a common goal: to not flip that bowl of milk onto the unlucky table directly below the staircase.

Let’s talk practically about the staircase.  Spiral staircases take up less space than traditional ones.  A traditional staircase in Ferris would cut down on the amount of tables that can fit in the space, and they’re already cramped and crowded now.  Moreover, Ferris is in Lerner, meaning that we couldn’t just throw a regular old staircase in.  Can you imagine if there were a shitty ramp shoved into Ferris Booth?  Nuh-uh, not OK.  Spiral staircases are also aesthetically pleasing, which is something we all undervalue in this world.

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# N*ggas in Ferris

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January 29, 20127:33 pm 88 Comments

For your Sunday night viewing pleasure, enjoy this politically correctly titled video starring our very own Ferris made by some of our own esteemed colleagues! It’s good.

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# Lerner: It Glitters!

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In case you haven’t dined at Ferris or needed an Add/Drop form yet, you might not have seen Lerner 4 & 5’s newest look:

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# Things You Should Pretend You Already Knew

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The basement of the West End. Photo via Wikimedia

Sometimes, fresh-people, in a seminar, or at a party, someone will reference something that used to exist and doesn’t anymore, and you will have to nod your head or laugh knowingly. Ah yes, Morningside is like, so gentrified, you will say.

We asked alumni of The Blue and White and Bwog for places, events, and trends that once were and are no longer. Here’s your leg up.

• When at least some people on campus wore fleeces and baggy-ish jeans
• JJ’s at 4 AM (now open until 2 AM, was a bar when your dad went here)
• McIntosh Hall and the old WBAR studio in it
• Flashing, not swiping, your CUID to get into Butler
• A respectable 1020 (was once an upperclassmen bar before the West End became Havana, now your first NSOP stop)
• Shit in the McBain showers
• Arson in the McBain shaft
• Using AIM
• AmCaf
• The Village Pourhouse used to be Mona, a bar that was better than the Village Pourhouse. Before Mona, there was SoHa. Girls used to dance on the bar. “There would be massive drunken dancing,” one alum whispered over GChat, “and then you’d just start making out with random decent-looking girls.”
• CoBag (Columbia Bagels, open 24/7. Bwog editors coined the ‘Morningside Heights Happy Meal’: a 40 and bagel at 3 AM)
• “I once saw a rat in Ferris”
• The West End basement when Lil’ Jon was popular (fabled Columbia hangout of everyone, ever, including Obama and Jack Kerouac, with fantastic burgers and lots of beer pong)
• Creepy Wein doors that had horizontal slats at the top (for oxygen, we believe)
• The yearly letter Foner would write to Spec explaining that he is not a Gyllenhaal
• The old Westside
• Good Spec reporting (MEALAC!)
• Vampire Weekend performing at ADP and St. A’s
• CUCommunity (offered a share in Facebook, but they turned it down. Bummer!)
• Manhattanville protests
• 40’s on 40 without the playpen and drink tickets

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