#student government
ABC Election Results Announced
Building blocks

Building blocks

Ladies and gentlemen, your 2013-2014 Activities Board Below! According to outgoing ABC president Saketh Kalathur, this year marks a switch to a Direct Democracy mode of representation: each ABC rep was elected only by the groups in their category. Best of luck for next year, all!

Executive Board:

President: Tony Lee, CC ’15
Vice President: Nikhil Krishnan, CC ’14
Treasurer: Ayo Akira Yoshida-Are, CC ’16
Secretary: Sunpreet Singh, CC ’16


Dance: Radhika Gupta, CC ’16
Musical: Matt Kim, SEAS ’15
Performance: Ben Xue, CC ’14
Black, Latino, and Native American: Eberechi Ihezie, CC ’14
East Asian: Steve Kwon, CC ’14
South Asian and Pacific: Sahil Sud, CC ’16
European and Middle Eastern: Saaket Pradhan, CC ’16
Academic: Jared Greene, CC ’16
Engineering: Harrison Liew, SEAS ’15
Pre-Professional: Albert Pan, CC ’16
Publication: Christine Byun, CC ’14
Media: Keenan Lamar Burton Sessems CC ’14
Special Interests: Hamza Ali Khan, CC ’14

Literal representations via Wikimedia

Saga of the CC ’14 Shirts

Update: Victory at last! The 2014 Class Council has received permission to use the lion illustration on their shirts.

Sophomores in Columbia College are shirtless. They’ve been at Columbia for a year and a half, but still haven’t received any special “Class of 2014″ shirts from the Class of 2014 Class Council. Today, the Council explained why the shirts still haven’t arrived in a 900-word letter.

The upshot: Columbia bureaucracy (in this case, Columbia Athletics) is ridiculous. It turns out that Columbia students are not allowed to use any images or illustrations of lions except for the official lion illustration of Columbia Athletics. And this official Columbia Athletics lion may only be used by the Columbia Athletics department or to promote a Columbia Athletics event. Anything else is “brand dilution.”

In other words, Columbia won’t let the 2014 Class Council make shirts with this picture of a lion because they’re worried that you (or an intellectual property judge) will confuse it with this one.

For better or worse, the Council objected to this absurd policy, arguing instead that “the lion, although the mascot of Columbia Athletics, is also the mascot of our University as a whole.” They’ve pledged to continue the fight until the bitter end, even if they don’t ultimately succeed. They know that history will ultimately judge their cause to be right.

And that, Columbia College sophomores, is why you still haven’t received your class shirts.

Check out the Council’s full letter after the jump

PowerSuites: The Pizza Partiers

This week, Bwog visited another PowerSuite where high-ranking student government officials, an established social justice leader, a master volleyball instructor, and a music connoisseur all reside. While other politicians fail at their pizza eating skills, Ruggles #109-114 is home to masters of the craft. Raphaelle Debenedetti and Mahima Chablani report.

Who wouldn't want a Christmas card from these smiling faces?

When Bwog arrived at Snuggles (yes, they were responsible for this) #109-114, its six residents were crammed into a tiny double, watching Homestar Runner on a dinky laptop. For some reason, the suite greeted us by apologizing for their current pizza shortage. Indeed, when we asked the suite to define their motto, all six simultaneously screamed “PIZZA!” But Pizza (note the capitalization of “P”) isn’t merely their motto: it’s their religion.

Above the entryway to the kitchen is a nifty crest made from an old pizza-box that reads, “The Pizza Room.”  The suitemates use a rotating “pizza wheel” to divide their weekly chores. While some of the chores are straightforward— like cleaning the floors or taking out the trash, the most divine duty is ordering pizza for the suite. In an effort to try every pizza place in the neighborhood, a designated suite member orders a large pizza from a different place each week.  When dividing said pizza, the suite adheres to principles of equality: Given that a large pizza contains eight slices, each individual gets to devour one full slice of pizza. Since there are two remaining slices, the 3 boys share one slice and the 3 girls share the other. Ryan Mandelbaum assures Bwog that their analysis of pizza is supremely scientific, because the suite is 50% engineers.

Not only is the suite half SEAS and half CC, but all other suite interactions are also defined by halves: “We’re half COOP leaders/half not; half boys/half girls; half white/half colored; half on the meal plan/half not,” they tell us. Perhaps the most defining half is that half of the suite is on student council: Mary Byers is President of SEAS 2013, Shudipto Rahman is Vice President of SEAS 2013, and Ryan Mandelbaum is President of CC 2013.  While not on student government, the other half of the suite is equally devoted to leading their peers: Megan Armstrong is the Social Justice Coordinator for Columbia InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, James Bennett II is a programmer for WKCR and plays the saxophone in his band “Ace of Cake”, and Tiffany Firebaugh coaches volleyball on the Upper East Side. Together, they radiate power, as well as good will. (more…)

SGA: Full-Time Controversy and Co-Sponsored Debts

Discussion of debt ensued

Tuition drama? Talk of co-sponsorships? Debt? Peter Sterne held his own at Monday night’s action-packed SGA meeting; here’s the rundown.

  • A-Hinks stopped by to answer questions about Barnard’s new full-time enrollment policy. She stressed that Barnard has always expected students to enroll as full-time students for all eight semesters, though they have granted exceptions in the past. Going forward, students will need a compelling reason (e.g. a medical condition) to get an exception. The rationale for the change is largely financial: Barnard students pay about $10,000 less in tuition if they go part-time for a semester. The consensus of the SGA reps and A-Hinks was that 20–50 students (out of a class of 600) go part-time each semester, meaning Barnard is losing out on $400,000 to $1,000,000 of tuition revenue each year. Students can still opt to graduate a semester or year early to avoid paying a full four years of tuition. This doesn’t deprive the college of tuition revenue, said A-Hinks, because Barnard can always admit a new student to take that student’s place.
  • After Dean Hinkson spoke, she faced a multitude of questions from SGA Reps and concerned Barnard students. Most focused on the implementation of the policy, rather than the change itself. Why, many students asked, was the policy being applied to juniors who had already planned their academic careers assuming they would be able to take go part-time for their last semester, in addition to underclassmen? A-Hinks only answered that the policy change had to be implemented in a timely manner, which one might reasonably conclude means that Barnard really needs the full-time tuition revenue as soon as possible. 
  • Hinkson also insisted that the change should not have a major effect on students, since they could always graduate early or change their class schedule. One junior explained to A-Hinks that her major, History, required a two-semester thesis seminar, but she could not afford to enroll full-time for both semesters of senior year. As a result, she’d have to change her major. A-Hinks offered no response, though SGA President Jessica Blank volunteered that Political Science is a great major that only requires a one-semester thesis seminar.
  • In general, the Dean seemed willing to listen to suggestions on how to amend or modify the policy, but had nothing to say to those who simply opposed it. Only seven students had even emailed her about the change, she told SGA, though over 500 people have signed a petition, which she has not yet read, opposing the new policy.
  • SGA considered whether to fund joint co-sponsorships with the other councils (CCSC, ESC, and GSSC) for various clubs. Far and away the biggest ask came from Bacchanal, for a co-sponsorship of $18,000 (from all councils) due to costs associated with moving the location of the Spring concert. Like CCSC, and ESC, SGA voted to table the issue, until they have more time to discuss the myriad of issues surrounding Bacchanal (which was already allocated $88,000 for the year).

Mo money mo problems

CCSC: Small Steps Edition
Eager young'uns

CCSC was not quite as eager to participate as these little tykes

CCSC met for the second time of the year. Sarah Ngu and Maren Killackey break down all the action.

Big Hits

  • If sometime in recent weeks you were frantically emailing your professor for the required readings because they weren’t on Courseworks, you shouldn’t have needed to  (you spammer, you!). In 2009, the University Senate passed a resolution requiring the “schools request that professors post course descriptions and information about textbooks and other required readings in appropriate online sites at least two weeks before classes begin.” Needless to say, Columbia is a decentralized place, and enforcement of this resolution has been… lacking. Bruno Mendes, CC’14, academic affairs rep, is trying to hold the University to its very own standards about textbooks and submitting final grades before the deadline this year. Email him at brm2126@columbia.edu if you have complaints.
  • True to their campaign promises, this year’s Exec Board is trying to cut down on Council expenses to leave more money for clubs. But it’s caused a bit of tension within the class councils, because their method of doing so requires what some see as an additional layer of micro-managing-bureaucracy: traditionally, before class council representatives can make a purchase, they, like every student organization, must get an e-form signed by their advisor. Now, reps must also obtain the consent from VP—Funding, Kevin Zhai. Zhai emphasized that he will likely approve all expenses and is just here to ensure that councils aren’t doing unnecessarily expensive things (like ordering expedited shipping on t-shirts because they forgot to place the order on time). (more…)
2015, Meet Your Presidents

This is where the magic happens...

In case you forgot already, here is what student government is supposed to do. We asked the newly-elected president of each of the three councils to introduce themselves, and list the five most important things that they actually achieved last year. You too can be Barack Obama!

Greetings from Jessica Blank, President of SGA

Welcome to Barnard! I hope you had a great summer and are excited for an amazing year!  Although campus may seem overwhelming at first, you’ll quickly learn about Barnard traditions like Midnight Breakfast, Greek Games and Spirit Day, what all those acronyms stand for and to read Bwog and Spec to stay updated on campus happenings.

You will also soon discover all the incredible opportunities Barnard offers, both on campus and around NYC, one of which is SGA, Barnard’s Student Government Association. There are so many ways to get involved, from first year class council (elections will take place in the first two weeks of school) to the many SGA committees (check out the SGA website for openings!)

If you have any questions about Barnard, SGA or just want to have coffee and chat, feel free to email me at jab2262@barnard.edu

So enjoy NSOP, take full advantage of the seemingly awkward events because the people sitting next to you may be your closest friends for the next four years, and I can’t wait to see all of you on campus!

SGA Accomplishments 2010-11

  • Greek Life Recognition- After holding a campus wide survey, SGA voted to recognize and fund Greek life on campus.
  • Campus Wide Smoking Ban- working with the administration and with the support of students on campus, SGA instituted a campus wide smoking ban.
  • Consitutional Review- Every three years, an SGA committee is formed to review the current SGA constitution and make any necessary changes. This year’s committee established several new SGA committees including the SGA Programming Committee and Student Art Committee and instituted several policy changes.
  • Thanksgiving with Alumni- In an effort to connect current Barnard students with Alumnae, SGA established the “Thanksgiving with Alumni” program which paired Barnard students with alumnae living in the New York area to spend Thanksgiving with.
  • Return of the Greek Games- SGA, in collaboration with McAC and with the full support of the college offices, organized the return of the Greek Games, one of Barnard’s most beloved traditions. Check out pictures from the event.

Greetings from Nate Levick, President of ESC

Class of 2015, welcome to your new home! Welcome to New York City, welcome to Morningside Heights, and most importantly, welcome to Columbia! We all may be from different backgrounds, but as Columbians, we all share a home here on our lovely campus. The Engineering Student Council welcomes you and wishes you the best of luck in embarking on this exciting new journey in your life. You will experience so many thrilling opportunities and meet so many great people here at Columbia, especially during your first few weeks! Know that there will always be a huge network of support for you along this journey, including the Engineering Student Council. We will be here to represent our students, listen to your voices, and work to provide you with the best experience possible. So, welcome to your new home. Welcome to your new best friends. Welcome to new opportunities around every turn. And again, most importantly, welcome to Columbia!


Representative Democracy, We Got That: 2011 Edition

Alexander Hamilton, an alum, founded SGA.

Bright young things: in the next few weeks you will be introduced to a dizzying array of organizations, acronyms, slang, and food trucks. Bwog knows it can be difficult to keep track, so to ease your bureaucracy-induced agitation is Bwog’s CCSC correspondent Brian Wagner, here to untangle the web that is Columbia’s undergraduate student government.

The Senate and The Councils

Columbia University Senate

The Senate is Columbia’s überlegislature, and a testament to the fact that we were the first University with a formal bureaucracy. The unwieldy body represents “faculty, students, and other constituencies.” The plenary meetings of the Senate take place roughly once per month throughout the academic year.

Hyperbole aside, here are the cold hard facts: The Senate has 108 voting seats, with 63 reserved for faculty, 24 for students, 6 for officers of research, 2 each for administrative staff, librarians, and alumni, and 9 for senior administrators including the president, who chairs monthly plenaries.

Action on the Senate floor may not seem as immediate as that in meetings of your Student Council (or Government Association—hey Barnard!), but these heirs of Webster and Calhoun get to weigh in on some of the Columbia community’s most pressing issues: from the lively and sometimes rowdy return of ROTC to the much-discussed-outside-Butler smoking ban, the budget-monitoring resolution on fringe benefits for university officers, and “rules governing political demonstrations.”


New ABC Board Elected

Yesterday, the new ABC executive board was elected! The ABC funds (non-political, -spiritual, or -activist) student groups on campus. It’s the opposite of SGB. Winners are below. Congratulations! Start groveling for money folks.

  • President: Daniel Brown, CC ’12
  • VP: John O’Shea, CC ’13
  • Treasurer: Chloe Ruan, SEAS ’13
  • Secretary: Christine Byun, CC ’14
Freshpeople Vote Kiwis

The class of ’14 has spoken: The Kiwi Krew swept the first year elections, except for Cristal James who took one of the Rep spots, displacing Jessica Eaton. Stay tuned for the official numbers.

From Kiwi rep, Daphne Chen: “Speaking for myself I can promise that I am actually genuine about trying to make this year better for Columbia College students.  I can’t make anyone believe that, but just speaking for myself.”

SGA Roundup: Post-Housing

Bwog’s dedicated SGA Correspondent Caitlin Lynch reports from last night’s proceedings, primarily concerned with the improved housing selection process, areas of further improvement, and summer renovations.

Annie Aversa, Associate Dean of Campus and Residential Life came to discuss changes in Barnard housing.

  • This year, instead of waiting on different lines for different buildings, the process was streamlined so students could go to one desk, where they were faced with a computer screen that displayed which rooms were available to them in all dorms. There was also a large screen in the middle of Lewis Parlor, which gave live coverage of which rooms were picked.
  • Concerns were raised about difficulties finding suites for smaller groups of three and four. The possibility of “exclusion suites,” which Columbia has, to encourage inter-class interaction without disadvantaging upperclassmen with a lower classman’s low lottery number was discussed.
  • There was a movement rename the “Guaranteed Waitlist” the less worrisome “You’ll-Find-Out-Later”, since last year, everyone on this got housing.
  • Turning to the issue of summer housing, the high cost of the third interim of summer housing in August was explained as necessary due to the costs of running the residences. Those working for faculty or in Barnard programs need only pay a one-off application fee.

Complete report after the jump (more…)

SGA Roundup: Library issues

Bwog’s brand new SGA correspondent Caitlin Lynch reports from last night’s proceedings

The main topic of discussion for the evening was the possible renovation of the Barnard Library, which could start as early as this summer. Dean Lisa Norberg, Dean of Libraries, led the discussion. As she was not involved in the structuring of this year’s budget, her changes will not be taking place this semester. Topics addressed include:

  • 24 hour study space: The Library will be open for 24 hours during Reading Week and Finals. There is no chance of extending regular library hours this semester. However this is a priority for budgeting and scheduling next year.
  • Consistency throughout libraries: Dean Norberg expressed an interest in creating more consistency in Barnard and Columbia library policies, particularly regarding circulation times, and technology to provide access to archives. (more…)
Student Gov Roundup: College Days, Study Days, and Puppies!

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s…the latest news from Student Government!

CCSC: VP for Campus Life Deysy Ordonez outlined the much-anticipated schedule for College Days, the CC version of E-Week, which will start April 9. Among the highlights: all College Days events, including King’s Ball, will be completely free, Tuesday will see a live broadcast of Glee on Low Plaza, and, since College Days overlaps with Restaurant Week, the council has negotiated special low prices during the week for Columbia students.

After the free food-induced applause died down, the council received updates on Gender Neutral Housing and Study Days. VP for Policy Sarah Weiss told the council, “”I was disappointed, and I know my [policy] committee was disappointed” at the administration’s decision to delay Gender Neutral Housing for a year, adding that some administrators may have suggested more support for this than they actually gave.

Academic calendar update and ESC after the jump! (more…)

Student Gov Roundup: Who Needs VPs?

The latest from the (now slightly more dangerous) world of student government.

ESC: Rather than bask in the victorious silly-string attack on CCSC at the latter’s board meeting, ESC focused on electing a new VP for Policy. Two candidates ran for the position – sophomore Ben Yi and junior Eric Hirani, who has served as the Alumni Affairs representative. Both candidates presented themselves as informed students and experienced in pushing policies in student government, but, after a discussion, the council had too many abstentions to elect either candidate, and, in a stunning upset, neither candidate was elected. However, sources on council explained to Bwog after the meeting that “policy committee can function without a VP policy, and as of now, it is… Everyone is still working on their initiatives.” Basically, the council does not plan to fill the vacancy.

UPDATE: A representative from ESC’s Executive Board contacted Bwog to clarify that the council will still hold another election and will still seek to fill the position, though another ESC source told Bwog it is unlikely the council will find an individual with enough experience to jump in and effectively run the policy committee for the next two months.

CCSC: After falling victim to ESC’s vicious attack, CCSC cleaned itself up and got down to further discussion of how to address the Study Day crunch for future academic calendars. The council remains undecided on which specific steps to take, though – options include restructuring Election Day weekend, shifting around the semester start date, and holding exams on weekends. VP for Finance Nuriel Moghavem also formally introduced the application for Individual Funding Grants, for students to pursue their own individual projects. Applications are due on March 1, with CCSC publicizing the grants up until then.

- JCD & SVZ, photo via Flickr

Student Gov Roundup: Burnt Salmon Berets

We’re not sure how much Prince had to do with the creation of the Diana, but colored berets are definitely involved. This week’s report:

CCSC: Last night’s meeting began with some healthy self-analysis and critique, with the council noting their difficulties (As well as successes) in collaborating on policy and events with ESC–there was even a case study involved.  Communication and collaboration between the two councils, naturally, was announced as the chief goal moving into the spring semester. (more…)

Student Gov Roundup: Casino Night and Laser Tag!

A new semester, new parties, new ideas, and even a new building – here’s what’s going on in student government:

CCSC: Casino Night (this Thursday from 8-12) will include several big prizes, including a PlayStation 3 and an Asus notebook. More importantly, ticket prices have been cut in half to $5, and there will be more tables this year, including some in the seniors-only alcohol area. Senior members of CCSC threw up their hands in celebration at that last news item. In other party news, Glass House Rocks will this year include the all-time classic known as “laser tag” in Roone.

New policy initiatives included VP for Policy Sarah Weiss introducing a new financial aid initiative, including an awareness week, meetings with administrators, and educating students about living thriftly at Columbia. The council also passed the “Columbia College Honorary Lecture Series” proposal, setting up a speaker series primarily for undergrads, and tabled a proposal setting up conversations and town halls about the Core Curriculum until members have had more time to read the proposal.

The meeting closed with an update from University Senator Alex Frouman on the academic calendar proposals in front of the Senate. While Frouman expressed doubt that next year’s calendar will change, he was a little more optimistic about the structure about the shape of the next version academic calendar, which would start in 2015. Student members of the Senate have coalesced around a proposal to begin school on the first Monday of September, rather than the Tuesday after Labor Day. (more…)