December 2016 Blue Notes

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Blue Notes


“Cunts are great works of art we should appreciate.”


No, I’m not plagiarizing Robbie Turner’s library sex-inducing note to Cecilia Tallis. I’m quoting a work housed within the hallowed halls of academia itself: The CUNT Zine by a zine maker who goes by Amanda*. I checked out the zine from none other than the Barnard Zine Collection.


The collection is housed in the Lefrak Center on the first floor of Barnard Hall. Barnard’s zine collection, already uncommon on a college campus, is especially unique in that the zines are not treated as a special collection or archival materials. Instead, it is a circulating collection; students can check out zines the same way they can check out books. The collection is all thanks to Jenna Freedman, Barnard’s blue-haired zine librarian, who started the zine collection in 2003 in the hopes of diversifying the types of authors on the library’s shelves. Most of the zine-makers represented are either women, POC, members of the LBTQ+ community, or some combination of the above. The collection, 6,500 zines strong, ranges in topics from the trans experience to anarchism to sexual assault to riot grrrl.


“In an Ivy League university library, there are 9 million books, but it’s not necessarily a place where people feel included,” Freedman says. “People who write the books in our libraries have PhDs, or are journalists and have all these credentials. But people who make zines are more relatable. This is the space where ‘other’ is the default.”


I sit on the floor of LeFrak the morning after the election and fortify myself to take down the patriarchy by consuming zines with interesting titles. fallopian falafel: special issue on BREASTS. The Invisibility of Women Prisoners’ Resistance. Middle School Dance. Urban Nomad. Free to Choose: A Women’s Guide to Reproductive Freedom. These zines, created by other teenagers and women of color, make me feel like I’m surrounded by a rebellious, stick-it-to-The-Man girl gang.


When I ask Freedman what she thinks the importance of zines are in light of the election, she only has one thing to say.


“I think zines are an important underground outlet and they come out of a tradition of people finding a venue for dangerous opinions.”


Esmé Ablaza


In the basement of Barnard’s Plimpton Hall, kitty-corner to the laundry room, the Barnard Clay Collective has its home. A fully equipped student- run clay studio with kilns and a glazeroom, the Collective offers ceramics classes and studio access for $200 per semester. Beginner’s classes meet Wednesday and Thursday evening; intermediate classes meet Wednesday nights; advanced intermediate classes meet Thursday nights.


Jane Schachat, BC ’73 and current instructor of the Clay Collective, spoke to the group’s history and her own experiences with the collective: “I started doing clay when I was a junior at Barnard and I didn’t know the studio existed. A friend at Columbia brought me in and I was hooked.”


Jane views the Clay Collective as a safe open space where students can work creatively without the limitations of the curriculum:


“It’s been so rewarding and so exciting. It’s something people have chosen. When Barnard started a visual arts program we could’ve been part of it. But I think it’s important that we’re not part of the curriculum. It’s an outlet. It’s not competitive. Students can be artistic even if they never thought they were artistic.


“Student coordinators manage the day to day work of the collective: The student coordinators have been fabulous. They’re all so good; they care about the studio and their work. It’s a lot of work and there’s a lot of cleaning up. It’s not all easy, but everybody has that need to create.”


Sasha Hill, BC ’17, a current student coordinator said, “The Barnard clay collective has been one of the highlights of my experience here. It is a wonderful resource for students to learn and to be creative. I joined in my freshman year knowing nothing about ceramics but quickly became hooked. Through the clay collective I was able to learn not only throwing on the wheel but also how to mix glazes and fire kilns. Now helping to run the studio is a huge part of my life. I love helping to teach other people and seeing them get involved. We also have alumna that keep coming back, which makes it the rare kind of campus community that doesn’t necessarily expire after four years.”


Geneva Hutcheson


The Columbia University Club of New York, an organization of Columbia undergraduates, alumni, faculty, administration, and staff with over three thousand members, has seen better days. In August the organization announced that it had failed to renew its lease with the Princeton Club of New York, with whom it has shared a space since 1998. The current lease expires in March of 2017, and the Club directors have not yet announced the Club’s new location.


This is not the first time that the Club has needed to find a new home. Founded in 1901 with just two hundred members, by 1910 the Columbia Club had over one thousand members and a small clubhouse near Gramercy Park. The group continued to grow rapidly, and in 1915 acquired a larger clubhouse in Midtown at 4 W. 43rd St. The Midtown clubhouse served as the Club’s headquarters for the next fifty-eight years, until 1973 when it closed due to lack of funding and little student or alumni involvement. Interest in the group picked up in the 1980s, and the Club was reestablished. First it shared a space with the National Women’s Republican Club, before moving in 1998 to the Princeton Club of New York, its current location.


Whatever the outcome of the Columbia Club’s current search for a home, the nature of the organization will likely not change all that drastically. Current members complain about the lack of school spirit, and for most undergraduates and alumni, the Columbia Club is no part of their involvement with the University. As the Club’s history attests, there is most likely little need to worry about permanent homelessness for the group. The present situation does raise other concerns: What does it mean to have a Columbia Club but not a Columbia clubhouse? And, more importantly, what role should the Club play in the Columbia community? It seems probable that the organization will limp on, latching itself to some other financially solvent group with too much space on its hands. However, one wonders why the Club, supposedly an extension of a community with a nine-and-a- half billion dollar endowment, can- not raise the funds to acquire a space of its own with a more distinctly Columbian character.


Gage Hodgen