Econ majors, please take note!
Charlie Munger is many things: a Nebraskan, a Harvard alumnus, Warren Buffet’s Billionaire BFF, etc. He is not an architect, a fact made evident by the reveal of Dormzilla—a hyper-dense residence hall for the University of California, Santa Barbara. Sure, architecture is like “a kind of hobby” of his but man that building is a beast. While some of us may be familiar with seven by ten square foot dorms, at least we get windows. Most of the 4,000 residents of Dormzilla don’t. And Dormzilla isn’t even pretty enough to justify some sort of weird or quirky exigence.
I attribute that to the lack of creativity in Munger and other billionaires. If I was rich—like mega-rich—I would have so many better ideas of how to illustrate the carrot on a stick mentality of college budgets and administrators. For example, for a donation of undetermined millions:
Give Every Dorm Except John Jay Air Conditioning
I’m starting out with my most moral option here. In my billionaire fantasy, I still hold a final shred of humanity. I dislike the suffering of a very small group of people: my future finance executives. To alleviate their pains of overheating, I would use my fortune to make Columbia add air conditioning to the dorms. Not John Jay, though. It’d be too powerful. I might even include a stipulation that if air conditioning is added to other dorms, that the heating in John Jay would increase in an equal manner. I think the lack of air conditioning builds character that is fit for anyone who lives in John Jay; that’s the choice of living there that the students must make. Deal with it.
Okay, so I have three plans. First, we freeze his body. He will be placed into a cryogenic container until we can stop aging and death. Ideally, his body should be placed in a central location on campus. Maybe on the sundial. Or replace the Minerva mural in Butler with a little tank of frozen Deantini. Or store him somewhere out of the way, like in the tunnels. Or the Butler Stacks. I prefer a central location because it would serve as a reminder to the premed students. He is who they are studying for.
My second plan is a program to continually produce clones of Deantini. They will have clever code names. The second one would be named Deantwoni or Duotini or DeantinII. And the third would be like Deanthreeni or DeantinIII. Fourth would be DeantinIV. This one has some messy logistics because there would be some Truman Show-esque rearing where we place the young clones in a facility to replicate his childhood in a small-town in Appalachia. This facility would probably be located at Lamont or Nevis because I think there is enough room upstate. At any given moment, there would be multiple staggered clonetinis as to always have a Deantini-of-age to take the place of the one leaving. Please do not ask what we do with the clones that become self-aware.
The third and final option is DeantinAI. Because half of any given grade is majoring in Computer Science, we might as well put these students to good use; lock ’em in Mudd and make them code. DeantinAI is my plan for a robotic Deantini that neither ages nor abandons us. He will live forever. Always chipper and always loyal to Columbia College. Honestly, I wouldn’t even care if DeantinAI causes the singularity. I, for one, welcome it. It’s worth it. In a way, it’s the praxis of the beginner’s mind.
Paint Columbia Roofs Purple
I just think it would be indie and whimsical. Maybe change the color every year. A student vote could be a fun idea too.
Trace Down the Sundial and Repatriate it
Not to look at the past with a relativist mindset, but how do you lose a giant granite sphere? Apparently, the original sundial was last spotted in a random field in Michigan. In the past, the estimated cost to return it to campus was around $250,000. That seems highly feasible, especially if you’re a billionaire. I would fun this a thousand times over. Heck, I’d also ask for more sundials to be built around campus! I want to see rocks in all temporal-keeping astronomical glory.
Turn the Butler Lawns into Reflecting Pools
While I love the grass, I think replacing the lawns with placid sheets of water would add a nice reflective atmosphere to campus. The air would have an electrifying moisturize and the lights of Butler and the streetlights would reflect upon the lightly rippling surface. Also, in the winter it could freeze over, and then students could ice skate on it!
Fulfill the I. M. Pei Prophecy by Constructing the Pei Master Plan
In the mid-twentieth century, Columbia was faced with a facility expansion crisis. Proposed plans would eventually explode into the 1968 protests. Following the student demonstrations, the administration hired architect I.M. Pei—the guy who would later design the glass pyramid in front of the Louvre —to create architectural plans for the future campus buildings.
This thing was crazy! He proposed that quads on the South Field be turned into 23-floor concrete skyscrapers for faculty offices. For the north campus, Pei suggested a rectangular, arch-shaped building that would hang above Uris hall to house the Chemistry department. Most jarring was the idea to hollow out the land beneath Southfield and turn it into an underground facility that would house a library, gymnasium, and other student amenities.
I think committing to this plan would be really camp and kind of funny. Alumni, admins, and students were horrified by the plan at the time. The plan is still terrifying, but I think for a couple of hundred millions, Columbia would do it. Prezbo could even get an office in one of the skyscrapers where he could watch all the students. It’ll be like an ivory tower, except made of concrete and stylistically clashing. Kind of gives 1984 vibes. Wouldn’t that be ironic?
Meet Graduate Student Demands for a Liveable Wage
Like it isn’t even that big of a burden for the institution, but I guess someone with exploitative funds has to be the bigger person.
Me in the Future via Bwarchives
Purple Columbia via Author