Just another perfect season

Posted by: The Lion in Sports 6 hours, 37 minutes ago

Well, there you have it, folks. Another perfect season. The winless streak stands at 21 games, making it old enough to drink away the sorrow of losing.

As we have said before, any reasonable person would conclude that a coach who has managed to take a team that was only kinda the worst in the country to one that is regularly ridiculed in print, social media, and even radio should be fired, but who needs reason when you have athletic consultants?

The New York Times has picked up the story of Bollinger bringing in Rick Taylor, exactly one year to the date of their front-page (of the sports section) story about the previous winless season. It has become an annual ritual, like the holiday shopping season, or the use of yellowface in a Columbia theater production.

Columbia's football failings have become so renowned that even little kids know about it. For a more personal anecdote, I was laughed at by a worker at an airport earlier this week when she saw that I was wearing a Columbia football t-shirt I'd gotten at a game.

It has become commonplace to mention that while this streak is bad, at least it isn't the 44-game losing streak Columbia suffered in the 80s. In other words, at least the classes of '15 and '16 have been on campus to experience a football win, though significantly fewer were physically present at Baker Field to witness it. At this rate, whatever traditions the team has for each win — the Ivy League champions of 1961 have a few — will be lost to the sands of time.

Perhaps football fan (and Lion humorist) Ashu Nanda put it best in a satire piece on the winless streak:

Unrest is growing in Morningside Heights as the Lions have gone winless for yet another season. “It's a truly disappointing series of events. I bet my friends a platter of Insomnia Cookies each that we'd beat Cornell.” said freshman David Huang. “I got sent a snap showing the first touchdown. But then the ball got blocked and converted, so maybe the team could take some tips from the app."


Like true Columbians though, students are uniting over how to get the football team back to its third-rate ways. Specifically, upperclassmen (who are just itching to break the widely-discussed protest rules) are planning on staging a protest during Thanksgiving break regarding the disastrous performance by the football team.


Senior Erik Davestrom told The Lion: “We want a return to the good old days. The 69-0 defeat to Harvard my sophomore year went straight into the record books. These days, we're scoring points and losing by only handfuls of touchdowns to the third strings of mediocre colleges. I mean, Albany? It disgusts me that we lose by the number of times freshmen go to JJ's place each week, while scoring as many times as the number of times freshmen get CAVA'd each weekend.” 


Plans to bring the team from just winless to absolutely scoreless include changing lighting Lerner Princeton orange in order to instill fear in the football players, and adding League of Denial to the Lit Hum syllabus.


While this year's potentially scoreless record is shot, the off-season schedule is a more promising. Up next is a scrimmage with the New York University (NYU) Violets. With one of the most loved mascots, Vince the Violet, coming to town, students seem hopeful that the football players will be too distracted by Vince and the rest of the flowery NYU cheerleading squad to actually accomplish anything on the football field. The halftime break should also prove entertaining, as Pete Mangurian will recite William Wordsworth's “Daffodils” in hopes of angering the Violets and driving up the score.


So, all in all fellow Columbians, have nothing to fear, our football team will be back to the laughingstock of campus soon enough. If we're going to be the worst, we'll at least be the best at being the worst.

Better luck next year.


News round-up: November 21 - A town hall on divestment from facial hair

Posted by: The Lion in News 1 day, 10 hours ago

Did you miss us?

  • As reported basically everywhere except here, President Bollinger has sent out an email announcing that, no, Pete Mangurian would not be fired, but yeah, fiiine, we'll get someone to do an external review of the program. Now, if this Rick Taylor dude was like any normal consultant, his main instruments of change would be layoffs, but you can't exactly lay off people who are working for free. (Thanks, NCAA!) So that leaves trainers, assistant coaches, and other miscellaneous Athletics staffers who should be updating their LinkedIns.
  • Both the Bacchanal town hall and the Frontiers of Science town hall this past Wednesday were lightly attended, which makes us wonder if there's really any sort of discussion that can fill a room, that isn't about sexual assault, ROTC, or has a document telling people to attend.
  • Columbia professor and higher-ed reformist Andrew Delbanco was featured extensively in the documentary Ivory Tower, which will air on CNN this Sunday at 9 PM.
  • So former Lt. Governor candidate and net neutrality lover Tim Wu wrote a thing, about United Airlines and mergers sucking. The title choice is reminiscent of this, and this, and also this, and this too, I guess. As far as I know, Tim Wu has never worked at United.



News round-up: November 18 - Money, money, money

Posted by: The Lion in News 4 days, 4 hours ago
  • According to a series of Tweets from a Facilities staffer, workers are organizing a class-action lawsuit against the University for showing favoritism in hiring practices. Expect a full story soon from Spec's news desk.
  • In case you didn't have enough socioeconomic elitism this past week, President Bollinger had his own Baquet/Romney/King Midas moment, when he said the following at a fireside chat: “How do you live in today’s world and not go to China? India? These are basic experiences.”
  • Columbia was recently featured as the site for Goldman Sachs' attempts to win the hearts and minds of Ivy grads with bottomless pocketbooks. The article reads:

Goldman is competing on this front against all the media portrayals of the relaxed dress code and lifestyle in the tech industry.

If nothing else, Mr. Chavez said, candidates’ concerns are usually assuaged when they see the generous compensation that Goldman offers.

“As soon as we start talking to the candidates about what our starting packages look like, the lifestyle questions about flip-flops and beanbags really start to go away,” he said.

  • Storbeck/Pimentel, Columbia's favorite consulting firm, is being summoned once again to fill the seat of the Dean of Undergraduate Student Life. If last time is any indication, we're out $100,000 and an administrator who will inevitably leave us for Johns Hopkins' significantly less Greco-Roman halls.



NY Parks Dept. assistant commissioner blasts J-school student in email

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

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/e/ed/Logo_of_the_New_York_City_Department_of_Parks_%26_Recreation.svg/906px-Logo_of_the_New_York_City_Department_of_Parks_%26_Recreation.svg.pngBeing in the City of New York, Columbia students are encouraged, and sometimes even expected, to interact with the city to enrich their academics. Both Art Hum and Music Hum require trips to the Met, be it the museum or the opera house. Students in Kenneth Jackson's History of New York class take a midnight bike ride through the city. And Photo I students can be spotted in their natural habitat taking action shots of joggers along Riverside Drive. But what happens when the synthesis of student and city attracts the ire of a city official?

According to an 2013 email thread obtained through a FOIL request, Arthur Pincus, an Assistant Commissioner for Communications in the Parks Department, sent an strongly worded complaint to Melanie Huff, Associate Dean of the J-School, about one of her students.

One of Pincus's subordinates had received an email from a Journalism student asking for permission to film a "cranio-sacral therapy and relaxation event" in a park a mere eight hours before it began. (The student qualified their request by noting that the event was "free and public.")

In his email to Huff, Pincus remarked that the student's request was one "of the most frustrating kind." He went on to write, "Since the email was sent at 12:06, the recepient should be ready to greet the cameras at, what, 9 AM? Really?"

After questioning whether the late-night request was "really fair or ethical or even necessary," Pincus concluded, "In my opinion, after some 40 years in the business, this request is simply wrong and should be handled in a more professional manner."

Dean Huff responded tersely via iPhone:

Thank you for the notification.

We clearly do not teach students to work this way. However, I cannot use this as a teaching moment for the student if you do not share with me his/her name.

This, of course, is not the first time that a somewhat unsavaory email thread involving admins has been made public.

The FOIL request provides an interesting snapshot of the sort of interactions that happen between city officials and university administrators, but it leaves more questions than answers. Did Pincus ever send Dean Huff the name? Were they ever reprimanded? And most importantly, was the student able to pass the class without the filming?

Read the full email thread below.


QUIZ: How well do YOU know your Columbia landmarks?

Posted by: The Lion in Photo 1 week, 3 days ago

The Columbia campus is blessed with landmarks steeped in the university's rich history. Since the move to Morningside Heights in 1897, our campus has been the home of intellectuals, entrepreneurs, and future world leaders! Think about that the next time you complain about tourists.

But not all Columbia students take advantage of our institution's architectural grandeur. Take this quiz to find out how well you know these famous Columbia landmarks.

Click on the image to start the quiz.


Greatest hits from the newly approved courses for spring 2015

Posted by: The Lion 1 week, 3 days ago

Every semester, a new crop of courses get approved, many of which have funny names. Let's make fun of them together.

  • Anthropology - The Semiotics of Crisis
  • Anthropology - Value, Debt, and Risk: Topics in the Anthropology of Finance (As if Columbia didn't have enough finance classes...)
  • Biological Sciences - Evolutionary Biology in the Age of Genomics (Taught by Gabriel Garcia Marquez)
  • Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race - Subcitizenship
  • East Asian Languages and Cultures - China and the World Since 1350 (Kind of a broad topic, don't you think?)
  • Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Biology - Sustainable Development in Practice (Not actually taught in the sustainable development department. Draw your own conclusions.)
  • English and Comparative Literature - Medievel Women Adventures [sic] (A Saturday morning cartoon starring Joan of Arc.)
  • English and Comparative Literature - Global Bestsellers (Dan Brown, Stephen King, The Bible)
  • English and Comparative Literature - Reading the Modern Body, 1660-1800
  • History - Quantifying People: A History of Social Science (To be honest, the only quantifying I do in some of these courses is grade grubbing.)
  • Latin and Iberian Cultures - A Disruptive Technology: The Impact of Printing on Early Modern Hispanic Cultures around the Globe (Someone's been reading TechCrunch.)
  • Slavic Languages - How to Tell a War Story: Narratives about War from Leo Tolstoy to the Present (Or, listen to a GS student.)
  • Sociology - Stratification, Occupational Attainment, and Life Chances (Sounds like one of those subway ads that promise to teach philosophy to people going through a mid-life crisis.)
  • Sustainable Development - Complexity Science (Redundant.)

In case you're wondering which classes we recommend you take next semester, it's the same ones every time.

  • Economics - Principles with Musatti or Gulati
  • Political Science - American Politics with Russell, International Politics with Jervis
  • English, History - Most classes are good. Erik Gray is teaching the intro to the major course for English.
  • Computer Science - Intro to Java with Cannon
  • Sociology - The Social World with Khan
  • Global Core - East Asian Civ with Gentzler, Nobility and Civility or Colloquium on East Asian Texts (Asian Hum) with De Bary
  • Science Requirement - Stars, Atoms, and Galaxies with Kay
  • Phys Ed - Skiing


Students create GoFundMe and Tumblr to riff on Bollinger's raise

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


Photo: A flyer in McBain calling for solidarity with PrezBo

The news that President Bollinger got a salary bump of over $700,000 in the past two years didn't go over very well with some students, even with the news that most students on financial aid would also receive a small "raise" of their own.

Students have created a Tumblr giving examples of various things that Columbia could spend $700,000 on instead of a raise for Bollinger. The list includes:

  • A full ride for 14 students
  • 6,250 monthly unlimited Metrocards
  • An iPad for every freshman and 200 pairs of Louboutin heels

A different group takes a different approach in satirizing the raise, instead calling for solidarity with Bollinger by giving him a "fair salary" through crowdfunding.

A blurb on the GoFundMe reads:

Our Plan:
We need to raise $347,486 to give President Bollinger the salary that he deserves and make him the highest paid university president in the world. President Zimmer of the University of Chicago, the most paid college president, earns $3,358,723 per year while Prezbo does so much more for his students and is only compensated $3,011,238. In the year since his last paycheck, Bollinger has made great changes to the university that merit no less than a $1,031,380 raise. Help us give President Bollinger a fair salary.


This is all complicated by the fact that the $3.0 million dollar figure we used may actually have been an underestimate. The Chronicle article and Guidestar 990 forms apparently used different calculations to arrive at their total compensation numbers.

A tipster writes to us:

From what I can see, those two Lion articles calculated Bollinger's salary in different ways. The earlier one adds reportable compensation (column D) + estimated other compensation (F) from the organization, etc. to get the final figure (all on p. 332). That's also what other news outlets do when reporting on college presidents' salaries. In the latest article, though, you don't include the estimated other compensation. So you count the salary as a little over 3 million, when really it's closer to 3.5 million (p. 13 of latest 990 form). To be very exact, it's $3,415,662 (which matches the total of the columns on p. 332).
The tipster added that "deferred compensation" also played a role, meaning that Bollinger's actual salary for this year could be anywhere from $2.5 million to $3.5 million. In order to confirm exact numbers, we'd need to hear back from a trustee or someone in the Finance Department.
Until then, though, consider the fundraising effort to make Bollinger even richer a success — that is, until another university decides to put their endowment where their mouth is.


UPDATED: Courses@CU gets massive overhaul, adds course review feature

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

Quick Reviews / Photo: Spectator Publishing Company

Updated, 1:35 PM.

Courses@CU, a direct competitor to ADI's course scheduler, has now added a course review feature meant to serve as a companion to CULPA.

As part of the site's recent overhaul for the upcoming registration period, the Spectator Publishing Company (SPC) has introduced a new "Quick Reviews" feature to the site. This allows users to rate classes numerically by answering four multiple choice questions. Classes can then be sorted by workload and other parameters.

A major difference behind this system and CULPA's is the lack of a text box for reviews, making Courses@CU primarily for students who want to judge classes at a glance.

According to SPC President Michael Ouimette, the site is not meant to serve as a competitor to CULPA. "After discussions with CULPA," they determined that a numerical review system would better serve users.

Ouimette added that while students were able to add text reviews to Courses@CU when it launched in April, the feature has been replaced with a link to reviews on CULPA.

At post time, CULPA admins did not return requests for comment.

To get a better sense of the significance of these changes, just look at what SPC hopes to accomplish: "engaging, informing, and entertaining the Columbia community." In a recent interview, SPC Vice President Abby Abrams said that the staff had been doing "great things that align with the overall mission of Spectator, which is really to deliver information to students." Presumably, this is one of those things.

For a visual representation of this, take a look at the table below.


Service Name                                        
Purpose Current Owner
SSOL Registration, bill paying, grades CUIT
Courseworks Accessing class materials CUIT
Course Directory List of courses CUIT
Name Directory List of names and UNIs of CU affiliates CUIT
Lionmail / Lionmail Drive Email, File storage and sharing CUIT
Student Resources Guide Guide to Columbia essentials CUIT
Columbia Spectator Newspaper SPC
Spectrum News, opinion, arts blog SPC
The Eye Weekly magazine SPC
Bwog News, humor, gossip blog Blue & White Publishing
Blue and White Monthly campus magazine The Blue and White
The Lion Blog Jake Davidson
Print@CU Remote printing SPC
Courses@CU Scheduling courses/professor reviews SPC
New@CU Guide to Columbia essentials SPC
Grades@CU Grade distributions Daniel Liss                                   
WikiCU Columbia online encyclopedia Blue & White Publishing                                         
CULPA Professor reviews CULPA admins
ADI Course Scheduler Scheduling                                                         courses ADI


At this point, SPC owns the lion's share of sites not already owned by Columbia.

All of this, of course, is part of SPC's nefarious plot to control all sources of information in the Columbia community. Expect a big-ticket purchase of the course directory next.

With all this innovation though, a solution to Spec's biggest problem has yet to be invented — a site called Stories@CU, where articles write themselves without the need for a reporter.


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