News round-up: October 30 - A prelude to Halloweekend

Posted by: The Lion 10 hours, 51 minutes ago

Yesterday was the Carry that Weight rally, which had speeches from various student activists, members of organizations like Hollaback and Planned Parenthood, and Public Advocate Letitia James. Over 40 mattresses were present at the protest. While sexual assault was obviously the central issue, other storylines also piqued our interest.

  • In the middle of the rally, several administrators and Columbia employees left Low Library through the front entrance. TV crews made sure to capture the expressions on their faces as they realized they'd walked into the middle of a protest.
  • A member of Columbia's Department of Communications attended the rally, handing out leaflets with the text of Bollinger and Goldberg's note on the Sexual Respect website.
  • Reporters from PIX 11, ABC 7, and Slate were in attendance, among others.
  • It began raining in the middle of the rally. It continued, with students stepping up to hold umbrellas for speakers.

In other news, Columbia Giving Day was yesterday, which raised over $11 million for various university programs. Not a small feat when fighting a war on two fronts — a very well-run Barnard Columbia Divest social media campaign, and a protest about sexual assault happening by their front doors. An astute Spec commenter notes that this same day, Columbia was fined up to $9 million in a settlement. Easy come, easy go, I guess.



Students and alumni respond to Bwog's posting of Rules "Strategy Document"

Posted by: The Lion in Meta 19 hours, 12 minutes ago

Bwog's spirit animal in its natural habitat | Photo / Reddit

Twelve days have passed since Spec and Bwog reported on the existence of a "Strategy Document" designed to coordinate discussion during the Rules of Conduct town hall. While Spec opted not to post the document in any form, Bwog initially posted the document in full, which contained students' first names. After commenters notified Bwog leadership that not all of the students gave their names at the on-the-record town hall, they removed the names and posted an apology the following Monday.

While much of campus has moved on from the scandal — owing in part due to the fact that so few understood the significance of the town hall in the first place — both campus media and activist groups dealt with the fallout from the incident. We spoke to individuals in activist groups, campus media, and former Bwog editors to get their perspective on the situation.

Activist Groups

The Friday afternoon after the posting of the Strategy Document, Aries Dela Cruz, (GS '09) led an media training session open to various activist groups — many of whom were named in the document. The purpose of the session was to learn about how to interact with reporters in a way that would result in articles that satisfied both parties.

According to Cruz, this was not the first time he had held such a session; he had led a similar talk during the 2011-2012 academic year. Since the students who attended that session are graduating, this talk was attended by mostly first-years and sophomores, who had less experience dealing with campus media. He also wished to instill a sense of institutional memory in the attendees.

Questions at the session included how to overcome personal biases from reporters, the differences between interacting with campus media and outside media, and how to use press releases and interviews to get the word out about events and initiatives.

Cruz considers the training session a success. To him and the activists who attended, the discussion functioned as more than just a response to Bwog's actions — it also set the stage for future outreach between campus publications and activist groups.



Carrying the Weight Together rally at 4 today

Posted by: The Lion in News 1 day, 16 hours ago

Today from 4 to 5:30, Carrying the Weight Together will be holding a rally on Low Steps in support of Emma Sulkowicz's "Mattress Performance" project and survivors of sexual assault. Various student groups have each sponsored mattresses, which will be brought to the event. Supporters may bring their own mattresses or pillows. There will also be a march of at least 28 mattresses, representing the 28 students who filed a joint Title IX complaint earlier this year.

According to a press release sent earlier today, students at over 130 campuses across the country have pledged support for the event at Columbia, and some have organized their own events. 15 organizations have also "signed on as formal partners.""

The event also coincides with Columbia Giving Day, the university-wide initative for alumni and students to donate. The demonstrations don't seem to have significantly impacted the level of donations, but notable alumni such as Calvin Sun have spoken out in favor of withholding donations until university sexual assault policies are revised.

Stay tuned for updates from the rally, and follow us on Twitter at @TheColumbiaLion for a live rundown.


View from the top: An interview with former trustee chair Bill Campbell, Part 3

Posted by: The Lion in News 3 days, 15 hours ago

After a weekend hiatus, we're back with the last part of our interview with Bill Campbell, former chairman of Columbia's board of trustees. It was edited for clarity and brevity...but not by much. View part one of the interview here and part two here.

BC: Alright, we've got another question or two here…wait, how many questions did you have?

SAO: 16.

BC: You never thought you'd get anybody this candid, did you?

SAO: No, I didn't. It was a welcome surprise. But in any case, let's talk about your replacement as trustee chairman, Jon Schiller. I know one of the talking points about him was that you're a football guy, and you were replaced by a basketball guy. Can you tell me about the process through which he was appointed?

BC: Let me just say this. I played in 1961. I mean, you weren't even anybody's dream back then. So, think about it—am I a jock? No, I'm not a jock! I'm a successful business man. And Jonathan [Schiller] is, right now—

SAO: He's a managing partner of his own firm.

BC: His own law firm! He's the most prominent litigator in the world, maybe. When I have to sit there and talk about, "Did I put a jock in there?" Some of the guys—think about Rolando Acosta, you know, Lisa Carnoy. I don't think about, "Who are jocks?" These are Columbia people who are successful in their careers.

When we select Jonathan—there is a trusteeship committee. It is run by Esta Stecher. For many years she was the general counsel of Goldman-Sachs; she now runs the bank. I mean, a brilliant, brilliant person. Columbia Law School. Just really, really smart. When we do anything—nominate trustees, decide anything, the Trusteeship Committee is kind of the administrative body of the board that recommends to the rest of the board what we do.

The idea was, she broke her committee into five people, each of them called their board members to see who the candidates were, and everybody was in favor of Jonathan. It was an easy decision. It wasn't even close. What initiatives has Jonathan continued as chairman? All of them. I just left in June, and we've only had one telephonic meeting and we have a meeting coming up in October, and if the agenda changes—the agenda gets changed by Lee Bollinger, not the Chairman of the Board. I'm just a facilitator trying to help him.



Size matters for the football team, but do the freshmen rise to the challenge?

Posted by: The Lion in Sports 6 days, 16 hours ago

Photo credit /

In case you weren't paying attention, this weekend is Homecoming, and Columbia has yet to secure a win this season. With five games to go and no win in sight, things are looking kind of grim for the Lions. So let's focus on one of their more positive aspects — the fact that even with their winless record, the football team still towers over the rest of us...or do they?

The past few months have seen plenty of discussion about this supposedly new and improved team. With more talented recruited freshmen taking the lead in the playbook, Columbia football was set to break its now-16-game winless streak. They were stronger than ever, according to the following press coverage:

  • "Benitez, 81, was overjoyed to have the brawny young men helping her in the garden."
  • "On mornings in July, a group of very large and fit Columbia students arrived on West 205th Street to spend their first days in New York with preschoolers. Towering over the four- and five-year-olds, a half dozen freshman football players—the shortest was 6 foot 3 inches—read stories to the children..."
  • The first-year players’ size even caught the attention of Columbia Athletic Director M. Dianne Murphy. “I don’t know if you’ve seen these first-years, but these guys are big,” she said. “These are big young men.”
  • “I got down to 180 pounds,” the 6-4 Nottingham says. “Embarrassing, unhealthy." [...] Nottingham’s game film and believed that he had professional potential, blessed with a 6-foot-4, 217-pound build and the ability to make any throw...
But how much taller and heavier are they than the average Columbia student, or even the average athlete? We crunched the numbers.



View from the top: An interview with former trustee chair Bill Campbell, Part 2

Posted by: The Lion 1 week ago

This is part two of a three-part interview with Bill Campbell, former chairman of Columbia's board of trustees. It was edited for clarity and brevity...but not by much. As an aside, this interview took place the week before the first football game of the season. We apologize to Mr. Campbell for inadvertently highlighting his lack of precognition regarding wins. View part one of the interview here.

SAO: What do you think of the fact that fundraising for Athletics did well in spite of the weak 2011 season, the winless 2013 season, and all the negative press in the start of 2013?

BC: There was an article in Spectator that said, "Instead of caring less, we gotta care more," I mean, that was suggested in the article and I thought, "How well said." I wish everybody cared more. I wish everybody cared a lot more, so that this [scandal] was an outrage. So you've got Jake [Novak, CC '92], with his blog, who stirs up a lot of stuff, and he's got a very tiny group of people who are supporting've got Rich Forzani [CC '66], who played for me years ago, back when I was a freshman coach, back in my days when I was coming up in the football coaching program. There are a few other guys who are in that group. But the core people who are still involved with the program, aren't part of the push to get rid of Murphy, get rid of Mangurian.

I’d love to tell you that’s a mainstream effort, but it isn’t. Am I disappointed that there’s a trustee from years ago, that’s one of those guys [referring to Ed Botwinick]? Yeah...but he’s a good guy.

You’re acting like alumni are up in arms, walking with signs up and down Broadway saying “Get rid of Murphy, get rid of Mangurian,” but I think people realize that we’ve got to do some fundamental things. And to do the same thing over and over again and expect different results — that’s crazy. So we’re trying to do different things. I swear to goodness, you watch Mangurian as he know what he did at Cornell? He came into a dormant program, was in the ground, stayed in the ground for a year or so, and then all of a sudden his progress started to pay off. And they turned into an Ivy League contender. Then he went to the Bronx. So what I’m trying to say is, let’s make sure we check the facts, and don’t just line up and get emotional about all this.

So, you think Norries [Wilson] got fired for 1 and 9, so Mangurian should too? There are questions you need to ask. Are you building a program, or not? Are you making progress? Whose judgment is that? There’s a lot of smart guys on the Football Advisory Committee, former players. Don Jackson, and Kevin Ward...they care deeply about the program, and they fund it.

So, what I don’t want to do is act like…Lee Bollinger is standing there on the bow of his ship, and there’s a mutiny behind him calling for Pete Mangurian’s head. That isn’t true! We need to give this guy a chance. We never considered firing him last year. Never!

What are we gonna do? Grab somebody else, and they go 1 and 9? Come on! We’ve gotta let the guy build up the team, and he’s been doing a really good job. We’ve had some systemic problems over time that he’s had to correct, and he’s done that.



News round-up: October 23 - #TurnItBlue

Posted by: The Lion in News 1 week ago

Photo / Knickerbocker Motorsports

A day after the competition started, eighteen teams presented their preliminary ideas to a team of experts. “We eliminated fifty per cent based on relevance,” Lipkin said. “There were proposals that were naïve, that required doing complex diagnostics with saliva, things like that. These people were typically faculty. They’re hardheaded. They weren’t listening. But the undergraduates! People talk about ennui and apathy in undergraduates? I don’t see it. They came up with some fantastic stuff.” [...] When the presentations were finished, Lipkin was pleased. “Students are far more creative than the fossils they were talking to in that room,” he said. “That’s just the nature of who we are.”

  • Formula SAE was profiled by Business Insider for their work building a fully functional race car for May's competition. Lots of good photos here showing just how much work the team puts into the project.
  • Barnard President Spar, "the fearless woman at its helm," was interviewed by Refinery29 on being a superwoman, "lean in," and having it all.
  • Congratulations to Zoe Ridolfi-Starr and Emma Sulkowicz for winning 2014 Susan B. Anthony Awards.
  • It is officially Columbia heating season, which means your room will now be hotter than it was during August. Please "anticipate that campus buildings may be warmer or cooler than desired," or in other words, deal with it.



Ex-NYTimes executive editor Jill Abramson to speak at Columbia Media Conference

Posted by: The Lion in News 1 week, 1 day ago

Photo credit

An email sent to Spec alumni earlier today announced the lineup for their annual Columbia Media Conference. This year, the keynote address will be delivered by Jill Abramson, former New York Times executive editor.

Abramson was previously invited to speak at Barnard's Commencement in 2012, but was ousted by President Obama.

The conference will take place on Sunday, November 9, from 12:30 to 3:30.

See the full lineup below.

Columbia Daily Spectator asks you to save the date for our annual media conference, featuring:

  • Jill Abramson, former Executive Editor, The New York Times (keynote)
  • Tony Haile, CEO of Chartbeat
  • Dao Nguyen, Publisher, BuzzFeed
  • Edward Felsenthal, Managing Editor for Digital, Time Inc.


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