Letter From the Editor, November 2020
Updated: Feb 19, 2021
By Sam Needleman
Bereft of cohesion, and hardly expecting any looming events to provide it, our editors chose to bind this issue of The Blue and White with a theme: COLLECT. Across our November pages, it appears as a demand, a memory, an aspiration, a suture, and a craving—sometimes where we expect it, sometimes not.
Rather than force the writers and illustrators to work within this frame—the kind of stylistic tyranny that we imagine plagues the agenda at n+1—we derived it from their reportage. In perhaps the most astute analysis on the subject to date, Claire Shang shows us that mutual aid funds are a new form of student solidarity. By interviewing faculty and scouring reports, Elizabeth Jackson finds that the Climate School is positioning itself as a galvanizing scholarly force at Columbia. In a powerful essay on the life and times of the marching band, Cy Gilman paints a picture of an organization failing to collect itself, time and again.
Indeed, the theme threads all of this month’s Features, from Gabe Garon’s account of the recent mass exodus from Sigma Delta Tau, which was fueled by members’ frustration over failed reforms, to Nicole Kohut and Claire Schweitzer’s report on the Core Curriculum, in which faculty share their hopes to maintain unity while teaching new syllabi in remote classrooms. And as they near graduation, the seniors profiled in Campus Characters are collecting themselves on a much more intimate level: Oscar yi Hou is painting, Uwade Akhere is making music, Sophia Houdaigui is running a nonprofit. Arguably, the theme appears in more frivolous forms, too—just look at 69-across or 52-down in our first crossword, constructed by Cy Gilman.
Wary of bludgeoning readers with curatorial coherence, we have divergent offerings for you, too. In one of our illuminating Conversations, Sophie Poole speaks to author Nicole Krauss, who’s in residence at the Zuckerman Institute this year. In At Two Swords’ Length, Michael Colton and Nicole Kohut duke it out over whether the sex was, in fact, good. And in addition to our standard two poems, we’re showcasing shorter works in Inkblots.
There’s more to read—and we hope you will, as we think Fall Break is the time to take stock of our semester’s arc. Maybe next term, collecting won’t feel so complicated.