Have you seen the CCSC flyers everywhere? Do you have no idea what they mean? Bwog sent student government enthusiast Joseph Milholland to take copious notes in your ever so conspicuous absence.
- Insight, Loxley Bennett’s Party, chose a unique theme for each member they were running for. Bennett chose collaboration, Mandeep Singh (running for VP Policy) chose advocacy, Michael Li (running for VP Finance) chose empowerment, Sheila Alexander (running for VP Communications) chose “accessibility leading to transparency,” and Sarah Yee (running for VP Campus Life) chose vibrancy.
- Peter Bailinson, running for president under his party TAP, emphasized that he wanted to give Columbia students the “resources and opportunities they need to succeed.” While Sejal Singh (running for VP Policy) and Liam Bland (running for VP Finance) only introduced themselves, Andrew Ren (running for VP Campus Life) said TAP used to stand for “The After Party” and Abby Porter (running for VP Communications) said TAP meant “Tapping into ya’ll, tapping into the student body and really being able to provide direct links between students and administrators.”
- Mary Joseph (running for VP Campus Life without a party) emphasized innovation and collaboration.
- The first question for the presidential candidates was why they were the best person to lead. Bailinson cited his “track record” working on space management and gender-neutral bathrooms, as well as his willingness to tackle “big initiatives.” Bennett also argued that he had experience and mentioned starting the alumni-affairs representative and the undergraduate CUIT Advisory Board. He said he wants to have “value-based collaboration.”
- The second question was what needs the most improvement on CCSC. Bennett cited collaboration again and wanted E-board members to meet with at least one student group per week. Bailinson wanted a “change of culture in CCSC” by “sitting down with every member of CCSC at the beginning of the semester.” He also said he wanted CCSC to “transition to an e-mail culture.” At this point, Bailinson let Abby Porter speak about creating a public Google Document available to be seen by the entire university about what CCSC is working on.
- The first question to the VP of Policy candidates was how their experience would help. Sejal Singh talked about the sexual assault reforms she worked for as president of CU Dems. Mandeep Singh talked about his time as PR chair for Bhangra, a dance group. He was also president and founder of SAVA to “raise awareness about religious minority issues.” He is currently organizing FLIP (First-generation and Low Income Partnership).
- Their second question was about their top priorities. Mandeep Singh wants regular board meetings with campus groups and more town halls. He also mentioned how there was “no systematic way” of holding Public Safety accountable for how it charges the events of student groups. Sejal wants a “1:2 ration” for how Columbia handles outside scholarships for financial aid so that ½ of the money goes to eliminating student debt and ½ goes to eliminating Columbia’s contribution to financial aid. She also wants improvements to mental health and more gender neutral bathrooms. As for Public Safety, she wants them to give a “written explanation” for the money they charge student groups.
- The first question was to Liam Bland about his plan to give back surplus money from CCSC to student groups. Bland said “the money is already there; all you have to do is allocate it.” He said more money for this could be gained by “reducing inefficiencies in CCSC’s budget.” The moderators then asked Michael Li’s plan to decrease CCSC’s budget by 20%. Li said Bland’s plan to to give the surplus to student groups is “somewhat irresponsible” as the surplus money is an emergency fund and said his plan was more long-term. As for his plan to reduce the budget by 20%, he said, “I know there’s places you can cut.”
- When asked about their experience, the two candidates worked their experience into their budget debate. Li said class councils shouldn’t be doing study breaks that give away free food and should instead doing partnerships with student groups. Bland responded to Li’s criticism of his plan by saying, “If you want to talk about irresponsible promises, it’s saying that we can throw a second Bachannal on $26,500” and said the while it is important to have emergency funding, “The cushion has grown far to large.” When Li asked how much a “responsible,” as Bland put it, emergency fund would be, Bland suggested a $30,000 cushion.
- In their closing statements, Li said he would work with other groups to fund the second Bachannal. Bland wants to look at programs from student groups and “fund the good programs” on campus.
VP Campus Life
- The first question was what the role of the position was. Mary Joseph said that in the last academic year Campus Life worked well but this year there was a “systemic problem” that she could fix. Andrew Ren emphasized it is “campus life, not campus events.” Ren blasted the idea that five e-board members could get a hold on the wants and concerns of student groups, saying it was “completely unfeasible” and “only gods on Mount Olympus” could do it. He wants to focus on major events, not small events. Sarah Yee wants “insight from campus groups” and criticized Campus Life currently for its “lack of vision.”
- The next question was about re-implementing College Days. Mary Joseph wanted to include student groups in the planning process to see what students’ wants were before she made concrete plans. Ren wanted each day of College Days to be connected to a part of the Core Curriculum, like noted lectures on a Lit Hum day and presentations by music groups on Music Hum day. Yee wanted “more student collaboration” in College Days.
- The first question was about the experience of the candidates. Sheila Alexander talked about her work on the Communications Committee and her work on improving Lerner. Alexander said she wants a “polling committee” to find out what students think. Porter has also worked in the Communications Committe talked about her work with reforming Consent 101 and trying to donate meal swipes.
- The second question was about communicating with people outside of CCSC. Porter wants to receive student feedback on student issues. Alexander wants to “revamp” the YourCCSC website.
Closing Remarks and Student Questions
- Towards the end of the debate, the moderators announced they would not have time for audience questions, which annoyed the crowd. In their closing statements, Mary Joseph talked about her desire for student participation, Bailinson talked about collaborating with student groups, and Loxley advocated for “service leadership.”
- The moderators then decided they had time for student questions. The first audience question was about whether the surplus was increasing and asked for percentages about the student body. Li talked about how much money CCSC was giving to student groups and said, “I really don’t believe 50 grand in a $1 million budget is a lot.” Bland talked about spending money that rolled-over each year in CCSC’s budget.
- The second audience also asked about financing, particularly Bland’s proposal to fund good programs. At this point Li said, “Can I just say that also implies there are bad programs and bad student groups?” At which point Bland interjected “So does cutting 20% from CCSC’s operating budget!” Bland clarified that “every time that CCSC has a question before the Joint Council Co-Sponsorship Committee, we take a look at the program and we go “Is this a good idea or is this a bad idea?’ That’s what it means by funding good programs.”
In other student government news, get excited—USenate coverage will be coming tomorrow!