NYU Diaries: A Theory of Class Leisure

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W. M. Akers is at it again, this time telling us why our downtown rivals are just as tired as we are – even if they work much less.

In my film class this week we watched a three-and-a-half hour black-and-white movie, in Russian, that took place around 1400 AD. It was lovely, sure, but not thrilling, and 70 percent of the class slept for part of it. (Your correspondent, model of scholarship that he is, restricted himself to a modest ten-minute cat nap.) A boy to my left, who had perhaps just finished a government sponsored sleep deprivation experiment, was out for 175 of those 205 minutes, splayed in various poses across his desk and the two next to him. He shrouded his head with a sweatshirt for most of his Van Winkling, prompting the questions, “Why sign up for a class you can sleep through? What were you doing on a Tuesday night that left you in this state?” and “Can I come with you next Tuesday?” But it also made me wonder how students at a “selective” university can stand to doze so.

As my Columbian friends often remind me, you up at 116th work hard. Very, very hard, with the fervor of someone whose parents pay $50,000 a year for you to have the privilege. It’s charming really, your work ethic, and even if it makes you unhappy now, somewhere down the line–when you make partner, secure tenure, or overthrow the government of Guatemala–you’ll be satisfied that at 20 you worked yourself to exhaustion. Graduates of NYU’s College of Arts and Sciences will, in between bowls of soup at the Bowery Mission, look back on Tuesday nights spent drinking down the street.

CAS asks little besides a regular paycheck. Our core is easily finished in a few semesters, as it demands little more than that all students buy a copy of the bible and skim the Symposium. Take ten classes in a department and you get a major; take four and you get a minor. This leaves plenty of room for part time jobs, Condé Nast internships, and trolling museum mile. NYU charges us $2,000 extra for taking five classes, deterring anyone from giving themselves enough work to be busy on Saturday nights. Columbia may be greedy too, but NYU’s pettiness is unmatched.

Students in our other schools work like they care. The actors in Tisch spend three days a week in studio, grinding towards orchestrated nervous breakdowns, and students at our business school dress for class like it’s a job interview. But CAS students are paying to live in the city–$1,350 a month, for what it’s worth–and NYU throws in a vanilla liberal arts education as a makeweight. The college has some superb faculty and course offerings, but so many competing for classes that it’s not until junior and senior year that you’re assured a place in advanced classes. If everyone were taking five classes, you’d be hard pressed to find a spot in something more challenging than a survey.

Intellectualism requires a bit of elbow room, and CAS can’t spare it. That’s why we go to the movies on Tuesday nights, why we’re able to work a register 20 hours a week and tend bar on Thursdays, why it’s unheard of to spend Saturday in the library. There are 21,000 undergraduates and enrollment is increasing. As even Columbia has noticed, it’s tricky finding space to build in Manhattan, so by 2031 the University wants 10,000 of us abroad at a time, like Mormon missionaries, but with a different sense of dress. CAS wants to be an international brand, which means there will soon be settled populations of NYU goldbricks as far away as Singapore. Relaxation, dear Columbians, is an unstoppable force.

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  1. anonymous

    At Columbia, we work harder now so in ten years we can relax as you who will be our employees break your backs for the lousy salaries we have the grade to bestow upon you.

  2. Sexton

    Jesus. Not this shit again.

  3. sev  

    I really liked this

  4. seriously?

    WHO CARES. No one wants to read about some guy trying to justify his choice to go to NYU. If we wanted to know what NYU life was like, we would go there.

  5. plzz  

    yo chill out. everyone here is so damn combative. quit trying to eliminate your cognitive dissonance abt your 48 hour butler weekend marathons by ragging on this guy.

  6. cmon guys  

    relax. its interesting to hear about how the other side lives. stop getting your panties in a bunch.

  7. ummm  

    1. No one should fall asleep during Andrei Rublev

    2. I really don't care about NYU.

  8. wow  

    I cannot believe NYU charges $2,000 for an extra class and calls itself a University and not a graduation machine.

  9. look look  

    we get it. you really wanted to go to columbia. you didn't get accepted. now you're at nyu and you hate it.

    hey so check it out, nobody likes sour grapes. columbia was not my #1 choice school, but guess what, i'm here now and making the best of it. i'm certainly not writing whiney pieces about why columbia sucks in the school newspapers of the places i really wanted to go to but didn't get in. that would not only be ridiculous, it would also prevent me from letting go and moving on.

    you complain of having too much free time. that is a blessing. if you were truly a serious scholar, you'd be spending that time on intellectual pursuits rather than whining about your peers on a blog at the school you wanted to go to, but didn't get in.

    indeed, wasting your free time whining about your peers and school is just about as scholarly as sleeping through class.

  10. my,  

    aren't we charming?

    • seriously

      why are so many Columbia students raging judgmental assholes? I didn't realize this until I'd graduated and spent time among people who didn't think it was their birthright to feel superior to everyone around them. ugh.

      I actually enjoy reading something from beyond the hallowed gates every now and then, particularly when it's written pretty well. Bravo Mr. Akers, keep up the reporting. I'll recall them fondly and drop a quarter in your cup 10 years from now.

  11. Not to be mean  

    like everyone else in this post is, but this guy is head and shoulders above everyone else at Bwog in terms of writing skills. Not to say everyone else sucks, he's just particularly adept.

  12. this just  

    shows how fucked up we are--our campus blog features writers from other (lesser) schools, trying to make us feel bad about ourselves. i go to columbia! my ego is already crushed! why must it be further battered by some quasi-literate fellow from nyu?

  13. Beauregarde

    I was fully prepared for the first word of the last line of the second paragraph to be something other than "soup."

  14. seriously  

    Why is this guy writing for Bwog? Are certain Bwog editors this desperate to live vicariously through others? This NYU nonsense - why in God's name would, SHOULD, we care? - makes me miss the puppies-'n'-pinkberry ethos of this past fall.

  15. I mean  

    Sure WM Akers is a good writer but aren't there campus publications at NYU?

    OK, we get it, you wanted to come to Columbia and didn't get in - most of Barnard suffered a similar fate but they seem to be doing OK.

  16. Hey W.M,  

    Man, come on. We get that you think you are the intellectual better of all of NYU, but that doesn't mean we need to give a shit.

  17. I think  

    the whole point of inviting Mr. Akers to post on Bwog is for the sake of some perspective. Wow, seriously, why are so many of you guys such assholes? Sometimes I really hate being around the people here.

    At least, in the meantime, there's snow outside...

  18. also

    what he wrote about was pretty interesting. too many students, not enough classes, lowered expectations, freer time.


  19. Get it  

    I don't get it, actually. Ignoring all the spite one way or the other, the whole premise of the post seems contrived.

    At Columbia, lots of people take only 4 classes and sleep through them. We also have a large contingent of people who are motivated. How is that different from NYU, which has Stern for the motivated types and (with more undergraduates) simply a larger number of people who are unmotivated. I'm not sure the proportions are that far apart.

  20. plus like  

    NYU isn't that much cheaper than Columbia and has a pretty awful financial aid program - why was it necessary to bring up how "our parents" are paying 50 grand for us to go here? If by our parents you mean grant money, then yes.

  21. worth noting that  

    There are few posts I actually go to the trouble of finishing, but I always read Akers' posts in their entirety. They're interesting and entertaining. He's not claiming to speak for all of NYU.

  22. wow  

    whenever i feel really good about life or humanity in general, all I have to do is read Bwog comments to remind myself that most people are assholes.

    Great post W.M. Akers, I've enjoyed all of your writing so far.

  23. ugh  

    Why do people always act so *shocked* when they read harsh comments on bwog? the only reason I read bwog is for these comments, so screw all you "nice" people.

    • there you go

      see, you've gotten desensitized to this ridiculousness. I like the well timed pithy remark as much as the next pretentious ivy leaguer, but once you leave columbia, you realize that columbians tend to go above and beyond the call to rip other people, and Bwog just enables that.

  24. ARR  

    You would have to dead to sleep through "Andrei Rubalev" (I assume that's what ya'll were watching) The sack of Vladimir sequence could probably wake the dead, so even that might not work...

  25. Bethmann-Hollweg  

    This series of articles is really something awful, and only further underlines the fact that Bwog, a spectacular microcosm of the larger Columbia community, is run by morons.

  26. a-NO-nym-ous

    Jeez...columbians sure are uptight. For those who haven't noticed, Mr. Akers writes near weekly for the bwog as an nyu correspondent. Most of his posts are in this tone of slightly jabbing columbians in the rib for having less fun than nyu kids. Notice also that he is often equally as jabbing at nyu for different things. People need to lighten up, and be able to read some well written comedy every now and then--especially since it's that's at their own expense.

  27. Columbia 08  

    Who fucking cares? We don't need a correspondant from NYU to tell us that the students there aren't academically motivated: that's why they go to NYU in the first place.

  28. EAL  

    So will we be getting a Yalie or Princetonian to report for us on Bwog as well? Maybe some fine tales of life at the eating clubs? Because that's essentially the same sort of thing that this guy is doing.

    • ...  

      Wait, so? I wouldn't mind reading such an article. I'm pretty sure that's why so many people read Ivygate.

      Plus, these articles are pretty interesting. How much reading can you get done in *real life* if you only read stuff by Columbia-educated authors? (Hint: practically none) So why so terrified?

  29. yes  

    It was an interesting piece, and I hope to see more like it.

  30. I...  

    ...really like the pieces by this guy. They're entertaining, and he is a very good writer.

  31. number 441  

    conclusions we can draw based on prior comments:
    1. mr. akers is a better writer than practically every other bwog writer
    2. despite this, he is still deeply inferior because he goes to nyu and not columbia
    3. columbia is better than every school in the world besides harvard. and maybe yale. everyone who goes to nyu must have tried to get in to columbia but failed because they are stupid
    4. if anyone from nyu ever talks about columbia it is only because they feel like sulking over how much better they would be if they could only have gotten in
    5. bwog readers are forced to read every article posted on bwog ever whether they would like to or not
    6. nothing is interesting about anything outside of columbia gossip ever

  32. lame  

    i would really like wm akers if he would use his full name.

  33. DGF  

    I sometimes wonder what it would have been like to go to NYU. I love it there when I make the trip downtown, the feel, the students (who don't take themselves nearly as seriously as some of the dipshits in this thread). Great, insightful post akers.

  34. wondering

    I am not bothered by these posts, nor by the use of initials, nor by anything else that other commenters have complained about. But I am vaguely disturbed by the repeated notion that he is a good writer. These articles are not that well-written. I even found the last paragraph of this post bad. Perhaps it is a case of bad editing.

    Anyway, bwog is not carefully edited in general. This doesn´t bother me because when I want to read something of high quality, I do not read bwog. It always surprises me though when people get angry that a blog run by some students who are hard working (if not talented) and just trying to generate interesting, entertaining or informative posts, stirs up such editorial wrath.

    I sincerely hope that more of you would spend less time commenting on the site and offer to contribute articles to bwog. If you think you can write something more interesting than W.M. Akers, why not show him up with your own skills? Bwog is a community project and if you have something to offer, send it in. They will probably post it.

    • one bwog editor  

      I won't claim to be talented, but I would like to rebut any accusations of being hardworking. I very rarely do any weekend classwork before Sunday afternoon, and I am also often too lazy to do basic tasks such as laundry and dishwashing. I am unable to do schoolwork for more than a little bit at a time and have never gone to Butler except to check out books, which I have often been too lazy to return. So don't go around calling me hard-working.

  35. i don't get  

    why so many people are reacting so venomously to the article. from what i read, he seems to be pretty even-keeled in satirizing nyu and columbia. moderately funny as well.

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