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ESC: Community (Food & Juice)

What we got when we searched "friends" on Wikimedia

Sean Zimmermann reports from last night’s ESC meeting.

Theresa Martinez, Dean of Community and Multicultural Affairs, spoke at last night’s Engineering Student Council meeting. She was hired last year to help foster a greater sense of Columbia University community.

Dean Martinez explained that she is currently working on the open housing policy, the CUEMS proposal, and an electronic payer card system. She described some of the bureaucratic parts of Columbia as “archaic,” explaining, “I don’t recall the last time I saw a quadruplecate form before I went to Columbia.”

Much of the discussion on student life focused on the role of student groups and how to connect with students. Freshman Representative Siddhant Bhatt proposed that the Dean could help foster community by playing music in the dining halls, and providing “advertising” for student groups between pieces. Bhatt claimed that this would be a “less invasive” way to alert students about events on campus than knocking on doors.

When asked about how to combat the habit of students usually branching off into small groups and failing to communicate with other groups, she explained that she finds it interesting that many student groups are duplicates of other groups. She explained that there is no venue for student groups to collaborate or communicate—one council member recalled that two similar on-campus organizations had planned similar events at the same time. Because of the lack of communication between groups, Martinez explained that is critical to try to understand why students feel a need to create overlapping groups.

Santosh Balachandar, VP Student Life, commented to the Dean that there appears to be a lack of a definite sense of Columbia community when compared to other schools—there is no clear “what it means to be Columbian” for alumni to hang on to when they leave.

Dean Martinez explained that one of the challenges Columbia faces is showing the Morningside community the good that Columbia does. She said there is no venue to hear from students about the good they do for the community, so it’s difficult for her to advocate for students. For example, the Dean explained that when investigating converting some of the Columbia-owned buildings in the neighborhood to extra residence halls, there were concerns from the local community about having Greek life on their block, and though she would love to inform them of all the positive things Greek organizations do for the community, she has no way of knowing what the Greek organizations are working on, so it’s difficult to reassure the community when all she sees are the negative reports.

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

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  • the key to says:

    @the key to building campus community is to have irresistible, delectable food in the dining halls; people bond over food like nothing else

    1. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous This is fair. But how do you do this? Wouldn’t those who had this capability go work at the many prestigious/reputable restaurants in New York (or start their own) rather than working in a glorified cafeteria?

      1. Anonymous says:

        @Anonymous Not at all.

        We waste a TON of money giving all of our food workers healthcare. If they left to go work at a restaurant, then they would lose it.

        What we should do is open up half the kitchen to the free market, and let some entrepreneur move in and start something that is deluxe/milano/campo quality that is make a little cheaper by producing a few dishes on a bigger scale buffet style. I would never put these places on a pedestal, but if I can go to Campo/Deluxe for ~$12-14 a small sit down meal, and if I can goto Milano and get a giant sandwich for ~$10, then I should be able to swipe into a dining hall and get that same quality and quantity. Clearly, these businesses have it worked efficiency-wise, and if Columbia can’t, why not let someone else do the hard work for you?

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous frats are an overwhelmingly negative influence to the people they live around. At the very least, they reduce property values.

    People are brought together with shared values or shared experiences. Columbia is not a place where shared values are common, and it is difficult to share experiences when there are so many possible experiences to choose from when you life in a big city. This is just a result of where we live and what we believe. We should embrace this fact, and seek to be a unique university, and not to force conversion into the common ho-hum of our peers who have nothing better to do than be rich white kids who live in the middle of a forest.

  • A note about overlapping says:

    @A note about overlapping Sometimes administrators think that groups overlap when they really don’t. For example, it took a very long time for the Organization of Latin American Students to get recognized as an ABC group because “there are so many latino groups on campus”. You cannot compare the experience of a Venezuelan kid who is living in another country for the first time in his life to a Chicano kid from California. Just because they might both speak Spanish does not mean that they have had similar experiences.

    Also, the best thing about having a lot of student groups is that anyone who wants to can seek out a leadership position, everyone has something to contribute.

    I’m all for student groups collaborating with each other though, that is a great idea.

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