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Senior Wisdom: May Lin


This year, Bwog’s Senior Wisdom series brings you a cadre of awesome ’07ers whom we haven’t had a chance to profile yet–for others whom we have, look after the jump. 

Name: May Lin

Claims to fame:

AAA, APAAM, USCC, part of the group that wrote the report on the

state of Ethnic Studies at Columbia

Preferred swim test stroke?

Anything that allows you to wear those yellow floatie things. I kind of  want to use a kickboard too.

What are three things you learned at Columbia?

1. Columbians are not as liberal or progressive as they think they are.

2. The administration likes to make students do their jobs. It takes

collective student struggle to establish things that are really

important to many students here (Ethnic Studies, OMA, etc.)

3. Many people shower rather infrequently. It’s shocking.

4. I don’t know how to count. And Asian Americans can throw a damn good


Justify your existence in 30 words or less.

Token yellow person.

What was your favorite controversy in your time at Columbia?

Hmm.. how about every time campus publications fucked up with their

reporting on people of color?

Which professor do you think would be the best kisser?

This is a tough one ’cause I’ve discovered that a lot of professors have

really bad breath. I think most Ethnic Studies professors would be

pretty tender, though. They care about their students.

What percentage of seniors do you think are virgins?

33.3, with a line over the 3

Would you rather permanently give up oral sex or cheese?

I dunno. They can both be smelly.

Days on Campus memory?

I awkwardly got really high with someone else on Days on Campus in the

lounge of a Hartley suite. While at least 4 other people were hooking up

in the same room. But I think the encounters over the past four years

with the “friends” everyone makes at Days on Campus have been just as

awkward and memorable.


Giving in to Facebook. Not putting the word “fornicasian” in my thesis.

Never taking a class with Robin Kelley. Not getting involved with

student activism until the end of sophomore year. Never having a real

winter coat until the middle of winter last year.

If you’re burning for more class of 2007 profiles, check it: Frances Howorth, Josh Bolotsky, Jenni Oki, Seth Flaxman, Maria Baibakova, Karen Fu (scroll), David Chait (scroll), Dan Okin, Anthony Walker, Nick Klagge, Claire Lackner, Paul Sonne, Karina Garcia, and Sakib Khan. 

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  • boo says:

    @boo how can you be the token yellow person if you only have asian-american friends?

    1. true says:

      @true word

  • hmm says:

    @hmm now that’s more like it, at least these are starting to get more interesting

  • who cares says:

    @who cares about May Lin? I’ve never heard of her.

  • wirc says:

    @wirc This girl is a little too obsessed with smells.

  • I love says:

    @I love May Lin! Yay!

  • April showers bring says:

    @April showers bring May! One of the first people I met at Columbia – who knew that short, soft-spoken girl would go on to do such powerful work! So proud of you!

  • ;@{} says:

    @;@{} may is amazing!! i’m so impressed she turned from the quiet may i met my freshman year into a real leader

    maybe you never heard of her because she isn’t some powertripping campus celebrity who speaks out to hear herself talk, she speaks and acts thoughtfully when talking and action will lead to change

    also, you may not have heard of her because a lot of the real work on this campus isn’t covered in the bwog and spec

  • yea says:

    @yea strange girl. never heard of her. newsflash: race isn’t the only issue in this world.

  • it's true says:

    @it's true next year student council will take on the ethnic studies issue and take all the credit for changes. and people like may, who did the real work will be forgotten.

  • neat says:

    @neat may’s been pretty amazing over the past four years.

    thanks, bwog. thanks, may.

  • hahaha says:

    @hahaha wow. doesn’t she get sick of talking about the marginalization of asians? boring again. how about constructing a self, rather than adopting a preexisting ethnic construct revolving around the incredibly achievement of your preordained skin color/parentage?

  • psssh says:

    @psssh may lin = just as terrible as alex jung. only most of you haven’t had the, uhhh, privilege of hearing her speak.

  • Oh yeah says:

    @Oh yeah Oh yeah, May: of course ethnic studies professors care about their students…they recognize that their students are the only ones who think they’re legitimate academics.

  • ugh says:

    @ugh I just hate this pervading attitude that if you don’t fight for ethnic studies, you’re a racist.

    I support ethnic studies, but I am working on other projects right now that are important to me. That does not make me a racist or a bad person.

    1. indeed says:

      @indeed I don’t support ethnic studies, but I’m not a racist. prove me wrong, colorcentric crusaders.

  • Uh... says:

    @Uh... How can she be the “token yellow person” when there are so many influential Asian students here? It’s really not surprising that we’re a self-segregated campus.

  • ROOBABA says:

    @ROOBABA I know May personally and she is a wonderful human being. It would be easy to get a warped understanding of her from this article if you are defensive about race/ethnicity, as I am.

  • cant tell says:

    @cant tell if shes hot or not from the picture. thats really all that matters right.

  • Mark says:

    @Mark May Lin is brilliant.
    She is also a phenomenal organizer of events that involve drinking.

  • asdf says:

    @asdf i found the vietnam war memorial really moving.

    1. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous HAHAHAHAHA! that was really funny, was I the only one that picked up on it?

      1. nope says:

        @nope but if you were, how would anyone know to tell you?

        time to write this philosophy paper.

      2. huh says:

        @huh I don’t get it. Someone care to kill the joke by explaining it to me?

        1. Maya Lin says:

          @Maya Lin I am the person who designed the Vietnam War Memorial and have a similar name to this girl.

          Incidentally I also served on the selection committee for the WTC memorial.

  • Crap says:

    @Crap The whole ‘Asian Identity Crisis’ has got to stop. These people are silly because they just have to be themselves, they make it sound like an epic struggle when its confidence they lack.

  • loser says:

    @loser bragging about getting high – how progressive.

    1. jesus says:

      @jesus i think you may be the only person who interprets that as “bragging.” please grow up.

      why are the comments so fucking toxic?

  • omg says:

    @omg e. alex jung’s match made in heaven…if only he were straight

  • haha says:

    @haha i enjoyed this

  • gah says:


  • big mike says:

    @big mike Token yellow girl? I’m the only white person in a library room with 15 asian students. Find a real cause…

    1. OMG says:


  • melanie b says:

    @melanie b may lin is the mother of my child. i have changed my mind. it is no longer eddie.

  • funny how says:

    @funny how so many the bwog commenters jump immediately from ‘mentions race’ to ‘thinks race is the only issue in the world’. funny or sad.

  • Real Keeper says:

    @Real Keeper May is fierce.

    And beastly with alcohol. And activism.

  • Confirmation says:

    @Confirmation She’s a good example of how the nothing-is-good-enough attitude of campus activism completely mind**cks people. All I can say is, I hope she’s planning on going to grad school and returning to University Island as a prof.

  • Yeah says:

    @Yeah Yeah, it’s a pretty sad commentary when all someone really has to say following four years at a top school pertains to her skin color and the evidently huge chip on her shoulder that has, tragically already manifested itself into a disappointment in the rest of us for not measuring up. We’ll miss your disapproval, May, and, even if some of us are here to study things like physics, journalism or biology, we’ll try hard to consider a transition to the things that supposedly matter most to us like ethnic studies and turning ourselves into acceptably progressive-enough racists to earn the admiration of racists like you.

    1. thats all says:

      @thats all talking about racism is all she has to say if you can’t fucking read. or more precisely, if you’re so blinded by your kneejerk guilty defensive reaction to anyone talking about racism that you can’t fucking read anything else they write.

      1. Uhhhhh says:

        @Uhhhhh So, other than goofing off a little and talking about stinky people and yellow floaty things, what DID she say that the original poster failed to address in his/her criticism of May’s racially-charged answers? I know PC fanboys like to generalize A LOT but specific examples would be great.

        1. uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh says:

          @uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh The original poster’s “criticism”? I don’t think calling May a “racist” because, uh, she talks about racism, qualifies as a “criticism”.

          And yeah, she goofed off and shit. That’s what these things are for. But she also made a couple of political points. Which apparently terrifies people? It’s only the commenters who are obsessed by race.

  • OMG says:


  • haha says:

    @haha all the white people want to ignore race altogether! neo-liberalism hoooorayyyyy!!!!!

    1. frlz? says:

      @frlz? ALL the white people?

  • oh me says:

    @oh me #36… i love you. will you be the father/mother of my baby?

    a completely white baby, of course.

  • me too says:

    @me too have my babies too #36

    hahha i typed yellow for my color…so racist!

  • numba 36 says:

    @numba 36 i see you girl. mmm i see you. MMM YESSS

  • the purpose of... says:

    @the purpose of... senior wisdom is to offer bwog’s readers a look into the lives of students who may have insights/thoughts/perspectives that are completely different from yours. each new article is accompanied by 30 comments bashing the poor person being featured…perhaps if the responses that the students offer aren’t PERFECTLY congruent with your own opinions, you should reconsider the reasons behind having the articles at all. nobody on a public display can be everybody’s hero…quit hating on your fellow classmates.

    1. indeed says:

      @indeed well said.

  • LOOOOOOOOVE! says:

    @LOOOOOOOOVE! OMMMMMMMMMMMG MAY MAY MAY I LOVE MAY LIN!!!!! all ya’ll haters need to shut your effing pieholes because she is a brilliant, strong woman that a lot of us look up to and have mad respeck for… i love may lin!

  • ooooh says:

    @ooooh gotcha. good job, #21.

    lucky you happened by our bwog, maya.

  • hey says:

    @hey personally, i like may.

    but i think people are hating on her bc she appears to look down on all columbia students who don’t think like her in this post.

  • haayy says:

    @haayy may has had an amazing presence on campus!!!

    the fact that people here are so uncomfortable with her calling out issues around race at Columbia is a testament to how true what she’s saying is.

  • Author of #36 says:

    @Author of #36 spe·cious


    1. Apparently good or right though lacking real merit; superficially pleasing or plausible: specious arguments.

    I love how criticism equals discomfort only when it questions campus orthodoxy. Commentators are the only ones obsessed with race? Did you even read her comments? Claims to Fame: a bunch of ethnically centered student groups. What she learned: We’re not progressive enough for her, ethnic studies professors are tender but most others have bad breath. Campus publications can’t write about people of color, Oh, and she thinks of herself as a token yellow person. Blah, blah, blah. It goes on and on.

    PS: I loved the kneejerk attack on whites following my post. Guess what? I’m not white.

  • response - #36 /# 55 says:

    @response - #36 /# 55 why don’t you find out what ethnic studies is… and what “ethnically centered student groups” do before dismissing them so pretentiously.

    if you’ve worked within these campus groups and known the energy and time that good people like May expend trying to get people to critically engage issues of race, poverty, class, gender, etc., then you’d be a little frustrated too. hell, i’m getting frustrated with putting up with people who aren’t willing to expand and think through their definitions of race and racism. it’s hard not to get a little angry, especially when people like you automatically label people who think about race as “racists”.

    i don’t think may’s comments are meant to express the wholesale disapproval of Columbia students, but to challenge the supposedly “progressive” stance that we’ve assumed, an illusion that is very easily exposed as false when you’ve been working on such groups for such a long time. But yeah, i’d urge you to be more open in considering her comments because your comments have been very reactionary and knee-jerk responses to these conceptions of race.

    1. think critically says:

      @think critically Actually – the conservatives think just as ‘critically’ about race as the ‘progressives’ if not more so.

      The progressives tend to have an orthodoxy to their viewpoint that does not withstand criticism.

      At the end of the day, college is to better oneself, not change the world.

      1. WAIT WHAT says:

        @WAIT WHAT “At the end of the day, college is to better oneself, not change the world.”


    2. Or... says:

      @Or... Or you could study something that is actually useful as a career, or if you prefer, a scholastic vocation that might actually add some sort of original insight or analytical method–as opposed to griping about the models in tv ads being a shade or two closer to to crayola peach than yours…

  • Asian parties says:

    @Asian parties The only great Asian parties I’ve seen were in Patpong, Thailand. And that was really more of a ping-pong ball show.

    1. fuck you says:

      @fuck you and your sexist and racist attempt at humor.

      1. Why? says:

        @Why? Are you saying there aren’t parties like that in Patpong Thailand? How is it racist if it’s true?

      2. May... says:

        @May... Don’t be ashamed of the donkey shows… How do you think most Asian American women became Americans? They had to earn the ticket money somehow.

        The American service men LOVED it. Great, great parties.

        My color, appropriately enough, is yellow.

  • "may=racist" says:

    @"may=racist" all these attacks strike me as a lot like caricatures of feminists as man-haters.

  • V-Tech says:

    @V-Tech May, V-Tech proves how strong we are. Be proud, be yellow, be slanty–they can say what they want–we KILLED THE MOST!!!!

    Next we shall decimate America’s white nerd population. How? AIDS. The disease vector… BEWARE WHITEY!!!! let’s just say her hair is straight, she’s skinny and she loves anime just as much as you do!

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