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Dec

11

Administrators Stop By CCSC With Space Updates But Miss Out On The BDSM

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We love this bear
We love this bear

We love this bear

Bwogger Nadra Rahman reports on administrative updates and our upstanding student leaders. 

Scott Wright (VP of Campus Services) and Ixchel Rosal (Assistant VP of University Life) paid CCSC a visit last night to answer questions about space, wellness, and university initiatives. Thankfully, they left before our student leaders exchanged Secret Snowflake gifts—which ranged from the kinky to the degenerate.

Visitors From A Foreign Land

CCSC wasted no time in interrogating the visiting administrators. For context, Wright manages a number of departments at Columbia, including Housing, Dining, Health Services, University Event Management, Lerner, and environmental stewardship. In contrast, Rosal tends to deal with university-wide programming.

Space & Community

In his introduction, Wright had mentioned that we might want to change how we think about residence hall lounges (and in particular, main lounges) if we want them to be used as community-building spaces. John Jay Lounge has minimal furniture, making it easier to host events ranging from Thanksgiving Dinner to housing selection—but might it be enjoyed by more students if it were redesigned and recast as a study or social space? These comments sparked interest in the gathered members: when asked about potential changes, Wright said that lounges should maintain reservability, but that they should ultimately serve residents, and this notion should guide any potential plans.

Questions about space have taken on increasing poignancy as we hurtle towards a re-envisioned Lerner. Student Services Rep Monique Harman wondered how a new Lerner might fit into the ecosystem of reservable/communal spaces at Columbia, including residence hall lounges, to which Wright replied that a balance would have to be struck between reservable space and lounge space. He then spoke on the state of lounge space at Columbia, which comes off badly in comparison to our peer institutions. Wheeled furniture seemed to be a sore point—at other schools, “I don’t see furniture on wheels. I don’t see that at Princeton. I don’t see that at Harvard.”

There are a few upcoming renovations that will improve disability access and increase space for reservations: An elevator is being put into Math over break, making the building fully accessible; and a ramp is being built in front of Havemeyer, making parts of the building more accessible. Additionally, Earl Hall and St. Paul’s Chapel can now be booked on the University Event Management portal, which might ease some space-related stresses, though Wright noted classrooms (reservable in Hamilton) had been less utilized than he’d imagined. In the long run, having administrative offices decamp from Lerner and John Jay might prove a more effective solution.

For those of you who care about your mortal flesh: There aren’t any plans to add fitness rooms to residence halls, but Wright recommended reaching out to the administration if you have strong feelings, as he can imagine places like the Wien Lounge being ideal for the role.

Wellness & Mental Health

Inclusion and Equity Rep Elise Fuller asked about the Race, Ethnicity, and Inclusion Task Force, an entity that Rosal had mentioned in her introduction—how involved are students? According to Rosal, an email had been sent out at the beginning of the semester that called for student engagement, and it succeeded: about 100 students sit on the task force. The first tangible product of the task force will be released next semester in the form of conversation packets on topics surrounding race and ethnicity; the hope is that these packets will be circulated and spark conversations in peer circles, residence halls, and classrooms. In response to a query by President Nathan Rosin, Rosal clarified that the task force is not intended to produce policy, but to facilitate student-driven initiatives that will address our day-to-day conversations—how we can interact in ways that are productive and meaningful.

Regarding mental health, recommendations will soon be released by the group co-chaired by Deantini and the JED Foundation that will likely provide recommendations for restructuring the pre-arrival and orientation processes so that students can retain more information on mental health issues.

2021 Rep Aja Johnson and 2020 Rep Danielle Resheff asked about wait times at Health Services and the tampons and pads program, respectively. Wright acknowledged that long wait times have been an issue for some time and pointed out some steps that the department is taking, such as putting in requests for an additional doctor, nurse practitioner, and nurse. The biggest limitation, however, is the lack of space. There’s no way to increase the number of exam rooms (23) without relocation. (On that front, Wright said the end goal would be to move Health Services out of John Jay, shift the EC hotel (part of EC 6) to JJ 3, and convert JJ 4 and EC 6 to student residences.) As far as menstrual health goes, you can still (and have always been able to) access pads and tampons for free at Health Services. Currently, administrators are exploring the option of installing vending machines for pads, tampons, and Plan B, though the conversation is ongoing. Since funds are needed for this initiative and Health Services is distanced from fundraising activities, Wright urged students to contact the appropriate departments to voice their support for the program.

Miscellania

  • Recycling bins: They aren’t uniform in appearance all over campus, but Wright doesn’t see any reason that can’t be changed. He did note that the real barrier to high rates of recycling is the lack of single-stream.
  • Communications: Encountering unresponsive administrators? Wright said, “Campus Services is like a hospitality group. If we aren’t out there talking to students all the time, […] that’s just not okay. And we’ll get new people.”
  • Orgo Night: The decision was made by the Libraries; there’s not much Wright or Rosal can do either way.
  • Intercultural Resource Center: There are no plans to install an elevator in the IRC; it would take up too much space. Wright mentioned he had advocated for moving the community to the SIC building, which is newer and more accessible, but people have an attachment to the building itself. He seemed dismissive: “That actual building was Sigma Chi in the ‘80s—it’s not that old, I’m just saying.”

Secret Snowflake

These kids are kinda messed up. Here are some of the notable gifts they exchanged:

  • Vodka (“Fiji water”)
  • A framed picture of the receiver’s TA
  • A (Barnard?) bear (the notable part of this was the odd, Kanye-esque interruption by Thakkar: “I have a Columbia lion and I like it a lot, so I’m happy for you.”
  • A puzzling and sadistic offering consisting of three boxes of rice, a useless key, a Columbia pen, and two used lip balms
  • Proof of purchase of a “Straight Outta Exeter” T shirt
  • A flask (“I really like it because it’s two of my favorite things—dogs and containers.”)
  • A custom T shirt combining the logo for Hamilton with an image of a minion
  • A mini Christmas tree with the receiver as the only ornament
  • A bondage bear (according to the receiver’s friend, their main interests are “cats, bears, and BDSM”)

Selected Updates

  • USenate: Be on the lookout for a winter break version of CU there, a program that connects students and alumni through receptions, informal gatherings, and one-on-ones.
  • 2021: If you like cookies, apple cider, and Furnald Lounge, 2021 is throwing a CC-SEAS joint study break on Wednesday, December 13, from 9 to 10 pm.
    • The same class that brought you “Meme of the Week” is also bringing you a … holiday card. According to Rosin, Dean Kromm dubbed the class “adorable” after hearing this news. We have the same aspirations as 2021 President Prem Thakkar: “Hopefully the kids’ll like it.”
  • 2020: The one thing missing from this finals season is the 2003 holiday classic and star vehicle Elf, featuring Will Ferrell and childhood magic. But not anymore—catch the flick on Wednesday, December 13, from 8:00 to 11:30 pm in Roone Auditorium.
  • 2019: The results of Mistletoe Match, a woefully under-publicized (none of this writer’s friends knew about it) faux Senior Scramble, will be released today.
  • Policy: Here are a few issues the Policy Committee is going to target in the coming semester:
    • A multi-tiered summer proposal addressing common points of stress for students, such as summer housing and the student work contribution.
    • Encouraging student-faculty interaction via dinners and events for Core classes, starting off with CC or LitHum.
    • Filling in those positions that will be vacated soon.
    • Reorganizing and coordinating the various mental health trainings available so that they are more cohesive and overlaps are eliminated.
    • And yay: the Alumni Office has agreed to start fundraising for a new fund that will only go toward undergraduate programming and student groups. The initial goal is $50,000 for the spring semester, which would be deposited into CC’s pot for F@CU and will thus directly go to student groups.
  • Campus Life: The first event of the recently-formed University Life Events Council, a study break in Low Rotunda, is taking place on Tuesday, December 12, from 12 to 5 pm. And stop by Butler this Thursday, December 14 at around 11 pm (an hour before Orgo Night) to stock up on Insomnia, hot chocolate, and cider.
  • Communications: The semesterly report is set to be released sometime before break commences.
  • 2018 Rep Lord Hyeamang missed CCSC to meet with an NFL agent for the Jets.

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