• Alexander Aibel

Aibel Relabels

Regarding Columbia's greatest failure.

By Alexander Aibel


Illustration by Betel Tadesse

To be quite honest, though I’ve been here for over two years, I haven’t entered most buildings on campus. I would estimate I’ve crossed not even one-third of Columbia-owned thresholds. Even from the small sample I have encountered, however, I can assure you that Columbia has made finding one’s way to one’s classroom virtually impossible. Each time I go to, say, Dodge (art) or Dodge (sport), I’m forced to track down clues like a pirate hunting for treasure, except the treasure hasn’t been renovated since 1977. Most painful of all is that for some reason, the geniuses behind the school for geniuses decided that none of their floor labels should make sense. I have never—not even once—entered a Columbia building on the first floor!


As an East Asian Languages and Cultures major, I often find myself in Kent. I rush in for class every day—on the third floor. Now that I think about it, my second-floor class is below-ground. This is an academic problem of the highest order: I need the mental capacity to speak Chinese and sit through class, and the added confusion over what floor I’m on more than certainly diminishes my grades.


Schermerhorn … Don’t even get me started … Okay, I started. Why do I enter on the second floor? Maybe because I’m entering a second-rate building. Are there really three floors below this one? Even if there are, why not call this one—oh, I don’t know—the first floor? Or even the ground floor? Just calling it “The Floor You’re Entering On” would be more helpful. And I am no architect, but I know I could design an extension that’s slightly easier to find than Atlantis. Every Tuesday and Thursday, I slither down the hallway trying to shove open double-doors that look like they were designed for a nuclear power plant. I might even be in a different building by now, but who knows? This maze is kinda fun; but now I am late for class.


Pupin, Pupin, Pupin. Manhattan project, Manhattan shmunkjet! They should have spent a little less time researching nuclear reactions and a bit more time making sure that I don’t have to enter on floor five. Classrooms are on floors two and three, floors from which one would expect a nice view; but no, they are below the ground and windowless. That’s why I got a B in Fro Sci. No windows + confusing floors = Aibel is unable to do physics … and the other three sciences I did not do too well in.


Thanks to the International Affairs Building, I’m also no longer a Poli Sci major. I’m not even concentrating in Poli Sci. Why is the fourth floor ‘street level’ and the sixth floor ‘campus level’? Does Columbia’s U.S. News ranking elevate this school above street level?


I might graduate next year, but if I don’t, it’s the floors’ fault. I know my friends would be cooler and my life would be far more fantastic if I could enter campus buildings on Floor One. My brain’s too feeble for any other system, and so is yours.






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