Party Testimonial: Who’s The NSLOP-iest Of Them All

What all of your gratuitous selfies will look like in ten yearsAnother semester, another season of ridiculous parties.  Here, Brennon Mendez brings us back to a better time: NSOP.  If you want to tell Mama Bwog about a crazy party experience, email tips@bwog.com or use our anonymous tip form.

As a wide-eyed freshman* first-year, I had no idea what to expect of my first night as a Columbia student. I had seen a decent amount of shitshows and #canthang moments and developed the belief that college parties couldn’t be that much different than what I’d witnessed in high school.

And then, Carman happened.

The event that kicked off this week of Carman-centric social alcoholism was the now infamous nine-RA party, hosted by the ladies and gentlemen of Carman 8 (a.k.a. the 4-CAVAs-1-week bunch). As a member of the Ocho crew, I stumbled upon a large mass of my fellow freshies in varying levels of movement, from inebriated sways to sexually-frustrated gyrations. An amorphous mass of 50-70 freshmen, armed with  first-night libations, spilled out of the host’s room and into the hall, where a jolly good time was had by all, with no fucks given about the multiple laws/policies being so flagrantly broken.

I pushed my way into the suite through the masses of freshpeople incessantly taking Instas with their “new college friends!!!” Strobe lights, cheap beer, and a suffocating cloud of adolescent pheromones welcomed me to the dorm room.

Cue the “Holy shit, I’m ACTUALLY in college!” realization.

Despite the sardine-can conditions, I hadn’t felt as uninhibited during NSOP as I did that night, surrounded by strangers and dancing around on sticky, beer-glazed linoleum. Dynamic conversation ensued, perhaps the least awkward dialogue between freshmen during orientation week. Things were moving brilliantly until…



Why College Radio Still Matters

In appreciation for its ancestral role in our own lineage, Bwog posts features from each new issue of The Blue and White (whose new website will launch next week!). You can look forward to a personal exploration of the Trans Narrative; a debunking of the Board of Trustees; and an interview with Ta-Neshi Coates. Snatch up a copy in Lerner, the Diana, Butler, or one of Columbia’s fine dormitory establishments. Here, senior editor Torsten Odland, CC ’15, argues the importance of radio after the college DJ’s halcyon age. Like what you read? Stop by the B&W’s first meeting of the semester: Sept the 10th, 9pm, the crypt of St. Paul’s chapel.

I’m not sure where I developed the image I have of the “college radio DJ.” Neither of my parents were DJs;  I never listened to college radio growing up. Other than maybe a caricature I saw on The Simpsons, I have to assume the archetype I have in mind is based on a variety of Wikipedia sources.


Illustration by Britt Fossum, CC ’16

If you look far enough in the history of indie rock, every band’s page claims “their album dfsd was very popular on college radio stations in the United States.” The more popular 80’s alterna-bands (R.E.M., The Replacements, Pixies) have been classified, in retrospect, as “college rock”, which gives one the impression that not only were these intrepid DJs introducing America to the jangle music we all respect so much today, they were leading a youth movement. The college radio persona I’m thinking of—the rock-nerd saving space in the airwaves for interesting pop music, the sarcastic taste-maker who may actually just be Stephen Malkmus—lives eternally in 1986, when they were socially necessary.

Though I didn’t realize that when I first started programming at WKCR, part of my motivation to get involved had to do with the role I thought I might fill as a cool one. But there’s a crucial difference between the college radio stereotype and radio at Columbia today: WKCR and WBAR have very few listeners on campus and are functionally irrelevant to the taste and cultural sense of most Columbia students (insofar as they’re radio stations).

Though it ranges into the twenties with some frequency, Joe Bucciero, CC ’15, WBAR Treasurer, assured me that the average listenership for online-streamed WBAR shows is “in the single digits.” During the late-night shows, in all likelihood, there are long stretches of air when the DJs are just listening to music alone in the basement of Sultzberger. (more…)

Growing Pains: One Transgender Staffer’s Experiences

Bwog will again honor our heritage/amorous affair with our mother magazine, The Blue and White (on racks and “dormitories” near you NOW), by posting features from the upcoming issue. Such treats include a conversation with Ta-Nehisi Coates; a breakdown of the Board of Trustees; and a discussion of why college radio still matters. Below, staff writer Alexander Pines, CC ’16 discusses his complicated experience with the “Transgender Narrative.” When researching this piece, we learned that Columbia added transgender related care to its health plan (…last year). Blown away by what you read? ATTEND THE BLUE AND WHITE’S FIRST MEETING OF THE SEMESTER: Tuesday, September 10, in the crypt of St. Paul’s chapel. 

A few days after I started injecting testosterone, I sent my friends Snapchats of my face with shakily drawn beards in pink and green. “Nothing here yet,” I’d type, wondering what it was, precisely, that made me a man. I still don’t know. I don’t think it’s a beard, though, or a lower voice or leg hair.

Five months later I’m still beardless, but pricklier than ever before, from the stubble under my chin to the temper that pops up in traffic and checkout lines. People keep asking me if I’m happy now, as though I’ve triumphed over something. They tell me how brave I am. I’ve been called brave before—I was the token lesbian activist in high school, back when I used my pretty female name and spoke with my pretty female voice, but for me it’s not so much bravery as survival. The Transgender Narrative has violence that’s largely absent from its gay counterpart. Forget being stuck in a closet—trans people are supposedly men or women “trapped” in the wrong bodies who need hormones, doctors, needles, and scalpels to construct a body that is somehow truer.

It’s not that I’m trapped, I’ve just outgrown.

There are days when I can see the way my new name twists as it comes out of my friends’ mouths—four syllables in the space of two. I’m stretching as well. Five months on testosterone and I’m a mess of hair and scar tissue with a voice that cracks and rises and breaks when I sing. Growing isn’t always pretty. I have acne; I’m afraid of losing my hair; and there’s a remote chance I’m frying my liver.


Bwog Asked: Move-In Day
"Beer before liquor, honey."

“Beer before liquor, honey.”

Freshmen dorms are now occupied, and the newest Columbians are — or should be — safe with their OL’s. Bwog interrupted a few of them along the way to ask about the best or worst pieces of advice they’ve gotten so far. Here’s what they had to say in the first Bwog Asked of the year. (fun fact: we were also called the “bee-wog” within five minutes. Yessss. )

  • “Don’t get pregnant.”
  • “Don’t go to the hospital.”
  • “Don’t use the (John Jay) lifts.”
  • “Don’t go into Morningside Park.”
  • “Don’t leave campus.”
  • “Take the stairs” (told to a JJ’14 resident).
  • “Beer before liquor.”
  • “Get drunk every day.”
  • “Get a fake I.D.”
  • “Don’t be shy.”
  • “Play more sports.”
  • “Have fun and don’t take too many classes.”
  • “Stop stressing about things and just get them done.”
  • “You’re gonna be okay, right? Right?!”

Concerned love via Shutterstock

Write For Us!
It's not too hard, we promise

It’s not too hard, we promise

Welcome (yet again), freshmen! Here’s hoping your first day was relatively trauma-free, and that you actually found a blue bin at some point in your journey. All Jersey/Westchester non-West Coast people, we’re looking forward to seeing you bright and early tomorrow morning.

If you’re sitting anxiously in your newly postered JJ single right now, bursting with creative energy and new stories or experiences — then we have a solution to at least one of your new college problems. Bwog is looking for freshmen to write about their NSOP week: anything from move-in narratives to too-real party testimonials to an experimental stream-of-consciousness about Thursday night’s outing. Tell us about all the parties we’re not invited to, all the late night near-death experiences you survive on your first trip downtown, that awkward moment with your roommate where he’s still not talking to you….the possibilities are, as they say, infinite. Haven’t yet been to a Bwog meeting, you say? Haven’t actually met any of us face to face? Don’t let that stop you. If there’s any part of your week that you’re itching to write about and share with the world (or not — you can be campus-famous or totally anonymous), shoot an email to tips@bwog.com, and we’ll get you on our front page before you’ve even stepped foot in Hamilton.

You should also come to our first meeting of the year on Sunday, September 1st, at 7 pm in the SGO on the 5th floor of Lerner. It will be your first of countless Columbia free food opportunities. This goes for all of you — it’s never too late in your Columbia career to start taking pictures of squirrels.

Your journalistic future via Wikimedia

Your 2013 NSOP Theme, Brought To You By Buzz Lightyear
You during NSOP

You during NSOP

Ladies and gentlemen, time to wake up from your summer 2013 slumber: your newest NSOP theme has arrived!

It is “Infinite Possibilities.” 

Or, as an astute Bwogger put it, the prelude to the next four years at Columbia, “Infinite Responsibilities.”

To elucidate this global/cosmic/galactic theme, the 2013 NSOP schedule book features a glittering Columbia campus at night, the deep blue sky stretching out all the way to infinity and beyond the top edge of the schedule book. You, Columbia/Barnard freshmen, are on top of the world, the kings of the hill, the creams of the crop. Until you try to get into a language class — but that’s so far into the future. Here are the links to the CC/SEAS complete schedule and to the Barnard complete schedule. Some choice highlights from the coming week below:

  • The collective NYC outing is…..Victorian Gardens. What/where is Victorian Gardens, you may ask? It’s “an amusement park housed within Central Park, one of the most famous parks in the world. Experience the excitement of an after-hours ride on the Aeromax, one of 14 exhilarating rides. For those of you who like to dance, there will be a DJ turning it up in addition to a number of other activities to enjoy with your fellow new students in this intimate setting.” Thank god for the DJ turning it up, as he so skillfully turned it up on Governor’s Island in 2011 and in the Bronx Zoo in 2012.
  • There are also a myriad of pre-health, pre-law, pre-study abroad, pre-finance, etc. information sessions throughout the week — Columbia giving you a friendly reminder that it’s never too early to start panicking preparing for your future employment.
  • Required events: Convocation (8/26, 2:30-4:00); Under1Roof (various sessions); CC/SEAS Academic Assemblies (8/27, 9:00-10:15); Literature Humanities: The First Class (8/27, 2:30-4:00); Mapping Your First Year With Health Services (8/29, 3:30-6:00); first Bwog meeting of the semester (9/1, 7:00, SGO in Lerner).

Freshmen: get ready for NSOP, where you will experience infinity in nine days.

Infinity and beyond in a parade float via Shutterstock

Jester Releases Fake NSOP Guide

In the spirit of using NSOP to recruit bright-eyed freshman, the Jester, Columbia’s humor magazine, has released a fake NSOP guide. Find it on their website or in news racks around campus beginning this afternoon. It’s somewhat similar to the actual guide, except there are way more dinosaurs.

The Bwog Condom Guide

Dear Class of 2016: We hear you’re going to the zoo tomorrow. And because we know things can get pretty wild at the zoo (especially when they have a DJ “mixing tunes”) we want to make sure that you stay safe before, during, and after your encounter with the wild side. Below are all the spots on campus where you can find all the condoms you could possibly desire or require.

Good luck!

Love, Bwog

A Fictional Census of Morningside Heights

Pimp My Columbia

It’s official—the sweet ’16ers are here! The international/West-Coast ones, at least… In honor of their arrival, campus is wearing its finest.

John Jay got new, temporarily stain-free carpets… until some freshperson vomits on it during NSOP oh wait that’s Carman spills some Massaman sauce from their Wondee delivery whilst making a heated point in a debate about which new floormate read the Iliad most thoroughly:

Not to be outdone, Carman is sporting a brand new lounge with some sexy backlighting:

Plus, all the freshman dorms have these, which should probably say “Welcome to Butler”:

Last but not least, it finally occurred to someone to do this:

NSOP 2012: Final Destination?

Setting sail?

If you’re in the Columbia area today, you may hear the distant roar of squeaky blue bins, frantic parents, and strangled cries of freedom from the children they just dropped off. Which means only one thing: it’s move-in day, and NSOP is upon us once more, as all the non-COOP freshmen move in to begin a week of sexual health seminars and blackout drinking. This year’s theme is Destination: Columbia, which apparently involves pictures of anchors. (We’re not really sure, either. Don’t they already know they’re at Columbia? Wasn’t that already their intended destination based on their applications?)

Also, the NYC event of the week is the zoo. Is there a message about childhood in there somewhere? Or perhaps the NSOP committee learned from last year’s Governor’s Island event. Which was another type of zoo, really.

If you want to indulge in some NSOP nostalgia of your own, or crash some Morningside tours, the full week’s schedule is below the jump, and the full program book is here. And don’t forget to tip any overheards, overseens, or other NSOP shenanigans to tips@bwog.com.


Everything You Need to Know About ROTC At Columbia

A typical scene from the ROTC town hall meetings

One of the most controversial issues at Columbia last year was the return of the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) Program. It was the talk of the national media and dominated campus politics for a good semester. Bwog brings you up to speed with this primer on ROTC at Columbia.

Some historical context:

Columbia has played a prominent role in educating America’s servicemen since its foundations, and this tradition continued well into the 20th century. In 1969, responding prevalent antimilitary sentiment sparked by the Vietnam War, Columbia forced the NROTC program to leave campus. The university committee tasked with investigating the program argued that NROTC instructors were loyal first to the Navy and not Columbia. Columbia saw a conflict between “free inquiry and loyalty to external commitments.”

Since Columbia terminated its relationship with the Navy in ’69, there have been multiple unsuccessful efforts to revive the ROTC program. In 2005, the University Senate voted down a resolution that would have brought back ROTC. Critics argued the military’s policy of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” violated Columbia’s non-discrimination policies. There was also a potential return in 2008: student councils organized a referendum on ROTC that asked whether the program should be brought back. However due to drama such as fraudulent votes, the issue was never even presented to the USenate. Since the ban, Columbia students could still participate in the ROTC, but had to enroll in programs at other schools, like Fordham.

What happened last year to reignite this issue on campus?

The repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Literally the day after the law was changed the U.S. Senate voted to repeal the law, the Columbia University Senate created the Task Force on Military Engagement to investigate Columbia’s involvement with the military, and the school’s stance on ROTC. The task force devoted months to their investigations of Columbia’s military engagement, and organized town hall meetings and an online survey to gauge student opinion.

After the jump: town halls, the student survey, and what to expect next

And So Ends NSOP

It’s over! We hope that you freshpeople have enjoyed getting to know Bwog as much as we’ve enjoyed getting to know you. Relive the best of this week’s NSOP coverage:


  • Overseen: codewords, totes, parents and more
  • Overheard: the things they said
  • Swag: free things that Bwog found, including slushie cups
  • Photobwogging: orientation in pictures
  • CUgLow: Alma at the disco

Introducing the Class of 2015:

Health and Safety:

Getting to Know the ‘Hood:

Things you should really know about:


Getting to Know Columbia:

Home decorating:

Where Art Thou? Fresh Edition

Attention freshmen performing artists!

Calling all artsy freshpeople and returning students alike! Bwog wants to take a moment to draw your attention to one of our weekly features, Where Art Thou? Every Wednesday, we post a guide to theater and arts happenings in the Columbia community that week. The “Columbia community” doesn’t mean only Morningside Heights—let us know what kind of super hip stuff you’re up to all over the city! If you would like your event featured in Where Art Thou?, email us at events@bwog.com.

To start things off, below are descriptions of various groups from the CUPAL (Columbia University Performing Arts League) guide to arts groups on campus. See the full guide (PDF) for more information, including audition dates. CUPAL is a great resource for performers and enthusiasts! Visit their website year-round for information about auditions, writing submissions, production and design team interviews, performances, and other CUPAL events. If your group is not part of CUPAL, but you would like your group’s information listed here, please email us at tips@bwog.com.

Description of groups below the jump

Waking Up With Bwog #7

The ultimate dilemma

As you freshpeople look forward to the next four years, seniors are anticipating their last. Whatever they’ve been through during their time at Columbia, one questions plagues them more than any other: if you had to give up either oral sex or cheese for the rest of you life, what would you choose?

Rajib Mitra, SEAS ’10

Unless you are lactose intolerant, the answer should be oral sex. If you say otherwise, you are wrong. Actually, even if you are lactose intolerant you should still pick oral sex. You survived the post-John Jay dining hall afterparty in your tummy, you know you can suck it up for glorious cheese.

Katie Reedy, CC’09

I must refer to the 5/7 episode of 30 Rock. Liz Lemon is curled up alone in her apartment, wrapped in a blue Snuggie, sampling from a large cheese tray and singing to herself, “Workin’ on my night cheese,” to the tune of “Workin’ on my night moves.” This scene encompasses my answer and my general philosophy.

Jody Zellman, JTS/GS’11

It’s hard to imagine one without the other.

You have time to think about this ’15ers, but one day, your time will come.

Morningside Heights Politics Primer

Local politics might not be your chief concern as you prepare to uproot your entire universe, move across the country, and attempt to make friends with a few thousand other over-achieving geeks, but there are plenty of reasons to care about your new home! With countless unions, special interests, businesses, and millions of people, New York City is like a political pressure cooker. It’s impossible to summarize that whole mess in a short blog post, but here is some basic information about our local, state-wide, and federal representation.

Once upon a time..

Community Board: Morningside Heights is member of Manhattan Community Board #9. Manhattanville, the northern site of Columbia’s mammoth expansion, is also a part of CB9M. Most of the Mville expansion (don’t worry, there will be a primer for that too!) battle has been fought in courtrooms, and it’s likely that nothing exciting will happen with the community board in the near future.

City Council: Our City Council member is Inez Dickens. She is well-connected and has served as the majority whip. Some speculate that once her second term expires (2013) Dickens might try for Charlie Rangel’s House seat (see U.S. House below).

State Assembly: Our New York State Assembly member is Daniel O’Donnell. Elected in 2002, O’Donnell was the first openly gay member of the State Assembly. He was actually the author of the recent (and finally successful) Marriage Equality Act. A member of the “bear” community, he represents district 69.

State Senate: Bill Perkins is our New York State Senator (30th district). He went to Brown.

U.S. House: Charlie Rangel is our representative in New York’s 15th Congressional District. He’s the third longest serving member in the House, and during the last 30 years he’s been one of the most relevant figures in congressional politics (looong Wikipedia page). Recently, Rangel has been caught up in multiple ethics scandals. Despite that, he still won re-election with 80% of the vote. Shortly after the election, Rangel was censured by the full House. A note about NY-15: it’s tied with NY-16 for being the most Democratic congressional district in the entire country. Obama carried it with 93% of the vote.

But really, when it comes to NYC politics, Mayor Michael Bloomberg runs the show. While the official reach of his powers may be officially limited, this is a guy that managed to change election laws so that he could chill in town hall for a few more years. That, and there is always a rumor circulating about a self-financed run for the White House.

Fat Cat via Wikipedia.