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Senior Wisdom: Cameron Davis

This senior wisdom is brought to you by the same man who has probably run over your foot with his scooter in John Jay.

Name, School, Major, Hometown:  Cameron Davis. Columbia College. Economics-Political Science with a concentration in Philosophy. Great Falls, Virginia (an amazing state, even if it has gotten some bad press recently…).

Claims to fame: I broke my ankle the morning of Bacchanal, spent the whole day on the lawns, and then passed the swim test the next day before going to the hospital.
After complimenting Deantini’s tie on College Walk one day, I got an email from him that I had been appointed the sole member of the newly-created Official Deantini Compliment Committee.
I almost burned down Nuss on the last night of my junior year.

Where are you going?  To consult, whatever that means.

What are 3 things you learned at Columbia and would like to share with the Class of 2023?
In New York City and at this school in particular, physical space is extremely important. How we live in the limiting conditions of this campus is crucial to our happiness. The three things I learned, then, all have to do with space.

  1. The best piece of advice I ever got was to not study in your room, and particularly to avoid doing work in your bed. Tons of academic research supports the idea that keeping work materials and books out of your room helps support your brain’s association between “bed” and “sleep,” and I’m sure I don’t need to explain how important healthier sleep is for Columbia kids (our school is the most sleep-deprived of any college in the US). Moreover, your bedroom is a one-hundred-ish-square-foot haven for you. There are very few places where you can truly unwind and escape the constant demands of school and work, and maintaining your bedroom as this space is vital to protecting you from otherwise pervasive Columbia stress culture.
  2. Having established that you shouldn’t be doing schoolwork in bed, where should you go? Butler Periodicals (401) is the best study spot on campus. There’s a huge bay window with plenty of natural night, through which you can see all of Low Plaza, a wonderful backdrop for even the worst of problem sets. Periodicals is also home to tons of awesome publications, from super weird niche journals to every edition of The New York Post and Playboy, and as a result the room smells vaguely of newsprint, which is tremendously comforting. To top it all off, it’s home to countless old guys who retain swipe access from their time at Columbia, and you would be remiss if you didn’t befriend at least one before graduating. My best friend is Henry, an 80-something retired academic who still teaches Shakespeare to other octogenarians, and is somehow related to my roommate Austen. Study in Butler 401. You won’t regret it.
  3. Spend time off campus. In addition to going to the typical fare of museums, concerts, and clubs (which I’m sure you already know to do and would be boring to reiterate), spend a normal Tuesday afternoon or Friday night somewhere that’s not Joe or Mel’s. Also, don’t stress about doing the coolest things or grabbing a seat at the most Instagrammable coffeeshops; just find places that you enjoy, and go there often. Roulette in Brooklyn hosts some of the weirdest experimental music acts in the city, which is saying something; Grounded in the West Village provides a wide selection of tea (which most cafes lack in New York) and amazing plant décor, and is just a straight shot down on the 1 train; Little Italy’s Tropical 128 is the tiki bar lovechild of Cannon’s and a Rainforest Cafe. Find your own Roulette, Grounded, and Tropical 128.

“Back in my day…” Carman halls looked like they belonged in a prison and not a mid-market hotel. Waiting in the Lerner package center line could take the better part of an afternoon. Cafe 212 served an incredible chili and rice dish that my roommate Zade ate almost every day. Amigos on Tuesday nights was always worth the ensuing CAVA. The best hangover cure was a toasted poppyseed bagel with butter and avocado from Nussbaum and Wu. The stones outside of Butler were a deathtrap, and I tripped over them multiple times a day.

Favorite Columbia controversy? In the fall of 2016, Columbia student councils considered making Columbia a smoke-free campus. In an insane (and since deleted) Facebook thread, two extremely vocal groups — students concerned with social justice and over-policing, and international kids who just want to sullenly finish half a pack outside of Butler and not be bothered — got into a vicious clash that lasted a whole day and spanned hundreds of comments. It was glorious.
Alternatively, the [person] who slept with Swae Lee.

Justify your existence in 30 words or fewer: No thanks.

What was your favorite class at Columbia? Two that stand out as being department-defining are Islam with Najam Haider and Political Economy with John Marshall. Haider’s class is deeply grounded in theology; unlike other classes on the religion, he refuses to tritely review the five pillars of Islam and call it a day. Providing an intellectually stimulating and impossibly rich history of the religious, social, and political backdrop of the Islamic world is really hard to do in a semester’s worth of time, but Haider succeeds, and is wickedly funny the whole way through. Political Economy, meanwhile, is what political science should be at Columbia, but isn’t. Using economic models and econometric techniques to draw quantitative conclusions across a diverse set of policy issues – from taxation and social welfare to bureaucratic corruption and electoral fraud – puts the science into political science, and was way more interesting than just re-learning that Congress is “bicameral” (wow!) for the umpteenth time.
Also, even though (in the words of Amara Banks), “dude, it’s just not cool to say a core class,” Music Humanities with Ashkan Behzadi was fantastic. My previous most advanced musical instruction was teaching myself how to play the Imperial Death March on the recorder in fourth grade, so while this class was pretty difficult for me, learning what the difference is between melody and harmony, why opera isn’t the worst form of art, and how to appreciate Steve Reich’s process music was all foundational to the holistic education that Columbia promises.

Would you rather give up oral sex or cheese? Cheese. Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni recently moved to ban oral sex because “the mouth is for eating,” and I think we should all take a stand against corrupt fundamentalist leaders.

Whom would you like to thank? All of the infinitely lovely CU Dining and Facilities staff. EC 1206, Carman 1103, Kilmer alumni, the debate team, Roosevelt, YFD, and Lion Credit Union (rest in peace). Everyone who patiently supported me while I complained about my thesis this entire year. Cooper, Tess, and my parents.

One thing to do before graduating: Go to Staten Island. I was recently listing the boroughs of New York City to a prospective student and literally forgot that Staten Island existed, which was sad.

Any regrets? Nope.

Edit 5/1/19, 5:49 PM: With the author’s permission, we edited the reference to Dorothy Hastings to “person,” as pronouns in use were unclear. We sincerely apologize for any confusion.

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  • a peep marshmallow says:

    @a peep marshmallow even I know I’m disgusting but I’m glad someone out there in this world loves me

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous ashkan is a legend

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous “Any regrets? Nope.” savage I love it

  • casual transphobia blows :/ says:

    @casual transphobia blows :/ Hi Bwog,

    The link you included in this senior wisdom’s fav controversy section clearly says that Dorothy P. Hastings uses they/them pronouns. Please don’t misgender people in your articles and especially don’t do it when you cite an article from YOUR publication that specifically clarifies someone’s identity.

    It’s a real transphobic microaggression and it’s bad journalism.

    Thank you.

    1. Jenny Zhu says:

      @Jenny Zhu We have changed the reference to “person,” and sincerely apologize for any oversight on our part. Thank you!

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