Consider this Bwog’s first completely anonymous Senior Wisdom but with many more layers of irony.

Recently, a mammoth of an article by The Cut has been circulating all over the Internet. Titled “The New Rules,” guest and staff writers of the popular news outlet compiled a list of new unspoken social rules every New Yorker must follow, especially in this post-pandemic world. Some were fair (yes, stop talking about astrology if the person you’re talking to does not care), and others were certainly products of neurotic overthinking. No seriously, you read the “Panopticon” chapter of Foucault once, and suddenly you’re writing things like, “Do not touch the small of my back to move around me at the bar if you’re ugly.”

Anyway, a new, viral news article about New York culture can only mean one thing: Bwog is going to parody it. So, here are some of Columbia’s “New Rules,” or social expectations for different situations we all experience daily:

Rules for the Dining Halls:

  1. If you have a whole table to yourself and a stranger asks to sit with you at a dining hall, say “yes.” They don’t want to talk to you either, so your peace will not be disturbed. Everyone wins.
  2. Do not vocally complain about the Hewitt portion sizes and/or small plates. It’s a buffet; you can always get more if you’re hungry.
  3. Queuing for food at a certain station can begin three minutes before they start serving. Don’t put pressure on anyone to make and serve the food quicker (how dare you hover over them!), and don’t block other, more intuitive students from trying to reach other serving stations. If you’re standing around with no food for too long, it’s fair game to jostle you about.
  4. Only linger in the dining area if you chose to eat at an off-hour. Eat efficiently during peak hours so that everyone has a chance to sit and eat before their next class. If the dining hall is practically empty, however, stay as long as you wish.
  5. Say hello to people you know in the dining hall, but only ask to sit with them if you’re good friends or in the same club. Dining halls, though the most public spaces on campus, are meant to be enjoyed alone, unless you go with a group. Greeting each other is the polite thing to do—you’re a good person if you say hello to your peers—but asking for a whole meal with someone you only have a very loose association with…that’s a bit much. Let people eat in peace!

Rules for Dorm Living:

  1. Do not stand right in front of the elevator doors when you are waiting for the elevator. You have no idea if people are in there when the doors slide open, so don’t frighten them with your looming presence.
  2. It is socially acceptable to take the elevator if you live above the 7th floor. If you had a class at Hamilton Hall, you are perfectly aware that the elevator is for emergencies only. That rickety Saw trap in the making is never an option for people who can take the stairs. So, if you can walk to the 7th floor of Hamilton Hall, you can also walk to the 7th floor of your dorm building. Conversely, don’t bitch about other people taking the elevator to lower floors.
  3. Do not personally identify with your freshman year dorm after your freshman year. No one is turned off by you because you “still exude Furnald energy”; they’re turned off because you’re still talking about a place you lived in for 9 months 1+ years ago.
  4. Respect the owner of the dorm’s house rules. If it’s shoes off, then take your shoes off. Never take your socks off, though. Running barefoot in a stranger’s home is terrible for everyone involved.
  5. Only touch what you have been given permission to touch. No rummaging through fridges or snack drawers, no fondling of desk decorations, no tugging at plant leaves, and NO looking through closets. Be normal!

Rules for Parties:

  1. Unless given explicit permission by the host of the party, never ask to control the aux. The playlist was curated before the host even sent out the invite; don’t mess with the curated playlist.
  2. Never skip songs that are playing if you are not the host of the party. Again, it’s not your playlist, and it’s not your party. Just go to the bathroom if the song flops.
  3. If you bring a date to a party, introduce them to your friends and let them mingle. Please don’t sit in the corner with them the whole time because that is off-putting, and it looks like neither of you are having fun. Plus, if you don’t mingle, how else are people supposed to get to know this rando you started dating?
  4. If you’re close friends with the host, try to be one of the first people to arrive. They’re stressed from party prepping, and they need a trusted source of support! Don’t make them talk to mere acquaintances for the first thirty minutes of the party.
  5. If a party is BYOB, that means you bring either seltzers, mixers, or beers, and you bring enough to share with people. Bringing a single tall boy for yourself makes you look cheap, and “BYOB” is code for “We have hard liquor and a few mixers; we need lighter stuff.”

Rules for Libraries/Study Spaces:

  1. If you plan to study in a specific spot, respect the reality of that space. Don’t talk in quiet areas of the library, and don’t shush people in designated talking areas. Just know the rules and don’t vocally complain about them.
  2. The desk light stays on in the library. Even if you need to turn it off for comfort, turn it back on before you leave so that the person next to you can decide if they want to see.
  3. The shoes stay on in the library. I know you want to be comfortable while you study, but that kind of rancid behavior is only for the home.
  4. Do not play the Lerner piano…if you are bad. People just want to eat, hang out, or study. Don’t do something so…public. Good people you can stay, but you’re on thin ice.
  5. If a seat at the study spot is not occupied for at least 15 minutes, regardless of whatever personal item is there, it’s fair game for sitting. Why are you leaving your valuable items out in the open? Are you not at all concerned about the implications of leaving an expensive, unlocked laptop in a public space? Also, your study buddy abandoned you; give up hope on the seat next to you. People need to sit!

Rules for the Classroom:

  1. It is socially acceptable to complain about the waitlist if it’s the first week of the new semester, but only if it’s the first week of the semester. If you are vocally whining about not getting into a required class a semester before the class begins, literally no one can help you, so there is no point. If it’s the second week of shopping and you’re still complaining about the waitlist, then email your advisor and CC the professor in question. Let the people who can actually fix this help you; no student can help and/or find it in them to care.
  2. If it is obvious none of the class is paying attention to the professor, and the professor asks a question no one hears, you must respond quickly with, “Could you repeat the question?” Awkward silence must immediately be killed, especially during a small lecture. Don’t confirm the professor’s suspicions that you are all playing the NYT crossword instead of listening.
  3. Never admit to not doing the readings. The person paired with you for in-class discussion does not think you are cool for “not caring” about the class. Establishing in the first three seconds of conversation that you will depend on the other person to come up with all the talking points for the class is unfair and only makes you look like a leech.
  4. Do not complain about Columbia’s work culture to a first year. Just let them experience Columbia however they want and maybe have some joy. They’ll figure everything out eventually.
  5. Try to bring up your summer internship/personal research projects up as little as possible in class. Do not bring up your summer internship at a non-profit aiming to resolve world hunger; do not bring up the fact you “helped” Goldman Sachs “resolve” income inequality (we all know they do not do that); and do not bring up your Tesla internship at all. This does not make you sound like an expert on the topic; it makes you sound like you want to brag about your employment history.

Rules about Clubs:

  1. If your close friend is in a performing arts group/sport, go to at least one of their performances/games. They worked hard and are putting themselves out there; the least you could do is support them! Furthermore, this is for performing arts specifically: if it’s your close friend performing, coordinate with your friends to get them a bouquet of flowers. They will love it!
  2. Never talk badly about your club to people curious about joining. If it’s not working out for you, then just leave. Don’t deprive potential newcomers of fun they might have by joining your club.
  3. If you see a club member waiting to be signed in to your residence hall, sign them in. Let them know you have their back, even if you don’t talk much at meetings. We all just want to have fun here, and no one deserves to wait that long in the cold!
  4. The window to graciously ghost a club is between the first and second meetings of the semester. If you put your name on the email list, show up repeatedly to meetings at the beginning of the semester, then disappear near midterms, members will notice, and they will be concerned that you left. Plus, if you made the effort to apply to a club and fulfilled basic duties for a while before ghosting, it will be harder to trust you if you ask to rejoin later.
  5. Never write an op-ed for Spec. They do not have your best interest in mind at all, I promise you. If your op-ed was published by Spec, it was not because they thought your take was “interesting” or “nuanced.” Your take is not Spec’s celebration of free speech; it is, simply put, Spec’s bait for campus infighting. Save yourself and just keep your opinion to private conversation.

Rules about Discussing the Undergraduate Schools:

  1. Never be a man and wear a Barnard sweatshirt (unless you go to Barnard). No one thinks you’re funny, not even the month-long situationship that inspired you to buy the sweatshirt.
  2. Never be a man and make it a point that the Barnard dining hall food is better than Columbia’s. Just pick a favorite dining hall; don’t make it a thing.
  3. Conversely, never be a man and be proud of the fact you’ve never eaten at a Barnard dining hall. You are not banned from Diana, I promise.
  4. Never ask people why they’re in GS. I’m sure a life story is bound to come up in conversation eventually; asking “Why are you in GS?” feels…loaded, especially if you tack on “…instead of CC?”
  5. Stop saying you “should have gone” to one of the other three undergrad schools because…no you fucking don’t. It just comes off as the fact that you think the other schools are easier, and that’s condescending. Additionally, if you’re in SEAS specifically, don’t ever say in public that you believe CC, GS, or Barnard are “easier” than engineering school.
  6. Never try to resolve the Barnard/Columbia relationship. No one can explain this well without sounding like a dick; just give up.

Obviously, these are not all the social rules that implicitly govern our student culture, so if you think you have more, please add them to the comments section below. And as always, long live the panopticon!

Le Désespéré via Wikimedia Commons

Photoshop by Author