Peter Sterne

Another former Bwogger is here to spread their Wisdom: Peter Sterne, who once told the New York Times that “The nice thing is if the world does end tonight, we don’t have to take our finals tomorrow.”

Name, Hometown, School, Major: Peter Sterne, Greenwich, CT, Columbia College, Anthropology

Claim to fame: I was one of Bwog’s managing editors. I hopped lectures, discovered that hammocks are anti-colonial, and briefly turned Bwog into a radio show. I can also tell you who pays interns.

Where are you going? To Connecticut for a few weeks until I find a sublet in the city, and then back to the city to do journalism.

What are 3 things you learned at Columbia and would like to share with the Class of 2018?

1) It’s good to be critical, but not self-critical. One of the great things about Columbians is that they think critically about, well, everything. From CC discussions to Bwog comments to Spec op-eds and protests on College Walk, Columbians like to think question and problematize the world. But when that criticism turns inward, it can become toxic and paralyzing. You should interrogate your privileges and examine your choices, but don’t let that turn into self-hate. Just be confident in yourself. Of course, you don’t want to overboard and become entitled, believing that people deserve to talk to you or sleep with you just because you’re nice and you go to Columbia and you’ll wait all night for them next to Alma Mater… But do be confident in yourself.

2) You are not alone. You’re not the only person who thinks they don’t deserve to be here. You’re not the only person who never studies for the exam. You’re not the only person who always waits until the last minute to work on a paper. You’re not the only person who spends every night in Butler and doesn’t have a social life. You’re not the only person without any really close friends. You’re not the only person who is unhappily single because they can’t find anyone to date. You’re not the only person who feels that they’re wasting the privileges of their Ivy League education. Lots of people feel this way. So don’t be afraid to reach out to other people—set up a study session with classmates, say hi to people on College Walk, or even crash a party. Remember: Columbia students don’t bite (unless you ask them to).

3) Don’t ever give up, because it’s never too late. There’s a tendency among Columbia students to get overwhelmed and then just shut down—I’ve skipped countless classes and missed numerous deadlines just because I was afraid it was too late to save my grade. But it’s never too late. Even when you’re told you’ll likely fail the class, you should never give up. Just do your assignments and hand them in even if they’re months late, and you could still pass.

“Back in my day…” Everyone in LitHum read Gilgamesh and made jokes about how Enkidu stayed erect for seven days. Amigos served Italian food, Dig Inn was some kind of stationery store, and Mel’s didn’t card. Spec was printed daily.

Justify your existence in 30 words or fewer: As a freshman, I told The New York Times: “The nice thing is if the world does end tonight, we don’t have to take our finals tomorrow.”

Write your most memorable note from the field: A girl from my Frontiers of Science section was turning 18, so one of her friends planned an elaborate birthday scavenger hunt in the city. Over the course of the night, we had a shopping spree in Forever 21, played “duck, duck, goose” next to the TKTS booth in Times Square, ate homemade chocolates at a shop in the Village owned by a GS student, and finally went to Westside, where the workers gave her a free birthday cake.

Would you rather give up oral sex or cheese? Does this mean giving or receiving? I think cheese is a pretty lousy gift to give someone—sorry Murray’s—so I’ll give up cheese.

One thing to do before graduating: Go to Orgo Night and VShow. There are so few traditions that bring (almost) everyone in the school together. Don’t miss out on those experiences.

Any regrets? Definitely. I never had the time, but I wish I had done some theatre, tried writing for Spec just to see what it was like, and joined Femsex. And I skipped way too many lectures.