Spectrum | Aug 23 11:30 am EST
Freshman Fifteen

A story of the first ISOP

The welcoming committee

I arrived at Columbia from my home in Mozambique three years ago yesterday. Immediately after saying goodbye to my parents, I took the elevator up to Carman 9, shut myself in my room, and cried.

I set up my computer and my mini-wireless router (Carman didn’t have wi-fi in those days—hurrah for Ethernet cables), and took refuge in the angsty teen music that had comforted me in dark days during high school. After a good dose of Linkin Park and Nickelback, I began to feel a bit like somebody understood my sorrows. Perhaps I wasn’t the only one to have ever left home and felt lonely before!

It took K’naan’s “Wavin’ Flag” coming on shuffle, stirring all those joyful memories of the South Africa World Cup, to get me to bounce up and out of my self-pity. My renewed joy was only slightly diminished by the realization that people here called it “soccer” and would probably fail to appreciate the beautiful game fully, but that couldn’t be helped.

Only finding other people and conversation could possibly help me feel like a Columbian. So I wandered back to ISOP check-in in Hartley Lounge, and met a wonderfully gregarious crew of 10 people accoutered in red shirts emblazoned with “ISOP.” They were from France, Mexico, Sri Lanka, and many more incredible places—they knew what it is like to feel in-between and never quite rooted, and, best of all, they found my stories of home as fascinating as I found theirs! (Although they were real Columbians, and inevitably much cooler than me.) I hung around with these people, my Orientation Leaders, for the rest of the afternoon, getting to meet all my fellow arriving ISOPers in the process.

Within a few hours, my tears were forgotten, I’d chatted with the Hyderabadi-San Franciscan who was to become one of my closest friends, and I’d met people who spoke over 30 languages combined. Of course, we were all in varying degrees of zombie-fication from jet lag, but there was instant conviviality and camaraderie that first evening in Lerner Party Space.

That was Columbia’s very first ISOP, and it was like no other ever since, because Hurricane Irene visited New York that weekend and drove us all indoors. But, from a forlorn Frisbee game just before the rain struck to taking over Roone Auditorium to play board games, we formed enduring bonds. Seeing fellow ISOPers around campus reassured us through all the overwhelming introductions of NSOP to come. ISOPers became my best friends—we joined Delta GDP together to work for development in our home countries—and I was back the next year to serve as an OL.

ISOP is a wonderful time and (in my humble opinion) the best way to be introduced to Columbia. In hindsight, here are a couple bits of advice to make the most of it:

Make sure to let your OLs know how much you appreciate their work, because, having been on the other side too, I can tell you all that programming took piles of planning.

Don’t forget that classes are coming! In a way, ISOP—and NSOP—give you all the wrong messages about Columbia, because it’s college in America without any responsibilities. You’re going to need routines of eating and sleeping that help you cope with the pressures ahead.

You can relate to Americans, too. As magnificently fun as the international student community that ISOP magics into existence is, it’s important to realize that your most important point of connection on campus is that you are all Columbians, sons and daughters of Alma Mater. Be sure to join extracurriculars that bond you with people from the 50 states as well as from the 200-ish nations of the world!


Spectrum | Aug 23 12:20 am EST
Printing 2: electric boogaloo

New global print queue for campus printers

The NINJa printing system's new UI.

Updated Aug. 22, 10:31 p.m.

As part of the recent modernization wave that began with Housing Flexing its muscles, more changes are a-comin’. Columbia University Information Technology has introduced a new user interface to the NINJa printing system, with a global print queue (explained below), making access to a working printer much easier. Spec reported on the proposed changes in February. More »


Spectrum | Aug 22 10:02 am EST
freshman fifteen

Pro tips for class registration

hpedward/ tumblr

 It’s easy to forget that class registration begins during NSOP. Heck, you’re just wiping the sweat off your forehead from hauling blue bins up 14 floors of John Jay, and trying to remember the names of all 154 new people you met yesterday. And now they want you to decide what you’re going to learn for the next four months? Unfortunately, yes. And while first-year class registration can be daunting, here are some pro tips we compiled to put you at ease.

1. Research the classes you want to take before your appointment time. And this means at least a day before, not the hour right before you hit “Register.” It pays to know who’s teaching the class this semester – if the professor of your dreams is teaching it in the spring, save it for then. Other thing to keep in mind is class size – if you’re not about being a face in the crowd, skip the 200-person lecture and look for a smaller class. But be warned, smaller classes might have a heavier workload and more expectations for in-class participation. More »



Spectrum | Aug 21 3:04 pm EST
freshman fifteen

The countdown begins: What to expect from NSOP

Beraldo Leal/ Flickr

As Columbia screams your name and Alma Mater’s arms open even wider to welcome her newest litter of lion pups, we bring you the NSOP-appropriate Freshman Fifteen, a series of posts to take incoming freshmen through Orientation. Some of these are serious advice columns, others not so serious, and some just musings on starting your four years at Columbia. If you have advice you’d like to share, reach out to us at tips@columbiaspectator.com.

Feels like only yesterday months ago that you waited with bated breath for the decision that would make or break your young life significantly change these next four years.  In the following months, you probably did one or more of the following:

1. Fantasized about sitting on Low Steps engaged in gossip intellectual conversation with your like-minded peers.

More »


Meta | Aug 21 12:54 pm EST
now hiring: bloggers

Deadline extended: Apply to be an Associate Spectrum Editor or Series Blogger

Image courtesy of Forbes

Your talents are needed in the blogosphere – Spectrum is hiring (and we’ll pay handsomely in food and good company.) We’re looking for Associate Spectrum Editors, or ASEs, to run the blog one day a week, as well as series bloggers to keep Spectrum at its wittiest. Applications for Associate Editor are here, and here’s the link to the series blogger application.

Applications are due by noon on Thursday, August 28.

Here’s a quick breakdown on the positions:

Associate Spectrum Editor: As an ASE, you’re responsible for managing the blog’s content one day a week, making sure posts are published on time, and suggesting content for the day. You can also expect to cover breaking news on campus, edit other posts, and contribute relevant content on other days of the week. More »



News | Aug 18 3:24 pm EST

CSA announces revised medical leave and readmission policy

File photo

The Center for Student Advising announced changes to the policy regarding medical leave and readmission for Columbia College and School of Engineering and Applied Science students in an email earlier today. The policies will take effect immediately this fall.

  • Among the changes are increased flexibility in medical leave time for CC students. They can now take anywhere from one semester to two years of leave, as opposed to the full academic year that was previously allowed. More »

A&E | Aug 18 2:43 pm EST
so sue me

Tom’s is being sued and Maoz is closed for good

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

It’s not a great day to be a restaurant in Morningside Heights.

According to the Post, Tom’s is being sued by Carolyn Coleman for not being wheelchair accessible. She filed the lawsuit on Friday and is asking for the court to order the restaurant to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, as well as for $30,000 in damages. Her complaints are with the step required to enter the restaurant and with the limited space inside for those who use wheelchairs or scooters to get around.

Tom’s manager Manuel Pappas told the Post that “we have tables outside, though, that they can use.” He also said that “Maybe. Someday,” the restaurant will be renovated to be more accessible. Spectator will be following up on this in the coming days.

In other MoHi restaurant news, today we received confirmation from Maoz Vegetarian that the location at 2857 Broadway, between 110th and 111th streets—which has been “closed for renovation” since April, according to a sign on its door—is permanently closed. More »


Spectrum | Aug 17 10:55 pm EST
Episode IV: A new load

Housing improves laundry facilities

Who will wash the washers?

Dry your tears! Wash away your sorrows!

Columbia Housing is in the process of putting new laundry machines in “all residential spaces.” In an email to Resident Advisers, Housing said they expect to have these changes made before the regular semester begins, although most will be ready in time for NSOP. These new machines will run entirely on Flex, so you’ll never have to worry about awful quarter-swallowing machines again.

More »


News | Aug 16 5:59 pm EST

Sexual assault on Claremont Avenue

The Columbia University Department of Public Safety sent out a crime alert about a sexual assault that occurred on Saturday morning at around 2:50 a.m. According to the alert, a Columbia affiliate was followed into 150 Claremont and then was forcibly touched after exiting the elevator. The alert said that the affiliate described the subject to the New York Police Department “as a male, unknown age, 5’10″ to 6′, slim build, close haircut, dark skinned, wearing dark rimmed glasses, blue hoodie with white strings, grey pants, and white sneakers.”

The alert asks anyone with information on the crime to call the NYPD’s 26th Precinct detective squad at 212-678-1351.

The full text of the crime alert is available after the jump:

More »


News | Aug 15 11:37 am EST

Student activist groups issue statement on new gender-based misconduct policy

File photo

Updated, 8/15, 11:48 a.m:

No Red Tape Columbia, the Coalition Against Sexual Violence, Columbia Alumni Allied Against Sexual Assault, Title IX Team, and Take Back The Night of Barnard College at Columbia University issued a statement on Friday morning in response to the University’s new gender-based misconduct policy. The statement said that it is “is misrepresentative for Columbia to characterize these reforms as a response to student concerns.”

The groups that signed the statement said in the statement that they were “deeply troubled that this policy was drafted without input from students and fails to address the serious and urgent concerns raised by survivors and concerned students over the past year. This is unacceptable.”

The statement also includes a link to a survey for students to submit feedback on the policy.

Check out the full statement after the jump:

More »