Senior Wisdom: Jacob Rice

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Name, Hometown, School, Major: Jacob Rice, Oakland, CA, CC, Theater and Astrophysics

Claim to Fame? I think I may be the only person to graduate Columbia with a double major in theater and astrophysics, but most people know me as the loud kid who looks kind of like Andy Samberg.

Where are you going? I’m doing a theater marketing fellowship at Berkeley Rep for a year. After that? Probably homelessness.

Three things you learned at Columbia: 

  1. Doing anything cool or challenging will almost always piss off somebody. (And I’ve probably pissed off more than my fair share.) If you obsess over everyone agreeing with you, or even liking you, you’ll go completely crazy. If you dismiss their criticisms, you’ll miss out on a chance to grow. There’s probably a middle ground, but I haven’t found it yet.
  2. The people who matter to me most now were mostly the ones I found weird or annoying at first. The people who challenge you can be a pain in the ass, but they’re usually the ones who are insightful enough, and who care enough, to teach you something about yourself.
  3. Most of the time, people are shit. Every once in awhile, they are amazing. No matter how many times you tell yourself both of these facts, people will continue to surprise you with just how horrible and wonderful they can be.

“Back in my day…” The upperclassmen in charge of clubs and student groups knew exactly what to do all the time. Ever since I’ve been one of them, I’ve been waiting to feel like I had even the slightest clue what I was doing. The best I’ve been able to manage is to pretend. I’m starting to suspect they may have been doing the same thing.

Justify your existence in 30 words or less: If I could justify my existence in 30 words or less I would lead a pretty boring existence.

Is the War on Fun over? Who won? Any war stories? Sophomore year I produced KCST’s Spring Show and we had a huge party that got broken up by the RAs in EC and then, when we moved to an off-campus apartment, by the NYPD. Undaunted, a group of us stormed the steps of Low (where Campus Safety has its offices). One of the security guards came up and pointed out that we were breaking about half a dozen campus rules and state laws, at which point I pulled myself up, still clasping a handle of vodka, walked over to him, and said very calmly “John Murolo (The deputy head of public safety whose name I miraculously managed to remember) said we could be here.” He looked at me suspiciously as the people behind me all nodded sagely and tried to look like they knew where, or who, they were. Then he shrugged and walked off, leaving us to carouse in peace. If that’s not a victory for fun, I don’t know what is.

Would you rather give up oral sex or cheese? No one ever woke up the next morning regretting that they got drunk and bought a delicious wedge of Gouda.

Advice for the class of 2016:

  • Columbia is a place with wonderful opportunities and truly spectacular people. It’s also a place with a culture of stress, elitism, self-destructive behavior, and downright cruelty. People have finally started to talk about this problem but you guys are the ones who can fix it.
  • Don’t brag about not getting sleep or missing classes. (Why is that a good thing?)
  • Don’t try to compete for who can be the most stressed. (We’ve all done it, but if you really think about it, it’s incredibly sick. Would you really want to win?)
  • Don’t post malicious anonymous comments on Bwog slandering classmates (or an entire school). (It won’t make you happier, trust me, I’ve tried.)
  • Don’t overuse parentheses. (Okay, so not directly relevant, but clearly a problem I’ve had.)
  • You are so lucky to be here. You probably killed yourself to get in and now you have access to everything this place has to offer. Plus, now you have four years before they’re going to make you try to be a real person. Life is good. Why would you want to make yourselves miserable?

Any regrets? I regret that I have defined myself by what I do rather than who I am. I regret that who I am so consistently falls short of who I want to be. I regret that I have missed so many opportunities for life-changing friendships because I was too busy or too proud or too stupid to realize how amazing people can be and how much I need them. I regret that I have not told the people I love how much they matter to me every day. I regret that I have spent so much of my time here being a bad friend, a bad boyfriend, a bad leader and even, at times, a bad person. And most of all I regret that I will probably make all of these mistakes again.

Oh, and I still haven’t taken the swim test. That’s pretty stupid.

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  1. Anonymous  

    This is a great one.

  2. 510  

    brilliantly useful advice. well done, Jacob!

  3. Anonymous  

    You are sexist swine.

    • Anonymous  

      The first time I read this, I thought it said "You are the sexiest swine," which is more interesting and kind of sounds like a line from a Jacob Rice play.

  4. CC'13  

    Theater and Astrophysics? That's kinda sexy.

    Date me!

  5. Anonymous  

    This is a really really great senior wisdom. Props, Jacob. I think I may have actually learned something. And the Back in my Day is the truest thing that has ever been true. Is there any chance that '09 and '10 were just smarter than the rest of us...?


  6. Anonymous

    Don't know him, but seems like a really genuine, funny guy.

  7. Anonymous  


  8. RIP Struggles 69

    proud to be the people you found weird and annoying at first. we love you!!!

  9. Anonymous  

    What a consistently pleasant, humble, charming young man!

    I have had a number of conversations with Jacob, and he never attempted to one-up every story I told. He also definitely didn't hit on my girlfriend with a bizarre single-mindedness despite knowing that we were dating. Also, his plays are extremely well-written and not at all tasteless, nor painfully unfunny. His characters are not flat caricatures, and the dialogue is every bit as clever as he thinks it is. I don't know anyone that was turned off of the entire Columbia theater experience by his antics.

    In summary: I really like this kid and I definitely hope he doesn't end up homeless after graduation because that would not fill me with perverse pleasure.

  10. Anonymous  

    Good to finally see some honest, real regrets that aren't some quirky bullshit remarks

  11. anonymous

    When I first met Jacob he kind of pissed me off, but for a myriad of reasons I was forced to see him all the time. Over the years I came to really respect him and realize his genius. You are one special kid! I don't know how the theatre community is going to go on without you. Thanks for teaching me so much and for being who you are.

  12. Don't joke  

    about homelessness. They are legitimately homeless students at Columbia.

  13. i mean this in a nice way

    jacob is proof that productivity trumps talent. every time.

    he also tried to third wheel me to my girlfriend a bunch but i won't hold that against him. shamelessness is what allows you to think so many of your ideas are worth putting out into the world.

    • Anonymous

      Jacob Rice is sort of like Michael Bay. Sure, you look down on Michael Bay's movies, but guess what, he gets to make whatever he wants and enjoys the hell out of it no matter how bad you think it is. You can try to talk to him about it — "you know, Michael, you need some more character depth, and this is kind of preposterous, if you think about it..." but before you can finish explaining to him why it's bad you'll be interrupted by the deafening sound of an Nimitz-class aircraft carrier going 220 miles an hour off a ramp through a ring of fire and landing in Luxembourg, which happens to have been rigged with explosives across its entire area and it won't matter, because he's so fucking pleased with himself for pulling it off, and who are you to tell him he shouldn't be proud of what he does, really?

  14. wow really theater crowd?  

    can ya just chill out a little bit guys? not sure your being dramatic enough

  15. CC '12  

    favorite senior wisdom so far. wish we had been friends mr. rice! maybe i'll see you in the real world...

  16. Question  

    Does anyone feel like we're acting out what he said (people being pissed off, people being both cruel and sweet, people saying snarky things anonymously on bwog to make themselves feel better) in the comments section?

    • I think that's what they call...

      A preemptive strike. He knows that not everyone's on board (as someone once joked 'in a relationship' is kind of his fetish). That doesn't change the fact that he's a really smart and interesting guy.

      Kind of dickish at times but most interesting people are (and theater majors REALLY shouldn't throw stone. You all suck on one level or another).

      Seriously; if everyone praises you as "the best person evah" on your SW; you did it wrong.

  17. Jessie  

    I love you, dear.

  18. Anonymous


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