Archive for June, 2010

Spectrum | Jun. 26 5:34 pm EST
This Columbian Life

‘This American Life’ plays Columbia’s most celebrated voicemail

Flickr / king_david_uk

In the darkest corner of every Columbia dorm room lies an object of great curiosity. A ROLM phone. A relic of another era (specifically, the era beginning in the late 1980s and ending with the ubiquity of the cellular telephone), the ROLM phone is never touched, except on move-in day, when it is stowed away, out of sight and out of mind. But as a recently rebroadcast segment on This American Life reminds us, the ROLM wasn’t always just a hideously oversized paperweight. More »


Spectrum | Jun. 24 10:41 am EST

New York’s top court upholds Columbia’s expansion plan

The New York Court of Appeals just released its decision regarding the Empire State Development Corporation’s use of eminent domain, and they’ve come down on the side of Columbia. The expansion plan is a go.

We’ll keep updating this post as we hear more. Stay tuned.

UPDATE (11:06 a.m.): A statement from President Bollinger, emailed to Spectator:

We are gratified by the Court’s unanimous decision and look forward to moving ahead with the long-term revitalization of these blocks in Manhattanville that will create thousands of good jobs for New Yorkers and help our City and State remain a global center of pioneering academic research.

Lee C. Bollinger

UPDATE (11:32 a.m.): We’re putting together a list of highlights from the decision here.

UPDATE (11:46 a.m.): By the way, in case you’re wondering how to refer to this case, here you go: “In the Matter of Parminder Kaur v. New York State Urban Development Corporation / In the Matter of Tuck-It- Away, Inc. v. New York State Urban Development Corporation, New York State Court of Appeals, No. 125 (Albany).” Rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it?

UPDATE (11:53 a.m.): A statement from Tom DeMott, from the Coalition to Preserve Community:

I think it’s a ruling that reflects the power of elitist institutions, and it’s one that will facilitate the eviction and the elimination of a great west harlem community. It’s one that will have national repercussions. I think it will yet another legal tool to allow elitist institutions, corporations, and ppl who live by great financial means to be able to displace low-income people from the communities from their communities.

Obviously there are still other legal recourse, so we have to wait and see about that. I would say I’m a realist and a decision like this, it definitely dampens the potential resistance to a degree. But we’re not going anywhere. We live here. And we’ll continue our resistance.

I absolutely love education, I love universities, I love colleges, I love the whole idea. It runs in my heart and soul and I care about little else other than the ability of ppl to be able to develop themselves in whatever way they can. The problem is that Columbia does not do that as a public institution. It does it in another way perhaps, and in the process of doing that I believe it censors out a great amount of the world that renders their educational process tainted. We are dealing with, in the world that we are in, an institution that provides services for a specialized group, that does not include a vast number of new Yorkers and Americans, and of course I’m talking about terms of class and race, but I think that the idea that they can going and grab this huge swath of land in harlem and basically steal it from these landowners and steal it from us, is abusive and not public use. I would disagree with the interpretation of those judges.

Us, that are not part of elite world that columbia serves. Columbia’s environmental impact statement says that over the buildup period over 5K ppl will be displaced, we know it’ll be more than that. If it were 50 it should be adjusted. But it’s not about the number, it’s about the whole way columbia has invaded a community and the way it thinks about it.

UPDATE (11:56 a.m.): A statement from the Empire State Development Corporation:

Empire State Development is very pleased with the Court of Appeals unanimous ruling in favor of the Columbia Manhattanville project. This confirms that the project complies with New York State law in all respects and that the acquisition of the holdout properties is essential to realizing the vision for the Manhattanville campus as it was approved by the State.

Empire State Development looks forward to achieving the many goals of the project, including: enhancing the City and State as international centers for higher education premier graduate programs and academic research; facilitating scientific advances through academic research; replacing underutilized, substandard and insanitary conditions with new educational, research, recreational, cultural and local retail facilities; and creating much-needed, park-like open space in the area.

This $6.3 billion project will be one of the largest to move forward this year, resulting in 14,000 construction jobs over 25 years and 6,000 University positions. The expansion of one of New York’s oldest educational institutions will enhance the vitality of both the University and its neighboring West Harlem community, while meeting the long-term needs of its residents.

UPDATE (12:53 p.m.): The News desk has filed its story here. Check back there for updates. As reports come in, we’ll post the highlights here.

UPDATE (3:37 p.m.): Our reporters keep hitting the phones. Here’s a statement from Norman Siegel, attorney for Nick Sprayregen:

We’re extremely disappointed. We respectfully disagree with the Court of Appeals’ decision, its reasoning, analysis, and conclusion. The decision sets a terrible precedent regarding the use of eminent domain in New York State. We intend to ask the Supreme Court of the United States to review the case. We’re beginning to put the papers together right now. This decision opens the door to even greater abuse of eminent domain in New York State. It’s the first time the court has held that a private educational institution can constitute a civic project.

UPDATE (3:38 p.m.): And here’s one from Ben Totushek, a SCEG member:

In general, there were a lot of overtly biased assumptions. They claim that the appellate court [Appellate Division] erred as a matter of law by conducting a de novo review of the blight studies based on the administrative record, but then they [the Court of Appeals] conduct their own … including taking the Earth Tech study’s findings as independent without meeting the main critique, which was that they [Earth Tech] adopted the methodology of AKRF wholesale. Instead they use the term ‘rubber stamp,’ which was never asserted. It’s a straw man that allows them to write off the whole argument based on there being no professional relationship between Earth Tech and Columbia.

They also only mention part of the role AKRF was hired by Columbia to perform, the EIS [Environmental Impact Statement], but they don’t mention that they [AKRF] also acted as Columbia’s consultant for advocacy purposes. In general, it’s a very one-sided and thus shallow portrayal. Not surprising, of course. This was the first time they’ve ever reversed a lower court decision disallowing eminent domain since the passage of the UDC Act. There clearly was plenty of bad faith that they had to hold their noses for in order to reach their decision.

The court’s decision is below.


Sports | Jun. 24 12:20 am EST

The World Cup in New York, Part II

Only one minute in the game between the United States and Algeria mattered: the 91st, when Landon Donovan annulled atrocious calls from referees that stripped Team USA of two previous goals and coolly finished off Algeria to send the US atop of their group ahead of England and into the next stage of the World Cup. Donovan smartly followed a rebound from Clint Dempsey’s late shot, and buried the ball in the back of the net, generating an uproar in a city that otherwise rarely stops for anything at noon on a Wednesday.

Among the most fanatic were the fans who watched the game at the Lower East Side’s Nevada Smiths. The legendary soccer bar fit a few hundred American fans who took off work to watch their team win. This is how they reacted to the game, play by play.


Sports | Jun. 23 5:22 pm EST
World cup

Why, is that Professor Gulati posing with the winning U.S. soccer team? (UPDATED)

Well, would you look at that. (Oh yeah, Bill Clinton is there, too.)  [ONTD]

UPDATE: Gulati spoke with Sports Illustrated earlier this week (and hung out with Joe Biden).


Spectrum | Jun. 22 8:40 pm EST

CC student dies after ski accident (UPDATED)

We’ve just been informed that Rachel Swett, CC ’11, died this morning due to complications from injuries suffered in a ski accident in New Zealand last week. Our most sincere condolences go out to Rachel’s family and friends.

The University will be providing counseling support to students who need it, and we will post further information here as we receive it.

UPDATE (9:50 a.m.): A statement by Kevin Shollenberger, dean of student affairs, is after the jump. More »


Spectrum | Jun. 22 10:00 am EST
history's mysteries

Barnard recreates event no one cares about

Barnard College Archives

Recently, during our usual scouring of the Barnard Vimeo channel, we stumbled upon some (perplexing) new footage of a Barnard’s once heralded reproduction of the Greek games. With the cost of building another Parthenon too high and the abundant Barnard animal activists blockading any attempt at live sacrifices, it seems that the administration circa 1927 decided this would be the best way to honor Athena. While it remains unknown how often these festivities occurred, Spectrum is fairly certain the tradition met its unfortunate end long before the introduction of color film.

Barnard College Greek Games, 1920s from Barnard College Archives on Vimeo.

More »


Spectrum | Jun. 21 12:16 pm EST

That funny BP spoof totally has a Columbia alum in it

In the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, this video from the Upright Citizens Brigade been making its viral rounds across the Internet. You might have seen it already, but what you might not know that Kate Berthold, CC ’06 and Varsity Show alum, is in it! Pretty cool, right? Seems like Columbians been making bit of an impact in the comedy world.


Spectrum | Jun. 20 8:00 pm EST

Will this case ever have a resolution?

Not Manhattanville this time, but rather the ongoing legal saga of Columbia associate professor Lionel McIntyre, whose trial has been delayed yet again. A review of all past twists and turns in this case after the jump. More »


A&E | Jun. 20 10:00 am EST
something to do

GS alum to play Nuyorican Poets Cafe tomorrow

Wikimedia Commons

Bored and near the LES? Check out GS alum Ishmael Osekre (’09) performing tonight at 8 p.m. at Nuyorican Poets Cafe on Third Street between Avenue B and Avenue C. Osekre will be performing his own blend of poetry and music in a style the Facebook event describes as “African acoustic pop with mild rock and poetry/rhymes.”

Osekre’s been getting some buzz recently for his unusual rise (he arrived in New York with 30 dollars and some change before going to Columbia) and sudden success. Osekre is performing at the event to promote his new album and book, each of which launches officially tomorrow. His album, titled “No Turning Back From Here,” has nine tracks, all acoustic pop with African influences. His book, “Verses for the Masses,” also comes out tomorrow. Check out the album and book here.


Sports | Jun. 17 1:50 pm EST

The World Cup in New York, Part 1

For someone born and bred in Europe, the usual American apathy toward the best sport on the planet has always been baffling. But the last few days in New York City hopping from neighborhood to neighborhood in search of the most die-hard fans have convinced me that crowds here do care about soccer. More »