prezbo Archive

Apr

30

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Deep in thought

Deep in thought

PrezBo began the last University Senate plenary of the year with a collection of remarks on current events.

On the passing of Bill Campbell

“There was no more dedicated alumn of Columbia than Bill,” said PrezBo about the long-time Columbia trustee who died recently. “He really knew how to make organizations work,” said PrezBo. “When it came to making things happen and protecting me and the institution, there was just nobody better.”

PrezBo attended a memorial service for Campbell on Monday in Palo Alto (Campbell was involved in Silicon Valley), and he asked for a moment of silence at the plenary.

On Manhattanville

“On May 2nd, I’ll send out a statement saying that on May 2nd 1896, Morningside Heights campus was dedicated, and we are now beginning the process of dedicating the new campus in Manhattanville, and this will go on all through next year, as we begin to move into the buildings,” said PrezBo about his Manhattanville plants.

The Mind, Brain, and Behavior Institute, the Lenfest Center for the Arts, and the forum building “will all be completed in the next year and a half,” according to PrezBo.

What about the freaking statue

Apr

30

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You better call Prezbo with the good hair

You better call Prezbo with the good hair

Any attempts at getting work done are again wrecked by another notable album release. Drake released his fourth studio album, Views, on Apple Music, yet again leaving us in our feelings for the weekend. (Billboard)

Loose alpaca in Massachusetts has been captured, still no word on who owns it.

Construction workers cleaning pipes in Spain accidentally discover 1,300 pounds of ancient Roman coins dating back as far as the third century. (Huffington Post)

After protests from students, Yale has decided not to rename Calhoun College, a residential college named after a pro-slavery senator. (USA Today)

Apr

26

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That's a lot of code for a secret letter.

That’s a lot of code for a secret letter.

Bwog (pretends) we got our hands on the diary of one of the CDCJ activists who slept in Low for 8 days and…let’s just say…well, let’s let it speak for itself. Enjoy!

Friday, 4/15
Dear Diary,

It’s the morning after my first night sleeping in Low Library. I feel…different. I can’t believe it happened.

The bathrooms aren’t that bad and honestly the floor wasn’t too hard, because I used my yoga mat under my sleeping bag as a pad. I only wish PrezBo were here.

I’m excited for a new day of protest!

-Passionate environmental activist

Friday night
Dear Diary,

I’m lying down for my second night. (I can’t believe it’s happening again! Can I sleep here forever?) It’s been a weird day. I really, really wish PrezBo were actually here.

-Tired but excited activist

I’ve been having these strange urges and desires…

Apr

21

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Is there a corporate sponsor in this very room?

Is there a corporate sponsor in this very room?

Money: something we, as college students in NYC, love to think about but rarely have on hand. We sent Bwog staffer Betsy Ladyzhets to a lecture on neoliberalism and campus finance to torture her with money talk, but it ended up being an informative panel. We’ll try better next time–maybe a talk on how millennials are doomed in the job hunt? 

When I walked over to Fayerweather for the Columbia Journal of Literary Criticism’s panel “The Neoliberal University” last night, I passed Low Library, in which CDCJ protesters had been locked for several days. I wondered what the view of Butler will look like when the new Henry Moore sculpture is installed next semester. I thought about Tuesday’s Barnard tuition hike, the highest increase in the college’s history. With all of these issues in mind, an event that discussed the influence of capitalist sponsors on private universities seemed all too timely. And I didn’t appear to be the only one with that opinion. The small lecture hall was packed: an undergrad, grad student, or professor in almost every seat.

A representative from the Columbia Journal of Literary Criticism introduced the event by attempting to define “neoliberal.” The term, she said, is “associated with the liberalization of economic policy and the privatization of public services.” In the context of this panel, “neoliberal” refers to the way in which private donors can influence Columbia (and other universities) through grants that give an agenda to research, professors, and private institutes.

Reinhold Martin, the first panelist and an associate professor at Columbia’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation, expanded on this idea with his discussion of the different facets of neoliberalism. He first explained the history of Columbia as not a university, but a corporation: the university was founded to promote Anglicanism, then was later refounded as a research institution with specific ideal-centric goals, and has since only become more corporatized. Despite its supposed purpose as a site of public learning, Columbia is constantly redefined by the individuals who hold monetary power. He then posed questions about who the subject and the object of such corporatization is, what the effects of corporatization will be, and how this idea connects to social change and wealth distribution on a global scale.

Wait … what?

Apr

20

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Gets a lil weird in prez house

Gets a lil weird in prez house

CDCJ’s been doing their thing the past few days—but where’s PrezBo? We bring you answers, in the form of a night in the life of our beloved university president. 

8:52 pm

It’s been nice working from home for the past few days! God knows I don’t spend as much time as I should with my family.

8:58 pm

Should I go skiing this weekend? Maybe I should try to make the most of it before spring really sets in—that’s it, I’m calling my travel agent so we can get our tickets booked. All this pent-up energy has to go somewhere, and nature is the perfect punching bag.

9:31 pm

I wish Wien didn’t exist. It brings the property value down.

10:20 pm

Ugh, I hate myself! Why do I get distracted so easily?? I should have been doing work, but instead I started looking up office redecorating tips on Pinterest. This inspo is so hard to resist, especially when I have to re-do the office anyway—the hippies loitering in Low have made me realize there is a fundamental flaw in the way that this university approaches interior decorating.

But what does he REALLY think about the sit-in?

Apr

15

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Poster outside Low.

If you go to Low Steps right now you might see people in suits walk up to the entrance of the building, then turn around growling in frustration when they realize that protesters have caused the building to be locked down.

This lockdown is part of CDCJ’s  protest in support of fossil fuel divestment, which began last night.

Here’s what you need to know:

Around 4:00pm yesterday afternoon, two dozen members of Columbia Divest for Climate Justice (CDCJ) began sitting, chanting, and marching outside President Bollinger’s office in Low, demanding he support fossil fuel divestment.

Sixteen activists spent the night in Low. This morning, Public Safety sealed off the building (around 10:30 am, according to Caroline Lee, CC ’18), refusing to allow inside any person who doesn’t work there.

The protestors, now inside President Bollinger’s office, have food they brought last night, but it is unclear whether Public Safety is allowing more food to be brought in (they were allegedly refusing to do so last night).

PrezBo when he found out CDCJ infiltrated his office

PrezBo when he found out CDCJ infiltrated his office

A group of Rules of Conduct delegates have told the activists they may be in violation of the Rules of Conduct. Some CDCJ members are already being investigated over a previous alleged rules violation. It is possible to be charged with the same violation twice. CDCJ’s advisor Peter Cernecka has met with the President’s office, Goldberg’s office, and the Provost’s office.

Around ten CDCJ members are sitting outside of Low in support. CDCJ has created an online form that students can use to send an email to PrezBo in support of their action, demanding fossil fuel divestment.

The club is staging another protest on Low Steps this afternoon, at 1:30 pm, to rally more support. See the Facebook event here. For more information regarding CDCJ’s act of civil disobedience, check out their video explanation.

Apr

13

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Look at all that Earth behind them

Look at all that Earth behind them

In an email sent out to students, President Bollinger announced his appointment of Ruth DeFries and Jeffrey Sachs as University Professors, “the highest rank Columbia bestows on its faculty.” They join a select group numbering only fifteen, and which counts academic notables from Richard Axel (biology) and Joseph Stiglitz (economics) to Gayatri Spivak (English and comparative literature).

Both Sachs and DeFries are members of the Earth Institute (Sachs is the director of the Institute) and have made great strides in sustainability research and policy. DeFries is part of the National Academy of Sciences and has received both a Fulbright Award and a MacArthur Fellowship for her work. Sachs served as the Special Advisor to the United Nations Security-General and is currently Director of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network. And if you head over to the Earth Institute, you can probably take classes with them!

Read the full text of the email after the jump

Mar

21

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You go, PrezBo. Four (more) for you, PrezBo.

You go, PrezBo. Four (more) for you, PrezBo

As of this afternoon, the term of Columbia’s illustrious president Lee Bollinger has been extended an additional four years, to 2022. Not only does this mean PrezBo will still be running the show when he’s 75, it makes his projected term the third longest in Columbia history. The Columbia board has made this decision due to his role in helping develop “one of the most diverse and accomplished communities of students and faculty in the nation.”

We here at Bwog are excited to see what PrezBo will accomplish with these additional four years in office. Will he, like the pharohs of old, erect a statue in his honor? Set a record for most insubstantial emails sent in one career? Win over so many wealthy donors that Columbia can actually start using its money to benefit the student body? The possibilities are endless.

Read the official email on the subject from Board Chair Jonathan Schiller after the jump

Mar

10

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What’s better than an adult coloring book? A Columbia-specific college kids version, full of colorful campus figures and fixtures. Courtesy Bwog’s fantastic writer-illustrator dynamo, Nikki Shaner-Bradford. Print and de-stress. Enjoy, fam. #LateNightBwog

Feb

6

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240px-Smoking_area.svg

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.”

Nov

21

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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

Nov

16

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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!

Nov

15

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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.

Nov

6

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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.

Oct

20

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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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