Grant Der Manouel spills the tea on NSOP 2016 and reminds us to go to things that aren’t mandatory. Expand your minds, you fools!!

Name, School, Major, Hometown: Grant Der Manouel, Columbia College, Urban Studies & Business Management Concentration, Fresno, California.

Claim to fame: Blacked out & was asked to leave the Glow Stick party on Low Steps by Public Safety during NSOP freshman year; 1020 Groupie; Had to take Principles of Econ twice; Have I mentioned that I studied abroad in Venice?; Has taken French for 6 years & still can’t speak it; Namesake of the 2018 NSOP OL GroupMe; Will make you go out even when you’re on your death bed (personal best for length of bender is currently 14 days); Curator of haunting Snapchat content; Will only study in Ref so don’t even ask me to come unless you’ve already saved me a seat.

Where are you going? I’m so blessed to announce that I will be taking my talents to the Herald Square région where I will be working in real estate marketing #SigningDay2019 #Grind #Hustle #GloryToGod #BlessUp.

What are 3 things you learned at Columbia and would like to share with the Class of 2023?

Freshman year is actually so dumb. It is 8 months jam packed of mistakes, discomfort, and culture shock. Sure, it has its perks – you get to meet so many new people, it’s the one year that you can go out all the time without actually facing any real consequences, and it’s full of so many new experiences. However, at its worst it is an absolute emotional train wreck where you will deal with navigating an entirely new social scene, struggle to adjust to living in an unfamiliar and challenging environment, and you will inevitably make many many many mistakes. It feels so permanent and yet in the grand scheme of things it literally doesn’t matter. Everyone is learning about themselves and about Columbia, everyone is struggling to make friends and find their place on campus, and everyone is trying to act like they’re having a wayyyyyy better time than they actually are. In the end – it becomes pretty insignificant. Introduce yourself to everything that breathes, escape your comfort zone, embrace the opportunity to grow, lean in, and don’t be afraid of making mistakes. I wish someone had told me this back in 2015 when I first stepped on this campus so I wouldn’t have spent so much of freshman year spiraling for no reason at all, especially considering that my Columbia experience has been so much better than freshman year me ever thought it would be.

Be nice. I am amazed at how, after four years, this is still a concept that people seem to still have a difficult time grasping. Please take a second to remember that you don’t have to like someone to be nice to them. Everyone deserves respect. There is actually no material reason to not hold the door for someone right behind you. There is no excuse to not smile and wave at acquaintances in the halls or getting on the elevators – you are like two feet from them stop acting like its not awkward to straight up ignore them (sorry, this topic in particular always has me tweaking out). There is literally no reason to not offer help to someone who looks like they need it. We are a community and at the end of the day we are only as strong as the way we treat each other. I believe that we are all, myself included (yes – I 100% need to do better at following my own advice here), constantly in need of a reminder that we are collectively human and as such we strive for and thrive off of connection with one another. Being nice costs approximately $0.00 and has so many benefits – you never know when someone is barely holding it together, and how far a simple wave or door hold can go for them. This is low-key turning into a soliloquy so I will leave you with this – next time you’re about to fully avert eye contact on College Walk with that person you don’t really know but always wind up next to in lecture so that you don’t have to wave at them, ask yourself: is this how I would want to be treated?

Go to shit!!!! Is it possible to beat the shit out of myself? Because wow I am so pissed off that I barely went to anything that wasn’t required of me during these last four years. What the hell was I thinking?? What an actual waste – truly. I have no one to blame but myself. I was consistently way too lazy to seek out opportunities to attend events such as talks, exhibits, and showcases both on campus and throughout New York City – not to mention often too hungover (not quite proud of that, either). Columbia is such an amazing connection to whatever you might be interested in, and at any given time there is an endless stream of events that we have access to as students. Spend the time, do the research, figure out what you want to go to, and clear your calendar to make it happen. There will likely be no other time in your life where you will have this much access to is many cultural, educational, and entertaining opportunities for little to no cost and in such close proximity. You better milk that student life fee, milk that tuition, and milk this institution for all that it has in every way possible – including going to events! As I graduate from Columbia, I think this might just be my biggest regret. So please, I beg of you, don’t make the same mistake!

“Back in my day…” Tom’s was cash only, Pret A Manger was a sushi joint, Koronet’s was actually a fun pizza place and not some intensely Boho liminal space. Lerner doubled as a post office, frats actually had parties, and Nussbaum & Wu was a cornerstone of everyone’s Sunday morning routine. Nobody went to the Heights for the food (the chicken quesadilla is a must have), 1020 didn’t have menus on the wall, and EC’s health risks were limited only to the weekends.

Favorite Columbia controversy?

Oooooooh this is tough because let’s be real this place is a hot mess and a half. I’d have to say it’s a tie between the following:

I know this is totally going to be mentioned be everyone but I have to say it – the absolute fucking debacle that is East Campus. I’ve never witnessed a controversy so emblematic of how ineffective the administration has been rendered at this school thanks to the layers of bureaucracy shrouding everything. We literally live in glorified campsites. My Boy Scout troop had better hot plates than we do. It took me 2 hours to grill a fucking chicken breast last semester. This ongoing disaster gets me so fired up and at the same time it’s almost laughable. They really thought they could take away our appliances, allow mold to fester, ignore faulty fire alarm wiring, and take nearly two months to bring the laundry room back online, and we wouldn’t be mad???? They deadass were surprised people were upset?? I’d like to speak with a manager please.

The entirety of NSOP 2016. What an absolute shit show. I have rarely seen something internally collapse so swiftly while maintaining a functional façade. Literal glass doors were shattered, people were terminated, threatening emails were sent by way of the Student Life Office, OL shirts were worn at Mel’s – everyone was living in alcohol-induced fear. If I recall correctly, this was also the year that first year got CAVAd at Amigo’s when she was supposed to be at Live Well Learn Well learning how exactly to avoid getting CAVAd at Amigos. Sadly, I pinpoint this particular NSOP to be the moment that the War on Fun officially intervened and started to slowly ruin one of the best student-led opportunities at Columbia.

Justify your existence in 30 words or fewer:

Shots, anyone?

Alternatively, in an unfortunately not-so-distant past life…

Has anyone seen my Juul? Seriously where the fuck is my Juul?

What was your favorite class at Columbia?

Making of the Modern American Landscape w/ Betsy Blackmar. The woman LECTURES WITH HER EYES CLOSED and absolutely KILLS it. Like she doesn’t open her eyes at all for the whole +/- 1 hour lecture and yet she describes every photo on her slides perfectly, hits every bullet point with ease, and totally nails the transitions. I was mad when I DIDN’T have to go to this class. In my 4 years here, I’ve never met someone with such an in-depth knowledge and passion for not only her field of study, but for teaching and helping her students understand the material. I absolutely see American cities completely differently as a result of my experience, and I wish I could take more classes with her.

Would you rather give up oral sex or cheese? The mental scars of my childhood lactose intolerance & continued avoidance of anything derived from cow juice pretty much answers this question.

Whom would you like to thank?

I would never even know where to begin with this question!!!! Ugh!!! The list is endless. I’d like to thank the entirety of the cohort spread across floors 10, 12, 16, 18, & 20 of EC – you know who you are :-). You are special to me beyond words! Thank you to all my off campus friends. Thank you to Anne Marie Skylis. Thank you to everyone who has ever hung out with me at 1020 (and thank you to all the bartenders who’ve put up with my antics along the way). Thank you to everyone who has ever dragged me downtown (alternatively: to the Hamptons) against my will. Thank you to everyone who I’ve gotten to travel overseas with – whether it be for a wild tropical spring break or an educational excursion. Thank you to everyone who has ventured to hang out with me back out west. Thank you to my very first friend during NSOP. Thank you to the ice breakers that brought us together. Thank you to 1612. Thank you to everyone who humored me and endured my parties in Broadway. Thank you to everyone who hung out with me in Ref. Thank you to everyone who pushed me to try something new, included me in incredible experiences, helped me feel comfortable in my own skin, and who have never ceased to encourage me. Thank you to everyone who has ever been subjected to one of my rants – regardless of the topic. Thank you to NSOP. Thank you to PawPrint. Thank you to Cafe East, and Blue Java, and Ferris, and most recently Hewitt. Thank you to CityMD. Thank you to my friends back home. Thank you Class of 2019 and Columbia for showing me the world and inspiring me in ways I never could have imagined.

And, of course, thanks mom & dad.

One thing to do before graduating: Be an NSOP leader. You’re playing yourself by not signing up. I can’t even believe this needs to be said – you get to move in two weeks early for the sole purpose of having fun. It’s a win-win for all parties involved. That and the Mudd roof. Talk about a mission that requires both endurance and mental stamina.

Any regrets? There are certainly things I wish I would’ve done differently, but do I regret any of my experience? Not one single bit.