CCSC Does Constitutional Review
The constitution of our student council is CCSCC... it's as backwards as the council itself!

The constitution of our student council is CCSCC…it’s as backwards as the council itself!

Curious what CCSC’s been up to?  If you’re actually reading this, looks like it’s true!  This week everything is about the constitution so get your American flags and Columbia hats because CCSC correspondent Joe Milholland’s taking us along for the ride.

President Daphne Chen was “not in town this weekend” according to VP of Policy Bob Sun, who presided over the April 27 CCSC Meeting, where the council discussed constitutional review and learned new information about Housing’s key assist policy.

Constitutional Changes

Financial Reporting: The council will now release two financial reports every year—one in the fall with their financial plans for the upcoming semester and a review of what happened in the spring semester of the last academic year, and one in the spring with a review of the fall semester and plans for the upcoming spring semester. The council passed this change to their constitution without opposition.

Committee Memberships: The council debated whether they should require class councils to have members on all 4 committees or instead require each class council member to serve on at least one committee. The debate between these two options went on for some time, with arguments that committees need representation from all classes and counterarguments that council members who do not want to serve on a committee would drag down the work of the committee. After the debate had continued for several minutes with an unsuccessful straw poll (council members voted for both options), a Class of 2014 class representative said “We’re all being immature” and “we need to try to stop hijacking this conversation.” Eventually, a requirement for class council members to sit on at least one committee was passed without opposition.

VP of Class Councils Having Treasurer Duties: Since the only current distinction between a VP of a class council and a representative is that the VP will take over if the president resigns, the council passed a requirement for the VP to take on a treasurer duties. However, this will not take affect until the 2015-2016 academic year.

Read on for the other three changes.

Columbia to Provide Gender Neutral Bathrooms in Lerner and Dorms
OMA/GendeRev map of gender neutral restrooms on campus

OMA/GendeRev map of gender neutral restrooms on campus

Update (3/27): Full list of buildings with gender neutral bathrooms under the jump.

Assuming there are no major complications, Columbia plans to add gender neutral bathrooms to its list of summer renovations for Lerner Hall and more. This comes as a result of collaborations between student group GendeRevolution, various members of student government (including University Senator Marc Heinrich, CC ’16, and CCSC VP of Communications Peter Bailinson ’16), and the Lerner Hall administration.

These conversations were sparked in part by results from last year’s Quality of Life Survey, where many self-identified trans students expressed dissatisfaction with various aspects of campus life. Many trans Columbia students find it difficult to feel safe or comfortable in traditionally gendered restrooms–Bwog’s own Features Editor Alexander Pines wrote, “the first time I used the men’s restroom on the fifth floor of Lerner I was literally scared shitless when a janitor walked in” to describe his experiences for The Blue and White.

Over the summer in Lerner Hall, the fourth floor restrooms will be converted to a layout similar to Mel’s while gendered bathrooms will remain on the basement, first, second, third, and fifth floors. All future renovations in residence halls will convert the multi-stall restrooms into several single-use private rooms. Some dorms already have these in place–the fifth and sixth floors of Harmony, for example, have a gender neutral restroom in addition to the gendered hall bathrooms. Over this summer, McBain 7 and 8 will receive gender neutral, single-use bathrooms (it has them on 2 already), as will John Jay 12-15. Check out this map, courtesy of GendeRev, for more gender neutral locations on campus–keep in mind that the map is a couple of years old, though.

This comes a year after Barnard changed their restrooms to gender neutral (by changing the signage) and incoming first years will be able to specify on their Housing application that they would prefer to live in a dorm/on a hall with gender neutral bathrooms.

Here’s a list of all buildings/halls with gender neutral bathrooms.

Housing: So Many Questions, So Many Answers

We know that rising sophomores everyone needs a little help with housing.  The system is confusing and it’s unclear who you ought to talk to if you have specific questions about how to get things done.  Thankfully Bwog is full of housing curiosity and we’ve been working hard over the last few weeks to compile a list of questions that will suit(e) your needs!  On top of that, feel free to look back over our 2014 housing reviews and also check out the housing website, where much all of this article’s information was found.  If you have any more questions you’d like answered, feel free to email us at housing@bwog.com. Take note: below, sophomores means rising sophomores, and the like.

Who lives where, from Columbia Housing
Dorm occupancy by class: find your buddies!

Can juniors go in as a group of four and pick doubles next to each other in, say, Watt? What about singles in suites?

No, that’s an option only for sophomores, who can do “sophomore split” and break their group down into pairs to pick individual doubles.  Juniors and Seniors must either go in separately or pick into a suite with the exact number of people there are in the group.  Similarly, you can’t pick into a single room within a suite.

Wait, what’s “sophomore split?”

Basically, as a sophomore you go in with a group but every group should consist of several pairs.  If you can’t get a suite (which you can’t because sophomore housing is ass and almost everything is corridor style), then you split up into pairs and, if your number’s good enough, you can pick into adjacent doubles.  We really hope all sophomores registered in even numbered groups, unless you’re trying for a 7-person Claremont suite.

But what about junior/senior “regroup!?”

Since juniors and seniors must pick into suites that are appropriate to their group size, students are sometimes unable to pick into suites that are the right size because they’ve all been taken up.  In that case, after room selection is completed, students are allowed to form new groups with whoever else is in their point value (20 or 30, no mixed groups) and get a new lottery number to pick from the remaining suites.

the other questions are important as well, read them!

WTF Columbia: Ving Theft Edition
Bwog recommends sticking it to the man

Bwog recommends sticking it to the man

Columbia has fucked us all over at some point. The saga continues.

This morning several occupants of a John Jay floor had something rather unfortunate and very annoying occur: Columbia nabbed all of the Ving cards that had been left in residents’ doors. A couple of folks got locked out of their rooms while others were late for lunch meetings and had to delay long-overdue showers.

For those of you who haven’t been here long or haven’t lived in John Jay or McBain, Ving cards are these weirdly long plastic cards with holes in them, about the thickness of a Starbucks card, that are used as keys to enter rooms. It is perhaps a habit of both laziness and convenience that students can leave their Ving cards in their doors and have it accessible to visitors and in a place where they won’t forget it.

Apparently, however, students are unsafe with their doors open, as per the housing policy that requires students to keep their doors locked “when they exit.” Residents are so unsafe, in fact, that Facilities took their keys “for their own good.” One student reports hearing this from the desk dude at Hartley Hospitality as he “begrudgingly” requested his key from him. When asked why students weren’t warned or told where their keys were, the desk dude simply said, “that’s how it would be if someone took your key!” One student tells Bwog that had it not been for the fact that his neighbor had also lost his key, “we would have had no idea what had happened.” Notably, students hadn’t exited their rooms per the updated requirement; at least some were still sleeping there.

Now, we’re not saying that it’s necessarily the most responsible thing to leave your key in your door, but we imagine that it was not so fun being taught a lesson the way Facilities attempted to do with this group of first-years. WTF Columbia for not thinking that saying something to them would have been enough, and WTF Columbia for making this such a thing when access to the dorms is already tightly regulated by security guards.

Apply to Form Your Own SIC
This is River right?

This is River right?

Columbia is now accepting applications for students to form a new Special Interest Community house.  So if you’re feeling premature in your panic about housing and have a Columbia-recognized student group you think would be perfect to fill the 1st floor of River (1 double and 7 singles),  you should check out the online application. Applications are available starting tomorrow and are due a week later by 12 pm. Seriously, what other SIC has that ratio of doubles to singles?!

All CC/SEAS students who are “upper-class and full time” and interested should really start scrounging together preparing their applications.  Each group needs a Recruitment Coordinator and all members of the group must be involved in Recruitment (whatever that means).  After interviews in mid-February, groups will be notified by the selection committee on February 21.

Quaint rustic dorm via Shutterstock

Special Interest Communities Applications Are Open
This is basically where you get to live.

This is basically where you get to live.

Do you have a special interest? Do you eat, breathe, and sleep in your special interest? Would you like to share a living space with people who also share that special interest? Or maybe you just want to figure out your housing stuff really early?

Well, here’s your chance! Special Interest Community applications are up, and they’re due on January 26.

For more information, check out this website.

We all wish via Shutterstock

Wallach Residents Are All Fired Up

Don’t forget to add one of these to your college shopping list, class of 2018.

On September 28th we received a tip from a heated Wallach resident who had been on the 9th floor of Wallach when a fire alarm didn’t sound. Now, we know that sounds like great news. Fire alarms go off on this campus so often that a solid few days without an alarm is kind of like a gift from the CU gods. But on the fateful night described by our tipster, fire alarms were going off in every part of Wallach except floor nine. Meaning that there could have been a fire engulfing Wallach while the entire 9th floor casually played Cards Against Humanity and sat around looking like this.

Things heat up after the jump

BREAKING: ZBT Loses Its House
The brothers of ZBT, in March of 2013

The brothers of ZBT, in March of 2013

Zeta Beta Tau has lost its brownstone over what we hear was a party violation. ZBT, the baseball fraternity, was on thin ice after last semester’s still unspecified hazing incident, and would have lost its charter then had KevSho not intervened and reversed the Greek Judicial Board’s recommendation, so long as they adhered to a zero-strike (heh) policy.

And today, an incoming transfer student received a housing assignment  in 627 W 115th St—the former ZBT house. (You will recall that after Operation Ivy League, the former AEPi, Pike, and PsiU houses were used as transfer housing for a year.)

We’re reaching out to the powers that be, and ZBT, for comment. If you know anything, sound the horn at tips@bwog.com.

ZBT brothers via columbiagreeks.wordpress.com

Update: ZBT’s president told us that he wants to take a few days to think about our questions, but said we should expect to hear from him soon.

Update, 8/13: C’est vrai, mon amis. The party was held on May 4 to celebrate their Ivy League Championship win.  We hear they left some empty kegs out afterward.

Update 2, 8/13: We finally got the same press release Spec did. Here it is. Said release confirms that ZBT did lose the house.

More interesting is that the release cites the ZBT hazing scandal as “a Fall incident which took place at the house that involved and that was initiated by students not affiliated with the fraternity.” That’s consistent with credible rumors that the hazing was carried out by a different sports team.

Dorm Hop: The Bayit

Living in fear of the squalid living conditions that await you next semester? There may be another option, and one that you’ve probably passed by dozens of times without noticing. The Bayit, Columbia’s pluralistic Jewish living community and food co-op, is accepting applications for Fall 2013. Intrigued? Don’t know where — or what — the Bayit is? Bwog was hosted and fed by Sarah Stone, the Bayit’s external manager, Deborah Sachare, and Kevin Siegel, to learn about one of Columbia’s most unknown housing gems.

The Bayit, tucked away on 535 W. 112th street right across from Book Culture and recently covered by NYMag, houses CC, Barnard, SEAS, GS, JTS, and grad students of various ages who identity as Jewish and agree to participate in a kosher co-op. The dorm is owned by the University, and acts as University Apartment Housing; monthly rent at the Bayit (Hebrew for “house”) comes out to around $1200, which includes cost of food, utilities, newspaper and magazine access, Internet, Netflix, and other features of the house. Most people make the Bayit their home for around two years, but several people we met had lived in the house for three years, or were newcomers to the space — and because the Bayit is open to all Columbia schools, the ages in the house range from 19 to 25 or sometimes older. (Hardly the homogeneous population of McBain.)

The most impressive aspect of the Bayit’s set-up is just that fact: it feels like a real living space shared with friends, not a college dorm or even a college brownstone. Each member of the Bayit has their own spacious single (and when we say spacious we mean our jaw dropped) that comes with all the standard Columbia Housing furniture, plus any extra leftovers: Sarah got a sofa left in her room by its previous occupant. Other amenities the Bayit boasts: a TV room, a library, free laundry in the house, guest rooms that are available to anyone for $5 a night, and what’s perhaps one of the most epic kitchens ever.


In Defense Of: McBain

Tomorrow morning is the beginning of sophomore suite selection. Rising sophomores, your housing options will pretty much be Schapiro, Wien, Nussbaum, Broadway, or the most notorious of sophomore dorms, sometimes known as Carman 2.0, occasionally called McBizzzzz, often referred to as a pit/dump/hellhole: McBain. The distant noises of sophomore selection are all singing the same note: not McBain, not McBain, not McBain. Two of our resident 562 W. 113th enthusiasts, Alexandra Avvocato and Alexandra (yes, another one) Eynon, are here to perform possibly the most important undergraduate task at Columbia: defending this dorm. 

McBizz for president

McBizz for president

As a rising sophomore, my group’s lottery number was in the low hundreds. We had our choice of the least desirable dorms on campus: a Schapiro walk-through could have been ours; those strange EC doubles were calling our name; there was even the option of some pseudo-suite-style Nussbaum configuration. Our friends expressed envy that we’d have the luck to avoid the dreaded corner of Broadway and 113th. But when we entered the cage, we zoomed past all the other dorm floor plans and clustered around McBain.

This year, I have a shared bathroom, our floor kitchen is essentially unusable apart from the microwave (and I’ve had my cookware used and not washed multiple times), and there are mice on our floor. The hall smells a bit like vomit most Sundays, and people have an emotional crisis and outside their rooms most evenings. Sometimes I have to use the guys’ shower because we have two shower stalls and more than two girls who, y’know, shower. And everything has the color scheme of a juvenile detention facility. I absolutely love living in McBain. I’m being sincere.

No space available to you as a sophomore is going to be what the rest of the world calls “nice.” Perhaps by Columbia Housing standards, a hardwood floor rather than ambiguously blue carpeting = palace, but who cares? All traditionally sophomore dorms are the same thing when all the pros and cons balance out; I know of no one whose psyche/social standing/general happiness level has been drastically altered by where they lived between the ages of 19 and 20. A single will be lovely — when you’re a senior. Living with other animals people who may not be all that likable or clean is something you should know how to deal with in a sane and sustainable way. If that involves threatening bodily harm in the kitchen…that’s actually been known to work.

And here’s the obligatory social life defense: yes, you’ll likely know most of the people on your floor; yes, there will be parties right in your hall and you can stumble back home three yards away; yes, there’s always someone to procrastinate with without having to put on your shoes. I could honestly care less, and don’t pretend that how social you are is at all affected by whether you live one block away or — gasp! — three blocks away. That’s not why I love McBain; I love McBain because I like the people I see in the building and even if I don’t know them, they’re likely to be generally friendly. Maybe that’s “social life” to you, but for me it’s just common human decency. If it doesn’t happen in the kitchen and bathroom, at least it happens on the personal level.

Rising sophomores: don’t be disappointed with McBain! Or if you’re going to be disappointed, be disappointed with Housing in general and embrace McBain as just a fellow evil, no more repugnant than a Wien walk-through double (although I may be contradicted: look out for our In Defense of Wien tomorrow). Really, I’ve had a lovely year. Better a slightly disgusting place you can feel at home at than a clean place that’s dead on the inside like Broadway.

Read our second defense below, this one with slightly less sass and slightly more heart-warming feelings.

PeopleHop: The First To House

David and Henning

In-person suite selection begins tomorrow at 9:30 am in the John Jay Lounge (see you there!).  Alexandra Svokos, 30/1550, tried to get annoyed at David Najem and Henning Sauerbier, 30/53, who will be picking first, but these CU soccer players were too earnest and nervous to be mad at for long.

Bwog: Do you have a plan?

Henning: We have two plans.  Our first is EC [two-person flats], because the rooms are big, it’s EC, and we’ll have a nice view and sunlight.  We have very good friends who are in a 5-person group and got a very good number too, so they can get a suite and we’ll be across the hall.  The other option is Watt studio singles.

David: If we drop into General our number is good enough to basically get our own NYC apartment at Columbia.  We feel really lucky and want to make the most of our decision, so we’re trying to weigh our options.  We’re gonna go knocking on doors and shopping around a little bit.  It’s nice to have the first pick, but it definitely comes with pressure because we don’t want to mess up–

H: Because then everyone will laugh at us.

B: So you guys are feeling pressured?

D: The most pressure is from our friends: they want to know what we’re doing and obviously want us to live [in EC]. That’d be a great experience, but we have first pick–why wouldn’t you go for the best housing?

H: The Watt single is definitely the hottest room on campus.  The cutoff was 30/89 last year.

B: I can’t talk to you anymore I’m getting annoyed.

D: We feel bad talking to people about it!!

Read on for more strategy and how they found out

Time To Update Your iCal

Fast approaching

Rejoice!  Appointment times for In-Person Selection have been revealed!  Or at least, that’s what we assume from the email we got from Housing, because StarRez Portal is, as usual, having a meltdown.  This number doesn’t tell you much–other than if you have an excuse to skip class or need to wake up stupid early.  Remember to assign a “proxy” (this could be someone in your group) if you really can’t make it to the appointment.

We’ll see you next week in John Jay Lounge with music, candy, hugs, and invasive questions for our liveblog.  If you have any questions, feel free to email us at housing@bwog.com


Next month last year via Shutterstock

Housing Lottery Numbers Are Up!
Disclaimer: housing's website (or any other to Bwog's knowledge) does not give you free cash.

Disclaimer: housing’s website (or any other to Bwog’s knowledge) does not give you free cash.

Update, 1:06 PM: numbers for those entering the Barnard lottery are now up as well. No, you didn’t get an email about it.

…supposedly, since it is currently impossible to log in to the housing portal due to increased traffic. However, housing had announced that the numbers would go up before 5pm today, and tipsters are informing us that they’re already there.

Either way, this is how you do it in case you’re feeling lucky:

  1. Go to the StarRez Portal
  2. Log in with your uni
  3. Repeat step 2 until you don’t see the “Server is experiencing a heavy load” message.
  4. Click on the Applications link on the upper left
  5. Quiver with anticipation
  6. Select the Academic Year 13-14 application
  7. Feel the sweat glisten on your forehead
  8. Click on Registration Summary
  9. Scroll down
  10. Weep uncontrollably with either misery or bliss
  11. Summon friends, repeat step 10

The lucky ones via Shutterstock


Where Should You Live Next Year?

Are you unsure of where to live next year? No worries, because Bwog is here to help. Our very own housing flowchart, ladies and gents:

Click to open a larger version in a new tab

Help Us With Housing, O Wise Ones
This is basically how we'll see you if you can make room selection somewhat understandable

This is basically how we’ll see you if you can make room selection somewhat understandable

  • Are you a creative individual who enjoys making videos?
  • Do you just have a lot of time in your hands?
  • Are you the Anointed One, the only person on campus who actually understands the housing selection process?

Then consider submitting to Housing’s Room Selection Video Contest! In this contest, Housing is offering $500 in flex plus eternal fame and glory to whoever can make the best 3-minute video that explains the room selection process.

You’ll help the community, get some money to spend around campus, and become known and maybe even worshipped.

Submissions are due on March 29. Complete guidelines can be found here.

You can also ask questions to housing in person at 118 Hartley, via phone at 212-854-2946, or via e-mail at housing@columbia.edu.