Category: submission

On Tuesday, we elected a man who had double-digit sexual offense accusations to be our 45th president. We elected a man as President who repeatedly spoke of groping women and called them “pigs” and “slobs.” We  elected a racist and misogynistic man president, instead of a competent and experienced woman.

This makes me sick to my stomach.

Being a girl in the United States today means being constantly taken for a sack of meat. It means frat boys at the entrance of parties only letting girls enter  – and only the ones who they deem to be “hot” enough – so that brothers can maintain their monopoly on women. It means having to justify not wanting to sleep with this or that boy. It means having to explain why you don’t want to be grabbed by the ass by a boy you barely know. It means being called a slut or a bitch because you refused to go on a date or to sleep with a certain guy. It means having to put your headphones in and your chin up when you walk down the street to tune out the constant harassment.

Growing up a girl means being sexualized before you even understand what that means. It means checking with your father, mother, brother, or best friend about whether that skirt is long enough for you to wear outside. It means the constant “do I look skanky?” and “will I get in trouble?” It means having to second-guess yourself in the mirror every day to make sure you aren’t “provoking” anything or “asking for it.”

This isn’t about the glass ceiling, equal pay for equal work, or academic and professional discrimination. This is about how we relate to our identities and our bodies, about what it means to grow up a girl.

I consider myself a feminist, and yet, I find myself falling into the trap of all these accusations. I find myself wondering whether I was really right to refuse that date, whether it was really okay for me not to go back home with that boy. Boys and men have disrespected me more times than I can count. I have been called a slut for not going along with what a guy was asking of me a shameful number of times. Like this, myself and millions of other women walk on eggshells to avoid the stigma of oversexualization. We keep our eyes down and pull down our skirts not to be noticed, and we fight off unwanted gestures as swiftly as possible.

We all suffer from this, girls and boys, who play along with the trend to appear “tough,” yet we keep quiet. Yet again, yesterday we elected a misogynistic man to preside over this country. We elected someone who not only exposes and embraces the entire array of sexual violence – from harassment to assault – that we face every day, but also legitimizes it. On Tuesday, 53% of white women voted for a man who considers them nothing more  than objects.

We have normalized sexual violence to such an extent that it has become imperceptible. We hide behind our libertarian ideas of hookup culture, drink an extra shot and assume everything is fine. We forget the rapes, the unwanted touching, the gross comments, and, most of all, the pressure. The pressure to pretend that everything is okay, that we are young and free and so is our sexuality. We blame each other for being stuck up, for not playing along.

I firmly believe that this is fundamentally wrong. I also believe that this wrong will only be fixed when we all stand behind our female role models and help them lead. Until we trust our fellow women enough to stand with them and fight against this image. Until we all stand together and fight everyday sexist violence, until we realize it is not normal, we will not be able to change anything.

Ana is a junior in the School of General Studies majoring in MESAAS.

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

I am scared.

I’m a 19 year old Black male in America,

and all I can say is,

I am scared.

What else are you supposed to say

when the country you love,

votes to say “I hate you?”

The Lion is the only Columbia publication with both an open-submissions policy. To submit a piece (of any length or form), email submissions@columbialion.com.

If you watched the Presidential debate on November 1st, one of the issues raised was the question of Syria. From the greatest humanitarian disaster since World War II to the rise of a terrorist state, Syria seems to be the nexus of ills. Given the seriousness of the situation, politicians and military leaders are considering military action in Syria, from Hillary Clinton’s no fly zone to Donald Trump’s yet to be announced strategy to take down ISIS. For most of us, these are abstract things we discuss rhetorically when discussing American military strength. For over four hundred students, this is a well-lived reality. If you are veteran attending Columbia today, you probably served in either Iraq or Afghanistan, two of the longest wars in American history. You also have the privilege, like Vietnam veterans, of realizing that the public believes the war in Iraq was pointless and seeing those gains fall so easily to ISIS. After that, statistically, veterans tend to support candidates who don’t have a history of hawkishness, like Gary Johnson or Donald Trump.

On the bright side, when veterans return home, they rightly have an expectation that they will be treated with respect. They risk their lives for their country and their country should give back. One of the ways we as a nation rewarded their service was the GI Bill.  Passed during World War II, it gave veterans returning home assistance in paying for college and trade school tuition. We passed an extension to this to apply for veterans of engagements after 9/11. You would think this would be uncontroversial, but Donald Trump complicates everything. In May of this year, he said to CNN that he doesn’t support the GI Bill. While there was one time where the Republican Congress tried to shift funds from one GI Bill benefit to support other veterans programs, usually Republicans stop after suggesting the privatization of the Department of Veterans Affairs. For those unfamiliar, the Department of Veterans Affairs oversees the Veterans Health Administration which should handle healthcare once veterans get past the very deep backlog. If you are wondering, the VA’s website states “VA health care is NOT considered a health insurance plan” which one would need to not be forced to pay for Columbia’s insurance. This is all simple with the Democrats in that they have thrown their support behind the GI Bill and against privatization, but I honestly was surprised I was covering this difference at all. Usually serving veterans is bipartisan except for the tiny details. In 2015, nearly two-thirds of veterans opposed privatization of the VA in a bipartisan poll. If veterans have spoken, and we love them, why is this a debate?

Of course, I generalize. There are over 400 opinions on campus that are much more valuable than mine on these things. They can provide perspectives more grounded in reality than a first-year. But Republicans have touched the GI Bill before. If Donald Trump wins, they might change a few things here and there. That might affect people who attend this university, and therefore I felt that not saying when there is a significant difference on approaches would be a disservice, because those of us who haven’t gone to war still have to vote on Tuesday.

Ufon’s mini-series, Columbia and the 2016 Election, will run through the November 8th Presidential Elections.

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

Free speech, like most rights in the United States Constitution, haven’t always been guaranteed. While this concept is the first thing to appear in the Bill of Rights, seven years after the First Amendment was ratified, Founding Father and second president John Adams passed the Sedition Act which suppressed “false” criticism of the government reportedly to address potential unrest spurred by the French government. The modern perception of freedom of speech came into being in the 20th century through a series of court decisions. I point this out because that is how most rights come to be: not by declaration, but by pressure from petitioners that stood firm against the tide of the status quo. Likewise, free speech on  college campuses evolved similarly to free speech across the nation. In 1754, the constituents of Columbia College committed themselves to a similar principle, religious liberty. By 1968, however, Columbia was in the middle of quelling civil unrest from its student population. Today, President Lee C. Bollinger has founded a center for the First Amendment and has defended freedom of speech as a principle on college campuses. However, if  that was the end of the story, I wouldn’t have an article.

Freedom of speech is one of the most contentious issues on college campuses today. Civil libertarians argue that colleges have departed from the notion so many of them aspire to. They argue that the use of speech codes  and bias response teams by certain colleges have created a chilling effect on speech, but that’s not where criticism stops. They say that in an ironic twist, it seems that students are the ones supporting a drawback in robust debate, citing numerous examples of students demanding their classmates disinvite speakers and self-censor if their intended speech deviates from the liberal norm. This social limitation on speech is generally referred to as political correctness, and the Republicans have railed against it, stating in their party platform, “colleges, universities, and trade schools must not infringe on their freedom of speech and association in the name of political correctness.”

However, this development did not grow in a vacuum. This modern debate over freedom of speech is intertwined with protests against colleges for what protestors described as harboring a racist environment. All of those protests you heard about in 2015 didn’t happen after one incident, they happened after thousands of incidents, many unreported or not dealt with. Progressives argue that when people counter by saying protesters are suppressing freedom of expression, what they really are saying is that they are reacting to being called out for racism and sexism and homophobia instead of making college a hospitable place to learn. As the Democrats put it in their platform, “while freedom of expression is a fundamental constitutional principle, we must condemn hate speech that creates a fertile climate for violence.”

This series has been about how the national election will affect Columbia and that’s important here as well. The Obama administration’s enforcement of Title IX has arguably made colleges more eager to launch investigations into speech that ostensibly constituted sexual harassment and a Trump administration would conceivably cut back on Title IX and a Clinton administration would continue on as usual. However, this is not just about policy policy. Freedom of speech in principle exists to foster fair debate on issues by allowing all sides to be heard and respected. Civil libertarians believe that student censorship and the overwhelming liberal bias in academia is harmful to that mission while progressives believe that a history of bias against women, queer people, and people of color make it so that those people feel uncomfortable speaking out within that system. Both critiques cannot be addressed effectively by policy. But that doesn’t mean they can’t be addressed at all. Obama and the White House have used the media to influence opinion on the ground, whether through the bully pulpit to pass the Affordable Care Act or through initiatives like the It’s on Us campaign to combat sexual assault. While Obama coming out for freedom of speech in his Howard commencement speech didn’t end the debate, the president has power  in affecting public opinion on an issue, and in that way, it still matters.

That being said, Hillary Clinton is of the Democratic Party and therefore is expected to follow the status quo, though libertarians fear her willingness to block ISIS from the internet may be a sign for more restrictions to come. Donald Trump will probably continue coarsening the political discourse even if he’s not elected. But a word of caution: Donald Trump has made a point of saying that he will sue everyone who says something bad about him, from newspapers to women accusing him of assault. If that sounds strangely familiar, it’s because that is punishing “false” criticism of the government. He doesn’t seem to have a grasp on why libel is so hard to prosecute in the United States, and it’s not quite clear that he’s figured that out yet. He might be electable for other reasons, and he might start a cultural moment where conservatives can return to the academy loud and proud. That development wouldn’t be on principle. It’s your choice in the end whether you’re comfortable with that or four more years of Democratic policy, but for something that would critical for any cultural candidate to address, Trump should try to be better.

Ufon’s mini-series, Columbia and the 2016 Election, will run through the November 8th Presidential Elections.

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

Back in Summer 2015, Donald Trump rode down the escalator to announce his Presidential  campaign. In the same speech, he accused the Mexican government of dumping criminals and rapists on the other side of the border. Immigration, for better or for worse, has become a signature issue of this election cycle. More specifically, there is an intense debate over what to do with the 11 million undocumented immigrants already in this country. The Obama administration has attracted the ire from Democratic Hispanic groups by deporting more than 2.5 million people, but in June of 2012, President Obama signed an executive order, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which allowed undocumented immigrants who arrived before their 16th birthday, have lived in the country since 2007, and were under the age of 31 as of June 2012, to stay in this country through renewable two-year permits.

Here’s where it matters. Every year, high schoolers, potential transfers, and non-traditional students across the world apply to attend Columbia University. We have the biggest international population of any American university, but the vast majority of admissions are still from the United States. If you apply as a domestic student, Columbia considers your application need-blind and meets 100% of financial need. The same isn’t true for international students. If accepted, Columbia will meet 100% need, but it reserves the right to be need-aware when considering your application. This doesn’t necessarily mean international students don’t get aid, as Columbia hands out $11,000,000 in financial aid to international students, but it does mean that your ability to pay tuition may play a role into whether Columbia accepts you. And this is an important distinction, because students who are not citizens or permanent residents of the United States and who do not have refugee visas are considered international. If you’re wondering at this point, yes, this means undocumented immigrants are international applicants, even if they are approved for DACA. The median income for an undocumented immigrant family rests at $36,000, very comfortably below the $70,000+ sticker price of Columbia undergraduate education. So it’s reasonable to assume that under holistic review, there are some high-achieving, low-income students in this country who because of their lack of documents might lose out on a spot at this university.

Looking forward towards 2017, if Hillary Clinton wins, it probably won’t be with an agreeable Congress. This would mean that she would probably continue to enforce DACA through the executive branch until a miracle in the House or 2020. However, a Trump victory would come with a compliant Congress for at least two years. Even with a Democratic filibuster, Trump can just retract DACA with an executive order and deport any and all undocumented immigrants, including childhood arrivals. In this, for an undocumented applicant, this election doesn’t change what your application looks like to Columbia. But, shouldn’t it? If you are attending school in this country, isn’t your experience inherently domestic, unlike an education experience outside the US? Is it unfair to other Hispanic students who did get into this country legally to change this policy? Feel free to destroy the comment section over that debate but remember that getting a spot at any college, especially Columbia, are small already. Questions of fairness touch on the anxiety of trying to get ahead in our society which for one that promotes meritocracy seems to rely a lot on luck. It is unlikely that admitting undocumented immigrants domestically would decrease your chances of getting in any more than Columbia receiving new applications from every student in a school one year. The argument that this is a zero-sum game is a tangent. The argument that people should have a chance to prove themselves isn’t.  

Ufon’s mini-series, Columbia and the 2016 Election, will run through the November 8th Presidential Elections.

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