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2015: A year to remember

Updated Jan. 1, 3:44 p.m.

Dear readers,

From the hiring of new football coach Al Bagnoli to the formation of new coalitions like the Barnard Columbia Solidarity Network and the Student of Color Coalition, 2015 has been a year of constant changes, new directions, and big decisions.

For one, Columbia became the first U.S. university to divest from private prisons, while Barnard affirmed its identity as a women’s college and became the last of the Seven Sisters colleges to revise its trans admissions policy to include trans women.

We’ve also seen new battles sprout as old ones were rekindled, with controversies brewing over Bacchanal, the Columbia community continuing to grapple with the graduate students’ move to unionize, fossil fuel divestment movements on both sides of Broadway, petitions and changes to Barnard’s winter break housing, and even the wrath of combustible appliances.

But the year has also brought successes that have rallied our community together. Our football team won for the first time in 24 games, our fencing team seized its first national title in over two decades, and our baseball team topped the Ivy League for the third straight year.

So we invite you to join us in remembering 2015, a truly unforgettable year, as we ring in 2016.


Caroline and Ben

140th Editor in Chief and Managing Editor


February: The Bagnoli hire

Former Penn football coach Al Bagnoli was hired in February to jumpstart the losing Lions as the team’s new head coach.

Micayla Lubka / Senior Staff Photographer

February: CU unveils Sexual Respect and Community Citizenship Initiative

The University rolled out a much maligned sexual respect education program to be completed before graduation, with students criticizing its implementation and and arts option.

Zoe Guy / Staff Photographer

March: Ollie's fire

fire broke out in March, leading to the evacuation of Barnard’s 600s dorm and the permanent closure of Ollie’s.

Spencer Cohen / Staff Photographer

March/April: FLIP launches CU Meal Share and Class Confessions

The Columbia First-Generation Low Income Partnership launched the Class Confessions and CU Meal Share Facebook pages.

Gloria Tso / Staff Photographer

April: Days on Campus demonstration

No Red Tape protested the University’s response to sexual assault on Days on Campus in April.

Spencer Cohen / Staff Photographer

April: War on Bacch

Big Sean headlined April’s controversial Bacchanal, marked by greater administrative oversight and controversy.

Kris Pang / Staff Photographer

April: Take Back the Night

Around 200 students and local residents marched at this April’s Take Back the Night to speak out about sexual assault.

Rania Siddique / Staff Photographer

April: Fight for 15

Student activists continued their fight to secure a $15 an hour wage for workers, including students with on-campus jobs.

Gene Fedorenko / Staff Photographer

April: Prison divestment protest

Columbia Prison Divest staged a protest in Low Library in April to urge the University to divest from private prisons. The board of trustees later voted to divest from the private prison industry in June.

Gene Fedorenko / Staff Photographer 

May: Teaching & Learning Center

Barnard announced its final plans in May for a new building, called the Teaching & Learning Center, that will house the library, a café, and more by 2018. 

Ethan Wu / Senior Staff Photographer

May: Men's Baseball wins Ivy League title

Lions baseball won the Ivy League title for the third year in a row in May, edging out Dartmouth in three games.

Kiera Wood / Senior Staff Photographer

May: Taking the stage

Emma Sulkowicz, CC ’15, completed her Carry That Weight performance project, when she carried her mattress on stage during Columbia Class Day.

Kiera Wood / Senior Staff Photographer

May: Pre-health advisor leaves Barnard

Former Dean for Pre-professional Advising Adjua Starks left Barnard nearly 17 months after faculty called on the administration to address concerns that she offered inadequate support and inaccurate advice to students, a Spectator investigation found.

Kiera Wood | Senior Staff Photographer

June: Barnard trans admissions policy

After increased pressure from students on the issue, Barnard changed its admissions policy to include students who “consistently live as women,” beginning with the class of 2020.

Youjin Jenny Jang / Senior Staff Photographer

September: Center for Student Advising

The Center for Student Advising announced in September that Monique Rinere would no longer serve as Dean of Advising after serving six years in the position.

Samantha Velasquez / Senior Staff Photographer

September: SEAS completes Phase I of renovations

Under Dean of Engineering Mary Boyce, SEAS completed new renovations in Mudd, CEPSR, and the Northwest Corridor Building that resulted in increased lab space for professors and a new student lounge.

Giulia Olsson / Senior Staff Photographer

October: Football wins

Football broke a 24-game losing streak in October against Wagner. The Lions went on to beat Yale in their first Ivy League win since 2012.

Micayla Lubka / Senior Staff Photographer

October: Rules of Conduct revised

The University Senate substantially revised the Rules of Conduct for the first time since 1989 in an effort to create a more streamlined and transparent adjudicatory process.

Jared Orellana / Staff Photographer

October: Police presence at divest protest

The New York Police Department joined Public Safety officers at a Columbia Divest for Climate Justice protest in October. The group was rallying for the University to divest from the top 200 oil, coal, and natural gas companies.

Ethan Wu / Senior Staff Photographer

October: A new rules administrator

Spectator found that the University Senate’s executive committee unilaterally altered the Rules of Conduct to allow University President Lee Bollinger to appoint executive vice president for university life Suzanne Goldberg rules administrator, prompting concerns that the appointment would create conflicts of interest.

Youjin Jenny Jang / Senior Staff Photographer

November: Mizzou and Yale

Students rallied in solidarity with Yale and the University of Missouri in November after incidents of racism on both campuses.

Yasmine Akki / Staff Photographer

November: Paris vigil

Over 100 students attended a candlelight vigil to honor the victims of the terror attacks in Paris in November.

Jared Orellana / Staff Photographer

November: New proposal for Frontiers of Science

Science faculty like Professor David Helfand, a pioneer of the Frontiers of Science course, criticized the proposed new science Core in November—only days before Dean Valentini officially released the proposal in an email to Columbia College students.

Millie Christie-Dervaux / Senior Staff Photographer

November: Magnolia tree move

The construction of the Teaching & Learning Center required the displacement of a beloved magnolia tree on Barnard Lawn. As the center is being built, Barnard’s LeFrak Gymnasium is to become a two-story swing space for the library, Barnard offices, and other program spaces currently housed in Lehman Hall. 

Rachel Bernstein / Staff Photographer

William Jeffries / Staff Photographer

November: Winter break housing policy

Barnard changed its winter break housing policy after heavy student criticism.

Rachel Bernstein / Staff Photographer

December: Rhodes scholar

A Columbia student won a Rhodes Scholarship after the first time in five years. 

Bronwen Chan for Spectator

December: Barnard Columbia Solidarity Network

Several activist groups formed the Barnard Columbia Solidarity Network and rallied on Low in December, demanding that the university tackle issues of sexual violence, labor inequality, and climate change, among others.

Gloria Tso / Staff Photographer

December: Barnard Divest

Barnard will create a Presidential Task Force on fossil fuel divestment, as suggested by Barnard Divest in December.

Yasmine Akki / Staff Photographer

December: Graduate student unionization

Graduate teaching and research assistants continued their push to gain recognition as a union. The National Labor Relations Board announced in December that it would review the students’ petition to unionize.

Aimee Auguin / Staff Photographer


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