That Guy: Justin Vazquez
Written by Walter Hickey|
April 27, 2010
By Walter Hickey
__Massage Club president, Shakespeare in the Dark actor and a bold new voice in the mascot discussion, Justin Vazquez is a busy man who seems to have his priorities straight. The physics and psychology double major took a moment out of a busy week to chat with me about what he’s been up to at the College of William and Mary and where he weighs in on the flesh-toned bottom half of the Griffin.__
*What kind of activities are you involved in on campus?*
For the past three years I’ve been the president of the Massage Club on campus. I used to do a lot of main-stage shows with the William and Mary theater department, but recently I’ve sort of abandoned that a little bit. I started swing dance last semester which has been one of my big things recently. I am, however, still the vice president of Shakespeare in the Dark — I’ve been an actor in a few shows with them and I help them out with administrative stuff. I’ve also done some work with the Student Environmental Action Coalition. I did some work on their campus garden and have been to some of their organizational meetings, and also some of their conservation type stuff. When we were starting the solar cells on the roof of Small Hall, I was part of the testing and some of the initial practices for that group.
*What prompted you to get involved with massage club?*
doing nothing in orchestra class — and he was giving this girl a massage and gave me advice on how to use pressure and stuff. So later I was backstage in a theater show and someone’s shoulders were bothering them. I told her, “I could give you a massage or something.” And she said, “That felt really good.” So I sort of became the backstage masseuse for theater shows in high school. Then when I came here I went to activities fair and, lo and behold, there were these three [psychology] majors there and said they had a massage club on campus.
*What about SEAC? How did you get involved with it?*
My interest in physics and the like has stemmed from an interest in environmental issues. When I was in the fourth grade I did this report on the ozone layer and went over fusion power. That’s what sparked my interest in the sciences and protecting the world and everything. So when I came here it made sense to get involved. I’ve been pretty busy with my theater and majors and everything so I’m not as involved as I could be, but I’ve helped out with their campus garden — probably because I listen to the “Thomas Jefferson Hour” too much. It’s a show on [National Public Radio] with a Thomas Jefferson impersonator and he gives interviews and his perspectives on society and about farming and gardening. So I went ahead and wanted to figure out how I could get involved in the campus garden. Actually this past weekend I was at the Colonial Academic Alliance meeting in Richmond, Va., and there was an environmental panel there with students from several schools.
*I’ve heard you have a distinct opinion on the mascot selection. What’s your view?*
Recently we selected what many people are calling the “Pantsless Eagle” for the William and Mary mascot. When I first heard about the Griffin I was actually pretty excited, but then I saw the picture that was at the top of the William and Mary webpage that went out. This was two days before Jon Stewart [’84] made his pants-less eagle comment, and I said to myself,“That Griffin is not wearing any pants.” I actually went into MS Paint as a joke and asked, “What would it look like if these pants were gold?” So I went down to like the pixel level and painted it gold, and when I looked at the finished product I thought, “This actually looks pretty good.” So [that] I could show my friends, I started a Facebook group, “Golden Haunches for the Griffin.” I invited a few friends who I thought would find it funny and they all joined and they invited their friends. Right now it’s been around since early last week and already we’ve got  people in the group. Once it hit 600 I e-mailed President [Taylor] Reveley and this guy Terry Driscoll we keep hearing about and I told them that students want this to change. If you want, go on Facebook and look up “Golden Haunches for the Griffin” and there’s a comparison in the photo section. It is a great improvement, just by making those legs gold. They chose the most flesh tone color around. I know where they were going with it since that’s kind of the color of fur in the wild, but when you’re making a cartoon character like a mascot, follow Disney’s advice and make it gold like Simba. Gold fur looks more lion-like in the cartoon world.
*Do you have any parting advice to underclassmen?*
Take math classes, they give you a basic understanding of things. We were also talking about this at the conference — William and Mary gives you a very distributed form of study. A lot of other colleges, they give you intense classes that focus strictly on your major and you’ll take four classes a year and get more in depth and everything. But William and Mary lets you tap the surface of a lot of different things. It’s almost Jeffersonian how you can find a lighter form of enlightenment in multiple issues, subjects and ideas. If you can manage that, you’ll never have this kind of opportunity again.
__Justin is going to Virginia Tech next year to get his Ph.D in physics. Check out the Golden Haunches for the Griffin group on Facebook if you’re an advocate of fewer flesh tones on our pantsless Griffin.__