Senior Wisdom: Jimmy Vielkind
Written by Bwog Staff
Ah, the bittersweetness of perspective…here’s the next installment of Bwog’s Senior Wisdom series. This time, on- and off-campus journalist Jimmy Vielkind C’07 is in the hot seat.
Claims to fame:
As a Spectator reporter and later city editor, training editor, and contributing editor, I forced a genuine public debate about Columbia’s proposed Manhattanville expansion. I also launched La Pagina, a weekly Spanish-language flyer to better serve readers who live around Columbia, about 40% of whom speak Spanish. It made Spectator the first bilingual college paper in the country. As an intern for the Daily News, I’ve done everything from cover Cory Lidle’s plane crash to grill Alan Hevesi. And I’ve got Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s left golf shoe to prove it.
Preferred swim test stroke?
Side stroke. I used to be a lifeguard, but now when I get in the water I tend to just putter.
What are three things you learned at Columbia?
(1) It took me a while to realize that there are no clear resolutions to the difficult questions and issues that confront society, just better and different ways of understanding something. The more people who are seeing something from all sides, the more likely we’ll keep moving–slowly–toward resolution. Shouting loudly about one particular course of action or set of values and approaching ideas or issues combatively usually isn’t productive.
(2) The sky is brighter, the wind colder, and your thinking clearer walking the streets between 3-5 a.m.
(3) For a good time, dial 212.531.0383.
Justify your existence in 30 words or less.
If a tree falls in the woods, and a reporter isn’t around to see it, interview witnesses, cajole loved ones into providing biographical details, demand an explanation and hold those in power accountable for changes to prevent future fallings, then did it really fall? And would it really matter if it did? Fuck; that’s 53.
What was your favorite controversy in your time at Columbia?
The “we are being silenced” demonstrations in the spring of 2004 were elegant and powerful, and showed me how a coordinated protest can be a strong tool for leveraging change among both those in power and one’s peers. While the resolution was imperfect, Columbia got an Office of Multicultural Affairs to finally serve as a dedicated party for dealing with–and hopefully preventing–the series of deplorable events that led to that demonstration.
Which professor do you think would be the best kisser?
Dan O’Flaherty. Duh.
What percentage of seniors do you think are virgins?
Why, 100% of course. (Hi Mom!)
Would you rather permanently give up oral sex or cheese?
Cheese. When we were younger, my brother would sometimes microwave slices of American and eat the resulting goop right off the plate. I nearly puked. The memory still haunts me.
Days on campus memory?
My enginerd father couldn’t quite wrap his head around the notion that people could get liberal arts degrees and be, well, non-enginerds. He was giving me shit about it during an alumni panel where all the guys speaking were basically unemployed or “dabbling in consulting.” I remember the last guy on the panel was a tad rotund, and was feeling really blue until he introduced himself as “Jerrold Nadler, Member of Congress.” It was the best toldyaso elbow I’ve ever thrown.
wish I’d moved more out of my comfort zone and gotten to know more of my classmates. Also, I never heard the Columbia Orchestra play, and I never joined CUMB. I never led a protest rally. I never took a Foner lecture, or Washburn’s jazz, or Bollinger, or Bakhli, or…..