Category: Columbia

Illustration by Laura Elizabeth Hand

 

Prior to the Columbia University Orchestra performance at Alice Tully Hall, my most recent event at Lincoln Center was Yo-Yo Ma’s breathtaking cello performance of Symphonie Fantastique. Yo-Yo Ma climbed to the highest note of his cello while we climbed to the edges of our seats. Here, instead of the back corner box, I am in the front, my gaze catching on an audience that has exchanged black gowns and reserved enthusiasm for H&M and outright fervor.

The spring concert will lead with Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde (1868), and then eventually trail into Columbia’s own rendition of Symphonie Fantastique with a different cellist starring. Alec Hon’s performance of Haydn’s Cello Concerto in D Major (1783) is set to follow Tristan and Isolde first, however, ushering the packed— sold-out— hall into intermission and then the closing march of Berlioz’s Episode from the Life of an Artist: Symphonie Fantastique (1830).

Heels and blue jeans, overexcited parents and a girl in a blue down jacket (leaning in to gesture frantically at a distracted violinist) are the signs marking the rapid growth of our audience as they press into the general admission seating. The vibrations and eerie peels of the stringed instruments begin as they warm up for the highly-anticipated spring concert. Soon enough, the wind instruments’ lend trills to the rising atmosphere.

In the final moments before Tristan and Isolde begins, there is a brief interlude of frantic applause followed by absolute silence.

Then the sound and the silence that punctuates its phrases begins and the audience is spellbound. Even Yo-Yo Ma did not command this degree of respect from his audience. The musicians and the conductor are clearly responding, as the synchronized sweep of elbows gains in pace and coordination. If music is not their first love, as is the case for Chris James, violinist first-year studying psychology (whose proud uncle sits next to me with his torso half twisted over the edge of the balcony box for a better view), it may yet prove to be their finest.

The musicians move with the music, and the audience is moved. Perhaps a finger slips with perspiration here or there, but the overall effect of the students’ passion is unmistakable and impossible to ignore. In a perfect cycle, a moment of silence, then thunderous applause also carries the piece to a close.

After a few minutes of the muffled brush of gowns, squeak of instruments, and squeal of shuffled chairs, all of the sounds of musicians rearranging themselves for a piece, the strings once more coral the audience into submission for Alec Hon as he takes his cello and takes center stage.

During the Cello Concerto, he pants against his cello as the music rises, sweat visible on his forehead, effort and nerves carrying a different tone into the bars. As each run ends, his right shoulder drops and the bow falls back, leaving the responsibility of the piece to his fellow musicians, who perform the piece with frantic energy. When his part comes again, Hon plays without reference or prompt, and the only moving bodies in the room belong to Alec and the third bass player, who attempts to surreptitiously duck away for a second’s relief from the heat of the lights and his stifling formal wear.

When they come together again, the piece comes to a close, ending with a bow and a fond pat on Hon’s cheek by the pleased conductor. The audience rises to a standing ovation.

Intermission is accompanied by the inevitable gush of exiting audience members bottlenecking in the halls and loudly declaring their opinions on the pieces performed thus far. The discourse seems overwhelmingly favorable.

As the audience members make their more subdued return to their seats, there is renewed enthusiasm for Symphonie Fantastique, which I share but pair with some trepidation. Having recently viewed the undisputed master of the cello take on this piece, how will I review an admittedly incredibly talented student orchestra?

I needn’t have worried. While the piece is nearly unrecognizable from the psychedelic interpretation of Berlioz Yo-Yo Ma and the New York Philharmonic offered, it clearly demonstrates budding mastery of a different style. This is perhaps most evident in the softer percussion and the presentation of the Fourth and Fifth movements. Instead of pushing forward with the shrill nerves of the dream as I first heard it played, the Columbia University Orchestra offers rolling swells of music that invoke a deeper introspection than the NYPhil’s lucid dreams.

Indeed, after the concert ends and the applause grows louder than ever before, I find myself thinking it would be hard to find a member of either audience who did not fall in love with Berlioz and the musicians who brought him to the stage.

The night closes with a lingering audience and many proud tears, the Spring Concert happily demonstrating itself a roaring success.

This year marked the 30th Anniversary of the arrival of Columbia College’s first class of women. It was celebrated in an event called CCW30, which brought together graduates and undergraduates from all years and walks of life; there were even outsiders, including a young woman from NYU, who registered to join the celebration.

As a woman in Columbia College, I find this hard to contemplate (not referencing that NYU students would want to cross the line to join Columbia, of course; that’s endearing, not surprising). I arrived in a time when 47% of the incoming class to CC and SEAS identified as female (according to the incoming class statistics provided by Columbia University). I arrived in a time when we were represented.

The women who surrounded me during CCW30 came into a Columbia College that was structured and indoctrinated under the ideology of women being different, not belonging, and thirty years ago Columbia College took its first steps to completely reimagine what it means to be a Columbia College student— paving the way for myself and others.

What I hear most often on campus about the transition is “SEAS did it first.” Indeed, SEAS had its first woman undergraduate in 1943.

The truth is, that Yale is going on 48 years of allowing women in as undergrads, and Princeton’s first class containing women graduated in 1973.

We were a bit late on the uptake.

Should I be ashamed that Columbia College took as long as it did, as some statements seem to imply?

Listening to the CCW30 stories from other Ivy League women who graduated in the early days of the co-ed movement, I hear about slut-shaming in the streets, Deans suggesting instead of dorms, schools build brothels for the incoming women; I hear about the pain and abuse suffered by women in the incoming classes of colleges and universities that I have long respected.

When I ask the first class of CC women what the worst struggle they faced was, I hear about a dozen variations of “getting the boys to shower.” It sounds like living with teenage brothers, and it makes me laugh.

A part of me is incredibly pleased that these women can say that.

And yes, they still had to fight. Sports teams, amenities, all of the things we share now didn’t come easily to them, but I’m glad that jumping in a bit later in the game seems to have meant our women didn’t face the same degree of malice others faced in the rights movement.

It’s a bitter-sweet realization, especially for a campus that identifies so strongly with activism.

And it doesn’t change how proud we should be of these women, who showed us that a couple hundred years of tradition is still a breakable wall.

Raucous singing took over Low Library’s entrance hall at one point during CCW30 as 30 years of CC women began to belt Columbia’s anthems as one (though not all in one key).

The thing is, these women are not just remarkable for taking their place as the first class of women in CC history. These women are remarkable because they have created a lasting community. They still reach out with open arms to support the Columbia College sisters that came after them.

Within a day after the event, I was receiving emails about grabbing coffee and getting feedback (“How can we continue to support the women of Columbia College?”), and suddenly it was like I stepped into the alley behind the Leaky Cauldron and pressed the right brick.

This is the point where the lesson of the day comes into play:

Honestly, until CCW30 opened my eyes, the place I felt most comfortable as myself, as a woman, was sitting with my friends in Diana, adopting Barnard culture. I didn’t actively seek out “fuckboy” free CC or try to build a place for the women around me; why would I need to? There was one next door.

The 30th anniversary of women in Columbia College has changed that for me. I recognize that I can’t continue to step away from the spot these women opened up for me in Columbia’s halls. I can love the safety of having a haven of strong, independent women down the street (SO: Jennifer Kaplan), but I can also work to maintain the same thing here in CC. More than maintaining that space, I can work to improve it.

The first class of women in Columbia College didn’t stop their efforts just because the doors opened or because there was a precedence that allowed them basic human rights. Deans not slut-shaming them from podiums didn’t mean they would stop before making themselves Deans as well— they kept reaching: they appealed to have time on the sports fields, getting up for 5 a.m. practices when Baker was always already booked, they set up an alumni network that remains active in our lives with events like CCW30, and they brought us to the point where we could fight for things like free tampons and pads (though to be quite honest, I’m still crossing my fingers for Always Infinity to appear [with the wings]).

Right now they’re out in the world fighting for women as well. Lilly Burns (CC’09) of Jax Media produces “Broad City,” revolutionizing the portrayal of women in the media. When was the last time you heard someone on a male-dominated network break the period-talk taboo to do anything but suggest that women are incapable of handling emotions during “their time of the month,” after all? Instead, Lilly Burn’s work is fresh and honest, breaking those unspoken barriers.

 

She is not the only one.

I am including a link below to the Alumni Association’s list of speakers from the CCW30 event in the hope that they help you think about who you want to be, understand what CCW30 was, and understand why this 30th Anniversary is so important.

https://www.college.columbia.edu/alumni/events/ccw30/speakers

Take this summer to think about who you want to be in the coming year, and what doors you want to be remembered for opening.

 

womens movement history

Photo Courtesy of Columbia Mail

 

For the convenience of students and in order to free up more space for students to use in Lerner, Columbia has decided to move the Student Mail operations in Lerner to the Wien Hall Package Center. Starting on July 10, 2017, students will be able to pick up their mail the same way they pick up packages–by heading over to what will be renamed the Wien Hall Mail Center, going to the lower level, swiping their ID cards at a kiosk, and then proceeding to the service counter to pick up their packages and mail from staff members.

This process comes with many benefits for students, such as:

· Students will receive an email notification when they receive mail or packages
· Students will no longer need to check their mailboxes, saving unnecessary walks to Lerner
· There will be only one location for package and mail pickup and other services (shipping, mailing supplies, etc.)
· Per student feedback, the Student Mail Center will feature extended hours of operation during Academic and Rush periods
· No more mailbox keys or lost key fees, but students will retain their mailbox number

(Kristina M. Hernandez, Executive Director, Marketing and Communications at Columbia University)

Starting in the fall semester, students will also have access to a new, small collection of 24/7 lockers in Wien. These lockers can be reserved by students who cannot make it to the Mail Center’s regular hours so that they can pick up emergency mail or packages after hours and during the weekend. More details will be announced on the Columbia Mail site for the new academic year.

If you’re worried you may forget about these changes over the break, don’t fret.

Undergraduate residential students with mailboxes will receive an email when the location change goes into effect, along with other important operational information.

(Kristina M. Hernandez, Executive Director, Marketing and Communications at Columbia University)

A cohort of Columbia students have reached the semifinals for the The CommonBond Social Impact Award. The award, along with its financial components, is to help foster a new generation of social entrepreneurs.

Photo Courtesy of StreetMate team

Photo Courtesy of StreetMate team

The idea behind StreetMate is to help offer connections to ensure every homeless person can access a bed to stay in at night. From their team description:

StreetMate: Recognizing that 70% of homeless individuals have smartphones, and that with the creation of LinkNYC all will soon have easy access to the internet, we’ve created a webapp that allows anyone to find and access a shelter that’s guaranteed to accept them after just four simple questions. We ensure that NYC’s homeless are only a few taps away from a warm bed.

If the team is in the top 3 teams in terms of the number of votes, they could receive $10,000 in funding to develop the app and deploy it to people throughout the city.

Voting ends at midnight on Friday, June 29th.

To support the StreetMate team, simply fill out the voting form here.

If you would like share information about the competition, team member Michael Pusic (CC ’19) shared the following blurb with our team:

A friend of mine created an app to make information about homelessness services easily accessible, and we just made it into the semi-finals of a national competition for social start ups. To get to the final (and to get funded), he needs to have the top 3 amount of votes, so lets help out by going on the link below and voting for StreetMate. It just takes a second (only name & email) and it’d make a big difference. Thanks so much!

http://woobox.com/3bgoz9/gallery/4Ghy7AyMTgY

Getting ready to graduate from Columbia soon? Want to know about what happens to your library access privileges? Here’s what you need to know courtesy of Nana-Kwabena Adjapong Abrefah (CC ’16):

1. As policy stands, Columbia alumni have lifetime access to all libraries and Lerner Hall.
2. Your student ID card will be active for around 120 days after graduation. If you come in before that, the library staff will recommend that you wait because your student ID card still has borrowing privileges on it whereas alums must pay for borrowing.
3. You can only have 1 active ID at a time; hence, if you try to get your alum ID before you graduate, you will be turned away. The system won’t let them print it, and if they did, you would lose all building access.
4. When you do come in, the library staff have to take a photo of you.
5. The Alumni card printed will be good for 10 years from the day it’s printed and can be renewed. The card and access are free.
6. Borrowing as an alum is $30/month. This is setup in the library office.
6a. Barnard alumni get free borrowing to the Barnard collection, but borrowing from other collections will still be $30/month.
7. You’ll have limited remote access to e-resources as an alum. If you come into the libraries and use a public terminal, you’ll have full access to the databases (you won’t be able to log into computers anymore, but you will still keep your UNI/password). You can find a list of these resources here.
8. Butler’s hours are 9am-11pm for alums. You will not be forced out if you stay past 11pm, but you will not be able to swipe in before 9am or after 11pm. All other library hours are the same. However, in cases like IAB and Noco, there are times when the building is locked but the library is open. Your card will not get you building access, so you would have to wait for someone else to enter or go elsewhere.