usenate Archive

May

4

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Marc Heinrich (1)USenator, Loyal Friend, and feckless comment-reader Marc Heinrich wants to endow you procrastinators with some wisdom. He talks work-life balance, leadership, and asbestos, among other topics. Check out our other wisdoms for more ruminations.

Name, School, Major, Hometown: Marc Heinrich, Columbia College, Political Science & History, New York, NY

Claim to fame: University Senator, AEPi Brother, semester-long EIC of the Undergraduate Law Review, Proud Bacardi Enthusiast, Sofia Vergara fan (I once woke up at 5:30 am to see her)

Where are you going? Moving to Washington D.C. and going into consulting (I know, shocking coming from Columbia).

What are 3 things you learned at Columbia and would like to share with the Class of 2020?

1. Be a Good and Loyal Friend. I really can’t stress this one enough, and I always try to remember this as I interact with people. If someone you’re close to needs help, you should drop everything to do so. Your paper can wait and you can come back early from whatever bar you’re at (hopefully not 1020), but being there for the people you care about is really the most important personality trait someone can have. It’s also what separates a regular friendship from one who will truly mean a lot to you past Columbia. The only times I’ve ever stayed up past 5am at Columbia have been to help friends with issues they were having and I’ve never once regretted it.

More wiz after the jump

Apr

30

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Deep in thought

Deep in thought

PrezBo began the last University Senate plenary of the year with a collection of remarks on current events.

On the passing of Bill Campbell

“There was no more dedicated alumn of Columbia than Bill,” said PrezBo about the long-time Columbia trustee who died recently. “He really knew how to make organizations work,” said PrezBo. “When it came to making things happen and protecting me and the institution, there was just nobody better.”

PrezBo attended a memorial service for Campbell on Monday in Palo Alto (Campbell was involved in Silicon Valley), and he asked for a moment of silence at the plenary.

On Manhattanville

“On May 2nd, I’ll send out a statement saying that on May 2nd 1896, Morningside Heights campus was dedicated, and we are now beginning the process of dedicating the new campus in Manhattanville, and this will go on all through next year, as we begin to move into the buildings,” said PrezBo about his Manhattanville plants.

The Mind, Brain, and Behavior Institute, the Lenfest Center for the Arts, and the forum building “will all be completed in the next year and a half,” according to PrezBo.

What about the freaking statue

Apr

4

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Petition to rename Low Steps "Silly Mountain Park"

Petition to rename Low Steps “Silly Mountain Park”

Your friendly neighborhood CCSC reporter (Joe Milholland) tackled a USenate meeting this past weekend. He reports on important updates about university Rules of Conduct, particularly with respect to media coverage of campus events, as well as other updates.

“We’re turning into an athletic powerhouse,” PrezBo said at Friday’s University Senate Plenary, earning him a round of applause. Look below for more laugh-lines from PrezBo – but first, some Rules of University Conduct Updates.

First of all, the Executive Committee of the Senate has appointed the first ever Appeals Board. The Chair will be Dean Peter Awn of GS, with Dean Christian Stohler of the College of Dental Medecine and Dean Jeanette Takamura of the School of Social Work as the members under him. The alternates are Dean Mary Boyce of SEAS and Dean Stephen Coll of the J-School.

Second, two members from the Rules Committee – Logan Wright and Angela Nelson – discussed their work with a law professor to educate members of the judicial board, both new and returning, on the rules of conduct.

They also are working on a set of guidelines on the rules of conduct. These guidelines are an “evolving document that [is] used to outline the history of the rules and the policies that are going into the rules that are going to be applied,” according to Wright.

More about these new rules after the jump

Apr

3

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Despite the erratic progression of this year’s student council elections process, Bwog believes we have finally reached a time of peace. In this calm before tomorrow’s 10AM election storm, we would like to take the time to endorse both Jay Rappaport, CC ’18, and Josh Schenk, CC ’19, for the two open Columbia College University Senator positions. After many discussions with our staff and the candidates, we feel fully confident in our decision to support these two candidates in their political endeavors at Columbia, and look forward to the many improvements they can bring to the university in the upcoming year.

From our meetings with Jay Rappaport, we saw someone with the level of passion and spirit needed to be able to effect positive change through Columbia’s (often-times) uncompromising administrative body. Jay’s platform focuses on the themes of opportunity and access, two critical topics of discussion on this campus in the past year. From making our campus more accessible for students with disabilities, to improving the availability of mental health resources, Jay has both practical and necessary goals in mind that we hope to see him accomplish on the University Senate. Jay’s experience as a Senate Staffer and on the CCSC Communications Committee only further convince us of his ability to make good use of his knowledge of Columbia’s student government system.

In his brief eight months at Columbia, Josh Schenk has accomplished more than most of us have since we gave up in high school. Serving as the President of Columbia College’s Class of 2019, Josh oversaw multiple social and policy changes for the College. From planning and implementing both a formal and a winter informal dance, various study breaks, and a 2019 Instagram page, to securing air-conditioning in residence hall lounges and creating Columbia Peer Connect (a mentorship program between first-year students and sophomores), Josh has already illustrated his laudable ability to work with administrators and achieve goals for his fellow classmates. Bwog expects Josh will maintain the high level of momentum  gained in his first year at Columbia over the course of his University Senator term.

Regardless of which candidates you decide to vote for, we the Managing Board of Bwog hope you embrace your civic duty and vote in this year’s student council elections!

Sincerely,

Mason Amelotte, Editor-in-Chief

Maddie Stearn, Managing Editor

Photos via Jay Rappaport for USenate and Josh Schenk for USenate

Mar

4

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Online_Survey_IconThis week, the University Senate Student Affairs Committee released the 2015 Quality of Life Survey. At the last USenate plenary, the SAC discussed the populations most dissatisfied with Columbia, including students with disabilities, transgender/genderqueer students, and low-income students.

Now that the entire survey is available, we’re sharing some of the highlights. Of course, if you want more than the SparkNotes version, you can delve into all 85 pages of the report yourself.

(Note: All emphasis is our own.)

  • PhD students were significantly more satisfied with funding than undergrad and grad students.
  • In the academics section, students were least satisfied with their academic advisors. “Many shared that their advisors were irrelevant to their academic planning and overall academic experience. Others said their advisors weren’t knowledgeable about the specifics of their major, degree, or interest area, and thus could not advise them adequately.”
  • There was a positive, linear trend between wealth and satisfaction with social life at Columbia.
  • In response to questions about safety, the survey found “little significant difference among ethnicity groups, but many anecdotal responses spoke to Black, Latinx, and Muslim populations being unfairly targeted by Public Safety officers.”

Surprising and unsurprising info after the jump

Feb

28

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Online_Survey_Icon

In case you forgot what a survey looks like

Quality of Life Survey

At Friday’s University Senate Plenary, four student senators – Marc Heinrich (Columbia College), Ramis Wadood (Columbia College), Emily Moore (SEAS Grad Students), and Grace Kelley (Nursing School) – gave an in-depth presentation on the quality of life survey sent out last year. General information has already been distributed by the Senate, but the presentation at Friday’s plenary focused on key areas of concern from the data.

Forty-one percent of the respondents to the survey were male, 58% were female, and 1% were transgender/genderqueer. Most aspects of quality of life that students rated high-priority also had high satisfaction ratings, with the major exception of funding.

Students with disabilities – The senators noted significantly lower rates of satisfaction and significantly higher rates of self-reported discrimination among disabled students. Eight percent of the survey respondents self-identified as disabled and 54% of those students said they received disability services. Kelley said these numbers mean that a lot of disabled students are not receiving disability services, and she said that disabled students had neutral satisfaction towards these services.

On average, disabled students reported around 14 days of mental health problems, whereas non-disabled students reported only around 7 days. Students with disabilities also reported higher numbers of days where they felt anxiety, experienced depression, and did not get enough sleep.

In order to help disabled students, the student senators recommended increasing accessibility within the Morningside Heights campus; improving communications between disabled students, their professors, and Disability Services; and improved accessibility information when events are advertised. The Senate has created a subcommittee focused on students with disabilities.

Moving onto the topic of mental health…

Feb

17

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We're looking forward to more space!

We’re looking forward to more space!

USenate doesn’t send updates too often, so we were surprised by their recent email detailing ongoing policy discussions. The initiatives mentioned were increasing space for students (for studying and clubs) as some schools begin to move uptown, a revamping of course evaluation protocol, and a mention of the movement to commemorate the Lenape peoples with a plaque on campus. Additionally, the email expressed support for the Lion Credit Union Initiative, calling it a “fantastic opportunity.” There wasn’t much in the way of specifics, probably because most of the discussions are in early stages yet, but we look forward to seeing how these proposed changes will be implemented, especially regarding the expansion of student space.

Read the full email after the jump!

Feb

10

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The Student Affairs Committee (SAC) of the University Senate announced changes today to the Interschool Governing Board (IGB), the organization that funds groups composed of both undergrads and grad students.

With these changes, a member of SAC will set on the executive board of the IGB. “Other key constitutional revisions include adding a graduate administrator to better advise graduate-heavy groups, a focus on graduate student representation in club recognition criteria, and stricter guidelines for notifying student groups of their recognition status and funding availability,” the statement reads.

If you’re interested in being part of the IGB, the statement prompts you to contact your senator (Sean Ryan, Ramis Wadood, and Marc Heinrich for Columbia College; Jillian Ross for SEAS; Katherine Celentano for GS; and Erin Bryk for Barnard College).

Full statement after the jump!

Feb

6

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240px-Smoking_area.svg

USenate has a special affection(?) for the Smoking Policy.

Joe Milholland, Governmental Bwogger Extraordinaire, attended the USenate plenary this week. An unexpectedly wide range of topics came up, making for some interesting takeaways. But, of course, how can one have a USenate plenary without mentioning the Smoking Policy?

The University Senate had a plenary on Friday, and several smaller topics came up. Here they are, followed by two policy updates:

  • After a moment of silence for the Columbia students killed and injured in the Global Brigades trip to Honduras, PrezBo said that the university’s response was “just outstanding.” PrezBo singled out Samuel Seward, Robert Gristo, and Kavita Sharma, who flew to Honduras as quickly as possible once they heard the news.
  • Columbia College Senator Ramis Wadood said the Student Affairs Committee will release the student quality of life report in a week to a week and a half. He also said that SAC has voted to support a plaque that indicates Columbia is built on land once lived on by the Lenape people.
  • The university’s faculty have been taking a quality of life survey of their own, and, according to Sharyn O’Halloran, 33% of faculty completed it. O’Halloran will provide highlights from the surrey’s data on April 1 and will have more detailed info on April 29. O’Halloran also said that a quality of life survey for research officers is being rolled out this semester.
  • A proposal to give non-tenured faculty “longer notice periods for any decisions not to renew their appointments” was presented and discussed. The proposal passed unanimously, although one senator worried this might lead the university to hire more part-time faculty.

Smoking Policy

  • The Smoking Policy – a perennial University Senate topic – reared its head once more from the deepest, darkest depths of Columbia policy discussion. Specifically, Research Officer Senator Daniel Savin asked for an update, saying, “Walking around campus, it really doesn’t seem as if there’s been any change in the amount of smoking or the location of smoking.”
  • “This is my favorite topic,” said O’Halloran in response. “I will simply say I too have noticed those issues. We have an implementation committee. They will be coming back to us next year with an assessment of whether this has worked or not.” She thanked Savin for his input.

The Institute for Ideas and Imagination

  • A resolution to establish an Institute for Ideas and Imagination passed unanimously. The institute, located at the Global Center in Reid Hall, Paris, would house 14 fellows from humanities-related fields – 7 from Columbia’s faculty and 7 from around the world (not necessarily university faculty).
  • “Broadly speaking, the idea is this: America has probably the best universities in the world,” said Senator Mark Mawozar. “Nevertheless, they’ve benefited in various ways from a period of world history – about 50 or 60 years – when America has been the unchallenged hegemon. And that can lead to a certain kind of intellectual inertia, in which you assume, within your field, or your discipline, or your subject, that you know exactly what’s knowledge and how it should be defined and what’s mainstream and what’s not. And the world’s changing now, pretty fast.”

Nov

21

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Maybe one day we'll stop investing in fossil fuels!

Maybe one day we’ll stop investing in fossil fuels!

PrezBo’s Defense of Affirmative Action and Discussion of Columbia’s Racial Policy

At the beginning of Friday’s University Senate plenary, PrezBo gave a long speech about racism and the university’s role therein. His speech was historical in nature, starting with the Supreme Court decision Brown vs. The Board of Education, which struck down segregated public schooling as unconstitutional. After that decision, PrezBo said, “basically” every college in the US embraced affirmative action policies, as well as corporations and the government.

However, PrezBo went on, in the late 1980’s these ideas began to be attacked under the Reagan administration, and a challenge to the University of Texas’s Law School’s affirmative action policies succeeded in the Supreme Court. Later, Proposition 209 to California’s constitution got rid of affirmative action, and, according to PrezBo, the University of California is now 2.5% African-American (it was higher before Prop 209, he said).

Find out more about USenate discourse after the jump

Oct

23

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Today, Columbia. Tomorrow, the world.

Today, Columbia. Tomorrow, the world.

On this fine October afternoon, Bwogger Joe Milholland treks across campus to a spicy USenate meeting, in which everything from low income students to transgender rights were discussed.

PrezBo On Rules Administrator In University Life Rather Than Provost’s Office

“Within the administration, this was a completely obvious decision,” said PrezBo at this Friday’s University Senate Plenary about the controversial movement of the Rules Administrator form the Provost’s Office to the Office of University Life, which Suzanne Goldberg heads. Goldberg will serve as the rules administrator. PrezBo in his comments, which were prompted by a question from Graduate Senator for the Humanities Andrea Crow, said that both Goldberg and Provost John Coatsworth supported the change.

“It makes complete sense to take something like the rules administrator, which is overseeing the ways in which the rules are functional, and have it with somebody who’s looking all the time at students and their concerns and their issues,” said PrezBo, as he argued for this change.

Read more after the jump!

May

2

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But how will they protect Bwoggers??

But how will they protect Bwoggers??

Observer of the student bureaucracy Joe Milholland brings us word from the most recent meeting of the University Senate.

On Tuesday afternoon, 63 university senators approved changes to the rules of conduct, with one abstention and no opposing votes. The new rules of conduct, among other things, put all rules violations in a single internal process heard by a board consisting of students, faculty, and administrators. Christopher Riano, co-chair of the committee that wrote the changes, said at the senate plenary that the changes brought Columbia in “parity” with peer institutions on this issue.

Riano emphasized that he believed that the changes, while not perfect, were an improvement, and he indicated the rules could go under further revision. Prezbo asked him about how the rules treat media, and Riano responded that the rules have few provisions specifically for the media “because it’s very hard to identify press and non-press.” Columbia College senator Marc Heinrich suggested that future revisions of the rules could provide a media carveout. The rules revisions will go through the Board of Trustees before they are voted on.

Katherine Conway, a member of the Commission on the Status of Women, also gave a presentation on the commission’s recent work and findings at the plenary, specifically on the Arts and Sciences. “Basically, humanities and social sciences are at or near – and by that I mean within 10% of – parity in everything except for the tenure faculty body,” Conway said. The tenured faculty, however, have been the same or gone down lately for the humanities and social sciences. “Natural sciences has a different story where they have the lowest representation of women on the tenured faculty, but they have gone on an uptick recently in part through tenuring of the untenured track. But they are much further from parity currently in the untenured and have a particularly pronounced dip in the percent of untenured faculty.”

Conway also noted that more women come into the tenured faculty through internal rather than external hire, except for in social sciences. “It’s going to take natural sciences on the order of 80 years to come to parity if we maintain this trend. Social sciences is more like fifty years, and humanities is on track to be at parity in ten years. That’s assuming the plateau they’ve been in for the last few years doesn’t continue.”

The Commission recommended that Columbia collect more data, such as on the work life of women at Columbia and their quality of life. They also recommended in their report “a continued focus on diversity in hiring” as well as a greater focus of retaining women in Columbia’s academic pipeline.

Updates:

  • Co-Chair of the Student Affairs Committee Zila Acosta announced the accomplishments of the President’s Advisory Committee on Sexual Assault (PACSA): they clarified “their mission and purpose,” improved their internal organization, created a “robust” system to solicit feedback
  • A Columbia admins said that the administration will “came to some reasonable conclusions that we will work on next year” about anonymous comments on course evaluations and title IX investigations.

Accurate depiction of campus journalism via Shutterstock

Apr

8

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Columbia_University_-_Low_Memorial_Library-DYesterday, the University Senate’s Student Affairs Committee elected this year’s Chair and Vice-Chairs–Marc Heinrich (CC ’16) will serve as Chair of the committee, and Emily Moore (SEAS Graduate School) and Ramis Wadood (CC ’16) will serve as Vice-Chairs. You can read the full press release below:

Student Affairs Committee Elects Leadership for 2015-2016 Academic Year

NEW YORK, April 7, 2013 [sic]–The Student Affairs Committee (SAC) of the Columbia University Senate elected Marc Heinrich (CC ’16) to serve as Chair in the next academic year and Emily Moore (SEAS Graduate School) and Ramis Wadood (CC ’16) as Vice-Chairs. As the three senators on the SAC Executive Committee, Marc, Emily, and Ramis will set SAC’s agenda, lead the student senator caucus, and serve as three of the 13 members of the Senate Executive Committee.

SAC comprises the 25-elected student senators and observers within the Columbia University Senate. As a committee of the University Senate, SAC is the only body that comprehensively represents 36,000 students across all 20 constituent and affiliated schools of Columbia University. With its broad mandate and unique position, SAC takes an active role in university governance.

“We are honored to have been elected to lead SAC next year. It’s been a pleasure to work with SAC this year and we have consistently been impressed by the work from each senator on our committee. We plan to continue to improve SAC and ensure it serves as an effective advocate for students across the University and look forward to addressing a wide range of initiatives in the coming year,” said Marc, Emily, and Ramis in a statement.

Mar

30

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Tonight, the Columbia University Senate’s Student Affairs Committee (SAC) voted to support Columbia’s divestment from private prisons. Various groups on campus, particularly Columbia Prison Divest, have already urged President Bollinger to divest from private prisons before tonight’s vote. The SAC consists of 25 elected student senators and represents Columbia’s 20 schools and affiliates. Their press release, which can be found below, calls for President Bollinger to recognize student support for divestment, direct the divestment of shares, and announce the divestment decision.

Nov

21

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PrezBo's thoughts of freedom of speech at Columbia

PrezBo’s thoughts of freedom of speech at Columbia

It’s a big year for Columbia; holding all the town halls and working on changes for many different ways in which the school operates. Joe Milholland, our trusted Columbia Administration reporter, gives us the talking points from Thursday’s USenate Plenary.

“I know there’s a debate about freedom of speech on the campus,” said PrezBo at Thursday’s USenate Plenary as he gave his opening remarks. While admitting that “the first amendment does not apply to Columbia – it’s a private institution,” he also said he wants to “embrace” freedom of speech “as defined by the first amendment” on campus. Prezbo wants rules that are “consistent with the history of Columbia, consistent with our values, consistent with where other great universities are at this point.”

Prezbo said that sexual assault on campus is “a set of issues we want to attend to in all their dimensions.” Law School student senator Zila Acosta said that PACSA will give a report to the senate in Spring. “One of the things we’re looking at is what type of info the senate would like to see from PACSA,” she said. Columbia College Usenator Marc Heinrich is on the Forum Subcommittee, which focuses on how PACSA “is going to be communicating with the community” to make sure voices from the community are heard, and the Communication Subcommittee, which focuses on communicating to the community what PACSA is doing.

Other Updates:

  • Christopher Riano, co-chair of the rules of conduct committee, said that he has heard from the three town halls so far, “a strong desire for the committee to decide to undergo a review and rewriting of” the rules of university conduct. “The committee will most likely decide at our next meeting on a vote on whether we will engage in writing proposals for the rules of university conduct; however, I can never promise that because I am only one of 15 members,” Riano said.
  • Epidemiology professor Ian Lipkin from the School of Public Health gave a talk about Ebola and Columbia. He wants to continue research in west Africa on infectious diseases, and he mentioned that, in his time doing research at Columbia, Columbia’s been involved in 10 infectious diseases. It takes three days for the Ebola virus to become detectable. There is no cure, only supportive treatment to prevent live and kidney failure. Columbia has held a design contest to combat Ebola. Eight of the submissions received an initial fund of $150 and were given more money later.
  • Howard Worman, Chair of the Committee on External Relations, told the senate that, in real dollars, funding has been flat from ’09-’13. This is about a 10% drop in funding when accounting for inflation. The university is lobbying the federal government for more funding money. In some departments, much of the money comes from funding. He also mentioned that “the committee seemed a little bit burned out on smoking policy.”

Beautiful campus view via Shutterstock

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