The four undergraduate student councils will launch the “Our Blue” campaign in early December to foster community spirit across Columbia.
The campaign, a revival of 2007's "I Am Light Blue" spirit campaign, is a collaboration between the councils and administrators to combat students' persistent perception that Columbia lacks school spirit. The campaign will feature a video series, giveaways, and events aimed at making student groups on campus more interconnected and more closely linking the four undergraduate schools.
Columbia College Student Council's 2016 Class President Ramis Wadood, CC '16, who is the point person for CCSC on this campaign, said that he thought of reviving the campaign over the summer.
“A few friends sent me some videos over the summer about Columbia,” Wadood said. “One of them happened to be this really old, really unprofessional video that was created five or six years ago for the I Am Light Blue' campaign. Because it didn't catch on, it was scrapped for the year afterwards.”
“So we now want to revive and make it into a more established institutional initiative,” Wadood added.
Wadood pitched the program to CCSC before it expanded to a four-council initiative. Wadood has met with the Office of Undergraduate Admissions and with Community Development and Student Engagement and says that they have all been supportive of this new initiative. Interim Dean of Student Affairs Terry Martinez was not available for comment on the initiative.
Wadood said he wants to build a brand around this initiative, which he cited as one of the problems that led to the demise of the “I Am Light Blue” campaign.
“This year, we want it to be so that even if next year we don't create these videos and host these events and give away what we plan on giving away, people will still associate with the Our Blue' brand name,” Wadood said. “We're going to do giveaways next semester, hopefully host events around the campaign next semester, and hopefully produce and release a lot more videos before the end of the year so that this campaign really becomes a brand.”
The initiative's major focus is on allowing for collaboration between on-campus groups.
“A great thing about Columbia is that we have so many people from so many different backgrounds who do so many different things on campus, but I think that what it ends up doing is, people get siloed' into specific communities,” Mary Joseph, CC '15 and the CCSC pre-professional representative, said. “We don't see a lot of people branching out of that, and that's what I think a lot of people are talking about when they say Columbia doesn't have community.”
“This campaign is about getting people out of whatever silo that they are in and making them want to be a part of the greater Columbia community,” Joseph added.
The councils have no concrete plans for events to be held next semester, but Wadood said they want groups to “collaborate in unique ways.”
“Perhaps having the a cappella groups collaborate with the dance groups in some way—actually having different groups of students collaborate on performances,” Wadood said.
The videos, which began filming this weekend, will feature interviews with students and appearances from faculty and deans, including Martinez and economics professor Sunil Gulati.
Christopher Allison, CC '17 and the 2017 class vice president for CCSC, has been filming campus buildings and landmarks this past weekend and says that the video will “illustrate the dynamic workings of student life at Columbia and showcase the vibrant workings of the Columbia community as a whole.”
The campaign also intends to encourage engagement with students at the School of General Studies and Barnard, who often have more trouble understanding their roles in the larger university community.
“It's hard to meet Columbia students if you're not involved with clubs,” Carlissa Milord, BC '17, said. “I'm more concerned with doing my homework, and I don't really have a chance to hang out with Columbia students, despite the fact that I see them in class.”
“I don't really feel comfortable calling myself a Columbian because I realize that there are differences between institutions, and I chose Barnard for specific reasons,” Milord added.
“I'm much younger than many GS students, and I've made an effort to engage with social and student groups outside of our GS community,” Lauren Ilianah Pemberton, GS '16, said, adding that those groups “can sometimes be so tight knit as to be suffocating.”
Council leaders have largely been supportive of the initiative.
“I don't necessarily think it's about having Barnard students identify more with the Columbia community,” Maddy Popkin, BC '14 and president of Barnard's Student Government Association, said. “It is about belonging to one community, but the only way for that to be possible is if we are all recognized for the differences that we embody.”
Still, Popkin added, “Barnard needs to be recognized enough and have enough of a space within this project for Barnard students to connect with it.”
“This is not a one-year campaign,” Siddhant Bhatt, SEAS '14 and president of the Engineering Student Council, said. “It could go on for five, ten years.”
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Correction: An earlier version of this article stated that campaign will launch on Wednesday. It will launch in early December. Spectator regrets the error.