One event during my freshman spring left me ever skeptical of Columbia. The day before prospective students were to due to arrive in John Jay to experience Columbia, every maintenance request we had filed the past six months was resolved. Our sink-microwave “kitchenette”—which housing told us was “our responsibility,” hence the moldy chicken fingers and Natty Light cans—was sanitized. The next morning, green flags flew over South Field for the first time all year.
It all seemed oddly fortuitous to me, as if Columbia knew what it should be doing to match the postcard. A Blue and White editor said, “Prove it.” A few unanswered emails and phone calls later, I found that I couldn’t. Someone let it slip that the opening of the fields was probably arranged, but that was all. No one would admit to a campus beautification conspiracy—and I could not write a piece founded purely on speculation.
Such is the dilemma we regularly face at The Blue and White. How can we reconcile what we believe to be true with what we can prove, and thus can tell others? Generally, the specifics are far murkier than the broad-strokes narrative.
We see this conflict throughout this issue. Nia Brown and Naomi Sharp both attempt the impossible task of summing a person up in 500 words—all the more impossible when they have strong and sometimes controversial convictions, like Abby Abrams and Julian NoiseCat. Channing Prend digs up some research to give us a picture of a “community” scholarship program which looks different in reality. Then, in our interview with James Valentini, Dean of Columbia College, personal experience informs our pursuit of answers to impossible questions.
We can only hope we’ve made the right call.
— Daniel Stone