May

7

Senior Wisdom: Gavin McGown

Written by

Gavin McGown

Gavin McGown

Today’s second Senior Wisdom: Gavin McGown, telling you that haters are gonna hate, but to wake up anyways.

Name, Hometown, School: Gavin McGown; Toronto, Ontario; Columbia College, despite my Barnadmiration + swag. I more or less majored in Anne Carson.

Claim to fame? I’m on your campus, despoiling your precious notions of gender and civility.

Where are you going? Sticking around here until September (get at me), letting my crush on Proust blossom into a summer romance. Then taking my bookish fidelities back to the ancient world, by way of Cambridge, where they belong.

3 things you learned at Columbia:
i. Haters gonna hate.
ii. Coy smiles go a long way.
iii. People think you’re really smart if you refer to a non-literary object (composition, building, nail polish) as a “text.”

Back in my day…Lit Hum students learned about putting the devil back in hell, and the CC and SEAS deans as well as the Provost were all people of colour, one of them a woman.

Justify your existence in 30 words or fewer: I have a calligram tattoo of Sappho, poem 1. I laugh really, really loud. I have too many feelings and get through the hard parts with a lot of love.

Write a CU Admirers post to anyone or anything at Columbia:
Haylin Belay:
hey girl.
you can cuntpunt me any time you like.

Would you rather give up oral sex or cheese? With only one can you eat out for free.

One thing do to before graduating.

This one is for the kids in 2017: you’re going to go to this thing during NSOP called Under1Roof, which is going to ask you to think really hard about your identities and those of everyone else in this community. You might think it’s super basic. You might think that you already know what diversity is and that you don’t need this discussion because you’re not []-ist or []-phobic. But challenge yourself to approach the conversation with sincerity and earnestness. If you hear something in that session—and you probably will—that causes a bit of dissonance for you in terms of how you view yourself, the world, and the kinds of power that people do or don’t have, take that as the grain of salt in the oyster that produces a pearl. Then keep on thinking really hard about your identities and experiences and learn about those identities and experiences that are invisible to you or to which you haven’t had much access. Think about the experiences of marginalization, oppression, and violence you may have lived through, and learn about the ones you haven’t.

In short, take your time here to realize what kind of world you’re living in. In whatever way you can, learn to fight back.

Any regrets? Never having applied to live in the IRC; never having made the time on a Friday afternoon to go to a Radical CUNTS discussion; missing the Under1Roof facilitators deadline last spring; waiting until my final term to join ROOTEd. In general, taking too long to wake up to certain political realities and realize my complicity in them. But I guess we’re all still waking up.

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38 Comments

  1. BC '14  

    this really makes me wish I had met Gavin

  2. CC14  

    Sad I didn't meet them sooner. Thanks for being a brave voice on campus, Gavin!

  3. brosef

    Bro, I've seen lift, impressive!

  4. Oral Sex vs. Cheese  

    I don't get it? Help! Explain!

  5. I know, right?

    An honest, sincere young man who not only stands up for marginalized people, but is proud of his identity? The nerve! The gall!

  6. Frat bro

    I. Love. This.

  7. hm  

    Never gonna forget him flipping off every one at orgo night with both birds! Quite the outreach

  8. Shondrea  

    Shoutout to Gavin!!! You have truly been an inspiration and I'm so honored to have met you! You are amazing.

  9. CC '16  

    Gavin is one of my favorite people on this campus and I'm sad that I didn't try to become friends with them earlier. Columbia will be a lot worse off without them.

  10. CC 14  

    Gavin is good.

  11. Anonymous  

    I am honored and proud to know this human being. He makes the world a better place for me to live in. And he has a beautiful and deep mind.

  12. Football player

    This was beautiful.

  13. Jesse E from the GOP  

    Gavin makes me question my beliefs on a weekly basis (I'd say daily, but who has time for that during finals). Thanks for the nuance added.

    Take the salt in the oyster metaphor seriously: it's only through years of pressure of trying to understand the dissonance from that first day in Under1Roof (and all the subsequent moments) that the salt turns into a pearl. Society's really good at making big issues very invisible--you won't get it all at once.

    There's no such thing as too many feelings, especially when there's so much love. Even the negative feelings helps you do all the other things you've told us to do.

    People don't think you're smart because you use the word "text" to refer to objects. People think you're smart because they've had a conversation with you and were themselves made smarter as a result.

    You can get free cheese samplers at Westside.

    You may be despoiling my notions of gender, Gavin, and for that I'm grateful. But you're helping to build my notion of civility, and for that, also grateful.

    • Jesse E from the GOP  

      I use the second person to refer to both the reader and to Gavin. Get it from context. I don't love the their/they choice, but it really might the best of a bad linguistic situation. So I should have respected their choice and not tried to avoid using it.

  14. CC '17

    Posted up Gavin's advice for our class on the fbook page..... yeah

  15. CC '17

    Posted up gavin's quote on the '17 facebook page... yeah.,

  16. really great senior wisdom. commentary on Under1Roof SO SO accurate. happy this was shared on bwog!

  17. ROOTEd  

    Any regrets? "...waiting until my final term to join ROOTEd."

    I love you, Gavin!!! so sad you're graduating but you're going to go on and do such incredible things, it's certain. I'm glad I got to meet you and spend time getting to know you even if only in your last semester. you've made such an impact on my life and I'm sure the same can be said for your impact on many other lives.

    <3 forever

    p.s. your "really, really loud" laugh is what makes our weekly meetings so awesome and I LOVE IT.

  18. CC'14  

    Gayvin they is a nice person!

  19. Gab

    What a beautiful piece Gavin! You have contributed so much to this campus and I know that I personally have learned a great deal from your example.

  20. RRA  

    Gavin, my heart swells with love for you.

  21. Steve C.  

    I remember you as the "upperclassman" who put together the gender neutral housing proposal back when I was a confused freshman, but years later, I learned you were actually my year. Your presence will be missed.

  22. Steve C.  

    My first memory of you is as the "upperclassman" who put together a gender neutral housing proposal back when I was a confused freshman. Years later, I realized you were actually my year and just super impactful from the day you arrived. Well done.

    • Anonymous

      You've just posted a ton comments on several senior wisdoms just now, but each comment seems very generic (and might I even say patronizing). Don't mean to be a downer, but just saying.

      • Steve C.

        Ehh I'm sorry. I don't normally comment on bwog, but I felt like it would be worthwhile to do so in saying kind words to fellow seniors whose lives touched mine in large and small ways.

        You're right in that I purposely did not get super personal on a public forum and often said my more personal comments to seniors when I saw them in more personal settings. Still, my comments are genuine, and I figured that even a simple "you're super cool" from a non-anonymous source would be appreciated, especially by those who did not know me as well or were not aware that I looked up to them. In this case, Gavin impressed me with his activism from freshman year: I do not mean to be patronizing at all.

        Moreover, I did try to wait a bit until after people largely stopped using bwog to not make the comments about me, but I do appreciate your feedback and hope others view these in anything but a negative light. It's something for me to keep in mind in the future though. Thank you!

      • Anonymous

        Geeze Steve. Each comment should make me cry! What is wrong with you!?

        Irl: every comment had a personal touch and was better than the average "love this kid," etc. please go home.

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