Name, Hometown, School, Major: Barry Weinberg, Indianapolis (a.k.a. “Indy,” “Naptown,” “the land that time forgot”), Columbia College, Political Science-Economics Major, EALAC concentrator
Claim to Fame? That randomly intense guy who was always at CCSC saying “well, see, I was digging through the archives and there used to be…,” the reason CCSC no longer has instant-runoff voting, foot soldier in the war to protect and reform the Core, former Co-President and all-around board member of Everyone Allied Against Homophobia, very former CU Dems Lead Activist, the accidental Chair of the Student Governing Board of Earl Hall, GS’s number one fan, general meeting attendee, that weirdo walking around in the February snow or a September Indian summer in sandals and a green fleece. I also gathered a large group of random people in a room in Kent on Monday nights and called it the “Columbia-Barnard Student Forum.”
Where are you going? For the moment, home to 109th and Amsterdam for a breather. Then, hopefully the New York City Comptroller’s Office or maybe China to work on my Mandarin.
Three things you learned at Columbia:
- How you got to where you are can be an immensely useful tool when you’re trying to figure out how to get to where you’re going. Columbia is notoriously bad at keeping written records of the way things work (it’s hard to do that when you run on fiat), so every professor or (even better) professor emeritus can be a goldmine of institutional knowledge. It’s important to find them, meet them, and get to know their stories.
- Why you do things is more important than what you do, and usually determines how well you do them. The whole point of the Core Curriculum is to force us to examine and define our own personal values, our sense of justice, and our moral and ethical beliefs in conversation with our peers and professors. If you do things simply to “succeed” you’re implicitly acquiescing to a set of values whose importance you have absorbed unquestioningly from your surrounding social structures. Really challenging yourself to see if those values have both an internal coherence and make sense when put in context with the experiences of your classmates and the writings of the past can save you from having to figure this shit out when you’re 27, 35, 50, or 80 years old and have infinitely more regrets regarding your failure to live a truly meaningful life. If you’re passionate about righting an injustice, fascinated by the potential of a particular field of study, or you just genuinely want to live a good life, you’re far more likely to do those things well than if you simply try to “do well.”
- People are incredibly complicated and multifaceted beings, and we are all flawed. Race, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, socio-economic background, and a million other things all help to contribute to each individual’s unique set of lived experiences which can nonetheless have patterns of shared experiences with others. People appreciate being treated with respect and civility that acknowledges our intrinsic value as human beings. Even when people do not treat us with said respect and civility, they are still people deserving of such respect and civility because yet another part of being human is to be flawed, to fail to live up to our moral obligations to others. It is only by the grace of our fellow human beings that when we fail we may ask forgiveness and attempt to learn from our failure.
“Back in my day…” PrezBo skipped convocation, every dean was an “interim Dean,” the class of ’09 and ’10 had great war stories of an engaged and fired-up campus, a High Gay Council made sure First Fridays had pre-games and after-parties and that all three were both worth attending and the gateway to sloppy Saturdays, the Spec was a “vom-rag” while people turned to Bwog for the latest snarky inside scoop on campus politics, the legend that is La Negrita was the haven of those too cheap or unconnected to get fake IDs, the Varsity Show was perhaps less technically virtuosic but provided biting commentary on the Columbia admins sitting in the front row, there was some warehouse art/dance party called Collision that I was on my way to when my RA said “oh, you’ll have plenty of chances to go to that in the future, you should go to this other thing,” Kevin Shollenberger’s hair looked like this, and Frontiers made no sense conceptually (some things never change).
Justify your existence in 30 words or less: I found love in a hopeless place, was ¼ of the Ovaries, and dance like a wild man. I love nachos and green things. I sometimes make people laugh.
Is the War on Fun over? Who won? Any war stories? According to my archival research and (untrained) oral history interviews with alumni, the War on Fun as we know it is a fairly recent phenomenon. While the administrative impulse to make sure that students are having absolutely no dangerous, obscene, debauched, ill-advised, impolitic, spontaneous, or otherwise unsanctioned fun has existed for hundreds of years, they’ve previously been either too lazy or too understanding to act on that impulse with anything more than a half-hearted or token gesture. Then came Manhattanville, the Minutemen, and Ahmadinejad, and suddenly people realized that it would be very hard to raise money for a massive capital expansion while we were constantly being slammed on Fox News or had potentially less-than-flattering media attention. Thus, the rise of the UEM/Public Safety-complex, a renewed effort to control liability, and the general “no-you-can’t-do-that” attitude of admins. To be fair, we’re seeing some moderation recently thanks to Dean Martinez in Community Development and others who genuinely care about our lives as students, but we’re still a far cry even from the general laxity of our so-called “peer and aspirant schools.” That being said, there’s nothing like scoring a well-earned victory by kicking back on a roof with an El Presidente and taking in the skyline or having a four-person band perform in an EC suite during a raucous game of cocktail pong (gays do it so classy).