The Blog

To help clarify some of the rumors around Columbia’s Counseling and Psychological Services, The Lion sat down with Dr. Richard Eichler, the office’s Executive Director to settle some of these myths once and for all.

Is there a question that you think we missed? Let us know in the comments below or by emailing

Fact or Myth: There is a 6 or 10 session maximum for students seeking CPS appointments.

Myth. There is no limit on sessions at CPS.

 The academic year goes by relatively fast. To that end, our approach is short-term oriented; we want to help students identify solutions as quickly as possible so they can make the most of the academic and social opportunities on campus. There are some students who require specialized services of one kind or another or need a longer or more intensive approach. In some of those cases, students are referred to an off-campus resource. Most students, however, do get all their counseling right here at CPS; students are also welcome to return to the service later in the course of their time at Columbia if they encounter a new issue they would like to talk over.

Fact or Myth: Students are required to have a phone call with a CPS clinician before an appointment.

Fact. This is a process we developed in conjunction with student feedback several years ago and is a practice consistently used at peer institutions.

 We want to connect students to a clinician as soon as possible. In order to do that, we need to understand where a student is struggling and how we can help. Part of this initial call is also to identify who on the CPS team might be the most appropriate match. Sometimes the call helps us provide immediate suggestions for care or helps to connect a student with other useful campus resources. And of course, when students are in significant distress, we make arrangements to have them seen right away.

Fact or Myth: Students can visit a CPS drop-in location without making the compulsory first call and talk to a counselor right away?

Fact. You do not need to make an appointment for a drop-in consultation. There are 5 locations in the residence halls, and an office at the Intercultural Resource Center (IRC). Just go; it’s as simple as that.

 Fact or Myth: There are no resources offered to students during the summer months.

Myth. CPS is open 12 months a year. There are abbreviated summer hours (9 a.m. – 5 p.m.—we stay open until 7 p.m the rest of the year) and drop-in locations close when the residence halls are not in use, but the main office offers the same services year-round.

Fact or Myth: Students should not get involved if they feel concerned about the well-being of one of their peers.

Myth. Columbia is a community and one whose members care deeply for each other. If a student is concerned for a friend, talk to us. Call, email, come to the office. How we will help may vary depending on the situation, but the first step is to ask for support.

Fact of Myth: CPS does not have enough staff and it can be hard to set up appointments with a preferred counselor.

Myth. For the last couple of years, there was some truth to this statement. This year, CPS is adding 5 psychologists and 1 psychiatrist to our staff. I believe this will help alleviate the wait time, add to our offering of groups and workshops, and further contribute to the breadth of our already diverse team of counselors.

Fact of Myth: All CPS are licensed and receive continuous training.

Fact—with one exception. All permanent staff are licensed. New staff take part in an intensive orientation and have one-to-one supervision for a period of time. There is always a need to learn, so we also provide ongoing training for the entire CPS staff, no matter how experienced, including new developments in the field, trends and research, and topics of special relevance to college campuses and the student experience.

 Each year we also accept five postdoctoral fellows from a competitive pool of applicants. Our fellows have completed all the requirements for a doctorate in psychology, including intensive clinical internships and other practicum experiences. In New York State, before being granted licensure, psychologists need to work under supervision for one more year in a setting such as ours; our fellows spend a year with us fulfilling this requirement. In return, we are able to bring on board a talented and diverse group of clinicians, many of whom ultimately join our permanent staff or become important referral resources for our students.

 Fact or Myth. Students can submit questions, comments, and concerns about CPS and its services.

Fact. We take every student comment to heart. We work closely with individual students and groups to assess our services and identify areas to focus or improve.

 Contact me with any questions, concerns, or ideas. You can also use the non-confidential feedback form on the Columbia Health website.








Late last night, the Columbia First-Generation Low-Income Partnership (FLIP) announced that they would be terminating their relationship with Swipes, the recently-launched mobile application meant to help connect students interested in sharing and receiving meal swipes.

From the  group’s Facebook page:

As of today, Columbia FLIP has decided to terminate our partnership with Swipes as a way to help end food insecurity on campus. We have determined that the app is detrimental to our efforts to solve food insecurity, and thus we at FLIP encourage everyone to stop using the app and go back to using CU Meal Share.


We will update this post as more information becomes available.

Update: FLIP has taken down their post announcing their intent to terminate their relationship with Swipes as they work with Swipes and the Student Councils to resolve their issues.

All three groups have issued the following statement:

There was a lapse in communication tonight between FLIP, CCSC and Swipes. We’re all going to meet in person as soon as possible to discuss our partnership.

Consider the following exchange:

First student: Hey, man. What’d you do this weekend?

Second student:  Not much… we went to Brooklyn. You know.

No, I don’t know (and chances are good that I don’t want to). So stop fishing for me to ask what an “eclectic” weekend you had. Because do you know what? You don’t sound as cool as you think you do. You sound like another goddamn hipster Columbia student. (It’s the sense I get.)

Why? Because when you tell me, “We went to Brooklyn,” you haven’t told told me anything.

This is because the phrase, “We went to Brooklyn,” doesn’t convey whether you cut lines with your feces-artist friend in his Bed-Stuy garret or crunched kale with your Lit Hum classmate’s parents in their $3 million Park Slope townhouse. Both of those obnoxious possibilities are contained within the phrase, “We went to Brooklyn.”

This is because Brooklyn is not a neighborhood. It is a borough.

So, please: shut up about “going to Brooklyn.”

To comment or submit an op-ed, email

Photo Courtesy of Bradley Davison (CC '17)

Photo Courtesy of Bradley Davison (CC ’17)

When Mark Zuckerberg created Facebook, he had one idea on his mind: creating a service that could easily connect all Harvard students. And to do that, he leveraged his computer science skills to create a site that could do just that.

Similarly, when Travis Kalanick started Uber, he wanted to create a company that would make it so no one was stuck in the rain, frustrated, trying to hail a taxi. And to solve what he considered a major problem, he formed a team that eventually created the largest private transportation company in the world.

Now, do you think that either Zuckerberg or Kalanick’s motivations were to make billions of dollars through apps? No, they saw problems around them and used their technical backgrounds to solve them. But this thought process has seemingly vanished in today’s technology-centric world. Nowadays, throngs upon thongs of students are rushing into the field of Computer Science for sole purpose of accruing material wealth.

Computer Science as an undergraduate major has soared in popularity over the past few decades as various sites have noted its high employment rates and starting salaries. At the same time, public thoughts on the major have become less focused on research within the field and more on creating new billion dollar applications and websites.

Day after day, I am bombarded with advertisements from friends and complete strangers begging me to sign up for their new service that they self-title  “the next Facebook”, “the better version of Yik Yak”, and the “next billion dollar idea.”

Day after day, I hear my friends and peers pursing Computer Science degrees talking not about the issues that they want to solve utilizing Computer Science, but about how they will be making six figures out of college or creating some new startup that will earn them billions of dollars in no time or about how [insert major company] is paying them thousands of dollars to code for them through a summer internship. And it is this type of attitude that annoys me.

The field of Computer Science has become confounded with becoming rich, working only on making applications and not about solving problems and I hope to see this toxic type of thought change.

Computer Science offers our generation a new way to tackle major problems and create new solutions for bettering our society. From creating methods to teach computers how to understand when someone is lying to making it faster than ever to analyze a data set, Computer Science researchers are making it easier for our society to better itself even faster. Computer Science is not just about simply making applications and startups; it’s about creating tools that make it easier and faster than ever to connect people across the world and give us new ways to understand old concepts.

So before you say, “I’m going to be so rich after creating [insert some cool tech startup here]”, just sit down and ask yourself, “Are you making a startup because you think you’re solving a problem or are you doing it just because you think it will make you money?” Because if it’s the latter, you may want to reconsider.


Photo Courtesy of Columbia Athletics

Getting excited for the upcoming football season? We here at The Lion definitely are. As campus get ready for Columbia Football’s first game against Fordham on September 19th and the first home game against Georgetown on September 26th, we decided to talk with Al Bagnoli, the new head coach of Columbia Football. During our discussion we learned about what led him to want to be a football coach and his hopes and plans for the upcoming season.

What led you from playing football as an undergraduate to wanting to become a Football Coach?

It was not a planned conscience effort. I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do. I had the opportunity to get my masters at University of Albany for a Masters degree; a stipulation was that you had to coach. I had the opportunity to work under Dr. Ford. As part of my master’s degree, I coached Football and in the Spring baseball and in the next year just Football.

What is your philosophy for managing a football team?

I think in a big organization you have to run it like a business. You really have to be efficient in everything you do. You need to maximize time with people. You need to pay attention to the detail. We want to be an efficient, thorough, organized, and clearly organized.

Columbia Football has received a lot of criticism over the past few years, some warranted and some over the top. How do you plan on addressing some of the problems associated with Columbia Football and improve our prospects this season and beyond?

I can’t worry about the past. Today’s reality is that everyone has a form to put their opinion forth; it could be a positive or negative opinion. For me, I don’t spend much time worrying what’s happening in the past. I want to spread a positive message going forward. It’s a marvelous institution in the best city in the world and we’re going to develop that.

There are currently four different players competing for lead quarterback. How do you plan to decide who will be the team’s lead?

I had the chance to evaluate the kids during Spring fall. We obviously had a new transfer, it will be a competition. One of things we’re going to strive for is to get positional competition. Programs have good players as starters and reserves and they can constantly push each other. It will be interesting to see what happens.

What do you see as your biggest challenge in preparing your new team for the upcoming season?

We need to make Football fun again. We have a beaten down group of guys who have had a lot of bad things happen to them. I’ve been encouraged by their energy and inventiveness. We need to change the culture. Create some positional competition. Get some players on the recruiting front.

How do you plan to foster a stronger, more cohesive team?

A lot of team oriented events and programs. Moving practice to the afternoon will get a lot of kids. Kids have to get there early and after everyone is rushing to get to class. Get kids to hang around with each other. Pushing for people cutting class yet. Making it a more cohesive group.

What are your long-term goals for Columbia Football?

We want to stabilize the program and get ourselves to the position of being a competitive team. We want a lot of opportunities to play meaningful games. We want to be able to win championships. Short term is stability.

Is Columbia Football planning to do anything different this season to encourage more students to come to Baker to watch the team play? Is the team planning to follow the Men’s Basketball Team’s lead in creating a “Roar Zone”?

That’s a challenge for every program in our league. How do we get more students? That will be a project we will work on with marketing. This will be something that will come front and center. We’re going to try and get the freshmen up here for orientation to show facilities like we used to at Penn.