In Defense Of The McBain Shaft

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Bwog is a champion of the people. We save cats from trees, we give you free food, we defend the lowliest, saddest, most seemingly indefensible parts of our fair campus. We’ve tackled Wien, Famiglias, and the Freshman Fifteen. Just when you thought we couldn’t get any crazier, we tricked you and got crazier! Today, as housing panic builds, Mark Hay defends the McBain Shaft. Yeah, what’s up, world.

It is not easy to think up a form of Columbia housing more universally reviled or feared than the McBain shaft. A rather dank and dismal gap in the center of the building around which a mass of unfortunate sophomores and truly damned juniors and transfers cluster for air, the shaft permits almost no light in a given day. In the winter, it has such a Dickensian drear as to magnify anyone’s seasonal depressive disorder at least tenfold. Last year, cursed as I was (my housing lottery number was my uni – go figure), I feared the shaft and took a smaller room facing 113th to avoid it. But now, spending time as one does with the shafted, I have grown rather fond of the place. So to settle the fears of all those about to enter the housing lottery, I wish to tell you how I learned to stop worrying and love the shaft (which I believe was the title of a porno directed by Stanley Kubrick, but what of it).

The greatest complaint I hear is about the lack of daylight, but consider the extraordinary comfort this gives to pasty white fellows like myself. Milky as we are, we do not absorb sunlight but instead reflect it with our pure white skin and burn at the slightest sun’s ray without comical amounts of sunscreen lotion. I don’t have the money to blow on industrial shipments of SPF 1,000,000, ya know. And about that seasonal affective disorder – just pop some St. John’s Wart into your tea, get a heat lamp, and you’ll be fine. Ergo, the shaft wins.

Recall that oppressive heat we spoke of earlier? Well, it is not so much oppressive as a welcome bedfellow on the nippy nights of fall or the bitter blizzards of winter, which seem to dominate our time here. So when those frigid snows do come, you can huddle into your warm shaft suite, open up the window, and watch the peculiar interplay of snow and shaftlight streaming down.

But the shaft doesn’t just cater to the freezing student, oh no. It caters to the nudist as well. We all like to dance naked in our rooms, but the logistics aren’t always so easy. But with no sunlight to worry about in the shaft, the blinds can stay closed forever, or if one leaves the blinds up the chances of being seen by one of your few neighbors are much lower. Yes, the shaft is the Promised Land for a nudist with poor circulation.

To top it all off, the rooms around the shaft tend to be mercifully larger than other sophomore options (or at least appear that way to the wishful eye). And with just a few large rooms clustered around a small opening, your window neighbors are few and friendly. In fact a certain sense of community – in misery or in joy – can spring up around the shaft.

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  1. Anonymous  

    censor this comment

  2. DUDE...  

    It's not that bad! If you have a window fan and lamps it's fine. I could do without the constant yelling but it is really gratifying to store up some snowballs in your freezer and respond now and then.

  3. geez  

    alright, i'm the furthest thing from an activist of any sort and have never pulled the race card before, but this quote:

    "consider the extraordinary comfort this gives to us pasty white fellows"

    ...really rubbed me the wrong way. yes, i understand this post was written very much tongue-in-cheek, but that little phrase speaks volumes about the audience mark hay is writing to and implies that darker-skinned people are the "others".

  4. Anonymous

    do it, dolittle. do it!

  5. I still  

    don't want to get shafted.

  6. I AM  

    the "nudist with poor circulation" and I've grown fond of my shaft room. Though, admittedly, I am on one of the higher floors so I do get a small amount of sunlight.

  7. Anyone  

    notice how well-written this is? Answer: hella. I'm pretty impressed.

  8. Let's face it.  

    Mark Hay is my hero. <3

  9. Grammah Pahlice  

    The "ergo" usage in the above article is abhorrently pretentious. I stopped right there and didn't even bother to keep reading. In fact, I dropped down here to write really nasty things about people who misuse ergo in such nasty ways. But I refrain-this particular officer is above that. P.S. my freaking security word down here is ATAVISM! Bwog, don't go highbrow on me, okay?

  10. misuse?  

    maybe in some realms of usage, but looking at the literal definition
    Ergo: A Latin word meaning "therefore." In logic, ergo means the conclusion of a preceding argument.
    Seems alright, even if it is hella pretentious.
    And my word here is oregano, soooooo doubt Bwog's gone highbrow, although maybe gone Julia Childs.

  11. seas kid  

    a friend of mine who lived in the shaft was greeted one morning my a used condom sitting on her windowsill, possibly thrown from above her some time before.

  12. Mark  

    Hay writes the best Bwog posts!

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