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.

Overheard: Back 2 School Edition

As of right now, they’re still saying, “Hi,” to everyone they see. Keep your ears open, because freshpeople are a feast of audible delights:

The 4loko of the sophisticated freshperson

Mingling on the John Jay green:

“I’m pretty sure that every time I’ve had champagne at Christmas it was just sparkling grape juice.”

“There’s also prosecco, that’s Italian”

Group of youngish guys licking popsicles outside Morton Williams:

“First we pregamed, then we gamed, and now we post game.”

Some bright young things:

“Happy birthday! Are you turning 18 or 19?!”

Freshgirl to a security guard:

“Oh my god, I can’t believe Convocation is canceled! That is such an important thing, I really wanted to hear my Deans speak and say, ‘Welcome to columbia, we’re so glad you’re here! But Dean Moody-Adams quit, so I think that might have something to do with it.”

A taste of Italy via Wikimedia

Waking Up With Bwog #6

We hope you’re starting to find your sea legs by now. We’ve some real treats for you today.

Get yourself wiser courtesy of Bwog alum Menachem Kaiser, GS ’09:

A good title on a paper will help you far more than you might realize. Whatever it is you kinda dream about doing in life, do it here, while you can, often. Sweatpants do not help anyone get laid. Professors are, by far, the most under-utilized facility on campus, followed by the librarians; use ‘em. Assiduous note-taking in science/math classes does not help one whit. There’s a lot to be said for classes where the readings are good.

We’re feeling it’s about that time of the year for some Ferris Bueller:

The rest of this morning is dedicated to the tips and tricks to choosing classes that no one ever tells you.

First of all, Columbia has no official “shopping” period, where you test out classes, but most professors understand that things shake up a bit in the first two weeks. So it’s definitely not the end of the world if you switch into a class or two late.

You are told that you cannot switch core sections without petitioning, but this is false. It’s perfectly easy to do through SSOL. Bwog cannot impress upon enough the beauty of the refresh button. You can see all the Lit Hum professors under the subject ‘Humanities’ in the Directory of ClassesDo some research, because a professor’s area of expertise can bring a lot to the table. Some historic favorites are Richard Sacks (section 11) Mark Lilla (sections 30 and 48), and Liza Knapp (section 7). Once you’ve identified a few sections that you would like to switch into, sit in front of your registration page and hit the “switch section” button. Freshpeople are all over the place with their course selection, switching in and out of things willy-nilly, so availability will be changing all the time, and most spaces are only open for a few minutes. Same goes for all other first-year reqs.

Keep an open mind. CULPA is highly subjective, and just because one person didn’t enjoy a teaching method doesn’t mean it wouldn’t work for you. Teaching styles will vary hugely, and you shouldn’t dismiss your professors based on hearsay. The number of negative CULPA reviews that get written because people were miffed about their grades or just wanted an easier ride is really depressing.

Talk to your professors! They know you’re ignorant and afraid and a little sweaty. They want to encourage you. Just be honest with them about what you’re looking for in a class, and they’ll be able to direct you to the right place.

There Are Apps For Us!

So many apps, so little time!

At one time, students arrived at Columbia with nothing in their backpacks but textbooks, notebooks, and a Macbook Pro. Such halcyon days are long gone now, and we’re sure that many members of the Class of 2015 have iPhones and Droids. Bwog’s own app aficionado Peter Sterne identifies the perfect app for…

Navigating the City

Hopstop (iPhone/Android) is the gold standard of subway and bus directions. Google Maps will work in a pinch, but Hopstop will get you from A to Brooklyn the best way possible—whether you want the cheapest route, the fastest route, or the route that involves the most walking. If you want to cut down on walking, make sure to check out Exit Strategy ($3.99, iPhone), an app developed by Columbia alums that tells you where to stand on the subway platform so you’re right in front of the door that will open right in front of the stairs at your destination. The developers didn’t get that info from the MTA; they had to figure it out through trial and error.

Speaking of the MTA, they like to randomly shut down and reroute subways on the weekends. iTrans ($3.99, iPhone) includes the latest service changes, but you can also just view them for free by bookmarking the MTA’s mobile website.


Remember the time you went out to dinner and couldn’t afford the bill because you didn’t have enough money on your debit card? You could constantly go to the ATM every time you go out, but it’s much easier to download an app from your bank to check your balance on the go. Citibank (iPhone/Android), Chase (iPhone/Android), and Bank of America (iPhone/Android) all offer mobile apps. These apps can also find nearby ATMs and even let you make payments from your phone.
(Note: The only way to get the Citibank Android app is to go to citi.com/mobileapp on your Droid)

Finding New Music

Frats usually play whatever’s most popular on iTunes, but at least once over the next four years, you’ll find yourself at a party with no idea what song is playing. That’s where Shazam Encore ($5.99, iPhone/Android) comes in. Just turn it on, hold out your phone, and in a minute, the song and artist will be identified for you. It’s like magic!

Soundhound ∞ ($6.99, iPhone/Android) is similar, but identifies songs more quickly and less accurately. If you want to try before you buy, download the free trial versions of Shazam (iPhone/Android) and Soundhound (iPhone/Android). And on those rare nights you’re not invited to parties, you can discover new music on your own by creating custom radio stations on Pandora (iPhone/Android).

After the jump, apps for finding a place to eat, stargazing, wasting time, and more!

Waking Up With Bwog #5

Peel yourself out of bed and go ‘splorin.

Classes start soon, so before you get lazy, make this Apple your oyster. Some weekend suggestions: Hell’s Kitchen Flea Market, the annual unicycle festival, Brazilian DayThe Central Park butterfly garden, Upright Citizens Brigade, eating. Structure a full day around finding the best pickle, pizza or bagel. Pick a random neighborhood and stroll. You run this town.

Another daily dose of wisdom, courtesy of Nina Pedrad, CC’11

Find a couple things you love here, and get into them. I came from the “do every activity imaginable in high school so you can get into a good college” school of thought. And I wore sweatpants for most of high school. Now, there’s nothing wrong with sweatpants, but I wasn’t pregnant or training to fight Apollo Creed. My point is, you can calm down a bit because… you’ve done it! You’ve gotten into a good college. So do a few things you love and relax.

Oscar Wilde said “life is too important to be taken seriously” and sister knows her business. No assignment should throw you into a massive panic attack, no weird look at a party should ruin your night. I don’t know if these will best the best four (or five, or six) years of your life because that will mean you peaked in college, but they can be a damn fun four years.

And get to know people, because there are some pretty cool ones here. On your freshman floor you probably have a kid who can build a rocket ship, belt all of “Defying Gravity,” and make fart noises with six different body parts. If the same kid can do all three, then you need to become that kid’s manager and exploit him.

Bwogline of the Day:

After all the consent workshops, this NYTimes article on college gender roles seem topical…and frighteningly familiar. An excerpt: “What stunned me was what was happening outside class, where women seemed not to have budged in decades.  In social settings and in relationships, men set the pace, made the rules and acted as they had in the days when women were still “less than.” It might as well have been the 1950s, but with skimpier clothing, fewer inhibitions and better birth control”

Let’s Talk About Consensual Sex

Consent is still sexy at the NSOP HQ. We’ve heard from freshpersons about the classic Class Act and the first Lit Hum class, and now we’re getting down to the saucy stuff. Bijan Samareh, CC’15 consented to report:

Attention all first years! If you missed yesterday’s Consent 101 and Branching Out With Health Services seminars, you are in immediate danger. And by that I mean you will probably receive a crapton of e-mails from some administrative body, kind of penalizing you but kind of not. Needless to say, it was an informative two hours full of enough campiness and awkward moans to last you the semester.

The “Consent is Sexy” forum consisted of two or three orientation groups joining forces and popping a squat on the cold floors of Lerner to define consent, define what isn’t consent, and learn about the available resources for safe sex on campus [see also Bwog's definitive guide to condoms]. Below is a pop quiz that pretty much sums up the lesson:

What is consent?

  1. A four legged crab
  2. What you think it is
  3. Oh man, that thing was today?

If you answered B, you are correct! Other (actual) highlights from the discussion include:

  • Don’t sexually assault people in elevators
  • In case you don’t trust yourself, give your partner a whistle so they can notify you if accidentally start sexually assaulting them
  • Don’t sexually assault people whose cars break down on the road

Free condom cases were given out to house the Lifestyle brand condoms distributed in the residence halls. “Hehe, let’s go put these on someone’s doorknob”, says your hall mate who has never seen a condom before. “I’m totally going to use these all the time bro”, says your hall mate who is trying too hard and pockets 50. “Sigh”, says your hall mate who decided to keep his high school relationship going.

But wait… there’s more!

Waking Up With Bwog #4

NSOP is the new COÖP

Mornin’ freshpeople! We heard you were on an island last night!

How the kids branched out before:

NSOP renting out iconic New York places has been a tradition. Last year, 2014 was on a boat, 2013 danced in the zoo, and 2012 bonded in Victorian Gardens. But maybe dear ol’ 2011 had it best when NSOP used to host a concert. This band Vampire Weekend was there once.

Sari Ancel, SEAS ’10, shares some of her wisdom about just talking to others:

Stop and Chat > Wave Hello > Awkward Ignore…

Awkwardly ignoring someone you know is not only super mean but also not worth the effort of pretending to not know them (e.g. fake texting, feigning sudden interest in lawn trimmings). Just smile or say “hi.” This is perfect for Orientation Week when you make 150 new best friends in one day and you can’t remember someone’s name. [Side note: never be embarrassed to ask someone their name.] The Stop and Chat, however, is by far the superior option. It will help you stay updated with friends that you don’t get to see as often as you like. And, as you are rushing from a lab in Mudd to a meeting in Lerner, the stop and chat will keep you sane / put a smile on your face.

A few culinary options around Morningside Heights:

You’ll probably get sick of John Jay at some point (probably this week, maybe even today), so why not get a little adventurous and check out some of the other options you have right around you?

  • If burgers are your thing, look no further than our own Battle of the Burgers guide to the neighborhood
  • If brunch is your thing, Community Food & Juice is a Bwog favorite. Relish in it now, as it was once closed due to a fire but reopened to everyone’s delight. If you’re feeling bold, you can also try the new Cascabel Taqueria or the new-but-basically-just-Campo Il Cibreo.
  • If you’re in need of coffee, be hip and check out Joe in NoCo
  • Brad’s is an often overlooked and relatively recent addition to the campus dining fare, probably because it’s nestled in the J-School
  • Food cards are a good choice if you’re just after something quick. They will really start showing up more often once the semester starts, but staples have always been dosa cart(s), halal carts (Bwog’s fave is Hooda), and the trendy Korilla.

And if you’re the kind that doesn’t like to pay for their food, don’t worry. Soon there will be tons of student groups looking to recruit fresh young minds, bribing them with the holy grail of college cuisine, free food.

A Golden Nails masterpiece tipped by Michael Kaufman

Not As Bad As McLovin, But Still

We’ve seen you “going out” at night, freshpeople. Don’t worry, we were all awkward like you at some point: handing a bouncer some poorly-made fake and praying you remembered your zip code. The Bwog staff empathizes with you as we share some stories and nuggets of information about the one thing in your wallet you can’t live without…

  • If the guy you’re buying from only sells IDs in sets of two, that’s a bad sign. If you (gangly, skinny, not threatening) and your equally unintimidating friends are buying IDs from a guy in a midtown Starbucks and, sweating nervously, the first thing he asks you is if you’re cops, that’s also a bad sign.
  • When I got mine it was with a certain teammate downtown in the back of a sketchy unnamed shop. It was in November and eventually it started sleeting and we were all so stressed/tired/hungry from this guy being like “ARE YOU A COP? YA SURE?” and handing over mad cash money to someone we were sure would disappear with it. So much so that we rushed into the first restaurant we found while we were waiting for him to make good on his promise—it was a terrible vegan restaurant. I ate soy cheese dumplings and cried about my life. Literally worst day ever. But now I’m 23 in Delaware and can drink anywhere I want!
  • Got my ID from a guy in a frat. The thing is not great; the edges are clearly X-Acto knife work, and the laminate is clearly laminate. But it was only $60, and has never failed me in Morningside. It’s even performed at NYU and beyond. And fraternity customer service is much better than some of the questionable characters students leave Morningside for; when he wasn’t sure which hologram looked better, he just surprised me with two for the price of one!
  • I’ve had a slew of IDs that have been lost, taken, or retained and best advice is this: The only ID that will actually work is an older person’s REAL one that looks enough like you and isn’t expired.
  • More stories after the jump!

2015, Meet Your Presidents

This is where the magic happens...

In case you forgot already, here is what student government is supposed to do. We asked the newly-elected president of each of the three councils to introduce themselves, and list the five most important things that they actually achieved last year. You too can be Barack Obama!

Greetings from Jessica Blank, President of SGA

Welcome to Barnard! I hope you had a great summer and are excited for an amazing year!  Although campus may seem overwhelming at first, you’ll quickly learn about Barnard traditions like Midnight Breakfast, Greek Games and Spirit Day, what all those acronyms stand for and to read Bwog and Spec to stay updated on campus happenings.

You will also soon discover all the incredible opportunities Barnard offers, both on campus and around NYC, one of which is SGA, Barnard’s Student Government Association. There are so many ways to get involved, from first year class council (elections will take place in the first two weeks of school) to the many SGA committees (check out the SGA website for openings!)

If you have any questions about Barnard, SGA or just want to have coffee and chat, feel free to email me at jab2262@barnard.edu

So enjoy NSOP, take full advantage of the seemingly awkward events because the people sitting next to you may be your closest friends for the next four years, and I can’t wait to see all of you on campus!

SGA Accomplishments 2010-11

  • Greek Life Recognition- After holding a campus wide survey, SGA voted to recognize and fund Greek life on campus.
  • Campus Wide Smoking Ban- working with the administration and with the support of students on campus, SGA instituted a campus wide smoking ban.
  • Consitutional Review- Every three years, an SGA committee is formed to review the current SGA constitution and make any necessary changes. This year’s committee established several new SGA committees including the SGA Programming Committee and Student Art Committee and instituted several policy changes.
  • Thanksgiving with Alumni- In an effort to connect current Barnard students with Alumnae, SGA established the “Thanksgiving with Alumni” program which paired Barnard students with alumnae living in the New York area to spend Thanksgiving with.
  • Return of the Greek Games- SGA, in collaboration with McAC and with the full support of the college offices, organized the return of the Greek Games, one of Barnard’s most beloved traditions. Check out pictures from the event.

Greetings from Nate Levick, President of ESC

Class of 2015, welcome to your new home! Welcome to New York City, welcome to Morningside Heights, and most importantly, welcome to Columbia! We all may be from different backgrounds, but as Columbians, we all share a home here on our lovely campus. The Engineering Student Council welcomes you and wishes you the best of luck in embarking on this exciting new journey in your life. You will experience so many thrilling opportunities and meet so many great people here at Columbia, especially during your first few weeks! Know that there will always be a huge network of support for you along this journey, including the Engineering Student Council. We will be here to represent our students, listen to your voices, and work to provide you with the best experience possible. So, welcome to your new home. Welcome to your new best friends. Welcome to new opportunities around every turn. And again, most importantly, welcome to Columbia!