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Hasan Minhaj comes to CMU virtually

As part of the annual Carnival festivities, Activities Board (AB) hosted a webinar discussion with Hasan Minhaj on Thursday evening. Hasan Minhaj is a comedian who is most well known for his tenure as a correspondent on The Daily Show, as well as his stand-up special Hasan Minhaj: Homecoming King and his talk show, Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj.

The event began with Minhaj breaking his fast for Ramadan, which he quipped about for a few minutes before transitioning into a lengthy discussion about student loan debt and the modern political climate. He discussed the research he did prior to his testimony at the House Financial Services Committee, such as researching what congressional representatives paid to attend college and comparing that to the modern cost of attending the same colleges.

He expressed skepticism about the common conception that college students can overcome debt by simply working harder. He argued that the costs of attending college are too much for that to be the case, and he marveled at the fact that there isn’t bipartisan agreement on solving the student debt crisis.

From this, he transitioned into a discussion about his life experience in the U.S. Minhaj shared the story of how he met his wife in college, and how he knew she was the one. He also discussed how it felt surreal to him that his children were second-generation immigrants. It provided him an opportunity to highlight the cultural disconnect between first- and second-generation immigrants.

From this, he delivered a powerful lamentation of the recent hate against the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. He described racism he faced in the stand-up comedy world, where he was told to change his name for the act so he could make it big. He hoped that one day, the AAPI community, immigrants, and people of color, in general, are not seen for their appearance, but for who they are as a person. He especially hoped his children can embrace and be proud of their identity as a greater part of who they are as a person.

With the discussion at an end, Minhaj left students with one piece of advice. He encouraged them to not defer their student loans and take an income-based repayment plan instead.

This webinar was recorded and will be made available on Carnegie Mellon’s Spring Carnival website in the coming week.