Senior Wisdom: Tao Tan
Written by Bwog Staff
In a shockingly short span of time, the class of 2007 will shuffle off this undergraduate coil. What’s left for them to look forward to? Finals, Matthew Fox (of Speed Racer fame!), and Bwog’s Senior Wisdom series, which will introduce you to eleven seniors whom you may or may not have been lucky enough to meet. Today, meet Bwog’s curmudgeonly commenting MVP, Tao Tan.
Name: Tao Tan
Claims to fame: Transfer from SEAS, weird interest in Columbia history, wrote mildly psychotic and generally awful column in the Spec for a while, sucked into the capitalist corporatocracy early, responds to e-mails within five minutes, and present spammer and CPA of East Campus.
Preferred swim test stroke?
Kawasaki 800 SX-R.
What are three things you learned at Columbia?
1. The secret to good grades is treating every paper and assignment as an interdisciplinary study. If you have to write an economics paper, write a history paper disguised as an economics paper (“Central Banking at the House of Morgan: J.P. Morgan & Company from 1895-1907”). If you have to write a history paper, write an economics paper disguised as a history paper (“Financing an Empire: Banks, Bourses, and Capital Markets of the Roman Republic”). Who’s going to argue with you? On another note, you’re waiting until I turn in my last papers before publishing this, right?
2. The secret to getting irregular arrangements approved is persistence and submitting very, very, very long petitions and requests. If you wanted a, say, half-hour course overlap approved so badly that you would write three pages of dense prose justifying it, who’s going to say no? Or even read it?
3. I can’t stress enough the importance of getting to know and building relationships with the faculty. It sometimes seems that the University would like nothing more than each generation of CC and SEAS students to come through, fulfill the cookie-cutter requirements, and be shown the door with a pat on the back and an alumni donation envelope in hand. But getting to know and work with faculty one-on-one is one of the best ways to pursue your own interests, to have someone watch out for you, and to have an advocate in trying to do non-cookie-cutter things on the assembly line of a Columbia education.
Justify your existence in 30 words or less.
Some people try to stick it to The Man. I am The Man. Or more precisely, we are The Man.
What was your favorite controversy in your time at Columbia?
What bothers me about many controversies are the administration’s attempts to express the right platitudes to 1) please everyone, and 2) keep the media off their back — while refusing to take a firm and principled, if politically incorrect, stance on anything. A good friend of mine is working on his Ed.D. dissertation, a chapter of which is on the “dumbening” of University Presidents and Deans. In past decades, they used to be on the forefront of national issues and were regularly consulted on the positions they took. Now they are far more interested in keeping quiet and raising money. I think what happened in spring 2004 in response to the Fed cartoon and the affirmative action bake sale bothered me the most.
Which professor do you think would be the best kisser?
Umm… I would imagine that Lucy J. Hayner was pretty hot in her day.
What percentage of seniors do you think are virgins?
Who knows. 20%?
Would you rather permanently give up oral sex or cheese?
I hate cheese. Now if it was between oral sex and Vitamin Water on the other hand…
Days on Campus memory?
Ha! None, actually. I actually was admitted to SEAS off the waitlist about a month after Days on Campus. That Friday, I skipped school to visit CU and accepted on the spot.
Yes. I should have shorted the Shanghai Composite ETF on 26 February 2007, used the proceeds to take a leveraged long put position on the underlying index itself, exercised it the next day, and used the proceeds to cover my original short. Would have made a #*@&$)* killing. But I didn’t. Darn it.
No, seriously, I would have to admit that I sometimes regret pretty much checking out two years ago. I’m satisfied with the decisions I made, and Columbia’s not the typical college either, but who knows what “only-possible-in-college experiences” I missed.
If you’re burning for more class of 2007 profiles, check it: Frances Howorth, Josh Bolotsky, Jenni Oki, Seth Flaxman, Maria Baibakova, Karen Fu (scroll), David Chait (scroll), Dan Okin, Anthony Walker, Nick Klagge, Claire Lackner, Paul Sonne, Karina Garcia, and Sakib Khan.