The administrative leader of COÖP—a.k.a. the Columbia University Outdoor Orientation Program, a.k.a. that program where prefrosh go into the wilderness and come out best friends—has made the decision that the program will accept Barnard students. COÖP has, since it began in 1983, not been integrated with Barnard, and many COÖP-ers have expressed concerns about the impact of allowing the Barnard student population to apply, given COÖPs limited space for incoming students and its commitment to having equal numbers of each gender in the program. However, it seems that the administrative leaders at least have overcome those concerns in favor of fostering connections between pre-frosh from the different colleges.
Reactions to the decision to incorporate Barnard students were mixed among COÖP leaders. Nathaniel Braffman, CC ’14 and a former COÖP coordinator, says, “This idea is not a new one, but it finally gained traction this year after several Barnard students expressed interest in starting their own version of COÖP.”
Braffman says the debate among current COÖP leaders centered on the pros and cons of full integration into the existing program, or how COÖPers might best support Barnard students in starting their own program. “Personally, I’m a fan of full integration–something similar to the CUE model–but if Barnard students want to start their own outdoor orientation program, I’m confident that future coordinators would be happy to help them.”
Now it’s up to the Barnard’s Student Life office to decide how the integration will take place and work out the financial and administrative details. This means that the change will not be evident any time in the immediate future.
Because this decision was made by the administrative leadership of COÖP and not the student leaders, reactions are mixed. Will there be too many women in COÖP now? Will Columbia College women stand a lesser chance of getting into the program? Is gender real?