Senior Wisdom: Andrew Lyubarsky
Written by Bwog Staff
It’s still Wednesday, and you’re probably still be in full blown procrastination mode. Bwog is here to help with a new Senior Wisdom from the political left, Andrew Lyubarksy.
Name, School: Andrew Lyubarsky, CC
Claim to fame: SCEG member, former Spec columnist, aspiring Andean peasant-farmer/Latin Americanist, post-Soviet subject, part of the Marginal, Radical Fringe that constantly tries to hijack debate on this campus
Post-grad plans: In the short-term, working at a summer program at UT-Austin, followed by hopefully some sort of outdoor labor in the Western desert-lands of Manifest Destiny, followed by teaching English via Fulbright in Argentina next March. Long term, urban planning/housing work/international non-profit-industrial complex in Latin America?
Favorite study spot? I never understood the phenomenon of studying in a communal pressure-pot, frantically looking for the few available spots in Butler while your cracked-out classmates lumber about like zombies. I must betray a fondness for the Butler Reference Room, however, whose monumental “MAN IS BUT WHAT HE KNOWS” (or something like that) has led me to brief spurts of inspiration.
What are three things you learned at Columbia?
1. At the risk of cliché – the world of knowledge is vast and we are still very young. I came into Columbia with a very arrogant perspective – if I could not fit it through my prism, then it was irrelevant or unworthy of engagement. Why study Econ when you can just take Anthro classes and hone your Marxian critique? I’ve sought to understand that there is more than one road to the Good, there are more mouths than there is food and I am certainly too foolish to have all the answers. But I don’t blame myself for trying.
2. Columbia isn’t better or worse than any other big institution. Whenever you have the size and the power to get exactly what you want in terms of your self-interest, even if it totally screws over thousands of people that don’t have that power that live, oh, ten blocks away, you’re gonna do that. And, if you’re smart enough (and nobody has accused Columbia of being stupid), you’ll put out a complex PR campaign that tells people that they are being screwed over for their own good. But the whole point is that its not monolithic – it is susceptible to change, it is a contestable space, otherwise there would be no point of protesting. Ultimately, that’s the hope – that the world is, in some way, redeemable.
3. A lot of people are wack; some people aren’t. Forty ounces of malt liquor can resolve most differences between the two for a couple hours at least. Unfortunately it doesn’t last.
Justify your existence in 30 words or less. Seeker of horizon.
What was your favorite controversy in your time at Columbia? Definitely the hunger strike. There is a great deal of revisionist history in people’s understanding of what happened, to the degree that its impossible to consider it seriously in any terms except those of a joke or caricature. Somehow, we forget in the “hunger-strike-is-ridiculous” narrative that the expansion was going through the approval process at the time, that there had been a four-year history of protest around that issue. We also forget that we had the explicit support of 3 of the 4 class councils (thanks, SEAS!), most cultural organizations, a lot of the leading humanities and social sciences faculty members…
But, I digress. It was without a doubt the most interesting and educational experience for me at Columbia, failed as it might have been. I would change some things, yes, but I firmly believe we were correct in our convictions. I’ll never forget the community of support and struggle we built around those tents, fleeting as it was.
Any battle wounds/war stories from the War on Fun? Somehow I’ve gone from Carman 904B to two years of StRuggles to EC with a plethora of parties but no disciplinary infractions to my name. In freshman year though, I did disappear into the Carman stairwells for hours and then wake up in my bed with bruises and no recollection of the occurrence. It was kind of like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.
Would you rather permanently give up oral sex or cheese? I share the predilections of the humble scarecrow, always in search.
What do you wish you could tell the Class of 2013 before they come here? Columbia will give you a great education in anything you want to do, but with the important caveat that the view it gives you of reality is extremely partial. You can have a perfect GPA and come out of here an over-educated idiot, if you don’t venture outside of the gates. You can learn a lot from being engaged with the Harlem community that no amount of social science reading isn’t going to give you. Don’t just do community service and don’t just do activism – do both. You have a lot to give and a lot to receive from the community, if you take them seriously. It’s not about charity, it’s about living.
Regrets? Failing to compellingly model my lifestyle on Kanye West or Residente from Calle 13.