Monday, August 01, 2005

Barnard, Columbia, Stern, and Me

Stupid Ignorant Person: I'm leaving, bye everyone. You go to Stern, I'm sure I'll see you around.
Me: Umm, I don't go to Stern.
SIP: Oops, where do you go to school?
Me: Columbia.
SIP: Oh, you go to Barnard?
Me: No, I go to Columbia.
SIP: Isn't it the same thing?
Me: NO!

Ok, people, at the risk of upsetting all the frum girls that go to Barnard and Stern (which is a considerable number of people to upset with one post), I am going to rant for just one second.

I go to Columbia. Yes, I am a good frum Michlala girl. Yes, I wear long sleeves and long skirts even in the summer. Yes, I believe in the supremacy of the Torah and the utter desolation of Western values. No, that does not mean I go to Stern.

Stern is a great place. Some of my best friends and closest relatives went to Stern. I know highly intelligent people who go to Stern. I visit Stern often, and I think it's a great place. But it is not, I repeat, not where I go to school. Do you have to go to Stern if you're a good frum girl? If I wear skirts and keep shabbos does that automatically mean I go to Stern? Is that the only bastion of flocking frum girls in skirts in the entire world?

And, no, I do not go to Barnard. Barnard is not the same thing as Columbia. Barnard is an excellent institution of higher education. I know many highly intelligent people who go to Barnard as well, (though I'm generally still partial to razing the entire campus and putting our football stadium there). But Barnard is not Columbia. I did not work my butt off in high school to go to school across the street from the Ivy League institution with the 10% acceptance rate, thank you very much. I have earned the right to be just a little bit snobby about this.

So, a word of advice: next time a frum girl tells you she goes to Columbia, do not ask her if she means Barnard, it might not go over so well.


At 8/1/05, 11:20 AM, Blogger Nephtuli said...

I never really understood why they still have an all-girls school if Columbia is co-ed.

And you guys don't need a football stadium. You need less teachers like Joseph Massad and some balance on campus.

At 8/1/05, 11:21 AM, Blogger Classmate-Wearing-Yarmulka said...

So why did you choose to go to Barnard over Stern?

At 8/1/05, 12:38 PM, Blogger Eli7 said...

Umm, was that suposed to be funny, CWY? Because I kid you not this is something that actually really bothers me. But if you would like to know why I chose COLUMBIA over Stern, you can check out thispost.

And Nephtuli, I don't understand the existence of Barnard either, it's just one of those mysteries of life... But not to worry, we do have a football field, it's just not on campus, and we're getting a new chair of Israel Studies
(or some such nonsense). And they say you can't have it all...

At 8/1/05, 1:02 PM, Blogger Nephtuli said...

Can a guy go to Barnard? If not, how does the school avoid the inevitable lawsuit?

On the other hand, aren't some people annoyed by the mixed bathrooms at Columbia?

Wow, I guess enough complaining will get you what you want. But how did Edward Said get a chair in Middle East Studies? The man was a literature teacher for G-d's sake! His polemics on politics were hardly substantive enough to grant him a chair in his name.

At 8/1/05, 1:19 PM, Blogger Eli7 said...

A guy cannot go to Barnard. There are other all girl colleges as well (Weslyan, etc., etc.). I don't know what the legal status is and how they avoid law suits. I've been saying for quite awhile that a guy should sue to get in, but nobody has done so yet as far as I know...

Now to dispel a common misconception: there are very, very few co-ed bathrooms anywhere at Columbia. (In fact, I can't think of any, but I probably have msised some buildings, so I'll leave it at that.) I have never had to use a co-ed bathroom at Columbia. (Though, some Barnard dorms are forced to make their bathrooms co-ed because they don't have men's bathrooms, and boyfriends need to be able to relieve themselves somewhere.)

Said was never part of the Middle East Department at Columbia, he was a literature professor. However, since some of his groundbreaking work is on the Middle East (Orientalism), it's not completely unfair to have named a chair in his memory.

At 8/1/05, 1:35 PM, Blogger Nephtuli said...

Odd that no one would try to get in. Being in Barnard gives one the ability to take courses at CC and other schools, which probably looks good on a transcript.

I know there is at least one dorm with some co-ed bathrooms, and it would shock me if any new dorm was built with gendered bathrooms. Why waste the space? Why deal with potential lawsuits? Co-ed bathrooms is the logical conclusion of the contemporary Feminism that fails to allow for biological or emotional distinctions between men and women.

I'm not sure I'd call Orientalism "groundbreaking." Claiming that Middle East scholars are biased because they view the Orient through Western eyes isn't really scholarly. What it did do was immunize the Palestinians from criticism because we can't really understand them. The underlying theme is all of Said's writings (at least the ones I've read) is that the West is racist in how it views the Arab world. Said was the quintessential propagandist.

At 8/1/05, 1:46 PM, Blogger Eli7 said...

You're right, going to Barnard affords women many advantages. No, I do not think it's fair that women have easier access to a Columbia education than do men. But then again, maybe it's just because I'm not a Barnard woman...

In terms of Said, I don't know what you've read of his, and I am hardly an expert on his work or a fan of his. But I will say that I read the first chapter of "Orientalism" and I was amazed that I did not find it quite as biased at face value as I thought it was.

I do find Said biased, but not quite as biased as we make him out to be. And at least in that first chapter where he defines the term, he makes no mention of the Palestinans at all; he adresses Egyptians. And while I certainly don't agree with very much that Said says, I do think that there is at least a small element of truth in his work.

But regradless of all that, when I said "groundbreaking," I meant that his work is considered groundbreaking, not that it actually is.

At 8/1/05, 1:57 PM, Blogger Nephtuli said...

It's been a while since I've read that book, but I used to read his work on the Palestinians regularly, and he was the most biased pro-Palestinian author out there, even worse than Chomsky. Every article and book on the Palestinians framed the issue as one of the oppressed vs. the oppressors. But it was not merely his narrative, but the way he portrayed any criticism of the Palestinians as racist. In some cases criticism does stem from stereotypes (not all Palestinian mothers are happy when their sons blow themselves up) and are based on misconceptions. But Said's tactic of portraying the Palestinians as the underdog in the eyes of the academic elite, while successful, was beyond dishonest.

A school like Barnard is unfair. I remember a few years ago when a 6'2 high school boy joined his school's all-girl field hockey team. He dominated and cries were heard about how he should not be allowed to play against women. But if women are allowed to play against men (Michelle Wie comes to mind), then it should be equally fair for men to play against women. That's not a path a supporter of women's sports should want to go down. But if integration goes one way, it must also go the other. Women cannot have the benefits but not the costs. But I'm preaching to the choir, correct?

At 8/1/05, 2:07 PM, Blogger Nephtuli said...

I don't know if you are much of a frumteens fan, but check out this line:

"There is no question that a doctor is allowed halachicly to perform medical procedures on women patients." (

Since when is the word "doctor" gender-specific?

At 8/1/05, 2:13 PM, Blogger Eli7 said...

That Nephtuli is why Barnard fans would argue that such a school needs to exist - because discrimination exists and needs to be combatted and because the best way to combat sexism is by giving women advantages. I don't agree, but that's what the Barnard stance is, and while it's not completely right, it's not completely wrong either.

At 8/1/05, 2:19 PM, Blogger Nephtuli said...

But Columbia basically has quotas that require a large percentage (probably close to half) of the school be female. If women can get into Columbia in the same numbers as men, even if there is some de facto discrimination on a personal level, that doesn't explain the need for an all-women school. How does such a school help women deal with discrimination?

Personally, I don't really have a problem with Barnard because Columbia is a private school. And women, like men, sometimes like to be in same-sex environments because it makes them more comfortable. But it works both ways. We don't need to hear Martha Burke rail on against the injustice of an all male country club.

At 8/1/05, 2:27 PM, Blogger Eli7 said...

Columbia does NOT have quotas (those would be highly unconstitutional), but yes roughly half of Columbia undergrads are female. And Barnard is a private institution so it can do what it wants. But I still don't think it's fair that Barnard gives women access to an education that men don't have unless they can get into Columbia.

There are no all male colleges that I know of, so I don't understand why it's ok to have an all female college. Though I suppose it's the same reason that it's ok to have a Congressional Black Caucus, but not any sort of white group...

(And I'm a Democrat. Though I think this has more to do with the fact that I just don't like people assuming I go to Barnard...)

At 8/1/05, 2:41 PM, Blogger Nephtuli said...

If Barnard ceased to exist, people would just assume you went to Stern. Wait, they already do. People just don't think frum girls go to mixed colleges.

Columbia does not have official quotas, but they find a way to keep certain percentages by focusing on certain "factors." Like in Michigan where the law school counted race as a non numerical plus, Columbia does the exact same thing. Every school does.

And since Columbia is a private institution it could have quotas if it wanted. Bob Jones university used to ban interracial dating. The only problem is they lost federal funding. Columbia would lose funding if it banned Blacks or Women, but would not lose funding for benefiting them.

That's the reality today. Discrimination in favor of a group is acceptable, but not against the group. The problem is that discrimination in favor a person will detrimentally harm another person because enrollment is not unlimited.

At 8/1/05, 6:14 PM, Blogger Eli7 said...

I don't know all the legal details - I have a long way before law school - but clearly colleges take these things into account, I wouldn't argue with that. But I don't think it's fair.

But I also think the probblem lies far deeper than college admissions systems; the problem lies in an education system that does not afford everyone the oppurtunity to succeed.

(There, now I sound like a good liberal again ;)

At 8/1/05, 7:26 PM, Blogger Nephtuli said...

Good job getting rid of all the duplicate comments. Sorry about that.

I agree that the education system must be fixed, but the way to do it is not to give disadvantaged minorities an extra boost, but to fix the quality of the schools (yes, what you just said). That's better accomplished through school choice, which is linked to school vouchers. That's the conservative in me.

At 8/2/05, 5:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You may have heard of this all-male college in New York. I think it's called Yeshiva College of Yeshiva University. :)

You're basically right though's_college

At 8/2/05, 6:24 AM, Blogger Eli7 said...

Anon, yeah, I kinda forgot about that. Oops. But the all male college is basically gone while many women's colleges revel in their single sex education, which makes very little sense to me...

Nephtuli, well, we both agree that schools need to be improved, but I think the solution is to steer our public schools right, not to remove money from the public school system via vouchers.

Schools should not be run like businesses, and we should improve the public school system on a national level so that all students have the oppurtunity to succeed.

At 8/2/05, 7:56 AM, Blogger Nephtuli said...

YU is different because of Stern. If Columbia had an all-male college I think there'd be less complaining. The truth is only hard-core feminists complain about separate-but-equal in the context of gender.

How do we improve public schools? NY spends $12,000 a year on each child. It's clear that money itself is not the issue.

Public schools, for all practical purposes, are monopolies because parents cannot afford private schools. I've always believed that making government programs compete improves their performance, like any business. It worked for the post office. If schools would have to compete with other schools or face elimination, that would motivate teachers and principals to do a better job keeping the kids at their grade level in reading and math.

I also think that states are better suited to determine what type of measures should be put in place for their schools. Leave the federal government out of it.

At 8/2/05, 10:56 AM, Blogger Eli7 said...

Only 18% of students in New York City pass the Regents. That is unacceptable. But if schools are failing to that extent, my guess is, taking that money out of those schools isn't going to help.

How can schools which are such spectatcular failures succeed if we take away their funding? I mean, clearly they need more than just money to prosper, but taking away their money is only asking them to fail.

At 8/2/05, 2:34 PM, Blogger Nephtuli said...

$12,000 for an elementary school education is a lot of money. If schools would be forced to earn that money by putting forth an attractive product, I believe they'd waste less money and become more efficient. It works in every other field. Why would free market principles fail in this case?

The money per child would not necessarily decrease, but they'd be paid per student. So if students leave, they'd lose money. They'd have to try to keep students by offering a better product. If we use regents as a standard, can you imagine any other business surviving if only 18% of its products were successful? Something is clearly wrong here.

At 8/3/05, 7:29 AM, Blogger Eli7 said...

Education is not a business. It simply is not a business and should not be treated as one. Education is far too important to be treated like that.

And if we promise public schools to all students, then we have the obligation as a society to provide excellent public schools, and the answer is certainly not to take money away from them.

And, I would guess, that though $12,000 may be the average spent on each student per year, the kids in Spanish Harlem aren't getting the same funding or the same education as the kids in Great Neck, and that's the problem.

At 8/3/05, 10:33 AM, Blogger Nephtuli said...

Many important activities are run as businesses. The fact that we don't have socialized medicine has given us the best health care in the world. Health care is as important as medicine.

There needs to be some accountability. No Child Left Behind was a start because it required the schools to reach a certain standard. But the most effective way of solving the problem is school choice. Give parents the option of choosing the schools, just as we give consumers the option of choosing their goods. When people can make choices, they are more likely to choose better products and schools will be forced to keep up or lose students and therefore funding. No school will automatically lose funding, but they will lose funding if lose students. I don't see why a school that cannot keep its students when they are given the choice to leave should continue receiving funds.

I've yet to see evidence that schools in poorer neighborhoods receive substantially less money per child, although they do have greater expenses (security for example), so maybe they can spend less per pupil for education.

At 8/3/05, 8:07 PM, Blogger Classmate-Wearing-Yarmulka said...

If liberals actually cared about the poor and wished for them to move up the economic ladder then they'd be the biggest supporters of voucher programs.

But in reality, liberals have a vested interest in maintaing the status quo. Vouchers scare the teachers union, and if poor people move up, they might start voting republican, G-d forbid.

At 8/4/05, 7:54 AM, Anonymous Not so knowledgeable? said...

Now I'm upset! The Columbia snob doesn't know the difference between Wellesley and Wesleyan? I didn't bust my butt in Yeshiva high school to have people think I went to Wesleyan!

At 8/4/05, 9:29 AM, Blogger Eli7 said...

NSK, I apologizr for the typo - I do know the difference between Wellesley and Weslyan, despite my Columbia snobiness, and merely made a mistake. But I apoloize out of the bottom of my heart.

At 8/13/05, 9:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Snobiness? Snobbishness... I'm glad you apologized but sounds like you got in on affirmative action

At 9/16/05, 10:27 AM, Blogger NYHH said...

"And Barnard is a private institution so it can do what it wants. But I still don't think it's fair that Barnard gives women access to an education that men don't have unless they can get into Columbia."

Well, as a student who was accepted to both Barnard AND Columbia, and chose to attend Barnard, I have to say: it's equally "unfair" that students who get in to Columbia can take Barnard classes.

The whole reason the schools have a relationship is because they each enrich the other--Barnard students get Columbia's superiour library, and the professors who teach at such a prestigious, rich University. Columbia students who take Barnard classes get actual Professors that teach them, counsel them, and talk to them outside of class--not to mention a way smaller class size. It's a two-way street.

At 9/16/05, 5:26 PM, Anonymous barnard woman said...

I'd just like to point out that Columbia University, not Columbia College, is Ivy League -- and that includes Barnard. The Ivy League is a sports conference, and Barnard women play on Ivy League athletic teams. If you don't believe me, refer to -- all 'Ivy League' colleges are forbidden to offer scholarships that aren't need-based. If I'm not eligible for any scholarship money due to Ivy League rules, you can bet I am an Ivy Leaguer.

Secondly, you seem to snub Barnard as inferior to Columbia. I would like to point out that the Barnard Class of '09 had a median SAT score of 1400, while Columbia College's was 1430 -- not a big difference. Also, because men score higher than women on the SAT, it is highly possible that the CC '09 women scored lower on the SAT than Barnard '09 women.

Finally, if you respect the Barnard women you know, maybe you should stop snubbing them and feeling insulted when you are mistakenly associated with their college. It's hardly an insult; in fact, it's a compliment. Be proud of who you are and don't put other people down; the comments about the football stadium and "the school across the street from the Ivy League University" were mean-spirited and snobby. And by the way, we Barnard women "worked our butts off" to get into our highly selective college, too.

At 9/19/05, 10:18 AM, Blogger Eli7 said...

Ok, so apparently I'm being bashed by a bunch of bright, beautiful Barnard women over here (

Yes, I am a Columbia snob, no I have not asked anyone at Columbia what they got on their SATs, and I do not think that Barnard students are any less intelligent than Columbia students.

However, the fact remains that while Columbia's acceptance rate hovers around 10%, Barnard's is around 30%. I'm sure any Barnard student could figure out the math here; Columbia is more selective.

Now, Barnard students do still receive an Ivy League degree from Columbia University after four years, and they do still have the oppurtunity to take Columbia classes, and they are for the most part passionate about their undergraduate college (just as I am passionate about mine).

I would also suggest, Barnard Woman, that you learn to recognize sarcasm. Readers of my blog and people who know me would recognize, I think, that many of the comments you took offense at were actually sarcastic. I do not believe the Barnard campus should be made into a football stadium. Really.

And yes, I know that the Ivy League is a sports league. And I have had many excellent professors as teachers at Columbia as well as at Barnard, with small class sizes and with teachers who actually care. Imagine that! Barnard is not the only place in the world where you can find such things.

I don't deny the merits of Barnard, but since I got into the more selective college and since I am highly supportive of Columbia College's commitment to the Core and since I am a self-admitted snob, I would rather not be confused for a Barnard student, thank you very much.

At 9/20/05, 8:08 AM, Blogger Chaim said...

There is a difference. They are just too embarrased to admit it. I think you should be proud of the difference.

At 9/20/05, 8:22 AM, Blogger NYHH said...

I don't want this to become a huge thing, and I certainly don't have any problem with Columbia. I am sure it is annoying to be constantly mistaken for attending a school that you don't happen to attend, for whatever reason.

I take issue with what Rubin said, however. Or rather, what he meant by it. Of course there is a difference between the two schools--if there weren't, they would be one school. They each have pluses and minuses. I'm not embarrassed to admit it. Please, Rubin, re-read what my friend and I wrote. There are many differences, all of which we admit. Barnard alums and students aren't embarrassed of our school. We love it. We are award of all the differences, including those in intimacy, selectivity, and in the fact that Columbia has a core and Barnard doesn't.

If you are choosing your college on the basis of its acceptance rate, then out of the two, you would pick Columbia. But I have a feeling that most women (and men) who are interested in either school have about a million other criteria that are also important to them, which might lead them to decide to attend either school.

Anyway, now I will leave your blog in peace :)

At 11/30/05, 9:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I didn't go to either school, but I can definitely say Columbia is much more superior to Barnard. It latches on due to history and really serves no help to the institution overall. It's sort of like the swim classes you are required to take...honestly do you really think you'll be swimming to NJ anytime soon? Overall, it's just tradition to be associated with Columbia, and that number of 1400 is totally fudged, I knew tons of dumb people that got into Barnard. It just sucks when I meet all these dumb girls who are so proud of their "Columbia education". Crap, I say.


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