A&E | Jul 18 10:45 pm EST

Halal Guys to open restaurant on 95th Street

Remember when the New York Times reported in June that the Halal Guys’ second brick-and-mortar store will “open near Columbia University’s campus in the fall”?

‘Near’ apparently means ‘the northwest corner of 95th Street and Amsterdam Avenue,’ where a pair of “Coming Soon – The Halal Guys” banners have appeared on otherwise bland-looking wooden construction fencing:

Christian Zhang

According to Google Street View and the author’s questionable long-term memory, the store replaces 95 Star Deli, Inc., at the official address of 720 Amsterdam Ave.

We’ve reached out to The Halal Guys and will update with more information as we get it. But the Upper West Side location will likely be similar to the budding restaurateurs’ East Village store, which the New York Daily News described served “a prettified version of the Middle Eastern street food that draws lines down the block in Midtown.”



Sports | Jul 17 11:00 am EST
changing lanes

Swimming coach Caskey takes leave of absence

File photo

On the heels of veteran track and field coach Willy Wood’s resignation comes another coaching shakeup in a storied CU program. Diana Caskey, head of women’s swimming since 1992, has announced her intention to take a leave of absence.

Assistant coach Michael Sabala, who’s been with the program since the 06-07 season, will take the reins as acting head coach next season. He shared a statement by Caskey with swimming blog swimswam.com:

“I love coaching at Columbia University. I love coaching our team. Taking this leave of absence is the best thing for my family and me at this time. I am healthy, I am well, and I am grateful to be able to give my full attention to my family in the next six months. Dr. Murphy, our Director of Athletics, has been very supportive in helping create this leave opportunity for me and I am tremendously grateful to have her support and guidance.”

The women’s swimming program is coming off of what was arguably one of its most successful seasons ever. While it couldn’t capture that elusive Ivy title, the squad went undefeated in head-to-head competition, winning the dual meet championship and posting definitive victories over conference foes Princeton and Harvard in the process.

Caroline Lukins, CC ’13, one of the program’s top swimmers ever in the butterfly, has been hired as an assistant coach.

Columbia won’t be the only swim team in the Ivies adjusting to a new coaching lineup: Peter Brown, the head coach of (you guessed it) Brown’s men and women’s teams announced his retirement about a week ago, and at Harvard, Kevin Tyrell was promoted to permanent head coach.


Spectrum | Jul 9 2:52 pm EST

LionMail Drive will launch in late July

File photo

Columbia University Information Technology announced on Wednesday that Google Drive for LionMail will be available beginning in late July 2014, following a push from students, faculty members, and the University Senate’s IT committee. Check out the full email after the jump for details about the new service:

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Sports | Jun 27 10:00 am EST
soar eagle soar

World Cup group stage: What you need to know

Wikimedia Commons

The group stage of the 2014 FIFA World Cup wrapped up yesterday. In case you haven’t been paying close attention, here’s what happened:

The USMNT survived the “Group of Death”

Everyone who made a commitment to see the US men’s national soccer team—whether among the legion in Brazil or the record-breaking numbers watching from home—has been rewarded. Improbably, the United States finished second in Group G—behind Germany and ahead of Ghana and Portugal—to qualify for the Round of 16. It’s the first time the USMNT has advanced past the group stage in consecutive World Cups. More »


Spectrum | Jun 23 9:51 pm EST

NY Post: Columbia lawyer suggests student exaggerated injuries in dorm collapse suit

File photo

The New York Post reported on Monday that a lawyer representing Columbia suggested that Veronica Couzo, CC ’10, exaggerated injuries she sustained after the ceiling collapsed in her room in University Apartment housing on West 111th Street in May 2010.

Couzo, who graduated magna cum laude from Notre Dame Law School this spring, filed a personal-injury suit against Columbia in June 2011 for unspecified damages. Couzo told the Post that Eric Strober, the lawyer representing the University, suggested that she was faking her injuries because of her academic success in a recent deposition with Couzo’s mother, Lidia.

Couzo said that Strober made the same assertions in a deposition she gave in June 2012 when Strober asked her if her injuries, which reportedly included a herniated disk, affected her school work.

“They treat me like, ‘You’re totally fine. You’re making this up,’” Couzo told the Post. “But I’m not going to let the pain and the headaches that I have stop me from doing well or working hard.”

The University declined to comment to the Post.



News | Jun 23 9:00 am EST

State legislature passes NYC speed limit law; de Blasio to sign Cooper’s Law

Following votes in the New York State Assembly and the New York State Senate last week, the bill to lower the New York City speed limit to 25 mph from 30 mph passed and will soon be signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo.

The bill, sponsored by Upper West Side assembly member Daniel O’Donnell, was introduced after a spate of traffic-related deaths across the city earlier this year, including three on the Upper West Side. Alexander Shear, 73, and Cooper Stock, 9, were both killed on the evening of January 10, while Columbia University Medical Center anesthesiology resident Samantha Lee, 26, was killed on January 19.

“A pedestrian hit by a car traveling at 25 mph is half as likely to die as someone hit by a car going 30 mph. This reduction will save many lives every year, and make the city safer for all who inhabit it,” O’Donnell said in an email blast to the community on June 20.

The lower speed limit comes as Mayor Bill de Blasio prepares to sign 11 other traffic-related bills into law on Monday as part of his Vision Zero plan to reduce traffic-related deaths in the city. Along the bills de Blasio will sign tomorrow includes Cooper’s Law, proposed by Upper West Side City Council member Helen Rosenthal, which will automatically suspend the Taxi and Limousine Commission license until an investigation of any TLC driver that kills or injures a pedestrian. Vision Zero also includes a push for increased numbers of speeding cameras in school zones and a redesign of the intersection at 96th Street and Broadway.

Deputy director of Transportation Alternatives, Noah Budnick, told Capital New York that the success of the speed limit law “shows that safety and saving lives are transcending politics, which is great for New Yorkers.”


Sports | Jun 19 4:41 pm EST
free willy

Track head coach Willy Wood resigns

Lisa Huang / Spec

Twenty years and eight Ivy League titles later, Willy Wood is calling it quits.

The longtime Columbia Director of Cross Country and Track and Field has resigned, the athletic department announced.

Under Wood’s tenure, the women’s cross country team won the 2002, 2003, 2004, and 2005 Ivy League titles, while the men’s cross country team won championships in 2004, 2009, and 2013, finished a program-best 17th at NCAAs in 2012, and ranked in the top 10 at times during the 2013 season. The women’s track and field team also won an indoor conference title in 2012.

Columbia will conduct a nationwide search for a replacement.

If it opts for an internal option—perhaps unlikely considering Wood came on board after being named Big South Coach of the Year at the University of North Carolina-Asheville—options include assistant coaches Delilah DiCrescenzo, CC ’05, Nicole Blood, Elliott Blount, and Will Boylan-Pett, CC ’05.

The change comes a few months after volleyball coach Jon Wilson retired and longtime women’s soccer coach Kevin McCarthy resigned after the conclusion of their respective fall seasons.


Sports | Jun 12 1:30 pm EST
getting brazilian

World Cup odds: what the models say

Tânia Rêgo / Agência Brasil

In case you missed it, the biggest event in the history of team sports begins again today. At 4 p.m., two hours after opening ceremonies, Croatia and host Brazil will kick off the 2014 World Cup.

Several people have built models to generate probabilities for winning the tournament. Here’s a rundown of a few prominent ones.


Three of Nate Silver’s writers worked together to make predictions and some neat interactive graphics. Built on the back of the Soccer Power Index, a predictive metric which Silver co-developed with ESPN in 2010, Brazil is the clear favorite to start, nearly 50-50 to win the whole damn thing. Argentina stands second at 15 percent, followed by Germany at 11 percent and Spain at eight percent.
More »


News | Jun 12 9:00 am EST

Coalition Against Gentrification and Columbia Prison Divest release statement on Harlem gang raids

In the early hours of Wednesday, June 4, more than 400 armed police stormed through the Grant and Manhattanville housing projects—just 5 blocks north of Columbia’s Morningside campus—indicting more than 100 and arresting more than 40 in connection with gang violence in the neighborhood. The New York Daily News reported that the raid was the largest gang case in the city’s history.

In the days afterwards, residents and community advocates have been speaking out about effects of last week’s raids. Some have said they felt relieved after the arrests—according to police, the groups involved were responsible for at least two homicides and 19 shootings—while others expressed concern that the raid failed to address longstanding issues of youth unemployment and lack of community engagement. Vice President for Public Safety James McShane sent a letter on Thursday outlining plans to increase police and Public Safety presence north of campus.  And anti-violence activists have resolved to continue working to defuse tensions between youth groups and expand community programs.

Students from the Coalition Against Gentrification and Columbia Prison Divest also released a statement via TALK Magazine, which is published by the Intercultural Resource Center. In their statement, the groups objected to McShane’s presentation of safety in the Columbia area, the “militarized” nature of the raids, and McShane’s support for increased police presence in the area. Part of the statement reads:

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Sports | Jun 11 10:07 am EST

The 3 best World Cup-related ads

Wikimedia Commons

The World Cup dominates the Internet like no other sporting event—and yes, that includes the Super Bowl. Several big websites have rolled out spectacular previews in recent days—Grantland’s Men in Blazers is especially good—and FIFA’s various big sponsors have produced World Cup-related commercials for their quadrennial chance to reach well over a billion pairs of eyes.

From what I’ve seen, here are the best of the lot. More »