Letter from the Editor, March 2023
By Sona Wink
The express 2 normally bullets between 72nd and 96th. It is a stretch that encapsulates the unstoppable forward momentum so treasured by New Yorkers—moving as fast as possible from point A to point B. On a recent icy Saturday, however, the train slowed to an ominous crawl and stopped altogether before pulling into the station. For a fleeting couple of seconds, the train seemed to shut off. The car became so silent that I could hear the man on the opposite end sniff his nose and the swish of a Columbia student uncrossing her legs. Progress halted, forcing me and my fellow commuters to reconcile with the uncomfortable and stubborn stillness.
For some of our writers, stillness yields contemplation. Muni Suleiman considers the newly-launched historical markers project, which prompts the student body to sit with those oft-overlooked moments when members of the University refused to open its doors to Black students. Anna Patchefsky meditates on Pomander Walk, a tucked-away apartment complex; Will Lyman and Henry Astor reflect on rent hikes while sitting in Max Soha. For Amogh Dimri, an evening of stillness spent at a secretive supper club on Riverside yields unexpected friendships.
The student body seems, at present, to grapple with questions of societal velocity—how quickly should our culture and institutions evolve? Many of our writers analyze this question by examining those campus groups which resist change. Sagar Castleman recounts his venture into the clandestine rituals of the John Jay Society. Adrienne deFaria unpacks the rigid customs that bind frat culture together. Iris Chen investigates how the Morningside Institute facilitates a connection between the University and the nation’s most powerful right-wing actors.
The Blue and White’s signature longform journalism requires that a large group of people work in tandem to complete a long, complex editorial process. Having made it through my first print issue at the head of this operation, I see with even greater clarity the miraculous amount of dedication that our staff writers put into exploring the institution we attend and the campus we inhabit. This issue offers critiques of tradition, yet the means by which it was produced demand a traditionalist recognition of their own: a process grounded in doubt of the individual’s faculties (hence the rigorous editorial procedures), a sense of historical continuity (our 133 years do look good on us), and a commitment to locality (a rule that stories must relate, somehow, to the Columbia community).
We hope not to jostle you, dear reader, into a vague discourse, nor to take you from point A to B as fast as we can. We instead invite you to sit still with us for a moment and think carefully.