c/o Savannah Russo

c/o Savannah Russo

Whether it be leading a tour of prospective University students, tossing a disc on Foss with Throw Culture, or taking your order at Red and Black Cafe, you’ve likely seen Guy Bennevat Haninovich ’23 around campus. Throughout his time at the University, Bennevat Haninovich has continued to be an active part of the student body—he is always eager to talk about Earth and Environmental Science faculty members, help fellow students out with their drop/add, and start study sessions in the Art Library. As he embarks on his final semester at The University, Bennevat Haninovich sat down with The Argus to reflect on his time at the University and where he hopes to go in the near future.

 The Argus: Can you give me your tour guide intro to get things started?

Guy Bennevat Haninovich: Hi everyone, my name is Guy. I’m a senior here at Wesleyan double majoring in Earth and Environmental Sciences and Computer Science with an Informatics and Modeling minor. Inside of the classroom, I’ve been involved in a variety of research labs, including a geology lab and an environmental archeology lab. Please ask me about my cows. Please ask me about my rocks. I love talking about them. I also just completed a one semester capstone [project] where I studied the effectiveness of oyster bioaccumulation in New York Harbor.

Outside of the classroom, I captain for Throw Culture, which is Wesleyan’s all gender Ultimate Frisbee Club team. I am a low-income student, and I work at admissions. I also work at Red and Black Cafe, which is alumni-owned. I like to think that I’m one of the best student baristas on campus. And I’m from New York City. 

A: Why do you think you’re a WesCeleb? 

GBH: I’ve given a lot of tours, especially over the summer, which has definitely increased the number of prospective students that I meet. Something that’s pretty grim for most tour guides is that it is likely for you to never give a tour to someone who ends up coming to Wesleyan. Because I was giving so many tours over the summer to juniors in high school who then became seniors in high school and are now freshmen, I feel like everywhere I go, I run into someone who goes, “You were my tour guide!” That is a really out-of-body experience for me.

Also just through working at the cafe—so many people come into Red and Black, to the point where there’s a lot of people I know on campus exclusively through Red and Black, and I know their names and I have classes with them.

A: That’s a great segue into my next question. Do you have any highlights or particular memories from your experience at Wesleyan?

GBH: I really have loved working at the Office of Admissions. Some of my favorite experiences have been as a tour guide. I’ve had a few run-ins with Michael Roth, which have been a little bit silly in the moment. I genuinely do love working at Admissions, and I love my bosses. They’re really amazing; some really, really awesome and amazing and cool people work at Admissions, both as full-time staff of the university and other students. A lot of the monthly tour guide meetings I spend laughing because there are just some really cool people in there.

I love working at the cafe because I get paid to make silly little coffee drinks for all my friends. I started working there my sophomore year, which was the fall of 2020, which was the big pandemic year. There was no vaccine either, so a lot of social interaction was heavily limited because of safety reasons, which made a lot of sense. Working at the cafe was my social interaction my sophomore year. It’s how I got to see basically everyone, even for just a quick moment of taking their order. I still got to see them. I really do love working at the cafe, and also the discounted food is pretty nice. Thanks, Ed and Karen!

A: What’s your favorite place to eat on campus? 

GBH: It depends on the day. If it’s Monday lunch, Usdan vegan lentils. If it’s a Swings special that I really like, Swings. If it’s a Friday, Red and Black Cafe. Don’t sleep on Star and Crescent.

A: What’s your favorite thing to get at Red and Black?

GBH: I get a Caprese Grilled Cheese. I’m allergic to gluten, so it has to be on gluten-free bread with mozzarella and fresh mozzarella and pesto. If I’m feeling it, balsamic vinaigrette and red onions and tomatoes. It’s so good. Sometimes my boss makes me a quesadilla when I ask really nicely, but don’t ever order that… it will kill you. 

A: How many tours have you done?

GBH: I was talking to someone about this and they’ve counted every single tour they’ve ever done, which is crazy to me. I really don’t know and there’s honestly no way of finding out. But I’ve worked here for two summers and been tour guiding for two years during the semester. I’ve also given tours over winter break, so a lot of tours. More than a hundred. I feel like that’s normal for people who are in the program for the amount of time I’ve been in it.

A: Thank you for telling me a little bit about that. It’s my understanding that you recently went on a trip to the Azores. Can you tell me a little bit more about that? 

GBH: Part of the Earth and Environmental Science major is a senior capstone experience where, historically, pre-pandemic, you take a seminar in the fall and you meet up with all the other majors who have their own niche interests in Earth and Environmental Science and have all explored that in different ways throughout Wesleyan’s open curriculum. You learn about research, and you talk about research projects. You plan one, and then you go to some really, really cool place like Death Valley or Puerto Rico or Hawaii to do that field research. That’s over winter break and then you come back in the spring and you write up a whole report. It’s an assignment that really prepares you for the professional world if you want to go into research, which was a big reason why I decided to declare that major.

Because of the pandemic, we were limited to anywhere within driving distance of campus, which is how I ended up working on oysters in New York City. 

A: I thought the trip and the capstone were two separate things.

GBH: I like to give background. Now you understand why my tour is so long. The Azores was a research trip with the Earth Environmental Science Department, and the seniors in the major—it was myself, 11 other majors, and five faculty members—we visited three of the nine islands in the Azores, which is a series of subtropical islands in the middle of the Atlantic which is owned by Portugal because they were the first people to find [it]…well maybe the Vikings were there before, but then they left.

We visited Sal Miguel and Thalia and Pico, and we were just learning about the environment and the earth there. There’s a lot of really cool stuff since it’s very remote. There are some really, really cool endemic species that we got to learn about. The Azores is the main source of meat and dairy for Portugal, and also a really big source of lumber, and so a lot of the island is dominated by pasture and invasive Japanese Cedar which have threatened the endemic species. They’re causing big problems like eutrophication in the water because of the fertilizers. This is all stuff that I learned when I got there, so it was really cool being in this forest of endemic trees and learning about the history of how it was all clear-cut and Japanese cedar was there, and now only 10% of it is this really cool endemic species, and the rest of it is this invasive tree. It was really cool learning that and getting to be around professors. 

A: What’s your favorite animal? 

GBH: I have an answer to this. I really do. Bats are pretty cool. Whales are really cool. Oh, something I learned in the Azores is that sperm whales are called sperm whales because their big forehead is full of this fat, and people thought it was sperm and they thought they stored their sperm in their heads and that’s why they’re called sperm whales.

A: Can you talk to me about your favorite class or professor?

GBH: I’ve had a lot of favorite classes. I loved my first-year seminar, Mapping Culture with [Professor of Music] Eric Charry. Basically every Earth and Environmental Sciences class I’ve taken I’ve had a great time in. You can’t really go wrong with the department.

I particularly loved Soils and Structural Geology because I was spending six hours a week in the woods that semester for class. Love [George I. Seney Professor of Geology] Marty [Gilmore]. Love Marty so much. Remote Sensing was such a cool class. I’m now enrolled in Planetary Evolution with her. And I’m friends with her on Pokemon Go and she got mad at me for not sending her any presents from the Azores.

A: Can you tell me what Ultimate Frisbee is like on campus?

GBH: Yeah, so I didn’t play Ultimate Frisbee in high school, and I find it really funny that I came to a liberal arts school and picked up Ultimate Frisbee of all things. I play for one of the three teams on campus. There’s Nietzsch Factor, Vicious Circles, and my team, Throw Culture, and we basically cater to different gender divisions. NF plays in the open division. Vicious Circles is a team for non-cis-male-identifying people. My team is the all-gender team. I like us a lot. We’re pretty fun, we’re pretty silly. I like the excuse to be physically active. We also do some really fun social events like “break the chocolate Turkey with the wooden spoon.”

A: What’s your favorite study spot on campus? Any advice?

GBH: I love Olin. I love the main room of Olin. I am a [Smith] Reading Room hater. I hate it in the Reading Room, but also bring back the periodical reading room. I love the Gribbel Room in the art library. That’s my favorite room actually. Please don’t go there because I really like going there, and I especially like being the only one there. So please never go there, ever. Please. Also, Exley fourth floor.

A: Who are your three favorite artists of all time?

GBH: Oh wow. Kate Bush. I love her! I have watched four Kate Bush documentaries and cried over three of them. Kali Uchis. I’ve been really obsessed with Rubblebucket recently to the point where that’s all the music I’m listening to. I saw them live and it was genuinely the best live show I’ve ever been to. I’m seeing them again during spring break in New York City, which I’m really excited about. It’s only 20 bucks for a concert ticket. They’re real for that. 

A: What has been your favorite place to live on campus? 

GBH: The Bayit. 

A: Why?

GBH: Because it’s lit AF there. I lived in the Bayit and had an exceptionally good year considering the circumstances. Again, it was fall of 2020, so my sophomore year—the big pandemic year. What was really reassuring about the Bayit was moving in and instantly being able to connect with practically every single student in there over some common ground: being Jewish. What was really nice about the Bayit that year was that it ended up [having] a lower number of residents than normal. Each person brought something different and amazing to the house. I love the people that I lived with my sophomore year. We really did have a lot of fun in a very safe manner. And we had reunion brunches. Well, we had a reunion brunch. It was awesome in there except for the two weeks I had to live there by myself. That was scary.

A: What’s your favorite room decoration?

GBH: Someone once made me a collage, that was really sweet. One time I was ordering something from Amazon. I don’t even remember what it was, but I remember not wanting my family to know that I was ordering it and we shared an Amazon account. So I got my friend to order it for me and I FaceTimed her. She marked it as a present and wrote me a little note. That was a little surprise for me when I opened the box. I kept the note and it’s hung up on my wall. And my affirmation mirror. It says, “I’m a child of God.”

A: You’ve done so much on campus. Do you have anything that you wish you’ve done or anything that you are still looking forward to doing in your last semester? 

GBH: Well, I was signed up for TERP freshman spring and it got canceled and then has not been back, so #bringbackTERP. I feel like this is pretty normal, but there are so many classes I wish I took that I just didn’t have the opportunity to. But I don’t want to give up any of the classes that I have taken. I think it’s just the double-edged sword of the Wesleyan open curriculum. I wish I allowed myself to get more involved in things earlier on. I think freshman year I kind of closed myself off from a lot of opportunities pretty early because I was lazy. 

A: In true WesCeleb fashion, what advice would you give your freshman-year self?

GBH: Do you wanna hear something bad? I’ve never actually read anyone’s WesCeleb. 

A: Wow.

GBH: Actual advice for my freshman-year self is to not give a shit. A lot of stuff in college I didn’t do because I was like, “but what about…?” Just do it, who cares? Shave your head. Dye your eyebrows. Shave off your eyebrows. Take that class. Don’t care about stuff, just go for it. Why not?

A: Where are you off to now?

GBH: I don’t know. Where am I off to now? Bedtime. 

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Oliver Cope can be reached at ocope@wesleyan.edu.