Semester In Review
Written by Bwog Staff
Sated by parent’s box-wine and home-cooking, Bwog now casts a nostalgic gaze backward, and tries to connect the dots of news from this past semester. Here is Bwog’s song of the year for some musical accompaniment.
The diversity of experience ensures a diversity of historical interpretation, but Bwog, unable to take off its “new media” goggles, sees this semester as a drawn-out, dialectic competition between differing valuations of speech, anonymous and authored. Although Bwog is a partisan in this fight, our community is far from a definite conclusion. If last semester/year was about wellness, this past semester was all about how we talk about wellness, and every other issue. (Fingers-crossed that next semester gets even more meta.)
There appear to be two camps forming: the liberty-loving anonymites and the welfare-concerned nice police. Two news stories exemplify this debate: the whale-of-an-issue Brownstone Review Committee, and KevSho v. Orgo Night. We originally suggested that the BRC didn’t pass the smell-check, and commenters agreed. Unfortunately, some of them used bad words to agree, and then we had vitriol, vitriol, vitriol. b@b posterized their sentiment, and the admins/CCSC got testy. Some may say that the anonymous discussion did more harm than good, but the issue was progressed, and the direction of campus sentiment was mapped. Who is to say that the same couldn’t have been done in a tepid, poorly-attended town hall? I mean, people obviously cease being asshats to each other when they talk in person. Obviously.
In the most prominent example of campus comment moderation, the administration seemed to strong-arm the marching band into apologizing for one of their Orgo Night advertisements. It did not go over well. Campus quickly factionalized via Facebook statuses and Butler dialogues. Protests were organized, and everyone enjoyed one perfect-storm of finals distraction. This episode highlighted the kernel of controversy behind the BRC, the need for more specific discussion about speech liberty on campus, and the difficulty in separating disagreements over method from content. Ostensibly, CUMB actually wanted to insult SJP, minorities, or sex-workers, but most people wanted to be able to joke about SJP, minorities, or “sex-workers.” We may moderate anonymous comments when they get particularly nasty and personal, but here we had a well-known campus organization making a “comment” with no serious political pretense. If that isn’t acceptable to an administration “dedicated to freedom of expression,” then what can be said in defense of the thousands of comments in Columbia’s digiverse?
There is a lot left to be settled, but the notion of any firm conclusion in this debate seems like an unrealistic expectation. We’ve seen thousands of names fight the good fight. We’ve seen thousands of anonymous people crush on thousands of names. We’ve obsessed over the work of one anonymous loon who voluntarily claimed authorship after-the-fact, and criticized the rant of one partisan who claimed authorship but should have practice anonymity. Bwog got involved—it ended The Dark Hand’s anonymity. Comments don’t grow on trees, but we now have the ability to divorce the message from the messenger. That may allow us to operate in a free market of ideas where intellectual merit is the only determinate of success, or it may result in speech that is not only divorced from its relationship to the author but also from its relationship, and responsibility, to the audience. This digital Ring of Gyges is ours to play with, and this semester was a step in the evolution of our community’s speech ethics.
But enough editorialization for one semester. Bwog is excited to announce that a new team will take the helm for the new year. The ever-capable Alexandra Svokos takes over as Editor-in-Chief; Alexandra Avvocato, as sharp as she is chic, is now the Managing Editor; and the inventive Marcus Levine inhabits the newly created Creative Editor position. The past year has been transformative for Bwog, and we’re all looking forward to seeing what the future holds for our new staff.
“It was… fun…”
The Semester in Brief:
We decided that the “semester” began when last year’s dean-drama was brought to an unaccountable close by Deantini’s permanent appointment as CC Dean. Besides closed-door, administrative territory-marking, the summer was largely quite besides a short expedition to the Man Isle in Westside.
On August 8th, a PR-scandal unfolded as Barnard announced that it would be cramming more people into rooms that were previously advertised as singles. It became clear that Barnard admins were scrambling to find more space to house people. Less than a week later Barnard found a solution to the problem: house fewer people. It’s an oversimplification to say that Barnard threw its students out on the streets, but there was a serious lack of communication when many students are unexpectedly left to the mercy of Craigslist to find a roof to sleep under and a pot to piss in.
Bwog established an international readership when we found out that a Korean pop super-star, AJ, would be matriculating to GS in the fall. Korean fans—mostly tweens, we think—flooded our comments and started retweeting everything. They thought we didn’t know how to read clocks, as 1020 was a surprisingly hard concept to translate. Later in the year, no one got our joke when we suggested that U-KISS headline Bacchanal. Some people on staff caught flak for that.
People sent in views from their summer. Your peers do some pretty cool things.
Spec bit the hand that feeds.
You asked about relationships with Profs and TAs, and we said to go for it.
Green Umbrella’s listserv exploded, and spammed campus.
We reinvented Cooking With Bwog in video form.
Apparently, other people decided to get into the video game too. Sophomores perfectly illustrated the effects of marijuana on the brain, athletes got in the game, and some juniors decided to be super-duper relevant. Double Exposure spliced together all the shots of campus from big-kid films. Most recently, some freshmen were so incredibly late to the Gangnam Style party that you almost feel bad for them.
bored@butler came back. Bwog was a little obsessed with it, and the magazine studied the culture. In a post that was written for only a handful of media-types on campus, we unmasked The Dark Hand. #publicationprivilege
Columbia ended abortion coverage for students, but found a plan-b.
The Culinary Contrarian braved dangerous kitchen concoctions.
BwogSex brought you a florid description of giving head in a McBain bathroom, in case you ever wondered what that’s like. You probably didn’t.
SGB went postal and told Barnard’s flyer policy to fuck off. It really makes KevSho’s strong-handed CUMB moderation look that much worse.
Bwog visited bizarro-Brad’s.
Hurricane Sandy wrecked New York and New Jersey. Apparently, our parents forgot about the “heights” part of Morningside Heights. The storm that shut down large portions of the city for weeks was a two-week vacation for most students.
One of the Halloween contest winners was definitely nipping.
Obama won the election, but students couldn’t tell you why.
Robert really loved Kristine. But only DFW really understands just how much.
Bwog staffers traded places.
Our darn-diddly, yarn-quiddly, wam-bam-fiddly Dean challenged us to solve a math problem.