The Chronicle for Higher EducationMarch 2, 2001
By JENNIFER YACHNIN
Toning Down the Big-Band Sound It looks like the grading curve in organic chemistry at Columbia University may swing up for the first time since the 1960's. But it's not because students are studying harder or exams have gotten easier. If college officials get their way, students cramming in the library late at night for this semester's final won't be interrupted by a performance of the Columbia University Marching Band, as study hounds have been every semester for nearly four decades. Dubbed Orgo Night, the half-hour, midnight performance is a roast of college officials and students, in which the punch lines are popular songs. It typically takes place in the library's reading room, which can hold 200 people; the crowd, at times, has swelled to 800. As band members proclaim in the opening to each Orgo Night, the show is an attempt "to lower the curve in organic chemistry while consummating the world's largest simultaneous Orgo." But college officials, alarmed by its growing popularity, cracked down on the show in December by closing the doors to the room when the crowd reportedly reached 300. Officials did not return calls, but band members say administrators have suggested that the group perform in some other building. Members fear that the suggestion may become a demand. "We're definitely going to try to work something out," says Nelson Brand, the band's publicity director, who is a junior. Band members hope to meet soon with college and library officials, to plead their case for preserving tradition. The band won't give up without a fight. Says Mr. Brand: "There's going to be an Orgo Night, no matter what."