I think I’ve been dumped. She just moved on so quickly—the only reminders of her fleeting presence were the crumbling remains of my heart and the salty tearstains across my cheeks. During orientation, she offered me gourmet lobster and freshly grilled salmon; now she barely spares me a second glance as I force down suspicious lumps of meat and grease in John Jay Dining Hall. She used to hold my hand as I navigated the menacing depths of the concrete jungle; now, she leaves me to fend for myself. She walked me through classes and accepted my subpar academic performance because she realized I was just a fledgling first-year, trying to find my place. But now, she seems to expect that I navigate the maze of this school’s bureaucracy on my own. I am the ex-girlfriend of Columbia University.
It’s the inevitable second-semester betrayal that all first-years are forced to face. The rejection would have been easier to swallow if Columbia had at least never pretended to care, never offered that tantalizing morsel of love and affection during our glorious first few months, instead of heartlessly snatching it away.
Everything just seemed to be going so well. During orientation, we were treated like kings and queens, offered gourmet meals and given adventures throughout the city that never sleeps. We were given some of the best student housing options in all of New York City, all to help us fall even more in love with this school. We were seduced by an image painted by the administration—one of a University bursting with school spirit, genuine love for its students, and opportunities that were unparalleled by any other school. But then, Columbia began to phase out.
It started slowly. First, there was a slow decline in quality at the dining halls as we transitioned from the freshly grilled steak to John Jay mystery meats. Then came the classes. Professors forced us to navigate the bureaucracy of Columbia on our own. Without a proper introduction, finding our way was difficult, and we cursed Columbia’s full classes and blundered through unfamiliar websites like CourseWorks. But we never truly realized our deteriorating place in Columbia until we began thinking about sophomore housing and realized that the rat-infested, decrepit interiors of McBain were most likely going to be our home to come. Columbia courted us, seduced us, and then dumped us. But worse, before she dumped us, she cheated on us.
She moved on to the class of 2018, a new group of fresh-faced, young upstarts, naïvely excited to begin a relationship with a school that will ultimately break their hearts. When they soon innocently tramp through the campus gates, Columbia will entice this next generation with the same façade and propaganda of community and love that bound the rest of us. And who can blame them?
Ultimately, Columbia is too focused on courting prospective and new students and not focused enough on loving the students that actually call it home. I am not ungrateful—I recognize the academic opportunities that Columbia and New York City provide. However, while these opportunities are unparalleled, they will never bring the intense passion and whirlwind of emotions that we all find ourselves thrown into during the first few weeks here.
The days of our honeymoon period are over, and we find ourselves more jaded and cynical toward the school of our dreams. We were seduced by the glory, the beauty, and the superiority of Columbia, but now all we can see is the maze of bureaucracy, the subpar food, and the peeling paint that is hidden by a posh exterior.
At the end of the day, I’d just like to say one thing: Columbia, I miss you, but I can’t take you back.
The author is a Columbia College first-year with a prospective major in biology and a prospective concentration in economics.
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