Nov

12

[email protected]: “A Place for People Like Me”

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Way back before the hurricane, a feisty character from BoredatButler fliered campus with posters of Operation Ivy League images, inviting the community to question the return of two groups that stirred much public shame less than two years ago. Bwog met with the anonymous mastermind behind “Operation Recall,” and learned more about the motivation behind his plan, and was surprised to hear an insider’s view of BoredatButler’s place in our community. Check out the upcoming December issue of

The Blue & White for an in-depth exploration of [email protected]’s anonymous, online community.

“Operation Recall”

Bwog: So.. Describe the motivation behind the poster idea.

Geordi LaForge: I just, I found it really disappointing that the committee chose two frats that were kicked out. I tried.. It might have been slightly over-the-top.. like I met someone in the computer lab while I was printing. Someone tore down one of my fliers, actually, but I put it back up. So, she asked what organization I was a part of.

B: “Anon!”

[laughs]

G: So it might have been too insensitive, but I think the two frats that got kicked out, if they want their housing back then they need to address that issue. Especially that frat that knew..  the one that wrote “Don’t sell drugs” on their board.

That’s why it’s called “Operation Recall”

B: So how collaborative was the process. The making of the flyer.

G: I did the first, initial design. I found every image I could, and I put as much as I could into the page, and then I shared it with the audience, to the other Anons. And they didn’t like it at all. Luckily, someone with more graphic design skill organized it to be something more effective.

B: And that was the final design

G: Yeah, a lot of peoples’ input, and two people designing

B: How many people would you say are active in the Bored at Butler community?

G: The community is probably 20 or so people.

B: Do you think that most people try to cultivate their individual avatar, or just post anonymously?

G: Everyone has some sort of account, but most people keep it anonymous, because, for example, I have a history behind my profile. So if, say, my screen name got leaked out, you’ll have everything I posted. In fact, I had to abandon a screen name because I feared that someone knew who I was.

B: So about the plan: Is that something that is going to continue? Do you feel like you sufficiently got your message out? We saw in our comments that your larger issue with it isn’t simply about the frats’ disciplinary history, but some idea about medical leave housing. What’s that about?

G: Yes. That’s one of the ideas I had, and it probably wouldn’t fly, but it would be really cool. I’m returning from medical leave, and I feel really disconnected from the community. In fact, the only reason I stay connected is through Bored at Butler. It’s been difficult transitioning back, and I think it would be nice to have a resource—a social house.

B: We hear that that issue is something CCSC is increasingly concerned about. They are talking about people feeling alienated from the community have coming back from leave. You should bring that to them, or flier about it.

G: Hah. I was really surprised. The operation didn’t go like i expected. I only posted in Broadway and Hogan, but… The Internet! it was amazing.

In Broadway, they all got taken down, but people still ended up seeing them one way or another.

Reflections on Method

B: So who do you think took them down? Pissed off greek life people?

G: Definitely, but even the girl that I talked to said that it was humiliating to see a classmate being arrested.

B: Yeah, we heard rumors after we posted the first round results that certain listservs were quickly brought into action to bring certain voices to the comments.

How would you compare that sort of group motivation to sway opinion to the kind of “trolling” or “shitposting” that Bored at Butler sometimes encourages?

G: Yeah… We’ve attacked your posts a few times…

[laughs]

I apologize. I wasn’t involved with that. But I do see a fair comparison there.

Yeah. There are three types of trolling, I think. There is trolling to gets laughs, trolling to get results, and then there is malicious trolling. But trying to change public opinion can—sometime—be considered a form of trolling.

The posters were—and I don’t want to sound too intellectual, because really I have no idea on Earth what I am doing—it sort of was like the wise fool in Shakespearen works. Through trolling, I can act like a complete fool and I can get away with a lot. People might say, “Oh that’s just trolling,” but I can make a real impact on the conversation.

“An Island of Misfit Toys”

B: So would you call that a healthy community? Is that a valuable part of the broader Columbia community?

G: Yes. Absolutely.

There have been many times that people have been suicidal on that site.

B: We once saw you talk to a guy between 5-6 am, who was just freaking out. You talked him off the ledge.

G: Yeah. Things like that. Even nightline isn’t like it. I remember, as a freshman, I was scared to call Nightline because my voice is very recognizable, and I thought someone would recognize me, but through that site I felt safe.

We really support each other. It’s great.

G: The long term stability of Bored at Butler is suspect. Only one guy codes it and maintains the site. Like, just this weekend, it went down twice for about an hour.

One of the ideas I proposed was a Bored at Butler support club. Something to convince ABC to fund Bored at Butler. Because I think it is a valuable place. I don’t want this to come from a place of anger, at all, and I’m not angry at all, but a lot of the student life funds don’t go to people like me. It doesn’t go to the alienated students. Does that make sense?

B: Yeah. Much of it goes towards larger events, and that assumes that you are willing, or able, to attend. To feel comfortable at those events. Have you talked to anyone in ABC about getting recognized?

G: The site was down during the beginning of the semester, so it wouldn’t have worked well.

Also, it’s hard to stay anonymous, and get funding. In order to be an official club, a few of us would have to reveal our identities, and that would put us under attack.

I remember one operation that we did: we handed out fliers in Butler saying “I think I can”

We did that, but I wore a mask for that. We wanted to keep our identities.

[This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity. A full transcript will be available once one of us overcomes laziness and finishes the interview.]

anon via Shutterstock

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48 Comments

  1. The Honourably Based FILGB  

    Thank you based Geordi

  2. GS '13

    Dude. Psi U didn't get shortlisted. They're the one's "that knew."

    • Wait  

      Wasn't the whole rationale behind taking away the houses in the first place that all three frats "knew," so all three should be held responsible? I remember that people wondered why the IRC and EC floors didn't get any disciplinary action.

      • twitch  

        There was no such rationale for it. They never investigated whether the other frats knew, never asked the brothers, and explicitly told us we couldn't even respond to the rumors. The ostensible reason the houses were taken away was "other violations," such as the occasional noise complaint (seriously, it's really less often than a Carman-write up).

        If knowledge was at issue, then the IRC should have gotten it worst. In the IRC, the victim had a roommate (who had to know) and there was an advisor (I think, or an RA) that should have been charged with looking out for this stuff. In the fraternity houses, it was really just individual guys keeping drugs in their rooms. Half of the action wasn't even uptown--it involved going back and forth to Greenwich village to deal with their criminal suppliers.

        From our perspective, the reason the frats got hit and the others didn't was because there's a knee-jerk assumption based on our stereotype that when this happens in the fraternities, there are structural issues with it (we're all just evil, straight, cis-, aggressive Republican etc etc, operating in an unhealthy group dynamic), whereas if it happens outside of the frats it's an isolated incident. The second reason could simply be because the NY Post and other papers chose to frame this as a fraternity thing, and the pressure Columbia felt from the external world (including the board) would have been to take action "against the frats" not "against the drug dealers."

        --in one of the relevant frats, just reporting the history

  3. MD  

    yo this is shit it ruins the entire spirit of the site. you've compromised your anonymity to give this interview. ANONYMITY should be the most important part of [email protected] The way it is now it's like everyone knows each other and they're all friends or something. And the way they treat girl posters, it's totally disgusting, like they're special or something. Bring back the old [email protected], bring back anonymity!

  4. The Ban Captain thepoet  

    the based Geordi is a prince

  5. Anonymous  

    [email protected] is the 4chan of Columbia

  6. A Parent

    As a parent of a Columbia student, I am disappointed in the stated basis of this fellow's opinion. To base one's campaign against the frats on the fact that they were "kicked out" begs the question. Should they have been kicked out? This question raises the relevant issue (unless you want your administration to make this type of decision for you). For example, should a frat be more at fault for posting a sign admonishing its members not to sell drugs than one that does not?

    • Well  

      As a matter of fact, the administration did make that decision for us, and they plan on doing to same now. To considering something "begging the question" and then to slightly rephrase the question doesn't seem to work. I don't think you know what the phrase means.

    • A Grandparent  

      As a parent of a parent of a Columbia student, I am disappointed in your critical reading skills. I'd hope that MY daughter has much higher reading comprehension than you. Also, she wouldn't let her son join a frat.

    • a student  

      the position isn't question-begging because the position is NOT that because frats were kicked out, they don't deserve their housing. What the frats need to address is not the obviously circular fact that they were kicked out, but the fact that all three of them made a somewhat sophisticated)(i.e. there was a division of drug labor) drug ring possible -- and AT LEAST one did so knowingly.

      I agree G's language might suggest the circular argument you attribute to him -- grammatically, "that issue" in G's second statement ought to refer to the fact that they were kicked out. But more plausibly, I think, it (obliquely) alludes to the fact that they were selling drugs in the first place. G makes the same allusion in the next sentence: "the frats that knew...."

      If there's any disappointing argument here, it's yours: you assume that the admonishment not to sell drugs was one not to do so at all, rather than not to do so out of the frat house and thereby risk getting caught. You also assume the tone of "don't sell drugs out of the frat house" was admonishing and disapproving, rather than a teasing reminder to be prudent. I doubt there is much reason to believe this.

    • I'm sorry  

      but does anyone ever use 'beg the question' correctly?

  7. Please

    Get a "reporter" that knows how to ask objective and well thought-out questions. To refer to Greek-affiliated students as "Pissed off greek life people" is ridiculous. When did Bwog develop such an anti-Greek bias?

  8. Jimmy Tatro

    The frats and sorority are the only institutions that have a right to those brownstones. There ain't nothing the gays or those tomahawk'in tee pee builders can do about it. Bring on the debate. I'll even tie half my brain behind my back just to make it fair.

  9. Uncle Ruckus

    We should put the islamic students in the house next to the gay students so then the islamists could throw the members of q house off the roof. As for the native american students we could give them a tee pee and some beads. They'll go away.

  10. Anonymous

    Whats the difference between sig Ep and q house. Im confused.

  11. Geordi La Forge  

    I am Geordi La Forge. I have verified my identity and this comment on a post on [email protected] Ask me anything, I have an exam tomorrow and I need to study, but I will respond to most everyone tomorrow after it. Verification code is 97F7GBENCX.

    • Anonymous  

      Why TNG>TOS?

      Do you think that the campus needs to "be hip with the kids," and better understand Internet humor, or should [email protected] "grow up" and be more mature to better serve their purposes?

      • Sorry, I was overwhelmed. TNG stirs my imagination more, it seems possible where as TOS looks too much like an old SCIFI movie. But, they are both better than star wars.

        [email protected] has grown a lot. We still have alot to do, but I think the campus has to meet us halfway. It's really a safe place now, in 2009 I won't have said that. I really feel at ease and at home there.

  12. Why I am successful  

    This year, I will be graduating from an ivy league school and taking a full time job with a starting salary of well over 100k. And there gives me no greater satisfaction than turning down fucking bitches who've rejected me in the past, as they hear about my successes. As an average looking dude, I relish in these sweet moments of crushing their hearts as they have crushed my pure intentions with their entitled bullshit. Karma is a bitch, when you've been a fuckin bitch

  13. Anonymous  

    20 people on [email protected]? They could have probably filed for a brownstone with those numbers.

  14. Van Owen  

    So they interview this random no-name personality before me? Whatever, I'd rather spend time getting laid and making fat stacks.

  15. Anonymous  

    This is a nice interview and all, but why has there been so much beating around the bush about the brownstones? Interview one of the people ON the committee shaping policy, and ask them why there hasn't been transparency, instead of third parties on [email protected] and dissecting a KevSho e-mail available to everyone.

    • Anonymous  

      To be honest, this post supposedly advocates for transparency in the brownstone committee, but reads like a plug for [email protected] They managed to rekindle dialogue (which died as soon as Sandy hit) but the brownstone selection criteria is still murky.

    • bwogger  

      the review committee resolved not to talk to media for the duration of their decision making...

  16. The Masked Figure  

    This campaign against frats is a weak attempt to distract people from the real evil organization on campus, the spec. Did you know the brownstone renovations included a pinkberry machine? Shills are everywhere.

  17. CC '13  

    As an unaffiliated senior who is about to leave this campus, it is beyond discouraging that Columbia has allowed Lambda Phi Epsilon, an organization that perpetuates and actively encourages disgusting hazing, to have a shot at a house. The physical violence which is a staple of their pledge program should be abhorrent to any decent member of the Columbia community and is completely at odds with the university's mission. The committee should be ashamed if they decide to proceed in this direction.

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