Imagine being excited to actually eat in the dining halls

Name, School, Major, Hometown: McKenna Lahti, Barnard College, Economics-Statistics, Chicago, IL

Claim to fame: A stranger in Riverside park once told me I belonged in New Jersey; he did not elaborate further.

Where are you going? To hopefully do nothing for six months before inevitably following all other econ majors to a bank. 

What are 3 things you learned at Columbia and would like to share with the Class of 2026?

  1. If you decide to foster a dog, don’t tie him to a light pole while you go to class and expect him to still be there when you get out. But do check the Barnard public safety office which is quite dog-friendly. (Don’t worry animal-rights watch, I left him with his favorite squeaky toy).
  1. If you are asking for Statistics course recommendations: change your major while you still can.
  1. Lastly, you’re not special. Everyone here was special in HS: the sooner you get over yourself, the more tolerable you will be.

“Back in my day…” I used to actually be excited to eat at the dining halls and managed to take an entire course on global health and epidemics without a single mention of Covid. The prof did call Africa a country though… Also, the TAs used to not always be on strike.

Favorite Columbia controversy?

  • When Columbia first dis-banded CUMB and literally hired a random band to play at homecoming. But then there was so much outrage that alumni actually did something and brought it back before its eventual demise (under much less comedic circumstances).
  • Also when Columbia Women’s Club Soccer team couldn’t play its opponents because the club athletic director REFUSED to sign papers saying we were all vaccinated since it “doesn’t have the funding” to recognize it as a legitimate club team. And when we tried to sell shirts to raise our own funding but were told we couldn’t even put Columbia on them. 

What was your favorite class at Columbia? 

  • Rethinking Middle East Politics with Timothy Mitchell. For its wild conspiracy theories about everything you’ve ever thought happened in the Middle East. Apparently all of it—from the Bolshevik, establishment of modern-day Israel, WWI (and to a lesser extent, II), to the Gulf and Afghanistan Wars—is a plot made by Big American oil to keep oil in the ground?
    • Also had a few beers in the classroom on those two weird days in March 2020 when school was cancelled before everything went up in flames which was a pretty good memory.

Would you rather give up oral sex or cheese? “Cheese is heroin for people with jobs.” 

Whom would you like to thank? I want to thank my parents (without them I would not be here) and ex-bwogger Caroline Mullooly for forcing me to be her friend. Also, my other friends because without them I would not have friends. 

One thing to do before graduating: Watch former managing editor Caroline swim in the phallic-shaped fountains by Low. 

Any regrets?

  • Many. Mostly that I will never spend a full spring semester on campus and experience stuff like (in person) bacchanal or studying abroad.
  • Also that I went to Senior Night last week and am now spending my last week ever as a college student in covid-induced isolation.

Portrait via McKenna