May

16

Campus Character: Richard Sun

Written by

Illustration by Leila Mgaloblishvili, CC '16
Illustration by Leila Mgaloblishvili, CC '16

Illustration by Leila Mgaloblishvili, CC ’16

One more piece from the May issue of The Blue and White: a Campus Character. Daniel Stone profiles University Senator Richard Sun. You can still grab a copy in Lerner. Or read the damn thing online.

At the suggestion of Richard Sun, CC ’13, we meet in the gaudily adorned lobby of Le Parker Meridian on 56th Street off 6th Avenue. Below five hundred dollar-a-night rooms and next to non-functional renaissance columns, a maroon curtain hides the Burger Joint. Waiting in the long line to get in, Sun tells me he likes the place partly because you “wouldn’t expect to find a relaxed and greasy burger joint at the heart of the hotel.” (It’s also near Brooks Brothers, where he has been shopping and the fare’s good.) Inside the cramped restaurant, as if to hide the fact that the hotel also runs it, graffiti uniformly covers the walls. Prices are written on cardboard boxes in marker. He orders two cheeseburgers and a milkshake. When it turns out they have run out of milkshakes, he opts for water. Then, we sit.

Sun wears many hats. At Columbia, most know him as one of the three University Senators who represent Columbia College, the man who knocked on hundreds of doors to secure victory in his campaign last year. Those who miss his semi-regular USenate email updates may know him as an RA in Carman, Economics TA, brother of Sigma Phi Epsilon, or member of the Ski Team. Many are also familiar with his collection of hard-to-get internships, including a semester in the White House and a summer working for Columbia’s favorite consulting firm, McKinsey & Company. In the past four years, Sun has garnered—along with his impressive resume—a complicated reputation as a public figure on campus.

Sun is unabashed about who he is—a “smart guy” who is “ambitious.” Many know of his aspiration to ultimately serve as an elected government official. He does not slickly obscure his efforts, something of a rarity at school where it pays to be glib; he admitted himself to sometimes taking a “corporate approach” that did not necessarily make him the most popular of people. Several students, who wished to remain unnamed, told of being turned off by Sun and his directness.

He’s not without a sense of humor. Describing his internship at McKinsey, which he called “the greatest summer of my life,” Sun said that he had found the work itself very fulfilling and that McKinsey’s global presence “made the world smaller” for him.  As a third point he praised the training they gave him, during which he learned, among other things that “people like things in threes.”

Beneath everything, it is clear that Sun cares deeply about what he does and works amazingly hard. His friend Ben Spener, CC ’14, likened Sun’s position on the University Senate to a full time job and spoke of his being inspirational. Fellow senator Matthew Chou, CC ’14, added that “the amount of time he puts into [his work] is really incredible.” Perhaps, confessed Chou, who also told of getting emails at 5 a.m. from Sun, “he sometimes works himself too hard.”

The work has paid off. At the end of his senior spring semester, Sun has reached a satisfying plateau. He knows a job at McKinsey waits for him after he spends his summer working as an organizer on the campaign of Democratic New Jersey gubernatorial candidate Barbara Buono. Moreover, as of the day before our interview, he had completed his senior thesis on private-public organization of mass transportation in New York.

Back at Columbia, as we enter through the 116th gates and cross College Walk, he frequently stops to greet people. We part beside the CAVA ambulance and he ascends the Low Steps, off to reconnect with a former university senator.

 

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70 Comments

  1. Um...

    So where's the interview?

  2. I don't know Richard  

    But I sincerely hope that he is not anything like how he comes across in this profile.

    • Anonymous

      Oh, don't worry. He is.

      • You're ridiculous  

        No, he's not. This is literally one of the best and nicest kids at Columbia and people with nothing better to do decide to try to pour on negativity in an anonymous comment board thread after classes have ended because you all STILL have nothing better to do. You should be ashamed of the fact that today you woke up and decided "You know what a really great person would do with their day today? Talk shit about someone on the Internet."

        So, fuck you.

  3. Anonymous  

    Hopefully this is the last thing anyone at Columbia ever has to read about richard sun.

  4. Ozymandias

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    Who said: "Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
    Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
    Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown
    And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
    Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
    Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
    The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
    And on the pedestal these words appear:
    `My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
    Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!'
    Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
    Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
    The lone and level sands stretch far away".

    • Here's Jonny!  

      Gotta study for finals. gonna take a little bwog break.

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  5. anon  

    richard's a good guy.

  6. anon

    Noooo why him, couldn't you find anyone else to write about?!

  7. Anonymous

    He sounds pretentious.

    There, I said it.

  8. Correction  

    He IS pretentious

  9. I don't care  

    how many campus "titles" or prestigious internships he has under his resume....He's been one of the rudest, most unpleasant people I've met at Columbia, if not my entire life so far. And I know many other people can agree with me. Shame that Bwog wasted time on this guy instead of meeting with other seniors who are actual decent human beings.

  10. English Major  

    First Paragraph is a Metaphor I think:

    Richard Sun is a fake

  11. CC15  

    Richard's name suits him. He is a Dick. Combined with his figure, he a a BIG Dick.

  12. LOL

    You're just jealous.

  13. CC'14  

    I lived in Schapiro my sophomore year, where Richard was the CA. Some of the RAs--which I won't mention by name for obvious reasons--often complained about Richard's attitude, and lack of interest in residence hall matters.

    What's more, every now and then, he would show up to my floor lounge and, pretending to "get to know the residents," basically begin to network. As soon as someone told him a career path which he deemed not prestigious or professional enough, he clearly lost any interest in him or her.

    I don't care if you want to work in finance or consulting--it's not my cup of tea, but to each his or her own--but Richard's haughty attitude is disgusting.

    • LOLOLOL

      Look, I get it that money won't buy happiness. But, see, poors like you will be won't be able to buy anything.

      • CC'14  

        @LOLOLOL:

        Are you so insecure about your life that you need to mock and make assumptions about someone on the internet?

        As I said in my comment, I don't hate on people who go into finance or consulting, but do hate on those who act superior because they have chosen a certain lifestyle. I don't think I'm superior to others because of my chosen career path, and neither should you.

        Also, you don't know me. You don't know anything about my life, what I'm doing with it, or where I come from.

        • LOLOLOL

          I feel superior because I *am* superior. I am going to be what we call a "producer". You are probably going to be a social justice fairness whiner, also known as a "parasite". I don't like the thought of my future tax dollars going to subsidize *your* lack of initiative.

  14. anon

    I'm going to work in finance too, because well... that's all I learned from Columbia! But damn, the times I've met Richard, I just wanted him to shut up. Life is not about networking and using people to get ahead, and he totally doesn't care about people in a friend kind of way. And that is really sad. If there's one thing I will always cherish about Columbia, it's the friendships I've made. Not the jobs, and not the career outlooks. The friends! Corny as it sounds, I'm already missing Columbia since I'm almost out of here, while this dude here is a grade A meanie jerk. I am NOT surprised that there are people in his own frat who don't like him, and I am WILL NOT be surprised when he becomes this super successful, lonely, friendless guy who looks back at his times as a young adult and thinks "damn, I f'd up. I have no one to share my success with."

  15. Anonymous  

    A lot of these comments are way too harsh. How many of you have actually interacted with him for me than 5 minutes anyways? Obviously he's not the nicest guy in the world, but I just got to know him this year, and he's a decent enough guy after you get past first impressions

    • CC '13  

      Wow, what a ringing endorsement. Even Richard's supporters/friends can't muster a better defense than: "a decent enough guy after you get past first impressions."

  16. CC12

    I've been reading this site for a while. All I can say is that I've noticed commenting population have quite a bit of "tall poppy syndrome", rushing to tear down a professionally successful individual, and raving about someone whose done nothing with his or her life except drink, smoke weed, and hang out in Brooklyn.

    Jealousy's hard, I get it. But I've noticed this on the Bwog pages ever since I was a freshman.

    For the record, I've never met Richard.

    • Anonymous  

      YOU ARE THE GENTEEL JUST BECAUSE WE HATE FINANCE DOESN'T MEAN WE ARE LAZY, WE JUST DON' T LIKE STUDENTS WHO JUST HAVE THEIR LIVES SET OUT FOR THEM TO MAKE MONEY AND ARE TURNING THIS SCHOOL INTO A PREPROFESSIONAL TRAINING CAMP AS OPPOSED TO A PLACE WHERE WE CAN ACTUALLY LEARN AND CHALLENGE SHIT

  17. mike  

    "gaudily adorned lobby"- right place to meet this gentleman. beautiful outside, hollow inside.

  18. M

    I really hope Richard's not reading these comments but I had a core class with him a few years ago and got to know him. I really think he's a nice, good person and had no idea people on campus felt this way about him.

    One time we ran into each other in Butler both finishing a paper for the class we were in and were there working until about 4am I think, supporting each other through the misery. Another time he showed up at my door at about 11pm asking for my vote for him in the USenate. I had a friend running for class president at the same time and got the two positions confused when I said I hadn't decided who I'd vote for since I knew both candidates well; he gently corrected me and then we chatted a bit, even though he'd obviously been out knocking on doors for hours. So he got my vote, of course.

    Sure he's wracked up a ridiculous, even "pretentious" resume but he's been nothing but really nice to me. And I'm not even headed for consulting or I-banking or any elected government positions.

    • Anonymous  

      "we chatted a bit, even though he'd obviously been out knocking on doors for hours." we have a name for that -- it's "campaigning." doesn't mean he's patient and polite -- it means he wanted your vote.

  19. Anonymous

    Writer is a first year.. What does he know? Not his place to judge one of the most impressive seniors.

  20. anonymous  

    Like many of you, I had the same first impression of Richard the first couple times I spoke to him. But interact with him more frequently, get to know him on a personal level, and you'll see that he's actually a really nice guy and a very hard worker. Maybe it's just because I once saw him hit himself in the face with a bouncy ball full dork-style, but he's also an endearingly goofy guy and a truly good person. I promise! Give him a chance!

  21. father

    I am very disturbed by the commentators on Bwog. How can you write comments like this about one of your classmates?


    As an alum, I read Bwog to get a pulse of the campus and to help me decide if I want my children to apply to Columbia. I am not sure I want my children to be on a campus with such hateful students.

    • eyeroll

      Oh no! I should reform my wicked ways now because otherwise I might not have the opportunity to meet your precious progeny!

      If only we could all go back to the good old days, when every Columbia student was a perfect angel full of nothing but sweet thoughts about his peers...

    • French

      I'm an alum too. I'm just glad to see that Columbia students are as snarky as they ever were.

  22. CC '13  

    If you can't offer Richard some potential social capital through networking, he will have nothing to do with you. Never have I met somebody so constantly hellbent on advancing his status. Don't really understand why you felt it was necessary to profile him, Bwog.

    • i get you don't like him, but...

      It's not "This Month In Nice People," it's "Campus Character." The fact Richard's inclusion has generated all these comments indicates that he's high-profile enough around campus that many people have formed strong reactions to him. Seems to me like that's the very definition of a campus character.

    • D

      I think the proper word for this is "facetimey."

  23. Anonymous  

    Small down there though

  24. Anonymous

    I've never met the guy, but he already comes off as money- and power- hungry (bad combination). How unpleasant. Seems like he only cares about himself and his success. Another two-faced politician in the making?

  25. Anonymous

    I once interviewed students for the RA position with Richard and he pretty much ruined the experience for each interviewee. He made it clear that he didn't want to be there and asked them questions with an I'm too good for this attitude. Also, he complained the entire time about "how much
    this school sucks."

    I didn't like him very much after that.

  26. A fellow Columbian  

    There's a lot of hate on here and I don't see good reason for it. I doubt most people on here know Richard well enough to make many of these deep cuts against him. Further, lots of you are likely basing these criticisms off of what you've read in this profile (and rolling Richard into the mob of finance dudes that we all love to hate on), which is obviously going to be biased based on whatever the author personally thinks about Richard. Point is, Richard probably does give off the type of attitude and persona that spurs these disrespectful comments, but the guy behind the persona is no the same as the persona.

    • uhhh what?  

      OK so just because he acts like a raging douche means we should continue to let him belittle us until we actually get to know the "person behind the persona"? If he wants people to think he's a raging douche bag, we should treat him like one.

  27. Y'all need to get life

    Richard is the fucking man. So genuine, literally the opposite of what the haters are saying. So clearly jealous.

  28. on the BRIGHT side  

    Leila, that's a great portrait!

  29. I've Known Richard For Four Years  

    This guy typifies the achievement robot we all hate. He did research in High School to improve his resume and mentored underprivileged people to make him more marketable to colleges. He surely didn't care about advancing science and doesn't care about the underprivileged. He also doesn't care about Columbia - he's only a Senator because it looks good for his resume. Most importantly, he doesn't care about you - he cares about how you can help him. The only reason why he did anything, especially Finance, is because it's prestigious. That way he'll be better than you, because he realizes that at his core, he is inferior. He has no passion. He's a useless robot who has no soul. And for that reason, he will never get to where he wants to go. You reputation precedes you, "big shot." You can't network your way out of being a shitty human being.

  30. Dylan  

    People are being totally unfair. Richard has developed a slightly harder shell perhaps, but inside he's honey. He has a pet goldfish, is a total politics nerd, and can be extremely loving with people he's close to.

  31. Truth

    I saw this kid at Mel's a few weeks ago and he was so hammered he couldn't stand up on his own and looked like he was about to throw up on himself. Clearly one of the "many hats" he wears is that of a drunk piece of shit

  32. Mouse  

    I cannot fathom why everyone is so quick to judge him. You do not know why he ruthlessly pursues monetary success, and it is unfair to stigmatize him for having values that differ from your own if he is not violating anybody's rights. I personally pursue financial success because it is the only avenue in life available to me. I have terrible looks, a horrible personality, and am very shy, especially around people of the opposite sex. The only thing that I have that I am proud of is my (slightly)higher-than-average intelligence. I know that I will never find success in any other field, so I have to use my intelligence to its greatest capacity, and even then it is not enough most of the time. Maybe you could find happiness some other way, but you do not know if Richard could. In fact, in the majority of cases, your judgments of others are totally false. I have been judged as arrogant, but I consider almost every person here to be superior to me in terms of intelligence and beauty. Take the time to get to know him before you judge her.

    To be totally honest, I find Richard's candidness to be refreshing. I often lament that our society has a fascination with "softening the blows" that we deal to one another by masking them behind cloying personalities. It really does not make me feel better when someone tries to use me but pretends that he or she actually likes me; in fact, it makes me feel worse. At the very least, Richard is honest. I think that is something we can all be grateful for. If people thought he was shady, I doubt he would have been elected.

    • uhhh what?  

      I find the candidness of these comments refreshing.

      Also, you can find success in other fields with above average intelligence and some confidence, so stop knocking yourself and go do something you WANT to do instead of something you feel like is your only option.

      • Mouse  

        I believe that there are three general categories of success that contribute to happiness. The first is social success, and is generally tied to one's friendships. The second is romantic success, which is obviously tied to one's ability to attract and maintain a relationship with a partner. The third is financial success, which provides an individual with material comforts.

        I understand my limits, and I know that I will never be successful in the former two categories. I have never had a true friend. I do have people who are willing to pity me and tolerate me, but generally I am an outsider within that circle, and I am never invited to outings or social events with those people. I will definitely never find a partner. I am far too hideous. I have never flirted with or held hands with an individual of the opposite sex, and when my schools forced them to have contact with me, they openly expressed disgust at having to interact with me through their laughter and refusal to interact with me in the prescribed manner. I only have one window of opportunity in this life, and that is through financial success. Perhaps for some, money is not everything, but for me, it truly is because I will never have anything else. The hope that I can someday have some sort of material happiness motivates me to work, and when I make small steps towards this goal, such as when I am lucky enough to receive an A in a class, my pain is eased just a little for a small period of time. Perhaps Richard Sun feels this way as well.

        • Anonymous

          Look, mister -- or miss -- assuming that this isn't an elaborate trolling attempt, your main problem is crippling social anxiety. I have a craniofacial disfigurement, and even I don't experience social ostracism to that extent.

  33. knows richard sun  

    If you know Richard Sun, you know he is reading these comments and that he is the one leaving many of these ridiculously pretentious, condescending replies.

    And if you know Richard Sun, you're not surprised one bit. Just goes to show you how much of an outrageous douchecanoe he is.

    Maybe these comments will be a wake up call so he can check his attitude and act more like the "good person" some of these people are saying he is....

  34. I was a fool  

    I don't really get to know Richard that well. My only experience was when I lived in Schapiro two years ago and he came knocking on my door and introduced himself to me. I was impressed and I voted for him for whatever position he wanted. After the election, he never said "hi" to me again whenever we walk pass each other. I did try to say hi to him for first couple of times tho.

  35. Anonymous

    Alright I'm done reading this stuff. The "interview was terrible" for one. Not once was Richard quoted in a full sentence, and people who don't know him are attacking for no reason. People can comment all they want. Nothing is going to change the fact that I like Richard and think he is a great guy.

  36. CC 14

    As someone who has spent a bit of time with Richard and doesn't hate him, I'm not too shocked by the comments. He certainly can be a technocratic asshole and is largely self serving. (What has he actually done for Columbia College? Who gives a flying fuck about a smoking ban and his stupid survey?)

    Beyond this, the article itself is okay in terms of fairness. It doesn't really lambast Richard, nor does it laud him as our next president, which probably Richard wanted. That said, the profile's function here is only to place him. In the end, we know where Richard stands at Columbia and the greater world but not much else.

    Honestly, though, Richard's a cool cat. Sure he's a giant douche, but after a few drinks who cares?

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