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Marching Band Releases Statement On Butler 209

Getting up close and personal

Orgo Night in Butler 209 from Fall 2015.

This morning, Bwog received a tip from the CU Marching Band. Attached was a letter from the CUMB addressed to Ann Thornton as well as the Columbia community, demanding change after last semester’s act of censorship by the school which kicked the Band out of Butler 209. In their letter, CUMB stated its grievances yet again: Columbia tradition is fading, this act of censorship was neither negotiated nor discussed, and trying to get rid of Orgo Night proves that the administration is “actively trying to silence [their] voices.” According to CUMB, Ann Thornton has advocated for frisbee parties in the library, blatantly disregarding the Orgo Night debacle. Also, when CUMB alumni began creating a pamphlet in defense of the Columbia tradition, Thornton along with other administrators released a statement that claimed that they were collaborating with students for Orgo Night, which the Band claims to be false.

While the future of Orgo Night might remain uncertain, one thing seems clear: CUMB is not going down without a fight. Want to see the letter for yourself? You know what to do.

To Ann Thornton and the Columbia Community,

Students have poured into Butler 209 year after year in order to participate in Orgo Night, one of the few remaining Columbia traditions. Alumni, students, and trustees alike have expressed their frustration and dissatisfaction with Vice Provost and Head Librarian Ann Thornton’s decision to oust the tradition from Butler 209. Despite the controversy that often surrounds Orgo Night, the Band has the support of many students on this campus, who deserve to have their voices acknowledged.

The Band has received conflicting information as to why the decision to move Orgo Night was made. Ann Thornton cited “disruption” as her primary impetus to push the Band out of 209. Yet in February, Thornton advocated for frisbee parties in Butler – which would similarly cause noise and displace studying students. Either she’s had a dramatic change of heart on the purpose of libraries, or she never truly believed that Orgo Night’s main problem was its disruption. If the irony hasn’t forced your eyes out of your head yet, here’s another quotation from Thornton: “One of the things we do have is space. So the question now is how can we make that available, especially in collaboration with student groups who really care about those things?” The Band is one of the only student groups that cares immensely about the way space is being used in Butler – but we have received no requests to collaborate with Thornton.

As though that hypocrisy was not enough, a group of alumni who have been composing pamphlets in defense of Orgo Night recently received an email from Thornton and other administrators claiming that the administration was “working closely with the student members of the Band on future Orgo Nights.” This claim is blatantly false, as the Band has heard nothing from Thornton’s office concerning Orgo Night. In fact, the Band leadership has been actively ignored by Dean Valentini when an attempt to start a dialogue was made. If the administration is so desperate to be seen as cooperative, why has no actual cooperation taken place? And if this was a space issue, why was 209 next to empty on Orgo Night?

The University’s decision to oust Orgo Night from Butler 209 is no doubt an attempt to censor the CUMB. By using the venue as their scapegoat, the administration does not have to admit that they are actively trying to silence our voices. Despite its many attempts to preserve its status as an oasis for free speech, Columbia continues to show students that this university only cares about free speech in principle, not in practice.

Orgo Night will go on. We will continue to perform, even if it takes place in single-digit temperatures, because Columbia spirit does not die when one new administrator decides stomp all over a tradition. We will write, play, and sing outside Butler every semester until Provost Coatsworth and Vice Provost Thornton come to the table. We invite you to join us on May 4th at 11:59 pm to celebrate another semester of Columbia spirit and tradition.

The Columbia University Statement Writing Band

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  • Boo freakin' hoo says:

    @Boo freakin' hoo Nobody cares about Orgo Night and CUMB’s unfunny jokes. Get over yourselves.

    1. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous I feel like if you’re gonna criticize the band for something make a good point… Just because you don’t care about keeping Orgo Night alive doesn’t mean other people don’t. Clearly, people care. You sound childish.

      1. Yes, Anonymous says:

        @Yes, Anonymous Absolutely right. This isn’t just about keeping Orgo Night. It’s also about not squashing the tradition because some delicate hyper-PC juveniles want to shut it down, and about administrators who should know better than to act with blatant dishonesty and hypocrisy. Let them say what it is and take the fallout rather than lie about why they’re closing the library door.

  • This goes far above the librarian says:

    @This goes far above the librarian Whether you care about Orgo Night or not, you should care about this university’s support of free speech…or lack thereof. The president and the dean say all the right things, but when threatened with negative publicity by a handful of students who feel uncomfortable if someone makes a joke they consider offensive – whether they hear it or not, if it’s said anywhere at all on campus – they fold. Weak leadership. Shameful.

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous As an alumni I’m feeling it’s correct to stop donating to this school if it won’t even support a tradition like Orgo Night.

  • Gone are the days says:

    @Gone are the days when Columbians could be proud to have a university president who not only talked the free speech talk but walked the free speech walk. This guy should be ashamed. And we should be ashamed of him.

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