CCSC Interviews: Renew C.U.

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In this part in the series of interviews of the competing tickets for the upcoming CCSC elections on Tuesday, Bwog joins Isaac Lara, Melissa Ann Im, Alex Powell, and Anum Akram of Renew C.U., which is running for the executive board.

How would you evaluate the job done by the current student council? Especially the current executive board?

Melissa (VP of Communications): “Institutional memory” – that’s what they call me on the ticket because I have served on student council for three years, and am the only member who’s been on the elected student council. So in terms of how I would evaluate how the executive board is working, I think they work really well together, specifically policy-wise. Strategically, they have been very well thought out in terms of who they’re involving – identifying the stakeholders and not just thinking about anecdotes but thinking about statistics and showing them the numbers behind what these students are saying. The administration is impressed, but I don’t think that they’re really acting on it. So they see this great work, and they’re like, “Oh that’s great work.” But we’re still at the conversations.

Isaac (President): I think what is necessary is more energy and more enthusiasm, especially more passion injected into student council. Even though the current CCSC has done a lot of good work, I think it’s time to inject some new faces and perspectives back into student council. This way we can take a different approach to tackling some of the issues that the current CCSC is wrestling with.

Melissa: I think it’s about understanding the longevity of the issues and being in communication with the past board. If elected, we would definitely work hand in hand with the past board, and even boards previous to that. We hope to reach out and continue conversations with alumni. They were actually willing to meet with us to discuss how we can tackle the issues of advising even though we’d only be serving for a year.

Anum (VP of Policy): The problem is that you have to go to multiple advisors for different things. We do think that there’s a way to have one advisor, and to have a more wholesome approach. 15 minutes here and 10 minutes at the career center are not enough to get an approach like that. I think that administration is taking a step towards that by moving the advising offices to Lerner, but there needs to be more.

In light of the struggles over the academic calendar, gender-neutral housing and other issues, what sort of relationship do you envision for your exec board with the Columbia administration?

Melissa: The chairman of the education committee is staunchly opposed to any changes to the academic calendar. Any effort to discuss it has been stalled. What’s difficult in our relationship with the administration is that as student government, I believe that student council has the most access to the administration. And because we have that close relationship, we have to be very careful about what we say, how we act, and how we approach them. I think we need to make sure that we’re knocking on the Senate door saying, “Hey, remember when you said that you’d talk about this on April 30th? Well we’re here right now. We want to talk about it. We want to do be on the agenda of the Senate meeting for their first meeting in September.”

Isaac: We want to avoid what happened last year with the syllabi. Last year there was an effort in the Senate to try and require professors to post their syllabi two week before classes begin. When the senate on that issue stalled, it basically dropped from the campus atmosphere. And you didn’t hear about it anymore. We want to make sure that the first day we get back, we continue and revive the debate on the academic calendar.

What campus life events do you plan on holding next year?

Isaac: April (who isn’t here) wanted to do an inter faith forum between different faiths. It was supposed to be a religious event that she wanted to coordinate for all faith-based organizations on campus. She wanted to host it at Low Library. She was introducing so many new ideas.

Alex  (VP of Finance): The 40s on 40 event is a great idea. We want an event like that to come back. It’s always a touchy subject for administration. 40s on 40 established a tradition, and traditions at CU seem to be few and far between. PrezBo once said that “Columbia’s rated one of the worst party schools, and I intend to keep it that way.” That’s not necessarily the attitude that student body wants to hear. When I came to Columbia, I was incredibly proud. There needs to be fun – outlets towards relieving stress. We need to foster these traditions, and the brotherhood and sisterhood of sharing a common experience.

Isaac: The most important job for campus life events is to make CCSC events appeal to all students – even the ones who don’t care about student council. It’s about making CCSC look cool again. Bring the sexy back.

Melissa: We have this idea of holding a lawn day when the green flags go up, and everyone is just on the lawns enjoying being Columbia students. You can definitely have fun days without administration. I’m hoping that Special Project will help out with this.

Besides issues that are already being discussed by this year’s council – smoking ban, gender-neutral housing, etc. – what would be your board’s top new policy priority?

Isaac: I know that we picked three that we really want to work on this year: 1) the academic calendar, 2) centralizing the advising system and 3) streamlining the judiciary process. I’ve also been working with Professor Zar, the head the speaking program at Barnard. This program teaches students about how to argue about issues eloquently; how to research issues. Right now it’s only available at Barnard. We’d really like to see this program brought into CC.

Anum: Peer advising is something that a lot of student groups picked up. It hasn’t entirely worked so far, which is weird. We want to have the advising be part of CSA.

Melissa: We picked advising because it’s a key moment in advising, strategically. We have a new dean, Dean Rinere, and we need to go to her. That’s why I think that right now and next year is a great time to revise advising.

Alex: We will be satisfied when every student and every administrator reports 100% satisfaction. We’re not in the business of bullshit.

What experiences do each of your ticket members bring to the CCSC executive board? (Alex and April were answered for by their co-campaigners.)

April is the campus-wide expert without actually having been on student council. She’s President of CSA, and she knows the system. There isn’t anyone in Lerner who she doesn’t hug and chill with.

Alex was a hard find. We turned down more than 10 people for Alex. We thought that we’d make a lot of enemies. However, student groups are going to kill you if the finance person doesn’t know their shit. We involved them in the conversation, so that “enemy” thing didn’t actually happen. We have a lot of people involved in our campaign. We all come from completely different social groups.

Isaac: Sol is a student organization for Latinos. I was also chair of Latino heritage month. I’m also a senior fellow at the Roosevelt Institute and a rep on ABC.

Alex: I’m on the varsity light weight rowing team and the executive board of Sigma Phi Epsilon, the frat. And I’m in the exec board of the Inter-frat Council, which is under the IGC. I’m also an active member in Columbia’s Finance Group. My role in the frat is chaplain; I’m in charge of maintaining rituals and standards for the frat.

Melissa: I’ve been on CCSC for three years now serving different positions; two years as class rep, and currently I’m the Pre-Professional. So I have class experience and at-large experience. I’ve worked for CCE. So we have April in UEM, me in CCE and Anum in Public Safety. I’m also involved with the Ivy Council, where I serve as the VP for Communications.

Anum: I’ve been an RA, and next year will be my third year as one. I also serve on the facilities advisory board, which is a group of RAs that goes to facilities to talk about problems that students are having. We should definitely reach out to RAs. I’m an ABC representative, and I am the chairman of ABC’s policy. I’m co-chairing Global Health, which is a committee of AMSA.

If you had to steal student government funds, what would you spend them on?

Isaac: Is this a Jim Downie question?

Melissa: We could all go on Spring Break together.

Isaac: What if we made the lawn a giant sandbox? Or on one lawn a slip and slide, and the other, a sandbox.

Alex: Except instead of water it would be first class beer. Belgian White Ale. Hypothetically of course.

Anum: A giant slide going down Low and a big giant pool.

Isaac: We could buy Campo. Or put a Columbia logo on it.

Melissa: We could buy a Columbia plane so that we can send students home for Christmas.

Anum: Pay for better advisors.

Alex: I’d start a trust fund and just live off the interest. We could have a retreat to Amsterdam, with everyone else. Or buy myself a new lottery number.

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  1. The  

    student organization for Latinos that Isaac's involved in is "Sol," (as in "sun") not "Soul."

  2. NO NO NO  

    i dont think i could bear to see isaac lara as prez, or receive weekly emails from him
    who's alex?
    who's april? (and why wouldnt she go to a bwog interview???)
    anum has the worst reputation in ABC
    please elect either of the other two tickets, but say NO to renew cu

  3. umm...  

    "My role in the frat is chaplain; I’m in charge of maintaining rituals and standards for the frat."

    oh boy.....

    • Harrison  

      Is this comment supposed to imply something negative?

      Alex has numerous duties in several different facets of life on Columbia's campus, none of which are even remotely worthy of derision. As one of his friends I can vouch for his unfailing responsibility, commitment, and amiability.

      I realize that, as a friend, I may not be able to present an unbiased perspective, but I simply can't stand to see Alex wrongfully slandered.

    • another c150  

      what exactly has any of the frats done to you personally? it seems like you're taking the opportunity to perpetuate a stereotype that's wrongly assigned to a lot of greek members on campus.

      alex is legit.

  4. Melissa Im...  

    Could we make her Supreme Leader of CC? Forget this student council nonsense

  5. Anonymous

    these are all really bad ideas

  6. Isaac,  

    that hat is whack

  7. i say  

    renew cu or stand columbia. naked party is ridiculous.

  8. so i think  

    Melissa Im is pretty much in charge of this ticket.

  9. if

    stand columbia and renew cu could only be combined. learned, april, mel, alex, anum.

    combine the guy for the head spot with the brilliant team - amazing eboard.

    but why is learned w a bunch of randoms, and why is isaac running for president??? does this make sense to anyone?

    the naked party...no discussion necessary...

  10. Shocked Observer  

    For the life of this campus, why has no one said what everyone has been thinking. This party is completely inept; starting with the disingenuous President, to the seditious policy princess. In an effort to get themselves elected they insist on an infusion of pathos into the council, while in fact all they will accomplish is a mushrooming of their own egos. We cannot let this daft frolicking "renewer" go about representing us to the administration if we want at all any chance of accomplishing anything next year. The answers are here in this article...ABC....how many $$$$ in debt can they go.....SANDBOX? Go build a castle in your head Isaac, maybe there you'll get a taste of the nitty gritty you intend on just "enthusing" through in the real world.

  11. interested  

    Having never met Isaac, yet having heard a lot of people rant without specifics about why they hate him, can someone tell me exactly what his deal is?

    • ...

      I don't think anyone actually hates him. The guy's ridiculously likable. It's just that he doesn't exactly exude "reliability".

    • Anonymous

      Yeah I agree that Isaac's an extremely likable guy. He's really outgoing and personally I find him to be pretty reliable. He's one of those smart, yet really chill, type of guys. I think this ridiculous smear campaign against Isaac is definitely coming from Learned's camp, and it looks pathetic

  12. mouse  

    no way anum has the worst rep on abc, she has one of the best for being mature, intelligent, and competent. nice try.

  13. Friend of Isaac's  

    As a friend of Isaac's since freshman year, the thing that has always surprised (and entertained) me most is his inherent outgoing-ness (call him an extrovert, I'm sticking with outgoing-ness). He is always looking to meet new people and start conversations. He is the guy that introduces himself on the elevator and has a quick conversation with you instead of standing in silence watching the numbers go up. I tease him about it, but the fact of the matter is that he wants to know all of you and know how you feel. He cares. (no homo) But seriously, he does care about how everyone feels and is always looking to help. Do I think that's a good quality to have in our president? I do. Do you?

  14. apathetic observer  

    Isaac Lara is one of the most popular, reliable, and honest people I know. people bashing him are from the other parties and need to stop because theyre slandering him. he's the sweetest boy around and never leaves lerner because hes always working. GO ISAAC !

  15. Promising Ticket  

    Having met all the members of the RenewCU in either an academic or student group setting, I have complete confidence in their ability not only to work with the administration to create changes in the Columbia College community but also to effectively represent the student body's needs.

    Anybody who has just the tiniest bit of exposure to how this group interacts with every student they meet on campus will understand how devoted they are to ensuring open-communication between the dreaded "Columbia bureaucracy" and the student body. Not unreliable in the least bit.

  16. Sit Down Columbia  

    Even though there's an I in Isaac, there really isn't. What this man cares about is U.


    He is truly an I(nsanely)S(mart)A(nd)A(mazing)C(haracter)

  17. ...  

    I think this ticket has good intentions but only one member has any CCSC experience. I can't in good conscience vote for a ticket to take over a body they have no experience with. Learned's ticket is more suited to jump in knowing how to start making the changes on their platform. I don't want to wait for good people to learn the ropes(Renew CU) when I could vote for good people who know the ropes. Maybe thats just me

    • I would like to support this party but...  

      I agree with without experience on ccsc (unfortunately it's needed to work the system) and with somewhat fantasies about what they want to renew, it's kind of hard to vote for them.

      also, I always feel that isaac has hidden motives (read:tool) with whatever it is he does. he's very strategic from what I've observed.

      I'm still thinking whether or not I should vote for this ticket.

      • cc'11

        "also, I always feel that isaac has hidden motives (read:tool) with whatever it is he does. he’s very strategic from what I’ve observed."


      • Anonymous

        Well why wouldn't you vote for ReNew CU? If you're main issue with the ticket is that you somehow believe Isaac is a "tool" and has "hidden motives", then clearly you need to double think things. I wouldn't mind voting for Learned, but I haven't seen anything done with him on campus. Isaac's team seems genuinely refreshing. They seem like they're actually up to something. They're all extremely united, and really goofy. That's what I'm looking for. I'm looking for a team who can relate to the student body, while working with the administration. But don't vote for another party just because you think Isaac has "hidden motives". That's a baseless argument.

  18. Obvious Choice  

    Renew CU is the obvious choice. If you attended the debate session you would have been floored by how much Renew CU dominated the other tickets. They are the most serious, most professional, and will do the most for us students here at Columbia University.

  19. I think  

    RenewCU is amazing. All the candidates are VERY professional.
    Personally, If I weren't SEAS I would definitely vote for RenewCU!!!

    They make me want to AMPPP IT UPPPPP

  20. Anonymous

    RenewCU seriously has some good ideas. i can't wait for them to finally win. plus, i've had a huge crush on isaac since the first day i met him hhahaha. he's a smart kid, from a different background, and from what i've heard he's super nice. he is outgoing and really hard working. everyone else seems really great. they'll work really well together. you guys have my vote! good luck!


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