Nov

15

ESC Attempts To Be Impartial About The US Election

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Even Alma Mater's got her back to the wrestling team in light of recent developments.

Even Alma Mater’s got her back to the wrestling team in light of recent developments.

ESC goes about trying to heal the Columbia community in wake of the recent elections results through *drumroll* safe spaces. After a week reinforcing an intolerant culture campus-wide and nation-wide, ESC attempts to make students feel safer and included at Columbia. Finn Klauber takes you inside another exciting ESC meeting.

Yesterday during Engineering Student Council, the brunt of the meeting was dedicated towards talking about the week’s discussion topics—especially given a dearth of positional substantive updates. Among these discussion topics, ESC’s discussion of “Post-Election Student Support Projects” dominated. What are these “Student Support Projects,” you may ask. According to ESC President Neha Jain, SEAS ’17, these include “project suggestions [which] should support students post-election. They should be feasible, inclusive, and take into account places outside of the council.” In other words, anything that can make anyone feel better or improve campus (and national) unity in these taxing times.

Specific suggestions were made in a moderated caucus, and included, generally, the supporting or organization of events, petitions, and other similar initiatives. However, this discussion turned from direct consideration of student life initiatives towards an unspoken reaction against the victory of Donald Trump in a putting-the-cart-before-the-horse manner. For example, the establishment or support of “safe spaces”, particularly “club safe spaces”, were encouraged. Similarly, a list of concrete steps, organized by specific cause, to aid in national situations of “police violence…racial violence…immigration…sexual violence…disabilities” in the wake of Trump’s victory, was proposed. While these ideas clearly have advocates among ESC, it’s tough to connect the support of “club safe spaces” or “explanations on how to donate to national issue charities” to the emotional and intellectual stability of student life at Columbia—particularly when these ideas are predicated upon a point of view which might alienate an unknown number of ESC’s constituents.

On the other hand, some suggestions included manners of dealing with entirely legitimate castigations of post-election hate speech and hate crime, in the hopes that Columbia will offer resources to follow up on possible “incidents.” Furthermore, some members of ESC advocated for fostering respectful conversations “for people who may have voted different ways on both sides.” This could be done via workshops, providing discourse on “why this happened” and “how this happened.” Though, again, members of ESC felt the need to highlight why “we’re feeling so emotional, [that] people who are supporting Trump don’t see why we take it so personally, and why we’re reacting the way we are [emphasis mine].”

This emphasis on a collective feeling of antipathy or downright hostility towards Donald Trump permeated the entire discussion, although this isn’t unexpected or necessarily disagreeable on a personal level. However, the future issuing of a statement by ESC on the election (which, because the recorded feed from the meeting ended before discussion truly began, will go unknown by Bwog until next week) will hopefully stray away from incorporating personal positions on the election and instead tend towards, as one council member stated, encouraging interactions and kindness between “neighbours, friends, and strangers.” It is important to wonder whether the statement will include dismissals of both pro-Trump violence, though perhaps stated in a more muted and veiled manner, and anti-Trump violence—such as the intimidation of a Carman resident during a Columbia Wrestling/KDR protest on Friday who had placed a Trump/Pence sign on his or her window facing 114th. While all voices have a right to be heard when presented rationally and peacefully, we wonder whether ESC, or any of the other student councils, will actually live up to their appeals to student body solidarity despite the fact that the only publicly supported verbal violence at Columbia seems to be aimed at “Trump supporters.”

Other Updates:

  • Mention was made during the meeting of a second statement to be released by ESC, a statement regarding the scandal engulfing Columbia Athletics and Wrestling (broken by Bwog last week). However, we cannot report on this statement because council discussion took place after ESC’s stream cut out. We will update you if a statement is released before the next meeting.
  • The Columbia Elections Board (CEB) is attempting to reform its bylaws, given the somewhat disorganized and (possibly) biased power CEB has over elections in all three undergraduate colleges at Columbia University. ESC representatives met with representatives from the other class councils and CEB to hash out a substantive reforms which aimed, among other things, to eliminate bias in the election process. ESC will vote next week on the proposed reforms, which will be treated the same as a constitutional amendment.
  • JCCC funded three things this last week: $100 towards a Lean In speaker, $300 towards the Journal of Global Health’s speaker series, and $1254.47 on the “Barnard Organization of Soul Sister’s” Black Solidarity Conference. VP for Finance Aida Lu, SEAS ’17, stated that they are trying to be more hands-on with how money is distributed, making sure projects which receive grants actually work out before spending more money.
  • VP for Policy Sidney Perkins, SEAS ’17, handed off the role of Parliamentarian to President Jain during the discussion of his committee’s drafting of statements on the election and Columbia Wrestling. Substantively, this means little, but we’re glad that the utmost is being done to encourage a truly safe and objective atmosphere for discussion of proposed resolutions and statements. Good job ESC.

Photo courtesy of CO ED

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