Senior Wisdom: Geoff Aung
Written by Bwog Staff
Geoff Aung, CC
Claim to fame:
Inaugurating Columbia’s Burmese-German-Irish (BGI) population. Starting the Burma 88 Coalition, wrangling friends and enemies to get involved and put Burma on the campus map (right next to the room with all the skulls in Schermerhorn extension).
Researching rural herding cooperatives in Mongolia for the summer, then researching migrant labor on the Thai-Burma border for the year. Basically, living on government funds and talking to marginalized (and very cool) folks. The Fulbright’s picking up my tab for Thailand.
Preferred swim test stroke?
Thankfully I took the lap-swimming phys-ed class as a first-year. Last time I tried swimming with the long hair I have now, I couldn’t figure out how to keep it out of my face. A couple French people (this was in Thailand) were laughing at me on the side of the pool. I would obviously fail if I had to take the test now. Always wanted to learn the butterfly.
What are three things you learned at Columbia?
1. Poststructuralists are still the coolest kids on the block. But what’s next?
2. Jeffrey Sachs is Kipling in disguise, and far less eloquent. Sustainable development is the latest re-casting of modernization theory and old-school notions of progress.
3. Without the Hungarian Pastry Shop, the university would implode.
Justify your existence in 30 words or less.
Sometimes I daydream about permanently relocating to a yurt in the north Gobi. That has to be worth something.
What was your favorite controversy in your time at Columbia?
All respect to last year’s hunger strike. Columbia’s expansion remains, for me, the ultimate caveat in an institution that otherwise I’ve come to appreciate quite a bit. There is no justifying our plans in Harlem, and I was astounded to see how much other students shrank from the task when the hunger strikers pointed the way to direct action. Ours is a far more conservative student population than our liberal imaginations want to admit.
What Columbia memory best exemplifies your college experience?
Diving naked into the icy waters of Brighton Beach on a frigid night in February. The preceding subway party would have been completely unsuccessful had I not nearly frozen to death. And don’t believe the lies – I was the only one of the Columbia folks to fully submerge myself. Sadly the bodegas were closed afterwards, as a Baltica 9 would have been great for warming the bones.
Which prof do you think would be the best kisser?
Definitely someone teaching in the humanities – scientists don’t know about love.
What percentage of seniors do you think are virgins?
Judging by a few annoyed responses to the anti-war protests last week, there are definitely a few virgins around.
Would you rather permanently give up oral sex or cheese?
Is the cheese in the form of cheese curds from Wisconsin? Please clarify.
Days on Campus memory?
Choosing Dartmouth over Columbia right afterwards because Days on Campus was such a pathetic operation. And then reversing my decision two days later because I realized Dartmouth is a museum piece. And then taking year off to be a ski-bum out west because college had become way less urgent.
Not coming sooner to anthropology, not spending enough time in Jackson Heights – by far the best place to be in the city.