This next senior wisdom is from Sam Falcone, leader in the Columbia Socialists, who describes himself as “the least quantitatively-inclined aspiring economist since Karl Marx.”
Name, School, Major, Hometown: Sam Falcone-Coffin; History and Economics; Hinesburg, Vermont.
Claim to fame: Being that lefty kid your history class who always wanted to continue the conversation afterwards and was always in Butler 209.
Also, being the least quantitatively-inclined aspiring economist since Karl Marx.
Where are you going? In the short term, to the David N. Dinkins Municipal Building, to pursue a career as a civil servant for the City of New York in the office of the NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer.
Also, to continue writing and researching. I hope to complete the next chapter of my thesis and continue my nascent career as an amateur journalist.
What are 3 things you learned at Columbia and would like to share with the Class of 2022?
1. Like the world, Columbia is filled with all sorts of brilliant people doing incredibly interesting things. This can be profoundly inspiring, but also deeply intimidating. You are brilliant too, in your own way. If you can, try not to forget that even when this school and world tries to tell you otherwise. You’ll face trying times as a student here. But you’re always doing better than you think. Just keep humbly chugging along.
2. I had the pleasure of meeting many wonderful people at Columbia. If you are lucky enough to have this experience, treat your people well. Never forget tell the people in your life you’re grateful for them. Much more importantly, never forget to show them.
3. Find something you care deeply about and do it. This could be an organization, a project, a cause or a field of study. Really anything. Your time at Columbia, (like your life in general), will be much more meaningful when you feel like a part of something larger than yourself.
“Back in my day…” Koronet’s was a lot cheaper, beers were 2$ at Lion’s Head on Wednesdays and there was actually a place in the neighborhood to sit down and have a cheap coffee, beer or meal.
(This is to all to say, Rest in Peace, M2M. You are gone but not forgotten).
Justify your existence in 30 words or fewer: I am on a first-name basis with Roger Waters, thanks to a long conversation about the necessity of rebuilding the left wing of the Labour Party in the UK. (Shout out to Students for Justice in Palestine for everything they do, and for hosting such great events that Roger decided to come through.)
Alternatively, there was one day when Professor Elizabeth Blackmar uttered the phrase: “You wake up in the morning and think dialectically for breakfast.” Life made.
What was your favorite class at Columbia? To name a few, “The Rise of American Capitalism” with Professor Elizabeth Blackmar, “The Making of the Modern American Landscape” with Professor Elizabeth Blackmar, and my senior thesis seminar with Professor Elizabeth Blackmar. If you’re beginning to sense a pattern, it’s because there is one. Take a class with Professor Elizabeth Blackmar while you can.
Also, ‘Theoretical Foundations of Political Economy’ with the brilliant Professor Belinda Archibong.
Would you rather give up oral sex or cheese? All I’ll say is, despite my roots in the agricultural region of Northern Vermont, I never liked the taste or texture of cheese all that much…
That being said I find this question to be somewhat rude and generally insensitive, and hope Bwog would consider changing it.
Whom would you like to thank? More than I ever could.
Of course, I thank my family and Aine for their selflessly unwavering support and for being a constant source of inspiration.
Also the wonderful friends, classmates and comrades I’ve made during my time here (to name just a few): Cami, Dylan, Kasia, Brendan, Ike and Craig, and many others. Thanks for the conversations throughout the last 4 years.
The recent strike has also made me think a lot about whose labor makes Columbia possible. So thanks to the underpaid, mistreated and dehumanized people who make Columbia function each day despite the best efforts of their brutal employer. Adjunct professors, graduate workers, clerical workers, campus workers, work-study students and many more whose efforts are even more concealed. These are the people who truly make Columbia what it is, and rarely (if ever) get the respect or appreciation they deserve. (So bargain now, President Bollinger).
One thing to do before graduating: Commit to something you don’t know if you can accomplish. And do what you can to do so. You’ll learn more about yourself through the process, and surprise yourself with what you’re capable of. For me, this was writing a thesis, which was the most rewarding academic experience during my time here. I also learned how much I truly love the process of research and writing, which will remain a major part of my life.
Also, find a place in the neighborhood where you can get ‘the usual’. It’s bizarre how it can make you feel very much at home. I had that when I would walk into M2M and they would immediately bring me a large Apple Cinnamon Tea with 2 sugars, but the forces of increasing rents in Morningside Heights destroyed that situation. Despite my agnosticism I took it as a sign from above that the time was right to leave.
Any regrets? Of course there are! I wish I branched out more and got to know more people, I wish I got to take more classes. I made a lot of mistakes and will make a lot more.