They too were once young

Hassan Rahmanian- Associate Professor of Administration and Management

Where were you when you were 20 years old?
It was 1970, and I was at the University of Tehran which was and still is one of the major universities in Iran. I was part way through my second year as an economics major.

How did you decide to go into economics?
The way it works in Iran is you have to take a very challenging entrance exam. The test I took also included science, since my background included lots of math and sciences. So I was accepted into the chemistry program. I didn’t like the program, and the next option was the economics program.

What was going on politically when you were 20?
Well of course the Vietnam War was going on, the situation in the Middle East with Palestinians, and the student movement in France. All of this greatly affected us since the Shah of Iran was in power, who was very supportive of American policies. So any critique of the Vietnam War or the issue with Palestinians was to directly challenge the Shah. In Iran part of being in college is also being political. That was part of my initiation to being a student, and it was almost expected by society. So my first political involvement was organizing with students to support a strike for the city bus drivers. The strike was in response to cut subsidies.

What goals did you have for the future?
Well that was the year I got married, and I have been married now for 37 years. The political engagement made for odd aspirations. I was very much enjoying my time, and probably reading three times what was required of my classes. I joined a sort of underground university. There was a professor who had his Ph.D. in Sociology who came to Iran to teach, but was then silenced because he was too political. So he went underground, and some of us followed him to learn. It would meet in different times at different places so it would not be found. It was raided by police several times. He became one of the icons for the revolution even though he was not around when it occurred. He associated with the ideology of Islamic revolution, and his name was Ali Shariati. He was trying to bring a Marxism view combined with an Islamic concept.

What type of student were you?
I was a very good student overall. I was actually valedictorian when I got my master’s degree. The major part of my education was outside of the curriculum, learning underground. My reading and learning outside of the curriculum was much more than what I was required to do.