Tuesday, October 12, 2004

This is how you get into Columbia University. You get a call from the director of admissions, whom you greet with the words “Yyyyyyo, what’s crackin’?” The director’s name is Louise, so you call her first Louise and then, without invitation, Lou. She asks you to come for an interview. You agree, but you show up late, explaining, “I totally fucked up on the subway.” The director is wearing a low-cut summer dress. At the conclusion of the interview, you leave the building, but she hastens after you, summons you back, and invites you to her home for further discussion. She pours two glasses of wine and sits down next to you, at which point you observe, not without justification, that “I’m really digging this executiverecruitment thing.” You produce a contraceptive, which suggests that this turn of events is no surprise, and have sex on her couch. Finally, you depart, having graciously described the experience as “fucking awesome.” Sometime later, the director informs you that you have been accepted as a student at Columbia.

Now, personally, I can see nothing wrong with this procedure. Studies in recent years have begun to cast serious doubt upon the efficacy and reliability of the S.A.T.s, so any alternative set of criteria by which potential candidates can be fairly assessed is, of course, worthy of consideration. Nevertheless, I persist in wondering whether the practice of W.A.C., or wine-and-copulation, might, over the long term, run into a number of practical snags. For instance, it is just possible that some applicants might not, for whatever reason, wish to have sex on the day of their interview. Furthermore, given that opinions can differ quite sharply as to what does or does not constitute “fucking awesome” in the matter of sexual performance, it might prove necessary for the university to provide an independent referee, who can attend the performance and grade it accordingly; and referees cost money. Still, it’s gratifying to learn that Columbia is cleaving to its custom of academic innovation, and that it so generously plans to spread the word.

And we have that on the authority of the New Yorker.

A review of 'P.S.' by Anthony Lane
Issue of 2004-10-18


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