#financial woes
CCSC: Student Initiatives, Housing, and Unpaid Bills

"I'll be your cuddle buddy"

Senior Satow Correspondents Sarah Ngu and Maren Killackey report from this week’s CCSC meeting. They recap a student-run wellness initiative, financial aid communication and reform, the possibility of junior regroup during housing, a vegan composter, and brownstones for general lottery.

Student Wellness Project

Karishma Habbu, the Student Services Rep, and Wilfred Chan,  yourCCSC.com webmaster, unveiled the Student Wellness Project to CCSC. Chan and a number of students met soon after the death of Tina Bu to discuss how to best address long-standing wellness issues on campus. “Wellness is basically you at your best… It is marked by balanced quality of life and a sense of well-being,” Chan told CCSC at Sunday’s meeting, listing all the dimensions of wellness (mental, physical, financial, spiritual, social, etc). He continued, “A lot of students tend to take [wellness] for granted,” accepting it as a reality of life at a tough school like Columbia. But wellness, as the SWP aims to emphasize, should instead be thought of as a fundamental right.

They have already met with Dean Valentini, Dean Shollenberger, Dean Martinez and Dr. Richard Eichler (the director of Columbia Psychological Services) and have been personally recruiting interested students; it’s open for anyone to join in. The Project’s long-term aim is to provide a bridge between students and resources available to them, and further to improve these resources.

A few goals that are currently underway:

  • Student-run wellness website that centralizes resources and encourages discussion
  • Student-led committee that publishes an annual report on Columbia’s community wellness
  • Improved wellness training programs for NSOP and ResLife
  • Peer-to-peer mentoring
  • Puppy therapy!

The SWP meets every Tuesday at 10pm in 522 Kent. Contact Wilfred or Karishma for more information on SWP and how to join in. The Student Wellness Project is involved with the CU Student Forum, a growing gathering of individual students who want to address major issues on campus like lacking student space.

Financial Aid

750 students were unable to register for classes this semester because they had a $1,000 unpaid balance for tuition payment—this is a standard Columbia policy. The Financial Aid office sent multiple e-mails notifying students of the outstanding bill, but most ignored them. A Council member countered, saying that when he tried to rectify the situation he was redirected to three different offices, none of whom really knew what was going on. Some students said that although they received the email they didn’t know it meant that they couldn’t register.

Student Development Affairs and Financial Aid are partnering with the councils to submit the Financial Aid Office to a systematic review process similar to that conducted of CSA last semester. It would include discussions, surveys and focus groups.

Housing

Junior Re-group

Council voiced near unanimous support for an option that would allow Juniors to regroup at the end of suite selection and double up to take remaining suites. It remains to be seen if administration will implement such a policy.

Composting

The long-awaited composter, destined for installation in the basement of Ruggles, will be up and running sometime next year. Only vegetable waste —no dairy, meat, or oil—can be used. The composter will first be opened up to dining halls, then to campus groups, and after a few weeks, to individuals.

Brownstones

The brownstones that Columbia just acquired will not be opened up for general lottery. Located on 113th St. between Broadway and Riverside, the former nunnery will be re-designed to create singles and doubles for 70 people. KevSho previously stated that these would be Student Affairs confirms that these will be reserved for new Living Learning special interest housing.

SGA: On Spam and Sponsorship

planned expansion for SGA headquarters

Bwog’s shiny new Diana Bureau Chief Renée Kraiem reports on the goings-on at SGA.

  • Reflecting on last week’s contentious meeting about Barnard’s new full-time enrollment policy, one council member explained that she knew of many students who hadn’t recognized the importance of the email announcement from A-Hinks. Barnard inundates students with so many emails, some argued, that it is impossible to distinguish invitations to an open house that bears (pun intended) no relevance to your life from emails presenting major policy changes. SGA President Jessica Blank (we hear the kids are calling her PrezBla!) clarified that doc@barnard.edu, the address from which Dean Hinkson sent her statement, stands for “Dean of the College,” but many students mistook it for spam. Discussion ensued about the way the college administration relates to students, and though the council agreed that the timing of Dean Hinkson’s announcement was too late into the semester, the proper forum for communicating an announcement of this magnitude was debatable. (more…)
Yet Another Reason Not to Go to Grad School

Although the absurdity of the debt ceiling debate may have made you think that politics are completely out of touch with reality, the Budget Control Act has some very real and important implications for Columbia students receiving financial aid.

First the good news: Pell Grants will continue to be funded through 2013, without a reduction in the maximum allowance of $5,550. As we explained when the bill was passed last year, healthcare reform actually included some very important changes to federal student loans. Columbia prides itself on educating the most Pell recipients of any Ivy League or private research university.

And the bad: the money to keep the Pell Grants alive comes from the elimination of federal subsidies for grad students. Furthermore, for all students with federal loans, benefits for timely payments will most likely be cut, and interest rates see increases, starting July 1, 2012.

The Office of Financial Aid’s e-mail explains the changes in detail after the jump. (more…)

Filming of Too Big To Fail

HBO’s new movie Too Big To Fail is up on Broadway between 121st and 122nd.  It’s based on Andrew Sorkin’s book of the same name.  It’s got quite a cast, so go get starstruck!

Photo by EJ

Café 212 No Longer Certified “Fresh” on Weekends
Sad, lonely sandwich bar

Sad, lonely sandwich bar

If you had a craving for a freshly-made salad or sandwich from Café 212 this weekend, you probably found yourself out of luck. Indeed, in a move that disappoints many, Dining Services recently made the decision to stop its salad and sandwich services on the weekends.

According to Director of Dining Vicki Dunn, the café was selling less than 50 salads and sandwiches on weekends, significantly less than the number sold on weekdays. She says this is the result of students changing their buying habits, especially since the introduction of off-campus Flex and other options. In an effort to reduce operational costs, Dining decided to discontinue its Café 212 salad and sandwich service.

Even so, this does not mean that a trip to Lerner for weekend sustenance will be in vain. Café 212 now has hot lunch and dinner specials on the weekends, and the faithful Café East remains open. Coffee and pastry service still exists, there are new grain salads and microwaveable meals, and there is now an abundance of pre-made sandwiches in eatery. That is, minuscule, expensive pre-made sandwiches that just don’t quite fill the void left by a hand-crafted chicken club sandwich.