Viv RamakrishnanToday, take a look at the senior wisdom of one half of everybody’s favorite CCSC satire campaign duo. We can’t promise you’ll get Freedom, Liberty, AND Freedom, but you will get an appropriately Wisconsinite answer to the oral sex or cheese question.

Name, School, Major, Hometown: Vivek ‘Viv’ Ramakrishnan, Columbia College, Economics, Madison, Wisconsin

Claim to fame: Running a couple joke CCSC campaigns with my buddy Ben and somehow getting elected the second time around. Actually putting my all into the VP-Policy position once I fell ass-backwards into it.

Where are you going? Memphis, Tennessee! I’ll be teaching 12th grade.

What are 3 things you learned at Columbia and would like to share with the Class of 2020?

1) Actively befriend people with views that are fundamentally different from your own. I feel like classes and clubs have the effect of grouping us into social circles of like-minded people who reinforce one another. And when we finally emerge from our echo chambers, we fail to even consider conflicting positions, instead resorting to comments like “u r dismissed [insert laughing-crying emojis].” Maybe campus discourse wouldn’t be so vitriolic and unproductive. Maybe not. At the very least you’ll get some awesome conversations out of it.

2) A couple years ago an internal sub-committee called the EPPC WGP (Educational Planning and Policy Committee’s Working Group on Points – aren’t Columbia’s bureaucratic acronyms fun?) found a few interesting things on student course loads: 1) The average Columbia student graduates with about 20 credits more than the minimum. 2) 5 courses is the most common undergraduate course load here, but not at several peer schools. 3) The percentage of students pursuing a second major, a joint major or a concentration is rising.
I’m not saying that all students have this much wiggle room or that you should do the bare minimum or that Columbia policies don’t exacerbate stress, but I think the data shows that much of the stress culture is self-imposed by students. When I came here I thought I had to take 5 courses every semester, but you don’t. I thought it would look bad to employers if I didn’t double-major, but it doesn’t. Plus, when I’ve taken fewer courses I’ve enjoyed them more and done better due to the extra time I had.

3) Like most people here, I’ve been in some pretty tough places for stretches at a time, for a variety of reasons. I don’t know if this makes sense or resonates at all with others, but I’ve always found a certain beauty in the resilience of getting up the next morning (or afternoon in my case) and just pushing on. Simply finding a way to put one foot in front of the other has always helped me, even if circumstances have not actually changed.

“Back in my day…” Uni Cafe was in the spot of the also-insufferable Sweetgreen.

John Jay served pizza every day.

The SIPA sky lounge lights weren’t turned off at night. We used to grab a few tables from the 6th floor to study into the wee hours and play 2v2 soccer using said tables as the goals for a study break.

Justify your existence in 30 words or fewer. I seldom did the full reading, but I tried not to “build off,” “piggyback on” or “echo” the points of others who did.

What was your favorite class at Columbia? Global Economics with Gulati. He is a phenomenal lecturer and half the classes were really interesting guest lectures from big names like Jeffrey Sachs and Glenn Hubbard. I think what I particularly appreciated, though, was that it wasn’t just another econ course in theorizing for theorizing’s sake. It showed how there are real, global economic consequences to what we choose to do. Not that there aren’t any compelling reasons to go into a Wall Street career, for example, but I think the way the course was taught forced a bunch of econ majors to think twice before defaulting to “Fuck it, it’s prestigious” as a primary motivation for any career choice.

Would you rather give up oral sex or cheese? If everyone answered cheese, my beloved home state’s economy would nosedive. But so would Scott Walker’s political career. So purely for the sake of democracy: cheese.

One thing to do before graduating: Clubs at Columbia are a great way to meet people, but I really believe people should get regularly involved in something extracurricular that’s off-campus for at least a semester. That could be volunteering, stand-up comedy lessons, whatever. A big reason I picked Columbia was because I wanted to take advantage of opportunities that are unique to NYC and unavailable at other schools by virtue of location. I got trained as an NYPD auxiliary police officer and did a weekly walking beat on 125th for my first few years here. It got me out of the Columbia bubble and forced me to interact with people in ways that are a world apart from my experiences as a college student. I think there’s a lot to gain by getting into the city to pursue your interests rather than for just nightlife or work.

Also, actually pick up the triple-ply toilet paper now available in Hartley. It’s a liberating experience.

Any regrets? Not sure what precedent there is for referencing someone else’s Senior Wisdom in your own Senior Wisdom, but I really liked Lucas Zeppetello’s response to this question. It pretty much sums up how I feel and is more eloquent than I would’ve been.

I’ll add that it’s natural to second-guess how you played your cards whenever things don’t turn out as planned, but sometimes you’re just not dealt a winning hand. And that may sound dreary, but what I mean is that we often beat ourselves up about things that we shouldn’t.

Also, I never went to a Broadway play.

Triple-ply advocate via Viv Ramakrishnan