By Walter Hickey
__Many of us don’t know him by name, but most of us recognize his booming voice from across the Sunken Garden, his distinctive beard, hat and coat, and his mentions of involvement in Skiffy. He was “that guy.” Mark Hrishro, eager to chat, discussed what he’s gotten out of the College of William and Mary, where he hopes to go with what he’s learned, and a large number of tangents, many of which — for sake of space — couldn’t be included in this abridged interview. A great conversationalist and the object of what he described as a vague campus cult of personality, Mark has quite a bit to say about a campus he knows well.__
*Are there any relatively unknown things you’ve found on campus you want to share?*
There’s a ton of stuff on this campus that no one even realizes is there. Lodge 1 is a great example — no one realizes that there’s a ton of food and beer that you can buy, [like] Starhill. Starhill is a local brewery in Charlottesville that’s actually good. They produce several beers like The Gift. Their Ambrielle is really good Their Yomo Lager is really good. They had this one for Valentine’s day called The Love, and it was this great, sweet beer. You can get that, right here, $4. I’m looking at these premium beers; there’s Kona Longboard. Do you know how hard it is to find Kona anywhere that’s not [on] the West Coast? This is just an example of crazy stuff that no one knows about. Like at [Earl Gregg] Swem [Library], you can check out really nice digital cameras, really nice digital recording devices, and it’s completely free ¬— you can have it for like six weeks. You know, it’s the little things that people don’t realize are there.
*Anything other little-known facts students can take advantage of?*
You can always get funds for anything. Let’s say you’re in a club and you want funding, you can petition the [Student Assembly] for anything. You can say, “I want to hold an event,” and just tell someone, someone in AMP, someone in the Student Activities office. In fact, go to Mark Constantine, and Mark Constantine will just throw money at you.
*What do you do in Skiffy, the College’s science fiction and fantasy club?*
I’m the president of Skiffy. I can tell you as much as you want about Skiffy, but Joe Kessler already did most of it. We watch science fiction movies, which are not as bad as they used to be. The key to Skiffy was really bad movies — and I mean really bad movies. Like recently we’re finally returning to good science fiction, and I don’t know if you’d classify this as good science fiction, but we just watched “TRON.” We’ve been watching “Six-String Samurai.” A few weeks ago we watched “Soylent Green,” and the first movie we watched last year was “Logan’s Run,” But we still watch a lot of bad stuff. We’re a fun group of folks; we do the dart gun fights every Saturday. If you walk into McGlothlin [-Street] or Jones [Hall] on a Saturday night and find a lot of folks pointing Nerf guns at you, that’s us. It’s like a conglomerate of people that would not talk if not for the fact they were involved in Skiffy.
*What are you majoring in?*
I’m a major in anthropology. It’s taken me as far as the Brazilian Amazon, but as far as job opportunities, it’s taken me nowhere. Being a liberal arts major you get a lot of skills that no one really cares about. I’m going to say this flat-out; I think that most liberal arts majors are more educated then the business majors are, but clearly the ones getting the jobs. So, if you’re a liberal arts major, I’ll give you a bit of advice: If you are a liberal arts major, and you’re considering another liberal arts major, don’t. Unless you are definitely going into academia don’t in any way go for another liberal arts major. Go for a business degree in like entrepreneurship, or accounting, or anything. Then not only will you have a well-rounded education as a liberal arts major, but you will also have a useful major. This is really important. As someone who is only a liberal arts major, I have jack in job opportunities. Just the other day, I begged my professor for ideas. There are some jobs with the National Council of the American Indian that I’m hoping to get that would actually be rewarding and use my liberal arts skills in a way that isn’t soul-crushing.
*Any tips for underclassmen?*
A great life lesson: “Don’t worry about it.” If there’s one thing I learned from going to college, especially William and Mary, it’s “don’t ask questions.” You might see stuff and go, “I should do something about that.” But in reality? I once heard like these really loud explosions on campus, and I was trying to figure out what it was, but I [figured] it’s probably just some machine going on and off. So just don’t ask questions. You get a nice, slow, warm feeling. Like dying of frostbite.
*Do you have any general life advice to share?*
Never be around a woman if you think she might stab you. Now this has never happened to me personally, but it’s just one of those things.
*Have a favorite on-campus location?*
[Lake] Matoaka pier, actually. When I was a freshman, I was hanging out with these seniors, and one of them went, “It’s a shame Mataoka isn’t as creepy as it used to be.” When I told him I had never been there he was just like, “We’re going, now,” and we just talked on the pier for a while. It was really foggy, really intense, and quiet and calm. You can just think out there.
*Do you have any classes that you would recommend for anyone?*
First of all, I think [Professor] Martin Gallivan in the anthropology department is one of the best on this campus. He’s not afraid of actual open discussion in his classes, by which I mean it gets real. I think I’ve literally made an entire class angry at me once. He’s actually really exciting and will make boring material interesting. Also in the anthropology department, I’d say [Danielle] Moretti-Langholtz is a great lecturer — she’s a lot of fun — and then finally Barbara King. I’ve taken one class with her and didn’t do well in it, but I would say if you ever want to learn about primates, I won’t say apes, but if you ever want to learn about monkeys, take King. Primate behavior with King is one of the most interesting courses you will take. It’s pretty tough, and not for the faint of heart, [but] even if you barely pay attention, even if you never do the reading, you will learn things in that class that will affect you for the rest of your life. Like, did you know that chimps are sentient? They’re sentient. Does this make me care about them more? A little. But they’re also evil. Chimps have committed murder, premeditated conscious murder. Bonobos, though, are the greatest creatures on this earth — they should be protected — and [are] also kind of funny. One of them is trying to speak English; it’s actually pretty frightening. Kanzi Speaks. And that’s frightening on several levels. Because that’s how “Planet of the Apes” started. I’d also like to give a shout out to [Gregory] Cappelli in the biology department with his human nature class, which drives people into fits of rage and sadness.
*Why is that?*
It’s not really a class so much about teaching you things, as presenting a hard-core materialist view of the universe and watching you react to it, which is the greatest premise for a class I’ve ever heard. You also learn a lot of cool biological and philosophical information and you have a lot of great discussions. [The class] is home to some of [my] better stories.
*So where do you weigh in on the mascot finalists?*
I’m going to say Bricky the Brick all the way. We’ve got to go with a good ironic mascot. [Rensselear Polytechnic Institute] has Pucky the Puck, Dartmouth has Keggy the Keg, Stanford has that stupid tree, [University of California-] Berkley has those Banana Slugs — William and Mary should have Bricky the Brick. Or the Woolly Mammoth. Or a Swamp Thing. Anything but a pug.
*Can you give us as final story to part with?*
This is actually a really appropriate story for this article. So, I’m walking home one night and I’m walking past the units and I see these guys. And I sort of nod to them and tip my hat, and all of a sudden this guy goes, “You’re that guy!” He just goes to his buddy like, “Bro, bro, if you’re ever walking around late at night and you hear somebody yelling what you’re thinking, this is the guy!” And I just go, alright, I’ll take that. As I’m walking away, one of the guys yells out, “Hey bro, do you wear a watch?” And I go, “Why would I need a watch? I have a cell phone.” They just start shouting and yelling at their friend, “I told you so! Yeah,” at the one guy who has a watch. It’s things like that that I love about William and Mary — you just run into people. When I was a freshman out on a nice day like this, I walked past this chick sunbathing, and I looked again and just said, “You’re naked.” And she just went, “Yeah.” And I just walked off. Why? Because you don’t ask questions.
__Mark is undecided with regard to where he’s going with his anthropology major, but has quite a bit of good advice for the people who run Lodge 1 if they’re interested in hearing from him.__