prezbo Archive



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USenate has a special affection(?) for the Smoking Policy.

Joe Milholland, Governmental Bwogger Extraordinaire, attended the USenate plenary this week. An unexpectedly wide range of topics came up, making for some interesting takeaways. But, of course, how can one have a USenate plenary without mentioning the Smoking Policy?

The University Senate had a plenary on Friday, and several smaller topics came up. Here they are, followed by two policy updates:

  • After a moment of silence for the Columbia students killed and injured in the Global Brigades trip to Honduras, PrezBo said that the university’s response was “just outstanding.” PrezBo singled out Samuel Seward, Robert Gristo, and Kavita Sharma, who flew to Honduras as quickly as possible once they heard the news.
  • Columbia College Senator Ramis Wadood said the Student Affairs Committee will release the student quality of life report in a week to a week and a half. He also said that SAC has voted to support a plaque that indicates Columbia is built on land once lived on by the Lenape people.
  • The university’s faculty have been taking a quality of life survey of their own, and, according to Sharyn O’Halloran, 33% of faculty completed it. O’Halloran will provide highlights from the surrey’s data on April 1 and will have more detailed info on April 29. O’Halloran also said that a quality of life survey for research officers is being rolled out this semester.
  • A proposal to give non-tenured faculty “longer notice periods for any decisions not to renew their appointments” was presented and discussed. The proposal passed unanimously, although one senator worried this might lead the university to hire more part-time faculty.

Smoking Policy

  • The Smoking Policy – a perennial University Senate topic – reared its head once more from the deepest, darkest depths of Columbia policy discussion. Specifically, Research Officer Senator Daniel Savin asked for an update, saying, “Walking around campus, it really doesn’t seem as if there’s been any change in the amount of smoking or the location of smoking.”
  • “This is my favorite topic,” said O’Halloran in response. “I will simply say I too have noticed those issues. We have an implementation committee. They will be coming back to us next year with an assessment of whether this has worked or not.” She thanked Savin for his input.

The Institute for Ideas and Imagination

  • A resolution to establish an Institute for Ideas and Imagination passed unanimously. The institute, located at the Global Center in Reid Hall, Paris, would house 14 fellows from humanities-related fields – 7 from Columbia’s faculty and 7 from around the world (not necessarily university faculty).
  • “Broadly speaking, the idea is this: America has probably the best universities in the world,” said Senator Mark Mawozar. “Nevertheless, they’ve benefited in various ways from a period of world history – about 50 or 60 years – when America has been the unchallenged hegemon. And that can lead to a certain kind of intellectual inertia, in which you assume, within your field, or your discipline, or your subject, that you know exactly what’s knowledge and how it should be defined and what’s mainstream and what’s not. And the world’s changing now, pretty fast.”



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img November 21, 20151:08 pmimg 2 Comments

Maybe one day we'll stop investing in fossil fuels!

Maybe one day we’ll stop investing in fossil fuels!

PrezBo’s Defense of Affirmative Action and Discussion of Columbia’s Racial Policy

At the beginning of Friday’s University Senate plenary, PrezBo gave a long speech about racism and the university’s role therein. His speech was historical in nature, starting with the Supreme Court decision Brown vs. The Board of Education, which struck down segregated public schooling as unconstitutional. After that decision, PrezBo said, “basically” every college in the US embraced affirmative action policies, as well as corporations and the government.

However, PrezBo went on, in the late 1980’s these ideas began to be attacked under the Reagan administration, and a challenge to the University of Texas’s Law School’s affirmative action policies succeeded in the Supreme Court. Later, Proposition 209 to California’s constitution got rid of affirmative action, and, according to PrezBo, the University of California is now 2.5% African-American (it was higher before Prop 209, he said).

Find out more about USenate discourse after the jump



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img November 16, 201512:04 pmimg 0 Comments

Around 11:15AM, Columbia University President Lee Bollinger issued a statement on the recent terror attacks seen in Paris, as well as those in Turkey, Lebanon, and Russia, in an email titled “Statement Regarding Recent Global Events.” The email comes more than two days after at least 128 people were killed in city-wide terrorist attacks on the capital of France. Immediately after the extent of the attacks were known, Columbia issued a statement on its Facebook page stating “[they] believe that all Columbia students and faculty at the Paris Global Center are safe and accounted for,” though until now the University had not issued an official statement on the attacks.

The email laments those whose lives were lost in the attacks, and states that the University Chapel’s bells will toll at noon today, allowing us “to pause to reflect on these horrifying events.” Bollinger reaffirms the safety of all Columbia students and faculty members currently in Paris, and goes on to thank the “dedicated staff who on Friday night quickly accounted for everyone and confirmed their safety.”

The full statement from President Bollinger is provided below.

Read the email after the jump!



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img November 15, 20158:12 pmimg 7 Comments

This evening, we received an email from a representative of the Columbia delegation for the Latinx Ivy League Conference including an email sent to President Bollinger. The email outlines an incident this past weekend involving one of the delegates from Dartmouth with police at Brown. The tip also included the student’s story about the night’s events. The email to President Bollinger criticizes him for his lack of response to the incident considering Brown’s President Christina Paxson sent an email to all Ivy League presidents about the issue.

The delegation said they decided to publicly release the email to campus media so that “the administration cannot dismiss/avoid addressing these concerns with a short email.” You can read the email sent to President Bollinger below.

Dear President Bollinger,

We, the Columbia Delegation to the Latinx Ivy League Conference, write to inform you of our concerns and experiences at Brown University this weekend. As one of the nation’s most renowned first amendment scholars and a fierce advocate for affirmative action programs, we are confident that you will be able to respond to our concerns directly and strongly with the intent of taking action…in a way that’s less prevaricating than your email to our entire community earlier this week. We also expect a clear delineation of the actions you, as president, are taking to make this campus and the Ivy League safer spaces for students of color.

On Friday evening, a Latinx student delegate from Dartmouth College was the victim of assault at the hands of law enforcement hired by Brown’s Student Activities’ Office. We were so impacted by the excessive use of force that we were compelled to abandon the schedule of events and mobilize to bring immediate attention to the incident at hand.

Read the rest of the email here.



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img November 06, 20152:03 pmimg 2 Comments

Screen Shot 2015-11-04 at 7.29.04 PMWe bring you another piece from the Blue and White‘s November issue (which is now online) by Managing Editor Channing Prend on the new Columbia research study focusing on sexual health at the university.

“Last weekend I was standing in line to get into 1020…” These words could have been uttered by any number of students at Columbia, but, in fact, they came from distinguished sociology professor Shamus Khan.

Khan is conducting an ethnographic study of undergraduate student life as part of the Sexual Health Initiative to Foster Transformation, a new research initiative funded by the Office of the President. SHIFT, which was launched last spring by Mailman School of Public Health professors Jennifer Hirsch and Claude Mellins, aims to study the community-level factors that influence sexual health at Columbia.

The ethnographic part of this research involves, as Hirsch calls it, “hanging out with students in their native habitat.” While Khan recognized that his presence at Mel’s or the Heights could seem “a bit creepy,” he maintained that there is a lot to learn from seeing the social spaces in which students interact.

Some of the questions that Khan said he considers when navigating around sweaty, drunk students include: How do people enter this space? Does anybody come here alone? How are people acting? How are people experiencing their contact with one another? In order to answer these questions he makes observations and takes notes. “I find it hard to talk to students in that context because I’m old and irrelevant,” Khan mentioned. But he said that the value of these trips to bars is that they provide him with context to draw on later in one-on-one interviews.

As for his findings so far, Khan remarked, “I’ve been hanging out at bars every weekend since the start of the year and to be brutally honest, it’s not that interesting.” It doesn’t take a sociological study to discover Cannon’s sucks.

Khan clarified that he is not simply “hunting for sexual spaces.” In addition to visiting local bars on weekend evenings, he also makes observations in Lerner, JJ’s, and Butler. “Not everyone in the Columbia community goes out to bars,” Khan said. “There are a lot of people in the library at 11:30 on a Saturday night!”

Learn more about SHIFT next.



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img October 20, 20159:29 pmimg 2 Comments

This was basically the author's experience at the chat.

This was basically the author’s experience at the chat.

Bwog Editor-In-Chief Britt Fossum had the fortunate opportunity to attend one of PrezBo’s intimate “fireside chats,” bringing junior staffer Gowan Moïse along as her escort. The pair report back about the exclusive event to you here–lucky you!

Another year, another fireside chat. Milling about in a crowd of freshmen and administrators, I felt like an expert at this kind of thing. I explained how many bottles of water President Bollinger typically drinks, the posture he adopts as he awkwardly perches on his tiny stool, and–to the wonder of the junior staff writer accompanying me–showed where the unopened texts from the Lit Hum and CC syllabi are kept in the Presidential Library. It is heartening to meet and interact with our campus administrators, and while they certainly speak candidly, the fireside chat is not the place to hear any major announcement or deep confession.

That being said, Monday’s chat touched on a much wider scope of topics than any chat I had attended before, and Bollinger took more time to engage with the students by asking questions of us and passing questions on to other administrators. Additionally, many of the attendees were first-years and chose to ask less serious questions. One such freshman asked what alumni usually regret about attending Columbia, to which Bollinger replied, “the feeling that people always express is too much pressure, not enough community” but added the caveat that “the overriding sense is that people are happy.” He mentioned that alumni from the 70s and 80s in particular struggled with attending Columbia due to the inhospitable social climate of NYC during that time.

Read on for more of PrezBo’s words of wisdom.



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img September 26, 201512:16 pmimg 0 Comments

Feeling out of the loop on the campus scoop? Columbia’s Senate, accompanied by PrezBo, gathered yesterday to discuss upcoming projects here in MoHi and beyond (Global Reports!). Bwog’s trusted politics correspondent, Joe Milholland, is here to relay the info to you.

“Manhattanville is, of course, the big thing,” said PrezBo at this Friday’s University Senate meeting, the first of the semester. In his introductory speech to the senate, Prezbo outlined the first buildings to open at Manhattanville:

  • The Mind, Brain, Behavior building
  • The Lenfest Center for the Arts – “primarily a performance venue”
  • The Forum Building, which will come after the Mind, Brain, Behavior building and will “provide a 430 seat auditorium [and] multiple smaller places for meeting and speeches.”

PrezBo also mentioned offhandedly that Prentis Hall, where the School of the Arts students work near Manhattanville, will be preserved.

In addition, PrezBo gave a brief introduction to Columbia’s new Global Reports.

“The idea is that the institution of the press, because of financial constraints primarily, is unable to cover important issues around the world, especially those related to the phenomenon of globalization, and that a great university – especially one with a great journalism school and so on – should attempt to fill that void,” said Prezbo about Columbia Global Reports.

But what about these Reports is so important?



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img September 21, 201512:50 pmimg 0 Comments

The study reveals disturbing trends and prompts action.

The study reveals disturbing trends.

The Association of American Universities (AAU) conducted a sexual assault survey at 27 of its member institutions, including Columbia. In the executive summary written by Columbia faculty, topics such as the prevalence of sexual assault, the groups most at risk, the role of alcohol and drugs, and the reporting of assault were explored. In an email, President Bollinger suggests further action will be taken and details the roles of Sexual Respect and SHIFT.

Highlights from the report:

  • 24.4% of female undergraduate seniors reported having experienced sexual assault since starting at Columbia.
  • 81.9 % of female undergraduates thought it would not be likely that campus officials would conduct a fair investigation of a reported case of sexual assault or sexual misconduct.
  • Female undergraduate students who identified as lesbian, bisexual, asexual, or questioning reported a higher rate of nonconsensual penetration since starting at Columbia than female students who self-identified as heterosexual or straight (18.9% compared to 10.9%).
  • Similarly, undergraduate students who identify as transgender, genderqueer or gender nonconforming, questioning, or gender “not listed” reported higher levels of nonconsensual penetration (13.3%) since entering college than students who identified as heterosexual or straight.

The second annual Report on Gender-Based Misconduct Prevention and Response at Columbia has also been released.

Read the full text of the email sent out by President Bollinger below:



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img September 07, 20158:44 pmimg 1 Comments

While casually checking our courses on SSOL/my.barnard tonight, we came across a startling change to one of our courses this fall. The professor for the Freedom of Speech and Press course (famously taught each fall by PrezBo) has been changed to Anita Dwyer. To confirm, we also found that the CU Directory of Courses also lists Dwyer as the instructor for the course.


Where’d you go, PrezBo?!

PrezBo’s class routinely reaches capacity each fall with PoliSci majors and other Columbia students who just want to experience our fearless leader in the role of professor. However, we’re concerned why this instructor change has occurred. Students in the course have not been notified of any change of instructor. They have only received an email from the Political Science Department’s Administrative Assistant Elizabeth Howe announcing this Wednesday’s class is cancelled.

We have reached out for comment on the change in instructor for the course. However, if this change is true, we sure won’t be taking the class anymore if it means we won’t be able to see PrezBo twice a week.

Update, 9/8/15: We have received a response from Betty Howe confirming that PrezBo will be teaching the Freedom of Speech and Press course this semester. Anita Dwyer has been added as the professor for the course to avoid PrezBo getting copied on emails sent to students via Courseworks. So, rest assured—PrezBo will be teaching this semester.



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img May 15, 20151:35 pmimg 9 Comments

75093_1376351192633922_1902545825_nIn an email sent this afternoon, PrezBo announced his support for the University’s divestment from companies engaged in the operation of private prisons.  A recommendation will come before the Board of Trustees in their next meeting in June.

On March 31, ACSRI (the Advisory Committee on Socially Responsible Investing) voted to recommend prison divestment to the Trustees, and this represents, in the words of PrezBo, the “culmination of thoughtful analysis and hard work by ACSRI and by…students, faculty, and alumni.”

PrezBo also touched on the issue of fossil fuel divestment, which ASCRI has been discussing since 2013, in today’s message.  He vocalized his hope that the “conversation” on climate change remain in the forefront, and he alluded that at an “appropriate time during the next academic year” this issue too will come before the Trustees.

You can read the full email below, after the jump.



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img May 13, 20152:30 pmimg 6 Comments

Robert Kasdin

Robert Kasdin

President Bollinger sent an email to students this afternoon announcing that Senior Executive Vice President Robert Kasdin will be leaving Columbia at the end of June. Kasdin will become the Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Johns Hopkins Medicine. Both former Dean Terry Martinez and Dean Kevin Shollenberger left Columbia in the past years to accept positions at Johns Hopkins, prompting a trend of admins leaving Columbia for the health care system. The real question is: which admin will Johns Hopkins scoop up next?

President Bollinger explains that this is “a time of significant change in our nation’s health care system” as Kasdin moves into his new position. He also asks for the Columbia community to congratulate Kasdin on his new role. President Bollinger did not name a replacement for Kasdin in his email.

Read the full email here.



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img May 01, 20158:01 pmimg 4 Comments



You wanna be on top? We compile the best — to the worst — of Columbia this past month. We were generously tipped this concept and accept the challenge. 

  1. Hillary Clinton. It’s no secret that she’s getting started. Former Secretary of State under #1 Columbia alum Obama and one-time First Lady began her second presidential run this April, angling for the Democratic nomination (and your vote) come 2016. She also made the keynote speech at the annual Dinkins Forum this week at Columbia; you can see photos of her visit here and tweets from the speech on our Twitter.
  2. International. Finals are a hard time for everyone, but made easier for those of the legal drinking age. There’s a story somewhere in those finals-week(s) sale spikes.
  3. President Bollinger. Has anyone heard from him lately? Let’s take the silence and lack of controversy as optimistic signs. Has anyone seen the Audi on Morningside Drive or College Walk? He must be in a good place right now.
  4. The Class of 2019. Whether you are a current Columbia student (and have joined one of the ’19 Facebook groups to remind yourself of a less jaded time) or yet pre-frosh (and a member of one of those groups to prematurely ingratiate yourself with some chronic stressed-out community), there lie good and bad ahead.
  5. Spirit events. Very neutral. There have been prospective student days on campus, senior fund tablings, and too many Barnard and (imminent) SEAS spirit days/weeks/freebies. Do the free water bottles, temporary tattoos, and T-shirts negate the hordes of high school tour groups? Does the bouncy house presently on Lehman Lawn warrant higher ranking?
  6. Dig Inn. Not looking so hot any more. Is anyone else getting tired of the weird chicken smell when they pass the restaurant? Is anyone else tired of plates over-saturated with olive oil?
  7. Seniors. We’ll miss you, but you’re on the way out. Hopefully on to great things, though maybe hung up on graduate school direction or future employment. Maybe still even hung up on theses. Let’s glean what wisdom we can from this Class of 2015.
  8. Dr. Oz.
  9. President Obama’s future Presidential Library. We’ll be bitter for a while.
  10. The spring 2015 semester. R.I.P. harried and hurried assignments, take-home quizzes, recitation sections, discussion sections, Met visits, labs, professor evaluations, midterms, TAs, taking 22 credits, taking 12 credits. We’re moving on. It’s been fun, but it’s basically over.

Man doing power gesture via Shutterstock.



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img April 17, 20156:29 pmimg 2 Comments

campus-nightThe Columbia Mental Health Task Force (MHTF) has just released a press release including their suggestions sent to President Bollinger later last year. Following the death of Joshua Villa in December, MHTF sent a memo to President Bollinger in regards to student concerns for mental health at Columbia. Some of the students’ proposals reflect the numerous opinions of Columbia students, including hiring more staff and offering extended hours for CPS. However, MHTF has still not received an official meeting with President Bollinger, as previously promised, to further discuss the memo. Co-founder of the task force, Sejal Singh CC ’15, praises the efforts of CPS to support students over the past semester, but Singh calls on President Bollinger to “lead a conversation” about fixing the gap between student needs and the actual services offered on campus.

To further educate the community on mental health issues at Columbia, MHTF will be hosting a Teach-In this Wednesday, April 22, at 8:30 PM in Pupin 214. All are encouraged to attend. The Teach-In will also allow for attendees to offer input on the proposals previously sent to President Bollinger.

Update, 7:51 PM: MHTF also released their survey report, which can be found here.

Please find the entire press release from MHTF below.

Student Advocates Express Serious Concern About Inaction of Central Administrators

Today, the Columbia University Mental Health Task Force (MHTF) called on University President Bollinger to respond to a student policy memo on mental health concerns submitted to his office in early December 2014. The MHTF publicly released this memo of comprehensive policy recommendations, along with the results of a survey assessing student experiences with Counseling and Psychological Services’ (CPS) care for identity-based mental health concerns.

The MHTF’s policy memo (link here) addresses a wide array of student concerns with mental health care on campus, and includes a series of specific proposals to expand CPS staffing and space, extend drop-in hours to midnight and into weekends, emphasize more diverse hiring, strengthen the University’s crisis response, and create a mental health-related orientation program for all incoming students. Many of the proposals are informed by the findings of the MHTF’s identity-based concerns survey.

Read the rest of the press release here.



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img April 01, 20159:01 amimg 0 Comments

Fuck you

Fuck you

Dermatologists hate her! This suburban mom uses cheap household ingredients to keep her skin looking like she’s still twenty-five!

Here are fifty-two bars of soap that look eerily similar to human beings.

You can’t ignore this shockingly heartwarming picture of a single mother making it on her own in the Big Apple.

Here are three things you’ll never want to read again if you went to Columbia University in the City of New York in the State of New York in the United States of America on the Earth.

Now for some actual news?



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img February 25, 20155:00 pmimg 4 Comments

We waited in line for this

Britt Fossum and Taylor Grasdalen happily represented Bwog last night

Last night, we were invited to President Bollinger’s first undergraduate fireside chat of the semester. Editor in Chief Taylor Grasdalen attended, and reports back here. (Please note that Internal Editor Britt Fossum also went, having won a seat by submitting the question “Do you read Bwog?”)

I must acknowledge that this was not my first Fireside Chat, though it was my first amongst other undergraduates. That said, the questions asked of President Lee “Ask Me Anything” Bollinger were nearly identical to those that I’d heard from graduate students. This tells me that whatever your school or year within Columbia, whatever your area of study, we’re ultimately concerned with the same things.

Let’s get “right into the thick of it,” then, as the first student to raise a question began. He asked about the difficulties of receiving a good or service from elsewhere in the University, particularly for a club, and how “departments have a monopoly on their own service.” Not only are costs incredibly high, but there’s an irrational amount of administrative work required. Bollinger had no answers, “[knows] nothing about it,” but had plenty for the next student.

This young panderer asked about the role of transparency in free speech, politics, and western democracy. Bollinger was happy to respond: “Every society has to discuss this kind of balance.” How much information are you willing to allow the public, after all? He considered the press and the public’s own roles in government transparency; while the press may publish whatever it can “get its hands on” with full constitutional protection, the “leaker” (he used Edward Snowden in example) may be prosecuted and receives no First Amendment rights under the Espionage Act. He felt that there’s been a shift “in favor of too much openness,” though citizens — the press included — must too be charged with representing the best interests of the government, for the sake of the country. It’s not only the editors in chief of The New York Times and Washington Post who have information today, but too the likes of Julian Assange, who certainly has no interest in protecting the United States. And on that note, the original asker said, “I’ll just take your class.”

Columbia Prison Divest, Manhattanville, money, and more transparency after the jump.

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