Blue Notes April 2017

On January 9, 1912, a day that will live in infamy, Barnard’s Honor Code was ratified by a historic student vote and has since been an integral component of Barnard’s campus culture, binding students to act with honesty and integrity at all times. In the words of a board member, BC ’19, Barnard’s Honor Board serves as the Keepers of The Code: “promoting academic integrity” and educating the student body about the consequences incurred by violations of its policy by “providing resources and guidance for proper working habits and ethics.” Handling the appeals process, the Honor Board tribunal convenes a couple of times a year in order to adjudicate the most contentious of cases. Additionally, the Honor Board meets monthly in the heights of Sulz Tower, vigilantly preserving the integrity of the institution.

Barnard students pledge themselves to the Honor Code during orientation in a cult-like fashion, complete with fake candlelight and harmonious chanting. For some, the recitation is the highlight of NSOP and the closest experience to a sorority initiation in which they will ever take part. Without the Honor Board fostering trust between faculty and students, anarchy would reign supreme and rampant cheating and dishonesty would abound. Although Barnard’s Honor Board does not directly advocate on behalf of students, it serves a unique peer-based resource for students to solicit relatable perspectives and actionable advice.

Contrary to popular belief, the Honor Board is not comprised of vindictive, stodgy students who actively seek to incriminate or indict their peers; rather, its members are regular, affable Barnard students who are far from boring or dull. Sometimes the meetings even include mini-muffins! Its goal is merely to function as a resource for students by creating a healthy environment in which teachers and students alike can communicate without constant suspicion clouding interactions, allowing mutual respect to prevail. A little known fact: all students that participate in a Barnard course are subject to Barnard’s Honor Code, regardless of affiliation. Evidently, presuming that people are inherently honest individuals is far too naïve a notion, hence the Honor Board’s purpose: to enforce and facilitate adherence to the school’s honor system.

— Hadassah Solomson


Perhaps you spotted them while making your way to the Hungarian Pastry Shop or maybe you gave them confused side-eye while drunkenly stumbling back from 1020 after a long night of avoiding creepy regulars.

You might not have noticed the gargoyles that adorn 527 Cathedral Parkway at all, but if you look up while traversing West 110th Street, they’re there. What gives? In 1909, architects Waid and Willauer decided to design a more “homelike” apartment building. This building, which would become the Britannia, would have nine floors instead of the other twelve-floor buildings on the street. Although a shorter building would bring in less revenue, they figured the architectural effect would be worth it. The Britannia would stand out as more homey than the other apartment buildings on the block.

Somehow, gargoyles got in the mix, too. They perch a mere ten feet off the ground, nearly at eye level and each section hosts a different series of figures. These grimacing gargoyles include a cook sampling food from his pot; a man greedily spooning food from his bowl; another holding a platter of chicken; and a bearded man recording figures in a book with his quill.

gargoyle (1) (1)
Illustration by Jennifer Bi

There is very little reasoning to be found behind the design of the gargoyles. According to New York’s Real Estate Record and Guide, each carved man is “symbolic of some form of the homely art of housekeeping.” Although gargoyles are not usually considered a cozy addition to a home, these ones are meant to depict the best parts of a household.

So next time you are missing home, take a stroll down to West 110th Street and check out this series of unusual gargoyles. Perhaps the one scratching notes with his quill will even inspire you to start that essay you’ve been procrastinating on. Or maybe the porridge-eating one will just inspire you to go to Ferris.

— Casey Davis

Lions, hammers, and B’s, oh my! Decorated in the fine shade of Pantone 292 that constitutes Columbia University’s commencement regalia, excited graduates stride towards the illustrious Low Steps with shiny, balloon caricatures of their school in hand.

The practice began as a way to distinguish between graduating schools amidst a sea of identical gowns. Instead of simply stating “I’ll be in blue,” students could now tell their enthusiastic family members that they would be unmissable marching with toothbrushes next to their fellow dental students. And so it was the hopeful oral hygiene professionals, numerous years ago, that started a trend that would cause Columbia College to carry apples, SEAS paper planes and physics gadgets, Barnard confetti and flowers, General Studies checkerboard flags, Business monopoly money, SIPA international flags, and Journalism newspapers.

However, these (now school-provided) humorous objects made their way into the age of the plastic around seven years ago. Apples were exchanged for ever-smiling, goofy, oversized Roarees, paper planes for attention-grabbing red hammers, and confetti for B’s larger than the faces of the women who wield them. Thus the once intensely academic Commencement gained an element of pure joy and exhilaration. Pleased to be done with endless hours spent in Butler, yet proud of their accomplishments, the new graduates vigorously wave their school pride – in the form of inflatables. They toss blow-up crowns onto the heads of their peers in pure happiness, and, in 2013, even managed to get Deantini to give his address crowned in squeaky, rubber glory.

The custom of inflatables at graduation lives on because it is representative of the sheer delight that plays into a ceremony honoring academic accomplishments, and is reflective of students’ grasping onto their last moments of silliness before being released into the real world. Embodiments of fun, hand-held school mascots remind graduates to not take themselves too seriously.

— Ottilie Lighte

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