Columbia Daily SpectatorFebruary 16, 2001
By By Sean Lane
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.