Opinion | Op-eds

An open letter to the administration about Bacchanal

  • Kiera Wood / Senior Staff Photographer
    No more Baccha-fall | Students enjoying themselves at #ThrowBacchanal in the spring. Currently, this spring’s Bacchanal is under review.

To the deans and administrators of Columbia University:

This will not be the first time you hear from a student about Bacchanal. I am sure it will not be the last. I will readily admit that my outrage is somewhat personal: I am roommates with one of the board members of Bacchanal and have watched her put her heart and soul into planning the event. Though I am not usually the type to write angry letters, I will be sending an email to each and every one of you. You may not ever read it, but I have to do something to express my frustration.

You are making a mistake.

More accurately, you have already made a huge mistake and are on the brink of making another. Your decision to cancel fall Bacchanal and put spring Bacchanal “under review” was shortsighted. At best, it was an ineffective gesture that did not address the problem of sexual assault; at worst, it exploited the issue to cover a controversial decision.

[Related: Bacchanal fall concert canceled, annual spring concert under review]

Your decision to not communicate adequately or efficiently with the groups responsible for planning both fall and spring Bacchanal is symptomatic of ubiquitous communication issues at Columbia. Your decision to waste $55,000 in student life fees is a blatant insult to the student body, even if the funds are being covered. Your decision to rationalize the cancellation by citing “safety concerns associated with … sexual assault” is the most reprehensible of all.

If you are going to cancel Bacchanal because of sexual assault concerns, then you might want to consider canceling Glass House Rocks, or Night Market, or any other event that a large percentage of the student population could potentially attend and at which students could potentially be inebriated. Any similar event on a college campus could lead to sexual assaults, but here is the critical part: sexual assault can happen at any time, anywhere, to anyone. 

No student would argue that sexual assaults could never occur at Bacchanal. But no one I’ve talked with thinks that canceling Bacchanal is a satisfactory solution. The cancellation will not truly prevent sexual assaults. Instead, it will only inflame the underlying structural issues with administrative proceedings that have sparked so much student frustration.

This issue is not about me or any one student. Rather, it is about the administration’s decision to shortsightedly cancel what could have been an enjoyable community event on Columbia’s campus and a wonderful surprise to students returning from the summer break. More importantly, it is about hiding the decision behind the guise of addressing sexual assault.

And that is a mistake.

Deans and administrators of Columbia, do not make the same mistake by canceling spring Bacchanal.

Sincerely,

Kaitlin Huben

The author is a School of Engineering and Applied Science senior majoring in computer science. 

To respond to this op-ed, or to submit an op-ed, contact opinion@columbiaspectator.com

Comments

Plain text

  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
Your username will not be displayed if checked
CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Anonymous posted on

PREACH

+1
+7
-1
Justin Birmingham posted on

You're a rockstar, Kaitlin!

+1
-5
-1
interesting posted on

when i click on the upward arrow - thumbs up for the "you're a rockstar" remark, it shows as if I clicked on the downward arrow (-4). I wonder why that is

+1
0
-1
10/10 I mad posted on

This whole affair is a farce and just shows how out of touch Columbia's administrators are with the student body. One of the most consistent issues over the last few years has been the idea of "wellness" and the lack of community with Columbia, and Bacchanal (both in fall and spring) represents one of the few opportunities that students have to cut loose, collectively enjoy their school and at least pretend that the University has a modicum of community. But no. No despite the student body being old enough to enlist, vote and be burdened with more work on average then any other U.S. university Valentini and co. insist on treating us like we're all a bunch of fucking 12-year-olds at summer camp when it comes to student life decisions and anything related to *gasp* alcohol.

And as for sexual assault, the administrators should remember that Emma Sulkowitz never said she was assaulted at Bacchanal or at a frat party, she said she was assaulted by a close associate, and that one of her main complaints was the complete inability of the CU bureaucracy to handle her case effectively. I'm not going to claim that sexual assault isn't an issue for Bacchanal but it is dwarfed in comparison to the problems with the school's bureaucratic ineffectiveness and rape culture.

All the administrators will do by canceling spring Bacchanal is piss off the entire student body and make them more miserable then they already are. Underaged drinking will continue to happen, and sexual assault will continue to happen until administators wake up to the fact that these issues are not solved with publicity-stunt Band-Aids.

+1
+23
-1
stupid deans posted on

100% agree

+1
-5
-1
Anonymous posted on

It's like administration does everything they can to make sure school spirit never develops at this dismal campus.

+1
-1
-1
Anonymous posted on

This whole situation just makes me unbelievably sad. Badly done, Columbia. Badly done.

+1
-6
-1
Anonymous posted on

melodramatic. overdramatic. bad English usage. slightly ill. not even-keeled. wrong focus. wasteful. showing inability to hold two opposing views in mind. exhibiting orphan mentality when not an orphan. ineffective. showing great promise for Columbia law school. showing greatest promise for Columbia presidency.

+1
0
-1
Anonymous posted on

Gender misconduct has received some attention thanks to recent articles concerning administration's irresponsibility in regards to bacchanal. Most of us will agree that canceling our school concert does not solve the sexual assault issues on campus.

If you are looking for a space to talk about faults in school policies, and want to come up with effective solutions, there's a community of students doing just that! Our projects approach these topics universally and can be applied to all campus.

We are currently working on many projects both on Columbia's campus and on campuses nationwide and would love for you to join our efforts. Members of any collegiate community are welcome! For more information direct message me, or send me an email at lcardenas2875@columbia.edu

+1
-14
-1
Anonymous posted on

Great piece. I honestly think that this will make potential students stray from Columbia. Obviously it's an incredible Ivy League school but so many potential successful students are nervous about Columbia's all-work, no-play reputation and this really won't help. The students who are successful in the real world are often those that work hard while still managing to have fun, and Columbia needs those. Don't cancel fun. HORRIBLE decision.

+1
-8
-1
Sarah posted on

"If you are going to cancel Bacchanal because of sexual assault concerns, then you might want to consider canceling Glass House Rocks, or Night Market, or any other event that a large percentage of the student population could potentially attend and at which students could potentially be inebriated."

I am certainly not supporting the administration's decision--this article was great otherwise--but I think don't think a comparison between Bacchanal and these not nearly so popular, much more contained and patrolled events is valid. Students want Bacchanal to stay because it -is- unique in its, well, level of general student inebriation and revelry.

+1
-2
-1
Anonymous posted on

I'm pretty sure that students don't abuse drugs/alcohol anywhere near the same rate at Glass House Rocks and Night Market as they do at Bachannal.

+1
-4
-1
Anonymous posted on

I'm pretty sure that students don't abuse drugs/alcohol anywhere near the same rate at Glass House Rocks and Night Market as they do at Bachannal.

+1
-10
-1
great letter posted on

You are right - canceling the concert will not solve anything. You can thank your "activists" who perpetuated the "rape hysteria" myth. 29 students sued Columbia for mishandling sexual assault cases and more (male) students are suing Columbia for being falsely accused, for being kicked off campus based on someone's word alone, and for the lack of due process. So, in this atmosphere where some don't use common sense but succumb to group think, we cannot expect to have fun and be free (Woodstock will never happen again :( ) but we can expect to spend our year at Columbia unchallenged, and in a litigious environment of the intellectually dormant.

+1
+10
-1
False rape allegations are real, too! posted on

When did defending male part of our population become unacceptable?

+1
+1
-1
Anonymous posted on

You say that this is not about you. But you do not realize it: it is, loud and clear. If by canceling the concert, some rapes can be prevented, then the concert must be cancelled. Ok, I agree that Bollinger and his deans are stupid. In that case, move to get them removed, but not because they cancel a concert that you and your roommate feel entitled to. Sorry. The good news is that you will survive. Really.

+1
+1
-1
Anonymous posted on

The president is the one who needs to be removed. The senior execs closest to him are ineffectual at best. The deans were the scapegoats here (just following orders).

+1
-3
-1
Anonymous posted on

Great ideas! Cancel Glass House Rock and Night Market too. Yeah! Cancel them all, every year. All you zombies will keep flocking here any way, because we are the World's great university. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA

+1
0
-1
Anonymous posted on

Remember this, everyone? Look at the comments with everyone agreeing with what the author is saying. http://columbiaspectator.com/opinion/2014/04/13/bacchanal-not-invitation-sexual-harassment. When you construe Bacchanal as an event that fosters sexual assault, what do you expect? Of course it's going to get cancelled. You can't have your cake and eat it too. What a damn shame.

+1
+8
-1
Anonymous posted on

If a democratic election were cancelled, it would be a damned shame. If a youngster missed some great opportunity in education, it would be a damned shame. Given that there is no chance of just peace between Israel and Palestine, that is a damned shame. That President Obama has missed 6 years of opportunity to affect any good policy is a damned shame. That Columbia University accepts one million dollars a pop in order to admit unqualified applicants from two Asian countries (when it would not do same to admit New Yorkers) is a damned shame. That Columbia rapists do not go to jail is a damned shame. That Bacchanal is cancelled is NOT a damned shame: it is a only a disappointment to you self-entitled and deluded dumb asses who call yourselves Columbia University students. Try getting entertained some other way, like go watch that strip teasing physics professor.

+1
+2
-1
Anonymous posted on

I can't argue against that. You made my day LOL. However, not all Columbia students are like this. Also, not all Columbia professors strip in class :-)

+1
-1
-1
Anonymous posted on

Oh yeah? So where do all of them strip?

+1
+1
-1
Thinking it over posted on

I've given a lot of thought to this issue, and find it hard to come to a fair conclusion. On one hand, I'm sympathetic with the organizers, who have put a lot of effort. On the other one, I think we must admit that CU authorities are responsible for what happens in the campus. If they find it impossible to handle a crowd who is known to abuse alcohol and drugs, in an environment that leads to criminal actions, which includes, but may not be limited to sexual harassment, then they have no option but to have the concert cancelled. This is the same reason why NYC authorities wouldn't allow the concert to be moved to, say, Morningside or Riverside Parks. There might be a solution, if the crowd would behave within certain limits.

+1
-2
-1
Anonymous posted on

Columbia University is a place for learning and teaching. Your parents, the federal government, and generous Columbia alumni and alumnae are paying good money for you to be here. So you can just kiss this Bacchanal thing goodbye. Want something other than learning and teaching? Try Sodom and Gomorrah, you stupid jerks. See Bolly, now would it be so hard for you to say that, you spineless wimp?

+1
0
-1
Anonymous posted on

Insatiable, snot-nosed brats should be careful what they ask for.

+1
-1
-1