The band and the crowd.

Orgo Night began as a usual night in Butler: as a mass of people intently studying in 209. Nearly all desks were full as the stress of exams bubbled in everyone’s heads. As the crowds started to walk in, three different looks popped on people’s faces. Some looked up from their books, faces lit with the knowledge and anticipation of the exciting school tradition that was to come. Others looked up confused at the crowd, unaware of what was about to happen. An older-looking man asked, “How long does Orgo Night usually last? Can I study in here?” The reply was, “you’re in the wrong place.” And the third look was a look of confusion and fascination about the large number of people who were gathering around holding signs.

Bwog was getting tips about an upcoming protest against the flyer that had sparked so much controversy earlier in the day. When Bwog asked one of protestors their opinion, they replied that they were unhappy with the advertising for this event and would silently protest with posters during the band’s event.

As the crowd began to gather, another student joked, “This is a microcosm of the Columbia community. 5% of the people are here protesting, 5% are just laughing at them, and the other 90% are super stressed out and studying.” Soon, all the people studying left and the tabletops were occupied by the audience and protesters.

The band was undeterred by the controversy. They boomed into the room wearing Columbia blue and wielding their instruments, playing “Roar, Lion, Roar” as most of the room sang along. “Ladies and gentlemen and organic chemistry students,” they opened, “back despite the thing that happened, it’s the most apologetic band in the world, the Columbia University Marching Campus Controversies!” The room roared with laughter; it was clear that the band wasn’t going to back down despite everything.

Indeed they didn’t. Joke topics included controversial subjects such as Hurricane Sandy, the Gaza Strip, and the Aurora shooting. The crowd’s reaction to these ranged from hysterical laughter to hysterical I’m-really-not-sure-if-that-was-appropriate-so-I’ll-react-by-going-OOOOOOOOH’s. The band also ragged on campus issues like the package center, Columbia Compliments, and Bwog’s redesign.

Between these jokes, the band graced us with their music, which included classics like “Fuck You,” “Dynamite,” “I’ll Make a Man out of You,” and the National Anthem of Somalia, which was mashed with the theme from Pirates of the Caribbean. At one point, they threw a mass of expired condoms at the audience, to “relieve stress.” The condoms returned multiple times in inflated form.

The protesters stood back throughout the protest with tape over their mouths. They raised their signs whenever they took offense at a joke was made. The first time this happened, the crowd responded with loud booing. A protester also popped a condom balloon, which prompted some quiet booing from the audience. Otherwise, the protest hardly interfered with the show. It was even the target of a few of the band’s jokes.

The infamous joke goes, “How many Columbia students does it take to change a lightbulb? 76: one to change the lightbulb, 25 to protest the lightbulb’s right not to change, and 50 to hold a counter-protest.” It could, though, go just as well as “How many Columbia does it take to hold Orgo Night? 270: 20 to play music and tell potentially offensive jokes, 50 to protest the offensiveness of the jokes, and 200 to watch everything.”

In short, Orgo Night was more “Columbia” than ever: aside from the music and snarky jokes and crowds, there was also the spirit of protest that has become so connected to our university.

Some of the photos that didn’t make it to last night’s coverage below:

Spec made a good highlight reel:

And you can find the full script on the band’s blog.