Semester in Review
Written by Bwog Staff
Before you relive your halcyon days of Fall 08, an announcement: As of January, James Downie (of Political Weekly and Sports… on Bwog! fame, and the fantastic reporter and writer behind our NROTC coverage, among other things) will be taking over as Bwog Editor. Many daily editors and other staffers will be staying on, but expect new faces in that arena as well; Hawkmadinebwog Editor Courtney Douds has already begun to do tremendous work with the hawk blog.
On behalf of the entire Fall 08 staff, it’s been a pleasure and an honor that you’ve all hung out with us every day. We are truly humbled and grateful that you do.
August/September: The year began with an Orientation Week of cancellations and showdowns. Upperclassmen learned that the Global Core was much, much simpler than Major Cultures, and that the much beloved Hawkmadinejad was in fact several Hawks-madinejad. Freshmen experienced the last three weeks of the Kim’s Era (before it was inexplicably replaced by a costume/cosmetics establishment), though its DVD collection will live on.
The biggest event of the semester, the McBama Summit, was here and gone within two weeks. The first Wednesday night of school, PrezBo sent out the announcement email, and student groups, governing boards, and press outlets quickly moved to get their share of the action. Everyone entered the ticket lottery, and 99% failed to get in. Bwog elbowed its way into the Low steps crowd, and livebwogged the entire evening extravaganza (including Dean Shollenberger looking dapper, Tobey Maguire looking stoned, feeds continuously going out, and a near entrance of Obama along College Walk). Not to be outdone, Secretary of State-designate Hillary Clinton held her own press conference at Barnard.
Much outside coverage mentioned Obama and McCain’s joint support for ROTC, and three days later student leaders announced they had been spending the summer planning a referendum on Naval ROTC. Within six hours, the referendum plan was already being changed by the student councils — a preview of the confusion to come. Quickly, more groups demanded entry, public forums were hashed out, and the referendum became a survey, while non-participants just as quickly began to wonder what the point of it all was (although PrezBo cared enough to add his own thoughts). In other news, the stock market took a nose dive, Alan Brinkley retired as provost, we met Robby the vending machine.
October: As the campus slipped into the routine of the school year, election and economic news dominated Columbia’s headlines as well (and derailed the NROTC plans, which largely dropped off the radar for a month). Rashid Khalidi briefly became William Ayers 2.0, the campus Dems and Republicans held debates, dueling economics forums were held, and we used a British car show for election “analysis.”
In campus news, CCSC 2012 chose its Fearless Leader(s) (as did the Varsity Show), and Gossip Girl pretended we were Yale (still ouch). A Sunday night assault spree once again exposed the slowness of university-wide emails, and we said hellooooo to C-Spot (as did Fox News). Just when it looked like Columbia might make it through an October without a controversy, the Spec decided to make some news of its own with “Giant Inflatable Penis-gate,” which flared up quickly, burst, and quickly subsided. In other bias news, by the end of the month, Columbia was biased against the entire human race.
November: The first week of November was all about Barack Obama, CC ’83. Upon his victory, spontaneous celebrations broke out on Broadway and campus (joined early in the morning by the College Democrats, who did their part for his election by sending 150 people to Virginia). Professors, speakers, and PrezBo all announced their happiness with the election results, as Columbia students discovered what it felt like to be on a happy campus.
With the election over, the NROTC survey reared its head again, with the first signs going up two days after the election. Pro and anti coalitions solidified (including an anti-NROTC panel), but both sides were united in confusion for almost two weeks over how the public forums and the survey would work. Professors got involved on both sides, and the public forum not surprisingly failed to sway anyone, When the survey was finally released, students ended the month waiting for the results, while trying to not cancel out their votes.
NROTC aside, we also discovered “Study Day” and exorcisms. In other news, Barnard Public Safety began patrolling hallways, McBain suddenly had a waterfall, women’s soccer barely missed out on an Ivy League title, and we looked at Westside Market’s music choice.
December: While the councils moved quickly to fix “Study Day,” NROTC results were less suredly dealt with. In CC, SEAS, and GS, NROTC lost by 39 votes, but no one knew the breakdown (while Barnard’s results were definitive). GSSC president Brody Berg was so skeptical about the results he wrote a whole email about it. Bwog later unearthed a school-by-school breakdown (showing a 2 vs. 2 split by school), but by then the issue was dead.
During finals, CC deans tried to scare the crap out of us, Orgo Night and Primal Scream took their turns, and students showed off how sad they were. Bwog coped by chronicling the sadness inside Butler and the things we’re now enjoying.
Elsewhere, Columbia’s Manhattanville takeover was completed, the endowment took a hit (though that didn’t stop “PrezBo” from starting a Twitter page), Tiffany Dockery suddenly resigned, a Pennsylvania couple tried to steal from Columbia, we speculated about CCSC elections, and a Carman elevator suddenly acquired a vagina.
From start to finish, then, it was a whirlwind semester, both on and off campus. Between McBama, NROTC, Study Day, the death of job prospects, and more election news, the campus felt even busier and more alive than past years, which haven’t lacked for controversy. It could be this was the last semester of an era for Columbia as well — the past year has now seen a hunger strike and the likely end of the ROTC debate for several years, the completion of the Manhattanville expansion, and the election of a president who many Columbians will support. Gone (for the time being at least) are some of the biggest lightning rods for student activism. No doubt students will find things to protest and organize around — that’s Columbia, for better or for worse — but campus activism could be in for a big change. Regardless, we at Bwog thank you for your support in 2008, and look forward to 2009.