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Apr

26

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Bye bye GSSC! It was nice to know you <3

Last night was the last GSSC meeting of the year and our beloved Bureau Chief Romane Thomas’ last coverage. We will miss you, Romane and GSSC!

Last night, General Studies Student Council met in the Satow room to review the constitution and launch the GSSC App.

President Larosa started us off by announcing that the food bank was recognized by the broader Columbia community. He motioned for the GSSC food bank special committee to be dissolved.

VP of Policy Silin Huang announced that the Teaching Excellence Awards have just been released. She also shared her work in the Ivy Policy Conference and stated that she had learned a lot from other schools about improving mental health policies.

More updates after the jump

Apr

12

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Hi Lewisohn are you as shook as we are

Last night, in a room packed with students, General Studies Student Council voted on the GS Senator’s potential impeachment and heard from students about proposals for co-sponsorships.

GSSC dove right into the addressing the proposal to impeach Ramond Curtis, Senator of GS. Although many members of GSSC were absent due to religious holiday and other various reasons, the council had the required 2/3 of members present and thereby voted on the proposal. Out of 20 members present, 12 voted for the impeachment of Curtis whist 7 voted against the impeachment. One council member, Valeria Pizzi, International Student Representative, used her unexcused absence to sit out the vote in order to manifest her belief that the vote should not be taking place on a religious holiday. In the end, a 3/4 majority is needed for an impeachment to go through. Therefore the 12 votes for the impeachment were not enough to attain the majority required.

The conversation that led up to the vote included council members, audience members and viewers of the live feed of the council (which received over 1300 views). First, President Larosa read out the impeachment report, Curtis’ rebuttal and statements from absent members, including one from Brett Krasner, VP of Campus Life. In his statement, Krasner emphasized the logistics of impeachment, stating that “I do not believe that it is pragmatic to throw council into a new round of elections”. Indeed, the mandate for senator is two years long and thus an impeachment would result in Curtis not sitting on GSSC for the entire length of his mandate.
Next Valeria Pizzi, International student representative denounced the fact that this vote was taking place on Passover. She pointed out that five council members were currently missing for religious motives and that the vote should be postponed because this was a “violation of their rights, their voting rights”. Dennis Zhao, VP of Communication clarified that he never intended for his proposal to take place on a religious holiday. This issue came up later in the evening when Pizzi announced she would not be voting to support the religious rights of the other students not present. The VP of Finance Jacob Case noted that “we are a secular institution” and as such the students who are participating on a religious holiday are excused. Nevertheless, the council had quorum and thus would be voting on this topic according to the constitution. Ramond Curtis, when asked, later agreed that this process was no fair for the students they were representing.

What’s the tea

Apr

5

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The Buffet by Jean-Louis Forrain

GSSC last night lasted until 11:30pm and Bureau Chief Romane Thomas has all the details on how intense it was. 

At last night’s General Studies Student Council, things got ugly. But before getting down in the nitty gritty of elections and the upheaval they caused, some other updates must be addressed.

GSSC President Larosa reminded the council that elections are going on right now and apologized for the website errors that have been delaying voting. He also pointed out that Lerner 476 A and B can now be reserved by LGTB groups and groups representing people of color.

GS Senator Curtis announced that the Food Bank would soon be able to move in to their assigned space. Meanwhile, the VP of Policy is currently working on the Teaching Administrators Awards and hopes to have the online nomination system ready by next Tuesday. Chief of Policy Raisa Flor updated the council on the current state of constitutional review. She is confident that it should be done by the end of the semester. The Student Services Representative announced that the JTS student Council passed the swipe access resolution unanimously and that ESC also passed the resolution with only two votes against. He is still waiting on the other councils’ decision.

The real drama after the jump

Mar

29

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What we think the GS debate will be like. Not sure if the bears fighting or kissing.

Learn what happened last night at GSSC with our bureau chief, Romane Thomas.

Yesterday night, General Studies Student Council met in the Satow room to discuss student services, representation at the Black Students Organization and upcoming student events.

President Larosa announced that elections would start today at 10am.

VP of Policy Silin Huang updated the council on their constitutional review. They are currently at page 6 (out of 36) and hope to get further in the coming weeks. Policy is also working on the GS Excellence awards, in coordination with the academic affairs representative.

GS dorm access and more after the jump

Mar

22

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Find out what’s new in this week’s GSSC with bureau chief Romane Thomas.

Last night, General Studies Student Council got bwog pumped up about the GS Gala, swipe access and mental health initiatives.

President Larosa started out by announcing that registrations for the upcoming elections were closed and that a mandatory rules meeting will take place at 8pm today in Math 202. Campaigning will start next Wednesday and voting will take place in the week after that.

An exclusive look at the forever inaccessible John Jay Lounge

Senator Curtis updated the council on his initiative with the subcommittee for students with disabilities. A panel will be organized at the end of April to raise awareness about disabilities and disability access on campus.

The policy team is currently working in conjunction with the Student Affairs Representative on providing swipe access to GS students. Specifically, GSSC is trying to obtain access to the CPS walk-in hours for GS students.

The representative for working students and students with families is currently meeting with CUFSN to ensure the smooth organize of the children’s music festival happening on April 8. He also announced that the Ivy Leage Policy Conference applications were now closed and that the organizing committee invited GSSC to an informal luncheon on April 15.

The Academic Affairs Representative spoke about the upcoming Annual GSSC Excellence awards. She reminded the council and the audience that the student body was responsible for nominating faculty members, teaching assistants or administrator for this award. Application close on April 11.
The Representative for Community Service Representative reminded the council that a scavenger hunt with an after school program is organized on Saturday.

Coffee house and more after the jump

Mar

8

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Can Bwog come to gala? Just kidding the tickets are sold out.

GSSC Bureau Chief Romane Thomas provides the scoop on what GSSC talked about in this week’s meeting, which includes gala ticket confusions and mental health issues.

Last night, General Studies Student Council met in the Lerner Satow Room to clear up confusion about gala tickets and announce some upcoming events.

Silin Chan and Raisa Flor, with the help of Nicole Rodgers, announced the creation of a Friend to Friend training program. This program is meant to train council members on stress management and suicide prevention and will take place on March 23. The policy team also spoke about the recent well-being and mental health workshop organized by the mental health task force. This workshop led to some productive conversation about “challenges and opportunities to increase mental well-being” said Flor. A report will compile the conclusions from this workshop. Lastly, the policy team announced that constitutional review was well under-way and that they would be meeting every Tuesday at 6:30pm after spring break to continue the progress. Raisa Flor invited all who were interested to come and give their input.

MilVets, gala tickets, and more after the jump

Feb

22

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Should we be going on a cruise if we have been cruising through our last semester?

GSSC’s meeting yesterday was quite a ride! Bureau Chiefs Romane Thomas and Jennifer Nugent report on all the ups and downs.

Last night, GSSC talked food insecurity, senior cruise and appointments.

First up, GS Senator Curtis updated the council about the food bank. He praised Michael Higgins for his work to get the food bank running. Curtis explained that the food bank is looking to submit a business plan specifically as a non-profit. Concomitantly, the senate is currently working with students with disabilities. In coordination with Scott Wright and Sue Lee, Curtis has worked to include disabilities into the core curriculum through disability specific classes.

Vincente from CU FLIP appeared in front of council last night to request a partnership with GSSC. Raisa Flor introduced the FLIP app which allows individuals to share their extra meal swipes with other students in need. The app can also be used to showcase events that offer free food. Vincente pointed out that confidentiality is a crucial aspect of this initiative since food insecurity remains a very stigmatized topic. He also explained to a GSSC council member that the FLIP community regulated itself through a flagging process. After three members flag a post, it will automatically be taken down. The council approved the partnership and is also hoping to use the platform as a way of gathering data on food insecurity at Columbia.

What else happened?

Feb

15

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Is that a selfie stick

Last night, General Studies Student Council updated the GS community about upcoming events and new positions.

First President Larosa spoke about his progress in regards to securing Lerner space for student groups like student unions or LGBT groups. He explained that Lerner staff were hesistant to give any space toward identity focused group. Each representative then gave updates to the council about their work.

Policy VP Silin Huang has been going over the constitution and has organized (along with Chief of Policy Raisa Flor) data collection about each position on council.

Next, the Diversity and Equity Representative wished council a happy Valentine’s Day and spoke about her special policy initiative for refugee and undocumented students. She summed up her meeting with Dean Hartford and stated that they were in the process of “finalizing the approach to special policy.” She hopes to tackle their issues through 3 approaches: branding and publicizing, bringing in law school students for consultations, and setting up a mentorship program.

The Chief of Finance updated the council on their co-sponsorship of the MilVets ball. Although GSSC was originally supposed to subsidize 10 free tickets for students with financial needs, the MilVets reported that 12 people had applied for the fund. The Finance pole explained that they wished to extend this support to the extra two students for a sum of $160. This motion was approved.

What about that strike at Barnard

Feb

8

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Berlin town hall

A townhall much like this one.

Last night General Studies Student Council hosted a town hall where many crucial issues were discussed including mental health initiatives, stress culture at Columbia, and representation of marginalized groups.

President Larosa started by giving his own update about the intiatives for mental health that the council had been working on. He explained that the council was working to consolidate health care services and centralize them in one specific location. He also hopes to increase resources at CPS to include more certified staff and to set up a 24/7 hotline. He expressed a wish to work with  Veteran Affairs and networks off campus such as New York University’s own initiatives. Incorporating mental health training in NSOP and establishing advising deans who specialize in underrepresented groups (such as LGBT and student of color) will constitute important aspects to mental health initiatives.

After the president’s update, VPs and representatives updated the council and the audience on their goals and achievements for this semester. The VP of Policy spoke about their collaboration on the feminine sanitary product initiative and the need for volunteers to collect data about their use. She also hopes to include a stress workshop in ERC Life. Next up the new chief of policy Raisa Flor spoke about her ambitions for constitutional review and invited the council to send her any ideas for the improvement of the constitution. Academic Affairs Representative Tamta Desu Arakhamia talked about her trip to Colombia for the Ivy Council. She announced that an inter-ivy newspaper is currently in the works and will include articles about diverse topics including internship opportunities and social respect. She also told the council to be on the look out for a Columbia Chapter to be formed in the next few weeks which she hopes will open more opportunities to Columbia students.

The Diversity Representative announced the development of a special policy initiatives geared towards supporting refugee students for Undocu. She hopes to include infographics that will concentrate on centralizing data about the help available to refugees and undocumented students. She is also working on setting up a mentorship program between Columbia alumni who work in law and refugee students.
Next, VP of Campus Life Brett Krasner congratulated the student body on a great turnout to the community service on 114th and Broadway last Friday. He announced that the gala would take place on March 25 at Gotham Hall and that its theme will be Northern Lights. The Campus Life team is currently working on GS week which will take place between March 2 and March 9 and will include a multicultural day, puppies and a day dedicated to veterans.

First Year President Nicole Rodgers spoke of her own plans for the first year class. She is deeply involved with creating a safe space initiative, working on health policy and participating in the negociations between Barnard Faculty and Barnard Administration. Communications VP Dennis Zhao talked about the need of his team for financial support. In order to render the GSSC website secure, the council must invest in an encryption program. He also spoke about advertising for GS events through the facebook advertisement system, for which he would also require financing. This year, the communications team hopes to be more active on instagram (yourgssc) and to include weekly features of council members starting with the recently appointed Student with Disabilities Rep. Jonathan.

After individual presentation of agendas, projects and hopes, Raimond Curtis (GS senator) and Sean Ryan (co-chair of the Student Affairs Committee) gave a presentation about the need for reform of mental health policies on campus based on the 6 loses that Columbia suffered in this academic year and the other cases of suicides that occurred in the past years. They concluded that mental health initiatives needed to be tailored to specific marginalized groups on campus, including LGBT students and students of color. Some of their other suggestions included creating a space to foster interconnectedness through a full scale renovation of Lerner, providing space and support for at risk groups, meet gatekeeper community standards.

After this short but impactful presentation, the council let the Town Hall begin. Students asked questions specifically regarding mental health initiatives and how students could get involved. Some council members raised questions about the involvement of the target groups on the committees that organize these initiatives. Two students from the Dual BA with SciencesPo spoke about their need for representation on council. Along with constitutional review, the council hopes to satisfy this wish and to create a new position that would work on behalf of Dual BA students.

At the end of the meeting, a new student affairs representative nominee was presented to the council and his possible appointment will be announced next week.

Town Hall via wikimedia commons

Jan

31

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Yasmine Ergas discusses struggles of establishing women's rights in Tunisia with Yadh Ben Achour.

Yasmine Ergas discusses struggles of establishing women’s rights in Tunisia with Yadh Ben Achour.

Columbia hosted a lecture featuring Yadh Ben Achour, a member of the UN Human Rights Committee that focused on women’s rights in Tunisia and the making of a new constitution that ensures equality under law. Gender equality is only the beginning for Tunisia and other countries that are taking steps towards social modernization.

In the aftermath of the revolution, Tunisia adopted a new constitution that enshrined equality between men and women in law. Guest speaker Yadh Ben Achour was a member of the UN Human Rights Committee, which was the lead author of the recent Tunisian constitution. He spoke at the law school yesterday about the struggles of gender justice reform in Tunisia. Before Prof. Ben Achour started his short lecture, professor Yasmine Ergas, lecturer at the School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) gave him an introduction.

Yadh Ben Achour is one of the world’s most prominent human rights lawyers, humanist and advocate for women’s rights and human rights in Tunisia and around the globe. He was involved in the resistance against Ben Ali and resigned from his role in the constitutional council in 1992 due to Ben Ali’s attempt to control the constitutional process. He is the former president of the High Authority of the Tunisian Revolution and a professor at the University of Catharge. His most recent work includes the publication of Tunisia: a Revolution in an Islamic Country.

More on women’s rights in Tunisia after the jump

Jan

25

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it's January, bring on the furry friends.

it’s January, bring on the furry friends.

Last night, GSSC met in the Satow room on Lerner’s fifth floor and, among other things, efficiently voted on a new budget.

VP of Finance Jacob Case went through the new budget of this spring semester. He explained that the budget had increased due to an unexpected rise of student numbers. With this new cash influx of $13,000, the finance pole will work to strengthen its financial relationship with the other undergraduate schools. Case pointed out that GS’s relationship with other schools was severely damaged by continued attempts to pay less for events. In fact, it seems that whilst GS Finance has been paying for 16% of four school events, GS Campus Life calculated their budget by using 19% as a marker of GS participation. Case expressed a wish to remediate this discrepancy in the following year. Accordingly, this new influx of money will be used to reestablish partnerships. Case also pointed out that the money left over from that would be allocated to reimbursing the student who apparently paid for the 2016 class gift, to co-sponsorships and to a small emergency fund.

What else happened at the meeting?

Jan

18

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What we imagine GSSC meetings would taste like, if they were a dessert

What we imagine GSSC meetings would taste like, if they were a dessert

GSSC became the first student council to convene in 2017 last night with a short, sweet, and informative meeting. Romane Thomas and Jennifer Nugent were in attendance as always, to provide you with the highlights.

Last night, General Studies Student Council met for a total of 18 minutes for a welcome back meeting that unfolded with fun and efficiency.

President LaRosa opened the meeting by welcoming the council back and announcing that the positions of first year president, senior treasurer and student with disabilities representative are now open for application. LaRosa also stated that the GSSC food bank was now officially the Columbia University Food Bank. He announced that this semester, the focus of GSSC will be on mental health and constitutional review as well as bylaws.

The VP of Campus Life enumerated the events for this semester. The senior winter ball will take place on January 26 and costs $12 for tickets. On February 3, GSSC will also volunteer at the church at 114th and Broadway. According to the VP, the organization of gala is underway and GSSC is ahead of schedule in this respect.

After these updates, GSSC voted on the tree lighting budget of $3,545 for the past event. Ramond Curtis asked whether this spending was over or under the original budget. VP of Finance stated that the spending was over the budget due to the unexpected cost of givaways.

The metaphorical cherry on our metaphorical lives via ClipArt Lord

Nov

30

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this is why we can't see stars on this island

this is why we can’t see stars on this island

We were graced last night with another GSSC meeting! As usual, Romane Thomas and Jennie Nugent are here to provide us with the most important updates. GSSC covered Disabilities Awareness Day, the Tree Lighting Ceremony, and the council retreat, among other topics. 

Senator Curtis spoke about the events organized for Disabilities Awareness Day. On December 3, from 5pm to 7pm, food will be served and a panel will take place to discuss issues concerning disabilities on campus. Hot chocolate and hot tea will also be served in front of Low Library.

GSSC’s policy team spoke about “Giving Tuesday,” and said that the challenge to come up with a new, catchier name for the day would start on Monday. The winner will be announced within a week and will receive a gala ticket. Michael Higgins also updated the council about the food bank, stating that the bank is now fully stocked!

Campus life then talked about the tree lighting ceremony and reminded the council to sign up to volunteer. A Snapchat filter will be up and paid for by GSSC.

Other updates:

  • Thursday Night Holiday Sweater Party with free food
  • December 7th trivia night at Amity Hall
  • December 8th Karaoke Night at a bar on 108th

image via Bwog

Nov

23

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Only puppies can make you feel better about finals

we can’t decide which one’s cuter!

Bwog’s GSSC Bureau Chiefs Romane Thomas and Jenny Nugent are here with updates from Tuesday’s meeting! Last night, GSSC talked about its constitution, disabilities awareness, and the upcoming food bank.

At the start of the meeting, President Larosa and the council quickly approved the updated version of the CEB constitution. GS Senator Curtis then started speaking about Disabilities Awareness Day (see event here). Taking place on December 3 between 1 and 7pm, the day will include an “obstacle course” around the university (using only accessibility routes), hot chocolate, and a panel of specialists. The council approved a budget of $320 from the co-sponsorship fund to help finance this event.

Michael Higgins then spoke about the food bank. He pointed out that while SGA, SGB and CC were most likely on board, ESC had not expressed its desire to build a long-term partnership. According to Higgins, ESC is only interested in the food bank as a short-term fix and is unwilling to invest in it as a long-term solution. Nevertheless, he pointed out that the participation of other schools might spur ESC into reconsidering its approach. Also in relation with food bank, GSSC hopes to set up a weekly food drive. Although the name Giving Tuesday was considered, members of the administration considered it to sound too close to Giving Day (does it?)… As an alternative, Michael Neier proposed “Food Day Tuesday.” Support for this idea was anything but unanimous (sorry Mike). To determine what the name should be, Policy proposed a contest with a prize yet to be determined.

Other events:

  • Karaoke! December 8 from 8 to 10pm at 108 and Broadway. Be there. Please?
  • Volunteering Opportunities! A letter-writing campaign for hospitalized children will begin next week, and a soup kitchen will be organized sometime in the near future with the help of the church on Broadway and 114.
  • Snack attack! From December 12 to 15. Food is yet to be determined. Disclaimer: may include puppies.

Man with puppy via wikimedia 

Nov

16

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Puppies > Press

Puppies > Press?

Happy Wednesday! Last night, General Studies Student Council met to discuss puppies, Thanksgiving, and the New York Times, amongst other issues. Bwog GSSC Bureau Chiefs Romane Thomas & Jenny Nugent are here with the updates.

The president started this week’s meeting with a policy update. GSSC, along with ESC, CCSC, and CEB, are currently working on standardizing the process of appointments to the CEB (Columbia Elections Board). Some council members expressed concern at this development. Michael Neier stated that he doesn’t think that “CEB should have oversight over the committee that appoints them.” The matter was tabled until next week’s meeting.

Afterwards, Senator Curtis updated the council on the initiatives surrounding the Office of Disability Services (ODS). Curtis is meeting with the ODS tonight to start planning Disabilities Awareness Day, which will take place on December 3.

Next, Tamta Arakhamia, Academic Affairs Representative, announced that the Ivy Policy Conference will be held at Columbia this year in the spring. This interschool event will feature delegates from all Ivy schools, who will discuss prevalent issues that affect all schools. Last year, the delegates spoke about sexual respect. The board of Columbia students attending the event is still looking for students. The application is open until November 18!

The council also discussed GSSC students’ free subscription to the New York Times. According to the VP of Finance, CCSC is about to retreat from the three-school subscription cost sharing. The VP of Finance opened the floor to discussion on the subject. Michael Higgins stated that canceling this subscription would not affect the availability of free New York Times paper copies in Lerner hall. Mike Neier expressed his support for pulling out of the deal. He brought up the fact that many GS students do not use the free subscription, which means that the council is paying for a relatively small amount of use.

The council also reminded us that Glass House Rocks is coming up on February 2, and that an organizing committee is being put together and is still accepting applications from the student body!

Awesome events coming up:

  •  Thanksgiving event – organized by the International Students Representatives, this FREE event will include traditional American foods. However, the Italian representative “picked them so they might not actually be traditional.”
  •  The Senior/First year Luncheon will happen from 12 to 2pm this Friday in the GS lounge.
  • Puppy breaks! On December 14, Lewisohn 602 will host puppies starting at 2pm.
  • Building A Professional Network (planned by the Alumni Affairs Rep): December 8 at 12:30pm in the Center for Career Education
  • Interviewing skills: December 9 at 12:30pm in the Center for Career Education

 

Princess Puppies via Wikimedia Commons

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