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

Posted by: The Lion in Sports 13 hours, 41 minutes 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 day, 6 hours 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 day, 14 hours 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 2 days, 11 hours 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.


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

Posted by: The Lion in Sports 3 days, 12 hours 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.



The state of Columbia Football

Posted by: The Lion in Opinion 4 days, 11 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 5 days, 14 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 1 week 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.


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