Category: Campus Events

 

Photo by Victoria Robson

As Columbia Ballet Collaborative’s performers extended their bodies in beautiful shapes at their 2016 Fall Performances, it’s easy to see the elegance, strength, and fluidity ballet dancers are known for.  While students of Columbia University and Barnard College comprise CBC, they proved that dedicating themselves to academia does not make them any less dancers. They commanded the stage at Manhattan Movement and Arts Center on November 18th and 19th with an air of professionalism. Yet they kept a youthful, fresh take on ballet, melding the traditional to modern with impeccable technique and a focus on the articulations in the music to produce more profound pieces. Their fall performances offered six pieces filled edgy and creative choreography.

The opening piece, “Symphony in G,” choreographed by Amy Hall Garner, showcased the lines of the dancers. Dressed in simple black and pancaked skin colored pointe shoes, the dancers played off the the trills and fermatas of Mozart’s music with quick footwork and moments of soaring through the air. Solos and pas de deuxs were precise and outlined each dancer. With Garner’s close attention to the nuances in the music, the piece was as if the music came to life, that the music was made for the dancers. This high energy choreography not only set the scene with beautiful technique, but also the avant garde direction for the rest of the show.

Add a little heavy metal and pure expression of the music and you’ll get “A Single Marble Block,” a fierce student-choreographed piece by Sadi Mosko CC’17 featuring movement in the dancers as well as across the stage. It began with the howling wind paired with shaking motions and isolations from the dancers. She played with the sound and bass of Pink Floyd’s “One of These Days” as well as light to create an intricate and eccentric piece. Between bursts of light, the dancers reacted to each other as they traveled from corner to corner as a unit, or perhaps as a ‘single block,’ breaking apart at times, offering deep contrast to the unity.

“No Mud No Lotus,” choreographed by Ursula Verduzco, was truly a stunning piece with a beautiful message. It began with a downpour of rain and crashing thunder where in the spotlight, individuals danced against the rain. The sense of conflict depicted from the expressive dancers and the sultry music and thunder fell away as the piece went on. It transitioned into a light and harmonious dance where the performers bourreed and pirouetted with the smooth picks of the guitar that mimicked the sound of rain. Their colorful costumes brought a swirl of hues in the enlivened dance. The piece ended in the same thunderstorm at the beginning, but with the dancer loving the rain this time. A little shift in perspective -no mud no lotus- is sometimes all you need.

Contrasting with the fluidity of the previous piece, Andrew Harper pushed the boundaries in his piece, “Lost in Space.” It was innovative and fun to say the least. Each dancer, dressed in everyday clothes, seemed to resemble us in life. Dancers were plugged into earphones where sometimes their music synced up and other times the individual voices sang out slightly different from the rest. The dancing was more freeform and expressive in individuality. The music, “American Pie,”  and moments of individual expression alludes to the uniqueness of members in a community. They follow their own beat. But, there are also moments where the voices come together to create a powerful unity between the dancers.

“Moonlight & Sonatas,” choreographed by Kevin Jenkins, featured two pairs in an elegant derivation of classical ballet. The dancers built contrast between sharpness during quick movements with smooth slows. With their impeccable technique and partnering, the dancers created an illusion of slipping out of control, only to join into flowing, free releases of tension. They created beautiful imagery and gave attention to even the slightest hand flicks, letting the movement reverberate through the body. In the intimate theater, the audience could hear the breaths of the dancers, confirming the difficulty that they make look easy.

The last piece ended the show with a display of intricate footwork and showed just how incredible the dancers in CBC are. “Us,” choreographed by Miro Magloire, took three of Bach’s preludes and fugues and showcased something different with each: gracefulness and repetition, unity and technique, and quick mirrorings with crisscrossing and weaving movements. They played on shapes, repetition, and footwork, creating a dynamic piece. It’s difficulty was evident yet the dancers were pleasant and never fatigued, always expressing themselvesto the fullest. It perfectly closed the show by leaving the audience wowed.

CBC’s fall performances were refreshing and impressive. Ballet dancers are incredible, and dancers in the Columbia Ballet Collaborative are no exception, as they showcased a new take on the traditional ballet in their stunning fall performances. Take innovative choreographers and strong, graceful dancers, and you’ll create beautiful art.

Haley So is a freshman in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. Although a lover of science and math, she can’t live without a little art, ballet, or music.

Today, Provost John H. Coatsworth sent out the following email to Columbia in regards to “Responding to Post-Election Issues and Concerns”. In particular, he reaffirmed the University’s plans to protect students and guaranteed increased financial aid for undocumented students who may lose work permits due to policies proposed by President-elect Donald Trump during his presidential campaign. The full email can be read below:

Dear fellow members of the Columbia community:

The presidential election has prompted intense concern for the values we hold dear and for members of our community who are apprehensive about what the future holds. Some of this concern is focused on possible changes to immigration laws and to the federal enforcement of those laws. Some is due to possible changes elsewhere in federal law and policy. Reports of bias crimes and harassment occurring since the election are also deeply disturbing, particularly so when those who feel threatened are part of a community like ours, committed to tolerance and reason.

President Bollinger has asked me to work with the University administration and our community to develop a response to these concerns. I am writing to share information about relevant policies and our plans for ensuring that every person at Columbia feels safe, is able to proceed unimpeded with their studies and their work, and understands beyond question that Columbia’s dedication to inclusion and diversity is and will remain unwavering.

First, the University will neither allow immigration officials on our campuses without a warrant, nor share information on the immigration status of undocumented students with those officials unless required by subpoena or court order, or authorized by a student. Moreover, New York City continues to be a sanctuary city, with special protections for undocumented immigrants, and Mayor de Blasio recently affirmed that local law enforcement officials will continue to operate consistent with that commitment.

If the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) policy is terminated or substantially curtailed and students with DACA status lose the right to work, the University pledges to expand the financial aid and other support we make available to undocumented students, regardless of their immigration status. It is of the utmost importance that federal policies and laws do not derail the education of students whose enrollment at Columbia and other colleges or universities is made possible by DACA. We subscribe to the view of the Association of American Universities that “DACA should be upheld, continued and expanded,” and we will continue to express that commitment in the future.

To provide additional support, the Office of University Life is hosting a series of small-group, private information sessions specifically for undocumented students in our community, including DACA recipients, to offer support and guidance regarding possible changes in the law. Affected students can contact the Office directly for more information. Separately, our International Students and Scholars Office (ISSO) is scheduling information sessions and is prepared to provide assistance via its telephone helplines to any of our international students with questions or concerns. For more information about resources, support, and reporting options regarding discrimination and harassment, please visit the Office of University Life website.

The commitments outlined above emerge from values that define what we stand for and who we are as a University community. Indeed, Columbia College and the School of Engineering and Applied Science have amplified their commitment to undocumented undergraduate students pursuing their first degrees by continuing to meet their full financial aid needs as has long been our policy and also by treating applications of undocumented students no differently than those of students who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents. The experience of undocumented students at the College and Columbia Engineering, from the time they first seek admission through their graduation, will not be burdened in any way by their undocumented status.

This is a moment for us to bear in mind how important it is to protect all who study and teach in our community and to defend the institution and the values it embodies.

Sincerely,

John H. Coatsworth

It is September 26. The aroma of glazed donuts lingers in the air as students scurry past the sundial, where a neatly clothed table with donuts is set up. Sure, that’s enough to lure Homer (not the philosopher!), but it’s reverberations of ‘it’s for a good cause’ that capture the attention of others. While many decide to flock to the table, enticed by the Krispy Kreme donuts–which are but a delicacy within the Columbia bubble–others are keen to learn how GlobeMed’s mission.

Standing behind the table, I assume the role of a de facto GlobeMed representative, engaging with customers about the modus operandi of the global health organization. The standard interaction lends itself to a description of GlobeMed’s partnership with a grassroots organization in Uganda, vis-à-vis monetary assistance made possible by a host of fundraisers, and hands-on work in the summer. However, it is in conversation with a law professor, and a visiting high-school student that my attention is drawn to the necessity of a paradigm shift from an organization that merely distributes resources to one that actively campaigns for global health advocacy.

This is an important distinction to be made, especially within a capitalist society that prioritizes top-down charitable practices that often do more harm than good by way of paternalism and a lack of nuance—with reference to cultural consciousness– in their implementation. This is where GlobeMed steps in their mission for global inequity. Instead of merely providing monetary assistance to GWED-G, their partner organization in Uganda, it actively listens to the concerns of leaders in the community to empower them to become agents of change. This ensures a healthy power dynamic in which GlobeMed responds to the needs of the community, and models its mission accordingly, rather than setting up a power dynamic where local leaders acquiesce to its set of demands.
The next time you smell donuts near the sundial, make sure you stop by and engage with the people behind the table. You’re sure to learn something new; if not, you can savor a glazed donut ‘for one dollar’!

To submit a piece for publishing on The Lion, email submissions@columbialion.com

Last night President Lee C. Bollinger held his Fireside Chat in his home for the undergraduate students who were fortunate enough to win the lottery for this event. Also in attendance were Tom Harford, Dean of Students in the School of General Studies; Cristen Kromm, Dean of Undergraduate Student Life for Columbia College and SEAS; Suzanne Goldberg, Executive Vice President for University Life and Professor of Law; Jewelnel Davis, University Chaplain and Associate Provost; and Caroline Adelman, Director of Media Relations with the Columbia University Office of Communications and Public Affairs.

The night focused on addressing the concerns of the university in an informal Q&A manner with President Bollinger, and occasionally the other faculty and administration members in attendance,  answering students’ questions and responding to their comments and concerns. A wide variety of subjects were brought up, some easier to address than others.

While Columbia University does pride themselves on having global connections, the University has “no immediate plans to establish relationships” with academic institutions in Iran. While it is something that President Bollinger “would like to see” happening soon, as Iran and their relations with the international community have undergone “very significant changes”, it is something that Columbia wishes to wait on institutionally initiating until they see how things unfold. Bollinger, however, does think it is “great” for  individual faculty members to engage with intellectual colleagues in Iran.

The ever-present problem of finding community at Columbia came up next. Bollinger did admit that this is an issue, specifically one that “higher power”  learning institutions tend to face, and stated that “anytime you’re in a really high-power intellectual environment… inevitably you end up spending a lot of time alone because a huge amount of learning is you and the book.” The isolation and stress studying can cause, coupled with the fact that Columbia’s New York location can “pull you away from the campus”, are the two main factors that affect community here in Bollinger’s eyes. He does believe, however, that the spirit of community has improved since he first arrived at Columbia fifteen years ago. With the founding of the Office of University Life, the establishment of university content and events (such as the World Leaders Forum), the building of Lerner, the creation of the Arts Initiative, and the improvement of Athletics, Bollinger claims that measures to build community have been succeeding. He did emphasize, however,  that any suggestions or ideas students might have are welcomed. Goldberg added that by creating community and intellectual events, such as the “Awakening Our Democracy” speaker series and Yoga Tuesdays, and establishing the Race, Ethnicity and Inclusion task force, as well as the Gender Based Misconduct Prevention task force, Columbia has made strides towards bringing the community together. Chaplain Davis also mentioned students can take initiative to get involved by attending open lectures and events at the Law and Medical Schools. Lastly, Kromm reminded everyone that one of the primary issues of building community is having adequate spaces in which to do so and that there are creative solutions to this space problem, such as holding events on the lawns and in the plazas.

Addressing another aspect of the university, its responsibility to prepare us for the outside world, Bollinger commented that he is “extremely interested in, and working on all the time, how to to make it more possible for students and faculty and the university to engage with the world.”  Believing “that your time here, especially as undergraduates, is utterly unique in your lives”, Bollinger claimed now is the time to “think about fundamental ideas and fundamental knowledge” as later when we “go into the world” there will be “a premium on narrowing down what it is that you know and do.” Columbia provides a liberal arts education, not a pre-professional one, and so they try to provide ways to prepare us for a world that the university “will not change fast enough for”, due to “the interconnection of the global economy”, the Internet, and “the mobility of people.” They have tried to do so by opening global centers to help students who are abroad and hope efforts such as these will “fill in opportunities for you to learn about your world because we can’t fully teach you about it.”

Bollinger’s mention of “the mobility of people” led to the discussion of the complex problem of the student refugees and how the university plans to cope with it. Acknowledging that it is an issue that the university cannot influence as much as they would like, Bollinger does hope that it is something faculty and students can focus on and understand better and would like to find ways for Columbia to “have a bigger impact on significant world problems, of which the refugees are a prime example.” Bollinger does not know how the university will handle refugee students exactly, as there is no system in place, but thinks we might be able to get ideas of how to cope with it by looking at Canada’s programs, which are already in use.

The topic of discussion switched gears as a student asked Bollinger if he, as a scholar of the First Amendment, was worried about free speech in the context of universities. Bollinger responded that he was “not deeply worried” as there is “a huge amount of debate and discussion on campuses.” He rejected “the view that American campuses are just liberal bastions who are politically correct and won’t allow other points of view.” Acknowledging that issues do exist with this, Bollinger went on to say “that if somebody is offended by something they should be protected by the institution … [but] that is not the principle that this university lives by.” Columbia, instead, has a tradition of “openness”. Recognizing that some types of speech are not protected, such as threats and harassments based on race, ethnicity, or gender, Bollinger conceded that there should be places where people can “escape the debate … [such as] the home,” but maintained that “even highly, highly offensive and ridiculous words and hurtful words” are allowed to “be expressed.” To Bollinger, the problem is not “one of safe spaces” as that “oversimplifies the matters”; it is the matter of “how you conduct that free speech, how you interact with each other, [that] is enormously important.”

Another controversial issue which came up during the Fireside Chat was the stress culture and mental health issues of the Columbia community and how faculty pressure, prescription drug abuse, and insufficient access to resources tie into that. While Bollinger said that he was “not uncomfortable by it [the subject of the question],” he asked the student who posed the question if she “really feel[s] that way” and decided to “take a little survey” of the room to see who felt “that the academic space or zone has too much pressure.” Let it be noted that he did not do the same for the issue of community at Columbia. Bollinger then used his own class and teaching method of calling on two students for the majority of the class as an example of a class that places pressure on students to perform well, claiming that “that’s part of the teaching method.” He continued his survey by asking students to raise their hands if they thought faculty members “should step back and ask themselves, ‘Maybe I’m putting too much pressure?’” When hands were raised, Bollinger mentioned that he heard “that you take too many classes” and pondered why that occurs, if  “that [was] because of faculty or graduation requirements.” A student brought up that at Columbia one cannot take the minimum amount of credits for full-time students (12) and graduate on time, which was an issue this student was personally dealing with as a junior forced to take a heavier courseload in order to graduate on time. A first-year chimed in that she could not take five classes due to her teacher. The student had been sick and missed a few classes (and had gotten the notes from Health services to prove it), and while four of her teachers were supportive, one was not. This teacher told her that she “shouldn’t expect to get a good grade on this test”, refused to give her a one day extension, and said “this is what you should expect going to this type of school.” Her comment was not addressed as Bollinger decided to cover the other two aspects of the topic question instead. He said that “if you have an emergency, you should be able to see somebody right away” and that “if we don’t do that, you should let us know.” Bollinger then moved on to the topic of prescription drugs, saying that they “are terrible.”

Goldberg then also spoke on the topic of stress and stated that “stress comes from many places” and one’s changing relation to stress “is part of growing up.” She mentioned that the Mental Health task force is working to help students as well and that CPS has grown “in response to student need.” Harford mentioned that the school does recognize that GS students do have additional stresses as they pay tuition based on the number of credits they take and can’t necessarily get a refund for a class they paid for and dropped.

A student then asked if Uris would potentially be utilized to provide services such as daycare to GS students who have these additional stressors, but Bollinger said that Uris has already been slated to be given to the College of Arts and Sciences.

The last question posed to Bollinger had to do with the sustainability of restructuring faculty employment so that there are less faculty receiving tenure and a heavier reliance on adjunct professors–a problem which is spreading across the country. Bollinger went on to explain that “Columbia is going through a process of trying to recapture its institutional capacities” and is essentially still trying to make up for lost time when Harvard and other universities continued to grow while Columbia floundered. Columbia has done this, in Bollinger’s opinion, with the expansion of campus, construction of new buildings, successful fundraising, addition of University Life, and improved financial aid practices. To him, “Columbia can be, and in many ways is today, the greatest university in the world.” As “we live in a competitive world,” Columbia must recruit students and faculty and “make do” with the money it has. Bollinger doesn’t think less faculty tenure is a problem at Columbia, or at least not an intentional one; though he does acknowledge that it is a national problem.

Interested in the opinions of the students, Bollinger decided to pose a few of his own questions to the room during the last ten minutes of the talk. He asked students what they thought of the election, if it was a subject that came up often, and how students view America. Students discussed how they do or do not know people with opposing opinions to their own, the role of selection bias and the media in the election, what led to people supporting Trump, and how values have appeared to shift in society.

Ultimately, the Fireside Chat had a lot of material that was good tinder and sparked discussion and interesting responses from President Bollinger, and it will be interesting to see what (if anything) occurs due to the matters discussed.

In an announcement from earlier today, Columbia Dining has announced that John Jay Dining Hall will now be open for breakfast. This means that students will be able to dine at John Jay starting at 9:30AM versus the current 11:00AM opening time Monday through Thursday. The changes takes effect starting Monday, October 10th.

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Sign announcing the new Dining option outside Ferris.