Orgo Night (And Associated Protests, Counter-Protests) 2012
Written by Bwog Staff
With all the controversy the CUMB has been stirring up in the past few hours, you’d be a fool to miss Orgo Night. You’d also be a fool to give up your hard-won Butler seat, though, and to stuff your way into a crowd of desperate, tired people. Below, the best of both worlds: a live stream of all the political incorrect insanity of CUMB, five inches away from your face. Enjoy (or be offended by) the show. Bwog will be updating this post throughout the night, as well as tweeting from on the scene.
The band’s live stream isn’t working yet, but you can keep checking here.
Update, 11:59 The full text of the letter being handed out by black-clad protesters:
Dear Columbia Students and Members of the Columbia Community,
Recently, the Columbia University Marching Band put up flyers around campus advertising for Orgo Night. One flyer in particular stood out as offensive and unacceptable. This flyer contains the image of a pole-dancer with the title “The Gaza Strip” written above, and “Everybody wants a piece” written below. Thus, these posters link the history of massacres in Gaza, including the most recent attack where 160 Palestinians and 7 Israelis were killed, with the silhouette of a naked woman – all in the spirit of humour. This is not only deeply misogynistic and sexist in its objectification of women or its making light of sex-workers’ lives; it is also shockingly insensitive and offensive towards the intense suffering of the people of Gaza. This flyer sexualizes and trivializes violence, death, a high infant mortality rate, an extreme population density, serious malnutrition and a constant siege under threat of aerial bombing, for the sake of our entertainment. While we appreciate that the marching band has acknowledged the hurt that their flyer caused, we would like to emphasize that more than hurt feelings are at stake in this debate, and the problem is larger than one tasteless flyer. Like many jokes that characterize Orgo Night itself, this flyer is one instance of systemic racism, sexism, and rape culture, which harm each member of community.
We understand that Orgo Night is a Columbia tradition, and the student body values this annual event where on the night before the Organic Chemistry exam the Columbia University Marching Band performs in Butler Library. Our aim is not to undermine Columbia tradition. We do, however, want everyone who is a part of this community to ask themselves:
– Does Orgo Night have to be racist, sexist, and extremely offensive on multiple levels in order to be fun?
– Do we have to laugh at the systematic killing of thousands of civilians in order to advertise events?
– Do we have to trivialize the lives of sex workers to let off the stress of finals?
– Do we have to objectify the bodies of women as a tool to mock a people whose history of oppression we can not comprehend?
To the Columbia community we ask, do you find these messages of racism, sexism, insensitivity, etc, appropriate? Can you stand by this flyer? We cannot because we value this community, and respect all of its members regardless of how they identify. It is because we respect our community that we think all people of color should be able to attend Orgo Night without having to watch other students laugh at the murder of Trayvon Martin, as was the case last year. It is because we respect our community that we think people of any and all genders should be able to go to their library without being confronted with flyers that use sexist depictions of women’s bodies to promote their events.
Above all, it is because we respect our community that we believe Columbia University must truly be a safe space for all its members, as it promises to be. We do not believe students can feel secure in their learning environment while their identities are being disrespected so blatantly, and their suffering used as a source of humor. We also do not wish to believe this is the image the Columbia community chooses for itself. We do not wish to believe that what is a valued tradition for this student body includes poking fun at other people’s suffering, or at the death of thousands ranging from 3-month-old babies to 80-year-old grandmothers. As conscientious members of this community we refuse to be part of this extreme insensitivity, misogyny, racism and sexism; we refuse to be complicit by our silence as this takes place, and we ask all conscientious members of our community to do the same.
For this reason we have decided to make our discomfort visible during Orgo Night itself, by way of organizing a silent protest. In doing so, we wish to reiterate that our desire is not to oppose the very idea of a night of fun for our community, but to point out exactly what aspects of this night distress us profoundly and create an extremely unsafe environment for many students. We hope that our silent act of protest will call the rest of our community to question the content of Orgo Night in light of its recent disrespectful flyering campaign, and will also give voice to all those who feel silenced by jokes that attack their identities and trivialize extremely traumatizing experiences.
Asian American Alliance
Barnard Poetry Collective
Black Students’ Organization
Caribbean Students’ Association
Columbia-Barnard V Day
Columbia Queer Alliance
Columbia Students for Justice in Palestine
Everyone Allied Against Homophobia
The Residents of the Intercultural Resource Center
International Socialist Organization
Multicultural Affairs Advisory Board
Muslim Students Association
Native American Council
Students Against Mass Incarceration
Students Promoting Empowerment and Knowledge
Update, 12:11: Robert and Kristine of 1020 fame make a cameo. The real Robert yells “Fuck you!” from the crowd. Joke instantly got ten times funnier.
Update, 12:20: Condom balloons have also made an appearance. People are being told to have fun with them tonight. If only. (People’s interpretation of having fun with condoms = throwing them around like beach balls.)
Update, 12:23: The first blow to Bwog. Our layout has been mocked (you mean you guys don’t love it?!?!?!?!).
Update, 12:38: Here come: the Barnard jokes, the brownstones, the Gaza strip.
Update, 12:41: “Robert” just cheered for roofie-ing. Love. this. guy.
Update, 12:48: The protesters are relocating to the steps. Bwog intrepidly follows.