USenate: Undergrads vs. Grads?

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In a recent email sent out to SEAS students, the University Senate Elections Commission asked them to “reconsider how SEAS students are elected to the Senate.” This move was prompted by graduate engineering students voicing concerns that they felt underrepresented. Indeed, the survey asks only one question: Should the SEAS student body be separated into undergraduate and graduate voting groups that would each elect one student to the University Senate?

Rajat Roy, SEAS ’10 and 3-year University Senator, sent an email out tonight expressing his opposition to this proposed change. He argues that by mandating one graduate and one undergraduate Senator, SEAS would be divided and its representation in the University as a whole would be made weaker.

The original email and Rajat’s response can be found after the jump.

The original email to SEAS students:

Dear SEAS Student,

As you may know, all SEAS students are represented on the University Senate by two students, currently Rajat Roy and Cherie Meyer.  The Senate is Columbia’s legislative body, representing all members of the University community.

The Senate’s Elections Commission has been asked to reconsider how SEAS students are elected to the Senate.  Because this decision affects your representation and self-governance, we want to know what you think.

Please take a moment to complete a one-question survey, available here: <uni-specific link removed>

Your input is COMPLETELY ANONYMOUS.  The link above will allow you to participate only once, so please do not forward this message.  The survey closes at 8:00pm Thursday, April 22.  To ensure that your voice is heard, please submit your response before then.  Thank you for participating.

Sincerely yours,
The University Senate Elections Commission

Rajat Roy’s reponse:

Dear Leaders of Engineering Student Groups,

As you may have seen in your inbox today, the Senate is conducting a survey as to whether to take away one of the Senate seats from SEAS as a whole and set it aside for SEAS Graduate students. If you did not receive a link to the survey please contact me.

As a fellow Engineer who has represented you for 3 years I beg of you to Read the Facts about the survey and to Relay the Facts to your constituents as well .

  • SEAS has one Dean and SEAS Graduate and Undergraduate students take the same classes, especially in junior and senior year courses. Why divide us when we are enduring the same classes together?
  • SEAS Senators sit on both the Engineering Graduate Student Council and the ESC. Why should we divide our school? Unity is the source of our strength!
  • Splitting the seats means that the Senate will essentially take away the ability to have a senator in office for 2 years. We will be forced to have a 2 year senator and a 1 year senator who usually will not be able to figure out what he’s doing in time to be effective!
  • At the moment either undergrads or graduate students can hold both of the two SEAS senator seats. Competence is the important factor now! Splitting the vote will mean we don’t care about it!
  • In the last two official elections a Graduate student won the Senate Seat! The system is fair as it is.
  • By Tradition, we are one school. Why would we want to divide ourselves and make our representation weaker?

The Senate has already ignored the students on issues like the Academic Calendar, putting syllabuses on Courseworks ahead of time, the Smoking ban and more. If we lose another Senate seat we will be even less prepared to defend student interests.

Upcoming issues for SEAS in the Senate include:

  • More Classroom space allocated to us in the North West Corner Building,
  • Whether or not SEAS will be allowed to expand into Uris if the Business School moves into Manhattanville
  • The Smoking Ban (part 2)
  • Academic Calendar (part 2)
  • Financial Aid for International Students
  • And MORE…

This is a very important issue. Please consider the facts when voting on this survey. With one exception, your representatives at the ESC voted that they would not be in favor of splitting the seats.

Please inform your constituents of the facts before they vote. And please tell them to vote!

If your constituents have already voted they may change their votes by contacting Jessica Raimi at [email protected] If you have further questions please do let me know.

Thank you for your time.

Rajat Roy

University Senator from Engineering

SEAS 2010

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  1. GSAS male  

    Gender-neutral pronoun fail:

    "usually will not be able to figure out what ***he’s*** doing in time to be effective!"

    Yes, despite being male, these stick out at me all the time. And, I just realized that considering this is related to "equal representation", the use of a male pronoun has interesting implications which I'll leave to others to discuss.

    • Not SEAS

      I'm not SEAS but given what GSAS male said, maybe it's more important to look into whether female SEAS students are getting elected into senate. As for the issue at hand, I don't think it'll matter much either way. As Rajat said himself, the administration ignores the students as a whole, which means no one is being heard, grad or undergrad.

      • Anonymous  

        one of the two current SEAS senators is female

        • GSAS male  

          Yes, I saw that, which is what made this even more puzzling.

          And for the record, I'm not taking this to mean anything more about SEAS than what is going on in the head of one of its current representatives.

          • Rajat Roy  

            Jesus, GSAS. Fine, yes, I should have used the "politically correct" he's/she's. If I wanted to expound on gender theory I would have gone to the College. Do you want me to start writing womyn and herstory instead of women and history as well? You're missing the forest for the tree. The minutiae of my lexicon aren't pertinent. The fact remains that the Senate is intransigent and that the students are the only forces which can overcome this inertia.

            Is that enough SAT words for you? No I don't know if used them correctly. I spend my time thinking about the real issues, not harping on about things that are irrelevant. Yes, this is me being an ass because I have no patience for the nonsensical garbage you're spewing. People like you who extrapolate information that isn't there are the reason why I became an engineer. And I'm damn proud of it too.

          • Anonymous  

            Jeez dude, I usually assume you're an OK guy and not that big of a douche despite all of the negative Bwog comments. But come on, you should know better than this.

          • Anonymous  

            well, that could be the real rajat roy, or it could be someone pretending to be rajat roy...

          • Definitely  

            the real Rajat Roy.

          • ...  

            **insert mean comment about how ieor+econ isn't exactly engineering here**

          • Grammar Popo  

            *Are those enough

    • anon  

      Some people still think that "he" is a perfectly good generic pronoun that includes both sexes and is totally not problematic. I am staunchly not one of these people, but just saying that that might be why Rajat Roy used it (or he used "he" to mean men. Never know).

    • SEAS Female  

      I am a girl and I don't care that it says "he" instead of "she." Why does everything always have to be so damn politically correct?

  2. Anonymous  

    Yeah...let's listen to Rajat Roy. Because Rajat Roy cares about people who are not Rajat Roy. Right.

    • Disagree  

      I don't think that's fair at all. I've worked with or near Rajat for the last few years and while I'll give you that he was a arrogant nit in his first few years, he's gotten to be much better and more effective this past year. I'm proud to consider myself his friend, and hope he continues to keep up the good work.

  3. The SEAS Reverend  


  4. seas '11  

    i voted yes for separation. i don't think we take the same classes and i agree with grad students that they have their own community which needs better representation. regardless of what rajat roy says, i think the needs of undergrads are vastly diff and its unfair to deprive either community of their voice. separation is a much better system.

    • The SEAS Reverend  

      Be careful with the word "deprive" please. I think your comment may come off as sounding like the current legislation forbids or prevents the graduate community from having one of the two seats. Two seats are available for the entire SEAS community (grad + Ugrad) and the entire SEAS community votes for the two Senator spots.

  5. engineers cannot write  

    The plural of syllabus is syllabi not syllabuses

  6. Rajat Roy  

    @ Anonymous, yes I agree I have been arrogant in the past but as a senior your life changes and you realize your past mistakes. I hope you realize that we all move on from our stereotypical college selves and that we all mature. I apologize if I ever was a douche to you in the past.

    @Engineers cannot write - I tried writing syllabi but gmail and firefox rejected it so I chose the safer route and went with syllabuses.

    You all know my position on the issue. But I'm a senior. Theoretically I shouldn't care. But this issue is too important for SEAS to simply skip or ignore. Please vote.

    @seas'11 - As University Senator I single-handedly, without any aid, help or support from then senator, now EGSC president Timur Dykhne, got free admission to athletic events for Graduate students. In the past they had been charged full cost. I would say that is more important than the "community" that the opposition says it provides via booze and mixers. Policy changes will always trump student life. You cannot say that I nor Cherie have not made good-faith efforts to work with the Engineering Graduate Student Council, only to be met with scorn by people we consider our peers.

    Cherie and I have also fought for graduate students on many other issues including their facilities fees, pushing the University to provide financial aid for international students (which comprise the majority of SEAS graduate students), research space available for graduate students and much more.

    We are both on the record as supporting graduate students as much as undergrads because we were elected by both constituencies and we take our offices seriously.

  7. Rajat Roy  

    *. But we have only been met with scorn from....

  8. Print Screen Fail

    The image has the cursor in the middle of the 2nd paragraph.

  9. Questions  

    Sucked a cock?

  10. Surprise Surprise  

    Rajat Roy drops himself into the middle of another controversy and has made himself the center of attention. Please deflate your ego a little bit.

  11. the best part  

    is thinking about how long rajat spent writing that email, rewriting it, revising it, and finally sending it. and then when i'm done laughing, i think the same about the comments.

  12. SEAS '13  

    Arguing over semantics? You're engineers, damn it.

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