Last week, students at Columbia University received an email from the Dean of Columbia College, the Dean of the Engineering School, and the Dean of Undergraduate Student Life announcing a mandatory sexual respect program to be completed by all students over the next several weeks. Immediate criticism of the program has arisen, particularly among activist organizations, who have made accusations that Columbia’s new initiative is “poorly designed and demonstrates a willful neglect of empirical evidence and student feedback [and] will not prevent sexual or dating violence.” Harsh – but not without truth. The details of the program, including what degree of student effort is necessary to complete it, hardly inspire faith in sexual assault education.
Happy 2015, guys. Now that we’re collectively, if slowly, waking up from our post-holiday daze, it’s time to start getting back in touch with the crazy shit your peers got up to while you were sleeping. Ranging from deadly serious crimes to seriously unfunny jokes, here’s a taste of winter in the Ivy League. In order of descending gravity:
- A Princeton graduate has been indicted for his father’s murder. Thomas Gilbert, P’09, allegedly killed his father, who was the founder of a hedge fund, by staging a suicide while his mother was out of the apartment (he got her to leave by asking her to buy him a sandwich). Gothamist claims that Gilbert Jr. – a 30 year old man – was provoked by a cut in his allowance from $600 to $400 a month.
- The complaint filed by 23 Columbia and Barnard students back in April has finally been answered: Columbia University is officially under investigation for violations of Title IX and Title II. The lesser-known federal Title II deals with cases of discrimination based on ability, while 2014′s buzzword Title IX addresses equal treatment in regards to gender. Barnard College is under a separate Title IX investigation.
- If you thought Dartmouth has been suspiciously quiet of embarrassing scandals lately, think again. 64 Dartmouth students have been charged with cheating in – get this – an Ethics class. Most of them will be suspended for a semester. More specifically, the class was a “sports ethics course targeted at student athletes struggling with academics.” We are sunbathing in the irony.
- UPenn frat Phi Delta Theta decided to send out a digital Christmas card to spread holiday cheer this season. They also spread racism, since their card included a couple dozen white men plus a black female blow-up sex doll. The frat publicly apologized for the “act of poor judgement,” and insisted that the blow-up doll was supposed to be Beyonce, which of course no longer makes it the sexual objectification of a black woman anymore, since it’s Beyonce. Meanwhile, BroBible just didn’t get why everyone’s panties were in such a twist over the situation. Phi Delta Theta has since then been suspended.
- To lighten things up, here are some photos from the 2015 “Men of the Vet School” Cornell calendar. “Great-looking men and adorable animals” apparently make for a “unique and special dynamic” in this photo series of shirtless guys parading around with puppies and tractors. Yep. Special.
- And finally, a beleaguered young Princeton freshman is bravely calling out the microaggressions perpetrated against those who pronounce their “wh”s as “hw”s. For those who don’t know what we or he are talking about, think Family Guy’s “cool hwip.” Grassroots activism, y’all. (Sorry, is that a microaggression?)
Yesterday morning, Columbia activists payed back President Bollinger for the $471 fine incurred during October 29th’s National Carry That Weight Day of Action, albeit in less-than-depositable format. Several students, among them members of No Red Tape, carried a giant mattress to the president’s office emblazoned with a “check” for 471 dollars including the memo “Stop punishing survivors and activists. Be the leader on our side!” The mattress-check snarkily alluded to the dozens of mattresses that were placed in front of Bollinger’s house after the October 29th Carry That Weight rally, for which the group was fined for supposed clean-up fees – and, of course, to Columbia’s ur-mattress, Emma Sulkowicz’s senior thesis art-protest project Carry That Weight.
In response to the perceived insult, several students carried the mattress to Bollinger’s office in the campus’ main administrative building (and how they got a mattress into Low, we’ll never know) and read out loud a letter condemning his lack of response to survivor’s protests over the past semester.
Read the full letter below, which narrates the story better than we could. Columbia’s official responses to other blogs’ requests for comment spouted some unremarkable and empty admin speak, which isn’t even worth copying here. (However, they claimed to have waived the $471 fee. That’s nice, we guess.)
(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.)
If anything, Columbia’s cancellation of Bacchanal is just another form of sweeping the issue of sexual assault under the rug.
— Daniel Brovman (@dbrovman) August 12, 2014
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.
Ivy League schools waste of time announces magazine that is integral arm of Ivy alum media job pipeline
— alex pareene (@pareene) July 22, 2014
The current issue of the New Republic features former Yale professor William Deresiewicz going on for 4000 words deriding the Ivy League and other “elite” schools. This is not unusual: Deresiewicz has done this before and probably will do so again (there’s freedom in not getting tenure, it seems). But with a solid clickbait headline, the article made the rounds on social media and we decided to address some of the fallacies and paradoxes presented in his TNR arguments. Join us.
It seems Columbia engineers have a new graduation tradition: getting rejected by former mayor Michael Bloomberg. A letter from the school’s dean, obtained by (IG contributor Skelding at) Capital extended an invitation to the former mayor to speak at graduation, which he declined. The letter details that he was asked last year, too, but couldn’t make it due to a scheduling conflict.
The day of last year’s graduation, he “hosted a Jewish heritage reception at Gracie Mansion and subsequently accepted a lifetime achievement award at the New York League of Conservation Voters’ Spring Gala,” per Capital, which is the same excuse we give when we don’t want to sit through a long ass boring ceremony wearing a polyester robe outside on a humid May afternoon.
So Bloomberg didn’t make it up to Morningside Heights, but at least he didn’t offer to speak at Barnard graduation.
[Image via Wikimedia Commons]
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.”
BREAKING: Students file Title II, Title IX, and the Clery Act complaint against Columbia and Barnard
A startling twenty-three students collectively filed Title II (Americans with Disabilities Act), Title IX (Higher Education Act), and Clery Act violation complaints against Columbia University and Barnard College. The violations, handled by a group called Our Stories Columbia, included in the complaints filed with the Department of Education include survivors discouraged from reporting, perpetrators allowed to remain on campus, inadequate disciplinary sanctions, and discrimination based on sexuality and mental health and wellness.
The press release (which can be found at the bottom of this post) includes stories from survivors, which range from a queer trans* survivor having their story doubted due to their gender identity to a survivor denied mental health accommodations and threatened with expulsion.
The complaint follows a year of raised awareness and discussion at Columbia and other Ivy League schools — along with an increase in the national discussion — and Harvard students filing a Title IX complaint at the beginning of this month.
At a staff-wide meeting tonight, EIC Abby Abrams, BC’15, announced plans for the Columbia Daily Spectator to go digital-first, the first Ivy League daily paper to do so. The plan is not completely finalized yet — the board of trustees is voting on it this weekend — but is expected to go into effect in the fall. In a follow-up email sent to the staff, Abrams explained that the paper will print once-weekly on Thursdays, planning to “showcase in-depth news stories, weekend sports and arts coverage, and opinion content.”