Nadra Rahman isn’t just a Bwog-CCSC joint icon and Club Bangla president, but also a strong proponent of recycling.
Name, School, Major, Hometown: Nadra Rahman; the College; Economics and Sustainable Development; Queens, New York
Claim to fame: I’ve written lots of dumb articles, some sweet ones, and covered CCSC for Bwog for 2.5 years. I was also co-president of Club Bangla for a year, but was still somehow never part of Browntown.
Where are you going? The M60 bus stop.
What are 3 things you learned at Columbia and would like to share with the Class of 2023?
It’s okay to be poor or first generation and your parents’ jobs are not embarrassing. It’s also not funny when your friends make classist remarks, so call them out when they’re being stupid. It can be hard on this campus when everyone assumes that others have experienced the world in the same way, or when you’re surrounded by rituals/behaviors/sacred objects that are completely foreign to your upbringing and background, but (1) it’s also a great source of humor, and (2) this is your world too.
Friendship is not a static, fixed object, but something you have to constantly work on and commit to. And yes, friendship is magic and the only thing that makes college survivable! I’ve had periods where I wanted to just isolate myself from everyone, but my friends literally did not accept it and I’m grateful for their persistence—and hope that if I were in their place, I would be just as ferocious and giving. Love your friends. On that note, be open to the universe and don’t shut yourself off from making friends after your first semester. There are so many brilliant and funny people here you have yet to meet, and sometimes you realize the people you first clicked with are not the best for you.
If you don’t take (small) risks, you’ll stagnate. Take classes in subjects you’ve never considered before / go to events on space dogs, the best strategies for flirting, and Victorian chick lit / do yoga on Low / be assertive about your needs, even if that means inconveniencing others a little / learn how to do splits / go to bars besides 1020 / READ BOOKS not on a syllabus (we have amazing libraries and are right next to a public library too) / pursue something besides finance, consulting, or tech if you’re passionate about it and DON’T COMPARE YOURSELF to people who are in those pipeline fields.
The best thing you can do is be kind. And keep a diary.
“Back in my day…” The unidentified iconic campus figure was the Pigeon Man, who would lie down in the grass and allow himself to be swarmed by pigeons, not the masked man who kicks water bottles into garbage cans on Low. Also, Cannon’s existed—we are the last year that can say this!
Favorite Columbia controversy? Everything related to the Reclining Figure, especially the petition. This was the perfect end to my freshman year and reminded me that the one thing that can unite this fractured campus is the sanctity of Butler.
Justify your existence in 30 words or fewer: I recycle correctly!! Also, I have received actual fan mail.
What was your favorite class at Columbia? I’ve taken so many amazing classes that this is impossible to answer. I still remember Cities in Developing Countries with Sevin Yildiz; Principles of Economics with Sunil Gulati; Neoliberal Urbanism with Steven Gregory; Salsa, Soca, and Reggae with Christopher Washburne; Economic Development with Jack Willis; Indian and Nigerian Film Cultures with Brian Larkin; and Beginning Fiction Workshop with Shoshana Akabas. Ideas related to these classes constantly pop up in my life and in some cases, have strongly influenced what I want to do with my career! Also, I am so grateful for having been able to take Bengali for four semesters here with the incomparable Dwijen Bhattacharjya.
Would you rather give up oral sex or cheese? It’s all or nothing for me.
Whom would you like to thank? My parents for driving to Columbia every week to deliver homemade Bengali food, naga morich, and limes; my roommate Mahika for bearing with my self-diagnosed seasonal affective disorder; my friend Melissa for inducting me into a cult of worship surrounding an Airbnb cat; anyone with whom I’ve shared a leisurely meal or a silly conversation; anyone who cares about the environment and does something about it; EC parties; Sappho; tretinoin; the Ferris (the grilled cheese, not the dining hall, but also the dining hall); my other half; Wien.
Bwog: I used to binge read Senior Wisdoms in high school and it’s surreal to be able to write one. It’s also surreal that the very specific inside jokes I read in those Senior Wisdoms became fully clear to me once I became part of certain circles here. College is only four years, but gossip lives on forever in incestuous cliques.
One thing to do before graduating: Get a meal with someone you haven’t spoken to since freshman year. Write a letter to your future self. Also, don’t seek this out, but there is something beautiful about walking out of Butler at dawn after a long night and hearing the birds sing.
Any regrets? Not spending enough time on campus or going to as many performances and panels as I should have. Not relearning how to be kind until later on.