Every week, CCSC meets and talks about very important things. This week, those thing included reforms to their constitution—particularly about the sections dealing with the filling of vacated seats. Much talk was had about transparency, efficiency, and fraternity, all of which our Satow Room Bureau Chief Joe Milholland was present to cover.
On Sunday night’s Columbia College Student Council meeting, the council addressed various constitutional reforms they will be voting on next week. The most prominent was discussing how and when CCSC should have special elections for seats vacated mid-term. Before, CCSC, like Columbia’s other undergraduate councils, has appointed new members after resignations. This academic year, however, their have been two special elections that have chosen a new University Senator and a new class council member.
VP of Policy Bob Sun said that having two ways of filling a vacancy was “not efficient” and that the council should choose between either going back to having only appointments but with a defined, “transparent” process or go exclusively to special elections.
Jeremy Meyers, Chair of the Elections Board, told the council that he was able to experiment with new things during this year’s special elections, but the special elections were hard on the board because they had to “drop everything for 2-3 weeks.” Because of this, Meyers does not think it is “sustainable” or “possible “ for the Elections Board to keep doing special elections, especially when considering the difficulties to recruit new Elections Board members. According to Meyers, in order to carry out special elections, the board needs to organize mixers, approve posters, organize voting, and answer questions from candidates.
The council was divided over the issue of vacated seats. They generally seemed to support appointments in the spring semester; however, there were calls for a few special elections periods throughout the year, but Sun said that would create the “worst of both worlds” by mixing both appointments and special elections. The council also seemed to support the idea of having mandatory special elections for vacated University Senate seats.
There were also other proposed constitutional changes. One was making each of the vice presidents of class councils one of the two treasurers of the class council (the class council treasurers usually come from appointed council). Another was to mandate that each committee have at least one representative from all 4 class councils. There was also a proposal for “3 semester reports that are to be finance related.” The fall report would focus on their financial plans, the spring report would see if the proposals from the fall reported worked and were worth it, and the end of the year report would see if the spring spending was successful and would report on Funding @ Columbia University (F@CU). The final proposed constitutional change was that the Academic Affairs Representative to sit on the Committee on the Core and the Committee on Instruction. The possibility of 2 Academic Affairs Representatives was also suggested.
Representatives from the Lion Credit Union Initiative also appeared before the council to talk about their progress. After their win in the elections, they are getting support from the student councils for their initiative. The representatives also assured the council they would be “really regulated” and have a board of directors with members from alumni and the undergraduate schools.
Two members of Alpha Kappa Psi, a pre-professional fraternity, showed up to talk about difficulties in getting recognized. The fraternity has gone to the Inter Greek Council, for recognition, but, although article 1a of the IGC’s constitutional says they cover “all” fraternities and sororities, IGC did not recognize them because they are not active on campus. The IGC referred AKPsi to the Activities Board at Columbia, who did not recognize them because they were a fraternity, and ABC’s constitution states the organization does not deal with fraternities. They also went to Dean Martinez, who referred them back to ABC. The fraternity has been dealing with this for two years. While they are “financially independent,” they want to obtain legitimacy and find it difficult to run events without recognition. President Chen said she would talk to Todd Smith-Bergollo, the Associate Dean of Student Affairs, about this issue.