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Night of the Living Orgo: Spring 2013

The band and the crowd.

The band and the crowd.

This semester’s Orgo Night was slightly less, ah, hyped than the last, but was still a great respite from the tension on campus throughout this week.  Freshman daily editor Zachary Hendrickson tried to get a comprehensive grasp on the tradition.

I think it’s important to start by saying that I have close friends in the band, and Orgo Night is quite possibly my favorite Columbia tradition. That said, this semester’s Orgo Night was much like ordering food from Legends; it delivered, it just didn’t manage to impress. Nevertheless, it was a much needed break from this shit storm of a week. From the minute CUMB pulled out a stuffed raccoon and proclaimed how great it was to be in this “big ass administrative building,” I knew I was in for a show. (Crowd surf the raccoon! Like, what!?) However, Bwog couldn’t help but feel like something was off. Maybe it’s unfair to judge Orgo Night by the standards of last semester (this Bwogger’s only other Orgo). There was fanfare, controversy, and a ton of pressure put on the band to really step up and perform last semester. But maybe that was a good thing.

This year certainly started off strong. As someone sitting next to this young Bwogger remarked, “It is 11:22pm, and it is already REALLY F***ING LOUD IN HERE! Put that in your write-up.” The room was crowded–and good and sweaty like any good Orgo. As I looked around, I observed a handful of premature bookshelf climbers quickly brought down by Public Safety. (A little word of advice from Bwog: patience is key. There’s always gonna be another Orgo. Public Safety’s always gonna make you move – unless it’s at least 11:50.) Little did we know that across campus CUMB was already pissing people off getting laughs in Uris. Yes, our grand Columbia University Marching Band marched into Watson Library, took the form of all undergraduate aggravation, and played a resounding “F*** You!” by CeeLo Green. For that alone, they are Bwog’s heroes!

When the band made its way to 209, it was greeted with the usual uproar and out-of-time “Roar, Lion, Roar!” that we’ve all come to expect and cherish. After the normal opening lines (sans the bit about Barnard girls and vibrators, in exchange for a dig at the B-School), it was straight into the jokes. Led by veteran Orgoer Tyler Benedict, CC ’13 and the sharp-witted Ziyad Abdelfattah, CC ’15, things moved at a quick pace, but still allowed time for laughter. As with CUMB’s kind-of-sort-of-not-really rival, the Varsity Show, it wasn’t the performance that fell short this semester so much as the material they were given. It seemed like the band was pulling its punches this year. This Bwogger was definitely surprised, both by what was and wasn’t mentioned by the band. (HOW COULD YOU PASS UP POONSPEEDING!?) But this year was a decided departure from expectation.

It is a well known fact that Barnard is a favorite subject of Orgo Night, but despite having been given the Holy Grail of Barnard material they hardly did anything with it. Google being the “10th Way of Knowing” garnered chuckles, but there wasn’t anything like last semester’s quotable line relating sexual experiences during NSOP to the Israel/Palestine conflict. In fact, most of the set actually seemed to be in defense of Barnard. I feel like the following line is very representative of Orgo Night this year: “What do you get when you cross a Barnard girl with a slutty lesbian? A slutty lesbian with a world-class liberal arts education at the country’s most prestigious women’s college!” The band wanted everyone to seem like they were being edgy and raw, but they weren’t really saying much of anything at all. A clever subversion of expectations and a quick knock at the Varsity Show–great. But what was a bigger issue on campus: the Varsity Show or the cheating scandal? The whole thing felt like it was brushed over to make jokes about the Core and call out things like the honor code and pass/d/fail policy, the latter of which could have easily been an entire section of the show on its own.

I’m not saying that I wanted an Orgo Night full of attacks on Barnard students. I just think it’s important to note that this year was almost empowering and had a sort of social consciousness on display that isn’t normally what students think about when they think of Orgo Night. CUMB could have practically been RootEd if they had just provided ice cream and not made that quip about how “death is the only way to become a valued member of the Columbia community.” (Full disclosure: I clapped. Loudly.) There was a full section about the need for marriage equality and tighter gun laws (both super awesome though super not-Columbia specific at all), they called out Lanbo Zhang’s now infamous Spec op-ed, they attacked the University’s quick fix “solutions” to mental health issues, and even managed to bring up involuntary hospitalization.  Again, these are all great things! They just aren’t what you expect from Orgo Night. The new direction, intentional or not, could be seen as good or bad depending on who you ask. But it certainly has Bwog interested about whether this marks a departure from the crude cynicism that has been a staple of Orgo Night in the past.

Granted, the band didn’t pull ALL of its punches. The band’s final set on the hate crime/racist football tweeting scandal was incredibly on point. Perhaps my favorite bit from Orgo Night this semester was their genius role inversion of football players and minority communities, “It’s wrong to push around and harass football players just because they look a little different than you, or because they conform to certain academic stereotypes, or because their grasp of the English language is shaky at best. We should embrace this unique culture and its values…because at the end of the day, football players are people too. A select few of them are just really shitty people.” This joke expertly addresses the ridiculousness of racist logic while reminding us that we all should be careful not to judge any group based entirely by the actions of a few individuals–no matter how shitty they may be.

And so, despite it’s small stumbles, Orgo Night ended with it’s best foot forward. CUMB reminded us of how incredible it can be when we all loosen up a bit and laugh about our issues. It’s hard to tell whether or not the band will continue this not-so-offensive streak for next year, or if this whole social awareness thing was just the product of a perceived lack of campus material. However, it has me excited about what the future holds for Columbia’s best tradition, respectively.

You can read the entire Orgo Night script right here

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  • Whelp says:

    @Whelp now i wish i’d gone. Way to go CUMB. you did something right

  • SEAS '13 says:

    @SEAS '13 I thought the Slutty Lesbian/Barnard thing was a hilarious subversion of the usual tropes. Also it’s not really the “holy grail of Barnard material” when you consider that they acknowledged they know that the cheaters were Columbians they “just don’t care.”

    The stuff about mental health and administrative response to it was unusually poignant for the band, well done there.

    The section about the football team was great.

    Overall I think they did a really good job. Kinda wish they had lampooned KevSho a littler harder though.

    1. @The Dark Hand oh yea I just wanted to add that I like that they made fun of spec op eds not once but twice. Idk how I forgot that before because I am still unhinged with my hatred for the speck.

  • CC '13 says:

    @CC '13 Weirdly enough, the kevsho bit was my favorite part of the night. Other stuff was more raucously funny (football & varsity show things especially), but I really liked how they handled it. Sharp and biting and a little ballsy…but maybe that’s just my sense of humor.

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous why does Bwog always seem to send freshpeople to review these things?

    1. Honestly? says:

      @Honestly? That’s who writes for Bwog. It’s not even a bad thing necessarily, it’s just true.

    2. Freshperson says:

      @Freshperson As spokesperson of the freshpeople, I protest your insinuations that we the wee folk are unqualeefied to weeview dee Orgo Night. Shouldn’t you upperclassmen enjoy seeing someone whom the jadedness has not entirely permeated. Perhaps even the freshwoman’s eyes, less dulled, see more.

      1. Anonymous says:

        @Anonymous Marginally funny.

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous i can’t believe that no one has commented on how incredibly inappropriate it was to play “Die Young”.
    it seemed pretty apparent to me that everyone was uncomfortable at the time.

    1. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous It’s true.. but it’s the hallmark of Orgo Night to toe the line between funny and uncomfortable.

      Plus, it’s not like they created the song–it’s a popular one, and it might be better to question the artist who created it and the questionable things that she is advocating.

      I think the rest of that segment was really, really spot on.

    2. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous Wait, but that was my favourite part.

  • Hmmm says:

    @Hmmm So basically The varsity show was what Orgo night is supposed to be and Orgo night was what the varsity show was supposed to be.

    1. Vshow and Orgo Night Lover says:

      @Vshow and Orgo Night Lover wait… explain?

      1. Also Vshow and OrgoNight lover says:

        @Also Vshow and OrgoNight lover Well Bwog argued earlier (and I agree too) in its review for Vshow that instead of raising questions of campus culture and deep issues through their humor the VShow this year rather was more about the one liners and the usual stereotype-related Columbia humor whereas on the other hand Orgo night, that is usually just about the humor and being as awesomely Politically incorrect as possible seemed deeper in raising issues about mental health and the football player thing and gay rights and what not. Thus it seems like a reversal of roles

  • no, says:

    @no, this was the best orgo night ever. hats off to the marching band

  • CC'14 says:

    @CC'14 I completely agree! Orgo night was so incredibly PC, and the whole rant about gun control and gay marriage was waaaay too serious for what Orgo night is supposed to be. You don’t want to hate on Barnard girls? Fine. Hate on the b-school more. Or anyone. The point of Orgo night is to bring us together, and a surefire way of bringing people together is to unite them against a common enemy. (And calling Princeton people stuck up racists isn’t a way to do that.)

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous Marginally funny.

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous Gun control: because criminals love following laws.

    1. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous You can’t deny that it works in some places. It may not work in America. There may be too large a gun culture, or a particular culture of violence, or a particular culture of criminality, or what-have-you. The facts however remain indubitably true:

      There are truly miniscule numbers of deaths from guns in countries where they are banned e.g. UK, France, Germany, Spain, pretty much anywhere in Europe etc.

      Europeans may stab people instead, but you know what you can’t do with a knife? Kill in excess of, like, one person in any given rampage. It’s telling that the day of the Newtown massacre there was a mass murder attempt at a Chinese school. Weapon of choice? Knife. Number of wounded? 22. Number of killed? 0.

      I don’t even know why I’m posting this. It’s not even relevant. Basically, fuck fuck. And fuck guns.

      1. Anonymous says:

        @Anonymous Yeah, I can’t deny that it works pretty much everywhere in Europe. That’s why Anders Behring Breivik had to use a knife to kill his 77 victims; because of Norway’s gun policy. He had no choice but to follow the law in selecting his weapon.

        1. Anonymous says:

          @Anonymous Ummmmm…. I don’t know how to put this…. but…. guns are quite widely available in Norway. You can buy semi automatic weapons pretty easily. It is not an example of a gun control country.

          Even if they weren’t, what would you suggest? That every one of those 77 kids carried his/her own weapon to defend themselves?

      2. Oh really? says:

        @Oh really? you should watch this

        1. Anonymous says:

          @Anonymous What did I say before? That gun control ALWAYS works? Or that gun control has worked?

          There’s no doubt that crime may have stayed at equal levels in Australia. Indeed, I am certain it would stay at equal levels in the USA. Once you have proliferated weapons in society, it is practically impossible to remove all of them from ‘the bad guys’.

          In countries however where there has never been a proliferation of weapons e.g. most of Europe where even getting a bolt action hunting rifle takes six months of applications, the banning of guns has resulted in negligible gun deaths per year.

          I protested the original comment not because it said gun control wouldn’t necessarily work in America, but because it said gun control is stupid in principle, which it clearly isn’t. The USA has 60x more gun deaths per capita than the UK. This isn’t because the UK can easily get their hands on guns and choose not to use them. This is because no-one in the UK has a firearm. That is a result of gun control.

          TL;DR Australia may be fucked up, and may have too many weapons in the country to ever effectively ban them. In countries where there aren’t already a ton of weapons though, they can be banned very effectively.

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