And another Wisdom as all the wisdom from your classes slowly leaves your brain: Will Hughes, who looked out for you on CCSC, yet admits to some participation in the War on Fun, along with a somewhat-secret online identity.
Name, Hometown, School: Will Hughes, Coarsegold, CA, Columbia College, Math and English
Claim to fame? Peer counseling stuff: GHAP counselor, RA, and recently retired Nightline staff member; various campus theater (most proudly this) and eventual CUPAL president; interviewing people on WBAR as co-founder/co-host of THE GOOOOOON SQUAD; a yearlong stint on CCSC where I made a bit of a fuss about arts funding; baker and general dessert enthusiast; overdoing it with room décor; being that six foot tall ginger in the letterman jacket who bears a STRIKING resemblance to Archie.
Where are you going? Brief stint on the ranch and then back to New York.
3 things you learned at Columbia:
1. When the emperor looks naked, the emperor is naked.
2. The walk from Westside to EC eventually feels shorter, but the walk in the 14th Street subway tunnel never does.
3. Someone once told me politics in small towns boils down to gossip. This extends to Columbia, which is a small town in its own way. When combined with an org chart so complex it takes years to understand, you get a system where decisions at the University’s highest levels are regularly made because of the most inane factors imaginable, and figuring it all out is a matter of befriending the right people. If learning (and hollerin’) about the Arts Initiative taught me anything, it was how the students, faculty, and staff get shafted entirely when people make decisions (especially structural and budgetary ones) for petty, personal reasons.
Back in my day…SiP was a wonderful place to get a martini and do some homework (before it was replaced by homophobes, sigh). James Franco studying in 209 was cause for many a group text. The Diana Center was called the Vag, and the Vag was not open, meaning no proper student center. Different people held most senior administrative positions. The theater kids didn’t get along with each other as well as they do now. There was no business management concentration that encouraged people to hedge their bets against a humanities degree.
Justify your existence in 30 words or fewer: My Twitter generally is on point, Public Safety said I’m “too fun for Columbia,” I’m firstname.lastname@example.org, and, despite failing too often, I try every day to do the right thing.
Write a CU Admirers post to anyone or anything at Columbia: I really admire the school of General Studies, both on principle and in practice. The student body of GS is on the whole more experienced, more interesting, and more fun to be around than that of any school at Columbia. That Columbia provides nontraditional students, particularly veterans and former artists, the opportunity to return to school is something that we should all support. Of course, that we should support something is different than us actually supporting it, so on top of everything else, GS students have idiots talking about backdoors to Columbia (despite their having the highest average GPA of the undergrad schools). Plus, GS has far and away the best of the four undergrad student councils and Dean Pete Awn is the man (with all due respect to JJV). GS: To me, you are perfect. Except the financial aid situation, but that’s not your fault.
Other people at Columbia I admire greatly include, but are not limited to: Terry Martinez for getting it in a way few people do, Laura Pinsky for fighting the good fight for almost thirty years and counting, Kathy Gomez for guarding over Furnald with love, Colette McIntyre for getting a tote bag custom-made that says “CUM DUMPSTER” after everything last year, Lori Goldman for the work she put into getting Nightline reopened, and the many, many people who make the University function on a day to day basis.
Would you rather give up oral sex or cheese? In the words of Ms. Goldman, I prefer my pizza smothered in dicks.
Hitching your wagon to institutional approval is one of the worst ways to determine self-worth and happiness. Which is to say, it doesn’t matter how many awards you get, or what your school’s acceptance rate is, or how well paying your job is, all that means nothing if you have never processed why exactly those things hold meaning for you. Since a liberal arts education is a fun four-year excuse to think about questions like that, we all have a healthy head start on this process. Recognize that opportunity for the incredible privilege it is, and honor it by keeping an open mind and open heart.
On a related note, a person who self-identifies as a student leader is generally anything but a person who leads students. Proceed accordingly.
Performative overcommitment is not a cute look on any of us. Treat spending time with friends, sleeping, leaving Morningside Heights, and taking care of yourself as activities that need to be in your schedule. From there, add classes. Then add other activities if (and only if) you have time left. And whatever you do, never forget that the vast majority of people here are incredibly busy as well, and talk about your stress level with that in mind.
You don’t have to make your best friends during NSOP, your first year, or even in college. A recent graduate mentioned last year that despite being involved and well liked, she left Columbia with few close friends (as opposed to friendships of convenience). For most of us, finding our people is a long and continual process that no one really warns you about. You may be surrounded by the brilliant and accomplished student body that the brochures promised and connect with fewer of them than you expected. That’s fine.
People here often describe the identity crisis inherent in taking a group composed of kids from the top percentiles of their high schools and placing them all together—suddenly we can’t all be the smart kid. In the best of all possible worlds, this can result in an incredibly liberating discovery of some of the other things that make you interesting. It can also lead to the kind of assholery that makes people hate on Barnard/GS/state schools/whatever to maintain that feeling of intellectual superiority. Take advantage this chance to reinvent yourself, and figure out what else you have going for you besides your smarty-pants brain. (Although that’s pretty swell too.)
Spitters are quitters.
You’ll think and talk a great deal about how college has changed you as a person, particularly when you get to the point where it ends. But just as (more?) important is knowing where you came from and how you got to where you are. Over the past four years, I have grown so much closer with my parents (all that jazz about absence and hearts growing fonder). Stay in touch with your roots, and you’ll find yourself more grounded at Columbia. And if nothing else, when you have a juicy secret, telling it to your mom is far less likely to bite you in the ass then telling it to someone here.
Any regrets? Periodically trying for “witty,” and letting it turn into “mean.” Neglecting academics in favor of clubs and activities. Learning the thing about not talking about how busy you are so late. Speaking more than listening (see: the length of this). Not signing my Bwog and Spec comments. Never prioritizing time for dating (fellas if you’re interested, hmu).
columbia: a fun 4 year excuse to think about meaning