• The Blue and White Magazine

Blue Book, Orientation 2015


Hello, freshmen! (For future reference, it’s best to go with ‘first year.’) This issue should find you in your dorm (I congratulate you on your choice) as your fan cools your sweaty brow after a crowded elevator trip up to your barren and questionably stained matchstick box. Welcome to Columbia! Don’t worry if you hate it; everyone else here does too.

The rhetoric of College means an immense amount of expectation sits on the young shoulders which grip (via some arms, presumably) this volume. There are expectations of you—to be a leader (Admissions decreed nobody in the Class of 2019 shall ever, ever be a follower), to make bank with that Econ degree, or to discuss Sophocles at that hypothetical cocktail party looming massive on the horizon. And there are expectations you have of this institution, which has tried, with brochures and rankings and emails and expensively produced videos, to win your heart in advance.

Here’s the trick: the institution is a floating signifier, which is a theoretical phrase you’ll find yourself using as you become increasingly obnoxious during your undergraduate career here. We realized this fact last issue, when we asked Dean James Valentini what Columbia College was, and he referred us to a website. In our Conversation with professor Christia Mercer, she tells us that the Core is not a static thing you inherit, but something you create as you study it. There is no one Columbia that will build you—you build your college for yourself. It’s choose your own adventure—just look at our CU twin study (page 8), our NSOP flowchart (page 12), or our radically different takes on whether or not we’re going out tonight (page 10).

While you’re making your own Columbia, perhaps you might make it better, as Professor Mercer insists we have the power to do. And perhaps you might grow to love it, madly. I hope so.

— Hallie Nell Swanson



A Google Maps-themed NSOP

More royalty money to re-sod the lawns

The $12 salad


Youthful optimism

Guacamole peas at John Jay

Sparknoting Song of Solomon on the Ferris staircase


Noise complaints for Village Pourhouse

Frat fundraisers at AmCaf

Joe Ienuso effigies in Manhattanville dumpsters


Sparknoting Metamorphoses in the Lerner

computer lab

Come Again?! 

“…And although students and I do not always agree (nor do my husband and I, nor my children and I, for that matter)…”

– Cristen Kromm, in her Spec op-ed

Reorientation Guide 

In 2012, campus activists revived the early 2000s tradition of the ‘disorientation guide’ for new students. Published by Student Worker Solidarity, No Red Tape, Columbia Prison Divest, and other leftist groups on campus, the guide publicizes campus activism and offers a critical look at “Barnumbia’s” role in private prisons, gentrifying Harlem, land grabbing in Manhattanville, mistreatment of workers, and miscarriages of justice in sexual assault adjudication. This year, documents found in PrezBo’s shredder indicated scrapped plans for the university to publish its own rival ’zine, a ‘reorientation guide.’ What follows are excerpts from the meeting notes… 


“They say prisons are bad. We say, not if you haven’t done anything wrong!” “They say we’re gentrifying Harlem. We say, we like artisanal flat whites!” “They say we called the NYPD on Black Lives Matter protests. We say, Public Safety IS the NYPD!”

LIES AND SMILES: KNOW YOUR STUDENTS “Play student leaders off of each other. Make them seem like the brilliant ones for coming up with your idea. Then invite them for a fireside chat. Suckers.”


“Oppressed groups sometimes reclaim slurs— ‘queer’ is one example. This is only OK when the group does it, not outsiders. Examples: it’s OK for us to say, ‘Fuck the deans,’ but when they say it, it’s offensive. A feature on when it’s OK to assign names like ‘Deantini and ‘Prezbo.’ Ideas on how to repurpose the term ‘red tape’—the tape restrains rapists? Suzanne to research.”


“How to leverage your privilege as a student, without drowning out the voices of a marginalized administration.” “Staying in your lane: students shouldn’t tell admins how to admin.” “Identities matter.”


“Ideas: JP Morgan. The Columbia Lions™. Google Alphabet. Dig Inn. Tara Hill Irish Tavern. Tinder. Barnard College.”


“Consult Jim on relevant Pantone colors. N.B. don’t use Athletics font, they get touchy about that shit.”


“Columbia Bookstore (put next to Columbia sweatshirts for parents). Low Library. Barnard Zine library. IRC. Lerner Ramps CPS HQ. New Ferris staircase.”


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By Sam Needleman The Blue and White’s constitution charges its staff to “collectively craft a publication that not only shows clearly Columbia’s exact tone, but parses and changes its contours with gr

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