Picture this: You’re walking into Butler 209. Your athleisure groutfit is on fleek. Everyone and their mom is going to notice your perky butt when you get up every 22 minutes to refill your water bottle. You sit at your table of choice. Bonus points if you arrange your coat, Ferris Bueller style, to look like a person with their head down crying in the seat across from you. You take a deep breath to center yourself before the academic onslaught begins and immediately choke on the poisonous cloud of body odor, farts, and death that is circling around your head.
People really be smelling disgusting at this institution. Let’s unpack that.
I feel like everyone at this school is doing the How Hard Can We Study While Ignoring Our Bodily Needs Challenge and that needs to stop immediately. It’s no secret that Columbia has a stress culture problem, and in my opinion, the noxious fumes that are emitting from every student in Butler are definitive evidence that Columbia’s academic culture is straight-up toxic.
And I get it. Stress culture. Study. Study a lot. Study harder than anyone has ever studied before. Study so hard that you transcend human consciousness. I am just a brain. This corpse is a prison that I must ignore so my brain can do its best. It’s all fun and games to romanticize the extent to which Columbia students will push themselves to complete their coursework. Unfortunately, even if your intellectual breakthrough has led you to transcend, the rest of us are still here.
And you stink. Very much.
People are supposedly really smart at this school, or at least that’s what Big Academia wants us to believe. But I question whether or not basic social competence is included in intelligence. If the only dental hygiene you have partaken in for the last 48 hours was hitting your Juul with a mint pod, then please, for the love of god, don’t lean over my shoulder mid-class to mansplain the Panopticon to me. I deserve better than that. You deserve better than that. We all deserve better than that.
Practicing regular self-care is more than just a suggestion. It’s a necessary life skill.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if you graduate with a 4.0 from Columbia because nobody is gonna want to hire you if the smell of rotting flesh is constantly radiating from your physical being.
I feel like all we ever do post-NSOP is bitch about the lack of communal spaces on campus. But y’all really out here living in the library like it’s a hotel. So I’m starting to believe that we don’t deserve communal spaces because we treat them like trash. And I am disgusted!
I wonder if my plague of constant bad smells is psychosomatic in some sense. I don’t remember Columbia always smelling this bad. Maybe as an upperclassman, I have grown out of the sophomoric romanticization of stress culture and now I can finally see it for the smelly, disgusting monster that it really is. Or maybe y’all just never shower.
You might retort that college students, in general, are supposed to be disgusting. Culturally, we are bombarded with images of messy drunken revelries and young adults who never wash their sheets. Could it be that Columbia students are participating in this classic trope, despite its obvious grossness, as an attempt to move our campus culture a little closer to the idyllic collegiate state school fantasy, where every week is syllabus week and people don’t do homework on the weekends? It’s like: We don’t exactly have the most fun, but at least we’re disgusting, like everybody else … let’s celebrate that?
It doesn’t have to be like this. In a concerted effort to make this column something more profound than my sycophantic rants, I’ll conclude this rampage with a call to action: Consider deodorant.
Anna Lokey is a senior in Columbia College studying philosophy. She believes it is a categorical imperative for you to wear deodorant to recitation. Direct your fan mail, hate mail, or notices of expulsion to email@example.com. A Girl and Her Juul runs alternate Tuesdays.
To respond to this column, or to submit an op-ed, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.