Senior Wisdom: Hannah Vaitsblit
Written by Bwog Staff
Name, School, Major, Hometown: Hannah (guttural “H”) Vaitsblit, Barnard College, Political Science (soon to be renamed “pseudoscience” for its less-than-stellar predictive capacity), Brookline, MA
Claim to fame: As of last week: co-sponsored a dissident revolt against the proposed Orwellian purge of Overheard @ Barnard, after consistently firing shots against the group’s fascist enforcement of identity politics and censorship. (Screenshot documentation of said censorship upon request). Finally dished enough sarcasm to get myself kicked out––an exile I am embracing as I join the least safe space of all, the real world.
Where are you going? Wherever capitalism and liberty thrive and the male-female ratio works out better in my favor. (In other words, far away from here.)
What are 3 things you learned at Columbia and would like to share with the Class of 2020?
1. Borrow Direct and stop printing your readings! Nothing you learn here is worth paying retail or killing a tree. Unless it’s the Old Testament; buy several copies and distribute to your friends. God knows Columbia kids need it.
1a. Never do all the reading. Academic writing is hella boring and full of elitist BS. Spend more time on the things you actually care about (unless you want to go into academia, then by all means, read away). For me this was cataloging rare Hebrew books at the phenomenal Rare Book and Manuscript Library and writing for Columbia’s most disruptive publication: The Current (whose new issue you should all check out ASAP).
2. Be the devil’s advocate in every possible instance—it’ll keep you interested and interesting amidst this school’s suffocating groupthink. The prospect of offending someone somewhere is never a good enough reason not to ask a thoughtful question. Just do it! If you make a mistake, the conversation that emerges will be valuable.
3. Dare to take more than two “hand fruit” from Hewitt. Your tuition pays for that shit. When dealing with the Soviet-style bureaucracy so deeply cherished by this fine PRIVATE institution (Registrar and ResLife––I’m looking at you), remind them how much you pay to be here and demand value. And if you don’t get it, direct the future millions you make elsewhere.
“Back in my day…” “columbia buy sell memes” made its wondrous debut during finals season, threatening the collective GPA of the entire institution and the productivity of alums worldwide
Justify your existence in 30 words or fewer: “And the Lord God said: ‘It is not good for man to be alone…’ so he created woman, and she was a badass bitch.” (Genesis 2:18-22, paraphrased)
What was your favorite class at Columbia? Intro to Israeli Literature, taught by the award-winning legend Dan Miron and offered through the Institute for Israel and Jewish Studies (objectively the best department on campus). This man speaks like a Biblical prophet in a language that is not native to him. I REPEAT, A PROPHET. He is upwards of 80 and the sharpest tool in the shed with a personal connection to nearly every author he teaches (he doesn’t hesitate to share these, no matter how non-traditional). Miron and his subject defy the grade-crazy Ivy ethos, instead focusing on the sanctity of the written word. You get out of this class what you put in, and it stays with you.
Would you rather give up oral sex or cheese? Take ’em both. I’m a Jew, I’m historically conditioned to suffer.
One thing to do before graduating? Student Evaluations––my last vengeance!
Any regrets? Reading Marx. Would have been nice to actually master one of the citation styles––MLA, APA, Chicago, anything––instead of using the hybrid HV style I invented and perfected over the last few years. Being so ungrateful to my parents who escaped the Soviet Union so that I could attend this premier university, where instead of Jewish quotas there are Jewish pluralities.
Photo via Hannah Vaitsblit