Highlights From The CCSC Debates

Written by

Debating is just a part of our nature.

CCSC elections are in full swing. CEB hosted a debate with the candidates willing and able to present their platforms to an audience that varied between mostly empty to ghostly. One might say this is because many of the debates are simply the candidates presenting their platform, taking a few questions, and getting on with their Saturday. But there were some moments that went off Spec’s script, and Guest Writer Ufon Umanah is on mark-up duty.

The headlines:
Needs More Bacchanal
The debate for the Executive Board of CCSC revolved in large part around what big fall event Columbia should have, and none were bigger than Fall Bacchanal. The idea behind Fall Bacchanal is to try to get people outside for some school spirit, and Dave Mendelson assured the audience that his proposal was financially sound and okayed with the administration. This Bacchanal would be funded initially through paid tickets with financial aid options, alumni donations, corporate sponsorships, some funds from the surplus, and savings in JCCC. This was in contrast with Alliance’s fall event, which would be a concert located at Baker around the Homecoming Game. Both parties bickered over which idea was more feasible. Whereas Low Beach Party pointed to potential noise complaints in the Baker area, Alliance pointed to the likely no the administration would give to a Fall Bacchanal, an answer Low Beach Party rejected.

Sitting on the corner of this debate was Grassroots Columbia. No, it didn’t come in with a fancy concert or Bacchanal. But it did propose a fall carnival in conjunction with the various clubs on campus, in line with their promise to build school spirit through the clubs. Grassroots Columbia specifically criticized the Fall Bacchanal by saying that the money that would go to these follies should be reinvested in ABC, along with all of the current surplus. On the other side of the economics equation, Grassroots would hope clubs would host cheaper events and Bacchanal would use local artists. To this, Alliance reminded the audience that the surplus was not re-concurring, and expending that money one year would lead to contraction the next.
Due to the energy exhausted on activities, the debate was slow to arrive on mental health issues. Low Beach Party had proposed adding new representatives to CCSC for mental health and disability, though proposals like this are being considering in Constitutional Review before they can ever take office. They also called for an expansion of CPS through identity-specific counselors and CPS presence at Career fairs. Alliance’s strategy is to tackle stress culture at its root by shrinking the Core syllabus. Alliance also reminded the audience that identity-specific counselors already exist in CPS.
No highlights would be complete without our senators, but our delegation will have to be complete without a woman. On this issue, Sam Ackerman, the only white man running for Senator, pointed out that many of his platform positions came out of going to marginalized communities and talking to them, like his call to release faculty statistics. Part of the point of Alfredo Dominguez’s run was too campaign against the lack of diversity, and his goal would be to set the conversation around survivors. Omar Khan would go even further by demanding people directly affected by policies into meetings.
In interplay with the Executive Board debates, Dominguez said that an important point of his campaign was decreasing waiting times at CPS for people of color. Specifically, when students ask for identity-specific counselors, wait times are noticeably longer. Ackerman, in the theme of attacking stress culture at the root, proposed limitations on how many finals can be taken within a certain time period. Khan wanted to center mental health initiatives around marginalized communities.
During the debate, Khan distinguished himself by calling for the University to support fossil fuels divestment and reckoning with the realities of Manhattanville. He also called for forcing votes and conversations on fossil fuel divestment. Dominguez also distinguished himself by pointing out he was the only sophomore on stage, which meant he would have a two-year tenure on the Senate unlike Ackerman and Khan, whose tenures would end next year. One notable thing for Ackerman was his call for weekly emails in an attempt to increase transparency.
2019 Class Council
Perhaps the most interesting debate occurred in a race I can’t even vote for. A New Roar President Mina Mahmood criticized the use of student council funds towards “giveaways.” She would prefer spending said money on initiatives on campus and events for various communities on campus instead of “laptop stickers” and Soulcycle classes. Sophie Broadbent, the incumbent president of Blue Ivy, defended the historical use of funds by saying that the job of class council was to convince the administration to spend money on initiatives that the council spends time on. For example, increasing CPS staff will not happen through paying salaries through student council funds. Student council already provides various events and discounted apparel, so talk of misallocated funds is confusing.
The candidates also clashed on CPS policy. One of Blue Ivy’s proposals was to digitalize the appointment process for CPS in order to increase accessibility. However, A New Roar countered that the point of the phone interview system was to target the needs of the future patient in a conversation, and that Blue Ivy’s proposal indicated a lack of proper attention to the needs of people struggling with mental health. Sophie countered that an online appointment system would be placed in conjunction with the current phone interview system.
Alumni Affairs
The debate over alumni affairs featured two diametrically opposing views. On one end was Zach Spypeck, who said that he would push for easier access to a universal mentor program. He argued that the current system address too many niches and that lack of unity was a problem. His opponent, Maria Fernanda Martinez, disagreed with Spypeck, arguing that alumni programs are as successful as the personal connections made and preserved. To that end, while some progams are too niche, she would like to see more meet-ups for alumni, particularly for communities unexperienced with networking.
Pre-Professional Representative
The battle between the meme lord and the frat bro was interesting in as much about what occurred after the debate.
To balance this segment out, we should point out that Rafael Ortiz’s biggest proposal is the Graduate Student Fair, in which, like Career Fair, you’ll learn about different graduate paths you can take after graduation. Ortiz also wants to decrease the cost for study abroad programs and develop a workshop for sexual-based misconduct in the workplace.
One of Ethan’s campaign promises is to reign back on exclusivity in pre-professional clubs, and during the debate he listed out the penalties he would like to enact, including JCCC restrictions and, notably, removal from the activities fair through ABC. In his platform, Ethan calls for a “a ‘no-resume rule’ for freshmen applying to recognized pre-professional organizations” and a more transparent interview process.
Now, the debate was on Saturday. Spec took until Tuesday to release their endorsements, of which included endorsements for at-large representatives, something most clubs aren’t allowed to do per CEB rules. This year, Ethan Kestenberg won Spec’s endorsement. This is despite the fact that the Spectator Publishing Company utilizes a resume process and two interviews to gain a permanent place on staff. Perhaps this is a sign that things are a changing at Spec and next year’s first-years won’t need resumes. Perhaps the reporters at Spec didn’t listen at the debate or read Ethan’s platform. Perhaps Ethan and the managing board at Spec are lizard-people who endorse their own to dominate the student councils of America’s universities. I digress.

Bullet Points

  • Throughout the debates, outsider candidates seem to not be aware of things already accomplished by CCSC. This is probably, as these candidates argued, in part because these initiatives are not publicized enough.
  • Grant Pace of Lionheart is concerned about misconceptions about the new LBGTQ and people of color spaces in Lerner spread by Fox News.
  • Grassroots Columbia demands Columbia do more to preserve traditions, namely giving more leeway to Orgo Night, the embattled event of the Marching Band.
  • VP of Campus Life for Low Beach Party Vik Kapur claimed that marginalized communities who aren’t about frat culture and silent discos need to be supported through campus events. Strange, as Alex Cedar pointed out, that Low Beach Party’s number one event was Fall Bacchanal.

Happy election season. May all of you survive to see May.

Image via Pixabay

Tags: , , , , , ,


  1. Anonymous

    Nice write-up from someone who clearly knows CCSC well. Probably warrants a byline.

    Fall Bacch isn't happening, but no one wants to schlep up to Baker for a concert no matter what Athletics wants you to believe. Grassroots' idea is the most sensible.

    "CPS presence at Career fairs" what would this accomplish?
    "shrinking the Core syllabus" good luck

    "[bringing] people directly affected by policies into meetings" this is a great idea and people should hold him to it if he's elected

    Ethan's no-resume rule is the sort of thing the position should have been used for years ago.

    • Anonymous

      I would go to Baker for a free concert... How hard is it to get on the 1 train and ride it several stops? You can even brown bag it on the train. That's the epitome of lassitude.

      Regardless of what happens, the administration will cancel the concert a week before as is tradition.

© 2006-2015 Blue and White Publishing Inc.