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  • Ufon Umanah

Letter from the Editor, December 2019

Updated: Mar 2, 2021

Ufon Umanah

Ah, there it is, silly old Columbia. The more I write about, there it is, silly old Columbia. The more I write about it, the more it messes up. It’s a treadmill.

As much as superficial things have changed since I’ve enrolled, from Barnard’s restored lawn to Columbia’s online culture, too much has stayed the same, and the biggest story I’ve missed has always been why.

There was a moment one Fireside Chat that always stuck to me. A student had asked how could she regain her curiosity at Columbia, her desire to read outside the curriculum. And to a certain extent, I can understand why President Bollinger was confused, because that’s what the Core Curriculum, and the ~very expensive~ study abroad programs, and college in general, are supposed to do.

If we’re not curious why things the way they are, or how we can change things, nothing will change. I bet that thought comforts the amoral executives and the Twitter trolls. But to be honest, first it bores me, and then it offends. $280,000 either financed by you or granted by an amalgamation of endowments and scholarships, and you can’t even be asked to care?

You wait one moment, Editor. If this is my last note, let’s get it right. I have a couple things to say to you. Easy stuff first.

Never be cruel, never be cowardly, and never ever read Foucault unironically. Remember, solitude is always foolish, but empathy is always wise.

Always try to be nice, but never fail to be kind. Oh, and you mustn’t ever lose faith that the right words can change things. No one will help you with this. Except, first-years, sometimes, if their hearts are in the right place, and if their classes are too. A dedicated first year will help. But no one else, ever.

Laugh hard. Run fast. Be fair. Editor, I let this volume go.


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