You probably know Ashik Siddique ’10 as “Sheek”—his Wesleying alter-ego—but between drug-testing Middletown residents and receiving cooking lessons from Fire Safety, Ashik –the offline version— has plenty of funny stories to share. We sat down with Ashik to talked about offensive Halloween costumes, workplace intrigue in the mailroom, and who would win in a campus media brawl.
Argus: What do you think makes you a WesCeleb?
AS: Well, I definitely never thought I’d be a campus personality when I started at Wes. I guess I’m only really a campus personality online, which is kind of disorienting when people recognize me in real life. Sometimes the first thing new people I meet on campus ask when I introduce myself to them is randomly is if I’m Sheek from Wesleying—apparently I have an Internet reputation that precedes me, it’s an ego boost.
A: How did you get involved with Wesleying?
AS: My sophomore year I had way too much free time. I read a lot of blogs and I’d send Wesleying a lot of tips about things I found from procrastinating online, so I finally just decided to join, and I sent them a really unnecessarily long email about everything I was interested in and what an awesome blogger I’d make. Their response was basically just “um OK welcome to Wesleying!” I guess I overcompensated a bit, not a lot was required to join. Blogs attract a very self-selecting group of people.
I became a frequent contributor, and after Xue [Sun ‘08] and Holly [Wood ‘08] graduated that year there wasn’t really anyone in charge. Wesleying was loosely organized to begin with, but as the site kept growing I kind of assumed a default leadership role. I very passively assumed control of this campus media source. This year especially I’m very aware of the short time I have left at Wesleyan, so I’m trying to cultivate enthusiasm in the next generation of bloggers to keep it going strong next year. We used to mostly just interact with each other on our staff message board, but since last year we’ve actually been meeting regularly as a group, which didn’t happen much before. It feels a lot more like a team now—we have a lot of enthusiastic undergraduate bloggers. Everyone involved is really into bringing back some more personality, the kind of quirky, interesting stuff that got us excited about Wesleying in the first place. Wesleying kind of just became an event-posting site last year, and I want to go back to posting quirky stuff about Wesleyan, that got me excited about Wesleying originally. We’ve always joked about doing video blogging, but have never got gotten around to it. Maybe next semester, we’ll cultivate some campus personalities.
A: What else are you involved with on campus?
AS: Wesleying is probably the most time consuming. I work in Professor Seamon’s memory lab, where this semester we’re researching how survival processing affects the episodic memory of our subjects, Intro Psych students– like, whether people remember details of a narrative better if they’re relevant to their survival. The idea is that people evolved needing to remember things directly related to their survival, so maybe, if there turns out to be an effect, it can be useful to help people’s recall. Next semester I’ll also be working in another Psychology lab where we’ll study the cognitive skills of Middletown residents who are habitual drug users.
This year I got more involved in Shakti, the South Asian community here. This past weekend I was the MC at Samsara. We put together some cheesy skits about ethnic stereotypes in between acts, and I helped edit a video that we presented about the construction of South Asian identity. Good times. This year some of my good friends were organizing, since I didn’t have time to learn a dance or song, I put together a presentation on South Asian identity.
I also work at Wesleyan Station, which is an interesting job. One of my coworkers describesd it the job as a “Kafka nightmare” which is not always inaccurate. One time after I first started working there, we were processing incoming mail and got to this huge puffy USPS envelope leaking white powder. It was early in the morning after a weekend, so we were already feeling pretty cracked out—seeing that didn’t help. It was like, “is it cocaine? Is this an anthrax scare? How would we know if it was? Should I have had some coffee so I could be more actively concerned about this?” We sat around talking about it for a while and decided that we’d do something about it if any of us broke out with hideous skin lesions. Nothing happened—it was probably just loose packing material. Creating workplace intrigue from the minor dramas of the mailroom helps pass the time. It can be weird to know the names of strangers I see around at parties, and be able to identify their package delivery habits. It’s sort of a background indicator of campus trends – like, American Apparel and Urban Outfitters are big exporters to Wesleyan, big surprise. It’s fun to go out and see people after getting them their Hot Topic packages.
A: What’s your major?
AS: Now, I’m just a Neuroscience & Behavior major. I’ve always been interested in how human behavior is motivated, but my academic interests were all over the place sophomore year when I was trying to decide on my major. I ended up signing up for NS&B [Neuroscience and Behavior], Philosophy, and SISP [Science in Society Program], which was daunting but made sense to me because they sort of complemented each other in approaching the study of behavior from different angles.
But telling people I’m a triple major was a lot more fun than the prospect of actually finishing all three. When the time came to fill out senior concentration forms two months ago, I finally let the other two go – the idea of taking all upper-level theory courses just to complete them, in my last semester at Wes, was not appealing.
Argus: So how is it being a senior on Fountain Avenue?
AS: Living on Fountain this year is an excellent time. We’ve been running a barbershop on our porch on Friday afternoons from 1 to 3, weather permitting. Big Dog Barbershop: We Cut Heads. We just play ragtimey music on our record player and leave the doors open. We have two barbers who cut people’s hair for cheap. Two weeks ago somebody came asking for a mustache trim as well, which we were happy to oblige. There’s also this black cat that always walks up and down Fountain. We nicknamed it Big Dog. It’s our unofficial mascot.
We had a Fire Safety meeting a few weeks ago because people lit sparklers in our backyard after a party. It was fun, but public safety was not amused. Minor fireworks are allowed in Connecticut, but apparently not in our Code of Non-Academic Conduct. We were allowed to set them off for a Diwali/Ramadan celebration outside of Usdan earlier that night, so we thought figured some sparklers outside our woodframe wouldn’t be a problem. We actually had registered the party with P-Safe, so when an officer came by for an inspection and saw boxes of them in our back room, we asked if that was cool with them. He shrugged and said it wasn’t a big deal as long as the crowd outside the house broke up beforehand, but it never got any less crowded. The official capacity for a registered house party is 75 people outside, but according to the subsequent PSafe report, there were about 150 milling around at the end of the night. The fact that a lot of them were holding burning sticks when we were busted didn’t help our cause.
They were pretty nice about it though – we each had to do a few hours of Fire Safety volunteering, one hour of which consisted of Fire Safety officers coming to our house one afternoon and teaching us how to cook without setting off the fire alarm, which had happened three times this semester. We’ve gotten much better at cooking now – we have a checklist above the stove that reads, “Fan on? Windows open?”
Argus: Who would win in a campus media fight, Wesleying or the Argus?
AS: That’s funny because I live with Ezra Silk [’10], who’s a former Argus editor and who now runs the Blargus, which sort of encroaches on Wesleying territory. We’ve had a lot of rambling late-night conversations about campus media. I would say Wesleying definitely moves faster – our agility and catlike reflexes might give us an advantage. The Argus has a long reach though, and maybe some more stamina. We’d get in a lot of manic blows, but they have staying power – it definitely wouldn’t be a one-hit KO. No beef though – we complement each other well. We’re just a bunch of people who blog in our underwear. It’d be a good match.