Columbia Daily Spectator                      February 16, 2001  


By By Sean Lane
Lane Violations
Columbia Daily Spectator

Community, Or the Lack Of It at CU
                    I am angry. This kind of thing doesn't happen very often, so you might want
                    to pay attention. My anger is directed directly at this school, this supposed
                    undergraduate ''community'' called Columbia University. Of course the term
                    community is in quotation marks because when you truly look at the situation,
                    there simply is not one here. 

                    Now before you throw this off as another one of those whining articles about
                    no advising or not enough school-wide events, I'll let you know that the
                    students are just as much responsible for this mess as is the Administration.

                    When Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote his letter from a Birmingham jail, he
                    said that bigots and racists were not the greatest enemies of the civil rights
                    cause. He said it was the people who simply sat back and didn't do anything,
                    even though they agreed with him. They were the real problem. 

                    At Columbia, there are far too many of these passive people, and their
                    damage is much worse then anything the Administration could do. At least
                    with the Administration, we know its motives: to make everything safe and
                    bland, and to try to use the techniques normally associated with colleges in
                    the woods on a college in the city.

                    I mean, come on, all this swipe access talk is absolutely insane. Who would it
                    really hurt if they changed it? Is there some guy sitting in his room right now
                    quaking in his boots because some Barnard girl, who has been stealing his
                    lunch money, is going to come into Carman and steal his teddy bear too?

                    This weekend's games against Princeton and Penn are more examples of this
                    apathy. We are in the basketball Mecca of this country, and we cannot put a
                    team together that can compete with squads from Princeton, N.J. Men's
                    basketball Coach Armond Hill is a great coach, he makes great players out of
                    good players when possible, and he runs a system so complicated that I still
                    have nightmares of trying to run its motion offense (I played J.V. and sat the
                    bench--don't think I was good). Yet, despite a good coach, and a good
                    program behind it, we just can't push through the wall.

                    Now you may say that no one else in the Ivy League has broken through
                    either, but who else is located in New York City? Who else has J.V. games
                    against some of the best Amateur Athletic Union teams in the country from
                    right down the street? Columbia has a rich history of great basketball in the
                    '50s and '60s because of its location.

                    The opportunities are there and we just need to take hold of them.
                    Remember the United States's strategy in the Vietnam War? That's
                    Columbia's athletic strategy: to throw a bunch of money at the issue, but
                    never actually decide to win the damn thing and get it done.

                    Our athletes are the most dedicated in the league. We have the worst facilities
                    and there is no motivation for players to stay on their respective teams.
                    Nevertheless, they do because they love to play. Let's give them a reason to
                    be proud as well. 

                    However, it's a catch-22. Since no one shows up to games, we get no money
                    for sports; and thus the cycle continues, as the University spits out apathetic
                    class after apathetic class. 

                    If Columbia had a winner, I guarantee things would improve. All you need is
                    one winner or a close one to turn things around. I am from Boston, and I
                    bleed Red Sox red despite 1986. Do you know why? Because every year I
                    feel part of something, part of a community that formed because we have a
                    good franchise that falls just short almost every year.

                    But good athletics is not going to do it alone. Things like Orgo Night build
                    community. But we can't have that now, right? Though you may disagree with
                    its purpose or not think what the Marching Band says is funny, but no single
                    thing brings the diverse community of this school together better than that
                    event. For me, it's just one final sign that the school I grew to love and hold
                    very dear to my heart is dying a slow death.

                    First, it was the West End's decline--no one goes there anymore. Then they
                    changed the 24-hour reading room from the mosh pit it used to be during
                    finals to a cubicle land. Then it was the ability to throw outdoor parties
                    prohibited during the last weeks of school.

                    Oh yes, sophomores, juniors, and first-years, there used to be huge parties
                    on the Law School lawn or Schermerhorn quad, where about a thousand
                    people would show up and have an amazing time. Sure it was Animal House
                    in nature, but who doesn't want a single stupid crazy story to tell their kids or
                    their friends from Florida State?

                    These parties used to get written up in Time Out New York magazine. No
                    joke. However, now the University charges $1,500 to rent out a space,
                    charges $3 a beer, and has the University provide said beer, making for a
                    nice little pocket of cash on their 50 cent purchase.

                    Have I spat enough fire? Have I offended you enough? Well good, because
                    as I said it's better to stand up and fight than to sit back and let things float
                    right by. I would much rather know that you hate my ideas and disagree with
                    me than see more of what I love about the college experience and Columbia
                    pass through apathetic fingers.