Updated: Potluck House Black Lives Matter banner removed by administrators

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

Photo via Gabriela Catalina 

Update (12/10), 2 PM: A Potluck resident informs me that the house received an email today telling them that Facilities is on its way to remove the banner, ostensibly for fire safety reasons.

Update (12/10), 6 PM: IRC banner has been taken down.

Update (12/11), 1 PM: Potluck banner has been taken down.


According to an email sent to all Potluck House residents this afternoon, administrators within the Office of Residential Life asked the special interest community to remove a "Black Lives Matter" banner that had been hanging outside the brownstone for the past few days.

The banner, hung in honor of the deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown and the failure to indict the officers who shot them, was apparently in violation of the Guide to Living.

We have yet to hear back from the IRC, which hung their own banner with the words "Police =/= Safety, Prison =/= Justice," as to whether they received a similar email.

Police action has been a recent point of contention in Morningside Heights, as NYPD officers corralled a group of over 500 protestors last week, and the Office of Public Safety called police officers to monitor other demonstrations held near campus.

Read the full email to Potluck House below, and check back for any updates.

Hello Members of Potluck House,


I hope that this message finds you all well. I am writing to all of you as I want you to understand my upcoming request. Over the past few weeks, the climate around the country in regards to the Mike Brown and Eric Garner cases has been high profile. It involves a number of feelings which include anger, sadness, and an overwhelming need to act. Expressing these feelings both individually and as a community is very important and we, as a university have a full understanding of this. So when I make this request of you I want you to understand that it is coming from a place of community safety and not in response to the content.


The banner that is hanging outside of the house has to come down as it violates policies in the Guide to living. The specific policy is theRoofs, Window, Balconies, Fire Escapes, and Ledges Policy. You can find this information by clicking on the link but the actually policy prohibits “placing items, including banners and flags, on balconies, fire escapes or ledges or allowing them to hang outside the windows.”


I ask that you take the banner down today as placing things outside of the windows poses an element of danger when you live in such a congested area such as New York City.


With that being said, I also like to offer solutions. As an alternative to having the banner outside you could, for example, do a collective covering of the windows from the inside (message pointing out) throughout the brownstone.


As I stated earlier in the message, given our current climate, the need to express feelings and concerns is very important and I want you all to know that I am here to support you in doing this. The ongoing dialogue in regards to social issues is not just part of your college experience but an essential practice that should be a part of your everyday life. If there is anything that I can do to support you in this practice please do not hesitate to reach out and let me know.


I hope that you are finding the space to prepare for your finals and I hope that you have a successful end to your fall semester.


With Appreciation to Your Time and Your Understanding,

Update: Dean Valentini and the undergraduate deans (sans Hinkson) just sent out this email regarding the recent grand jury decisions. It announced that students may be able to push back exams and final coursework, just as Law School students were told yesterday. Barnard Students were not included in this email.

Dear Members of the Columbia Undergraduate Community,

The past few weeks have been a difficult time for many of us. The grand jury decisions in Ferguson and Staten Island have ignited much reflection and discussion across the nation and within our community – and we know that many of you have been deeply affected. The student tragedy on campus last week also had a profound impact on many of you. These events have caused feelings of distress, anxiety, alienation, and loss, and at an already stressful time in the semester.

We recognize the intensity of these feelings and the potential effect that these events may have on your ability to concentrate on your studies and fulfill your course requirements. As finals approach, we want to make sure we are doing everything that we can to support you. We encourage you to rely on the resources of the University, including your advisers, student life staff, the University Chaplain, and Columbia Psychological Services. No concern is too small to seek out help. These resources are here for you and we hope that you will take advantage of them.

CPS will have extended on-site, after-hours counseling in the Intercultural Resource Center, and in Carman Hall, from 6 to 9 p.m. today, tomorrow and Thursday. In addition, the Office of Multicultural Affairs staff is available to meet with any student who wants to drop in today through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Intercultural Resource Center, 552 West 114th Street, and the OMA office in 510 Lerner.

We are encouraging faculty to give accommodations in final exams to students whose academic work is being compromised by the difficulties in dealing with these recent events. If you feel your academic work is being affected, we encourage you to contact your advising dean in the Columbia College and Columbia Engineering Center for Student Advising or your academic adviser in the General Studies Dean of Students Office, who will help you work with your faculty members to discuss a plan to complete your coursework. For those in Columbia College and Columbia Engineering, the Center for Student Advising is holding open office hours from 3 to 4:30 p.m. today through Thursday. For those in the School of General Studies, the Office of the Dean of Students is holding extended open hours from 8 to 10 p.m. tonight in the GS Lounge. For additional appointment times and open hours, GS students should consult the GS website.

We have also scheduled a community gathering at 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday for all undergraduates. This gathering will provide a safe space to share, to listen, to engage, and to respect and support one other. We encourage all members of our community to attend.  Further information about the community gathering will be shared once details are finalized.


Peter J. Awn 

Dean, School of General Studies

Mary C. Boyce 
Dean of The Fu Foundation 
School of Engineering and Applied Science

James J. Valentini 
Dean of Columbia College and 
Vice President for Undergraduate Education

Correction: This post initially stated that the photo was from Potluck House's Facebook page. It was actually posted from a house resident's private account.


The Lion's study break drinking game

Posted by: Roarer Lion 1 week, 2 days ago

Because we are all degenerate anti-intellectuals here at The Lion, we came up with a DRINKING GAME to get you through those finals week study breaks. Because who can read Kant sober, anyway?

Take a drink when...

  • Your RA sends an email to the floor advertising a study break.
  • The email discusses stress culture at Columbia.
  • The study break advertises Insomnia Cookies.
  • Your friend invites you to a Facebook event for a their club's study break.
  • Less than 10 people are attending the Facebook event.
  • Someone at the study break asks you for your winter break vacation plans, of which you have none.

Take a shot when...

  • Someone from Residential Life sends an email to all of South Field/West Campus/The Block/East Campus advertising a list of study breaks.
  • The study break advertises Insomnia Cookies AND Chipotle BOGO cards.
  • You run into your hookup at the study break.
  • Your Stressbusters masseuse makes a snide comment about the knots in your back.
  • "Shake it Off" plays during the study break.
  • You're the only one attending your friend's club's study break who isn't in the club. 
  • Someone at the study break tells you about THEIR winter break vacation plans, umprompted.

Finish your drink when...

  • You get to the study break and there's no food left.
  • You run into your professor or TA on the way to the study break (and your paper/final project is late).
  • You run into your ex at the study break and he wants to get back together.
  • A puppy at the study break bites you, and you contract rabies.



Posted by: The Lion 1 week, 2 days ago


  • President Lee "EBOLLINGER" Bollinger has a "Dick Cheney" of his own?
  • That man is Robert Kasdin, a Senior Executive Vice President by day, a Manhattan socialite by night??
  • Kasdin served on the board of large corporation NORANDA ALUMINUM from 2008 to 2014???
  • What's going on here????
During Robby's time at CU, the endowment has gone UP, UP, AND AWAY! From 4.2 BILLION DOLLARS in 2002 to 9.2 BILLION DOLLARS in 2014.

What's the big deal? Is there buried treasure under MANHATTANVILLE...or something more sinister? NO WORDS from Lee "EL PRESIDENTE" Bollinger.

Noranda's investor relations hotline didn't give US a CALL BACK. Are we just POOR COLLEGE STUDENTS without PORTFOLIO MANAGERS to invest our TRUST FUNDS?
But enough blah blah blah here, just the facts:

Robby mysteriously vanished from Noranda's board in March 2014. The BIG corrupt media orgs didn't report on it. Only one publication with a shred of integrity, the NASHVILLE POST, has dared to blow the whistle and call Robby out to play...

Robby was SUPPOSED TO STAY ON UNTIL 2016...leaving 2 years early is not part of CU's track record. Even Lee "My speech is free, but my hair is insured for $3 MILLION" Bollinger got his grip on the university tightened for 2 more years...what's going on in LOW?
This news made me think, and I really thought long, and thought hard about this news...there could only be one reason.

Consider that Campbell Sports Center at Baker Athletics Complex, Columbia's premier athletic facility on the HUDSON, is made of metal. CU ordered it built in 2011, in the middle of Robby's time at Noranda.

Consider that Northwest Corner Building, the crown jewel of Columbia's commitment to scientific frontiers built in 2010, is made of metal.

Consider that the very extensive renovations to several Columbia dorms involve metallic objects. 
There is a treasure trove of golden...no, ALUMINUM OPPORTUNITIES FOR CU TO HIRE NORANDA!!

Something stinks here, and it is the smell of ALUMINUM.
You may think it's CRAZY that Columbia would get its metal from America's heartland when everyone knows you can get aluminum anywhere...it's ELEMENTARY, no pun intended.
But what if there's something even more important than aluminum in Tennessee? A family member? A childhood sweetheart? A secret lair?
Either way, it doesn't matter to him...it's just the MOOLA.

When my great-uncle Steve (GOD BLESS HIS SOUL) still walked the Earth, he had a saying that he would say around the dinner table: SHOW ME THE MONEY! 

We won't ask for the DIRTY MONEY, but we demand to know: SHOW US THE CONTRACTS!


WHAT A SCARY THOUGHT...something to think ABOUT tonight.....


The Senior Society of Nacoms: Docs

Posted by: The Lion in News 1 week, 2 days ago


You thought we forgot about this, didn't you? Read our previous two posts here and here.

The Senior Society of Nacoms is a non-profit organization, and with that status comes certain requirements. One of them is an application for recognition that has to be submitted to the IRS. But with great tax exemption comes great transparency, which Nacoms leadership apparently realized in 2010 after submitting their application. The following documents — obtained by the Lion through a federal information request — detail the logistics of the organization, its board of directors, and its membership from 2007 to 2010. Now, dear reader, this information is yours.

Senior Society of Nacoms IRS Application

Less interesting than you thought, right?

Marcia Sells, the VP of the organization whose name appears a few times in the document (including a fax cover sheet with university letterhead) declined to comment about the Nacoms through a university spokesperson. She responded similarly in 2006 to the Blue and White when they attempted to write about the society.

So in conclusion, what makes the Sachems and Nacoms such desirable organizations?

Is it the secrecy? Despite both societies existing for at least a century, they stopped printing the lists of their members in the Spectator in 1951. But even as late as the 1990s, evidence of their existence can be found in the yearbook. Further, even some current-day members aren't afraid to talk about their society affiiation with students outside the groups.

Is it the prestigious alumni? When photos of the Sachems Centennial Dinner were posted on Bwog last semester, alumni in the fields of law, finance, medicine, media, and non-profit work attended. This certainly beats a networking session at CCE. But despite the impression that a society tap lands you a job offer in the industry of your choice, even the 2006 B&W piece only referenced an interview obtained through neworking — the onus is still on the student to get the job. Additionally, the packed resumes of society members begs the question of whether they'd achieve success in the field even without the network.

Is it the exclusivity? With only 30 potential spots each year, any hopeful Nacom or Sachem needs to compete against the thousands of other undergrads, or at least the few hundred that hold leadership positions in prominent campus organizations. And the thought of being a member of "Columbia's Skull & Bones/Phoenix" may be appealing to a great deal of students who ultimately don't get tapped and gossip incessantly about those that do.

The answer to this question is one best answered by a member or alumnus. After a year of more leaks than the previous two decades combined, no member of either society has publicly issued a response or attempted to dispel any of the rumors swirling about the organizations. So here's your chance to be immortalized in Columbia history: if you contact us at thecolumbialion[at]gmail.com with confirmation that you are/were a secret society member, we'll publish (or retract, if necessary) any information you'd like the world to know about the organizations.

Until then, enjoy the docs, and good luck to the Class of 2016 society hopefuls.


News round-up: December 8 - Is this the end?

Posted by: The Lion 1 week, 2 days ago


This is my last news round-up as editor-in-chief of the Lion (but not my last post). It's been a great ride, everyone.

  • We previously reported about an alleged incident where the Law School mistreated black faculty members and advised students to study instead of protest during a Forum on Ferguson. But today, the administration seems to have taken a complete 180 on their stance, letting students postpone final exams because of the recent grand jury decisions, according to an article written by the Wall Street Journal's Jake Gershman, who is not to be confused with Jake Hershman.
  • Columbia journalism professor Helen Benedict weighs in on the Rolling Stone's botched reporting of an alleged gang rape at UVA. Benedict was widely quoted about her support of the magazine's decisions, prior to the revalation that Rolling Stone's detractors were actually right.

“If a reporter were doing a story about a university accused of failing to address the mugging or robbery of a student, that reporter would not be expected to interview the alleged mugger or robber,” she said. “The piece might have been stronger with more than one source, but exposés of wrongdoing often start with one whistle-blower.”

  • In what is now ancient history, during a protest last Wednesday in support of Eric Garner, police officers corralled hundreds of people by 113th Street and Amsterdam, letting them out a few at a time and allegedly using batons to subdue protestors. Forget body cameras — this is a neighborhood with one of the highest concentrations of street cameras in the city. One day later, the tree lighting ceremony, a timeless Columbia tradition attended by at least half the members of the student councils and a cappella groups that performed, was concluded by a die-in protest on College Walk. Frustrated at another ruined photo-op, the administration said, "Screw it, we'll use 'em anyway."
  • Ramon Castillo, CC '15, has published a widely-circulated piece about his experience with mental health issues and Columbia authority figures following a depressive episode. Part of it is copied below.

There needs to be a shift at Columbia regarding mental illness. Those in positions of power, professors included, need to be educated on what it means to have a mental illness, that excessive stress - that perversely cherished component of American higher education - destroys a student's well being. They are not above it. It is not okay for a professor to compare my depression to the flu. This is not an indictment of all professors at Columbia; most professors are compassionate and work closely with students to help them succeed. But one bad apple spoils the bunch. The result: students take medical leaves of absence, they drop out, they collapse under the weight of their illness. This is an indictment of Columbia and its unwillingness to do what is necessary to ensure the fair treatment of all students.

  • The piece was originally submitted to Bwog — who had published a different letter to students from editor Eric Cohn — but was eventually published on Kinja. Castillo critized Bwog's decision not to publish the letter, writing that the "very individualized nature" of the piece provided an alternate perspective on mental health issues. I cannot help but sympathize with both Castillo's desire to share his story with students who need to hear it, and the Bwog editorial board's need to make quick decisions while remaining sensitive to readers during a difficult, emotionally draining time.



Updated: Andy Robbins, son of Columbia English professor, reported missing

Posted by: The Lion in News 1 week, 4 days ago

Bruce Robbins, a senior humanities professor in the English department, has posted a flyer on his Facebook account urging people to search for his son Andy. According to the flyer, Andy was last seen Monday in Manhattan, possibly wearing a gray dress coat and scarf. Any information regarding Andy should be sent to elsaathens[at]gmail.com or the phone numbers listed above.

We will update this post with any information from the Robbins family.

Update (12/08): Bruce Robbins has posted a second announcement on Facebook regarding the NY Post's account of the search for his son.

I don't imagine a lot of you read the New York Post, but to those who do, I owe you an explanation for the article that came out this morning about my son Andreas. I did NOT tell the reporter that the Eric Garner demonstrators were stopping the police from looking for Andreas. I told her that the police were using the demonstrations as an excuse for not doing their job and that this was ironic because it was police misbehavior that caused the whole situation in the first place. For what it's worth, Andreas KNEW Eric Garner-- Garner sold his loosies in front of the building where Andreas used to live, and Andreas talked with indignation about how he had been treated from the day it all happened. Very little has been able to raise my spirits since Andreas disappeared. But last night when the crowds streamed by under our windows, chanting and drumming for Eric Garner, I felt good--for Andreas and for everybody.


Pete Mangurian calls it quits

Posted by: The Lion in Sports 1 week, 4 days ago

It's official — Pete Mangurian is out as head coach of the football team.

According to a press release sent by the university and an internal email, Mangurian has submitted his resignation to outgoing Athletic Director M. Dianne Murphy. Mangurian's three-year tenure at the university was overshadowed by an ongoing 21-game losing streak, which contributed to his overall 3-27 record. Prior to the last game of the 2014 season, President Bollinger announced that he had hired external athletic consultant Rick Taylor to review the program. An announcement regarding the specifics of the search for Mangurian's successor has yet to be made.

The resignation was first reported by Roar Lions' Jake Novak, who had been leading the push for Mangurian's resignation since fall 2013. A tweet responding to the news claims that Mangurian took a buyout on his contract, which named him as head coach until through 2016.

In the midst of the resignation, however, questions arose regarding a letter to university administrators accusing Mangurian of forcing players to continue playing through concussions, allegedly signed — and later retracted — by 25 members of the team. According to a Wall Street Journal article, at least two students who had reportedly signed the letter denied doing so and asked for their names to be removed. Mangurian's wife Amy also denied the claims, and told the Journal that her husband had consulted a lawyer.

No copy of the letter has been published.

Read the full press release and internal email below.

Columbia Head Coach Pete Mangurian Resigns

NEW YORK (December 5, 2014) – Columbia University President Lee C. Bollinger announced that the University has accepted the resignation of Patricia and Shepard Alexander Head Coach of Football Pete Mangurian effective immediately. 

“I have accepted Pete Mangurian’s resignation because we have all come to the conclusion that it would be in the best interests of Columbia Athletics,” said Bollinger. “Under Dianne Murphy, Columbia teams have built a new winning tradition across our men’s and women’s sports and we expect no less of our football program. We are committed to providing our dedicated student athletes with the best possible opportunities to succeed both on and off the field.  So we will now look forward to completing consultant Rick Taylor’s expert review of our football operations that will help us chart a new direction under a new coach.”


ATL: Black law school faculty reportedly mistreated at Forum on Ferguson

Posted by: The Lion 1 week, 4 days ago

According to an Above the Law post, black members of the Law School faculty were invited to sit in the audience during a forum in response to events in Ferguson. 

The post, which quotes a third-year law student's tweets extensively, reports an account of the event, where "[o]nly a couple of black faculty members were invited, and they were made to sit in the audience while white faculty went up to the podium and addressed the crowd." The student also wrote that Professor Kimberlé Crenshaw spoke from the audience, and that Dean of Students Michelle Greenberg-Kobrin advised students to study rather than protest.

Read the full compilation on Above the Law.


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