Last Saturday night, Carman 8 resident Grisham Blake threw an epic paint party. He bought a bar off Craigslist and installed it in his room, and bought paint for guests to decorate each other with. By Sunday morning, the party had been broken up by RAs, his room was covered in paint, and he had been CAVA’d. Grisham faces losing his housing at his hearing with the Office of Judicial Affairs and Community Standards (OJA) tomorrow afternoon.
Luckily, Grisham has some amazing friends in Carman who insist that he was not fully responsible for what happened, and doesn’t deserve harsh punishment. Bwog met earlier today with these students, who have submitted five pages of testimony (reproduced below) to be read at the hearing. What follows is Grisham and his friends’ clearly biased version of the story—take it as you will.
Summary of the Testimony
The testimony highlights the lack of support Grisham received with his problems with alcohol abuse. Grisham had already been CAVA’d three times. His friends, RAs and Housing administrators were well aware of his alcoholism. Yet the Carman students claim that Housing has never directed him toward Columbia Psychological Services (CPS). Allegedly, Associate Director of Housing Deborah Pawlikowski, during a meeting after his initial offenses “spoke to him about alcohol in a positive manner and…told him, in Grisham’s words, that perhaps he should stop drinking and start smoking weed instead.” Also, when Grisham sought help at CPS, “his alcohol abuse was not addressed.”
The students claim that Carman RAs were aware of the party before it happened and didn’t try to stop it, and then covered up that fact after it was broken up. One testimony states: “I have spoken to an RA who had full knowledge of the party taking place prior to its beginning…When I asked for the hard evidence of the RA’s knowledge through texts they sent between each other, I was stonewalled. The Community Advisor, Nora Habboosh, made a poor judgement call in deciding that these messages of the RAs were not pertinent to Grisham’s case.” The testimony also states that RAs were physically aggressive towards Grisham and a guest.
Allegedly, Housing used CAVA as a punitive measure to shut the party down. Multiple testimonies state that Grisham was not allowed to refuse to be CAVA’d:
The host calmly and coherently [said] “I’m fine, really, I don’t need to go to the hospital, can I please just go back to my room?” to which the response was “No.” I cannot stress enough that the host was in no way showing signs of alcohol related sickness, belligerence, or incoherence.
The students said that Grisham agreed to be CAVA’d after his RAs threatened to call the police, “because he was afraid of getting arrested.”
The students also raised what they called “systemic problems” with the OJA process. Grisham is not allowed to have an attorney or witnesses speak at their hearing, although testimony sent through email is admitted. Grisham has an advisor, but the advisor cannot speak during the process. The students claim that OJA said the advisor would have the same role as “a potted plant” in the proceedings. “The only voice allowed in the room is his,” the students said. The only notes allowed to be taken are by the OJA, and the hearing cannot be recorded. Inaccuracies in the notes can be appealed but can only be reviewed by the OJA. The aim of the OJA is to hold students accountable for their behavior, but Grisham’s friends see the process as frustratingly difficult and lacking in transparency.
Finally, the students emphasized that Grisham has independently cleaned up the room, which sustained no structural damage or damage to Housing’s furniture. “It looks better than any other room in Carman,” his friend said. Apparently he never intended for paint to get on the walls, and most of the alcohol was brought by other students. The students provided pictures of the cleaned room, which are attached below.
“Obviously he messed up; there was poor judgement involved,” Grisham’s friend said. But the students believe that the circumstances surrounding the party are enough to excuse him from losing his housing.
Grisham’s room, fully cleaned:
The full testimonies:
RE: Grisham Blake Case
Testimony 1: Carman 8 Student
To whom it may concern,
In light of the upcoming hearing regarding Grisham Blake’s actions on this past Saturday, February 22, I feel obligated to relate to those of you who are handling the incident certain facts that I personally witnessed both on the night in question and throughout our time at Columbia. There are two main issues I would like to address. First, I would like to present a larger picture of Grisham and his behavior than just the one you will see from his file. However, I would also like to testify as to my actual experiences of the event, as I believe that the more information the judicial committee has, the more accurate and just decision they will be able to make regarding Grisham.
That I am biased in this case is a fact that I will not deny. Grisham is a very good friend of mine and someone I deeply care about. This is because of his largely positive role in the Carman 8 community. I know that what most of the readers of this letter see of Grisham are only his mistakes and flaws. That he has made these mistakes is undeniable. But the Grisham that lives across the hall from me is far more than the reckless alcoholic he is often characterized as. He is by far the most generous person I know, giving time, money, and energy to anyone who could ever ask, regardless of his personal needs. Grisham is overwhelming supportive of others personal issues and dilemmas, and is a constant listening ear to those who need it. He has helped me personally through several instances in which I needed counsel and a place to speak honestly without fear of being judged.
However, Grisham’s time at Columbia has not necessarily been a positive experience for him, despite his desire to make it so for others. Grisham has struggled with many questions about his place in the Columbia community, and I don’t believe he ever quite found a place where he felt fully accepted. Without any strong support system to fall on from family or friends from home, I think the transition was very difficult for him, and that this lack of support may have impacted his compulsion to begin drinking at the rate which he does. After Grisham’s initial offenses he was sent to speak with Associate Director of Housing Deborah Pawlikowski, who, according to Grisham, spoke to him about alcohol in a positive manner and who once told him, in Grisham’s words, that perhaps he should stop drinking and start smoking weed instead. He also tells me that the one instance in which he went to speak to Columbia Psychological Services, though he was never directed to by any advisors or members of the administration to do so, he was asked about his overall mental state, but never specifically about his alcohol abuse, which is clearly a dominant issue here. In short, Grisham was never given adequate support in dealing with what I perceive as an addiction, despite the fact that his behavior is a clear cry for help.
Having established these parameters, I would like to now inform you of only what I saw of the night of the party. There are many other details of the night that I am aware of that I will not comment on, as I will only offer you, to the best of my remembrance, what I can verify as fact. I was not in the room for most of the evening, though I was there before it got very crowded and I was aware of the situation. I do know from speaking to Grisham prior to the event that the intention was only to paint the bar itself. This is clearly not what happened, but I think it is relevant to the vandalism issue that Grisham did not have the intention of the room being damaged. I’d also like to note that not all of the alcohol found in the room was Grisham’s, as I saw others entering the party bringing their own alcohol in, as well.
I was a witness to the initial of events of the RAs discovering the party. I will not include their names here. I walked out of my room to see the RAs outside his door. I went to our lounge because I wanted to see what happened but didn’t want to get in the way. The RAs knocked and asked for it to quiet down, and immediately after, two girls (I think a third came out a little later) left the room, with one holding a drink in her hand. One RA asked her to dispose of it, and she instead drank it in front of him. One of the RAs then asked for the girl’s ID in a very aggressive manner and it appeared to me that he grabbed her upper arm as he did so. At this contact, I became worried and moved closer and noted that she told the RAs she was not a Columbia student and one of the two then pulled her towards the stairs, I assume to go check the desk for her ID. At this point, Grisham came out of a separate room (he was not in his room at the time of the initial RA arrival), and told the RA that it was his party and that he took full responsibility. Throughout this conversation, Grisham was calm and respectful, and, though he had been drinking, was clearly coherent. The RA was very rude to him, however, and entered his room as people were exiting, quite forcefully telling everyone to leave. My visual experience of the event ends here, as the RA in question then informed everyone in the hallway that he would write them up on spot if they didn’t go to a room, especially if he saw paint on their bodies. I followed a friend to their room to be filled in on some details of the party, and the RA actually followed us to said room and threatened, again, to write people up if they appeared in the hallway. My other experience that night is hearing Grisham ask, again, very calmly and without slurring his speech, to refuse his CAVA, and when he was not allowed to do so, I witnessed him being led outside by CAVA members, walking fine and still not appearing overly intoxicated, informing those with him, when they asked how he was feeling, simply that he was cold.
My goal in informing those who read this of my experience is to allow everyone involved in this case to make the most informed decisions going forward about how to handle the consequences of the night. I also hope, however, that those of you who will be deciding what the repercussions will be for Grisham will consider more than just the fact that he has violated certain rules. I personally believe that people should be judged by their virtues and not only their vices, and I ask that you remember Grisham’s virtues and the fact that I believe his loss would have a negative impact on the community of Carman 8 when you deliberate on his consequences.
I thank you for your attention and hope that this statement can be of some benefit.
With much respect,
Testimony 2: Carman 9 Student
To whom this may concern,
I am writing on behalf of Grisham Blake in regard to the charges he has been accused of in the past week. Within the case itself, there are absolutes: he did host a party, there was a bar, and there was paint. However, it would be remiss of me and all those knowledgeable of the situation, to disregard the more nuanced aspects of Grisham’s circumstances.
Grisham was a victim of circumstance in many regards; he suffered abuse from the RAs on duty that night, and was subjected to negligence by a system unfit and willing to protect him from himself.
When dissecting these claims further one can see that the RA responsible for this incident used CAVA as a punishment to manipulate Grisham Blake. Grisham politely refused CAVA services, but was forced to accept them that night without any room for choice regardless of his coherent and fully functional nature.
In my personal experience with this case, I have spoken to an RA who had full knowledge of the party taking place prior to its beginning. This information was disseminated among many people within the residential advisory community, yet action was never taken. It is a fact that the RAs knew about Grisham’s struggle with alcohol and multiple CAVAs, yet none of that information played into how they handled Grisham’s situation.
The reality is that the party should’ve never escalated to the point it did if the Residential Advisors of Carman had seriously been invested in Grisham’s well being. When I asked for the hard evidence of the RAs knowledge through texts they sent between each other, I was stonewalled. The Community Advisor, Nora Haboosh, made a poor judgment call in deciding that these messages of the RAs were not pertinent to Grisham’s case. However, if there is evidence of the Residential Advisors neglect, I disagree with Ms. Haboosh’s decision. As a witness to this failure by Carman RAs, I find the lack of openness an example of the lack of responsibility many are willing to take for Grisham’s current position.
No one argues the realities of his case, but I implore you to consider all facets before any sweeping judgments. The penalties Grisham Blake faces are a direct example of what happens when the same people employed to help residents, fail to do just that. Grisham fully accepts his place in all of this; I believe that the rest of the Carman community must do the same.
Thank you for your consideration,
Testimony 3: Carman 8 Student
To Whom It May Concern:
I am a resident on Grisham Blake’s floor and would like to testify about his CAVA. I briefly witnessed it with my NYU friend, [name redacted], as we were going down to the vending machines.
On the floor, I overheard someone giving Grisham an ultimatum to come with them: “If you don’t come with us, then we will call the police.” Grisham was able to make coherent sentences at the time, and to my opinion, he was nowhere near the point of calling CAVA. I have seen inebriated Grisham enough times to know that he did not need medical attention that night.
Downstairs, when they were coming out of the elevator, I heard one girl say something along the lines of “Grisham, come this way” in a demeaning tone, as if speaking to a child or dog. I do not believe this was the correct way to address a fully cooperative and aware student.
Testimony 4: Carman 8 Student
I am writing in regards to the event that happened in Grisham Blake’s room on the 22nd of February and his upcoming disciplinary hearing. There are several aspects of the way this incident was handled that are problematic and objectionable. The first, and most important, thing that must be addressed was the behavior of Public Safety, the RA’s and CAVA when they took Grisham Blake to the hospital. I observed them threatening to call the police if he did not submit to go the hospital and at one point force him to sit down in the medical chair that they had brought. Despite this behavior from the officials, Grisham did not appear intoxicated, he was articulate and steady, if nervous and visibly scared. He gave no outward indication of needing medical help, making the medical services seem vengeful and almost a form of punishment. The behavior of all the people involved in sending him to the hospital was egregious and hostile. He was forced to receive medical attention when he was clearly fine. Regarding the incident itself and violation of University policies, Grisham has received the brunt of the blame for actions he is not solely responsible for. A great portion or majority of the alcohol found in his room was brought there by others, not by his choice. Additionally, the paint in the room was there with the understanding it would be used to paint the counter space and not the walls or floor. Grisham never intended to harm University property and has already taken steps to rectify any damage done. The handling of this incident has been in many ways problematic. The officials present at the time of the incident behaved coercively and aggressively. Many of the charges are based on misrepresentations of what occurred and Grisham Blake should not be punished for the overreaction of University personnel.
Testimony 5: Carman 8 Student
To Columbia University Housing and whomever else it may concern,
As a resident of Carman eight and a witness to the events that transpired in room 809A on Saturday night, February 22nd, 2014, I’ve decided to offer my testimony for the purpose of adding clarity to your understanding of the situation before and after the intervention of the Resident Advisors.
A large quantity of alcoholic beverages and evidence of alcohol consumption were found in the host’s room after the RAs had contained the situation. While the host did provide some of this alcohol, a very significant portion of that which was found in the room belonged to other students who, without any solicitation from the host, brought alcohol into the room themselves.
I did not witness any structural damage to the room that night. The intention of the host in the days leading up to the event was to host a gathering during which other students would have the option to paint on the furniture that the host had constructed in his room earlier that week. All other paint related damage that was documented was not the result of any consent, approval, or participation from the host. To clarify: the host did not himself paint on the walls or floor of the room, and did not give permission to the crowd of people, many of which the host had no previous affiliation to, to damage the room in any way. The situation quickly ventured beyond his control.
Since I live down the hall from the host, I witnessed, both auditorily and visually, the situational and verbal pressure that the involved RAs and CAVA staff put on the host- who was coherent, reasonable, docile, and without any observable handicap to his mental or physical functions- to submit to a CAVA trip to the hospital, which he had already refused. To speak from experience (and, living in Carman, I have a lot of it) the host in no way needed to be CAVA’d. One snippet of dialogue that I caught between the host and what sounded like an RA involved the host calmly and coherently saying “I’m fine, really, I don’t need to go to the hospital, can I please just go back to my room?” to which the response was “No.” I cannot stress enough that the host was in no way showing signs of alcohol related sickness, belligerence, or incoherence. It was only after the RAs/CAVA staff threatened him with police involvement that the host submitted to the CAVA. In summation, the CAVA seemed to be more of a punitive measure and a means of removing him from the immediate vicinity than a medical necessity. The host was as cooperative as he could have been while maintaining his right, as a conscious coherent adult, to refuse the medical treatment he did not want or need.
The host has since taken action to ameliorate the situation. All documented damage is no longer visible or present, and the alcohol is gone.
This is the only pertinent information I can supply with regards to this specific case. the host, while instigating the incident to a certain degree, was not nearly entirely responsible for the way it unfolded, nor was he in any need of medical attention when he was forced by the RAs and CAVA staff to take the trip to the hospital. I hope my testimony has rendered some clarity or validity to the information you already have.
@Anonymous YO THIS KID IS A LEGEND #FREEGRISHAM
@Scandalist OMG a college party, never heard of anyone throwing one before.
@BOO HISS, BWOG Anyone else amused that the Bwog writer here tried to make a really activist piece rallying public support for a student/C8, but instead most of the comments are about what a tool the kid is and how useless his friends were? I love it.
@Anonymous Alright, some of these posts are getting ridiculous.
Kiddies, just to be clear, CAVA IS AN AMBULANCE CORPS. If you call CU Public Safety (who oversee and dispatch CAVA) it’s the same as calling 911 except faster. This isn’t like high school when you were a minor and everything got handled by the school nurse and social workers. If EMS shows up they’re not going to give you a band-aid and motrin, they’re going to offer you a ride to the hospital. If Public Safety shows up (who are authorized to make arrests and use force by NYS law) the time to fuck around is over. Your RA is there for all your cutesy student issues, but once any flashing lights and uniforms show up it’s no longer something they have the authority to control. All this complaining about CAVA and allegations that the RAs didn’t do enough hand holding is nuts. You’re adults, act like it.
@Future Employer What was the benefit of Mr. Blake’s friends publishing this “testimony”? Build up his campus support? Shame Columbia into sparing him some mercy? Making him unemployable (Google sees all)?
Kid throws party, may have alcohol problem. Dog bites man. Yawn.
@Anonymous This story is kind of ridiculous. Of course the RA probably knew about it but they probably let it happen because they didn’t expect it to involve paint or get as crazy as it did. And did anyone seriously think that he was an alcoholic? I’d put money on no, there is a big difference between when you drink to much in college and full blown alcoholism (where you are unable to function). What they are doing is trying to save their friend by blaming the RAs and trying to victimize him but he’s just not a victim. He fucked up and threw a giant paint themed party. I don’t think he should lose housing but I don’t think that his friends should try to get him off by fucking over the rest of Carman. Because basically what they are doing is the same as telling the RAs we want them to be stricter. I don’t know about others but that is exactly the opposite of what I want.
@Common Sense I feel like everyone’s ignoring the fact that there are consequences for your actions and losing housing is relatively tame compared to pushing for expulsion or any criminal punishment.
You all have to admit this isn’t something Columbia tolerates and there have to be some consequences.
@CC 15 Greek Power accounts, you are aware that you’re making fun of people who feel they are being targeted unfairly, right? You know who else felt they were targeted unfairly? People of Mexican, Asian, Irish, Dutch, etc., descent.
People react differently to feeling that way, but that doesn’t give you license to troll bwog comments like this. You may see athletes and Greeks life participants as so bad that you decide to make fake accounts for them, but neither of those groups have ever done remotely the same.
If someone was trolling with the name Mexican Power #69, you’d get so offended that your head would probably fall off and roll away. All you’re doing is perpetuating a needless conflict.
The last time I’ve seen someone make a fake account and troll people is on AIM when I was in middle school. Grow up.
@Anonymous Aren’t you required to go through BASICS after being CAVA-ed? The testimonies claim that he had trouble finding judgment-free counseling about alcohol, but I was under the impression that he would have been REQUIRED to do just that…
@Anonymous I think the operating word here is “judgment free.” I’ve never dealt with Columbia psychological services, but I have dealt with Barnard’s and I have almost always felt judged by the counselors in Furman… I can’t imagine that CPS would be much better.
@Anonymous Maybe you’re just a nutball.
@Socrates Are we humans…or are we pansies?
@Seriously people ? Seriously guys ? Being kicked out of housing is the least this school can do …
@Does no one else …believe that this kid deserves to have at least some consequences?
@Anon Sure, but being kicked out of housing is a pretty extreme one.
@Really? If they were so concerned about his alcohol abuse, why would they continue to enable him both by attending this party and covering for him in their reports? Instead of blaming others, be a better friend and take responsibility for your actions.
@Anonymous Being the best kind of friend is trying to secure for him adequate mental health treatment, and expose issues in the overall mental health process.
@im tough Deb had a point though. Maybe he should’ve just started getting high
@Perhaps the tag “it’s all fun and games until someone’s an alcoholic” isn’t the most sensitive
@Anonymous They being the RA’s
@Carman Resident Regardless of how the RAs responded, this kid decided to have a massive party in flagrant violation of university rules. Was he drunk when he decided to throw a party with copious amounts of alcohol and paint in an undergraduate dorm? Despite allegations of alcoholism, I’m gonna go ahead and say probably not. You can do dumb shit in college, just don’t make it obvious.
I’ve heard from enough reliable sources that the RAs could have handled the situation better that I’m willing to believe it – but that still does not excuse this guy’s actions. He’s not some kind of martyr because he was poorly-treated by the administration (and I’m not excusing their alleged actions here). He’s a guy who made poor decisions and needs to take responsibility for them.
@Anonymous They being the RAs
@The majority of these comments make me disappointed to be a Columbia student.
@Anonymous I don’t know anybody who has done more for this school/Residential Life than Nora. She makes herself available at a moment’s notice when a resident is in need, and keep in mind that CAs are not even expected to interact with residents since their role is more about supporting the staff, but she will still go to the ends of the earth to ensure the safety, well being and happiness of people. Most of the spectacular works she does will never be publicly acknowledged because of confidentiality, and if only everyone knew how very much of her time and energy she invests in her job, they could get a glimpse of how earnestly dedicated she is. I watched her intervene in a situation with one of my floormates who was attempting suicide, and I have never felt more relieved or comforted in someone’s presence. I believe she saved his life not only that day, but also with all the follow up work she did in the weeks after. When she helped someone else who was sexually assaulted, she checked in on her constantly. When NYPD comes in and disrespects students and tries to cuff them without even speaking to them, this is the girl that stands up and advocates for them. There is nothing she wouldn’t do for you if you were in trouble.
In this case, I’m not surprised that she didn’t hand over private texts on an RA thread to a demanding freshman who was trying to collect “intel”–I’d be concerned if she did. RAs/CAs are required to comply with the actual official investigating offices, so the only appropriate people to hand over any private stuff over to are OJA/Public Safety/NYPD, etc. not a resentful angry kid trying to pull together some martyrdom project.
@CC 2014 Thank you. Nora is the best.
@Anonymous yeah. because taha sucks at RA
@Anonymous Interesting that these friends chose to leave out the part from a few months ago where the RAs once literally cleaned this kid out of his own vomit and cleaned his room for him after he was cava’d. Nora (who is also a certified EMT) responded to that case to help out even though she wasn’t on duty, and knowing that he wouldn’t want to be cava’d tried to prevent it but she took his pulse and saw his heart rate was slow and had no choice. But any RA is impelled to call cava if it seems there’s even the slightest chance the resident is in danger. Also Nora wasn’t even present at this party since she wasn’t on duty that night so I’m not sure why her name is used here.
@Anonymous If you don’t understand why her name is used, you clearly need to re-read the testimonies and summary.
The fault was in not seeking treatment for Grisham. A nice act by not CAVA-ing him that one time sure, but that’s not the point. He was a student in need of significant help that he did not get on the long-term.
@I'm glad someone mentioned this Cava is out of control. They often bully students into going with them and incurring massive hospital bills.
My room mate cut his hand while making a sandwich. Cava came, and the public safety guard told along with our RA told him that if he did not go with them he would not be allowed in his room. When my room mate got to the ER, the doctor poured antiseptic on the wound and sent him home. A few weeks later, he received a bill for $1500 since he had not met his insurance deductible for the year. Thanks a lot Cava and public safety.
It’s been too long since Columbia has been sued (a few months right), so they’re definitely due. There is a good chance that Cava will be the reason behind the suit. Cava members, RAs, and Public Safety officers (showing restraint in not calling them mall cops/ thugs) need to be educated on the specific roles of Cava and the intricacies of consent.
@scandal I’m calling a CAVA/St. Luke’s money making military-industrial complex! But seriously, the cost is around $5 grand just to get taken a block over to St. Luke’s and sleep in a bed to sober up- no stomach pump no nothing. RAs and people in general pull the CAVA card far too hastily without actually understanding the consequences wrought financially and judicially. RAs need to learn the value of pulling the trigger to sober up or handing off to a friend to facilitate puking and sleeping- Grisham clearly would have had many willing helpers if his drunkenness were that bad though clearly our violent RA friend with the Napoleon Complex didn’t accept that. It’s college, alcohol death is much more difficult to achieve than any of us nerdy ivy league kids can imagine, back off a bit. There is far less oversight at wild state schools and rarely do kids die. CAVA/St. Luke’s is an impractical, punitive measure disguised as a means of support by people who don’t drink that much- which is fine for them (truly, I respect that so much) but they cannot conceive of the actual lack of a need for medical attention in the situations they have managed to gain policing power over.
@I'm glad someone mentioned this St. Luke’s is a criminal organization. They frequently breach the standard of care.
They do not support their patients, and only care about their patients’ wallets.
Never ever go there for anything. If you need an actual procedure, you’re better off going up to Columbia Med. The poor care provided by the hacks and quacks at St. Luke’s will kill you far faster than any ailment.
@D No, St. Luke’s is far better than Columbia. As someone who works up there, it’s always crazy, over packed, and under funded. St. Luke’s is far better.
@Anonymous “rarely do kids die” … isn’t it better that it be never?
You can read about some other experiences here. It’s unfortunate, but inner city hospitals like St. Luke’s run in a manner reminiscent of Soviet institutions.
If Columbia cared, they’d address this. Funny how the Cava program/ good samaritan policy directly benefit St. Luke’s.
@Anonymous “St. Luke’s run in a manner reminiscent of Soviet institutions.”
Holy shit. Way to play to the stereotype of an over-privileged dramatic ivy league kid. Comparing an NYC hospital to an eastern bloc institution? That’s gotta be covered by a variation of godwin’s law.
@Anonymous CAVA is a free service.
@what a pussy haha napoleon complex=justin d’agostino
@Anonymous And they did.
@Anonymous PRIOR action, given their knowledge of the host and the paint.
@Anonymous RAs should have taken action given knowledge of the history of the person involved and the presence of paint.
@some friend you are If you supposedly knew he had a problem for so long why wait until after he gets in trouble to start alerting people. If you were really his friends you would have reached out to the RAs, CPS, his family, someone so he could have gotten the help he needed before it escalated this far. You’re trying to blame others for not knowing when you clearly knew and did nothing.
@C8 You’re an idiot. We tried to get this guy help for months and months, but we never got it. Many of us tried personally talking to him when we found out the system was failing and wouldn’t help. We tried to push him into counseling but it wasn’t happening. The RA’s did nothing when we asked. Housing did nothing when we asked.
@Current RA (not at Carman though) I have been waiting all year to speak about my frustrations as an RA, and this discussion has given me a valuable opportunity to voice my opinions.
I have been confronted with many problems on my floor; to remain anonymous, I am not going to delve into detail. I will say that when I try to reach out to my superiors for support, my efforts disappear into what is essentially a black box held together by an excess of red tape. My words seem to fall on deaf ears.
My supervisor tells me to write up an incident report. Sometimes I am told to email so-and-so in the administration. And at this point, I am usually told that I have done everything that I can possibly do. I have exhausted the options (which are few to begin with) that I have as an RA.
Should I call CPS on behalf of the student? No, I am told. We’ll take care of it. It’s no longer part of your business, I am told.
Should I try to get in touch with so-and-so’s advisor because I am concerned about them? No, I am told. We’ll take care of it.
Weeks upon weeks pass, and I grow increasingly concerned. I sometimes feel as if I have been forgotten. My higher-ups do not follow up with on the situation(s) that drew my initial concern. When I ask my supervisor to update me, my request is turned down. (It’s usually for “confidentiality reasons,” which I guess is fair enough of an argument.)
But as you can probably sense, the power of RAs and CAs are severely restricted by Columbia’s administration. People often harbor mistaken impressions about what RAs and CAs can do, and I want to emphasize that we are limited in our ability to help the people who we live with and oversee. Before we shift blame to Nora and the Carman RAs, let’s be mindful that the semblances of agency (that we supposedly have as RAs) all too often disappear from our hands when they enter the opaque depths of Columbia’s administration.
Don’t get me wrong: I would sense that most RAs care deeply about their jobs, and they want to do what they think is best for their floors. We can try to help you in every way we can, but most of us are handicapped by Columbia’s callously opaque administration. I don’t know what steps the Carman RAs took in advance of Grisham’s party. But based off of my previous experiences as an RA, I am not sure if Nora and the Carman RAs could have done anything differently. We’re really just cogs in a machine.
@fuck sigma nu I’m sorry, but this would have been so much more of a shitstorm if it had happened in a brownstone. Kid’s lucky he’s not affiliated with fraternity or in an athletic team
@Just Saying Kind of an asshole move to try to blame the RA by saying they had knowledge of the party before it happened…so next time people want the RAs to shut down the party before it happens and not give it a chance?
@Anonymous RA’s should have shut down the party beforehand given knowledge of WHO was hosting and the fact that PAINT was involved. Those facts should be enough to get involved in this situation beforehand as opposed to other parties.
@Anonymous Why didn’t his friends, with knowledge of his problems, then try to shut down the party? There is a lot of transfer of blame here.
@C8 We did try to. We just didn’t have the authority to.
@Anonymous How much authority do you need to hang out with your friend at their party and tell people not to make a mess to keep him out of trouble? You guys are some pretty worthless friends if all you’re capable of is sitting on your balls as your buddy destroys himself then whiteknight after.
@Old Alum When all is said and done, when you are ten and twenty years out of Columbia, you will occasionally get a smile on your face that no one else will know why. But you will, becasue you just remembered that amazing paint party freshman year and how great life can be! You will remember the guy who threw the party with great fondness and you will be happy.
Take it from an old alum…these are great times!
@Best comment by far. Thanks, old timer :)
@kill, marry, fuck The testimonial givers, based on writing style
@pronounced "dee-mo" Back in my day, willful destruction of college property was called “demo” (as in “demolition”) and was usually accompanied by alcohol. If you were caught doing it, there wasn’t a whole lot of tolerance or forgiveness involved–even in the first instance.
In my mind it’s not the school’s responsibility to get you treatment for alcohol abuse or to police your parties to make sure they don’t get out of hand. In the real world, if you can’t host a party without it or you getting out of hand, don’t do it. If you have serious issues with alcohol, then it is your responsibility, your family’s responsibility, your friends’ responsibility to help you get help. It is the school’s responsibility to provide assistance if asked.
@Anonymous “Welcome to the real world, jackass!”
-The Lonely Island
But seriously, listening to privileged freshmen cry about how an authority figure gave them an order or grabbed somebody’s arm is adorable. I can only imagine the shock that would have ensued if NYPD had pulled up. Would be a good learning experience for what ‘aggressive grabbing’ and being directed by a child really looks like.
@Anonymous Great rebuttal. You’ve truly shown me the errors in my opinion. This post highlighted not just the moral high ground of your cause but also it’s logic. You’ve made everyone very proud.
@Anonymous In response to Mr Buttplug, of course.
@Anonymous good going, kid. how hard is it to press a fucking reply button. guess your buttplug is shoved so far up your ass you’re losing motor control
@Anonymous Yes, that’s exactly what happened. Thanks for your thoughtful input, friend. <3
@Anonymous Damn, I hope nobody who’s an advocate here has plans of being a law student. Here’s what’s wrong with the case made here:
Starting with the allegation that the host refused medical assistance and had his rights violated, this is ridiculous. Contrary to what some freshmen would believe CAVA doesn’t want to take you to the hospital. These are student volunteers who want to party, study, and sleep just like everyone else. When they get a call for service they want to get back to whatever they were doing as quick as they can. Not only that, but St Luke’s Hospital doesn’t want Columbia students filling up it’s limited beds. Once CAVA takes a student to the hospital that student is evaluated by a nurse in triage. If the kid being brought in doesn’t need to be there then St Luke’s will send them away, making CAVA look like a bunch of idiots in front of their fellow medics.
Moving on to the student refusing medical attention: There is an abundance of case law affirming an individual’s right to refuse medical attention, but this hinges on the individual in question’s mental competency. An intoxicated person is not competent. They can’t consent to things, they can’t refuse aid from medics. CAVA has to establish how intoxicated a person is through a battery of questions and observation. This isn’t the SFST used by cops in DWI cases which establishes a BAC of .1 or above (as was the legal standard of DWI at the time NHTSA came up with the tests before .08). This is simple shit: Who are you, where do you live, where are you now, what’s today, etc.
Was CAVA used as a punitive measure? Absolutely not. The administration does not decide who goes to the hospital. Your RA doesn’t decide who goes to the hospital. CU public safety doesn’t decide and NYC police don’t decide. It’s the EMTs at the incident who decide if a patient should go to the hospital and if they are too intoxicated to sign that waiver refusing transport. The student wasn’t being threatened with police action to pressure him into giving consent. At that point EMS clearly had already decided to take him regardless and would put him in handcuff to achieve that if need be (Columbia officers seem shy about that with students and having city cops do it mitigates liability).
Is there a legal violation in the fact that OJA isn’t allowing a lawyer or 3rd party to be present in hearing? No. This is not a criminal case being handled by public authorities. This is a private organization holding an administrative review. Rights to legal counsel in a criminal investigation is completely different.
Is the story that the host lost control an effective defense? Hardly. In the end it falls on the host to make sure things didn’t get out if hand. Not only was the party too much, but the host apparently by his own actions became to inebriated to control himself much less the party he organized. It’s hard to find any mitigating factors here as everything reasonably comes back to the host’s willful actions.
But hey, that’s just my take on things based on what’s provided here, what I’ve seem the administration/CAVA do before, and general knowledge of the laws. Greeks and freshmen may now resume whining.
@butt plug bet yours must especially smell like shit. give it some air, will ya?
@Anonymous @Anonymous: While your point is valid, you completely misinterpreted the situation. Yes, of course these freshman haven’t had a law education, they’re freshman. This is their way of helping their friend in the only way that they can. Friends of Grisham Blake have repeatedly observed the extent of his mental health issues. . . and the negligence of RAs towards it. His alcoholism has been treated lightly, in terms of administrative action after being CAVA’d. So, let me ask you, what would you do if no one listened?
@Anon Didn’t even read this whole post but want to take issue with your first paragraph: “Starting with the allegation … fellow medics.”
I agree that CAVA is comprised of student volunteers who want to party, study, and sleep just like everyone else. However, I don’t think it’s fair to say CAVA “wants to” or “doesn’t want to” take you to the hospital. That makes very little sense to me.
Speaking as someone who was CAVA’d once when I was not at a level of intoxication that really required it (backstory: as I understand how CAVA works, you can refuse medical assistance the first time CAVA is called if they say you’re OK and you don’t want to go to the hospital. If CAVA is called twice on you in one night you have to go regardless of your state), i.e. this was the second call and by then I was already fairly sober but they forced me to go, as I understand per their policy, which I could totally have been lied to about because how do I know what CAVA policy is?
Anyhow, point being. I got to St. Luke’s and was there for about ten minutes where I had to change into a hospital gown, get checked out by a doctor, and was good to leave within 15 minutes. The doctor said I was absolutely fine. You have to PAY a lot of money to go to the ER, so I don’t necessarily agree with “St. Luke’s Hospital doesn’t want Columbia students filling up its limited beds.” Based on my own experience ONLY (which I acknowledge completely), I was in the ER where all the beds around me were empty, there for 15 minutes tops, and then went home. And then paid like $1500 or something for this “service.” So I’m not sure really where you’re getting this idea that “St. Luke’s will send you away” if you don’t need to be there. I guess they send you home, but you get slapped with a bill and you have to get checked out.
@Anonymous CAVA being called isn’t like going to the high school nurse’s office. There isn’t a jar of candy for you or comfy beds to lay on. These are Emergency Medical Services and in spite of how popular culture views alcoholism, it’s a medical emergency. People die. Just because someone is speaking clearly enough doesn’t mean they aren’t drunk. At the point that a person vomits or stops answering basic situational questions correctly they have reached the onset of alcohol poisoning.
If CAVA gets called on someone twice in one night it’s because they’re a fucking mess. Chances are you aren’t nearly as okay as you thought you were at the time (You also probably couldn’t sing or dance as well as you thought you could at the time. Drunk magic). Everyone is bitching here that the RAs didn’t take action soon enough, but in the same breath yell about CAVA being on a hair trigger to transport. Delicious hypocrisy. Stay classy, Carman.
@Anonymous Can we talk about the physical aggression of the RA’s- “grabbing” a student? Highly inappropriate and unprofessional, as is the coverup of the text messages. That information is clearly pertinent here.
@Just saying in every legal code or set of rules I’ve seen, the host is always responsible for the actions in the room he owns or rents that cause damage or involve illegal substances, unless the specific people who used them are identified.
@OJA Hearings I am sad to see that the OJA still subscribes to such unfair and judicially arbitrary policies. Last year I had a horrible experience with the OJA: when a roommate expressed concern for our friend with an eating disorder, she “just wanted to be left alone” and told the RA. The RA wrote up a Wellness Report for her, and the OJA picked up the report for HARASSMENT. I was “guilty by association”, responsible for “not stopping” my roommate from looking out for our friend!
During my hearing, I was not given access to a Discipline Resource Person. They refused to consider multiple third party testimonies regarding our friend’s history. The hearing definitely began with a presumption of guilt, and I was ultimately put on “conditional probation” despite the fact that they were unable to specify any specific wrongful conduct on my part.
The RA was supposedly unaware that the Wellness Report would trigger the disciplinary proceedings, and was not willing to stick their neck out or say that she had made a mistake. I know RAs are well-meaning people, but too often I think they are pogs in the bureaucracy who are unable to admit that they make mistakes.
@so the pussification of columbia continues they sent you to a hearing because you told someone that they should seek help for an eating disorder? you monster! Just another example of how we let hurt feelings over feeling “offended” usurp logic. Bow to our ovarian ovarylords
@theroommate We spoke with multiple housing admins and they all reassured us not to worry because they completley understood our good intensions. Yet when I got to my trial my OJA “judge” implied that I had committed an act of sexual harrassment. I was copletely shaken and dumbstruck. I was just supposed to sit there (with my advising dean sitting silently in the room) and take this abuse! We tried to recruit the help of other housing/advising/res life admins who agreed that there was nothing wrong with what we did, but no one wanted to go over the head of the OJA. Also, the OJA kept insisting we should have called Public Safety instead of trying to help our friend ourselves. When have we ever been taught that Public Safety is a resource for this type of situation? I asked if I could raise campus awareness about Public Safety as a resource instead of being punished, but my request was completely ignored. If I were a freshman at Columbia I would have left. Something needs to change so other people don’t have to go through this.
@What is this, the 90s? Are you sure you mean “pogs” and not “cogs”?
@Anonymous Nora is actually an amazing CA and coming from another CA- I can say that no one does her job as well as Nora does. It seems to me that the attacks against Nora are completely unwarranted and I don’t understand why that anger is being directed at her at all. These vague and alleged texts seem to point to RAs being notified that the party was taking place- and not the focus of the gripes of the residents, which is the actual way that the RAs broke up the party. Also in a more technical note, I do not know Grisham’s age but if he is under 18 he legally cannot refuse to be CAVAd and must go to St. Luke’s. It sucks, but it is the law.
@Anonymous Totally agree. As another CA, nobody understands the hard work she does. She does more than most and does it better than almost all. She does her job appropriately whether or not inebriated, irresponsible freshmen disagree.
@Anonymous He is over the age of 18. It’s does not appear to be a critique on Nora’s overall job but rather this particular decision.
@Let's put it this way If Nora is as great as you all say, it really makes me question the caliber and standard you hold yourselves to as CAs. She obviously handled this poorly, let’s not make excuses for negligence.
That’s not necessarily true. See the mature minor doctrine/refusal to consent, which doesn’t apply in NY for life-threatening emergency care but might apply for an EMT who merely has been told to suspect intoxication.
@Anonymous I heard she tried to give him a haboosh, too. But decided to CAVA him when she realized he wasn’t drink (and was over 18).
@CC 2014 If an RA thinks that a student’s level of intoxication might be threatening to his/her health, the RA has to call CAVA (by law). RAs are not medically trained and therefore cannot decide whether or not a student is “okay”. When CAVA arrives, they are allowed to determine whether or not a student needs to go to the hospital. If he was actually brought to St. Lukes, then it was CAVA’s call, not the RAs, and he probably needed to go.
@Anonymous Read the testimonies. The point is that the level of intoxication was not nearly at that level.
@CC 2014 His friends are worried that he’s going to lose housing and many of them were probably also intoxicated that night, so it’s unclear how drunk he was. More important than that, he had a history of severe alcohol abuse, so the RAs had reason to be worried about him.
@Anonymous Probably should’ve thought about that before they let a paint party happen in his room…
@Anonymous yes his drunk friends at the party are clearly the best people able to accurately assess his level of intoxication.
@Police State I guess they’re trying to get fucking room-checks to happen? Come on, guys
@It doesn't take a room check @Police State: for an RA to notice a 12 foot bar. It sat in the hallway for almost three days before it was in the room. The floor RA and whichever RAs were on duty saw it and ignored it.
@Greek Power #3 I’m sure Greek Power #2 wasn’t being sarcastic! It’s a serious issue. Deans are always on our back. Like does nobody know anything about 1st or 4th amendment rights
@Anonymous or the 21 first amendment? apparently not
@CC15 Wow, I didn’t know they let 10 year old boys into Columbia! Grow up.
@Be Wary Be careful, we may be poking a sleeping bear. This could easily end with the start of a zero-tolerance policy. Ain’t no one got time for that
@Anonymous I recently went through a OJA hearing, and every part of the process from the RA’s write-up to the fat bitch’s interrogation was wrought with a pointlessly punitive, guilty until proven innocent mentality. In short, OJA can suck a dick.
@Anonymous hahahah I was also tried by a fat bitch at an OJA hearing once upon a time. Good memories, man. Good memories
@betch can't even spell It’s HABBOOSH, with two b’s. Seriously, if you’re going to slander an amazing person for doing her job correctly at least spell her name right.
@Greek Power People like you are the reason ZBT lost its brownstone.
@wow this is the worst troll account
@Greek Life 3 Lol whats ZBT.
@CC15 People like you are the reason there’s an issue with athletes in the first place.
@anon Where was Public Safety? Why didn’t they respond to this?
@Anonymous ..they were there…
@Wow You know what’s funny? These guys who are so consider themselves his friends were at the party…wonder why they didn’t try to stop him?
@better thought @Wow: I wonder if you’ve ever tried to work with an alcoholic.
@So why Doesn’t that also apply to the RAs….
@Anonymous Because they have the responsibility to strive toward students’ best interests. It’s their job. That seems not to have happened in this case.
@This is up to Res Staff @Anonymous: because they’re trained to deal with these things, or at least to provide enough counseling to direct him to the appropriate specialists. We’re his friends, but we aren’t psychiatrists or counselors, and there’s only so much we can do (especially when we have no authority over him).
@Anonymous you dumb fuck, he’s not an alcoholic. probably just a nerd like the rest of you who didn’t drink until college. cut him a fucking break. you clearly don’t know what an alcoholic is.
@@Wow I bet you suck to party with
@anoydds Never met this kid before, but its college and he was having fun and he cleaned up so can we start a free Grisham protest?
@CC '14 new bwog editor is flexing her muscle with this thing.
@Anonymous at least it’s not another article needlessly smearing men. if i had to read another smug, poorly-written harangue against men as a collective gender, I would have puked all over my keyboard.
@Anonymous it’s probably because the previous editors got rejected by some guy and now they take it out on the rest of us. as if it’s our problems they werent interested
@regina george She doesn’t even go here!
@Plato Actually, we celebrate the Greeks quite a bit here! Huzzah, architecture! Huzzah, core curriculum!
@It's a secret @Plato: Hi Luke! :)
@Anonymous This is incredible. Well written piece and testimonies that raise a lot of issues that must be addressed.
@Greek Power Further evidence that everyone at this school–deans, students, media, faculty–has their hivemind set on smearing Greeks and athletes.
@Greek Power #2 Yeah! so much smearing. Greek life and athletes have it harder than any other group on campus.
@Greek Power Don’t even try to be sarcastic with me. Deans, judicial boards, and even faculty routinely target fraternity brothers and student-athletes. It’s not like we don’t already have the most stringent requirements of any group on campus even though we do more community service and donate more to community organizations than any other group at this school.
@Anonymous and let an athlete make a completely unrelated, serious issue about themselves. bravo.
@CC15 It’s a troll account. Contrary to popular opinion, athletes aren’t as stupid as the people behind the Greek power accounts are.
@Greek Power This isn’t about trolling. This is about what CC 15 said: how each and every person at this school assumes that Greeks and athletes are dumb and systematically discriminates against them. We’re treated like second-class citizens by the administration, by the faculty, and even by our fellow students.
Well, the jig is up. Stop going after brothers and athletes. From here on out, we’re calling you on your shit. Get ready. We’re making some noise.
@Anonymous What does Greek life/athletics have anything to do with this article?
@Yo This is way more interesting than what some girls who live in a brownstone wore last weekend