Web Farabow ’18 is one of my favorite people at the College – I say that a lot when I pitch students for “One in 2000,” but this time it’s absolutely true. After meeting Web last spring through WOOLF [Williams Outdoor Orientation for Living as First Years], I led an amazing trip with him and ten crazy first years, and I have since forced him to become my best friend. I sat down with him to steal his grilled honeybun and grill (haha!) him about how he got here and what he has been up to.
You’re from Greensboro, N.C. What’s that like?
When you’re in middle school, you refer to Greensboro as Greens-boring. It’s a middle-sized town of 250,000 people. We have three [Snapchat] geotags, one of which is a ’90s style clip-art of a violin and our city’s three-building skyline, so I think that’s a pretty good visual indication of what Greensboro is about. But it’s a really nice place actually – I would live there again.
What was your high school like?
So I had a really interesting high school experience because I was a theater major at a performing arts high school. This was just a very interesting crowd of people, people who were way more out-there than anyone I’m ever interacting with at this college. So [coming to the College] was an interesting transition into interacting with people who understand what’s going on in life. But it was fun – it was a good time.
Why did you decide to go to a normal college after performing arts school?
You have to decide if you want to go to this high school when you’re in eighth grade, and that’s a big decision to ask an eighth-grader to make. When I was in eighth grade, I was like, “Yeah, I’m gonna be on Broadway. I’m gonna be an actor. I’m really good.” And then, I don’t know, over the course of my four years there, reality just kind of sank in that, yes, do I love theater, but is this something I should be pursuing a career in? Maybe not. And it wasn’t really a sad thing – it was just kind of like okay, this isn’t what I wanna do with my life, but I’m having a great time while I’m here so no need to transfer or anything.
What is your name?
My name is Web. Okay, my full name is William Webster Farabow. People are always surprised at that name because it’s very alternative. I never made the decision to go by Web, and if I had the option, I never would have, because how am I supposed to transition into professional life with a name like Web? That’s who I am, and I’m not really interested in going by anything else. But at the same time, I acknowledge the reality that I’m not gonna interview as Web. But I don’t know – William doesn’t feel like me. I can’t just be a William. Definitely not a Will.
So are there not a lot of Web’s in the South? I’m sorry, I just assumed.
No. There’s a famous golfer named Webb Simpson, but he spells it with two b’s. So it was like a deliberate Webb, whereas mine is just an afterthought. I mean, I think it is a Southern sensibility to think that it’s okay to name your child Web, but it’s not inherently a Southern name.
What do you study here?
I’m studying political science and history, although I’m not actually sure how to declare a major. I feel like no one has really reached out to us about how to declare a major. But I know that I get two T-shirts, one for history and one for poli sci. And every time I go to history class I’m gonna wear my history major T-shirt so that everyone knows what they’re working with.
What are you doing this summer?
I think I’m working for a governor’s [election] campaign in North Carolina. His name is Roy Cooper, and he’s the current Attorney General in North Carolina. He’s been a really outspoken opponent of our anti-LGBT legislation as of late. I think it’s a really cool time to be in politics in North Carolina, because we might vote for Hillary – or Bernie, of course. It’s fun to live in a swing state – well, it’s not fun, because there are very real consequences of the messed-up things that happen in state politics, but it’s also exciting to see things change. The campaign headquarters are in Raleigh, so I’d maybe live in Chapel Hill, [or] “Chapel Thrill” – experience the thrill for myself.
What are you involved in on campus?
I’m in the Springstreeters, and this semester I started being the College Council (CC) treasurer. I was on Finance Committee since freshman fall, and then I ran for treasurer – unopposed. Huge win. So here I am. I’ve always been a student government kind of kid – student government every year of high school, student body president. Which is funny because no one cared about student government at Weaver [my high school] – people cared about student government less at Weaver than they care about CC here, so it’s kind of my niche to participate in student government that no one cares about. But I actually really like being on CC. It’s really nice to every week be in a room of 26 people who are super well-intentioned and really want to do what they can to make Williams better for everybody, so that is enough. And I encourage everybody to buy in – CC can do cool things if people care about it, but apathy is just gonna breed more nothingness.
How did you feel about being a WOOLF [Williams Outdoor Orientation for First-Years] leader this year? Did you like your co-leader?
I actually didn’t really get along with my co very well. She’s always asking me to do shit.
I think it was a good few days for you – just something about being a man in nature.
Oh, yeah. Ask anyone, my aesthetic is just like “nature man.” Super crunchy. I often get “lumberjack.”
Have you modeled for L.L. Bean? I recognize you from somewhere.
I have, I have. Well, contrary to popular belief – or contrary to what I tell everyone I meet – I have never actually modeled. I have claimed several times to model, but no one has ever asked me to. I had a brief flirtation with modeling for [the Williams fashion magazine] Eminence, but unfortunately they did not end up needing me. The door is open; they have my number.
You are going to be a JA [Junior Advisor] next year!
I am going to be a JA. I’m super excited. It’s a really scary prospect. I don’t feel that far removed from freshmen year, and it’s a scary prospect to be guiding other people through their freshman years. But I think it’ll be great.
What kind of advice will you be giving to your frosh next year?
Oh, you know, just really grasp the world by its… just go out in the Williams community and like… I’m trying to think of a physical image of something to seize that is relevant.
Seize the… mountains. I feel like everything comes back to the mountains, even if it doesn’t make any sense.
You can just throw it in mid-thought – if you’re speaking in class and you lose your train of thought, just direct your gaze to the window and say, “These mountains…” And everyone will get it. That’s the advice I’ll give to my frosh: If you lose your train of thought, keep going, no one is listening anyway. Look out the window, and go, “Ah, and it really just brings me back to the mountains,” and everyone will nod and the class will move on.
I think that would be a really fun social experiment. We talk about this all the time, bringing more absurdity to Williams.
That would be a really fun thing just to try. We need more wild people. Finals are one of my favorite times of the year because it’s just an excuse to indulge any absurd thing you want to do.
What do you think the biggest cultural change was when you came to the College?
The biggest cultural change was the presence of the brand Canada Goose. [Laughs.] Just kidding. Another big cultural change was the presence of male jeans. I had never owned a pair of jeans before college. I wore khakis every day, and not because I had a uniform. It’s just what I knew. For all of the guys in the South, you just don’t really see jeans. So after a year here, I was like, “I’m gonna go out on a huge limb and buy myself a pair of jeans.” And I’ve been doing that all year and it’s really a whole new me. I’m so comfortable. Jeans can be stretchy. I’m wearing jeans right now. You can buy jeans for $7.