Not a Choice

9b0c275ec686a3f79085bf51bf655b77By Isabella DiazRead More »



Join Barnard Bite Blog and All for 1 Coalition in a live, Moth-style storytelling event on Barnard’s campus! We invite students to share their personal stories pertaining to a certain theme. This time, our theme is ‘mental health’, as this is an issue extremely relevant to our campus climate right now.

Where and When?

April 21st at 7:30 PM

Ella Weed Room

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Unplugged: The World Beyond Your Screens

by Molly Scott

I think I’m addicted to Buzzfeed.

Take a look around Barnard’s campus (or probably any college campus these days) and what you see is a student population completely absorbed in technology – computers, phones, and tablets abound! In many ways, the technology of 2014 is extremely helpful in learning and makes college life, and life in general, much more convenient than it otherwise would be. However, a rapidly growing concern is that these machines are taking over our daily lives and that we’re losing touch with the “real world” through our heavy use of technology.

In fact, the problem is gaining such attention that The Week recently published an article discussing something that researchers call Digital Attention Disorder, or “the addiction to social networks and computers in general.” The Huffington Post featured an article that used the word “nomophobia,” or the fear of being without a cellphone. The article also mentions that in a recent study, college students checked their phone an average of 60 times per day!

It’s important to keep in mind, however, that these articles are pointing out extremes. But I definitely see these trends in my own life and the lives of my friends and fellow peers. Therefore, it’s important to consider what impact technology and social media is having on our academic performance, our social life, and our own health. We can even consider ways to “unplug” in order to enhance all areas of our lives. Here are some ideas:

Wean yourself off constantly checking your email. A big problem with smartphones and tablets is that people can continually check their email to a point where it becomes unnecessary. Try to reduce the amount of times you check your email throughout the day. Realistically, you could check it two to three times a day. You could also limit yourself to only checking email on the computer, not on your smartphone.

Get rid of the social media apps on your phone (or only use the app once a day). You can limit yourself to checking your Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, etc. only on the computer.

Time yourself! If you timed how many minutes per day you spent using social media, you’d probably be shocked. Wean yourself by limiting social media time (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, etc.) to 30 minutes per day, then work your way down to 15 minutes per day. You’ll be amazed by the amount of time you’ll save.

You need help when you have to put your phone in prison.

Everyday Health has two really great ways to help us unplug:

Do a media detox. This is simply impossible to do during the academic year, so consider doing one over spring break. Take two or three days (or whatever you can manage) to go technology-free. This will help prove to yourself that you are not dependent on your computer or phone.

Do a nighttime cleanse. Before bed every night, take an hour where screens are not involved whatsoever. With this time you can do your readings (ones that are printed-out), create an outline for a paper, catch up with a friend, or simply relax. Studies have shown that looking at screens before bedtime messes with your sleep anyway, so this is a great way to unplug and get better sleep.

According to The Huffington Post, the benefit to trying these unplugging techniques is increased mindfulness, which can lead to reduced stress levels, lower symptoms of anxiety and depression, and improve the ability to focus.

You should also consider what you can do with all that time you’ve saved (aka – more hours in the day to be productive): complete academic readings and assignments, exercise, grocery shop, sleep, spend quality time with friends and family, and go outside to connect with the world!

 Molly Scott is a junior at Barnard and Senior Editor of The Nine Ways of Knowing.

Images courtesy of Internet Addiction Recovery and ubergizmo.

On Relapsing

Your progress means so much more than a relapse.

Trigger warning: suicide, addiction, and self-harm.

If you’re suffering from mental illness or addiction, you’re probably familiar with “The Point.” The Point where you’ve officially hit rock bottom, and you make a pledge to yourself that starting today, everything will be different. This is different from all those other times that you made half-hearted attempts at changing, because something has happened that makes this Point an all-or-nothing, now-or-never gambit. The Point can happen anywhere, but for me, it happened in the hospital in February 2012.

I don’t really like talking about everything that happened back then because it was a really dark time, and I have improved immensely since then. Long story short, I have a history of self-harm that when mixed with my underlying mental problems equaled suicidal tendencies that resulted in me more or less admitting myself to the hospital about a year and a half ago. It was there that I decided that I wanted to live, and I made a vow to myself that I would never be back in the psychiatric ward again. Whatever it took, I was going to be better.

And I was better. I stopped cutting and started taking medication and seeing a therapist. My depression cleared up, and with it my urge to cut and kill myself. I was feeling better than ever, and I definitely felt like I was on the right track towards whatever self-actualized nirvana was achievable.

And yet, this past fall break, I found myself in the hospital again. I was drunk, I cut for the first time in seven months, and I hit a blood vessel. It was not a suicide attempt, I had just been feeling stressed and went back to an old habit. Still, with my past history, it was enough for me to be sent back to the psychiatric ward for 72 hour observation.

Out of all the emotions I felt, the largest one was disappointment in myself. I had promised myself and my peers that I would not get to this point again, and that I would never give anyone the reason to admit me to the hospital again. Had I lost all my progress because I fucked up this one time? Was I back at rock bottom? Was life going to be a constant cycle of getting better and then fucking up?

Although I don’t have the answers to those questions, I’ve learned that I need to cut myself some slack. Yes, I did break that promise to myself, but at the end of the day, I wasn’t suicidal, and making that one cut, regardless of how deep it was, does not erase the immense progress I’ve made mentally since February 2012. Just because I relapsed does not make me a weak individual, and it does not mean that I am destined to back-slide until I reach rock bottom again. I am still learning and growing, and just because there was one unexpected bump in the road doesn’t mean that it’s all over.

If you’re dealing with an any sort of addiction or illness, whether it be drug addiction, bulimia, or cutting, know that messing up one time does not mean that you are destined to be stuck in a downward spiral forever. We are all human, and we all fuck up one time or another. Take everything day by day, don’t be afraid to reach out for help, and if anything, remember that you are a beautiful, important person who will one day conquer your demons once and for all.

The Rosemary Furman Counseling Center is open Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm in the first floor of Hewitt Hall. Or call Nightline at 212-854-7777, available between 10pm and 3am.

Image courtesy of 2medusa.

To P/D/F or Not To P/D/F?

Is there a class that’s killing your buzz?

Since program-filing starts next week, you might be up to your neck in classes you’re thinking about taking next semester. But before you get carried away with next semester’s course load, don’t forget to take sometime to evaluate your current one. The deadline for P/D/F’ing a class is next Thursday, November 15th Tuesday, November 20th.

UPDATE: P/D/F deadline has been extended by Dean Hinkson due to hurricane postponements.

Here at Barnard we can opt to Pass/D/Fail up to 23 credits (22 if you’re a transfer). When you do this, any grade you receive in a class from an A to a C- appears on your transcript as a “P,” but the letter grades “D” or an “F” won’t be softened. There are, understandably, restrictions. First-Year English and any course for a major or minor can’t be taken P/D/F. A course in your major field can be taken P/D/F if you have already exceeded the number of points for your major, you aren’t using it for a major requirement, and you get the department chair’s permission. Courses that are automatically P/D/F (such as P.E.) count in your total. (Note: Dance classes count for your P.E. requirement, but are not automatically P/D/F.) So what are the pros and cons of doing P/D/F?

To P/D/F or not to P/D/F…

Saving Your GPA: Sometimes in the service of fulfilling the Nine Ways of Knowing you have to take some courses that are not your forte (hello, math!). P/D/F it and you don’t have to freak out about a C messing up your GPA. Don’t take this too far though, a D or an F would still be factored in.
Take Something Hard: Love a class but the exams are kicking your butt? P/D/F lets you enjoy the course, and worry less about the exams.
Relieve Stress: By taking a class P/D/F you can worry less about your grade in the course, which can relieve a ton of stress.
Your Professor Won’t Know: Don’t worry about your professor; P/D/F is something between you and the Registrar.

Hurting Your GPA: This may seem counter-intuitive, but keep an eye on how many courses you P/D/F. Since a P is not factored into your GPA at all, every grade counts more because it makes up a larger percentage of your GPA.
Can’t Undo: Once the P/D/F deadline has passed there is no undoing it. End up acing the course? Awesome, but there’s no getting that A on your transcript.
No Motivation: With the lack of a grade you might let some things slide, and before you know it that P is suddenly a D.

Samantha is a senior at Barnard and Co-Founder and Senior Editor of The Nine Ways of Knowing.

Images courtesy of Bowling Roller Coaster.

Be Strong, Barnard: Counseling Resources

Opposite sides of the street, but unified at the drop of a pin when needed.

In light of recent events at Columbia, we’d like to remind everyone that there’s no reason to be alone in a time like this. For first-years and transfers, I can assure you the entire Barnard and Columbia community is here for you, and sensitive to the fact that, no matter what, this is a fragile time for you. That being said, once school starts, you’ll continue to be under a lot of pressure, and all the anxieties you have during NSOP may not go away right away. We’re here to help in anyway that we can.

Here are some resources to keep in mind, in case you ever feel like you need some one to talk to:

Barnard’s Furman Counseling Center (212) 854-2092
Barnard Clinician-On-Call/After-hours Psychological Emergency Line — (866) 966-7788
The Furman Counseling Center is available to Barnard students during the school year and is located on the first floor between Brooks and Hewitt. They offer individual counseling in the short-term (usually around 5 or 6 sessions), and also have a referral network for therapists in the city. Read a testimonial about the Furman Counseling Center here.

Throughout my time at Barnard, I’ve always felt the presence of a sort of safety net of support from resources offered by Barnard, and in particular from the Furman Counseling Center. Continue to keep them in mind once the semester starts—it’s an invaluable resource, and one that’s used more than you might think. The Furman center’s website also has guided meditations and tips for sleeping, if you ever need to take a look at them.

Columbia’s Counseling and Psychological Services (CPS)
Columbia Clinician-on-Call/After-hours Psychological Emergency Line — (212) 854-9797
CPS is normally available in on a walk-in basis during designated hours in particular Columbia residence halls, including Carman, East Campus, Hartley, and 600 West 113th street. While usually not open during the summer, due to the circumstances, CPS has already advertised their availability on a walk-in basis at their office on the 8th floor of Lerner Hall from 9am to 5pm today, and to contact them at the number above, if needed.

(212) 854-7777
Although not open until the start of the semester, Nightline is a peer counseling hotline open 24/7, available anonymously and without pretense or judgement. If you ever need to talk, these resources are here for you, so please don’t hesitate to use them!

Your RA
RA on Duty (Quad) — (347) 920-0236
Last, but definitely not least, your RA is probably the most versatile resource for you here at Barnard. It may sound silly to confide in the person who was just leading you in ice breakers, but your RA is trained to help you handle these types of situations, and even if it turns out she can’t help you, she’ll be more than willing to point you to someone or a particular Barnard resource that can. While your RA may not always be available, there is an RA on Duty at any given moment in the Quad. Use this number in case of emergencies or if you ever find yourself in a situation where you could use someone’s help.

UPDATE: For more resources available today (such as The Student Wellness Project meeting), please click here.

Following is last night’s email to Barnard students from Dean Hinkson:

Dear Barnard Students,

I am deeply saddened to share the news that a Columbia College student has passed away. We at Barnard join Columbia in mourning the loss of a member of our community. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of this promising young person.

Below is a message (link here) that was sent to CC and SEAS students by Dean Kevin Schollenberger.

If you would like to talk with someone about this loss, or anything else, please know that the staffs of Residential Life and Furman Counseling (854-2092) are eager to offer their support. Your Class Deans as always are also available in the Dean of Studies Office (854-2024).


Dean Hinkson

Image courtesy of The Kermit Project.