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!


Better Living Through Gmail: 2011 Update

2012 Update: Columbia has finally made it easy! Just go the forwarding page and put in your gmail address.

Freshpeople (and regularpeople just a little behind the times), pay attention! Being a Columbia student means dealing with email. Craploads of it. If you haven’t switched from Cubmail to Gmail yet, something is terribly wrong. In case you haven’t realized yet, Cubmail is a dinosaur in today’s technology landscape, and you’d do yourself a huge favor by getting a colorful Gmail account from our friends at Google. Why? “Infinite” storage space, rapid-fire messages that don’t clutter your inbox, the best spam filter available, a constantly updated library of experimental new features… and of course, Gchat. For the past few years to the benefit of freshpeople everywhere, Bwog has been posting adapted versions of Mark Holden’s September 2006 guide for how to forward your Cubmail to Gmail, and we’ve brought it up to date again for your sanity’s sake.

Step 1: Join the club

First, you need to get a Gmail account if you don’t have one already, and shame on you if you don’t. To sign up for an account, simply visit http://gmail.com and click the large “Create an account” button in the bottom-right corner. We’ll wait while you sign up and read the all-important Terms of Service; this one is super-long.

…Done? Good! Next, we need to forward all your Columbia mail to Gmail. To do that, log in with your UNI and password to INGO, a way to manage your Columbia email account. Once logged in, at the top of the page, click the “Forward” button. In the big box shown, enter your Gmail address. Since we don’t want your Cubmail quota to be filling up, uncheck “Keep a copy of messages in this account.”

See how difficult it is dealing with Columbia’s mail interface? Luckily, this is the last time you’ll ever do so. Say your bitter goodbyes; if you feel any sort of nostalgia, slap yourself in the face right now.

Learn about sending emails from your Columbia address after the jump.

Waking Up With Bwog #3

Top of the morning to you freshpeople! So much to see, so much to learn!

The wise John Jay once said:

“Hold fast to the spirit of youth, let the years to come do what they may

The wise Wayne Campbell once said:

“I once thought I had mono for an entire year. It turned out I was just really bored.”

The wise Sarah Sechan, GS/JTS ’11 once said:

“Visit all 5 boroughs. Know how to spell “borough.” Make friends with the security guards. They’re going to be dealing with your drunk asses for 4 years and if you get on their bad side, you’ll regret it. Find meaningful volunteer work off-campus. Join the marching band. Don’t drink vodkawine.”

Bwog heartily seconds the greeting to your security guard. Yesterday morning, in a brief chat with the chap on duty about the lameness of the swipe-in/sign-in system,  he quoted Ron Paul, Ben Franklin, and Aldous Huxley in solidarity and then we talked politics a bit and parted ways.

Of Course They Need Glowsticks!

Over on Low Plaza, and for the last half hour or so, a crowd has gathered, sending out rainbow rays and good-time tunes into the night. Weighed down with glow-rings, the masses cover the steps and jam to “Chicken Fried,” the “Cupid Shuffle,” and “Jai-Ho” remixes.

The event is CUgLow. A tight core of dedicated dancers drift awkwardly among a dispersed crowd of freshmen and OLs. In the background a projector displays basketball stills, pictures of campus, and Bacchanal shots. Bereft of alcohol, first-years are getting drunk on Columbia.

One senior passerby, asked whether the event was sad or nice, pronounced it, “Sad.” Another bemoaned the pain Mother Gaia has suffered for all the glow-rings littering the Plaza. Still more sat together pouring drinks in highball glasses, musing, “We just like observing the freshmen.”

So do we.

Update, 11:20pm: A tipster spotted a gaggle of freshpeople with glow-rings all the way in midtown—bless their brave souls.


Representative Democracy, We Got That: 2011 Edition

Alexander Hamilton, an alum, founded SGA.

Bright young things: in the next few weeks you will be introduced to a dizzying array of organizations, acronyms, slang, and food trucks. Bwog knows it can be difficult to keep track, so to ease your bureaucracy-induced agitation is Bwog’s CCSC correspondent Brian Wagner, here to untangle the web that is Columbia’s undergraduate student government.

The Senate and The Councils

Columbia University Senate

The Senate is Columbia’s überlegislature, and a testament to the fact that we were the first University with a formal bureaucracy. The unwieldy body represents “faculty, students, and other constituencies.” The plenary meetings of the Senate take place roughly once per month throughout the academic year.

Hyperbole aside, here are the cold hard facts: The Senate has 108 voting seats, with 63 reserved for faculty, 24 for students, 6 for officers of research, 2 each for administrative staff, librarians, and alumni, and 9 for senior administrators including the president, who chairs monthly plenaries.

Action on the Senate floor may not seem as immediate as that in meetings of your Student Council (or Government Association—hey Barnard!), but these heirs of Webster and Calhoun get to weigh in on some of the Columbia community’s most pressing issues: from the lively and sometimes rowdy return of ROTC to the much-discussed-outside-Butler smoking ban, the budget-monitoring resolution on fringe benefits for university officers, and “rules governing political demonstrations.”


Things You Never Knew You Never Knew

Twenty-fifteen, we know you think you know a lot. That is why campus is filled with conversation like this:

[Group of COOP freshpeople walking up Broadway]
Freshgirl: “I am like in love with Banksy.”
Freshboy: “Yeah he’s like a big deal.”

But there’s so much left to learn. Bwog rounded up some of the things that now seem so commonplace it’s almost silly. But we were in your shoes once, and we’re here to help. The trick to this guide is to read Urban Dictionary when no one is looking:

Everything You Need to Know About Operation Ivy League

Yesterday, Harrison David began serving his prison sentence at Rikers. The other defendants in the case have yet another hearing in Manhattan Criminal Court on September 23rd. It looks like the long saga of Operation Ivy League may be drawing to a close. Upperclassmen may be relieved it’s finally over, but members of the Class of 2015 probably have no idea what happened on campus while they were still finishing up their applications. And they thought Moodygate was a big deal! As a public service, Bwog presents this primer on Operation Ivy League.

What does “Operation Ivy League” mean?

Operation Ivy League was the name of a months-long NYPD investigation into drug-dealing that resulted in the arrests of five Columbia students last year. The students were Harrison David (SEAS ’12 and a member of the fraternity AEPi), Adam Klein (CC ’12 and Psi U) Chris Coles (SEAS ’11 and Intercultural House, or ICH), Michael Wymbs (CC ’12 and unaffiliated, living in East Campus), and Joseph Stephen Perez, better known as Stephan Vincenzo (CC ’12 and Pike). They were arrested early on the morning of December 7, 2010 when NYPD officers with guns drawn raided the students’ frat houses and dorm rooms.

What were the students accused of?

The students were accused of dealing a variety of drugs, and early reports stated that each student “specialized” in a different kind of drug, though this conspiracy argument was eventually dropped. Coles was accused of selling a pound and a half of marijuana; Wymbs of LSD and MDMA (ecstasy); Perez of Adderall and amphetamines; Klein of marijuana, MDMA, and LSD; and David of marijuana and cocaine.

And what happened to them?

After they were arrested, the students were taken to prison on Rikers Island. Within days, most of the students had been bailed out, and their families had hired high-flying defense attorneys. The exception was Harrison David, who remained at Rikers for nearly two weeks before his father, Dr. David David, bailed him out and sent him to live with a family friend and former corrections officer in Florida.

Did they go to trial?

Not yet. Instead of a trial, the students faced a series of hearings at Manhattan Criminal Court (down by Chinatown) in the months following the arrests. The defendants were charged with a variety of felonies (including “criminal sale of a controlled substance” and “criminal sale of marijuana”) in different degrees. If convicted, they would had had to face years of jail time. All students initially pled “not guilty” to the charges, and were later offered plea deals.


The First Lit-Hum Lecture 2011

Bwog wonders whether Bloom prefers the Lattimore translation to the Fitzgerald

Alison Herman, CC’15, was dutifully in attendance yesterday afternoon. She keeps it short and sweet below. N.B. Christia Mercer is a Bright Eyes fan.

At 2:30 sharp on Tuesday, over a thousand Columbia College freshpeople and one intrepid reporter packed themselves into Roone Arledge Auditorium for their first-ever college lecture. With the help of a nifty slideshow, Christia Mercer spent the next hour and a half holding forth on the Iliad—the book we spent our summers SparkNoting, avoiding, and occasionally reading. Proving that she knew her audience, Mercer began by steering students towards the Internet, specifically the Lit Hum website, which promises to augment the Lit Hum experience with shiny pictures and “luscious” quotes. There’s even a section for students to submit pieces of art inspired by the Lit Hum syllabus. Soon, however, it was time for the students to take out their books. Touching on glory, honor, and other lofty principles, Mercer nonetheless kept the mood light, casually dropping references to Lady Gaga, Havana Central, and even a nearly naked Orlando Bloom.

At the lecture’s conclusion, Mercer called upon the audience to literally answer the big questions, including “What does it mean to live a good life?” and “What is a good life good for?” Praising the answers of the brave souls who volunteered to represent their discussion groups, Mercer at last pronounced the freshmen free and ready to begin their first year of college.

Unfortunately clothed via the Orlando Bloom Files message board