straight up to my face

Ever since the ban/relocation of the Columbia University Marching Band’s Orgo Night, there has been a series of mishaps and miscommunication on the part of the Columbia administration. Bwogger Amara Banks calls them out on their fake love. 

Since last semester, a collection of frustrated Columbia University Marching Band alumni has penned a total of 10 defenses of Orgo Night. Created in the style of pamphlets, the group desired to express their disagreement and frustration with the tradition’s cancellation.

After its 10th publication on March 26th, a letter addressed to President Bollinger (and emailed to several other campus administrators, including Ann Thronton and Deantini) essentially asked, “What’s the deal?” Their letter opens with a summary of the group’s communications with the university—emails and letter sent to him, Thornton and Valentini. According to Hamiltonius, the administration’s response has consistently been: “The University administration knows best and that no action will be taken in response to alumni concerns.”

The group began drafting and publishing pamphlets in another attempt to start conversation with the administration, sending the essays both via email and snail. The letter included a summary of the conflict and their frustration before ultimately calling for a response:

“Where do we go from here? We are alumni who love Columbia, who actively participate in alumni events and reunions, who return to Columbia for homecoming and Days on Campus, who interview high school students for the Admissions Office, and who attend athletic events to cheer on our Lions… What do we want? We want you and Dean Valentini to stop ignoring us and putting us off with platitudes and form letters.”

While the group of alumni under the Hamiltonius pseudonym got no word from Bollinger himself, they did hear back from Orgo Hero Ann Thornton (along with Provost Coatsworth and Amelia Alverson, EVP for University Development and Alumni Relations), who said they had read all of their emails and appreciated that their concern stems from a genuine care about Columbia. This email then stated that Orgo Night was cancelled moved outside in order to accommodate for those who wished to study in 209 the night before finals, and that allowing the show to continue outside would be a compromise for those who enjoy the show and wish for it to continue. Thornton, Coatsworth, and Alverson claim to recognize that “there are strongly held views about preserving the Orgo Night tradition in its entirety, and adjusting the tradition is difficult.”

The email continues: “We also appreciate your feedback on the decision-making process we followed and are now working closely with the student members of the Band on future Orgo Nights.”

Hamiltonius has yet to draft a response, but alum Kevin Chapman couldn’t silence his frustrations. At 10am today, he responded to the email calling out Thornton & Co.:

“You have had no communication with the current Band leaders about the future of Orgo Night other than to restate that the Band is banned from Butler 209. It is astonishing that you would misrepresent the facts in order to create a false impression that you have agreed to some actual process or discussion of the issues when the opposite is true…I am disappointed that you cannot at least be honest with your students and your alumni.”

Liz Pudel, the Head Manager of CUMB, was also surprised by the administration’s claim of communication, as in addition to “not being reached out to by any member of the administration,” they have been “actively ignored by Dean Valentini.” Liz continues, “I’m not certain who they think they are working with in terms of ‘student members of the Band,’ but it’s not anyone in our Band.”

While CU Admin seems to be showing some fake love toward our local bandies, they’re definitely not giving us More Life by keeping the show outside.