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CCSC: Four More Years for Frontiers?

The prolonging of Frontiers, student honor boards, and serving alcohol to freshmen – it’s all in this week’s CCSC report:

In typical Yang-era fashion, the meeting opened with a series of brief announcements. VP for Finance Nuriel Moghavem told the council that student groups wishing to use the Black Box Theater have to put various fire safety measures into place (hiring fire marshals, etc.), typically costing around $2000. This new fee has originated “from God knows where,” according to Moghavem, but the student councils are hoping to end it.

Other brief announcements included Yang saying that the new student group spaces almost ready to open in Broadway and Schapiro are “larger than expected,” and that there will be a student survey to help determine the best use of the spaces, and Academic Affairs rep Gilad Bendheim’s project to allow pass/fail grades in introductory language courses, which Bendheim expressed optimism about. At this point, your correspondent excitedly looked up the Course Directory, only to learn that “Quenya” was shockingly not on offer.

The low point of the meeting came when 2010 President Cliff Massey reported from the Committee on the Core Curriculum. As this year marks the end of Frontiers of Science’s five-year trial run, the course is under “strong review.” But the Committee on Science Education has requested that the unholy terror of Frontiers be extended for another four years, “to collect more data.” Despite this reasoning sounding most similar to “let’s keep bombing Vietnam to collect more data,” Massey reported (to CCSC’s noticeable disappointment) that the Core Committee is “99% likely” to approve the request.

VP for Policy Sarah Weiss updated the council on the Policy Committee’s main projects for the year, including more student involvement in the Dean’s Discipline process, a student “honor board” for academic honesty, gender-neutral housing, and clarifying the RA warning policy. Several council members noted that honor boards and gender-neutral housing already exist at many similar schools, remarking how odd it was that Columbia does not have an honor code.

The meeting ended on an abstract/optimistic note as the council discussed long-term goals for the year. Eventually, the members settled on traditions as an important way of building community (a nebulous term, several members admitted), and, at that point, some rather un-student government-y rebelliousness began to show. Senior class representative Maximo Cubillete draw laughs and applause when he noted that the best way for traditions to get started was, unfortunately, not to have student government involved, “because Public Safety always overreacts.” Others noted that the campus needs more traditions, particularly outside of exam time, but Moghavem declared that the council should be defending the old traditions (the ones with “alcohol and danger,” as he described them), noting his disappointment that CCSC did not fight harder to preserve 40s on 40 last year. “Next time, if they try to restrict it,” he said to laughter and nods of approval, “we should just invite freshmen!” Now that would be a scene…

– JCD, photo: The WB/Flickr

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  • Nuriel, come on says:

    @Nuriel, come on The fees for using fire marshals exist because a black box theater was not created to allow for props and it is a New York State guideline for all black box theaters.

    Anyone who remembers Lauri Straney would know that this was the case. Just because Nuriel is too lazy to figure out that this has always been the rule, doesn’t mean that someone besides God knows where it comes from.

    Suggestion – if you put on a play in the black box. Do what black box theaters were meant to be – have no major props or staging, and guess what, it wont cost you a cent. It is only for those who have extensive props or costumes that are not naturally fire retardant.

    1. Okay says:

      @Okay Yeah. So basically this is not a new arbitrary policy then. It’s just a reminder of the existing policy, and that groups *won’t* get charged $2000 if all they have is a metal stick as a prop.
      Way to scare people, CCSC.

    2. Theatre Kid says:

      @Theatre Kid Up until this semester, the Lerner Hall facilities department who dealt with the blackbox had documentation allowing students fireproofed set pieces that were shorter than 8′ in height, as well as relatively unrestricted props and costumes.
      With a recent change in command, however, as David Milch went on sabbatical, that document was lost somewhere between facilities and public safety. At that point, public safety essentially decided to enforce the waived fire code so that they could get the extra business (the fire guards who were hired were both public safety officers who charged $57 an hour to sit around in uniform and disrupt Latenite with their walkie-talkies). So, essentially, it’s public safety being a bit corrupt and Lerner being a bit incompetent costing theatre groups vast amounts of our budget.

      1. So I suppose says:

        @So I suppose Theater groups aren’t getting a refund anytime soon.

  • Relevant Information says:

    @Relevant Information “Note: Productions taking place in the Black Box Theater are required to meet very significant technical restrictions and should be thought of as “studio productions.” All production elements (including but not limited to set, props, costumes, lighting, sound and cast size) need to be reviewed and approved by the Black Box Theatre Manager.”

    From the Lerner Hall website, and as far as I can remember it has been up since I graduated in ’08.

  • NOOOOOOOO!!!! says:

    @NOOOOOOOO!!!! Frontiers = worse than Vietnam.

    1. Wow says:

      @Wow Just wow.

  • I love says:

    @I love Frontiers. Haters go away.

  • Nuriel Moghavem says:

    @Nuriel Moghavem The issue was brought to my/CCSC’s attention by Darcy Zacharias (one of last year’s VShow Producers) who got the news from Late Nite and Nomads. Both groups were told by SDA that “Due to various factors now out of our control, there are no set pieces or props allowed in the Black Box,” despite the previous approval of props and set pieces.
    If this policy has been long-standing, its never been enforced before.
    The groups were told that they had two choices:
    “You can perform the shows without the set pieces or you can have fire guards at your production, in which case the performances can go ahead as planned.”

    Since the CCSC meeting, there has been an update.
    While it is indeed an issue of NYC fire code, there is documentation that can allow shows to have limited use of scenic elements in black box theatres (sorry, commenter #1). SDA has been able to secure a short-term abatement and is moving towards getting the black box certified so that use of props, scenes, etc. can go on permanently.

    Hope that clears up any confusion.

  • Cliff Massey says:

    @Cliff Massey Oh c’mon–my update wasn’t really the low point of the meeting, was it!? :-\

    1. To Cliff says:

      @To Cliff You are the highlight of my day cliffy.

      Frontiers on the other hand… sucks.

  • They aren't says:

    @They aren't continuing frontiers just to “collect data.” Frontiers got a really critical review from the committee, and unless it improves in significant ways it will have to be replaced. David Helfand is already out as the coordinator, so it’s probably going to be restructured in the coming years.

  • Maximo says:

    @Maximo = god

  • Oy Vey says:

    @Oy Vey 1) Let’s not forget to blame the Black Box problem on the people woh deserve: The morons who approved the design of a building wholly unfit to serve its constituents.

    2) I’m tempted to ask why weren’t at least one or two administrative offices moved to Schapiro or Broadway to create the student space in Lerner itself? e.g. “Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Program” is an important office, and might be a better fit for a more private space in Schapiro.

    3) Frontiers should be replaced with a History/Philosophy of Science course. Every should read Bill Bryson’s Short History of Nearly Everything. You’ll all be better for it.

    4) Re: Honor Code- read the Spec from 1966. The Faculty and student council campaigned heavily for one, and even had a binding referendum on the issue. Except turn out was too low. Faculty were stunned by student apathy. Some things never change, I suppose.

    5) Traditions either come up spontaneously at the grass roots (see e.g. the spring pillow fight), or need to flow from a sense of school spirit, which CC in particular kinda lacks. Gotta start early, since most people are jaded by senior year and associate anything claiming to be a ‘tradition’ to be another attempt to squeeze sneior fund money from them in disguise. My advice: focus on creating events across the board for all classes.

    1. Oh Please says:

      @Oh Please Hi genius. They decided to build a black box theater as a second theater option. But guess what, the Diana will have another performance space. So stop your bitchin’, life will get better soon.

      Plus after some adjustments, within the next 2-3 years they will open up space in Lerner for student spaces and redistribute space.

      Life takes time, but Columbia is doing very well. Props Honey Sue Fishman for what she is doing with Lerner.

      1. I'm not optimistic says:

        @I'm not optimistic So you’re saying be thankful we have a black box theater because they never included one in the first place. Oh, how delightful. And considering that Roone Auditorium sucks as a theater space, (back battens have limited to no fly space, sound sucks, seating sucks), I don’t get your optimism.

        2) The Diana is on Barnard property. Thus, it’ll have its own internal politics in allocating space.

        3) It took 9 years to finally put something on the 6th floor of Lerner. NINE YEARS. And they put in more administrative offices!

  • come on guys says:

    @come on guys I’m all about that Bill Bryson book, (maybe that would be a better way to structure Frontiers), but whatever the issues with Frontiers, it’s completely ridiculous that an institution as prestigious as Columbia could graduate students that don’t know how to interpret a fucking graph or don’t understand scientific notation. I think that’s one of the reasons we’ve allowed climate change to get this far–non-scientists are perfectly willing to ignore science as something unnecessary or extraneous to their daily lives, which is totally unacceptable (and also false). The core teaches us (theoretically) to be literate in western philosophy, major texts, art, music, etc., and frankly, it should be embarrassing if we’re not scientifically literate as well.

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