Yesterday, Daily Editor Pierce Stanley decided to sacrifice a day's work on a ten page paper in order to bring you this report on yesterday's academic affairs. He hopes you, and a sympathetic professor, will appreciate his efforts.
While most Columbia students were holed up all day in Butler yesterday in preparation for exams, academic life carried on in the outside world yesterday. Thankfully, outside Butler, these affairs carried on with a less perfunctory (and to be honest, less smelly) air than that which has pervaded among the poor and huddle masses of the library in recent days.
Indeed, academic life was abuzz at Columbia yesterday outside of the confines of reading rooms, as many departments offered end of the year parties, bestowed awards upon students and professors, and launched journals or publications to celebrate the culmination of a semester of hard work. Yesterday's Academic Awards Committee's reception for Professors Joseph Massad and Andrew Nathan and the Herbert Aptheker Undergraduate History Conference were just two of my stops along the way in an ill-advised day of hopping around campus in search of worthwhile procrastination. While I initially set out in search of academic pleasures, I was pleasantly surprised by tantalizing culinary delights at these events as well.
At the Deutsches Haus end of the year party, I was entertained with succulent chocolate chip cookies and seltzer water. Later, the Academic Awards Committee presented a host of fine hors d'oeuvres. A mingling in the Faculty Room of Low Library offered a selection of chilled white wines as well as deliquescent hors d'oeuvres expertly prepared by a catering organization other than Columbia's own. Similarly pleasing was the release party for the Columbia Undergraduate Journal of History, which proffered a smorgasbord of garlic bread, rigatoni, and ambiguously Italian concoctions from Carmine's. Kebabs happened to fall into my hands as I left Fayerweather in the evening and came across some the delights of a departmental party on the grass outside of Philosophy Hall, MEALAC methinks? Finally, the undergraduate history conference provided me with a few mere leftovers and a Sprite.
But onwards and upwards from the realm of the gustatory into academic matters. It was quite a sight to see Joseph Massad praised for his scholarship by his SIPA mentor of yesteryear, Lisa Anderson, even though the nature of his tenure decision still remains in limbo. Fittingly, perhaps, Massad praised his students but chose not to even acknowledge the work of the faculty that has denied him tenure. Massad did not seem quite at ease as he sat amongst his colleagues and spoke about the honor of being awarded the 33rd Annual Lionel Trilling Book Award, a student prize for the publication of his work Desiring Arabs, a book about the nature of homosexuality in the Arab world. Maybe he should have enjoyed a bit more of the California chard that was flowing quite freely in the Faculty Room.
Just as the chilled chardonnay was beginning to wear off for a certain Bwogger, there was Jack Snyder to roast the likes of Professor Andrew Nathan, who received the Mark Van Doren Teaching Award. While Massad's acceptance speech had a certain tenseness and nervousness about it, the political scientist's had the typical dry humor one might expect in a lecture from his Introduction to Human Rights class. Nathan, an occasional CC teacher well-respected in his field, accepted the teaching award as he joked that after 37 years of teaching at Columbia, he is only one year from catching up with Mark Van Doren's 38 year stint in Morningside. He celebrated by reading his fortune cookie slip from lunch at Columbia Cottage that afternoon, which said "You're off to a good start."
While the awards ceremony in Low had quite a jovial tone to it, the Herbert Aptheker Undergraduate History Conference exuded more confrontational vibes, as three bold history students presented long essays that were followed by faculty critiques. While the students were praised for their achievements, professors were not afraid to point to flaws in argumentation or to suggest revisions for the papers.
For a Bwogger direly seeking the most effective methods of procrastination during reading week, when all my favorite youtube videos had been watched, my favorite blogs in Google Reader exhausted, and my email had been checked and rechecked, a turn to the academic side of life was a welcome and quite refreshing alternative. Perhaps now I can wrap up this lecture hop and get back to the other academic side of my life�that ten pager I've been putting off all week. Maybe not. I think I might just peruse the Undergraduate Journal of History a while longer.