Princeton grad and student develop Ivy League online chat service

Posted by: Columbia Lion in News 4 weeks, 1 day ago

Perhaps in an attempt to model Facebook's growth, Princeton University alumnus Akshay Kumar and current senior Dan Kang have developed a free, online chat service called Campus Anonymous, that essentially functions like Omegle's question mode but restricts access to users with an Ivy League .edu email address. As you may already know, Omegle offers a college chat system as well, but you either get to talk to anyone with a college email, even outside the US, or people from your own school. If you want to avoid people from the plebeian tier colleges, such as those in the Bay Area of California or Hyde Park, check out Campus Anonymous; it's surprisingly entertaining.


An earlier version of this post implied that Dan Kang has already graduated from Princeton, where he is actually a current senior.

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Columbia University student blog to launch "Happy" campaign

Posted by: Columbia Lion 1 month ago

There's an old saying in campus media, one that's guided editorial thinking for months. No, not "If it bleeds, it leads." "Whatever gets pageviews." That is, stories of scandal, administrative malfeasance, and red tape get top billing -- at the top of the week, on the front page of your news feed, and above the iPhone 6 fold -- driven by the assumption that these are the stories the public will be most drawn to watch or read.

This ethos is wrong, both factually and ethically. And it's lousy journalism. As journalists, our job is to give our audience an accurate picture -- and that means the full picture -- of what's going on in the Morningside environs. Just showing activism, failed bureaucracy, and frat and athletic scandals -- focusing on what makes people unhappy -- misses too much of what is happening all around us. What about how people are responding to these challenges, how they're coming together? What if, instead of writing about the lack of accessability access, we focus on the individuals that overcome these literal hurdles every day? What if, instead of instead of writing about the botched execution of the sexual respect intiative, we talk about (as EVP for University Life Suzanne Goldberg once said) the enriching and educational experience of talking about sexual disrespect? If we in the media only show the dark side, we're failing at our jobs.

And what's more, it turns out that we are also failing to give our readers and viewers what they want.

Last weekend, at the Columbia Pre-Med Conference, we heard from a variety of medical professionals who discussed how news affects our perception of the world. Turns out that reading about problems on campus makes people think that Columbia isn't a very good school to attend! In response, we're happy to announce "Happy," a site-wide Lion editorial initative to double down on our coverage of what makes people happy at Columbia. While we will continue to cover the stories of what makes people unhappy -- laptop thefts, activism, student council elections -- as relentlessly as we always have, we want to go beyond the pursuit of page views.

Not only is this good journalism; it's also smart business. It turns out that, contrary to the thinking behind "Whatever gets pageviews," people want more constructive and optimistic stories. People want happy stories about their friends and student groups. And we want to be your friend! As a digital media company with a Facebook page, we've learned these are the stories our readers are most interested in reading and sharing. We have consulted numerous financial econ majors, and we know that this is the strategy that works.

Happy. Because when you stop thinking about your problems, they eventually go away.


The actually unexpected virtue of ignorance - Varsity Show: West End Preview

Posted by: Columbia Lion in News Opinion Humor 1 month, 1 week ago

I had never held musical theater in particularly high regard as an art-form. It, after all, has a reputation for replacing meaningful story-telling with unoriginal or uninspired showtunes. But with comedy, musicals work remarkably well, and as the Columbia community knows, the Varsity Show is no exception.

I came in with little experience with the V-show, save for some clips and the NSOP performance, and comedy musicals in general, having seen a few small-scale productions in high school. So why would my thoughts matter? This ignorance on my part, a phrase I have shamelessly co-opted from the film Birdman for the title of this piece, led to a thoroughly entertaining half hour, where my laughter got embarrassingly loud an embarrassing number of times. Yes, the Varsity Show will have an [insert punching bag college name here] joke and other quips V-show regulars will be familiar with. But like your favorite album that you've heard perhaps a few too many times, you don't mind hearing these jokes again and the familiarity can form its own running-gag effect to the humor, like a seventies sitcom or something (Would anyone be willing to kickstart a Sanford and Son spinoff about college?).

The anachronistically named West End Preview featured satire on Columbia life and commonly held opinions that audiences have (probably) come to expect and enjoy. These I expected. What surprised me came from my place in the Oval. My seating advantageI had one of the two centermost front row seats in the Event Ovalled to an interaction with the host of the show. In what I saw as a parody of method acting, or perhaps just extremely pronounced thespianism in general, he examined me as I nervously watched on. I had been holding my phone, trying to take notes on what I was seeing for this piece, and I suddenly feared he would take my phone and call me out on using it during the performance, like the disgruntled musicians in YouTube videos telling their audience to focus. Fortunately, that didn't happen, as his monologue didn't take ostensibly distracted front-row viewers into account. The emcee's histrionic character was humorously juxtaposed against the cast, who had to serve as their own stage hands between cuts. This character reminded me of Edward Norton as Mike in Birdman, but I digress.

The jokes punched up or inward, i.e., they targeted highers-up amd ourselves, and felt generally relevant and fresh; the progression of the preview felt cohesive and clear. The songs were clever and relatable, and what little dialogue we heard was well-crafted humor and purposefully relevant. And while it is definitely possible that my first-year first-time-at-Disneyland optimism and excitement got the best of me, but I really did enjoy the preview a lot and am deeply looking forward to seeing the show when it's out for real, at the beginning of May. While I don't see heartwarming adventure-comedies that often, a funny musical that I was already able to relate to is one I'll make sure to watch.

If you come in expecting a good Varsity Show, they will probably exceed your expectations. If you come in expecting something that isn't that, you might not find it.

Oh, and the 3 person band was good too.


Wikipuffery, or Columbia's skewed encyclopedic presence

Posted by: Columbia Lion in Opinion Humor Features 2 months ago

Editor's note: The author of this piece is a self-described Wikipedia fanatic and claims to have read virtually every Columbia-specific Wikipedia entry (as well as hundreds of WikiCU entries), and this is his first piece for the new Lion. He is also considering scouring WikiCU for similar idiosyncrasies.

This article is outdated. Please update this article to reflect recent events or newly available information. (October 2014)

The section on undergraduate admissions and financial aid, as of this writing, offers data from 2013 so it is pretty outdated. The class of 2017 was slightly more selective at 6.89% than the class of 2018, which would be the latest data available, that had a total acceptance rate of 6.94%, even though a fewer number of students were admitted overall. Proud Columbi-pedians would feel a pride-induced laziness to update the numbers, naturally. Thankfully, the class of 2019 is shaping up to be significantly more competitive than any class before it, so there is hope for newer numbers.

But this isn't really lying; it's just old numbers. After all, US News never updates their numbers anyway, so why should we care? Elsewhere in the Wikipedia entry on Columbia University, eager applicants can find descriptions and paragraphs full of puffery to entice them to apply... or something. Take the section on student Publications:

Columbia is home to numerous undergraduate academic publications. The Journal of Politics & Society,[131] is a journal of undergraduate research in the social sciences, published and distributed nationally by the Helvidius Group; Publius is an undergraduate journal of politics established in 2008 and published biannually;[132] the Columbia East Asia Review allows undergraduates throughout the world to publish original work on China, Japan, Korea, Tibet, and Vietnam and is supported by the Weatherhead East Asian Institute;[133] and The Birch,[134] is an undergraduate journal of Eastern European and Eurasian culture that is the first national student-run journal of its kind; Columbia Political Review, the undergraduate magazine on politics operated by the Columbia Political Union; Columbia Economics Review, the undergraduate economic journal on research and policy supported by the Columbia Economics Department; and the Columbia Science Review is a science magazine that prints general interest articles, faculty profiles, and student research papers.[135]

How many of those names do you recognize? If you aren't into reading this section over and over like some of us, perhaps only one sticks out, Columbia Science Review, because their marketing/PR seems strong enough that I see a flyer or Facebook post every so often. The others are pretty much unheard of by most students.

College Walk, or something

Just as an aside, many of the photos intended to showcase Columbia tend to be crooked or poorly lit. Or just not showcase the intended subject (in this case, College Walk) efficiently. At least they're licensed liberally.

Aside from the plethora of touristy-looking photos of various landmarks that litter the article, the page offers information that is often oudated and wrong, even with its active edit history. Under Broadcasting, it says:

Columbia Television (CTV) is the nation's second oldest Student television station and home of CTV News, a weekly live news program produced by undergraduate students.[146][147]

The site it links to in the reference tells you to go to, which loads a blank page with minimal HTML available, suggesting a parked domain. In the alumni section, actor Ed Harris is claimed to be an alumnus. Based on what I've seen on the internet, if you transfer away from a school you're not really an alum, it only counts if you drop out or graduate. Ed Harris transferred elsewhere so it's pretty much a lie (other schools do this too, more on that later). But my favorite line in the whole page is this.

and The Blue and White,[123] a monthly literary magazine established in 1890, has recently begun to delve into campus life and local politics in print and on its daily blog, dubbed the Bwog.

See the word "recently"? That was put in the hide the fact that The Blue and White was closed for over a hundred years. Now, I like the TBaW and have nothing against Bwog, but the puffery is palpable.

A surprisingly bitter and passive-aggressive line comes from SEAS's entry under the Facilities section:

While Mudd, nicknamed "the brick," is tucked behind the Fairchild Center, much of Columbia's buildings were designed by the famed McKim, Mead, and White architects. The campus is in keeping with Neo-classical design themes popular in the early 20th century. It retains old-world charm and originality not found at many of this nation's pseudo-gothic styled campuses.

"Columbia Engineering is so great that we don't stoop to your architectural plagiarism and implement our own form of plagiarism!"


Thankfully for our egos, this kind of puffery is easily found on just about every US college's entries (except for scandal-ridden for-profit or unaccredited schools), from what I've seen. "Lower-tier" colleges tend to boast features that put them on par with more renowned institutions. It seems as it is Wikipedia policy or tradition to portray universities in as positive a light as an entry can.


Bacchanal Battle of the Bands 2015

Posted by: Columbia Lion 2 months ago

Interested in being the student opener for Bacchanal 2015?

The Bachannal Committee is currently accepting 5 minute video submissions for students/groups interested in joining the Battle of the Bands this year. Video links can be emailed to

Visit their facebook event for more information:

Applications are due by 11:59PM on February 13th. 

Good luck!


The new Columbia Lion

Posted by: Columbia Lion in News Opinion Features 2 months ago

Journalism is all about sharing what is important and delivering it in a way that is easily accessible for all readers. The Lion has been a source of interesting, unique news over the past few years and our new team is looking forward to continuing these longstanding traditions. 

 In aligning our goals with current market trends, The Lion will be moving most of its efforts into the mobile sector and as such, we are looking for students interested in joining us during these exciting times. We are a team of students from a wide variety of majors who care about creating and delivering news that is not only interesting, but is straight-to-the-point and does not fall prey to the current click-bait trend. 

 Our number one commitment is making sure that we listen to our audience and run a company that will make it even easier to understand what’s happening at Columbia and around the world. 

Columbia is a community of inquisitive, passionate thinkers willing to take risks (and even fail) and work constantly to make a positive impact in the world. We here at The Lion share these values and want to recruit students that will help us accomplish this.

If you want to gain some leadership experience in a fun, fast paced setting, email us at and let us know what you want to help with and we will get back to you ASAP.  We are recruiting social media gurus, programming lovers, journalists, artists, cinematographers, and anyone willing to help. 

We here at the Lion are thankful for your continued support during our transition.

Make sure to check in with us through our various social media accounts to see what we are doing and feel free to email us with any questions or concerns. We hope you like what you see!

William Essilfie

VP, Product Development 

The Lion


Announcing changes in our leadership structure

Posted by: Jake Davidson in Meta 2 months, 1 week ago


A Note from Jake Davidson, Founder and Owner of

To Our Readers,

I want to share some news about some forthcoming changes at The Lion.

As you've heard, recently, editor emeritus Sean Augustine-Obi attempted to sell the rights to The Lion for venture capital. After a review of his performance and a discussion about our editorial vision, Sean will be moving on. I thank Sean for his work as editor-in-chief this past year and wish him nothing but the best in his next projects.

It will be difficult filling Sean's shoes, and as part of streamlining this process, I will be stepping in as publisher to ensure the digital future of The Lion's brand. Additionally, The Lion's leadership will be restructured in line with our digital goals. I have appointed a VP Editorial, a VP Product Development, and a VP Technology, the first of hopefully many partners that share our commitment to the core DNA of our platform. You can read more about these changes on our about page here.

As the world increasingly moves to a web-first, mobile-first, tech-first, social-first landscape, outfits like The Lion must become tech company start ups Sillicon Valley disrupt breakshit VC Kinja iPad Googleglassdigitalfuture—sorry I blacked out there for a second.

Anywho, as The Lion transitions the bulk of its content to mobile and social, we will be selling the site URL,, to any willing buyers. Contact thecolumbialion(at) for more details.

These are exciting times for our publication which demand change. We hope you stay tuned and watch us go viral.



For sale:

Posted by: The Lion 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Illustration: Lian Plass

Well, that's all for us this semester, folks!

It's been a crazy ride, what with guillotines, and strategy guides, and secret societies, and even executive editors! We're glad that you decided to come to us for the past two years in search of Columbia news you want to read.

Unfortunately, due to the increasing cost of printing issues, a disruptive, no-holds-barred digital media marketplace, and (possibly) a threat of legal action if we don't cease and desist, the Lion is becoming the Elephant and looking for a place to die — in the arms of wealthy venture capital investors.

For the immodest price of $8,001, the rights to the Lion are yours. That means: every article, posting privilege, staffing decision, social media account, and even the URL itself are yours for the taking. The only things we keep are the intellectual property rights to the content we've posted, which will be hosted on an archive somewhere deep in the bowels of the internet.

And if you're concerned about the lack of high-quality, in-depth investigative journalism you've come to expect and love from the Lion, don't worry! We're sure that there's definitely going to be something to fill the gap. Or maybe not!

So long, and thanks for all the fish.

If you are interested in purchasing this publication, email If you would like to attend the funeral, call Sean.


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