Bwog staff writers and freshmen hoping their editors will like them more for covering this event, Elle Ferguson and Aditi Patil, give you their coverage of Orgo Night.
Disclaimer: The Poet Laureate of CUMB, Isabel Sepúlveda, is an editor for Bwog, but neither she nor other Bwog staffers who are also members of the band had any part in writing or editing this coverage.
All was quiet on Butler Lawn, aside from the large number of Public Safety officers lined up outside and inside Butler. Like clockwork, the Columbia University Marching Band marched in right at 11:59 PM, taking position in its now-regular spot outside Butler to perform their semi-annual Orgo Night.
The band started off its performance by tackling the pressing issue of censorship on campus. Lines such as, “This semester, secrecy has touched Columbia like Joe Biden introducing himself to a female staffer,” were funny and were well-received by the several-hundred-person audience. However, further jokes that didn’t involve Columbia culture often seemed to fall flat, including one-liners such as Trump’s tax information being “… the biggest crash and burn of the decade that didn’t involve Princess Diana.” Then, the band circled back to discuss Columbia’s issues with censorship – a welcomed move. In particular, they addressed a talk about Turkish rule of law that was recently mysteriously cancelled. Bringing up Columbia’s sketchy donors (one of which includes the Turkish government itself) was timely and we Bwoggers, as well as the rest of the audience, had some good laughs over it, although some of the content wasn’t based around campus events.
Given the massive controversy surrounding Bacchanal this year, we were not surprised when Columbia’s annual music festival event became the target of the next joke. Indeed, while it was the obvious target, it was still a topical one. Jokes were pointed at all aspects of the event, whether it was the Instagram fallout or general disorganization. Roasts like “calling Barstool Columbia a ‘sports media group’ is like calling Julian Assange an ‘Ecuadorian houseguest,'” as well as some targeting Bacchanal’s financial lack of support, addressed campus hot topics with honest humor that still managed to be conscious of ongoing world events. Though CUMB expressed their disregard for this year’s headliner, SOPHIE, the band demonstrated an attunement to campus sentiment when they described Bacchanal as just an excuse to get drunk at 9 AM and throw up on the lawn; it was celebrated by cheers when the Poet Laureate, Isabel Sepúlveda, suggested this.
Next up was Operation Varsity Blues, the scandal rocking America this year in which well-monied celebrities decided to bribe their children’s way into college. CUMB expressed their disdain for Columbia not even being worth risking jail time for, unlike “some of America’s most elite schools… and Yale.” With jokes like these, the band deftly capitalized a passing thought that many of us might have had (why didn’t anyone try to cheat their way into Columbia?) to point out our own irrational, empty elitism. Overall, the first act was hilarious and filled with content that Columbia students could relate to.
Touching on other recent events, CUMB dedicated part of their script to the Notre Dame fire, joking that the incident was part of a rehearsal for the live-action remake of the Hunchback of Notre Dame. The script readers also discussed the sexual abuse scandal rocking the Catholic Church, including one of my favorite lines of the night: “The church covered for his wrinkly ass for 50 years, because some bishops severely misinterpreted what Jesus meant when He said ‘Let the children come to me.’” This line duly received a loud “OOOOOHHHHH” and laughter in disbelief. Next, the band made a seamless transition into discussing Game of Thrones, classifying each school as a house from the well-known TV series. While these jokes pandered well to audiences and cleverly capitalized on popular entertainment, this Ivy-League-as-stereotypes seemed a bit stale, belonging perhaps more to a Facebook meme page rather than the classically-biting event that Orgo Night is known to be.
Last on the Orgo Night script was the racist incident that happened at Barnard this semester, in which a Black student was pinned to the counter in the Milstein Center after not showing his ID to Public Safety. Twisting Barnard’s slogan into “Bold, Beautiful, Biased Barnard,” the script readers called out President Beilock’s hesitation to label the incident as racist: “It took Beilock three whole days to acknowledge that racism was involved, which is three times as long as it takes to get a copy of Uncle Tom’s Cabin from Amazon.” In the end, they gave Beilock a suggestion: “The best way to acknowledge your institutional racism is to call it racism.” To close their scathing remarks, they said that, without confronting the real problem, any “inclusion and equity” created by new staff will be as “empty as Barnard’s endowment when Diana Vagelos and Cheryl Milstein go on to the great golf tournament in the sky.” One word for this portion: roasted.
On the musical side, we found selections like Old Town Road, in particular, as adding to the satirical nature of the event as a whole, but we were also surprised to hear Shut Up and Dance, a song that was also played at Fall 2017’s Orgo Night. Otherwise, (not that we, as first-time attendees, have a lot to compare it to), this semester’s Orgo Night demonstrated all the traits that CUMB is known for: borderline unacceptable comedy and reckless self-destruction. We heard them playing music around campus until 2 AM, which begs the question: are they really lowering the average for everyone, or just themselves? Orgo Night provided a much-needed study break while providing commentary on all of the laughably controversial events that happened on campus and around the world this semester. In any case, thanks, CUMB, for a fun, musical, and controversial night.