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Carlos Ochoa / Senior Staff Illustrator

Dear fellow members of the Columbia community,

I am writing to you now in response to the temporary powdery disturbance of our climate. The conditions of the atmosphere have confounded in a multitude of circumstances: one being the temperature, a mere 28 degrees Fahrenheit; the second being a cold front, which has traversed its way from the northern mid-Atlantic all the way to Morningside Heights, and as we speak, to the President’s House; and the third, of course, is fervent condensation. The culmination of these events is what, as a matter of course, can only be described as frozen precipitation.

This precipitation may take many different forms, depending on atmospheric conditions, especially vapor content and temperature, as it falls to the ground. Once on the ground, a metamorphosis into different shapes, influenced by wind, freeze-thaw, and sublimation, will occur. The type of weather event will reflect the type of storm that generates it, and therefore will inextricably influence the type of precipitation that results. Unfortunately, this is out of our control.

Operations on and off the Morningside campus will undoubtedly look different than before. The steps of Low, the hearth and focal point of Columbia’s culture, will be shrouded in layers of alabaster frost of varying breadth and solidity. While this ivory flurry will, unmistakably, cloak the facade of our University, albeit temporarily, it will in no way change the core principles of this institution. The University, like many of its peers in the Ivy League, will be adjusting its operations accordingly and with great expediency.

The first initiative begins with the creation of a Seasonal Meteorology Task Force, led by Interim Provost Ira Katznelson. The task force will draw upon our University’s array of expertise in these areas, featuring those from nearly every corner of our multiple campuses. I already have had my first such meeting with faculty and students—it was immensely stimulating. The second initiative begins with Columbia University Facilities and Operations, which will employ the use of myriad vehicles tasked with removing said pearly condensation. These will be dispatched immediately. I think I speak for all of us when I say that we are endlessly grateful for their Herculean efforts in the face of such a flurry of adversity.

But fear not. While this frosted bombardment may provide a physical obstacle, it will in no way prevent us from continuing to provide a meaningful educational experience, consistent with the highest degree of safety and well-being for our entire community that we can possibly achieve. This blanched descent raises questions—many of them existential. However, one thing is certain—the dissemination of this powdery frost has occurred, is occurring, and will continue to occur, for a unit of time. We are proud.

With warmest wishes,

Lee Bollinger University President

Venice Ohleyer is excited to have been appointed as a columnist of the Columbia Daily Spectator for the upcoming spring academic term. Since first joining Columbia as a transfer student in 2018 as an undergraduate scholar of creative writing and film and media studies, Venice has been a dedicated and steadfast citizen of this University. I hope you will join me in sending her our collective congratulations and gratitude for her abiding commitment to Columbia and continued service to the University. Her column, The Invisible Hand, publishes twice a month on Thursdays.

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


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