Which Barnard and Columbia professors (possibly) stan Nicki Minaj?

In high school, it would always surprise me to unearth evidence of my teacher’s lives beyond the classroom. I suppose I just assumed that teaching was all they did. But then I would see my physics professor or French teacher at the grocery store, or out on a walk, and remember that they did, in fact, exist outside of school. Likewise, my current professors also have real lives beyond teaching. Part of those Real Lives (TM) includes their personal hobbies, interests, or likes; passions such as listening to a certain Harajuku Barbie you may be familiar with. (Yes, the Nicki Minaj.)

Most of Nicki Minaj’s fan base is composed of teenagers and young adults, but she has older supporters as well, including some of our favorite professors. Although I have very limited experience with Columbia and Barnard professors thus far (after all, I’ve only taken classes here for two months), the following is a compilation of profs who I wholeheartedly believe (despite my lack of evidence) are Barbs.

1. Homa Zarghamee

Professor and (probably?) Nicki stan, Homa Zarghamee teaches economics at Barnard and Columbia. Zarghamee received her Ph.D. and M.A. in Economics and B.A. in Mathematics and Economics from Cornell University, and her work focuses on how gender and social determinants play a role in economics and vice versa. Zarghamee’s work has been featured in numerous well-known publications, such as American Economic Review, Journal of Development Economics, and Journal of Public Economics. As Ms. Minaj once said, “stay in school, don’t ever be lazy. Don’t you ever complain about hard work. Work hard. It pays off.”

Zarghamee’s class, Economics of Gender, examines women’s heavily debated balancing of expectations in the workplace and the home. I’m sure Nicki would love this class. Not only does Minaj enjoy making money (“forget the haters, just get ya money”), but she, like Professor Zarghamee, has also addressed how gender impacts financial status. 

Minaj, who has risen to the top in a largely male-dominated field, spoke with TIME about equal pay in 2016, saying, “one thing I learned along the way in business is the necessity for you to be unapologetic about asking for how much money you deserve.” She encourages women in rap to understand their worth: “I would tell women starting out in business, if you know you’re great at what you do, don’t ever be ashamed to ask for the top dollar in your field. If I’m great at what I do, I can’t be denied.” I have a feeling that Nicki and Professor Zarghamee would have a lot to discuss.

2. Alyssa Battistoni

Professor Alyssa Battistoni is employed in the Political Science department at Barnard. Her research interests include “environmental and climate politics, feminism, Marxist thought, political economy, and the history of political thought.” Her works have been featured in Political Theory, Perspectives on Politics, Contemporary Political Theory, Nation, Dissent, Jacobin, n+1, Boston Review, and Nature Sustainability, and she has written many notable essays and long-form pieces on the intersections between political science and the environment. 

Although I haven’t personally taken a class with Professor Battistoni, my conclusion that she stans Nicki Minaj is largely based on her alleged vibes (as I’ve heard from her former students). Given her interests in feminism and politics, however, I trust that these vibes have been accurately inferred.  

3. Kevin Fellezs

I haven’t been able to take a class with Professor Fellezs, but considering all of the information I found about him thanks to his profile on Columbia’s music department website, I am fairly certain that he is a certified Barb. He has a BA in Music and Jazz Studies as well as an MA in Humanities from San Francisco State, plus a PhD in History of Consciousness, American Studies, from UC Santa Cruz. I’m not sure what this “History of Consciousness” entails but I know for a fact that Nicki would approve. 

Furthermore, Professor Fellezs has written many books about various forms of music, like Listen But Don’t Ask Question: Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar Across the TransPacific and Birds of Fire: Jazz, Rock, Funk and the Creation of Fusion. The former details how Hawaiian slack guitarists are “collectively reconfiguring notions of Hawaiian belonging, aesthetics, and politics throughout the transPacific” and the latter “is a study of fusion (jazz-rock-funk) music of the 1970s.” He has also published numerous music-related articles and essays, all of which I’m sure Ms. Minaj would appreciate considering her talents. 

Although Nicki’s primary music genres differ from the ones Prof. Fellezs seems to be most interested in, all good musicians, regardless of their particular brand, can appreciate quality music when they hear it. Overall, I have an inkling that the Harajuku Barbie and Kevin Fellezs would get along. 

4. Belinda Archibong

Professor Archibong works in the economics department at Columbia University and is “a faculty affiliate at Columbia University’s Center for Development Economics and Policy (CDEP), The Earth Institute at Columbia University, the Institute of African Studies, the Institute for Research in African-American Studies, the Columbia Population Research Center (CPRC), and the Center for Environmental Economics and Policy (CEEP), and is currently a David M. Rubenstein Fellow at the Brookings Institution.” In other words, she’s a bad b****. 

From former students of hers, I learned that she gives off extreme #girlboss energy, and, as we all know, the best Barnard biddies are also Barbs. And if you needed any more proof, Professor Archibong’s research “investigates the role of historical institutions and environment in inequality of access to public services and the development of human capital.” Many of her studies focus on “the ways in which institutions mitigate or exacerbate the impacts of climate change and environment on inequalities around gender and marginalized groups.” As Ms. Minaj once said, “you can be the king, but watch the queen conquer.”

5. Paula Franzese

It is a well-known fact that girl bosses stan Nicki. I therefore have come to the conclusion that Professor Franzese is a Barb. 

Professor Paula Franzese works in the Political Science department at Barnard. After Franzese won the Student Bar Association’s Professor of the Year Award an astonishing ten times, in 2019 the award was renamed in her honor the Paula A. Franzese Professor of the Year Award. In addition, Professor Franzese was named “one of twenty inspiring women in education by sheknows media and recently presented on education as a human right at the United Nations.” 

Prof. Franzese has an extremely impressive resume as the author of several publications on government ethics, housing reform, and more, plus the chair of numerous impressive committees. “Nationally renowned for her work on government ethics reform, she was awarded the National Council on Government Ethics Laws’ highest honor, the COGEL Award, for her ‘significant, demonstrable and positive contributions over a long period of time to the fields of campaign finance, elections, ethics, freedom of information and lobbying reform.’” (#Girlboss.) She is also “a Fellow of the American College of Real Estate Lawyers and a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation”, and she has been the recipient of “the Sir Thomas More Medal of Honor, the YWCA Woman of Influence Award, the Women Lawyers Association Trailblazer Award, the State Bar Foundation’s Medal of Honor and the Bishop Bernard J. McQuaid Medal.” I’m sure that Ms. Minaj would be very proud of Professor Paula Franzese’s work and accomplishments: as the Harajuku Barbie once said, “I just want women to always feel in control. Because we’re capable—we’re so capable.” So true, Nicki!

Like Minaj, Franzese is also a mom! Plus, fun fact: Prof. Franzese attended Barnard as an undergraduate, and as I’ve previously established, Barnard biddies are often barbs.

6. Alessandra Ciucci

Have I spoken to anyone who has taken a class with Professor Ciucci? No. Have I read her bio on Columbia’s music department website? Yes. Does this make me qualified to make a judgement of her personal music taste? Probably not. Am I going to make the conclusion that she is a Nicki Minaj fan, regardless? Affirmative.

After receiving her PhD in ethnomusicology from The City University of New York, Alessandra Ciucci has gone on to write many prominent articles as well as earn numerous impressive grants from “the Fulbright Program, the Jewish Foundation for the Education of Women, the American Institute for Maghrib Studies, the Office of the Provost, the Global Humanities Project, and the Lenfest Program.” She now works as the Chair of Asian Music Humanities at Columbia. 

According to her profile, Professor Ciucci’s research interests include, “the music of Morocco, the Maghreb, the Mediterranean, gender and sexuality, sung poetry, popular music of the Arab world, and music and migration.” Ciucci’s passions have led me to believe that she would also enjoy some good ole Nicki Minaj. Minaj tackles issues surrounding gender (primarily being a bad b****) in her music, and also replicates sounds from the global music scene in some of her songs. Moreover, many have referred to Nicki’s music as ‘sung poetry,’ so Professor Ciucci stanning the Harajuku Barbie is only fitting.

7. Bonus: Margaret Mead and Ruth Benedict

The mother of modern cultural anthropology, Margaret Mead, served as an adjunct professor at Columbia from 1954 until 1978, and her lover (and my great-great aunt), Ruth Benedict, was appointed as an assistant professor in Columbia’s Anthropology department in 1931. Despite not knowing either of these women personally, I believe in my heart of hearts that they would stan Nicki today. I can feel it in my DNA. Further (non-lineage related) evidence: they were some of the original girlbosses—strong, smart, independent, and pretty gay—so they certainly would’ve just eaten up Minaj’s 2010 album, Pink Friday. I just know Mead would’ve gotten crunk to “Feeling Myself” in her shoulder-padded blazers as she expanded “sexual conventions within the context of Western cultural traditions.”

Ms. Minaj via Flickr