Democracy is Alive in Morningside!

“Shit got so real at the class of ’13 debate.”

Word, Anonymous commenter on Bwog. The results of the Columbia College Student Council elections were in last night, but I’m still recovering from the serious drama that ushered in our new student leaders.

I thought any ruckus would be a result of the prospie invasion for Columbia’s “Days on Campus.” (Prospies who attended: Don’t be fooled by the nice weather and relaxed attitudes on Monday. Columbia’s actually way more like this.) Instead, the Columbia College sophomore class seemed to channel their sophomore-slump-induced-frustration (or something?) into the debate on Sunday the debate about that debate that ensued in the “comments” section of Bwog.

Here is just a taste of the high emotion behind these Bwoggers. Many of the comments were offensively targeted at individual candidates, and all were far longer than anything I’ve ever posted as a weekly response for a class. If Bwog is any indication, people here have either taken way too much Adderall or are really into this student democracy thing. And does this mean Columbians are not apathetic, after all? (Probably not, since IvyGate’s bold endorsement did nothing to boost the two from last place and this was the voter turnout for all the elections.)

Indeed, commenter CC ’13, who is not but totally could be me, reminds us that these comments are not necessarily representative of general student interest in the political goings-on of Morningside Heights. “LOL like student government does anything,” he or she wrote. “JOKES.” While I would guess that student council probably does a lot of things, I would just add that many of the epic comments did come from students who identify themselves as council members.

Democracy is great, in general, and it is possible that people beyond the current and prospective members of the student council care about this election, in particular. But it is entirely certain that many Columbia students care about the campaign videos (!!!) that were generated as democracy ran its course. Movies are great, because they don’t have words, and that’s why no one likes foreign films. So for your enjoyment, here is another rapping campaign vid:

Cornell Wrestling Holds the Secret to Success

Tuesday, the Wall Street Journal asked its readers to ponder just “What Makes Cornell So Good?” Superior dining hall food, a kickass frat scene, a wine-tasting academic class, a great location in New York (no, that’s the other C Ivy) all seem like appropriate responses. Oh, and Slope Day. Slope Day is Good.

As the WSJ article astutely points out, though, everyone knows that the best thing about Cornell is the weather (JUST KIDDING AGAIN ITHACA SUCKS) its wrestling team.

Well, no, the WSJ actually doesn’t say that. In fact, the article is not concerned with the Good things of Cornell at all. Its title deceptively employs the umbrella term “Cornell” to lure readers who would prefer to remain ignorant of Ivy League athletics into a story on the wrestling team, which apparently is really, really good. The Big Red has taken second place in the NCAA Division I wrestling championships for the past two years in a row, a success unrivaled by the programs of peer institutions. The real question, then, is not one that can be answered with an A in Sauvignon Blanc or a bid to Kappa. Rather, it is the following: An Ivy League school is actually good at a sport. (??).

According to the article, Cornell coaches attribute athletic success to bomb.com alumni contributors (Goldman Sachs Chairman Stephen Friedman, for one) and innovative recruiting strategies:

The school sells recruits on the idea that while they might not get the free education offered by programs with athletic scholarships, their future earnings potential makes it a financial winner. With an active alumni network, wrestlers can expect a range of summer internship options in business, medicine and on Wall Street.

Therein lies their success, and other Ivy League schools that would like to play ball with the big boys should take a Big Red leaf out of Cornell’s book. It’s simple. The reasons behind the inferior athletics of schools like Harvard, Princeton, and Yale are their inability to sell themselves to potential recruits as competitive academic institutions and their lack of rich alumni. Sure, Harvard had the Facebook guy and Benjamin Franklin, but nerds don’t like sports and the Ben Franklin thing was a cheap shot “honorary degree.” Yale had George Bush, who once attempted to donate to the Yale athletic program but, due to an uncharacteristic mispronunciation, instead conceded the reality of global warming and led the United States into the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.

And for Princeton, no one really comes to mind. The Tigers did make it to some national basketball tournament, though? It was pretty under the radar, and they lost in the first round. Well, at least someone’s winning. (Hint: He did not attend Princeton, but he does have #Tigerblood.)

UPenn Likely Letter Website: It’s Real, Damnit!

Over 200 lucky high school seniors recently received an email from the University of Pennsylvania admissions office suggesting that they check out “pennlikely.com,” where they would find more information about their coveted status as a likely letter recipient. (For those of you who do not spend your time reading college blogs: likely letter = you’re in.) Upon reaching the site, the students were faced with a video entitled “A special message for you [and the other 200-odd candidates who also received our email]…”

And it goes a little something like this:

Yes, Dean Furda, I was wondering why you were in the office after hours. I’m also wondering how you keep that strangely colored snow jacket so dry in the raging blizzard and whether you might have moved the statue of Ben Franklin so it doesn’t look like you have a second head. And yes, I would like to meet up for coffee.

Oh, that wasn’t a personal ad?

Sorry, jumped to conclusions. It’s just that I received a seemingly similar email last week with an invitation to check out ivydate.com (seriously!) based on my “exceptional personal, professional, academic, and leadership qualities,” so you can see how things would get confusing.

It seems, though, that some of the high school seniors exceptional enough to receive this email were similarly perplexed by the generic nature of the message, which preceded the physical copy of the likely letter mailed to the students. In fact, “Dean Furda” actually addressed these concerns on College Confidential, a website created to alleviate the burden created by particularly vocal neurotic parents on university tour guides. “I’m posting here for the first time,” wrote the digital dean, “to let you know the likely communication sent tonight is for real.” Word. Still, why is the very private likely letter on a public website? What would happen if I followed the postscript instructions on the website

P.S.
Send me an email at previews@admissions.upenn.edu to tell me one of the things that you can’t wait to try at Penn (that maybe you didn’t want to mention in your essay). I’ll share some of these during Penn Preview Days.

and sent you an email? For example, I’m really excited to try day drinking at your spring concert, Spring Fling, which I plan on attending when I come visit my Wharton friend in April.

If you never get back to me, I won’t be mad. I’ll just keep watching this video with bitterness that I was not one of the select few “likelies” back when I applied to college. Like the students interviewed later in the video, I was begging the admissions officers, not the other way around. So for all you likely candidates, screw you congrats! And don’t worry, it’s real. For the rest of you, just keep watching until about 1:40 in for something with which you can sympathize:

“I was so excited,” Scott from Wharton says of his admissions notification, “I got in a minor car accident.” Yep, we feel ya.

Fox News Talks Sex, Ivy League Style; Students Everywhere Cringe in Horror

Fox News, you never get old.

At least, not here at Columbia, you don’t.

You’ve criticized everything from our dangerous liberalism to our purported “heckling” of a student-veteran during ROTC hearings (which you reported on twice and switched around the wording the second time to…keep us on our toes?). You never fail to amaze us with your insight, and we’re so glad you like us as much as we like you. And we’re especially glad that you finally decided to get down and dirty with us, because it’s been a while since that little S&M story.

And by that we mean, it’s really flattering that you think we’re cool enough to be having sex.

It all began with this video, and this video for some reason or another began with a discussion of out-of-state voting for college students. Next came the transition into you-know-what, which was as appropriately awkward as the thought of intercourse between two Columbia students: “Besides voting,” said the anchor, “something else college students do on campus: They hook up.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Critters Invade the Ivies, One Vegetable Dish at a Time

Remember when that Columbia freshman found a caterpillar in her dining hall salad and thought it was so. gross? And then remember when the Columbia Daily Spectator thought it was so. so. gross. and decided to post a video of the caterpillar slinking through the ranch-drenched greens as high pitched voices shriek “this is so gross this is so gross” in the background?

Okay, we don’t read the Spec either so we don’t actually remember that. But it does come up if you search some combination of incest (whoops! That was another Columbian!) insect and cafeteria food on the Internet.

We’ve all seen some nasty things in college dining halls, and we all know that’s because dining halls use wildly illegal and unsanitary practices such as “local produce” and “sustainable takeout boxes.” What made the caterpillar incident particularly icky was the fact that it was maybe the hairiest critter we’ve ever seen and, based on its impressive girth, it had gnawed its way through a lot of grilled chicken before arriving in this particular bowl.

So basically, hairy caterpillar + Columbia dining hall salad = super gross but still kind of badass (did we mention how big and hairy it was?). Got it? Good.

Now, in typical Harvard fashion, a blogger for the Crimson recently attempted to one-up the urban-er other with a dining hall grossout post that somehow still manages to be pretentious:

Who knew that HUHDS put escargot on the menu? Oh right, they didn’t. But for some reason, this Flyby correspondent discovered a slimy little friend in her edamame while eating dinner tonight in Adams House dining hall.

Escargot in the edamame! EVERY TIME!

It seems that this blogger really knows how to get under a Harvard student’s skin. While previous posts about the gym and jobs only got a few responses, the snail story raked in tenreader comments. Double digits! And they sure do show how smart these Ivy Leaguers can be. For the user who chose to dub his online persona “#itsjustextraprotein!,” the post incited both thoughtful analysis on mass dining to the tune of “shit happens,” as well as reminiscence to a time that was earlier but equally laden with blazers and boat shoes:

“1 person liked this.” Yeah, that was me.

Cornell Girl Has Problems, Tweets About Them

It all started with White Girl Problems (@whitegrlproblem). Bemoaning everything from carbs to cocktails to cute boys, Babe Walker’s Twitter pokes fun at the luxurious life and has managed to lure in almost 120,000 followers. While her complaints are not unfounded (“I had the worst nightmare last night. I was eating a bowl of brown rice and it turned into white rice.”—Err, yeah, I hate it when that happens?) they likely appeal to a rather niche audience. Namely, her readers include girls who weigh less than 90 pounds, spend more than $500 getting their hair done, and, in at least one case, go to Cornell.

Cornell Girl Problems (@crnellgrlprblms), whose tweets assume a similar thematic tone, might well be one of these readers is def an avid fan, as White Girl Problems is one of the mere three users she follows—a count that also includes SororityGirlProblems (@SororityProblems) and Lindsey Lohan (@LohanLindsey30), who hasn’t even tweeted yet because she’s been busy in jail. Cornell Girl’s dilemmas range from dilapidated weather to dining hall dreads—the Ithacan twist on the woes of the white girl. The majority of the posts harp on how much Ithaca sucks weather-wise:

or just how pervasive the state of the drunk Cornellian really is:

Okay, granted, this was clearly one instance. But other posts solidify the notion that intoxication is a central activity to the female at Cornell who, like @whitegrlproblem, has little body fat and must wear heavy coats to keep warm must get hammered when she goes out so she can look hot at the frats and not experience what -15 actually feels like.

With Cornell facing so many real and boring problems, Cornell Girl Problems is a breath of fresh air stale frat-house air. Her complaints ground her classmates in the little things, like how many carbs are in dining hall entrees and how giving blood just to impress the lax team is not actually a good decision. Cornell Girl keeps Cornellians from getting caught up in the larger woes, like a Nutty Professor who tried to defend ESP on the Colbert Report and yet another instance of Ivy League drug a-cookin’. #whatelseisnew.

Princetonian Earns His Sweet-Sounding Stripes

Don’t let the first two Google search results for Anthony D’Amato bring you down! While he may share a name with a Northwestern Law Professor, the D’Amato we have in mind is a young singer/songwriter. And he’s really cool (even though he went to Princeton).

Unlike the senseless jabber that dominates recent radio, Anthony D’Amato’s music is folky and thoughtful—we’ll spare you the “young Bob Dylan” comparison—thanks in part to his close work with Princeton professors. As an undergrad, he boldly placed a CD of his early music in super-important-poet/professor Paul Muldoon’s office. From then on, he worked frequently with Muldoon to carefully polish the lyrics that make his music unique. Despite his celeb status, as evidenced by his appearance on the Colbert Report, Professor Muldoon seems to have also enjoyed honing the poetic prowess of this mere undergrad. As he reported to the Times,

‘I love the fact,’ Professor Muldoon said, ‘that even though I’m not really musically adept at all — I’m really musically ignorant in most ways — that I’ve had a little bit of a chance to partake in what Anthony, I hope, is going to go forward with as a kind of lifetime’s adventure.’

And as the Timesreported back, collaborating on Warren Zevon and playing the electric guitar would seem to qualify Muldoon as musically proficient. But we digress.

Since graduating, Anthony D’Amato has continued to excel in the musical world. Not only did NPR recently choose his track “My Father’s Son” as their song of the week, but his MySpacemusic page also has a hell of a lot of plays. Currently on tour, he’ll be playing at Terminal 5 in NYC with Pete Yorn and Ben Kweller on March 11. What’s his secret to growing success? It might just be being named Anthony D’Amato.   If his Twitter is any indication, the key is serious dedication. While we were all day-fading and chowing down on Super Bowl Sunday, D’Amato was working hard:

…It must be a Princeton thing.

UPDATE: The Princeton D’Amato just informed us that this is not his Twitter, but the Twitter of another Anthony D’Amato who just happens to be a musician. Also, the Ivy preformer has yet to get a Twitter – someday he might. Ooops. Nevertheless, the Chicago non-Princeton musician still preferred playing music to watching an underwhelming Superbowl game. 

Princetonian D’Amato also brought goodies with his correction. Click below to listen and download new songs for FREE.

PrezKim Actually Kind of Cool; Dartmouth Alum Protests

Breaking! In a Dartblog post this Wednesday, alum Joseph Asch gives readers a crystal-clear example of President Kim’s hypocritical policies from over three months ago. This past October, rather than suit up for the riveting 25th anniversary celebration of Dartmouth’s Hood Museum, Kim chose to attend “hobnobbed” with his son and various trustees at the Columbia homecoming game:

Ill-advised decisions like the above have cost him the support of much of the faculty and other close observers of events at Dartmouth. One day, when the negative opinion of Kim that is currently held by an increasingly large group of insiders suddenly becomes the general opinion at the College (this is most often the way that ideas progress), Jim Kim will wonder where the applause went.

Come on, Asch, tell us what you really think.

The blogger’s main criticism of his alma mater’s prez seems to stem from Kim’s alleged love for the humanities but failure to attend this one specific arts event out of the many, many scholastic gatherings he likely attends each week. Hypocrite! Kim, you may have spent your life saving Haitians from tuberculosis with Partners in Health, but your school’s astute alumni see through your empty words. Asch solidifies this allegation with an “Addendum” that he wrote himself and attributed to another source from an anonymous faculty member, who adopts a strikingly similar tone and wholeheartedly agrees with the criticism of Kim’s “lack of understanding of the humanities.”

Perhaps, though—perhaps Kim’s choice to cheer on the Big Green in the big city was not so anti-arts after all. It is a well known fact that Columbia is, like, the humanities’ #1 fan. Not only does it force students to spend a third of their classes studying classically irrelevant works of dead white males—what, it’s not like Homer and Kant were actuallyinfluential—it also has the names of said progenitors tattooed on the forehead of its library. At football games, students dress in traditional Greek clothing and cheer not for the Lions but for the Lacedaemonians. Kim clearly realized that, in an afternoon at Baker Field (Asch, you realize Dartmouth actually won, right?), he would bask in the belles-lettres far more than he could schmoozing with art collectors in the Hood.