Sep

12

ESC Catches Up On Summer Activities

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Artistic representation of ESC meetings

Most of last night’s Engineering Student Council meeting consisted of discussions regarding resolutions, goals, and plans initiated at the end of last year or during the Summer. Of particular interest were informal resolutions on logistical changes and Fall elections. And, of course, ESC Bureau Chief Finn Klauber was back on hand to cover everything that went down.

Logistical Changes

If you try to keep up with each meeting of ESC using their livestream, you may have noticed that no live recording of the Council appeared last night. This was no oversight. According to President Aida Lu, the idea of the weekly livestream was “to increase accessibility of our discussion in ESC and general body meetings.”

However, as ESC meetings are already open, meeting notes are (allegedly) posted online each week, and few people actually utilize the livestream, the Executive Board has decided to suspend use of a livestream on a trial run basis. President Lu specifically claims that a lack of lively and diverse discussion in recent meetings could be attributed to the use of the livestream as “[it] might be making us more aware of the words we’re saying in meeting.” Of course, continuing ESC meetings after taking away a major avenue of transparency, regardless of the reasoning, may seem somewhat archaic—especially in comparison to CCSC. The presence of a livestream has not prevented previous statements of a controversial nature from being made by various council members, making it hard to understand exactly which parts of ESC’s discussions a livestream is consistently repressing.

Furthermore, President Lu discussed ways for ESC to “work smarter [and] make work more efficient.” As ESC rotates out most of its members on an annual basis, it can sometimes be hard to work with more permanently placed members of faculty and, particularly, the administration. Policies may take years to bear fruit, and ESC has tended to “reinvent the wheel every year” instead of moving forward. How, exactly, ESC will pass down institutional knowledge is still up in the air, however.

Fall Elections

The sole discussion topic this week in ESC related to Fall ESC elections. The elections, which will be held in the next three weeks or so, will fill the seats of four freshman positions from the SEAS Class of 2021, three at-large positions (Gender Identity and Sexuality Representative, International Representative, and Disability and Accessibility Representative), and the VP Finance position.

Last Spring, it seemed that the Columbia Elections Board (CEB) faced some issues with the elections—though, to be fair, this has been a consistent observation for many years now. According to internal discussions between ESC, CCSC, and CEB, this may have to do with being overstretched or not having enough manpower to effectively run each election. As a result, ESC and CCSC are stepping up to offer CEB two representatives from each council to help as extra hands. These reps, who are seniors who should no longer have a stake in being elected, were appointed and formally approved last night. They are Academic Affairs Representative Danielle Deiseroth and 2018 Representative Cristal Abud. This is only “a short term solution” and should improve issues of transparency by offering support for “mechanical details” which require more hands than CEB currently has. In the long run, however, CEB has to step up its game and recruit more actively to ensure that elections are run smoothly and transparently.

Updates

  • VP Policy Zoha Qamar offered quite a few updates regarding a meeting with various deans of SEAS. In this meeting, they discussed expanding the Academic Success Program (ASP)—a program offered to about 25 SEAS and 75 CC prefrosh each year to bridge the gap between an underprivileged high school education and Columbia’s faster paced education. ASP consists of summer courses, and currently functions as a prerequisite for certain admitted students. However, some students who desire to be a part of ASP are not admitted to the program with their Columbia acceptance. The deans have landed upon a solution of creating a second “group” of students who will be invited to take ASP of their own will, on top of the first “group” which has to take ASP. Furthermore, VP Qamar was informed that at a meeting next week of the Committee on Instruction, the criteria of the discussion will include “midterms having to be on syllabus by the first week of school.”
  • University Senator Izzet Kebudi reported on the actions of the University Senate in response to various issues at Columbia. Specifically, a new commission on diversity will be instituted this year, with representatives from students, faculty, and the administration. Apparently, diversity at Columbia hasn’t been increasing as quickly as the diversity of the student population in the United States—despite Columbia being the most diverse Ivy League university.
  • Furthermore, the University Senate is revamping the Quality of Life survey. The survey ran into some issues last semester, as the University Senate focused more on mental health issues than was expected, sending out the survey later than usual. As the University Senate utilizes these surveys to a great degree—and, in fact, these surveys represent the opinions of nearly a third of all Columbia students—it is of utmost importance to revamp the Quality of Life survey. Senator Kebudi also reported that a new “DACA Taskforce” is being formed this year, recreating the Taskforce assembled last year in preparation for possible actions taken by President Trump’s administration.
  • Finally, Senator Kebudi reported on the proposed renovations of various spaces. The plan to renovate Lerner by creating a three-story lounge from the second floor “ramp lounges” up to the third and fourth floors’ empty mailbox spaces is being worked on by Scott Wright. Finally, the LGBT lounge in Schapiro Hall was renovated over the summer and “looks nice.” The spaces assigned in Lenrer have not been renovated, however, and the administration is seeking to both name the rooms and seek student feedback on whether they should be renovated.
  • The Tampon Pilot Program instituted last semester is continuing after some slight feedback from the university. In each sanitary supplies box, there were 12 tampons and seven pads, and in a majority of bathrooms these were used completely each week. However, the administration claimed that there was “no upper bound of what they need.” As such, a one week program will be run in the fall in which a few bathrooms in Carman, Butler, and Lerner will be stocked with a greater number of supplies. This should give deeper data on how much these supplies are actually being used and how many items the university would have to stock per bathroom.
  • Two new websites are coming to ESC. A new finance website, which will be a hub for all financial applications, will be located at escfinances.com. Otherwise, the ESC website will be transitioning to a new domain under Amazon Web Services in order to reduce the cost of maintenance for the website.
  • VP Student Life Ben Barton announced a new “space authorship” program following ESC and CCSC’s work with the Columbia Spectator to host their Food Expo this year. An application will be created in the future to offer such a service—the reservation of spaces, technology, catering, etc.—to any student group which needs help.

“Art” via Wikimedia Commons

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