Petition to move WBAR #WBAboveGround.

Name, School, Major, Hometown: Aditi Rao, Barnard College, Classics, Chennai, India/Waterloo, Iowa

Claim to fame: Ehhh you will maybe know me as GM of WBAR or maybe from Twitter (I occasionally tweet as a tree, dead and reborn).

Where are you going? Princeton for a PhD in Classics

What are 3 things you learned at Columbia and would like to share with the Class of 2025?

1. College is the best time to start that language you’ve always dreamed of knowing (and CU’s language offerings are huge). By year four you’ll be speaking, and reading, and watching movies in this form you hadn’t had a single clue about at the start, it’s a very worthwhile opportunity and one of the most tangible/personally satisfying skills to leave with. Plus the TAs/grad workers who teach most of these intro level courses are some of the kindest and most caring instructors you will have at your time at Columbia.

2. Be loyal and good to your halal cart (this one’s for Nassar and Mohammad at 116th), and definitely do not be the non-NYC-native prick who treats this city’s workers like they exist to serve you—you are the tourist crowding their home.

3. Don’t feel pressured to study abroad. Four years will move by so fast already, that time away can be a huge rupture to a momentum and community that a lot of people start picking up by the time junior year rolls around.

(P.S. If you are POC and slightly oriented towards the academy, apply for the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship!)

“Back in my day…” All our food was catered by Aramark, which made most of its money serving contaminated food to incarcerated people and landed Hewitt a B health rating. Now we’re served by Chartwells, who caters only to prisons outside of the US.

Favorite Columbia controversy?

When they found asbestos in the WBAR studio! Shout out to Student Life for removing the carpets rather than relocating its largest club out of the janitor’s closet it’s currently in!! #WBAboveGround 

And if you are the person(s) who one day gets WBAR #WBAboveGround, let me know, I owe you a big drink.

What was your favorite class at Columbia? 

Bhakti with John Hawley, World Philology with David Lurie, basically if a course’s focus is an obscure textual tradition, take that course. I also never got the chance to take the course because of  :) covid :) but Columbia is home to the B.R. Ambedkar archive and occasionally offers a seminar working with those materials. I guess that’s another rule, if a course has an archive attached to it (and there are many), take that course.

Would you rather give up oral sex or cheese? I wonder which hex forces you into asking this each year and I dream of the future when you, and us all, are free from its hold.

Who would you like to thank?

The Blazing Eggplant sandwich at Milano’s and the great men who make it. Every grad worker who has dealt with this admin’s disregard and neglect, in solidarity always. Every WBAR DJ/staff member—we didn’t have WBAR-B-Q this year so I didn’t get to emotionally relish but there is only love in my heart for all this experience has been. These are the earnest thanks that didn’t make it into my thesis acknowledgments, but rest assured all the sappy stuff lives there.

One thing to do before graduating: 

Walk the length of the city—more than once if you can! My first (non-NSOP) weekend here, I took the train up to the Cloisters (do this), and decided to walk myself back to campus down Riverside Park, and then I kept walking, and walking, and by 6 pm that evening I found myself in Battery Park. I spent that semester walking from campus as far as I could in a different direction nearly every weekend (highly recommend the walk to Jackson Heights). The whole “New York is your campus” recruitment bit is a lie, New York shouldn’t be your campus, New York should be New York. But getting to know the city on foot is a totally different scale of engagement, you will learn so much about how the place moves and works; it really changed my perspective on what it meant to occupy my corner of this place.

Any regrets?

Oh of course, so so many—I never studied in “Avery,” I dated someone who went to Exeter, I never got to see the second mural painted on the Hewitt wall!! I’m full of regrets and nostalgia leaving this place, but I think that comes from a lot of love I have for my time here which is something I definitely don’t regret

Future Doctorate-Holder via Aditi