Mark Hay

Name, Hometown, School: Mark Hay, Spokane, WA (the anti-Seattle), Columbia College (with Barnard envy)

Claim to Fame?

Teller of too many odd stories. Hater of shoes; lover of religions. Old man trapped in twentysomething body and therefore sour grumbler of the first order. Show-er up-er in odd places.

On the laundry list side of things: Former Managing Editor of Bwog, Editor-in-Chief of Awaaz, The Blue & White, and the Columbia Political Review. Founder and Chair of the InterPublications Association. Writer for a number of other publications (and bridge between the Bwog-Spec divide).

In other words, I did all things good, inky, and nearly obsolete.

Co-Chair of the Student Wellness Project. Some involvement in South and Southeast Asian groups before I got sucked into publications. I will still answer to the name “gora ladka.”

Where are you going?

Reclusion and insanity. But before that, a grad program at Oxford. But before that, an aimless sojourn through Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.

Three things you learned at Columbia?

  1. You can’t be too worried about fucking up. That’s not a license to slack or cut corners. But stressing about messing up (and not just making an honest best effort) is responsible for at least 25% of my collegiate hair loss. You’ll piss people off, make enemies, screw up, fail, and do it all on a regular basis. Embracing failure and enmity is a great form of learning, and one that college facilitates well, especially when stewed in ego and ambition. And if you feel like you can make it through without screwing up a bit, like you don’t have to embrace failure … well, I look forward to the publication of your self-help book.
  2. Four years of dealing with Columbia bureaucracy have turned me into an immaculate sleuth. Seriously, if you go to this school and you can track down the person in charge of coordinating toilet paper deliveries to dorms without suffering at least one stress-induced wall-punching session, you will have achieved Zen. I think we ought to start putting “navigating Columbia bureaucracy” on our resumes. It’s an incredible practical skill that would probably help us all secure our dream jobs with half the effort.
  3. Everything you know is wrong. Everything. For everyone. And no one’s doing it right.

“Back in my day…” it was actually pretty easy to get on tunnels and roofs. I get the security concerns, but I mourn the suppression of urban exploration and history.

Justify your existence in 30 words or less: I’m a massive enabler. If I find out you’re into macramé, I’ll try to convince you to abandon Econ and join an arts commune I heard about in Vermont.

Is the War on Fun over? Who won? Any war stories?

Have you met me, Bwog? I’m a somber dude. I’m the friggin’ Switzerland of the War on Fun: I don’t participate, and whoever wins, ‘s cool with me.

Would you rather give up oral sex or cheese?

Oral sex. … I’m sorry, was that supposed to be a difficult question? I mean, it’s CHEESE for Wisconsin’s sake.

Advice for the class of 2016?

  • “Hold fast to the spirit of youth, let the years that come do what they may.” But seriously.
  • Make time for TV. Or whatever else gets you by. For me it was lots and lots of delicious TV (aka, my childhood babysitter). Just make sure that no matter how overcommitted you get, you still have time to chill and check that you’re okay as a human being.
  • Stress is a useful fuel and often a necessary element of what we do, but it can’t, it shouldn’t be allowed to eat you up and define who you are… although, if you are going to use TV like I did, I highly recommend that you do not overdose on the Sorkin—that is not the stuff of chill introspection, my friends.
  • College, in my really normative and preachy conception, should not be an affirmation of who you are when you come in, nor a dispassionate tool used to turn out degrees that greenlight us into prescribed and proscribed lives.
  • This is a place to be uncomfortable—not by doing stupid things and winding up in bad situations, but by jarring yourself out of your comfort zone.
  • I’m gonna go ahead and dare every student in 2016 to try to argue a counterintuitive point in their first paper, convincingly play devil’s advocate to themselves in class, and seriously question their involvements and friends. If you’re not uncomfortable and questioning yourself, then what’s the point of this four year daycare center for the shiftless and young?

Any regrets?

Innumerable. But few I’d ever admit to publicly. Most regrets are silly and/or pointless. Best to learn a lesson, internalize it truly, and move on if you can.

But I suppose … I could have been braver when I first came to Columbia. I was absolutely intimidated for about my first full year here. I felt really small. I let it stop me from branching out and digging in because, you know, who the hell was I? If I’d been braver back then, what might I have gained in that extra year?