Tag Archives: interviews

An Interview with the Guy Who Sleeps in a Different Place on Campus Every Night

“My lifestyle dissolves fake smiles. It can be heartbreaking if you aren’t ready for it.”

Riel, the wandering vagabond, surveys his options at the Usdan grill. Photo by Rachel Pincus '13.

Riel ’14, the wandering vagabond, surveys his options at the Usdan grill. Photo by Rachel Pincus ’13.

Two or three weeks ago, I entered my apartment around midnight to find the couch occupied by a bearded stranger. He was asleep, sprawled sideways and snoring loudly, and none of my housemates appeared within eyesight. As I reached over his torso to adjust the thermostat, I briefly considered dialing Public Safety. Instead, I located one of my housemates, Carey Gilchrist ’13, and whispered my demand: “Who’s that dude on our couch?”

“Oh, that’s Lina’s friend Riel,” Carey explained. “He sleeps in different places every night or something. So she offered him our couch.” “Oh,” I said. “Wait, that’s pretty awesome. Would he be up for an interview?”

Riel ’14, a junior majoring in Film and Computer Science, was gone from the couch by the time I awoke the next morning, but later in the week I ran into him in Weshop, where he was stocking up on eggs (“I gotta eat at least six a day, need the protein”) and canned beans. He explained that he had adopted something of a vagabond lifestyle at the beginning of the semester, crashing at friends’ places and refusing to make use of his assigned room in 1 Vine. “I’m trying to be the change I need to see,” Riel told me. On most days, he carries around a camping backpack and a sleeping bag. His lifestyle is controversial, but his reasoning has an oddly circuitous logic to it: If he’s already paying all this money for room and board, shouldn’t he be free not to use it?

I asked Riel if he would like to be interviewed for this blog. Sure, he said, just so long as I didn’t publish his last name or a picture of his face. And could he boil some eggs in my stove while we did the interview? I consented to his demands, as he did to mine. This is the conversation that took place.

Bookstore Relocation Forum Follow-Up: Photos, Video Statements, and More

Ed Thorndike ’89: “Closing is not something that we view as an option.”

Yesterday I liveblogged an open community forum in PAC 001 regarding the proposed Washington Street commercial development and Wesleyan bookstore relocation. Considering recent controversy, I expected to hear some forceful arguments from community members. My expectations were exceeded. If you missed the 90-minute discussion, a quick glance at the liveblog coverage might hint at the passion with which students, faculty, alumni, and Middletown residents spoke out against the proposal. Some of the major complaints addressed traffic concerns, Washington Street safety, threats to local businesses, whether or not downtown really needs national chains, disregard for historic structures, permanent changes to zoning laws, Red & Black Cafe, skepticism towards the developers’ stated desire for “linkage” and “community,” and, ultimately, the character of downtown Middletown itself. Succinctly put, there’s a lot wrapped up in this proposal.

Inspired by many of the voices expressed at the forum, I stuck around afterwards to interview a few of the more outspoken community members. Some brief video statements appear past the jump. They feature two Wesleyan alumni (both of whom live and work in Middletown) and one current professor.

If my reporting seems one-sided—admittedly, I’m no fan of the proposal myself—it’s worth clarifying that of the 150 or more attendees at this forum, not one spoke up in favor of the development. Nobody seemed to like the idea. Nobody seemed to believe it will provide the “linkage” and “community engagement” it’s supposed to offer.

Case Interview Workshop

Whether you’re a n00b frosh or a seasoned senior, a question still looms overhead: what should I do after my time at Wes? If you’ve already answered this question, there’s another one: how am I going to make it happen? Alex Atamanchuk ’12 presents a solution:

So you may have figured out what you want to do after college, but there’s still a few steps you have to take get to that point.
If you happen to want to do consulting, you are going to be faced with a case interview (or 5).

This Sunday, Deloitte Consulting and Wesleyan Business Society will be hosting a workshop led by Wesleyan Alums at Deloitte on how to ace the case!

And as always, free snacks and coffee!

Date: Sunday, October 7
Time: 3 pm – 5 pm
Location: PAC 125


“I am incredibly excited to meet the person that I have become tomorrow because I assume that person will be happy, not stressed, and friendly to be around.”

Here we are: judgment day. In just a few hours, this will all be over. You will hand in nine or ten or twelve months’ worth of work, you will imbibe alcohol or whatever on the steps of Olin, you will head to the ice rink to rock out to Matisyahu (wait—what?), and you will slowly begin the process of reintegrating  yourself into society.  It’s sort of like emerging from prison. Right, Cara? Cara?

Once again, I pushed my way through the nooks and crannies Olin (as well as ST Lab), anxious to feel what it’s like to be a cracked out thesis-writer with the clock ticking in the last few days before the deadline. What I found, in a few writers, was a strong sense of being totally incapable of coherent human communication with anyone who isn’t writing a thesis. I interviewed a few homeless (read: carrel-less) writers as well this time—and discovered in ST Lab a vibrant late-night community of overcaffeinated, undernourished crazies challenging today’s deadline. Turns out there are a lot of caffeinated beverages you can accumulate when you’re working right by Pi.

Additional thanks is due A-Batte, Syed, pyrotechnics, and BZOD for this feature—not to mention every cagey senior thesis-writer who put up with our harassment. Thanks, guys. You really shouldn’t be reading this right now. Happy Thesis Day!

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THESISCRAZY: Voyage to the Deathly Carrels

“I see the light at the end of the tunnel and I’m clawing towards it.”

There’s a silent army in Olin. You don’t see them, but they’re there—camped in carrels, from 9 AM to 2:00 AM, caffeinated and crazed, wolfing down microwavable Weshop dinners as they type away their undergraduate careers. And you thought you were stressed?

They are senior thesis writers, a cagey, fervent crew of unkempt, malnourished, sleep-deprived nutjobs, zealously trying to beat the clock. While you sleep, they write. While you eat, they write. While you read this post and then get wasted and wake up in your own vomit, they write. Theses are due April 12 (40s on da steps, yo), so it’s crunch time up in Carrel City. Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.

In accordance with a Wesleying tradition, for the third consecutive year, we sent a brave crew of post-millennial muckrakers (read: BZOD and myself) deep into the bowels of Olin’s thesis carrels to document these last two weeks of madness. What we found wasn’t always pretty: chronic sleeplessness, dangerous caffeine dependency, bitter self-loathing, foul-smelling carrels. April 12 can’t come soon enough—as one especially crazed writer offered, “It will be like walking out of an exploding building.” Scroll on for the individual profiles, and contact us at staff_at_wesleying_dot_org if you’re writing a thesis and want to be profiled in the next installment. Let us know where your carrel’s at and when we can come find you there.

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“The Funniest Prank Ever”: The Middletown Mummy Mystery, 22 Years Later

 “I looked at my bed and there were all these skin chips and little chips in it. It was pretty disgusting.”

Twenty-two years ago next month, a good-humored, mullet-haired Wesleyan student returned to his Nics dorm room late on a Saturday night and found his bed already occupied by a rotting, fleshy stranger. The student was Tim Abel ’93, a freshman from Wilmington, Delaware. The uninvited guest in question was a 2,500-year-old Egyptian mummy. And the bizarre incident, which Abel has happily proclaimed “the funniest prank ever,” has since solidified its place in the lore of early ’90s Wesleyan history, providing some semblance of levity during a turbulent academic year characterized by generally unprecedented campus unrest, including a firebombing, a week-long hunger strike, racist graffiti in Malcolm X House, and the fatal shooting of Nicholas Haddad ’92.

It’s also just a damn good story, with or without its retroactive Keep Wes Weird significance. It’s a story about President Chace and P-Safe and loyalty among campus pranksters, about MoCon and O’Rourke’s and frosh life and pretty much every Wesleyan institution of the ’90s, about how campus news spread before cell phones and Twitter and this here blog, about how some kid transformed literally overnight from a random freshman into a minor celebrity of sorts. The mummy incident received local press coverage in 1990 (much to Abel’s delight), and it remains a subject of conversation and folklore among his friends and strangers two decades later.

I tracked down Abel over break (he’s now a facial plastic surgeon in Delaware) and ended up speaking to him at length about the mummy, the unnamed perpetrators, and just what made Wesleyan so batshit nuts in the early ’90s (and an alumnus perspective on how it has changed since). Scroll on for the full interview; click here for original 1990 news coverage of the so-called Middletown Mummy.