Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue
The Scope


I thought I wanted to go to Yale.

I grew up on the countless Gilmore Girls episodes where Rory walks through gothic halls and ivy arches, where Emily and Richard Gilmore join in for the famed Harvard-Yale game and tell stories of their own time on campus. There seemed to be something incredibly charming about a grandfather, decades after graduating, singing the same songs he knew as a co-ed, wearing his Yale sweatshirt, revelling in a transcendent sense of tradition.

This was all before discovering that, in fact, Manhattan is far superior to New Haven, that the Core beats residential colleges by a landslide, and that making fun of Cornell is far easier than making fun of Harvard.

But after two years here, for me, the question of tradition still persists. Yale’s tradition thrives because it prides itself on an inherited history. How, then, does a school in the middle of a rapidly changing cosmopolitan setting, with a history of pushing boundaries and breaking with the past, engage with tradition?

In 1952, when the classes were smaller and the student body whiter, the question of tradition was answered by simply kidnapping freshmen and dropping them in the middle of Yale as part of a longstanding “Soph Frosh” rivalry. While we’ve forgone travel expenses and bodily harm, today our traditions revolve more around the very notion of change. Karim Nader, CC ’17, suggests that our campus’s persistent spirit of activism is a large thread in our fabric of tradition, whereas Rafael Ortiz, CC ’19, finds the transient entertainment of memes to be a new but important way in which we can engage with a greater sense of community and inherited humor. Meanwhile Alexandra Zhang, BC ’17, lauds the return of the century-old Barnard Greek Games as a way to bring together the whole Barnard community beyond individual student groups.

Perhaps there is more than simply the Columbia Core, or Barnard Foundations, that connect us to one another across schools and generations. Traditions, both old and new, offer a sense of community we can grasp onto in our metropolitan, millennial culture. We may not have a winning football team or a famous rivalry that brings us together year after year, but we somehow still manage to retain our sense of community.

As they say: For God, for country, and for Columbia.

Hannah Barbosa Cesnik
Editorial Page Editor