ESC Plans For A Better Future

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New things happened this summer, and new things are underway.

Every Tuesday, Bwog presents a recap of the Engineering Student Council (ESC) meeting from the day before. ESC Bureau Chief Finn Klauber recounts this week’s meeting, where ESC discusses what’s new for the new academic year and meets with the Columbia Food Pantry.

The Engineering Student Council (ESC) met for its inaugural session last night on the fifth floor of Lerner. During the 15 minutes of introductions, each member proposed a personal goal for their 2018-2019 term. The Executive Board focused on creating a better space for students and council members—including “cultivating a culture of respect and collaboration through council” and having “all of our events for the student body occur in ADA accessible buildings and spaces on campus.” With ESC’s various internal upsets last year and the ongoing ramp construction in front of Hamilton, both of these topics seem extremely prescient.

The vast majority of the meeting, however, consisted of post-summer updates from the executive board, along with an introduction to the Columbia food pantry located on Lerner 5.

General Updates:

  • F@CU (Funding @ CU) successfully took place before school began, with accurate budget reconciliations for the first time. ESC provided $210,000 to governing boards, while the total from all student councils was $1,400,000. The only major event without a budget is Bacchanal. Given our administration’s efforts to shut down Bacchanal each year by proposing sudden (expensive) safety features, this is understandable.
  • There are new wellness machines located in the John Jay lobby which allow access to cheap (relative to Duane Reade) emergency contraceptives and other critical products. University Senator Zoha Qamar, who led this initiative last year, stressed that this is a trial run for the wellness machines—with machines to be potentially installed in Schapiro and Uris—and that having access to paid tampons and pads does not disqualify the long-running initiative to provide free tampons and pads around campus.
  • While student groups can no longer book residence halls at certain hours (mostly at night or in the evening), the construction on the new Lerner lounges is supposed to finish in the near future. The lounges are supposed to be an unbookable student space with pool tables. More updates should come during next week’s meeting.
  • ESC unanimously passed a motion to sponsor EcoReps meetings. Because EcoReps is not an “official” student group—it’s under Columbia housing—they cannot reserve meeting spaces. ESC will now RSVP those spaces on behalf of EcoReps.

The Columbia Food Pantry

Bwog has already generally covered what Michael Higgins, cofounder and current chair of the Columbia food pantry, presented to CCSC. Last night, he gave a similar presentation to ESC. In summary, though, Higgins approached ESC last night to discuss collaboration over the academic year, whether through cosponsorships (as in the October 10th silent auction which helps fund the pantry) or promotions. Higgins did raise some interesting points, however, which were not covered in the CCSC meeting.

ESC places a lot of stress on obtaining and interpreting well-gathered data before making major decisions, and Higgins was “more than happy to say we can provide it to [ESC].” All 21 schools within the university, including at the Medical Campus, have utilized the food pantry over the last 2 years. When VP Comms Asher Goldfinger asked how these data were gathered, Higgins explained that the pantry uses a confidential process. This includes working with a data analyst from CUMC to create and shorten a confidential questionnaire form for those who utilize the pantry.

Higgins also revealed that the food pantry, which last year sought funding more than promotion, is now comfortably funded thanks to a set of grants—particularly the Philanthropy Lab grant received last May. Higgins stressed that the food bank is seeking donations of goods or services for their October 10th silent auction from the general public, as well as specific cosponsorships and promotions from student councils.

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