#usenate
SAC Co-Chairs Announced
Acosta

Acosta

The Student Affairs Committee of the University Senate just announced its two new co-chairs for the 2014-2015 academic year—a law student (and CC alum) and a B-School student. Matthew Chou, CC ’14, and Akshay Shah, SEAS ’14, have served for the past year as co-chairs. You can read the press release and the platform they ran on below.

Fun stuff below the jump!

Update From PrezBo On Sexual Assault
"So, here are the updates"

“So, here are the updates”

PrezBo wants us to know he’s serious about handling our concerns about sexual assault. In addition to his previous letter stating his commitment to addressing sexual assault on campus, he sent out this letter giving the following updates on the administration’s progress:

  • PrezBo will create a new administrative position, the Executive Vice President for Student Affairs, who will report directly to PrezBo about issues like sexual assault.
  • The University Senate has passed a resolution which will increase student representation on the President’s Advisory Committee for Sexual Assault.
  • The deans will hold more public forums and respond to the concerns raised at the first one.
  • The administration will improve access and confidentiality for the Rape and Crisis Support Center.
  • Also, it’s Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and there are lots of events coming up.

PrezBo’s letter (bolding by Bwog):

Dear fellow members of the Columbia community:

I am writing to offer an update on the progress we’re making in addressing the issues involving sexual assault at the University. There are many complex problems to resolve, so this will not be the last letter or communication I (or others) will write on the subject. It seems better to provide periodic statements about what we’re doing, which, besides showing that things are happening, brings the added benefit of supporting an ongoing discussion within the community.

I want to begin, as I tried to do in my letter earlier in the semester, with the clearest possible statement that we are just not going to tolerate sexual abuse and assault at Columbia. Everything we are doing and will do must be with the purpose of reducing this misconduct to zero.

So, here are the updates:

Get the updates

USenate: PACSA, QoL and ASCRI
But otherwise it was not this empty.

PrezBo was late. Awkward.

Yesterday’s University Senate plenary was packed with action and acronyms. We sent Low Lover Maud Rozee to observe.

PrezBo missed the first half of the plenary because he was at an event congratulating donors on the success of the capital campaign. His absence stymied the “Questions for the President” part of the agenda, which is too bad because there would’ve been some interesting questions about Columbia’s investment in private prisons and fossil fuels. PrezBo apologized for his tardiness.

1. Report from the Advisory Committee of Socially Responsible Investing (ACSRI):

  • ACSRI is a committee of neutral experts which advises the trustees of a university on what they should divest from, and how they should vote in various proxy votes which are brought up by the companies they are invested in.
  • Currently, Columbia is in the process of divesting from companies which fuel conflict in Sudan, as well as tobacco companies.
  • ACSRI tries to get input from students through collaboration with certain courses, as well as events like an upcoming panel discussion on fossil fuel divestment, which will be held on Monday, April 7th from 7:00-9:00 pm in Earl Hall. The panel is cosponsored by ACSRI and Barnard Columbia Divest for Climate Justice (BCD).
  • Columbia College Senator Jared Odessky brought up the concern that there was no opportunity for BCD to have a conversation with ACSRI, or the panelists. The ACSRI representative responded that there would be 60 minutes of Q & A after the discussion.

Info about the Quality-of-Life survey and PACSA after the jump

The People Have Spoken: Elections Results

democrat_vs_republican_on_white[1]

the debates earlier this week, kinda

After a fierce few days of campaigning, riveting debates, and more Facebook notifications than you’d like, student government elections results are in, courtesy of the Columbia Elections Board.

Here’s the link to the full elections results with percentages of the vote included. We’ve pasted the winners below.

Most notably, TAP won most of the CCSC E-Board, Wadood and Ross will enter the University Senate, and the LCUI and sandwich ambassador ballot initiatives passed.

Voter turnout increased 25% from last year, and the candidate turnout increased by 35%. However, the ESC’s voter turnout percentages were much lower than last year, presumably because the E-Board went uncontested. For all you haters out there, elections results may be contested for the next 24 hours.

CCSC

CCSC Executive Board President & VP Policy

  • Peter Bailinson and Sejal Singh (TAP)

CCSC Executive Board VP Finance

  • Michael Li (Insight)

CCSC Executive Board VP Communications

  • Abby Porter (TAP)

CCSC Executive Board VP Campus Life

  • Andrew Ren (TAP)

CCSC University Senator

  • Ramis Wadood

CCSC Academic Affairs Representative

  • Grayson Warrick

More CCSC, ESC, and GSSC below the jump.

CC USenate Position: Who’s The Fiercest Of Them All?

We’re not usually in the business of endorsements, but, then again, this year the CC University Senator position has already taken us on on a roller coaster of emotions. To scientifically choose who we would endorse for the seat, we photoshopped the candidates’ faces onto Roaree in the wild. Sadly, some just couldn’t measure up to what our school needs. For the CC USenate position, we endorse:

rawr!

Ramis Wadood, CCSC 2016 President for the past two years, and current Senate Staffer.

From the debates and our meeting with him, we can see that Ramis has the experience working in the University Senate and with its members to actually effect change. His work as a Senate staffer would allow him to be practical about what can be accomplished in the Senate—as his opponents have run on platforms for initiatives that are already being pursued or aren’t practical at the moment—yet “innovative,” as we see in his platform below.

Frankly, it’s disheartening to see candidates argue that the QOL survey doesn’t do much, when it has already helped drive the creation of gender-neutral bathrooms in Lerner and other buildings. Sure, surveys are worthless if you stare at them, but they both find problems and provide the statistics to back up student initiatives that Low administrators hold so dear to their heart. We like that Ramis was a key part of this QOL Survey, and know he is capable of helping out again next year in the creation of the second survey. Ramis considers the survey to be a strong tool for student advocacy, and we agree. The cold façade of Low can’t ignore public data, and can be won over, as we have seen, when facts and stories are spotlighted.

We support Ramis’ platform, which we outline below (see our elections guide for a more detailed platform):

  • CPS inadequacies
    • Finding a safe and central location for after-hours services, with disability access
    • Clinician training; increasing support for LGBTQ and minority students
    • Interim measures, like more accessible locations and raising awareness
  • Financial aid for international students
  • Cross-registration

As we’ve shown above, Ramis would also wear the Roaree suit best, and that’s what we want in our University Senator.

USenate Student Affairs Committee Releases Results Of Quality Of Life Survey
datatastic

datatastic

Last April, the USenate Student Affairs Committee (SAC), led by Senators Matthew Chou and Akshay Shah, sent out Columbia’s first-ever University-wide Quality of Life survey. The survey garnered over 6,250 responses (a response rate of 17.1%) to questions about financial aid, housing, academics, adminstration, health services, and other wellness issues. Now, (almost a year later) SAC has released the final result: a report of analysis and conclusions about the Quality of Life Survey’s data.

The most pertinent results:

The whole report is a whopping 84 pages long, so the SAC kindly made up a presentation of the most interesting and urgent results. You can read the whole report here and find the presentation here.

The survey found that, overall, on a scale of -3 (“very dissatisfied”), 0 (“neutral”), and 3 (“very satisfied”), Columbia students are 0.87 satisfied. What does this mean? Well, maybe one way to think of it is that if Deantini asked all of us to donate three dollars to our Senior Funds, we would actually donate only 0.87 dollars. Or maybe if we were asked to sing three rounds of Roar Lion Roar at a football game, most of us would stop after “sons of Knickerbocker rally ’round”. Probably both of those are bad ways to think about it, though.

So many results.

USenate Update On Sexual Assault Policy And Town Hall

Update (12:01 am): The @CUSenate has released information about the town hall meeting.   See it below the jump.

In a press release this afternoon, the Columbia College delegates to the University Senate gave an update on the work they and others have been doing concerning sexual assault policy and education at Columbia.  You can see the full text of the statement after the jump.

The statement was sent along with a reminder that the town hall on Gender-Based and Sexual Misconduct will be held this Thursday from 5-6:30 pm in 103 Jerome Greene Hall with a star-studded cast of deans and university officials.  PrezBo agreed to hold a town hall meeting in response to pressure from student leaders, organizations, and the discussion created by Anna Bahr’s examination of sexual assault on campus. His statement also coincided with No Red Tape’s campaign.

The USenate has already responded to student concerns about Columbia’s sexual assault policy.  On January 26, the Student Affairs Committee on the Sexual Assault Adjudication Process released a statement calling for increased institutional transparency for issues of sexual assault.  A few days later, PrezBo, DSpar, and several university deans—including Deans Valentini, Boyce, Awn, and Martinez—all released statements expressing their commitment to this cause.

We urge our readers to take advantage of the town hall on Thursday evening, or the town hall submission form. Backing your opinions and ideas with your physical presence could effect real and significant change in campus sexual assault policy.

Here is the statement from USenators and the release from the CUSenate twitter account:

USenate: Smoking and Quality of Life
Is she less than 20 ft from a building? GET THE HANDCUFFS

Is she less than 20 ft from a building? GET THE HANDCUFFS

Yesterday the University Senate met to discuss changes to the smoking policy and the upcoming quality of life survey. Senate sidekick Maud Rozee went to get the news.

The Senate plenary started with a statement from PrezBo about how critical it is for the University to have the policies and values which view sexual assault as intolerable and unacceptable. He said that it is important for the University to be as responsive as possible to victims, in its educational programs, services and adjudication process. “My attitude is that we’ll do whatever we can to improve,” PrezBo said. He referred to the continuing review of the President’s Advisory Committee on Sexual Assault as proof of the University’s commitment to improving transparency and to listening to the needs of students. PrezBo also said that there would be a townhall on sexual assault on March 13th, from 5-7, which undergraduate deans would attend.

PrezBo then briefly mentioned his new task force on personalized medicine. Then the Chair of the senate’s Executive Committee, Sharyn O’Halloran reviewed what was said about reforming PACSA at the last plenary.

Get the latest on the smoking policy.

USenate Releases Statement on Sexual Assault Process

The USenate Twitter account just released a statement from the Student Affairs Committee (SAC) on the Sexual Assault Adjudication Process. In short, the SAC has called for:

  • President Bollinger to release a statement regarding the university’s policy on sexual assault and misconduct,
  • a town hall to act as a forum for students and faculty to speak publicly on the issue,
  • full transparency from the university regarding data related to sexual assaults and other associated violations, and
  • making the President’s Advisory Committee on Sexual Assault (PACSA) more inclusive of the student body and more transparent.

For more information about sexual assault at Columbia, see former Blue and White managing editor Anna Bahr’s (BC ’14) piece. Statement below.

Update (10:05 pm)–The SAC sent out the statement via email to Columbia College students. Matthew Chou, a co-chair of the SAC, added:

We understand this is an incredibly important issue for students, and we are dedicated to reaching solutions in partnership with the entire Columbia community. Through the Senate, we will also continue to actively pursue the implementation of the statement’s recommendations. If you have any questions or would like to get involved, please don’t hesitate to drop us a line at asksenate@columbia.edu.

Akshay Shah, also co-chair of the SAC, noted, “We feel that this is an issue that is appropriate for the University Senate to take on as it deals with a university office following a process that the university has put in place to comply with Title IX.” We’ve reached out to administration for comment and will update accordingly.

Update (1/27, 4:15 pm)–Robert Hornsby, the Associate Vice President of Media Relations, sent us this statement in response to the letter:

Sexual assault and gender-based misconduct are always unacceptable and often criminal.  The safety and well-being of every student and each member of the Columbia community is our foremost priority, and we recognize that confidence in the handling of allegations of gender-based misconduct and sexual assault is an essential part of ensuring that safety.  Over the last few months, Columbia has been reviewing its policies and procedures for the reporting, investigation, and provision of discipline in these matters.  As part of this process, the University’s Presidential Advisory Committee on Sexual Assault has been speaking with the Columbia University Student Democrats and other student leaders whose requests for the disclosure of aggregate data are under consideration.  A new website urging sexual respect in our university community was launched last week.

In the days ahead, we look forward to sharing additional steps intended to sustain our campus dialogue and to ensure that students’ voices inform the ongoing development of the university’s gender-based misconduct policies.  We therefore welcome the broad conversation occurring on campus involving Columbia’s leadership, the University Senate, Columbia University Student Democrats and a large cross-section of concerned students in the expectation that it will increase awareness and identify opportunities to improve current practices.

Be8m_y3IYAA890I

How You Livin, Columbia?
cheaper than a manhattan apartment

In mansion and Benzes?

The preliminary results from the University Senate’s much-touted Quality of Life survey were released this weekend.  Bwog looked at numbers so you don’t have to, and here’s what we found interesting:

Note: all results are based on the pool of people who responded, so data is not representative of entire student body but rather the 17.29% of students from the entire university who actually took the time to fill in answers.

  • The highest overall satisfaction across the university is with basic facilities and infrastructure: Safety, Transportation, Library, Academics, and Technology.
  • Overall, Funding, Career Prep, and Health are the most important factors with the least satisfaction.
  • Undergraduate students are negatively satisfied with the Administration–the only facet for which we have negative satisfaction (although Availability of Space comes close with a solid 0 satisfaction. We see you, performing groups.)
  • Undergraduates are much less satisfied with mental health than the rest of the university. On a scale of -.5 to 2, the average across schools is .64. For undergrads, it’s half that at .35.
  • Of the undergraduate schools, Barnard is the least likely to donate to the school, by a decent margin. On a scale of -3 to 3, they’re at .2, while SEAS is right above them at .34. Yikes? In likelihood to donate, it ranks GS, CC, SEAS, and BC.
  • Still, overall, undergraduates are more likely to donate than grad students–with the exception of the B-School. Prob cuz, you know, they make money.
  • We’re alright with Housing, but the Quality of Spaces is not as great.
  • Across the schools, there’s a huge dissatisfaction with funding, but most of that negativity comes from grad and PhD students.
  • Overall undergrads are typically more satisfied with things than PhD/grad, with the exception of Physical and Mental Health and Administration. Social (lol) and Availability of Space are slightly less satisfactory for undergrads, but doesn’t seem to be statistically significant.

Stats on peeps

CCSC: Improvements And Highlights
jaaaaaaaaa

Can we haz?

As ever, CCSC convened in the Satow Room last night for the betterment of our fine university. Bombastic Bureau Chief Joseph Milholland was on hand to report.

After the hectic excitement of the first few weeks – a new school year, the Senate election, BC divest – this week’s CCSC meeting found a groove for itself. The meeting’s first order of business was to officially vote Marc Heinrich in as a University Senator.

The council then heard from the Native American Council about a plaque to commemorate the Lenape. There are similar commemorations to historical events around campus, such as George Washington’s 1776 victory in the Battle of Harlem Heights. Dean Martinez supports the plaque, and the Native American Council got student support through a petition on Indigenous People’s Day.

Then came the inevitable round of updates. The E-board is working to improve WTF Columbia. The council congratulated the success of the pep rally and Bwog for saying that the rally “actually was a nice event.” The Class of 2014 is still working on finding a Class Day speaker and will hold an Oktoberfest for CC seniors only. The Class of 2015 will have “1200 servings” of Ben and Jerry’s for free on October 28 in Schapiro. The Class of 2016 is holding a “Major Discovery Series” on November 15 to give students info on majors. The Class of 2017 is working with other class councils on events.

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Heinrich Handily Wins USenate
Marc Heinrich

Marc Heinrich

Since CCSC backpedaled on its decision not to hold elections for the University Senate opening, 36% of you voted. Results below. 

1. Marc Heinrich took the USenate seat with 394 votes (24.7%). Manik Uppal followed with 290 (18.2%). And in third was Samer Ozeir, current Chipotle brand ambassador, with 192 votes (12.03%).

2. Divestment ballot initiative passed with 1166 votes (73.7%).

See the full breakdown on the elections board site.

We’ve reached out to Marc for comment.His comment:

I’m honored to be elected as Columbia College’s newest University Senator. All of the candidates ran a great campaign, and I’m excited to tackle many of the issues brought up over the past few weeks. Thank you to everyone who came out to vote, and I look forward to being an accessible advocate for Columbia College.

Image via LinkedIn

Bwog Endorses Conor Skelding
nice smirk

That guy

This is something we don’t normally do, so please forgive us if we’re really awkward at it.

Bwog officially endorses Conor Skelding for University Senator. We feel that he is the most qualified for this job and is the best candidate moving forward to bring some sort of progress to the university.

We realize some may see this as a conflict of interest but, to clarify, Conor has not done (and will not do) any elections coverage and, should he be elected, will not cover any USenate-related stories aside from acting as a noted source. He also has not seen this endorsement before you did. We kind of hope we don’t embarrass him. But not really.

The thing about being a Bwogger is that you end up knowing more about campus issues than any of your non-Bwoggie friends. Being on our listservs and participating in our community immediately gives you at least a basic understanding of what’s going on at Columbia. This awareness really forces you to care about the issues and gives you a heightened, thorough understanding of the issues. You know what’s happening–but you also know why it happened, who was involved, what students and administrators think about it, and the proper way it could be fixed or better handled.

But Conor consistently takes it eight steps further than just an understanding. He has been an active member of Bwog–and thus the Columbia community at large–since he arrived on campus. He went to his first Senate plenary in his first semester of freshman year.  Conor was one of those annoying go-getters who wanted to be involved in every story at every level of significance and seriousness.

Are you hooked yet?

USenate Elections: Meet Your Candidates, Part 2

Alexander Andresian

After giving you the first half of the USenate election candidates, we present you with the rest–again in the chronological order in which we got their responses.  You can also get more of their character in our super official Debate LiveBwog.  Please also note that Cameron Demsey, who was announced in the original list, has dropped out of the race.  Are you proud of us for doing all of this campus politics elections coverage yet?

Name, school, class year: Alexander Andresian, Columbia College, 2014

What do you bring to the table? I bring experience. Having served as a member of CCSC for three years and as a senate staffer last year, I’ve seen policymaking both in the college and throughout the university. I know what channels to navigate when trying to get things done. As a senior who has immersed himself in the Columbia community, I understand what makes Columbia great and where we still can improve. Since we’re filling an unexpected vacancy, we need a senator who can hit the ground running. If you’re looking for someone who has experience in student government and in the university community, I’m your guy.

What issues do you care most about?

October 13th will mark three years since the USenate last posted on Facebook. In my view, this is unacceptable and it can be improved. In order to foster deep connections with the community, we must have strong lines of communication. That’s why I want to spearhead its digital communications strategy and revamp its website: so students know what’s going on and so they can make their voices heard. I want to work to build a USenate that is open to the community, one that asks for input and gives it the consideration it deserves. I’ll make sure that every student knows what initiatives the USenate is considering and that no decisions are made behind closed doors.

I’m also interested in improving student wellness on campus. We should use the results of the Quality of Life Survey to provide effective solutions to student wellness that are responsive to the needs and wishes of students like us. You’ve already told the USenate what works and what doesn’t; I want to help make those changes happen.

More Andresian, Skelding, Uppal, Froomkin, and Johnson

LiveBwog: USenate Debate

Welcome to the University Senate elections debate.  We will be liveblogging the proceedings as the candidates make their stand at the Satow Room in Lerner.  Learn more about half of the candidates here, we’ll have the other half for you tomorrow.

4:34: We’re hangin’ here waiting for the debate to begin.  Pizza is being served and the candidates are now all seated.  Let’s a-goooooooo

4:36: Sammy Roth, Spec’s EIC, is moderating and has begun.  Candidates are restricted to 60 second responses.  He notes that at the last debate he moderated, there were only 2 candidates, as opposed to the 9 we have today.

4:37: Candidates begin intros.  Conor Skelding kicks things off, saying he wants people in the Senate who want to speak directly to the student body.

4:38: Alexander Andresian notes that he’s been in CCSC for 3 years and has spent a year on the Senate.  He’s “very aware of what students want” and is familiar with the Senate agenda.  He wants to make the Senate digital and communicate more directly.  Also notes the Quality of Life Survey and addressing sexual assault in better, clearer ways.  “I’m a senior, I’m not looking for reelection, I just want to do what’s right for the school.”

4:39: Manik Uppal, also a senior, reiterates he’s not looking for reelection.  Says the Senate has “frankly” missed a lot of important issues.  “I want to change the conversation.”  Wants to use the public role to advocate on behalf of the students.

4:41: “I really do care about this university.” — Samer Ozeir.  He likes connecting with people and can understand what people want.  There are really important issues that he would really like to get on work with (sexual assault, Quality of Life)

4:42: Jacob Johnson is a freshman, but has worked in his high school board.  Wants to make course evaluations open and end the smoking ban debate–”we should maintain the smoking ban rules as they are.”  Stop divestment, only invest in alternative energy sources, and publish anonymous data on sexual assault.  His brother is a senior so he knows the issues on campus.

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