Senior Wisdom: Geoff Aung

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Name, School:  

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). 

Post-grad plans:  

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.

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  1. what a

    complete and utter douche

  2. why???  

    why is he featured on senior wisdom???

  3. wealthy kid

    who doesn't seem to get how rich he is. Taking a year to bum around it pretty much the reserved of spoiled self-righteous brats.

    • he's joking  

      his year of "bumming around" i on a Fulbright Scholarship... I highly doubt they would give him the money if he did not have something good to do with it.

      • umm...  

        I think the "bumming around" comment refers to the year he took off before college "to be a ski-bum out west" (his words). So yeah, I'd say he's probably pretty wealthy and a pretty big douche.

      • No about this,

        "And then taking year off to be a ski-bum out west because college had become way less urgent. "

        This part about not going to college for a year.

  4. because

    geoff aung is an awesome, intelligent and passionate individual.

  5. geoff aung

    rocks my world. he's definitely one of the cooler kids at columbia.

  6. wtf?  

    Why so much hate? Obviously this guy is not going to be "bumming around" if Fulbright is picking up the tab. Self-righteous? No, I'd call it humbleness.

  7. well

    you clearly don't understand the way the fulbright works. i would say that "bumming around" defines it pretty well.

  8. fulbright

    have they published a list of the columbia kids who got it yet? i've heard of at least 3

  9. random  

    regardless, this guy sounds like a douche fulbright or not.

  10. chemist  

    "scientists don't know about love."


    That hurts, Aung. I am a better kisser than you.

  11. geoff...  

    ...may or may not be stuck up, but the guy's got honest passion, and I respect a man with conviction.

  12. bah  

    Anyone who claims the hunger strikers bravely "pointed the way to direct action" is a douche. Period. The anthro department, however, is full of crazies like de Genova that probably messed with his head. Congrats on the Fulbright, though.

  13. never

    heard this kid say anything intelligent. his column never really does either. although he carries himself with a faux-intellectual vibe. sorry man, you're just trying too hard with too little substance.

  14. Geoff...

    Wasn't he also a Rhodes finalist? I find it very difficult to believe that doesn't justify any perceived douchiness on his end (or, more likely, jealousy on yours).

    He's smart guys. Case closed.

  15. What a douchebag  

    Calling Jeffrey Sachs "Kipling in disguise." Anthropology - what a joke.

  16. is Jeff...

    wearing Scorpion's protective armor? If so...FINISH HIM!

  17. Geoff is a bit  

    of a douche. But it comes from a good place (i think) and he's really smart. He's probably going to do something great.

  18. So...

    I heard a lot of people in the CU community got Fulbrights this year... Not as familiar with the CC crowd, but at BC Idris and Kelsey got them... heard a couple more at BC are pending...

  19. A thought  

    There must be a twinge of "douchiness" in anyone who has the guts to post anything about themselves on BWOG (be it a Senior Wisdom or a BWOG Personal Ad). If one doesn't have high self-esteem, I bet he or she would be crushed to pieces upon reading the comments -- despite how likable someone is, he or she will always be ripped to pieces by at least one commenter on this website. So, even though some of these people may come across as haughty, I have to give them credit for having thick enough skin to be able to withstand their fellow classmates pummeling them with rotten tomatoes.

  20. ugh  

    "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."

    This guy supports the hunger strikers. He is a douche. Case closed.

  21. !!!  

    What are you guys talking about? When I met him, he seemed really chill and nice. And he's gotta be pretty smart too.

  22. ....  

    the self-importance in this is suffocating

  23. I think

    Geoff is extremely smart, and a nice guy. Unfortunately he is also imbued with a holier than thou sense, but with good reason. And even more unfortunately, anthro is like history with more jargon, classification and bullshit, i.e. all his answers to what he learned at Columbia. Blame the major, not him.

  24. Newsflash

    Nobody cares about Burma

  25. what  

    ...Is there really a room with skulls in the Schermerhorn extension? What's that about?

  26. argh  

    Wait. So if you made a snippy remark about the anti-war protesters, you're a virgin? I'm confused. And let's face facts: Columbia is overrun by ultra-liberals like this guy that make us liberals who have a grasp on the real world, rather than some platonic notion of virtue hanging out in the aether, seem like conservatives. I argue, that by wanting to constrain the growth of a research institution for the sake of a warehouse district, you are, in fact, the conservative.

    And, if any of you are regulars at Hungarian, you know this guy is a 'talker.' One of those people who like to talk loud enough so that half the cafe knows his sage opinions on world problems.

    My suggestions to you is to become a bit more humble and realise your own limitations.

  27. never met him  

    and wouldn't want to judging by his opinionated pseudo insightful comments. I don't care that he supported the hunger strikers - a lot of sincere, smart and awesome people did. But most were not the kind of more-liberal-than-thou arrogant douches like this guy.

  28. and the photo  

    really irks me. Come on dude, stop trying to look cool and say clever shit and get people to like you. Just be real.

  29. don't know him  

    Some of these comments may be a little harsh but this guy, just based on the profile, seems seriously delusional and in need of a reality check.

  30. Geoff is actually  

    a really nice, smart, non-douchey guy. And I don't agree with him on everything, but his positions are well thought out and his passion is genuine and worthy of respect.

  31. the student body  

    never ceases to amazing. Fellating George Olive, then calling Geoff a douche. The Jeffrey Sachs comment is pretty brilliant. Geoff is very humble, and undeniably brilliant. I personally don't agree with the hunger-strike, but I can now see that he was right about the student body being more conservative than we make it out to be.

    • the student body  

      may not be as liberal as you expected but, it seems, it is more intelligent than you expected too.

      the hunger strikers certainly were too liberal, or at least too left-wing, for most of us. But it seemed to me that was the point of the whole vainglorious exercise: pick an issue (and manufacture three others) to demonstrate how liberal they are, and how liberal everyone else is not. Their argument for joining their cause was so often "if you don't, you're not a true liberal." All along I had been hoping for an argument along the lines of an argument.

  32. ...  

    Careful with the fellating there #37. You have reached your 'brilliant' quota for the day. Please cease and desist.

  33. alexw  

    Here's justifying our Manhattanville expansion plans: We fucking own the land. Done.

  34. buttmunch  

    you are a buttmunch 3000 if you
    1. repeatedly mention your trips to Thailand
    2. were a ski bum
    3. mention your own, luscious hair
    4. shit on everyone who studies a different subject than you and doesn't ascribe to your self-righteous politics

    it's cause of DOUSHES like this guy that no one takes any legitimate liberal cause seriously

    Yeah, Jeff Sachs is a real asshole for saving thousands of lives. maybe if Geoff Aung writes more anthro papers, claims liberal politics for himself, and takes more glory trips, he will save the masses from starvation.

    more vanity projects!

  35. #37  

    indeed. i'm done with using brilliant. i apologize.

  36. geoff  

    is the man, hands down. get to know him. he's not a "talker." he's a "do-er" and more people like him need to exist.

  37. #37 again  

    and the whole "ceases to amazing" should be "ceases to amaze me." It's been a long day. Also, in response to #40, since when has jeff sachs saved thousands of lives? his impact has been through publication, etc.

  38. Anonymous  

    we go to columbia. arent we all a bit part duche? (this guy more than other's though...but still) Case closed.

  39. Congratz  

    congratz on your Fullbright. You totally deserve it and are an awesome guy. I'm at a loss for why the bwogosphere is so determined to hate on everyone.

  40. Finally  

    a minority doing senior wisdom! The series was looking pretty whitewashed.

  41. ...  

    ...yessss...a minority doing the most maligned senior wisdom yet!

  42. Just saying  

    ski-bumming pays for itself. Word?

  43. well

    i don't know him but i have to admit, this made him sound like a huge jerk. the hair, the insult to jeffrey sachs (regardless of whether or not you agree, have some respect), the virgins comment, the comment about the hunger strikers / manhattanville expansion... please recognize that there exists more than one viewpoint on certain things, and yours (nor is any other) necessarily correct.

  44. i'm surprised  

    that this senior wisdom sounds so douchey. Geoff is a great guy in person.

  45. at seas dinner  

    they announced one of the fulbrights

  46. okthen  

    geoff is a good kid and i respect his passion and intelligence. what he's written here, however, is out of line. if his beliefs were as transcendently brilliant as he apparently thinks they are, they would speak for themselves and not require the justification of this insulting soapboxery.

  47. aung  

    = a womanizer

    dope politics in theory. wack politics in reality. boo.

  48. i like mongolia  

    you are special. please do something with your life. i think that you can. the world needs more people who act, rather than talk smack or wither to wack.

  49. liberal activist

    its kids like this who give us a bad name. he does it al for the image and self-inportance it seems, but never actually has anything incisive or substantive to say. e.g. 'artluck! hahahaha

  50. please...  

    Why all the hate? Geoff is an awesome guy. Smart and passionate.

  51. wow  

    all yall lil bitches are so jealous.

  52. CC08  

    I wonder if I wrote a senior wisdom, I would end up sounding like a tool. I don't consider myself one, but it seems like most people (maybe everyone except Julia) who write these and up seeming like one.

  53. Hold up....  

    why have there been six or seven guys interviewed and only two girls?

  54. ...  

    Which prof do you think would be the best kisser?

    Definitely someone teaching in the humanities — scientists don't know about love.


    the trustees of columbia university spent $120,000 on my education and all i got was reinforcements of feeble minded generalizations.

    and you call yourself a liberal... you make us real liberals sad.

  55. say no to  

    ...feeble minded generalizations

    actually great observation. i feel the same way. we may move into post-structuralism or post-colonial studies or other post-isms, but we're still working within BOUNDARIES. and creating more and more DIVISIONS, they have just slightly shifted due to the times and awareness. we can even take a text like orientalism and think, great observations Said, but are we fully understanding the base of his point- ME vs. YOU, THEM vs. THEY and actually doing something about it?

    amazingly our world problems could all be solved with one point.

  56. say no to  

    that would be? anyone? anyone? maybe something related to superglue? perhaps involving your aorta?

    and then we could enter college just to learn for the sake of loving to learn. how glorious!

  57. m.b.  

    hello. as a conservative who knows geoff aung, i can personally vouch for his character and dedication. this senior wisdom might come across as arrogant, but he really is a very humble and thoughtful person. all that these vicious "bwog postings" show is what a pathetic and judgmental student body we have (at least the bwoggers[sic]). get a life, people.

  58. EBHS!!!  

    EBHS! There is indeed a room full of skulls for those lucky few on campus with a penchant for the study of bones.

  59. hahaha  

    "ripped to pieces by at least one commenter on this website."

    i don't think "rip to pieces" is synonymous with "call a douche 30 times". how about "be subjected to moronic expressions of reflexive hostility by at least one..."

  60. Rudolf Rocker  

    fucking christ, y'all need to get off the haterade -- that shit makes you kiss like an economist!!!

    geoff = my dude.

  61. Case In Point  

    You know how there was that NYTimes editorial a few days ago about how Ivy League students sometimes really aren't that nice? Y'all are typifying that here. Good job :)

  62. he's

    really hot.

    if you're this opposed to self-satisfying faux-activists then why did you choose Columbia? or an ivy league school in general for that matter..

    also, I don't understand why people subscribe to this whole "EVERY OPINION IS VALID" philosophy. why shouldn't you defend what you believe? if you thought other opinions could be right then why would you have your own?

  63. eteke

    hotness, serious political and intellectual commitment, a kind disposition... unless he's secretly really conceited, there's nothing here to dislike!

  64. asda  

    This made me really sad, guys. People who have worked really hard for something that they believe in are not so common at this place. Wow, you attacked him for mentioning that he is going to Thailand next year to work on the rights of migrants laborers from Burma, the country where his family is from. Wow he is so self-righteous. He is angry and has a right to be. George Olive believes that cheap energy will save the world. I am glad you believe that. Congrats. You all disgust me.

  65. whatever  

    he's small

  66. yo yo yo  

    ditto to #78. geoff is one of the most intelligent, passionate, and humble people at columbia. all you haters who don't get his humor make this year's varsity show seem a little bit too accurate. a) this was one of the only actually funny senior wisdom posts and b) bwog, why you hatin' on non-whitemales? stop taking your cue from the core, and diversify your senior wisdom!!

  67. Ok, so  

    maybe on an initial reading, this "senior wisdom" comes off a little douchey. But Geoff is a ridiculously hard-working and honest guy who seems to have a bit of thing against scientists. "Self-important" is not something I would ever say when describing him, and perhaps his brand of sarcasm just doesn't come off well in writing?

  68. ...  

    geoff is a really cool and extremely brilliant guy. this posting does come make him come across as douchey and arrogant, but until i meet a columbia man that does't think he's god's gift to the earth, i refuse to attack someone as good-hearted as geoff for being a little cocky. yeah, he's holier-than-thou. so is every single liberal on this campus; get over it. and btw, the hatred in these posts disgusts me. why is everyone so angry and bitter?

  69. people  

    you need to chill out. . . geoff is actually a really sweet guy.

  70. bashbash  

    sounds like an incredibly spoiled douche. "oh yes, my tab in thailand will be picked up by the fulbright. perhaps you've heard of it?"

    newsflash, you got rejected from harvard, so talking like that just sounds stupid

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