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Find your fit: Best of Spec 2k16

In preparation for our final open houses this coming weekend, we’ve been telling you a bit about some of our greatest moments outside of the paper (read: traditions and office perks). Now it’s time to tell you a bit more about what goes on inside the paper.

And when we say “inside,” we really mean inside. By now you know which section you want to join and its respective training process like the back of your hand, but what about the product of all the hard work that you’ll be doing?

This past year, we’ve done some pretty big things. If you were on the fence about joining Spec, these should inspire you to give us the good ol’ college try.

Analyzing the impact of Manhattanville

In 2016, we did a deep-dive into the impact of the hallmark decision of Bollinger’s tenure as president: Manhattanville. Our findings: Though the new campus will bump up Columbia’s standing as a university and give us much-needed space, its creation has come at the detriment of undergraduate students. Professors offering to teach the Core, for instance, is at an all-time low, and tuition has continued to rise (for reference, it has increased by 50% in the last decade.)

Covering the Bacchanal barrier controversy

Bacchanal, a (kind of) springtime concert that takes place on Low Plaza in early April. It’s one of the few traditions that Columbia actually has, but last year there was some controversy (ooh intrigue) surrounding it.

In the past, students were free to roam around Low Plaza during the performance due to a lack of barriers. In 2016, that rule changed. Interested to see what Public Safety’s solution was? We have a graphic for that.

The issue many students had with the proposed barriers was that it would literally cage them in—it would be hot, there wouldn’t be a lot of room to move around, if you had to go to the bathroom or get a drink of water you wouldn’t be allowed to re-enter your section, etc. etc. Needless to stay, a majority of students were unhappy.

This was a controversy that carried on throughout its initial announcement to the event itself, and not only did we cover every step of it (Like pictures? Here’s our photo essay. An op-ed? Here ya go. Plain ol’ fashion reporting? We’ve got that too.), but the administration actually ended up eliminating the cages after the article was published.

Live blogging housing selection with The Shaft

One of the biggest projects Spec (and especially Spectrum, helloooo) works on in the spring semester is The Shaft. Why? Because people care if the dorm they’re going to live in next year smells like feet.

Last year, we launched an org-wide campaign to live blog directly from the Cage (example) in order to tell you which dorms were being taken in real time. It’s always one of our most successful projects of the year that’s also a lot of fun for the writers to work on, so if you’re interested, we’ll be launching housing content in late February and our live blog early April.)

Keeping track of Deantini’s promise of replacing FroSci

If you’re in CC, you’ve taken FroSci—and you probably have many opinions about it (either good or bad, but probably for many of you bad). If you fall into the category of students who don’t like FroSci, you might have been saved by Deantini’s promise that a new course was being drafted that could replace FroSci. Seemed too good to be true…

Most likely because it was. A year after the announcement was made, our reporters dived deep into the story and uncovered some pretty telling information—that nothing has been done to create the new course.

Asking the hard hitting questions: Are Columbia students the most stressed in the Ivy League?

We here at Spec report on day-to-day happenings at the University, but we also conduct longer-term investigative pieces. This article—which analyzes whether Columbia has the most stressed student population in the Ivy League—is an example of that.

All the work within the Journalism section does aims to keep people informed and hold administrators accountable for their actions, but this rings especially true for our investigative pieces. They often reveal something about the Uuniversity that administrators may not want to confront, and sometimes policy changes are even made after Spec comes out with a particularly damning article. (A classic example we use is our News team’s coverage of Barnard’s incompetent pre-med advisor.)

Analyzing the services offered at Barnard to students with disabilities

Finals are stressful enough—imagine studying for them without notes. Seems like something straight out of  a nightmare, but just this past semester, over 70 classes were not able to provide notes to Barnard students registered with disability services who needed them.

It’s terrible that we had to write this article in the first place, but since its publication, the topic of how to improve the  system and make sure no student goes note-less has been addressed by Barnard administrators and the University Senate.

Live blogging CDCJ’s sit-in on Low

The first-years weren’t here to witness this, but last spring a group of Columbia Divestment for Climate Justice members took to Low Library. What were they doing there? Well, they staged a sit-in and wouldn’t leave… for eight days.

Spec not only covered this story in its traditional sense (you know, “A group of students are reportedly sitting in Low and refusing to leave…”)—our News writers went in there with the protestors and live blogged the event.

For those interested in photographing for Spec, you might be interested to know that our Photo team got in on the action too with this photo essay.

Highlighting untold stories of Columbia through narrative and visual journalism

Of course we always cover stories about administrators, student life, etc., but what about the topics that aren’t frequently discussed (but really should be)? That is where The Eye excels.

In All the Art We Do Not See, Eye writers investigated Columbia’s hidden art collection in Wallach. Combining a unique narrative voice and beautiful web and graphic design, we were able to bring to the discussion table something that was under discussed, yet truly worth highlighting.

There’s a lot more worthy of recognition, but if we listed out everything that we’re proud of this page would be about a million scrolls long. As a replacement, here’s a short n’ sweet tl;dr: Are you enthusiastic about making an impact on campus? Then Spec’s the place for you.

Know of any other big Spec pieces that we might have missed? Send them to us on Facebook, Twitter, or Snapchat @CUSpectrum. If you have any Spec-related questions, email those to join@columbiaspectator.com.

Veronica Grace Taleon is Spectrum’s editor and a Barnard sophomore. Her favourite project from last semester was covering Orgo Night, so if you like Facebook live-videoing at 12 a.m. and trotting to PrezBo’s place with the marching band, you should definitely join Spectrum. Reach her at veronica.taleon@columbiaspectator.com.

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