Another semester, another Orgo Night, the only “study break” that anyone at Columbia actually goes to. This semester Bwog writer and Columbia College freshman, Jack William Patrick Treanor, skips his Lit Hum studying to review the the 65th consecutive, 69th semiannual Orgo Night.
This semester marks the second Orgo Night since the Columbia University Marching Band was barred from Butler in the Great Exodus of 2016. While the first outside Orgo Night was filled with frostbite, anticipation, and confusion, this one went off without a hitch, possibly to the detriment of the entertainment value. Other than a few chants of “209… 209” before the show started, the protest atmosphere of the previous Orgo Night had largely dissipated.
The Band began its assault of Columbia at large with an almost too detailed account of the short and beautiful life of John Jay Jay’s (also commonly know as Vajj’s). They painted a vivid picture of the decommissioned dining hall, focusing heavily on the image of a sewage drenched JJ’s: “A burst pipe let our beloved JJ’s kitchen beat out even Roti Roll in terms of sheer shits per square foot.”
They went on to introduce the “stepfather” of unhealthy dining halls, John Jay Jay’s. They chronicled how Columbia students transitioned from apprehension–”You’re not my real dad!”–to embracing the clear advantages the temporary fix had–”But Step JJ’s had actual seating and enough room to walk around without having to go to 2nd base with everyone in the pancake line.” This joke earned ample laughter and seemed to be a clear answer of “yes” to the question asked a little earlier by a random girl in the crowd, “Are these jokes supposed to be relatable?”
The Band went on to ask the important question “What else would be better if they ‘accidentally broke?'”. They then made fun of the housing, the Columbia administration, and then finally asked the pressing question of “What if the football team drowned in a pile of shit and were ‘temporarily replaced’ with… literally anything else?” This was met with a mix of laughter and “oh”s as the audience weighed the value of murdering 100 athletes just so they don’t have to risk getting paired with one for a group project. Overall, the JJ’s section of Orgo Night was enjoyable but failed to really invigorate the crowd. The Band began to play Come on Eileen.
The highlight of the night was surprisingly the music. Without their fingers frozen to their trumpets, the Band was able to create what was unmistakably music, a stark departure from the sounds that were eked out in the winter. The clear notes and joyous melodies combined beautifully with aggressive and sharp movement of the conductor to form a delightful visual and aural experience. It reminded us that much of the Band was probably considered “gifted” and “talented” at some point in their lives, and that they practice twice a week. Bravo!
From JJ’s, the Band moved on to sororities. A easy target that was aimed at and largely hit throughout the night, sororities such as AXO were bashed for offensive and lazy fundraisers and more broadly for just being sororities. The crowd began to warm up during this section, reminding us that most people at Columbia are wearisome of hearing about sorority fundraisers, events, crushes, and bigs–even those in sororities themselves.
After a clunky (nonexistent) transition, the Band moved into their ridicule of the homophobic physics TA that vandalized pro-LGBT signs in Pupin. Making reference to the “Remember Sodom and Gomorrah” poster that the TA replaced the signs with, the Band joked that “in a science building, this is a hate crime, whereas in Hamilton this could have just been a helpful study tip for a Lit Hum final.”
A large portion of the night was devoted to Columbia’s truly embarrassing and horrifying handling of sexual assault cases. The Band informed the crowd, which seemed worryingly out of the loop, that “a student is suing Columbia after her two sexual assault cases from 2015 got even less attention than minorities in the Core.” As the Band recounted the harrowing story of this 2015 rape case, the spirit of protest seemed to flow back into the crowd. Each joke prompted a new round of “oh”s that seemed to validate the truth of the Band’s words. They went on to ridicule Columbia’s disgusting mishandling of the case, focusing on SVR and Suzanne Goldberg.
There was even a shoutout to Bwog’s very own loyal and creative commenters, which the band describes as “demonic garbage bags,” who commented such beauties as “fake news” and “I have never met a girl with a hyphenated last name who wasn’t a total bitch” on the Bwog article that discussed the student’s lawsuit against Columbia. These comments shocked the crowd, including the Bwog contingent. The Band wrapped up their attack on Columbia’s sexual assault policy by saying “If the administration can’t get its shit together soon, there won’t be enough room at graduation for all the mattresses.” Cue the “oh”s.
The rest of Orgo Night touched on important topics such as the removal of the Sandwich Ambassador position and the Varsity Show. The Band’s rebuke of Varsity Show, poetically called the “Varshitty Show,” poignantly reminded us of the 2-3 hours in which we had to endure jokes that were even more poorly written than those of the Band itself. While ridiculing the simple yet somehow confusing message of Varsity Show, they did admit at least that it was “pretty accurate depiction of Columbia Stockholm Syndrome.”
They carried on, ripping at DSpar: “You hid your money-making endeavors behind ‘caring about people of color’ before Pepsi made it cool” received the most enthusiastic laughter of the whole night. This and a heavily laughed-at joke about United Airline suggested that Columbia students have to be told by Internet that something is funny in order for them to laugh. Other highlights included an amusing skit in which the Band asked the crowd to shout out which side of the Israel-Palestine conflict they believed was in the right.
While the Band did not receive the same rapturous laughter or clear support that they received last semester, they touched on some important campus issues. They managed to largely stay away from jokes that punched down, something they have gotten heat for in the past. However, with no mentions of the infamous Ann D. Thornton or of the promised land of 209, the Band didn’t fully capitalize on their new position as institutional underdogs. Unlike last semester, people seemed less sure of whose side to be on and were somewhat apprehensive to laugh at some of the more hardline jokes. That being said, the Band decided to continue the administration-bashing they pursued more ferociously last semester. They addressed such glaring institutional problems as JJs, the Varsity Show, sororities, and the football team, as well as sexual assault, suicide, and collapsing labor relations. Overall, the show was a much-needed break from the crushing monotony of Columbia life.