Club Crib Sheet: Part 1

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It’s Activities Day time! Today and for the next several weeks, Columbia’s panoply of clubs, societies, associations, teams, groups, organizations, and alliances will compete for your attention and allegiance. Explore and ask questions, but beware the listserv: you’ll spend the next four years trying to get off. We’ve done a bit of the legwork for you. The first part covers political and media groups.

N.B. We have not included every club that ever existed, only the ones we find worthy of note. We make no claims to be fair or balanced.

“The Chattering Class” (Media)

  • Columbia Television (CTV) – While CTV is mostly an opportunity for aspiring newscasters to play with expensive equipment, CTV has had some high points in recent years: a video that made national news–over and over and over–as well as arguably one of the most awkward sitcoms in Ivy League history.  
  • WKCR-FM (Columbia University Radio) — WKCR is as old and venerable as the people who listen to it–we don’t know who they are, but there’s apparently enough of them for the station to have its own SDA staff member.
  • WBAR – Barnard’s radio station is of a decidedly different character than its big brother across the street, hosting indie music shows and allowing pretty much anyone the airtime (or at least web streaming time, since they don’t have their own channel) to do with what they will. Highest hipster density of anywhere on campus.
  • The Birch — Columbia’s Slavic journal, which enjoyed a high point in the time of Vaclav Havel, is perhaps the greatest manifestation of Eastern Bloc pride you’ll find in Morningside.  
  • The Blue and White — Only the best monthly undergraduate magazine printed in blue ink on campus. The B&W started this humble blog in 2006, and the brother-sister publications feed off each other in a healthy symbiosis. Both are always recruiting people who like words, pictures, and advertising. 
  • Columbia Daily Spectator — With airy third floor offices next to the Heights and a million dollar budget, the Spec is a venerable institution and a good place to learn the journalistic trade. If you decide to join, make sure to keep your friends who don’t — Spec tends to suck away social lives and slay GPAs faster than you can say “dead tree”.  Decide quickly, though, since newspapers may not be around when you graduate.

  • Columbia Journal of Literary Criticism – An English department-funded enterprise publishing undergraduate essays on topics in the humanities. 
  • Columbia Political Review — CPR was supposed to be The New Republic of Columbia, but it doesn’t write about Columbia, with the consequence that you’re usually just better off reading The New Republic. Still, future wonksters and pundits can get their start here. 
  • Columbia Undergraduate Science Journal — Those of us who throw up our hands in surrender when we hear article titles like “The Role of Neonatal Carnitine Palmitoyl Transferase Deficiency Type II on Proliferation of Neuronal Progenitor Cells and Layering of the Cerebral Cortex” mostly remember CUSJ for being epically pranked a couple of years ago by the Jester. The Jester has publically denied all culpability.  
  • The Current — Started a few years ago by a leader of the David Project and funded through the Shalem Foundation, the Current has grown into an elegant journal of Jewish affairs that often has only as much to do with actual Judaism as it needs to keep its funders happy.  
  • The Fed – Known in full as The Federalist Paper, the Fed was originally founded in 1986 as a “classically liberal” forum for undergraduate debate. More recently, the reinvented humor rag has touched off on of the bigger brouhahas in Columbia’s history of race relations, and continues to offend and entertain by turns. 
  • Jester of Columbia — The Jester–which had published continuously through the 60s and 70s, with some of the best covers of any Columbia magazine ever–resuscitated itself almost three years ago now and quickly started picking off some of the Fed’s better humorists. Enjoying it usually requires suspending any sense of political correctness.
  • The Journal of Politics and Society (a.k.a. Helvidius) — JPS, now on stands in Barnes and Nobleses across the country, publishes academic papers from students all over the country as well as illustrious adults.

“The Speechifyers” (Political Groups) 

  • American Civil Liberties Union at Columbia (ACLU) –The ACLU has tended to not get too involved in campus-level issues, other than the odd debate and public forum–not much to do when your college president is a first amendment scholar? 
  • Amnesty International at Columbia — If you see a refugee camp pitched on Low Plaza, or someone being tortured, it’s probably Amnesty. They also spend a fair amount of time protesting at the United Nations, and trying to get people to care about Darfur. 
  • College Democrats — Coming out of an off-election-year in which they got good at gimmicky demonstrations and campaigning for shoe-in favorites, the Dems are ready to roll with this year’s election. The party of the big tent also incorporates a number of umbrella groups that work on more specific projects, and the whole lot will be traveling to Virginia this November. 
  • College Republicans — The glory days of the CUGOP could fade with the passing of the Kulawik-era, during which the group delighted in bringing speakers seemingly chosen for their ability to make the campus left hopping mad. We’ll probably see the annual Columbus Day Barbecue, and maybe another Global Warming party.  
  • Columbia Global Justice — Historically one of the worst listserv spammers, CJG focuses largely on AIDS issues, and issues frequent exhortations to protest at the United Nations, make phone calls to legislators, etc.  
  • Columbia Political Union (CPU) — This is kind of like the U.N. of Columbia–a governing board composed of members from all the political groups has oversight over publishing the Columbia Political Review, hosting speakers, cosponsoring events, and putting out an election guide. For those of neutral temperaments who like hobonobbing with boldface names.  
  • CUsmile — Helping children with cleft lips might seem like an unusual cause for a college student, but there you have it�and selling grilled cheese in J.J.’s to raise money helps everyone else as well. 
  • Everyone Allied Against Homophobia (EAAH) – Not to be confused with Columbia Queer Alliance, EAAH is the anti-homophobia group on campus.
  • International Socialist Organization — Robbed of its most dedicated and media-loving member, David Judd, we’re not sure how well the ISO will fare this year, but wild horses couldn’t drag them from hawking the Socialist Worker on College Walk. Not to be confused with the Spartacists and World Can’t Wait, who are actually crazy. 
  • Libertarians — The Libertarians, while few in number, have managed to pull out some notoriety for themselves of late. They maintain an irascible blog (money line: “tax cheats  are the Rosa Parks of our day”) and like to play with chalk.  
  • LionPAC — Columbia’s pro-Israel advocacy group, which focuses on “educating the Columbia community about the importance of the American-Israeli relationship.” 
  • Students Promoting Empowerment and Knowledge (SPEaK) — We’re not sure if this group will be around this year–it had its period of greatest activity addressing hate crimes a few years ago, and then faded as Stop Hate on Columbia’s Campus (SHOCC) took over as the ad hoc coalition of the moment.  
  • Students for Choice – Guess what this group‘s for? With pro-lifers largely keeping to themselves, Students for Choice’s role on campus has recently been less public than one might expect, but they still hold many events. 
  • Take Back the Night — Mainly organizes the rollicking TBTN march in the spring, suffusing campus with the warm glow of female solidarity. 
  • UNICEF – Known, not surprisingly, for their fundraisers.


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  1. Umm  

    How did UNICEF make the list and not CIRCA?

    • Lydia

      CIRCA, formerly Model U.N., isn't an activist or advocacy group. It will be included in the competitive groups section.

      • Actually,  

        The Columbia International Relations Council and Association (CIRCA) engages in a host of advocacy activities aside from model un. CIRCA brings important speakers to columbia and regularly cosponsors events with all of the clubs listed in the Advocacy section

  2. Umm 2.0  

    Or the Roosevelt Institution

  3. What do you  

    call a group of kidney donors?

    An organ-ization!

  4. the jester  

    aint never picked off of the fed's anything.
    Fed writers tend to leave to write the varsity show
    (Addison Anderson, Rob Trump, etc.)

  5. And...  

    ...what about Tablet??

  6. btw  

    FeelGoodCU, an organization under the Hunger Umbrella, serves the grilled cheese sandwiches at JJs to raise money for the World Hunger Project.

  7. Armin Rosen

    The Current was not started by a leader of the David Project, but rather as part of the Shalem Foundation's student journal project. Very weird assumption on you guys's part...

  8. America Reads  

    is a great group! Check it out tomorrow!

  9. Seriously  

    What about Roosevelt!

  10. folkin' around  

    join postcrypt coffeehouse!

  11. well

    i just wanted to say i'm impressed that the bwog is being so thorough with relevant and useful information targeted at first-years, not just in this post but others as well. i wish this sort of thing had been available when i was just starting out. i don't know about comprehensiveness, but it's a good effort on their part. seriously.

  12. Franklin  

    Shout out to Roosevelt - Roosevelt is a non-partisan think tank dedicated to exploring and creating progressive policy. Come check us out in Lerner 569 on Tuesdays at 9pm. It is kind of awesome!

  13. FtotheDR  

    "Today I propose a 'New Deal' of sorts for Columbians in these troubled times. At the checkout line we're facing astronomical prices, the likes of which we had never dreamed of mere months ago: from Blue Java to 212 to that architecture/hipster cafe under Avery. My New Deal is this: come to the first meeting of my
    eponymously named institution, and you will receive the finest treats Columbia's money can buy -- the likes of which have yet to be determined (but they will, most assuredly kick ass). I will reinvigorate our sagging economy with an influx of free food to get those who can't afford $7 & $8 sushi back on their feet."

    9/9/08 9pm Lerner 569

  14. roosevelt shit  

    shut the fuck up adrian haimovich

  15. the current

    may not be very jewish in content, but is totally zionist propaganda nonetheless

  16. Global Warming Bash  

    Was held by the College Dems, not the College Republicans. It was an event that demonstrated the extreme global warming (it was held on a 75 degree day in November) warranted the need for better environmental and energy policies.

  17. for a real list

    albeit without the fun snarky comments, check out the website of the sgb ( the home of activism on campus.

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