Senior Wisdom: Paul Wallace
Written by Bwog Staff
Claim to fame: Captain and former president of the Columbia rugby team, Ivy League all-star. Decorated veteran of the War on Fun. Once described (affectionately? I hope so) by a friend as “a big, normal guy.”
Where are you going? Not too far- probably to Brooklyn. In terms of what will be occupying my time, I’m going to be teaching at an all-boys school on the Upper East Side, playing rugby for Old Blue, and enjoying post-college life in New York City full-time.
Three things you learned at Columbia:
- Relationships with people are worth infinitely more than anything tangible. Prioritize accordingly.
- If you be yourself and be true to yourself, good things will happen. The happiest people I know are all exceedingly real. The converse of this is that you can’t be concerned with people who don’t appreciate who you are.
- Diversity is worthwhile. Not many people appreciate how authentic the diversity at Columbia is, or how it enriches our experiences here. We take it for granted because it seems odd to think that it would be any other way. I wish everyone could be exposed to an environment like ours.
Justify your existence in 30 words or less: I once canceled a rugby practice so I could see The Books in concert. I flatter myself to think I take a long-term outlook on life better than most.
Any war stories from the War on Fun? A few. Personal highlights include shocking an RA by answering the door naked while eating a banana, being handcuffed to a gurney on my 22nd birthday (don’t worry, Mom, that night had a happy ending!), and being gruffly kicked off the steps on 40s on 40 for wearing an upside-down American flag. Truly, though, I need to recognize the eight people I’ve lived with for the past four years, first in Carman, then in Ruggles (twice), and now in EC- all of us have been written up at least once, and most have been written up quite a bit more than that. We actually once got in trouble for a party that hadn’t even started yet (the time a Public Safety officer memorably called my suitemate a “party addict”), and we once got in trouble for a party that had happened two days prior (for a “safety and sanitation” violation- who knew it was against the rules to keep six bales of hay in your suite?). And one time two public safety officers came into our suite, started to write us up, then noticed the disco lights, fog machine, and (ineffectual) security camera we had rigged, and let us go free in recognition of our party efforts. We would eventually wisen up and designate before each party which suitemate would take the hit, but back when we were fledgling sophomores, all of eight of us living in Ruggles at that time gave our names to the RA when our Halloween party was broken up, leading to a comical procession in the Office of Judicial Affairs a week later when, one after another, we would walk in and be asked to identify ourselves based on what our Halloween costume had been. Fortuitously, the lady questioning us was a huge Star Wars fan and quite impressed that my suitemate dressed as Obi Wan Kenobi had been wielding a very expensive lightsaber, and our suite got off with just a warning.
Would you rather give up oral sex or cheese? Whether the cheese is good isn’t a factor in most romantic relationships, so for the sake of my future wife, I would give it up.
Any advice for the Class of 2014? Explore the city during your freshman, sophomore, and junior years. There are so many awesome and inspirational things here, and you’ll never find them if you don’t wander around a bit. But by your senior year you’re going to want to savor every last bit of Columbia and it’ll become harder to leave campus. Yes, despite Columbia’s pervasive self-loathing, if you play your cards right, you’ll be sad to go by the spring of 2014. Also, don’t go to bed early unless you want to miss everything.
Any regrets? A few, but as a wise Country Squire once told me, “If you live life to the fullest, sometimes you’re going to spill.”