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Senior Wisdom: Lila Etter

Former Bwog Deputy Editor and shine theorist Lila Etter dispenses hard truths, such as: sometimes awkward small talk becomes a great conversation, don’t judge people for their majors and seriously, don’t brush your teeth in Butler.

Name, School, Major, Hometown: Lila Etter, Barnard College, Spanish & Latin American Cultures with a concentration in Art History, Essex, MA

Claim to fame: Well, since this is the platform, I guess I should mention that I was Bwog’s Deputy Editor for a while (how ya been, dudes?) I was also an AllSex facilitator for a bit (I’d like the Yes/No/Maybe sheet printed on my gravestone, please and thank you). If you’re a Barnard baby, I may have even been your Senior Interviewer! But in terms of actual claims to fame? Eating too much flaming cheese at Symposium. Spending far too much time on the subway and being a sentimentalist about it. Missing the Bacchanal concert 3/4 years due to a variety of reasons (fourth time’s the charm!)

Where are you going? Staying here for the foreseeable future, working in the non-profit world, and drafting the list of vital organs to donate so I can pay my rent.

What are 3 things you learned at Columbia and would like to share with the Class of 2023?

Take care of yourself! This might be the most common answer to this question, and yet there are still people brushing their teeth in Butler. Columbia stress culture is alive and well. So I’ll go ahead and say it again: Please please always put your health over finishing an assignment. The only all-nighters you should be pulling are the ones for fun — whether that means eating oreos in your friend’s dorm room while watching Grey’s, or dancing at a rave in Brooklyn, or, you know, whatever else people do at night besides sleep.

Major in what you want to, and don’t pass judgment on others for what they choose to study. My mother was an Italian major because she wanted to visit Rome, and she did just that. Having parents who didn’t care what I spent four years studying was a unique privilege that not everyone has, and who am I to judge someone who majors in something “practical,” or “impractical,” or whatever else people criticize each other’s majors for. Stay in your lane, do what makes ya happy, and let others do theirs.

Not to sound like a literal Barnard stereotype, but…. shine theory is real. Especially at an elite institution that’s infamous for its competitive nature, it’s crucial not to forget how to build each other up. I don’t shine if you don’t shine. So invest in your friends! Invest in your classmates! Invest in the people who matter to you, because being genuinely happy for others’ successes makes you a better person (and, I promise, a more successful person).

A bonus: Okay, now I really sound like a Barnard stereotype, but… break up with your boyfriend.

“Back in my day…” The bathroom at Hungarian hadn’t been painted over and re-defaced. Maggie the magnolia was thriving. M2M was hands down the best place on campus to grab lunch (or a beer upstairs? remember when that was a thing??)

Favorite Columbia controversy? The fact that the chastity gates still exist, tbh.

Justify your existence in 30 words or fewer: There are a lotta questions on here that feel a little like a trap. This one feels a LOT like a trap. I’ll pass.

What was your favorite class at Columbia? Neo Dada and Pop Art with Branden Joseph. As a seminar-inclined student, I have to say I’ve never learned more in an enormous lecture class than I did from Professor Joseph, who I will always refer to as that because I am, after all this time, still so wildly intimidated by him (and Yes, I read the culpa review telling me not to be, and No, it did not work). Also, that class introduced me — both academically and personally — to Carolee Schneemann, and I will be forever grateful for that.

Would you rather give up oral sex or cheese? Depends on who’s providing, I suppose. (Ever ask a friend to pick up brie at MoWill and they come back with Babybel? Disappointing.)

Whom would you like to thank? My mum, for obvious reasons. Michel, the desk attendant at 620 who I’m still convinced is an actual angel. Gloria, a member of the Hewitt dining staff who has seen me at my best and at my worst, and has, in both scenarios, made me feel 1000x better. My suite mates, who have made a house a home (shhhh don’t tell my feminist friends, but I’ve really enjoy making a house a home!) Last but not least, the people on this campus who run in different social circles from me, and when we cross paths it could easily be an awkward nod-and-wave, but instead we opt for a brief pause in the middle of the hallway, which turns into small talk, which inevitably turns into thirty minutes of both of us leaning uncomfortably on some sort of bench or wall for the sake of continuing our chat because, wow, isn’t it just nice to have an unexpectedly wonderful conversation with an acquaintance you usually admire from afar? Those encounters have been so frequent during my time here, and they’re one of the things I’m most grateful to Barnard for.

One thing to do before graduating: Complete Dante’s Laurels. Because why not, ya know.

Any regrets? Dwelling on the past for too long! Which is to say, absolutely none at all whatsoever.

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1 Comment

  • lila fan says:

    @lila fan lila you are such a light on this campus. it is always a delight to run into you. NYC is a lot bigger than Barnard (& Sevilla… hehe) but I hope we keep running into each other in the future <3 or finally getting our lives together enough to nail down a coffee date. ahh!! love u!!

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