operation ivy league Archive



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img April 09, 20167:04 pmimg 0 Comments

Weston's album art

Weston’s album art

Even if you weren’t a Columbia student at the time of Operation Ivy League, you probably had an idea of what went down through different media sources. Almost six years have passed since the incident, but musician Kosmo Weston has kept it relevant by inserting sound bites from different news broadcasts and court hearings. His work is an interesting and creative way to remember the event; take a listen below.

Flat Belly Recordings via Kosmo Weston



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img August 27, 20132:08 pmimg 15 Comments

shitty iphone picture

Welcome to the block

In an effort to keep institutional memory alive, Bwog wants to teach you about major issues and topics at Columbia.  If there is something you would like to know more about, look it up on wikicu or email tips@bwog.com.  Today, we attempt to explain why you’re not at a frat fraternity party like all your high school friends.  Take it easy in the comments, upperclassmen, we don’t want to scare the first-years off.  Deep breath now, this one’s a doozy…

The first major development was Operation Ivy League (OIL), in December 2010 (read here for a full explanation), when five Columbia students were arrested for dealing drugs.  Three of the five were brothers of Pike (Pi Kappa Alpha), Psi U, and AEPi.  These three fraternities lost their brownstones in 2011.  There was a lot of shouting about the horror of collective discipline.  PsiU had a deceptively large owl above their doorway, which is heartily missed.  Curiously, although one of the people busted in OIL was in the Intercultural House on 114th, they faced no punishment.  Throughout the 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 school years, the brownstones were used as regular housing, which was kinda sweet.

But last year, with much commotion, the three brownstones were offered up to campus organizations.  Brownstones are historically hard-fought, see: 2008’s awarding to DeltaSig.  Both Beta and ADP own their brownstones, but the rest are owned by the university.  That doesn’t mean they can run completely by their own accord, though–police have been known to shut down loud Beta parties and every so often ADP has to go dry due to incidents in the house.

A Brownstone Review Committee was organized and thirteen groups applied for the space, including seven Greek organizations.  Finalists were chosen and included Pike and AEPi, both of which had been working very hard to improve their image and community impact.  Eventually the houses were awarded to AXO (a formerly-homeless sorority), Lambda Phi Epsilon, and Q House (a special interest group for LGBTQ).  AEPi’s exclusion prompted the Chairman of the Greek Judicial Board to resign.

AEPi and Pike (who, by many accounts, were living between Mel’s and an off-campus apartment) got a consolation prize of sorts: their very own EC townhouses.  We’re interested to see how they use them.  Earlier this spring, Pike ran into some more trouble when we found a raunchy scavenger hunt list, prompting review from the Greek Judicial Board.

In 2002, Fiji (Phi Gamma Delta), sold their brownstone back to the university, after some, ah, interesting history.  Since then, they’ve been housed in an EC townhouse, where they still managed to throw some sweaty parties.  Last year, they tried to get one of the three open brownstones, but didn’t make it to the finals.

Earlier this month, we got word that ZBT, a baseball frat, had lost their housing.  There was some allegedly revolting hazing event in the house last fall, rumored to be carried out by the women’s field hockey team, and not the brothers.  The Inter-Greek Council revoked their charter, but they appealed and former Dean of Student Affairs Kevin Shollenberger shockingly let them keep their charter, but left them on social probation.  Then in May, after winning the Ivy League Championships, the baseball team held an unregistered party in the house, leading ZBT to lose the space.

Any questions?



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img April 09, 20138:30 pmimg 28 Comments

In the new issue of your favorite magazine The Blue and White, on campus later this week, you’ll read about the denial of tenure to a favorite Barnard professor, get some insight into CUSH’s split from the IRC, and hear from the wisest cabbie in New York City. Whet your appetite with this piece by senior editor Torsten Odland, CC ’15, on Operation Ivy League and how quickly institutional memory fades at Columbia. 

In the early hours of December 7, 2010, the following students were awoken and arrested for drug dealing by NYPD officers: Harrison David, SEAS ’12; Chris Coles, CC ’12; Stephan/Jose Vincenzo/Perez, CC ’12; Michael Wymbs, CC, ’11; and Adam Klein, CC ’12. Specifically, they’d sold: marijuana, cocaine, LSD, ecstasy, and Adderall. The bust was the culmination of a five month long investigation of the students, from whom undercover NYPD officers bought $11,000 worth of drugs over the course of 31 deals.

In the Office of Special Narcotics’ original press release, they referred to the sting as “Operation Ivy League.” Though Police Commissioner Ray Kelly denies ever using it, it is the name that stuck.


Illustration by Anne Scotti, CC ’16

Students from 2010 remember “OIL” as a “big deal.” Operation Ivy League united the Columbia community in confusion; the atmosphere on campus in the days after the arrests was described to me as a “collective daze”—OIL was “shocking” and “upsetting” and everyone was talking about it.

The responses to “Five Students Arrested in Drug Bust, ‘Operation Ivy League,’ ” Bwog’s first article covering the story, demonstrate how intensely Columbia students felt about the issue: “My thoughts go out to the countless individuals in the Greek community who fight everyday to show the truly positive side of their fraternity or sorority, only to have actions like this essentially reset the process. It’s an absolute shame”; “My heart goes out to the desperately poor people from third-world countries who risk their lives smuggling drugs inside their bodies because they have no other option. My heart does NOT go out to Ivy Leaguers who got caught.”

For the Columbia students who were there, OIL was an unforgettable event, about which many still feel strongly, both in support of or in disgust with the arrested. It’s remained campus news for two years–—Bwog published updates about each of the accused’s court cases, and still keeps campus posted when Jose Perez appears on network news to talk about the dangers of Adderall.

Two years from now, almost all of the undergrads who remember the atmosphere on campus in the days after the arrests will have graduated. Which begs the question: Does Operation Ivy League matter to Columbia students anymore? Let me put it this way: In Columbia history, can we put Op. Ivy League in the same category as “that time Snoop Dogg played Bacchanal?” Did it permanently impact the lives of Columbia students, or is it another “legendary moment” that ultimately amounts to a memory?

Read on to find out…



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img November 27, 20124:30 pmimg 9 Comments

Stephan Vincenzo—oops, it’s Perez–is back on TV to discuss the “prescription epidemic” sweeping the country. Again! Dressed to the nines (again), Perez also talks about returning to New York for trial and his forthcoming graduation from Emory University.

The video won’t embed for us, but you can watch him tell his “story about redemption” here.

In other news, we can expect the brownstone decision this Friday.



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img October 18, 20121:14 pmimg 36 Comments

Somebody call Nancy Reagan. NBC’s Brian Williams is talking about Adderall. Interviewed (and ready to scare you straight!) is our very Stephan Vincenzo/Perez (N.B. Stephan told the B&W years ago that “Vincenzo” is “as an homage to Al Capone’s brother.” But that probably doesn’t go well with his redemption narrative, so he’s back to “Perez.”)

For the uninitiated, he was the the Pike brother arrested in Operation Ivy League. For context: read his Campus Character. Remember his sick Carman party. From the horse’s mouth: “we r throwin da sickest party to get the year started rite…. Carman the sexyest dorm house ever…. we’re goin show these other dorms who runs shit…”

From the pretty awful network news story:

His decision to take Adderall ended up changing his life. That night Perez says he powered through his work and was capable of reading for eight hours nonstop—absorbing all of the information. Before long, he said he asked his friend how he could get his own Adderall prescription.

Contemporary context: the drug bust that involved Vincenzo is what got the three brownstones on 114th vacated, and why they’re up for grabs now.

Extra treat, after the jump.



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img September 30, 20128:21 pmimg 53 Comments

See you at The Big Game, huh?

Many say that interest in Greek life at Columbia is at an all time high, and it is so. Just a few days ago, PanHell picked AOII and Gamma Phi Beta to fill the two openings they set aside for new sororities, and Greek life flexed its upvote muscles in that comment thread. Last May, the IFC approved a Columbia chapter of SAE (despite vicious vicious hazing at Dartmouth and a death at Cornell). In 2010, Barnard searched its soul, officially recognizing and funding sororities.

Regardless of people’s individual feelings about Greek life,” Greek life is growing.

And so this semester Greek life at Columbia finds itself at a plastic juncture. The three 114th brownstones occupied by Pike, PsiU, and AEPi before they were booted for their connection to Operation Ivy League are open to repopulation by student groups, Greek and otherwise. Unsurprisingly, lots of different cliques are salivating over those sweet, sweet brownstones. Applicants include AEPi, Pike, AXO, Lambda Phi Epsilon, The Student Wellness Project, and Writer’s House.

Read more about the selection process below



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img September 27, 20129:30 amimg 3 Comments

what a pretty campus <3

Looking good by comparison, Columbia

PrezBo will become the most senior Ivy President at the end of this year, after 2 other Ivy Presidents step down. Since he took office in 2002, he only needs to serve until 2046 to beat Nicholas Murray Butler’s record of 43 years.  (Spectator)

Some other university’s chapter of Pi Kappa Alpha is in the spotlight today after use of an alcohol enema unfortunately caused a student to be hospitalized. Not sure their hijinks can top Operation Ivy League though. (CNN)

Apparently college students aren’t spending as much money at bars as they used to, favoring pregaming coordinated through social media instead. Also, the Cornell students in this article have embarrassed us all. (NYT)

Beware of NYU students getting it on in Butler. Their reporters paid us a visit and found Butler beautiful, only slightly depressing, and ideal for sex. (NYULocal)

Football fans have an extra reason to be happy today because the NFL ref lockout is over! (Chicago Tribune)

 Sheer beauty via Wikimedia Commons



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img April 17, 20123:05 pmimg 6 Comments

Your future home?

First, a recap.

The 114th Brownstones have seen a lot of action. After saying goodbye to Alpha Epsilon Pi, Pi Kappa Alpha, and Psi Upsilon at the end of Spring 2011 following Operation Ivy League, 536, 542 and 546 W. 114th opened their doors to a variety of transfer, wait list, and summer transfer students for the 2011-12 academic year. This housing season, the Brownstones entered the lottery, with the few doubles going to juniors and sophomores in suite selection, and singles still up for grabs in regular selection (which is coming up).

The Brownstone Review Committee

In February, Terry Martinez, Dean of Community Development and Multi-Cultural Affairs, announced that students could apply to a committee that would decide who the Brownstones would be available to starting in Fall 2013. This month, Katherine Cutler, Director of Communications and Special Projects at CSA let us know that this committee has been selected, and that they will be in charge of deciding which groups will be able to call 114th home come the 2013-14 year. No explicit mention of Special Interest Housing, but that’s basically what this will be.

According to Cutler’s e-mails, the committee will:

  • Develop the criteria for a successful application
  • Hold open information sessions to help answer any questions or clarify the process
  • Review completed applications
  • Make recommendations to Dean Shollenberger for final decisions



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img April 04, 20127:05 pmimg 3 Comments

Bwog has obtained only scant reports about the goings-ons inside the ex-frat houses on 114th. The description of amenities below is from 546, and the pictures are from both 536 and 546.

Location: 536, 542, and 546 W. 114th St.

  • Nearby dorms: Ruggles, Carman, Broadway, Hogan and other brownstones/Greek houses.
  • Stores and restaurants: As central as any Block dorm—Strokos and Artopolis to the East, Broadway to the West, and a whole ton of food carts.

Cost: TBA

Amenities (in 546):

  • Bathrooms: One or two full baths per floor, except for the top floor.
  • AC/Heating: No AC.
  • Kitchen/Lounge: First floor has a cavernous lobby with five awkward chairs that no one uses. Living area has a dining table with six chairs, two couches. Sizable kitchen with two fridges. Gatherings in the gigantic basement are prohibited, likely to prevent frat-style parties.
  • Laundry: One washer and one dryer, coins only. Many residents go next door to Broadway.
  • Computers/printers: None, but both Broadway and Carman labs are nearby.
  • Gym: No gym.
  • Intra-transportation: A large central staircase.
  • Wi-Fi: Ethernet only.
  • Flooring: Hardwood.

Room Variety:

  • 536 has six doubles and eight singles
  • 542 has six doubles and six singles
  • In 546, second floor and third floors have three singles and a double, fourth floor has four singles, fifth floor has two singles
  • Most rooms have high ceilings, as tall as 12 ft.
  • All rooms vary in size, but in general most singles and doubles will be slightly larger than those in most other dorms



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img January 04, 20123:23 amimg 23 Comments

After serving a short jail stint for failing a drug test, Christopher Coles pleaded guilty Tuesday to selling marijuana to an undercover police officer. He will now begin the rehabilitation program originally offered to him in early November. According to the AP, Manhattan state Supreme Court Justice Ellen Coin warned Coles, “Most of the people you are going to encounter there [in rehab] are not going to be college kids. This is not a fraternity.”

If Coles—who, unlike his fellow Operation Ivy League defendants, was actually not part of a Columbia fraternity when arrested last year—makes it through the year-long program, he’ll be allowed to withdraw his guilty plea and the case will be dismissed.



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img December 20, 20111:18 pmimg 21 Comments

Update, 9:45 pm: According to the New York Post, Chris Coles is back in jail after failing a court-mandated drug test. He will return to court December 22nd, and will still have a chance to enter the treatment program he was granted diversion to in November.

The AP reports that Stefan Vincenzo has pleaded guilty to “selling a prescription stimulant,” Adderall. This is not the same as the diversion to treatment Klein sought and Coles got—rather, Vincenzo will

“…be allowed to withdraw that plea and plead guilty to a drug misdemeanor in a year if he does 300 hours of community service, passes monthly drug tests and avoids rearrest.”

Harrison David pleaded guilty to a felony charge in July, as did Michael Wymbs in November. Adam Klein, who is still seeking diversion to treatment, is due to appear in court later today.



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img December 13, 20116:53 pmimg 12 Comments

Adam Klein—the last of the students arrested in Operation Ivy League to begin pretrial proceedings—was denied diversion to treatment in a Manhattan courtroom today, reports Bloomberg. Had he been granted diversion and completed the program successfully, Klein could have avoided a felony charge on his criminal record.

“Obviously we’re disappointed,” Klein’s attorney, Alan Abramson, told Bloomberg. “We think Adam is an ideal candidate for diversion and the kind of defendant the diversion statute was created for.”

Klein now faces a sentence of 2 and a half years (maximum) if he’s convicted of criminal sale of a controlled substance.  He, along with the other defendants, was offered a plea bargain in June, turned it down.

Klein and Stephen Perez, also known as “Stephan Vincenzo,” are the only two Operation Ivy League defendants whose cases are still ongoing. Harrison David was convicted of a felony drug charge in August and received a few months in jail, while Michael Wymbs pleaded guilty last month and received five years of probation. Christopher Coles was more fortunate, as Judge Sonberg granted him a diversion to treatment a few weeks ago.

Perez has a court hearing scheduled next Tuesday, and Klein will return to court Jan. 10.



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img November 22, 20117:30 pmimg 9 Comments

Christopher Coles, one of the students arrested last year in Operation Ivy League, was granted a diversion to treatment earlier today, according to DNAinfo. Instead of receiving probation or jail time, Coles will complete a one-year drug treatment course. Perhaps most importantly, he will not have a felony charge on his criminal record when he completes the treatment.

A diversion to treatment is meant as an alternative to a felony conviction and jail time for drug offenders who sell drugs primarily to fund their own addiction, not just to make money. Coles recognized he had a crushing addiction and sold drugs to support it, argued his lawyer, Marc Agnifilo. “He contacted Columbia University on his own without knowing that he was going to be arrested a month later and said, ‘I have a problem with marijuana. I want to stop smoking. My life is falling apart. My parents are not supporting me, they’re disowning me,'” Agnifilo argued in court, before telling the New York Post, “I think he was high most of his waking hours.” Agnifilo’s argument convinced the judge, who approved Coles’ diversion to treatment and invited him back to court on December 20th to work out the details of his treatment plan.

Coles’ co-defendants also applied for diversions to treatment earlier this year, but did not receive them. In August, Harrison David was sentenced to 3 months in jail and 5 years of probation, and last week, Michael Wymbs received five years of probation. Cases against the last two defendants, Jose Stephen Perez and Adam Klein, are still pending at this time.



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img November 15, 201112:40 pmimg 8 Comments

Bloomberg reports that Michael Wymbs, one of the five Columbia students implicated in last year’s Operation Ivy League drug bust, has pleaded guilty to the court’s drug charges. By doing so, he will be eligible for five years’ probation instead of a 2.5-year prison term.

Last month, state Supreme Court Justice Michael J. Sonberg ruled that neither Wymbs nor Jose Stephan Perez, a.k.a. Stephan Vincenzo, would be eligible for “diversion to treatment” rehabilitation programs in lieu of formal drug charges, citing that their drug sales were motivated by profit rather than by addiction.

Fellow defendant Adam Klein, whose hearing was postponed today, is still seeking diversion to treatment, whereas Stephan Vincenzo’s hearing is still scheduled for today. Defendant Christopher Coles has already been granted diversion to treatment, and he has until November 22 to inform the court of his decision to enroll.



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img October 11, 20112:30 pmimg 11 Comments

According to Bloomberg News, Judge Michael Sonberg has denied the motion for a “diversion to treatment” for Operation Ivy League defendants Jose Stephan Perez and Michael Wymbs. However, Judge Sonberg ruled that fellow defendant Christopher Coles could be eligible for the program, given his self-reported addiction to marijuana. A fourth defendant, Adam Klein, is still waiting for a ruling on his eligibility for the program. The final Operation Ivy League defendant, Harrison David, was sentenced in August to six months (likely to be reduced to three-and-a-half for good behavior) in prison at Rikers Island. The remaining four are due back in court next month.

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