Trouble in Squirrel Paradise: Bwog’s Internal Discord and Messy Journalism

(Full disclosure: Alexandra Avvocato is Bwog’s former managing editor.)

Yesterday evening, Bwog’s Features Editor Alexander Pines, Columbia ’16, announced his resignation from the board of Columbia’s primary news blog. His decision immediately followed Bwog’s coverage of a protest held on campus by Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP). In the 24-hour period after the publication of this post, the actions taken by Bwog’s board in response to a student’s safety concerns prompted Pines to immediately step down from the organization.

In an interview with IvyGate, Pines, formerly one of the four head editors on Bwog, narrated the events that led to his resignation on Friday morning. Regardless of which party is most at fault here, the internal problems of Bwog’s board have, at least on one occasion, affected its day-to-day operations and editorial consistency. (Although, to be fair, this is a blog that never took itself too seriously.)

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Columbia, where correlation equals causation

The administrative heroes over at Columbia decided that the best way to solve the university’s major sexual assault crisis and amend for their general mishandling of assault cases is to cancel a school-wide concert. Most publicly-reacting students have recognized this as yet another misguided move, and likely part of the school’s continuing War on Fun. The concert was supposed to be held this fall and artists were already secured; now the school has to pay the unnamed artists $55,000 for nothing.

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What’s written on the bathroom wall

As has been widely reported, over the past week lists of alleged sexual assailants have been written across girls’ bathrooms at Columbia University. The story was initially posted by the Columbia Lion on May 9. Yesterday morning, Bwog published the story, explaining that they had been receiving tips about it since May 7 but hesitated posting due to legal worries. Bwog was in contact with administrators and legal council about how to handle the list.

Yesterday morning, they decided to publish — but only after the story had spread around campus and been picked up by outside news outlets. As Bwog EIC Sarah Faith Thompson (full disclosure: I was EIC before her and yesterday was asked by other Bwoggers for advice on some of the matters discussed here) shot back at a questioning commenter, “[Bwog doesn't] consider one list with blurred out names to be news. Lists going viral is news.”

However, this post was published without full approval from the board or staff of Bwog– it was written on a morning of finals week, after all. The post included one highly editorialized section:

We are incredibly disturbed that people think this is a legitimate way to deal with the issue.”

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Ivies under attack for sexual assault policies

Ah, springtime at an Ivy: students descend on the quad, thesis writers emerge from their caves, and — best of all — high school seniors attack campus with naïveté, un-jaded excitement, and a myriad of questions all boiling down to: Can my host get me alcohol? Is this the school for me?

Columbia’s first Days on Campus program — prospective student visiting weekend — for the Class of 2018 began today. Prospies were treated with a beautiful spring day and  blue and white balloons blanketing College Walk. But they’re also getting another dose of classic Columbia: protests.

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Come On Guys: Columbia Theta Throws Stereotype Themed Party

ugghhhh not again

Team Mexico via Bwog

Last night, Columbia University’s Theta sorority celebrated what looks like a good ol’ stereotype-filled Beer Olympics. Groups of girls dressed up as Mexican, German, Japanese, Dutch, French, and Jamaican, according to pictures obtained by Bwog and the Columbia Spectator. Bwog notes that the mixer was held in SigEp–though no pictures of the young men have surfaced yet–and should have been registered with the administration, per Columbia Greek life policies.

At this point you’d think these young women would know better than to participate in a culturally appropriative theme…or at least to not post the damn pictures all over Facebook and Instagram for all to see and screenshot.

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Rookie Mistake: Never Apologize

“Mmm, yeah. Who runs this show? That’s right, baby, you do.”

It’s one thing to have every major campus news site allude to your selfish actions. It’s another to stand up and attempt to justify yourself. And that’s just what Uchechi Iteogu, C’15, did.

For the second year in a row, Iteogu used her positions of power as an RA and class VP to score nominations for Columbia’s King’s Crown Leadership and Excellence Award, which recognizes students with “outstanding leadership to their community/ies with exemplary commitment and energy.” In an email to her RA floor last year, she asked residents to “PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE nominate me for the King’s Crown Leadership Award!”

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Barnard Had To Close A Bathroom Because Too Many Girls Smeared Feces On The Floor

Bwog has an email up from the Barnard Associate Director for Residential Life expressing her “great disappointment ” that one Barnard bathroom has been closed by the school due to various cleanliness issues. Apparently the girls of Hewitt Third Floor are guilty of “improper behavior” when it comes to cleaning up after themselves, as the email details the many disgusting issues present in the bathroom.

“Over the past few months, we have seen feces smeared on toilet seats and the floor, urine on the floor, clogged and overflowing toilets, paper towels clogging the sinks, and garbage strewn around the bathroom.”

How unladylike.

The best part of the email though is how the Resident Life director not so subtly accuses the perpetrators of being unbalanced and in need of serious help. They write,

“the responsible individual(s) may need the resources and support of the counseling center based on what we have witnessed in this bathroom.”

This is actually the second case of Ivy League bathroom shenanigans this semester, as back in February Yale had to address the cleanliness of one of its dorm bathrooms (poop on walls, chamber pots, using the sink as a tub).

Check out the full email to the Barnard girls below, courtesy of Bwog: Read the rest of this entry »

Columbia Admins Will Watch Bizarre Quantum Mechanics Lecture

After a video of Columbia Physics Professor Emlyn Hughes’ unusual introduction to his Frontiers of Science lecture began circulating the web yesterday, The Spectator has reported that Columbia administrators will review the video to determine … something. According to Columbia’s statement, the university will judge “excerpts” from Hughes’ lecture — in which he stripped to his boxers, showed video of 9/11, and brought ninjas onstage, among other still unexplained actions — to see if he potentially crossed “academic freedom” and entered “things that have nothing to do with quantum mechanics.”

Frontiers of Science, or FroSci, is a mandatory part of Columbia’s Core Curriculum (freshmen are preregistered for the class). According to its website, the course’s goal is to “change the way students think about questions of science and about the world around them.” Columbia’s administrators should keep this in mind when watching Hughes take his clothes off to Lil Wayne’s remix of “Drop It Like It’s Hot,” because after Monday we doubt any FroSci student will be thinking of their professor the same way.

Below is a video Hughes’ FroSci introduction, courtesy of Bwog, and click through after for Columbia’s statement, courtesy of The Spectator.

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Columbia ‘Unequivocally’ Denies Report of Dean Pulling Strings for Spectator Editors

Earlier this week, we received an anonymous tip about a post on SpecSucks, a blog unhealthily obsessed with the Columbia Spectator. The post details a fairly ridiculous story of a group of Spectator editors breaking into the Columbia Provost’s office, using their connections in the Deans’ office to get out of trouble, and then calling in favors at Bwog to keep everything out of the headlines. Perhaps worth noting though, there’s now an update on the post that mentions “a dozen or two factual issues with [our] post.” So there’s that.

While we corresponded with several people who anonymously vouched for the veracity of various parts of the story, representatives from each accused organization have all denied involvement. This morning we reached out to Columbia Dean Terry Martinez, who was accused by SpecSucks of “sticking out her neck” to help the Spectator editors. Below is the university’s statement:

“While federal student privacy law prevents us from commenting on specific cases involving student discipline, we can say unequivocally that any claim of an improper relationship involving Dean Terry Martinez is completely false and without any factual basis. Moreover, Dean Martinez has no role in adjudicating these types of disciplinary matters. Reports made earlier today in this vein fail any standard of journalistic credibility and should be promptly retracted.”

“With respect to the Columbia Daily Spectator, it is important to note that like any news media organization, the student newspaper is completely independent from the University, and we have no comment on its handling of this matter.”

Coconut Water, David Foster Wallace, and Public Urination: A Columbia Love Story

Last night Bwog published a marathon missed-connection missive by a tragic-sounding fellow named “Robert,” who is trying to reconnect with his Columbia classmate “Kristine,” who apparently stood him up. Some choice quotes:

I came here because I’d been stowed away in my room the other fourteen hours of the day, addicted to the internet like everybody else, and not getting nearly enough sunlight or, of course, actual in-person socialization. That’s why I’d come to 1020. To sit ”around” people for an hour or two. I don’t know why this is considered as weird as it is, but let’s be real, it still is (considered weird). People think people at bars alone are drunkards or else creeps and rapists. It’s not fair to people who just want to people watch for an hour to feel less alone.

And:

When I got there, I took out my ipod, put on the twenty-minute audiobook I have on there called “This is Water” by David Foster Wallace, and spent the next five hours or so contemplatively pacing, or sitting. This became slightly problematic when I needed to pee, as I couldn’t leave the steps in case she came, but fortunately I’d brought along my empty watter-bottle from before so I peed in that twice during the night. As I paced back and forth on the step in front of Alma Mater, I thought about fish, and water, and about how every time I’d asked a girl to take a chance, to try to take a leap of faith across that mental block that the real world is exactly as it seems, every single time, they hadn’t showed. I’d waited on this step or some version a hundred times before. But I’d never waited past when I wanted to stop waiting.

It goes on and on and on, ending with this “warning”: “If you do show, we’re doing a dramatic Notebook in the rain style first kiss. I’m not kidding around. Don’t come if you’re not up for that.”

Creepy? Sincere? Creepy because sincere? All of the above? Decide for yourself.