Senior Wisdom: Aarti Iyer

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Name, school: Aarti Iyer, CC

Claim to fame: Spec columnist, former co-editor-in-chief of The Fed, co-creator of LateNite celebrity “Lee Kim,” your friend who’s a Republican.

Where are you going? The University of Chicago Law School. I was suspended for writing a blog about my high school when I was 14, and ever since I’ve been really interested in learning about and shaping how first amendment rights apply to speech on the Internet, especially on sites like Facebook and Twitter.

Three things you learned at Columbia:

1. You can get people to do pretty much anything if you give them a legitimate-sounding title and position to go with it.

2. A Columbia girl can be best friends with a Barnard girl. Unironically. Love knows no bounds!

3. You know you were meant to do something not because it comes easily to you, but rather the exact opposite. Writing makes my life so much more difficult than it has to be—the constant observing and questioning, the hours spent debating words and commas, the impossible distance between what I mean to say and what’s on the page—but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

“Back in my day…” New York’s hottest club was JJ’s Place. I think I still judge bars based on their likeness to 2007-era JJ’s Place. Open until four in the morning? A pool table that doesn’t uncomfortably occupy half the room? Mozzarella sticks, curly fries, and those Amy’s frozen dinners you can never find at Westside? Flatscreen televisions at every table? APPLES TO APPLES?! Who needed a fake ID? But alas, now JJ’s is just another dining hall. And I hear there’s a $12.50 cover to get in.

Justify your existence in 30 words or fewer: I know the words to almost every pop song since 1999 and I have never reminded a teacher to collect up homework.

Is the War on Fun over? Who won? Any war stories? War stories? You know, up to the night before this Senior Wisdom was due, I would’ve said no—but that night was of course the night Public Safety broke up a party I was attending in EC. Which was nice of Columbia; it was as if they knew I was feeling left out of good War on Fun experiences. The party ended up relocating to the Steps, where we ate HamDel and talked until the sun rose over Butler. And I think so long as we still find joy in shared experiences like that—however simple and mundane—there’s no way we’re ever going to lose the War on Fun.

Would you rather give up oral sex or cheese? Well, speaking of HamDel, my favorite sandwich there is called “The Cheese Tease,” which I think is also a fitting name for the answer I’m giving to this question.

Advice for the class of 2015:

Take photographs—or better yet, keep a journal—during your time here. Things happen and change so quickly, and you’ll want to remember that Halloween you wandered around in the Village, or what you thought and felt while visiting home for the first time since leaving.

Go ahead and put your name and email address on the listserv of every organization that interests you at the Activities Fair. The college admissions process is over—get involved in clubs and causes you know nothing about or didn’t have time to pursue in high school or simply seem like a fun time. You won’t be cheating on your “Why Columbia?” essay. And besides, you can always unsubscribe if the email frequency gets to be too much. Just don’t hit “reply all.”

You’re never as alone as you feel. Everyone has days, even weeks, of feeling hopeless and miserable and out of place. We’re all struggling with the same problems and questions, and no one has it completely figured out—no matter how convincing their grades or status updates. Don’t be afraid to be honest with those who care about you—friends, professors—and call home often.

At the risk of sounding trite: it’s never too late to be the kind of person you want to be.

Any regrets? Of course. I’m never sure if I stayed on campus too much or not enough, if I was enough of a college student, enough of a New Yorker. I wish I’d done more writing, more reading, more performing. I’m going to miss all the terribly talented, passionate, funny, kind, crazy—in a word, inspiring—people here. I wish I’d gotten to know you all better than my four years allowed.

Still. “I wouldn’t trade one stupid decision for another five years of life.” Not sure if that’s true, but it’s pretty to think so.

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  1. i liked her

    until I heard that her favorite hamdel sandwich is the cheese tease, which is a terrible terrible terrible choice. you can tell a lot about a person by what hamdel sandwich they like. i suspect aarti is quite bland.

  2. Anonymous  

    There are hot chicks, there are smart chicks, and there are interesting chicks. There's usually some overlap, yeah, but it's really really rare to meet one who's all of the above like Aarti. HANDS DOWN, one of the best people around.

  3. this was

    a great senior wisdom... kudos

  4. haha  

    best "back in my day..." answer!

  5. Anonymous

    "A pool table that doesn’t uncomfortably occupy half the room?"

    I like this subtle jab at 1020...

  6. Anonymous

    I like, I like, but when sitting on the steps, the sun does not "rise over Butler"

  7. Dear Aarti  

    I love you!

    I wish I got to know you better but I'll sit down to dinner with you and Prof Mass any day.

    You rock!

  8. CC'13  

    sad i never got a chance to meet you-a lot of this resonated with me pretty hard, so thanks. good luck in the world!

  9. mallu kutty


  10. Bonus points

    for quoting LCD Soundsystem.

  11. CC  

    yay aarti is the best!

    • CC  

      oh now i feel like i should say more. aarti is one of the coolest people i've met this semester, i hope to be able to get to know her better in the future (e.g. next weekend~), and i need to stop bwog commenting and sleep.


    .........juuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuust kidding. not this this :)

  13. CC11

    Awesome SW. Props to being brave enough to give that advice to 2015

  14. That Barnard BFF

    Props to Aarti for being the best friend I could have found my freshman year. She's brilliant and bold and downright sexy.

  15. Anonymous

    I saw the picture and thought "she's pretty attractive." Then I saw that she was a Republican...

  16. Lee Kim

    Thank you so much Aarti for introducing me to all your friends, and my best roommate ever!!!

  17. ah  

    She is so smart and cute...but is a whore adn a bitch

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