Orgo Night

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Orgo Night, Fall 2010
The Drum Major leading the CUMB during Orgo Night

Orgo Night is held on the day before the Organic Chemistry ("Orgo") exam, which is always on the first day of finals. At precisely the stroke of midnight, the Columbia University Marching Band occupies Room 209 (the main reading room) of Butler Library to distract diligent students from studying - in fact, one of its legendary purposes is to lower the curve of the Orgo exam. Despite the commotion, at least some students attempt to study through the event.

Though the performance doesn't begin until midnight, early arrival is recommended as students begin to file in and claim prime spaces in the room as early as 20 to 25 minutes ahead of time.

Performance timeline

The Band begins by telling scripted campus-interest jokes and playing music. After half an hour, the procession moves out to Van Am Quad to entertain the residents of Hartley, Wallach, and John Jay residence halls. The Band then plays at various other locations around the campus, including the courtyard of Wien, President Bollinger's House (where, until recently when security began stopping them, they would ring the doorbell before playing), and the residential quadrangle of Barnard College, where students of the all-women's school rain papers - including notes and course packets - and sometimes pornographic magazines upon them from their dormitory rooms above in mock exasperation.

The Band ends their Orgo Night performances in front of Furnald Hall, formerly an all-senior dormitory, where the seniors gathering on the steps of the building are presented with bottles of champagne, and the underclassmen in the marching band serenade them with a singing of the college Alma Mater, Sans Souci. After finishing the song, the singers go through a series of entertaining, though vulgar, mock-versions of the song, composed of quips that poke fun at the various stereotypes about the Columbia student body.

Typical joke targets


The 2012 flier that offended dozens

The history of Orgo Night is somewhat shrouded in mystery. It's believed that the first show was held as a spontaneous prank, perhaps in the 1960s.

Security Concerns 2000-2001

The Spring 2000 Orgo Night attracted over 1,000 attendants, possibly driven by a rumor that alcohol was being served by the band. The rumor also reached the administration which decided to beef up security. As such, the extra administrators got to witness students standing on every possible surface in and outside of the main reading room. As a result, the event was capped with a 200 person limit in the room, followed by a second performance on the Low Steps or Van Am Quad for a few years. Of course, things couldn't be left at that - at the first Orgo Night following the overcrowded Spring 2000 affair, an unknown person pulled the fire alarm. Stay classy, Columbia.

2012 Scolding

In 2012 the Marching Band got publicly scolded by Kevin Shollenberger for their Orgo Night promo flyers that made politically incorrect puns involving the Gaza Strip and an image of a stripper. The small scandal led to student protests of Orgo Night, and assorted counter-protests. Although the Marching Band apologized, most people agreed that it wasn't that big of a deal.[1].

2019 and 2020 Cancellation

In the Winter of 2019, CUMB cancelled Orgo Night in recognition of general campus tumult over the Tess Majors murder.

In the Spring of 2020, CUMB Orgo Night was again not held due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.

After the band's dissolution in the fall semester of 2020, it became increasingly unlikely that Orgo Night would ever be held again.


External links

  • Bwog posts about Orgo Night
  • [1], 2019 Cancellation