The Columbia Chronicle

#SaveColumbia stages sit-in to protest budget cuts, tuition hikes

May 4, 2015

Students, staff and faculty—staged a sit-in in the fifth floor hallway of the 600 S. Michigan Ave. Building where the Office of the President is located. The coalition, which was protesting the impending...

Exploring gender in the classroom: Columbia students seek feminist education

By Managing Editor

May 4, 2015

As the millennial generation ages, many are hopeful that long-standing societal problems including sexism will no longer be barriers to progress.However, some Columbia students fear that might not become reality.Gender equality within higher education has long been both a subject of interest and a goal of colleges across the country. Harvard Graduate School of Education lecturer Catherine G. Krupnick published a watershed ...

Temptation overrides questionable textiquette

Temptation overrides questionable textiquette

By Sports & Health Editor

April 13, 2015

Chimes sound at a wedding, bells ring at a funeral. But these are not the celebratory or somber sounds fit for such momentous or weighty events—they are the signaling tones of mobile phones. A hush sweeps...

The Rose Chronicles: Return Part III

The Rose Chronicles: Return Part III

April 13, 2015

The story has been told time and time again, and the injuries have occurred time and time again, but it’s not about how many times Derrick fell. It’s about how many times Derrick rose.Criticism wa...

THE CHI-TOWN LOW DOWN: Chicago’s safety remains up in air as runoff election approaches

By Managing Editor

April 6, 2015

According to a March 31 Chicago Tribune report, homicide rates in Chicago are consistent with rates over the past four years. However, within the past three months, the city recorded 78 homicides and 355 shootings, showing a 26 percent increase from last year’s 62 homicides and 253 shootings. These new numbers come at a troubling time, as the runoff election is set to take place this week and may make Mayor Rahm Emanuel look...

Lewis Carroll’s ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’ comes of age

Lewis Carroll’s ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’ comes of age

By Ariel Parrella-Aureli

April 6, 2015

“Curious?” reads the bold black letters on the handcrafted pink blanket in Marc James’ hands. He is working on the blanket at the Side Project Theatre, 1439 W. Jarvis Ave., in Chicago’s Roger’s...

Revisualizing Columbia:  College unveils 5-year Strategic Plan

Revisualizing Columbia: College unveils 5-year Strategic Plan

April 6, 2015

The credo “Redefining Greatness” introduced by President and CEO Kwang-Wu Kim in September 2013 is more than the college’s motto. It’s a call to action for Columbia’s administrators.The Office of the Provost has unveiled a first draft outlining a five-year Strategic Plan for the college. The plan suggests major changes, including establishing a campus center, major revision of the curricula, the creation of six new administrative positions and a call for a hiring and workforce reduction plan.Following seven months of discussion, analysis and writing, the draft plan was presented to the college on March 23, beginning a two-week comment period ending April 7 for students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members to share feedback on the plan on the college’s Civic Commons website.“When you commit to a process that is very open and inclusive, you don’t really know what kind of feedback you’re going to get, so you don’t know what you’re going to end up with at the draft stage,” Kim said. “There are a lot of bold things in this plan. I’m hopeful because it calls out many big things that we need to do to push our college to the next level.”The 40-page document breaks the Strategic Plan’s objectives into six main goals: Student Success, A 21st-Century Curriculum, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Community Engagement, Optimizing Enrollment, and Aligning Resources with Goals.Feedback aggregated by the college during the Fall 2014 Semester was analyzed and translated into a preliminary list of objectives and action items, according to the draft. A four-person writing team then compiled the first draft, which the college’s Strategic Planning Steering Committee and Kim reviewed before its release to the college community.The first goal focuses on the college’s commitment to student success, outlining objectives that encourage student exploration, increased graduation and retention rates and career preparation. “Underlying much of what is in the plan is our desire to improve student success,” said Stan Wearden, vice president and provost, in an email. “To me, this comes down to two essentials: A successful student is one who completes a degree in as timely a manner as possible and who leaves the college prepared for a lifetime of rewarding employment.”The plan calls for the college to increase its freshman-to-sophomore retention rate from 71 to 80 percent and its six-year graduation rate from 42.9 to 50 percent. Additional objectives outlined in the Student Success section include tightening admissions selectivity, redefining the first-year experience, developing a Declaration of Major process, creating a centralized internship coordinator office and creating a campus center to house all student support services and foster student interactions.Peter Carpenter, an associate professor in the Dance Department and president of the Faculty Senate, served on the Strategic Planning Steering Committee and said the call for a central location for all student support services stood out to him.“I would love that so much,” Carpenter said. “There are other institutions that do a much better job of that than we do. Even as I’m advising majors and registration advising, I think it’s sometimes hard for me to always know where to direct [students]. I’m an expert who’s been here for nine years, so if I’m struggling, then I can’t imagine what it’s like as a student trying to navigate that terrain.”The second goal is to develop curricula that align with forthcoming learning outcomes for all students. This process will entail reorganizing academic departments and schools, revising curricula, introducing new major/minor combinations and expanding graduate and online education opportunities.Suzanne Blum Malley, interim dean of the School of Liberal Arts & Sciences, also served as a member of the Strategic Planning Steering Committee and was a member of the plan’s four-person writing group. She was most excited about the call to develop universal learning objectives.“[It’s a way to show] what we all agree [on] across the board, [that] every student here has to leave knowing, understanding, being able to do [and being] aware of,” Blum Malley said. “It opens up the kinds of things we do in the School of Liberal Arts & Sciences [and shows] that the core curriculum doesn’t happen just here, it happens everywhere.”Wearden said it is important that every student develops strong business and technology skills, a priority Kim set for the college in his White Paper, an essay outlining Kim’s perceived institutional priorities, released May 7, 2014.The third goal is designed to strengthen the college’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, the chief objective being the formation of a Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee and hiring a vice president to oversee the efforts. “We have begun to define what it means to be diversity leaders,” Wearden said in the email. “That brings focus to a goal many colleges have but don’t fully understand.”This includes using trained search committees to increase the hiring of a more diverse faculty and setting standards that will embed diversity into the college’s core and major curricula.Despite the efforts to strengthen the college’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, Brian Martin, a senior cultural studies major, said having a new vice president of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion position is not the proper approach to fostering diversity on campus.“[Diversity and inclusion] are about non-hierarchical approaches,” Martin said. “So when they try to have this dialogue about diversity, equity and inclusion, and their solution is to pull it up higher in the administrative ladder and isolate it in one position, it doesn’t seem like an appropriate solution.”The fourth goal strives to deepen ties to Chicago and capitalize on the college’s status as an urban campus. To promote community engagement at Columbia, objectives include reviewing the Center for Community Arts Partnerships, forming an Office of Community Engagement and identifying key contacts for community engagement partnerships. A community engagement course designation will also be created to embed the practice into curricula.“One of our greatest assets is our location in the heart of one of the greatest cities in the world, and we really haven’t taken advantage of that,” said Erin McCarthy, associate chair of the Humanities, History & Social Sciences Department. “There are so many cultural institutions and partners that we can tap into with that, and [I love] the idea of using the city as our campus.”The fifth goal of the Strategic Plan is optimizing enrollment, which includes increasing and stabilizing enrollment across the college through improvements in its marketing strategy, financial aid response and strengthened transfer, graduate and international student recruitment pipelines.Objectives include hiring a new associate vice president of Enrollment Services, determining the college’s optimum enrollment size, increasing admissions selectivity, hiring a vice president of Strategic Marketing and Communications and growing enrollment in terms of transfer, graduate, continuing education and international students. The plan also calls for the consideration of developing satellite campuses in other continents, such as Europe, Asia or South America.“No college today can continue to thrive without deep expertise in marketing and brand management,” Wearden said.The last goal is aligning resources with goals, which includes determining institutional priorities and ensuring the college is spending its money efficiently.Objectives outlined in the sixth goal include creating a new, responsibility-centered budget model, consolidating certain services throughout the college, generating new and diverse revenue streams, hiring a new chief information officer, creating a three- to five-year strategic hiring and workforce reduction plan and strengthening the Office of Development and Alumni Relations.Diana Vallera, an adjunct professor in the Photography Department and president of Columbia’s Part-Time Faculty Union, said she is concerned community input regarding the Strategic Plan does not matter to the administration because parts of the plan have already begun implementation despite it being a draft.“The Strategic Plan is really a smokescreen that’s presenting the illusion that faculty and students are involved in creating a vision for Columbia,” Vallera said. “The real Strategic Plan is already being implemented. It’s being unfolded in front of us. We see this happening with the firing of the faculty in the First-Year Seminar program, the complete elimination of the First-Year Seminar, departments that have collapsed and increasing class sizes.”According to Wearden, parts of the plan that have already been implemented are those that are most urgent, and community feedback will still be taken into account when developing the final draft of the plan.“Things we have already begun to act on are issues that have urgently needed to be addressed for the good of the college and issues, I believe, that most people have recognized as needing to be addressed,” Wearden said. “The actions we have taken will put us in a far better position next year to begin implementation of the Strategic Action Plan. We cannot remain inactive on the most urgent issues while we discuss future action.”Feedback on the first draft of the Strategic Plan closes April 7. Feedback gathered from the Civic Commons website regarding the draft will be incorporated into the plan to be presented to Kim and his cabinet before the plan is finalized and sent to the Board of Trustees at the end of April.“I’m enthusiastic that the college has embraced the process,” Kim said. “I understand we’re moving fast, but my sense is that people get why. Even if we’re moving fast, we’re not going to abandon the idea that we’ve got to maintain an open dialogue about what we’re doing.”

College to axe student positions

College to axe student positions

March 16, 2015

Some student workers will feel the sting of the budget crisis when they return next fall.Mandated departmental budget reductions and the recent increase in the minimum wage will reduce the number of available on-campus ...

Bursts of fasting may be key to longevity and health

Bursts of fasting may be key to longevity and health

March 9, 2015

Hunger. People go to great lengths to keep their stomachs full, but research dating back more than 60 years suggests that temporarily depriving oneself of food may be the key to a long and healthy life. Cl...

West Coast alumni office changes location

West Coast alumni office changes location

March 2, 2015

Columbia’s Alumni Relations office on the West Coast will be relocated from its current location to a new space in the Raleigh Studios lot, 650 N. Bronson Ave., where the college’s Semester in LA pro...

Sounds like independence

Sounds like independence

By Arts & Culture Reporter

February 16, 2015

In 2011, alternative-rock band The Maine was working on recording its third album, Pioneer, in a studio. According to guitarist Kennedy Brock, the album was recorded and presented as a final product to W...

Self-reflection may distinguish lucid dreamers

By Sports & Health Editor

February 2, 2015

Though frequent lucid dreamers are uncommon, the nocturnal phenomenon has been a topic of interest to psychologists and sleep scientists for centuries. New research published in The Journal of Neuroscience has established a link between certain cognitive functions and the likelihood of being able to lucid dream, shedding some new light on the hazy subject.“Metacognitive monitoring is essentially the ability to monitor your own thoughts,” said Elisa Filevich, lead author of the study and postdoctoral fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development. “It’s knowing what’s inside your mind.”This ability to self-reflect has been associated more with lucid rather than non-lucid dreams, leading researchers to suspect a connection to the anterior prefrontal cortex—the brain area that controls conscious processing and enables humans to consider and gain perspective on their own thoughts and actions. The Jan. 21 study is the first to test a link between lucid dreaming ability and the metacognitive function of self-reflecting at the neural level.“Dreams are normally not subject to this metacognitive monitoring,” Filevich said. “If you really were able to critically reflect on what you’re thinking, then you would notice that there are logical inaccuracies, logical failures—that things don’t follow one another,” Filevich said. “The only reason why you don’t realize you’re in a dream is because you’re not really thinking about what you’re thinking.” Study participants in a functional MRI machine were given two thought-monitoring tasks. In a portion of each they were asked to consciously self-reflect, to stay aware of their thoughts and what they were perceiving around them. Based on instructions given, the subjects indicated how internally or externally oriented their thoughts were. The fMRI data showed greater blood flow to the regions of the brain associated with metacognitive functioning in those participants who, based on a series of questionnaires and surveys, indicated that they regularly experienced lucid dreams. “We knew that we were expecting frontopolar cortex [activity based on previous research showing] that people with higher metacognitive ability have bigger brain matter volume in the prefrontal cortex,” Filevich said. “That was exactly where we expected the difference between lucid dreamers and non-lucid dreamers to be, and that’s what we got.”According to Benjamin Baird, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the point has been made within lucid dreaming literature that it is uncommon for people to reflect on their current state of consciousness much of the time.“Most people in their everyday lives don’t go around wondering whether they’re dreaming or not,” Baird said. “The kind of metacognition that’s talked about in terms of lucid dreaming is also something that doesn’t happen very frequently in the waking state.”Baird said current research also reflects that ordinary, non-lucid dreams also routinely feature metacognitive-type processes. “If you look at people’s reports of their dreaming experiences, they are making judgments about things [and] considering other people’s reactions,” Baird said. “Those kinds of things happen frequently throughout the waking state and dreaming. The question is which ones we want to call metacognition.”Memory and perception are two domains at the focus of metacognitive research, Baird said. Although structures in the anterior prefrontal cortex relate to both of those abilities, there is also evidence that other parts of the brain region may relate to thought-monitoring skills. According to Dr. Allan Hobson, a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and author of multiple papers on dreams and dream consciousness, one theory that may help explain the occurrence of lucid dreams is the hybrid state hypothesis.“What consciousness is doing is constantly updating our predictive blueprint about the world and yet our predictive blueprint of the world is constantly entering into whatever conscious state we are in,” Hobson said. “In waking, the predominant information is external and in dreaming the predominant information is internal. [When] lucid dreaming, we produce an alternation between these two states.”According to a January 2015 paper co-authored by Hobson, the highest incidence rate of both intentional and spontaneous lucid dreaming was observed in young people, peaking at the age of 9. Neurobiological changes children experience at this age begin to activate the frontal lobe, which is engaged during lucid dreaming. These changes are taking place in the same area of the brain associated with the self-monitoring, metacognitive abilities. Filevich said in order to better answer the question of a causal link between anterior prefrontal cortex activity and lucid dreaming, she hopes to teach people how to lucid dream and measure whether this increases the gray matter in the part of the brain corresponding to self-reflection.“[We want to see] whether it’s a completely trainable ability or if it comes with preconditions—whether your specific brain configuration helps you,” Filevich said.

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