Category: submission

Every year, my family visits my grandparents in Florida and spends a week or two on the beach and in the ocean.

Every year, my favorite thing to do is walk along the edge of the water looking for the little black shark teeth that I’ve been collecting for years. My younger cousin once asked me why they were black. I explained that they had been fossilized over millions of years, the white bone slowly being replaced with dark minerals. My aunt and grandmother cut me off and demanded to know where I’d heard such stories. They were angry with me. I was asked not to say these things in front of my cousins. When my family returned home from vacation, we started receiving a monthly Young Earth Creationism magazine addressed specifically to me.

I was surprised. I was raised as a Christian, and I was raised to be tolerant of other people’s views. My parents stressed the importance of listening to different beliefs without trying to change them to match my own. I am a member of the most widely accepted religion in America, and I grew up in a heavily Christian small town. No one had ever told me outright that my religion is wrong. So I was amazed that when someone finally confronted me to try to change my beliefs, it was someone who attends my church every time they’re in town.

This argument has raged since Darwin’s theories were published. Each side points to inconsistencies in the other in an attempt to prove their own superiority and truthfulness. Each side accuses the other of teaching false information to our youth and leading them astray. One side says that if you do not adhere to their specific beliefs, you cannot be truly Christian. The other says that if you do not support their views, then you are ignorant to the facts in the world around you.

This intolerance seems ironic when one of the core tenets of the religion is love and understanding for your neighbors. The problem is, when you dismiss a person’s beliefs as false and blasphemous, you are attacking not only the person themselves but also the way they were raised. You are saying that you were raised and educated correctly, and thus they should take your word and learn from you. You are placing yourself in the superior position, and then trying to explain why your view is correct. But now the other person is on the defensive side, faced with disdain for their views. Chances are, they are no longer interested in hearing justification. They are now only interesting in proving the value in their own beliefs, protecting themselves from this attack. The conversation has turned into each person standing on either side of a gorge, throwing facts and quotes across the gap like rocks at the person on the other side. There is no connection between them. None of the information actually makes contact because neither side is focused on catching the rocks; they are only focused on staying standing longer than the person on the other side.

Nothing is gained from this debate. There is no real discussion because the focus is not on understanding or gaining knowledge. Christianity centers around kindness, mercy, understanding, and compassion, but this division shows none of these traits.

I still visit my grandparents every summer, and several times I have approached my extended family to try to talk through this difference. The first few times they happily provided me with a long lecture. Other times it devolved into an argument. Later on, the topic was avoided entirely. This seems to be the trend in this debate; it is either one-sided, or it is competitively two-sided, or it is completely ignored. None of these outcomes are remotely helpful in closing this gap between people who should feel unified in the beliefs they do share.

The only way to bring these opposing sides together is to approach the problem differently. It should not be a match or competition. At the end of the discussion, there does not need to be a drastic change in the beliefs of either party. What matters is that both parties have been made to think about their own stance as well as the other. If both sides can emerge from the conversation with a greater knowledge of the other view, without animosity or offense, then this is a step closer to understanding. This gap can be closed, so long as we stop throwing rocks across the gorge and start building the bridge from both sides.

The Lion is the only campus publication with an open-submissions policy. To respond to this op-ed or to submit one of your own, email submissions@columbialion.com.

In an email sent to members of the Columbia community earlier today, the University has confirmed the passing of Yi-Chia “Mia” Chen from an apparent suicide. Chen, an exchange student from Waseda University in Japan had been a part of Columbia College. The full email from James Valentini, Dean of Columbia College can be found below:

As we enter a new semester, we think it is important to share resources available on campus to members of the Columbia community:

Student Resources:

Email from Dean James Valentini:

 

Dear Students,

With a heavy heart, I am writing to let you know about the loss of a member of our community. Yi-Chia “Mia” Chen, an exchange student at Columbia College from Waseda University in Japan, has died in an apparent suicide.

We have begun reaching out to Mia’s friends and classmates whom we could identify to provide support and assistance during this difficult time. Whether or not you knew Mia, you may wish to gather with other community members. We have set up a space for reflection and conversation from 7-9 p.m. on Broadway 14th floor East and McBain Main Lounge.

This is an especially difficult time for all of us. As you know, we mourned the loss of another Columbia College student in December. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to your advisers, your Residential Life staff, Counseling and Psychological Services, the Office of the University Chaplain, your faculty members, and family and friends for support.

The following resources are available to you:

  • The Broadway Residence Hall 14th Floor East Lounge and the McBain Main Lounge will be open as gathering spaces from 7-9 p.m. today. Staff from Counseling and Psychological Services, the Office of University Chaplain, and Residential Life will be in attendance. Anytime before 7 p.m., staff from Residential Life will also be available in Broadway 103 for drop-in visits.
  • In addition to their regular hours, Counseling and Psychological Services (212-854-2878) will offer extended walk-in hours:
    • 5-10 p.m. tonight and tomorrow in the CPS office in Broadway Hall
    • All day today and tomorrow until 10 p.m. on the fifth floor of Lerner Hall
  • The Office of the University Chaplain (212-854-1493) in Earl Hall and St. Paul’s Chapel will be open until 10 p.m. for individual or group counseling.
  • Your advisers in the Berick Center for Student Advising (212-854-6378) are available to talk with you about any concerns.
  • You can seek support from Residential Life staff at any time, who may connect you with additional resources.

I know that all of you join me in sending our deepest condolences to Mia’s family and friends.

Sincerely,
James J. Valentini
Dean of Columbia College and
Vice President for Undergraduate Education

cc: Mary C. Boyce, Dean of The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science

Resources

 

In an email sent to students earlier today, Provost John Coatsworth notified students and teaching assistants behind the University’s rationale in challenging the vote to decide whether Teaching Assistants should unionize that was overwhelmingly supported by eligible voters based on its results.

The full email can be found below:

Dear fellow members of the Columbia community:

Last month, after an election to determine whether Columbia’s research and teaching assistants will be represented by the United Auto Workers, the University formally asked the National Labor Relations Board to examine whether certain actions by union representatives and Board agents responsible for supervising the election improperly affected the election outcome. I am writing to explain why we did so.

All of us have chosen to be part of this community because we value different viewpoints and believe that individual rights matter. Actions that could intimidate voters or create the impression of surveillance, such as installing a camera operated by union supporters just steps from the polling place in Earl Hall, are inconsistent with these basic values and violate NLRB election rules. In addition, the NLRB Regional Office’s reversal regarding the presentation of identification at the polls (first requiring, then encouraging, then ultimately not even allowing poll watchers to request IDs), not only created confusion but had the likely effect of allowing ineligible voters to vote, while forcing eligible voters to cast challenged ballots. Students arrived at Earl Hall only to be told that their names already had been checked off as having voted there.

If there were a means to protect voters’ rights and compliance with NLRB rules without filing objections with the NLRB, or, for that matter, if students troubled by these violations and others during the election were able to raise their concerns directly with the NLRB, we could have considered a different course. However, those alternatives do not exist: Under the National Labor Relations Act, our filing of objections is the sole available recourse for ensuring compliance with rules governing the election and to speak on behalf of student voters who have no independent voice in the process. The NLRB has responded to our filing by recognizing that the objections we raised, “if true, could have affected the outcome of the election and would, therefore, warrant setting aside the election.” The Board has scheduled a hearing in this matter later in the month.

I want to be clear that the University has taken this action mindful of concerns that extend beyond the outcome of last month’s election and the manner in which it was conducted. Our academic community may be operating within a new and very different framework for engaging with research and teaching assistants and for preparing them to have careers as scholars, the latter being one of our core functions as a university. That new framework would be governed by federal law and by the National Labor Relations Board.

In this setting, the prevailing rules must be scrupulously observed by all parties if we are to reach fair outcomes and effectively support all of our teaching and research assistants. As I said on many occasions before and after last month’s election, we will continue to strive so that Columbia remains a place where every student can achieve the highest levels of intellectual accomplishment and personal fulfillment. The actions taken by the University since the election should be understood as consistent with, and essential to that commitment.

Sincerely,

John H. Coatsworth

Provost

The Presidential Task Force to Examine Divestment has just submitted a report on fossil fuel divestment to the Barnard Board of Trustees, according to an email sent by Robert Goldberg, chief operating officer of Barnard College. In this report, the task force recommends that the College divest from fossil fuel companies that deny climate change. The Board of Trustees votes on the task force’s recommendations in March.

Read the full email below:

Dear Barnard Community,

I am writing to let you know that the Presidential Task Force to Examine Divestment has just submitted its full report on fossil fuel divestment to the Barnard Board of Trustees. The Task Force, comprised of trustees, faculty, staff, and students, was formed in response to a campaign led by the student group Divest Barnard and has met regularly over the last nine months. Tremendous thanks are due to the Task Force members for their diligence and care throughout this important process.

After careful review, the Task Force recommends that the College divest from all fossil fuel companies that deny climate science or otherwise seek to thwart efforts to mitigate the impact of climate change. The recommendation would align the College’s investments with its core mission, centered on academic freedom and scientific integrity. It also gives us the ability to distinguish between companies based on their behavior and willingness to transition to a cleaner economy and could create incentives for the poorest performers to change their ways. In addition, the Task Force recommends that the College undertake a robust climate action program to reduce its carbon footprint, and appoint a sustainability officer or dean to lead a campus-wide effort to set goals and help further instill a culture of sustainability across the campus.

To review the full report, visit https://barnard.edu/vision-values/divestment-task-force.

The Board of Trustees Committee on Investments received the report this morning and expressed its appreciation for the hard work of all of the Task Force members. Pending a full review of implementation issues, the Committee on Investments expects to recommend approval of the Task Force’s recommendations to the full Board at its next meeting in March. Before that point, we will host a series of community forums to discuss the issue of divestment further.

Along with President Spar, I look forward to continuing the dialogue on this important issue.

Sincerely,

Robert Goldberg
Chief Operating Officer

Photo Courtesy of Columbia SHARP

SHARP, Columbia’s newest premier a cappella group has released their first music video. The video features an original composition which combines Coffee by Miguel and Pillowtalk by Zayn. The result is a stunning piece that was filmed on various parts of Columbia’s campus.

The music video is absolutely beautiful and was performed and created entirely by current Columbia students. Here are the main people featured in the video:

Arrangement: Jeremy Grill ’18
Soloists: Manny Walton ’17, Nick Ribolla ’20
Song: Coffee (opb Miguel) X Pillowtalk (opb Zayn)
Video production, direction, filming, and editing: Kevin Chiu
Music recording, editing, and production: Danny Murcia

If you are interested in watching their video, click below:

To keep up to date on all things SHARP, visit their website and/or their Facebook page.

Want to feature your club’s projects on our site? Email us at submissions@columbialion.com.