View from the top: An interview with former trustee chair Bill Campbell, Part 1

Posted by: The Lion in Sports 8 hours, 14 minutes ago

Bill Campbell, CC '62 | Photo credit: Fortune

This is the first of a three-part series documenting an exclusive interview The Lion had with former football coach and board of trustees chair Bill Campbell. Since his succession by Jon Schiller this summer, Campbell focused on his work in Silicon Valley as chairman of Intuit. Editor Sean Augustine-Obi spoke to him by phone the week before the start of Columbia's football season to talk administration, sports, and general Columbia news. This interview was edited for clarity and brevity...but not by much.

SAO: Hello, Bill. Thanks for taking the time to talk with me today.

BC: Man, did you have a bunch of questions. Are you recording this?

SAO: Yes, would you like to go off the record?

BC: I don't care one way or the other. I had a daughter who graduated from there a little over year ago, in the College, and I had a son graduate from there ten years before, so I've spent a long time at Columbia...Some of these questions are hysterical. "What's the 'M' in M. Dianne Murphy stand for?" How about Magnificent! [laughs] You'd better have a sense of humor if you talk to me.

SAO: It's actually a legitimate question. A lot of students have been wondering.

BC: You know, I have no idea. MDM. When I liked her, sometimes I'd refer to her as MDM, but she's the only Dianne I know with two "n"s, so I just remembered that. You know, I wrote to [the Communications Office], "Why don't we answer this young man? What are we afraid of? We ought to be talking to the students all the time." The only thing in all your questions that could make me fly back to New York and strangle you is that I think we have the most transparent board [of trustees] that's ever been there! We have four vice chairs, officers, that can represent us everywhere. Have you ever met A'Lelia Bundles?

SAO: No, I haven't.

BC: And Claire Shipman? You haven't met these people?

SAO: No, because every single time a student emails the administration, if they identify themselves as a journalist, they usually get referred to someone [in the Communications Office] who immediately says, "Oh, here's my response," and they don't actually let a person like that know.

BC: [laughing] David Stone's a good guy. A'Lelia, she's a trustee from Washington, D.C., really, really good writer— Harvard undergrad, Columbia Journalism. She's the chair of our Corporate Communications Committee and she's been a phenomenal spokesperson on the sexual assault side, and she've been working closely with Lee [Bollinger] to make sure we're doing all the right stuff. She's been great. We also have another Washington insider down there in Claire Shipman. You've never seen a more diverse board, and you've never seen one that's more open. They go around to alumni events and tell everybody everything.

There's so few secrets of what's going on here that I was so surprised when you wrote that. I'm thinking, "What would we do to look austere? We have student senators that, when I first came in they were allowed to sit in at the beginning of the meeting, and now they have them sit the whole time. I go once a quarter to the Senate Executive Committee meeting and students are there. In fact, if anybody wanted me to—I used to do this, I used to go once a year to the senate overall and just talk to them about the stuff that was on their minds. But the Senate Executive Committee controlled most of it, so I just do that.


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The state of Columbia Football

Posted by: The Lion in Opinion 1 day, 7 hours ago

A team of champions | Photo / Columbia Athletics

In the week leading up to Homecoming, The Lion would like to dedicate the bulk of our coverage to one of Columbia's most storied, historic, iconic, but as-of-late, unsung, traditions: football. The following is an op-ed from Mitch Mailman, a 1975 graduate of Columbia College who went on to the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation. While at Columbia, he worked as a football manager, and was better known on WKCR as Mitch "Big Mouth" Mailman. To submit an opinion piece, email

If one played on the Columbia Football team during the 1970, 1971 and 1972 seasons, one would have beaten each Ivy League team at least once. Ironically, if one played during the 1961 season, one might have played on Columbia's only Ivy League title team, but could not boast of having beaten Princeton. When Columbia beat Princeton 22-20, on October 2, 1971, it was the first such victory since 1945.

I think back to my involvement with those teams with great pride. Without question, they were the highlight of my eight-year Columbia experience, both as an undergraduate and graduate student. That is precisely why having a meaningful athletic program should be sacrosanct at any university.

The teams of the early 70's were competitive every week, with the sole exception of a 55-0 drubbing in Hanover, in 1970, to a team that finished the season as winners of the Lambert Trophy, and ended the year eighth in the National Coaches AP Poll.

In 1971, the Lions were in contention for the league title up through the final week of the season. They were nationally ranked in the top ten in several Division I defensive categories. Known in the sporting press throughout the country, as the "Cardiac Kids" (the first seven games of the nine game season were decided by three points or less); they avenged the prior year's Dartmouth debacle by ending Dartmouth's 33-game winning streak. That warranted a full width headline the following day in The New York Times Sports Section. 



"Strategy Document" outlining process for Rules town hall leaked to campus media

Posted by: The Lion in News 2 days, 11 hours ago

Updated, 1:49 PM.

According to articles published on Spec and Bwog [], a "Strategy Document" tipped to members of campus media was circulated among a number of student groups prior to a Friday town hall discussing the Rules of University Conduct. The town hall drew over 300 attendees, many who identified themselves as members of these student groups.

Among the topics discussed at the town hall were the NYPD's surveillance of Muslim students, questions of university workers' compliance in demonstrations of free speech, and the potential consequences of the maximum penalty for "light property damage" and the partial obstruction of buildings being suspension.

The Strategy Document outlined potential proposals and talking points — some of which were repeated verbatim at the event — to steer the town hall's discussion. It also encouraged activist groups to bring members to fill the room, as well as create signs in support of a thorough revision of the Rules in a way that protected students' right to free speech. As predicted in the document, these groups comprised the vast majority of the event's attendees, with campus media, the student councils, and "random turnout" making up the bulk of the remainder.

According to text within the document, at least 67-70 people had access to it. The tipster did not include a list of these individuals.

The document also suggests that students call for Rules administrator Steve Rittenberg's replacement to be from outside the office of the EVP Student Affairs. As the Rules apply to students, faculty, and staff, the document argues, its enforcement should not be left to someone from an administrative office that was created to deal with students.

No EVP Student Affairs has been announced yet, and according to Rules Committee co-chair Christopher Riano at a press conference earlier this week, Rittenberg's replacement has not been discussed by the committee.

The tipster who leaked the document also alleges that a member (or members) of the Senate's Rules Committee helped write the document, which included confidential information from Senate deliberations.

No text within the document conclusively implicates either of the committee's undergraduate representatives, Sejal Singh and Jared Odessky. Names that could refer to the two appear in the document once each — one line advises a student to "look at Sejal [when asking a question] but don't verbally direct it to her," and another asks "Jared" (admittedly a common name) about what overhauling the Rules signifies. Neither instance necessarily proves that Odessky or Sejal wrote or had access to the document.

Due to a Senate rule, the committee member(s) who broke this confidentiality agreement may face a number of punishments. They may be censured, removed from the Rules Committee, suspended, or may not be punished at all.

UPDATE, 1:49: According to a Senate SAC statement published by Spec, Singh and Odessky will remain on the committee.

Students have responded to the publication of the document on social media, with many alleging that the inclusion of students' names in the document endangered their safety. The names in the document have since been redacted (see link for comparison). 

Many of these students identified themselves when speaking out at the town hall. Additionally, at the press conference earlier this week, Riano stated that unlike the sexual assault town hall, this event was entirely on the record. Riano also said that a transcript of the event, names included, would be available in the coming weeks.

To contact the author of this post, email, anonymity guaranteed.


You Won't Believe The New Features Of CULPA's Site Redesign. Just Look. Then You'll Know.

Posted by: The Lion 4 days, 8 hours ago

Photo: Before and after

CULPA was once just a site for students to review professors. But now, it's something so much more.

After months of work to the back end of the site, and lines after lines of code, the site's design is brand new. That's right. All new.

The right sidebar is now on the header. We didn't believe it, but it's true. Our eyes tell us no lies.

If you look carefully, you'll also notice that the blue on the header is now a darker blue. This seems kind of strange, until you realize that the "Write a Review" button is the same shade of blue now. The two are consistent. The same. Twins.

There's no doubt that CULPA 4.0 brings a lot to the table. There were once three, but now there are four. Four CULPAs. Count them. 

A site admin told us that "CULPA 4.0 doesn’t feature any new user features, but is an entire technology overhaul." We believe him, but what does that mean? We don't know.

Did you know? We like CULPA.

They continued, "We optimized for speed in our page loads, migrated to a more sustainable and scalable database and back-end for our servers, and upgraded to the most recent softwares to patch many of the security issues that many websites have been seeing. [...] In addition, we did a front-end redesign so that things can more easily be found and the information is a bit clearer."

That's right. Your new CULPA is here. Enjoy.



Posted by: The Lion in Humor 4 days, 13 hours ago

The following email from an RA was sent to us anonymously. To send us tips, email, anonymity guaranteed.

Dear X,

I am writing to invite you to an event that I believe marks perhaps the single most important structural change happening in XXX during your time on this floor.  The Rules of Kitchen Conduct are being revised for the first time in nearly six weeks.
On Friday, October 17 at 10 PM a floor town hall will be held in our lounge. It is open to all residents with a CUID.
The Rules of Kitchen Conduct, first introduced after our first floor meeting and made permanent the next weekend when I put up signs, are designed to protect the rights of residents to cook while ensuring that cooking areas stay clean. All members of our floor community are subject to these rules, including resident advisors and your roommate's friends.
I am writing to you in the capacity as chair of the Rules Committee of the floor association. In face of recent hygienic calamities, we are taking this opportunity to review the content of the rules, including the processes by which unwashed dirty dishes are handled.
I am deeply invested in ensuring that the review process includes resident voices at every step of the way. My leading the committee is one piece of that. But I need your help! I have pushed to make the review process as open an transparent as possible, securing a guarantee for one floor town hall to solicit feedback.
I strongly encourage your to voice your thoughts and concerns, either by attending the floor town hall, emailing me, or arranging an in person meeting.
Thank you,


Potluck House sanctioned following report of guillotine at party

Posted by: The Lion in News 5 days, 5 hours ago

Photo credit: Campus Left Party Facebook event

Potluck House, a Special Interest Community with a brownstone on 114th Street, has been sanctioned following reports of a guillotine at a party thrown in early September.

The guillotine was constructed for a "Campus Left Party," a gathering of activists, supporters, and other Potluck aficionados meant to celebrate the launch of the Disorientation Guide. After the party, a student (or students) reported the existence of the guillotine to the Office of Residential Life. According to an anonymous tip, the complaint alleged that the guillotine and associated language opposing liberalism and capitalism "threatened [their] identity by creating an unsafe space for capitalists."

We were unable to confirm the exact nature of the complaint, but after it was filed, all members of Potluck House, including the house coordinator, were asked to meet with SIC Director Nate Johnson. By post time, none of the members we contacted responded to requests for comment.

According to a statement from a spokesperson on behalf of Associate Dean for Residential Life Cristen Kromm, the university "cannot comment on specific cases." She continued:

SICs with designated housing throughout the residential system are held to the policies in the Guide to Living, as well as expectations outlined by Residential Life.  Individuals who are alleged to violate policies may be subject to Dean’s Discipline. When alleged policy violations occur within the SICs, they are referred to the Associate Director of SICs and Faculty Initiatives to determine appropriate follow up. Violations at group level will face some consequence, which may include probation or loss of SIC status. 

Potluck's guillotine apparently violated Housing's Guide to Living, which prohibits "knives, swords, [...] and any other instrument that appears to be a weapon." This policy encompasses "actual or realistic simulated version of weapons," meaning that whether Potluck's guillotine was operational or purely decorative, it was still banned.

Further, all SIC applicants are required to sign a statement every year where they agree to abide by ResLife policies and a specific set of values. This agreement presumably includes a commitment to create a safe space for all students, capitalist or not.

Johnson had no additional comment, and did not say whether or not Potluck House had been put on probation, but did confirm that he had met with all members of the house, and had come to a ruling based on a "preponderance of evidence" standard.

"Potluck House is in good standing," said Johnson. "They bring a lot to the table, and are a positive contributor to the Special Interest Community — they always have been."

Johnson also added that the situation and complaint were "not as bizarre" as they sounded. He is right; this is not the first time a student has claimed to be oppressed by virtue of being a capitalist.

Regardless of the exact circumstances behind the guillotine incident, Potluck House seems to have recovered. The group held a pie competition last Friday, and there doesn't seem to be any bad blood between them and the administration. And so the War on Fun...or rather, the War on Capitalism, continues.

Correction: The caption previously stated that the Facebook event photo was the guillotine used at the party. We regret the error.


News round-up: October 15 - Analog journalism

Posted by: The Lion 6 days, 6 hours ago
  • In the latest in digital innovation news, the Washington Post announced Monday that it would be providing the Spectator with feature-writing software used by the publication's news room. (Spec calls it a "partnership.") In a release posted on the paper's public relations blog, WaPo wrote that it had provided Spec and another student newspaper, UM's Diamondback, with templates used to create multimedia feature articles. Hence the following quote from Abby Abrams:

    "Spectator is excited to work with The Washington Post in this partnership that will help us incorporate videos, graphics, and multimedia that will enhance our storytelling. As we work to further develop our digital journalism, we are grateful to have access to The Post’s digital tools and technology. This relationship has opened up new opportunities for us to better present our journalism, and we are optimistic to see what else our staff can do with these new tools."

    The software has already been put to use extensively on the Eye. Maybe this explains the delay in rolling out the site? it looks nice, at least. For the rest of us, the WaPo-less, we'll have to stick to analog journalism.
  • Friday is the first of three (four?) town halls to discuss the Rules of University Conduct. On a campus that ostensibly loves free speech and activism, it will be interesting to see what sort of discussion will arise and how many will attend. We spoke to Rules Chairman Chris Riano at a press conference, who stressed the importance of having an "open dialogue" with as many students as possible. It's worth noting that no formal decision has been made to revise the Rules yet — that is, despite what has been circling on social media (and even this site, due to a tip), no one in the administration has actually proposed banning or curtailing protests on campus using the Rules, and virtually no students have been prosecuted under the Rules since the STAC-7 incident in 1993.

    What is happening is that Rules administrator Steve Rittenberg, a strong advocate for free speech who is rumored to have participated in the '68 protests himself, is retiring, and wants to clear up what the Rules actually mean before he leaves. The Rules, as they are right now, are cryptic and anachronistic, but they're far from being easily manipulated in the revision process. Bwog has a good outline of the process that any potential changes would have to go though; essentially, students submit input at town halls -> student senator panel, including Zila Acosta, Jared Odessky, and Sejal Singh (all pro-free speech), discusses changes -> Senate votes on changes. So no, at the moment, the administration is not out to stop all protests, and Bollinger isn't even part of the revision process.



Breaking: Lions quarterback Brett Nottingham to "reevaluate position with the team"

Posted by: The Lion in Sports 1 week ago

Trevor McDonagh may be stepping in for QB Brett Nottingham | Photo / Columbia Athletics

Update, 10/16 1:08 PM: According to WKCR, Nottingham is no longer on the team.

A press release sent out by Columbia Athletics on behalf of football head coach Pete Mangurian has announced that Brett Nottingham may be stepping down from his role as quarterback.

According to tweets from WKCR, Nottingham "needed time to reevaluate his position with the team," and did not respond to "numerous attempts [by Mangurian] to reach [him]." As a result, Mangurian wrote, "we are moving forward with our preparation as though he will not be part of our football program."

Nottingham has has been removed from the two-deep for this Saturday's game against Penn, and is not on the team's latest roster.

His performance at the Monmouth game last Saturday is a likely factor in the decision, as the Lions dropped 40 points during the first half of the game. After he was replaced with junior quarterback Trevor McDonagh, the Lions recovered to score four touchdowns, though they eventually lost 61-28.

The announcement also comes on the heels of a New York Post feature about Nottingham's transfer from Stanford in 2013 and his struggle with injuries for the majority of last season. The article did not hint at the possibility of him stepping down as quarterback.

Athletics' statement, published in tweets by WKCR, has been reposted below.

Football's winless streak stands at 15 consecutive games.

We have reached out to Athletics, Nottingham, and McDonough for comment and will update this post should we receive a response.


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