Category: clubs

Photo Courtesy Columbia Divest for Climate Change

For nearly 96 hours, students representing Columbia Divest for Climate Justice (CDCJ) have been occupying Low Library. Our message is simple: we will not leave until President Bollinger publicly recommends divestment from the top 200 publicly traded fossil fuel companies to the Board of Trustees. While CDCJ has been careful to broadcast our ask and our campaign as far as we can, we think it’s important to explain why exactly we’re doing this.

First, why divestment? It is immoral for Columbia to be actively invested in, and profiting off of, the destructive practices of the fossil fuel industry. Science shows that 80% of known fossil fuel reserves must stay in the ground in order to prevent the climate chaos that would wreak havoc on vulnerable communities around the world, but this can’t happen when the top 200 fossil fuel companies spent over $600 billion on exploring new reserves in 2012 alone. Fossil fuel companies are morally bankrupt–some, like Exxon, have been directly tied to climate change denialism and the discrediting of climate scientists, while others contribute millions to lawmakers to obstruct meaningful policy on climate action. Divestment is our way of taking a stand to revoke the social and political license of these companies, so that they can no longer interfere with our transition to a low-carbon, non-extractive economy. Divestment is our way of taking a stand for a safer and more just world.

Okay–but why now? CDCJ has been engaging the campus community and administration for three and a half years now. We’ve had countless meetings with President Bollinger, the Board of Trustees, and the Advisory Committee on Socially Responsible Investing (ACSRI). Bollinger has indicated to us privately that divestment wouldn’t hurt the endowment, and that divestment make sense when companies are engaged in highly immoral activities. What’s more, campus consensus is clear on divestment: we have over 2,000 petition signatures, 350 faculty endorsements, and a referendum reflecting support from 74% of Columbia College and SEAS students to prove it. So why haven’t we acted? Publicly, Bollinger has remained silent about divestment, and all that the Advisory Committee on Socially Responsible Investing has achieved has been a formal rejection of our divestment proposal and a recommendation that Columbia create yet another committee to deliberate on university responses to climate change. As President and a Trustee, Bollinger has the power to prioritize divestment, and we demand that he does so by standing against the destructive practices of the fossil fuel industry.

Through this civil disobedience, we are telling him that time has run out for the University to make this decision. We are not willing to wait any longer when climate justice, the well-being of future generations, and the well-being of communities around the world are at stake.

Nikita Perumal is a senior in the School of General Studies studying Human Rights and was a participant in the occupation of Low Library. Due to personal commitments, she had to voluntarily choose to leave the occupation. More information on this can be found here.

To respond to this piece, email submissions@columbialion.com

This week, ColorCode was pleased to learn that Professor Kale revoked the Robocop competition and issued a full apology for the original assignment, which, as he writes, “failed to provide adequate context” for a data set laden with historical and political racial trauma. We appreciate Professor Kale’s explanation of the assignment’s intended impact––to lead students to interrogate the policy implications of ML classifiers trained on racist data––and hope that future assignments can convey this lesson with the clarity that this assignment lacked. We sincerely applaud Professor Kale’s timely and appropriate correction, and hope that all professors at Columbia can follow his example in responding to student concerns with empathy and accountability.

 

Since our last statement, some of our peers have questioned whether the assignment’s revocation has deprived the class of an ethics lesson in handling politically challenging data sets. Lessons should not come at the cost of direct harm to the most marginalized groups involved. While we agree with Professor Kale’s professed intentions in assigning the Robocop competition, we stand by our original assessment (with which Professor Kale himself has agreed): that the assignment in its original form could not have produced the intended pedagogical outcome and discussion on data responsibility in Machine Learning. And while this particular incident has been sufficiently redressed by Professor Kale himself, we think it’s important to locate the Robocop assignment in the context of a larger department and school that excludes and silences Black students and students of color. We are studying computer science in a department with few Black students and no Black faculty, in an engineering school that builds on a legacy of close collaboration with the U.S. military and NYPD, at a university that is gentrifying Harlem to build its newest science center. From casual remarks about our intelligence by classmates, TAs, and professors, to academic policies not intended to help the most marginalized of us succeed– these experiences contribute to an academic atmosphere that repeatedly dismisses and delegitimizes our pain by “intellectualizing” academic work with horrific, racist implications and impacts. Computer Science at Columbia is steeped in a history of racism that still persists today. Within this context, an assignment “welcoming” students to a “future” of “cyborg law enforcers” trained on racist, violently-collected data is inexcusable.

 

We therefore point to the Robocop incident as evidence that massive reform is needed within the department to support Black students and other students of color, low income students, and other marginalized people in STEM. Professor Kale’s swift response gives us a lot of hope that change can happen here at Columbia. We will continue to hold professors, departments, and the university accountable to the impact of their academic work. We join Mobilized African Diaspora in demanding greater academic support for marginalized students of color, especially the hiring of Black faculty in Computer Science and SEAS. We also ask that SEAS as a whole reaffirm its commitment to its most marginalized students by expanding course offerings on research ethics and incorporating requirements in African American Studies and Ethnic Studies. We ask this with the recognition that technical knowledge is dangerous without an analysis of race and power. Finally, we urge current professors to build on pedagogy and research that is explicitly anti-racist and anti-oppressive, that gives students the opportunity to work on projects that uplift and liberate communities of color and other marginalized people.

 

We thank the following groups for their explicit support (running list). Please reach out to colorcodeboard@gmail.com if your organization would like to co-sign:

National Society of Black Engineers– Columbia

The Lion

No Red Tape

Students for Justice in Palestine

Divest Barnard

Earlier this week, the Bacchanal Committee officially announced that Rae Sremmurd, Marian Hill, and Bibi Bourelly will be performing at this year’s Bacchanal.

Tickets to Bacchanal 2016 are available for the performance on April 2nd. As previously announced, EVELINE will also be featured during this year’s show.

We will update this post with more information as it becomes available.

 

 

Last night, Columbia University No Budget Sketch Show (CUSS) released their newest video, “Shmasterpieces of Western Lit: The Odyssey,” a video showcasing an overview of Homer’s Odyssey… from a different point of view.

Watch the video below.

Want to feature your club’s updates here? Email submissions@columbialion.com

The Varsity Show began with a tour guide singing a catchy song about how great Columbia University is. At this point, I thought the Varsity Show would be a chipper piece about extolling the virtues of our great university.

As soon as an offstage actor threw a shoe at the tour guide and yelled, “No one gives a fuck!” I knew I was sorely mistaken.

The show loosely followed an alumni couple trying to decide if Columbia is the right school for their daughter — who hasn’t been born yet. The tour guide takes them to a typical Columbia classroom filled with stereotypical students and a drunk Professor. After an argument about why “the classics” are the classics (and if they should be considered classics after all), the class launches into dark tune called “There’s A Dead White Man Inside Us All.”

The alumni couple is fairly traumatized by the classroom discussion and discuss a world before trigger warnings, “safety spaces,” racism, and homophobia (which came about when “Ellen Degeneres invented it.”).

The couple then launches into “Greener Pastures,” a song that tells how they met each other and how the good old days are gone. This song wasn’t as strong as the first, but the faux ballet-like choreography was highly entertaining.

After the dance, a guy from Beta runs across the stage, handing out flyers for an upcoming party. The couple begs the tour guide for permission to go, and the tour guide reluctantly grants it.

Before the party, the audience sees the sisters of a sorority preparing. The preparation isn’t what you’d expect; the leader of the sisters urges them to remember the four B’s: “boobs, boos, boys, and backstabbing.” The couple goes to the party and is accepted by their respective Greek life group. When they question the slightly illegal things that are going on at the party, the entire group bursts into a rock song, “Leaders Tomorrow.” The song was about how the kids at the party are going places even though it doesn’t seem like it during their partying shenanigans. This was when the cast really showed their dancing skills. There had been dancing in “A Dead White Man Inside Us All, but it had mostly been sitting down. This dancing was fast-paced and intense, yet the cast was able to keep up their vocals and enunciation as they sang.

The show ended with the cast brandishing signs for the show’s official dates. Everyone left in a breath of exhilaration.

The Varsity Show Preview wasn’t anything like I thought it would be. Instead of the ragtag variety show I expected, it was a musical-quality show with a satirical edge. The Varsity Show wasn’t afraid to comment on uncomfortable things I realized as true. Not only did it make me think, but it made me chuckle. There’s no doubt this uncanny mix of truth and humor will delight almost everyone.

The Varsity Show runs from April 29 – May 2. You can grab your tickets here.