Columbia Daily Spectator                      February 14, 2001  

OPINION

By the Spectator Managing Board
Columbia Daily Spectator
  

Orgo Night and Tradition
                    Nine months ago at the end of the spring semester, over 1,000 students piled
                    into Butler Library, many over the protests of security, to participate in
                    Columbia's most raucous evening, Orgo Night. It was a beginning of the end
                    of what has been a long-standing tradition at Columbia.

                    After last spring's overcrowded fiasco, the Administration told the Columbia
                    University Marching Band that it could only hold the celebration in the library
                    if the audience was limited to 250 students. Then, during the fall semester's
                    exam period, a disappointing Orgo Night went afoul when disgruntled
                    students were evacuated from the library after a mysterious fire alarm. It was
                    an indication that the Orgo Night Columbia students knew and loved, the one
                    that brought together the community in a way few events could, would be
                    forever changed. 

                    Traditions are essential to the college atmosphere. They engender a student
                    body with a sense of community and provide memories that alumni can recall
                    fondly. At many schools, students rally around athletic teams, but in New
                    York City--a city of many distractions--concentrated school spirit is a rarity.
                    Columbia should seize every opportunity it encounters to stimulate a sense of
                    community.

                    Issues of student safety and property preservation are important, and the
                    Administration was right to recognize the danger of cramming so many people
                    into a space capped by the fire department at 250. But we sincerely hope
                    that the Administration's concerns were genuine, and not just another chapter
                    in the ongoing feud with the marching band that it has questionably opposed
                    in the past.

                    Traditions hold an important place at a school like Columbia, where students
                    are relatively uninvolved in community-building events. Orgo Nights were the
                    two nights a year when students, exhausted and stressed about studying,
                    forgot to be cynical. Columbians joined together in choruses of ''Roar, Lion,
                    Roar,'' and, for a brief moment, Columbia was a united community rather
                    than a body of individuals.

                    We will be sad to see the passing of Orgo Night as a late-night library
                    tradition, and we hope another, equally inspiring tradition will grow up its
                    place.