CCSC Interviews: CU Charge
Written by Bwog Staff
We posted the first CCSC Interview earlier today, and will have the third and final one up later tonight. Here’s the next ticket, CU Charge. Check out what they had to say to Bwogger Alex Jones about their campaign. But first of all, you can assess the party’s patriotism and energy by listening to their rendition of Roar, Lion, Roar. Hit play to listen and read the whole interview below.
How would you evaluate the job done by the current student council?
Virat (VP Communications): Four of us are involved with student council in some capacity. So I think we’ve been part of a lot of the things that have been done this year, and I think there are a lot of great things that have been done. We just don’t think it’s enough in terms of transparency and the funding process. A lot of students don’t know how to navigate the bureaucracy that is student government, and people don’t know where their student life fees are going, and in terms of communication, people don’t know what CCSC is, they don’t have access to their leaders in terms of campus programming. There is a lot more that we can do besides giving out free food and hoping that people come to create a more cohesive community. So in that sense, we think that there has been a lot of progress made this year, but we think there is a lot more to do, and we think that with our familiarity of the system, we think we are uniquely qualified to go forward next year.
Ryan (VP Policy): I don’t think the council reaches out to students to tell them how they are working. Students basically have to opt in to learn about CCSC. Educating people is something we’d like to focus on.
Also, what we haven’t seen a lot of is follow-up. Once we get council support, we are supposed to move on an actually do something. So once we say something like, “CCSC supports soccer as a club sport,” then we are supposed to pursue that and maybe move onto the director of athletics or someone and then work on that as a proposal to make that an actual reality. A resolution is just a piece of paper. We haven’t seen a lot of that folow-up from this executive board. I think that something Andrew mentioned yesterday was the fact that he was trying to learn the job while he was on it, and that is one of the things that is one of our strengths–we know a lot about the school. The only difference is that we’ve never been the people in power, but we think we can succeed if we are.
What specifically do you have a problem with?
Aki (President): I think the underlying problem is that this council has gone a lot for breadth, and we need depth. We’d like to concentrate on reducing the scale of how many resolutions get passed, and really following up and making sure a real difference is found.
Ryan: We’ve worked on and voted for a lot of the resolutions that have been passed this year, so we don’t disagree with the direction, but just the execution of many of the ideas.
People at Columbia tend to complain about this ambiguous and elusive thing called Community. Do we really have a Community problem? If we do, what is to be done?
Jasmine (VP Campus Life): At the debate, we talked about how we don’t want to do events that just give away free food. The reason for that is that for the last few years, I’ve noticed that people come to the events, they get the free food, and then they leave. They don’t really know what the event is about, they just go for the food. That’s about it. And that’s okay, we like to provide for the students, they are studying. They need food, that’s great, but in the end, what are we really doing there? Are we building something among the students? I don’t think so. We want to implement larger events so students can come and not only eat food but participate in a greater way. Like Passport to Columbia—tons of free food, but also participatory events from groups on campus.
Virat: Most students identify with specific groups on campus. So we think that a lot more money should go to those students groups, because they have the motivation and the energy to really impact things on campus. They are the community, and the best thing we can do is strengthen them.
What specific ideas do you have for events?
Jasmine: 1. CU Field Day: low-cost athletic events on all of the lawns on South Campus. 2. CU Arts Expo: opportunity for students and student groups to display their art, in whatever form they want (Postcrypt endorses this idea!). 3. CU Healthy Living: At the beginning of the spring semester, we would gather a lot of the resources that already exist on campus and offer free yoga classes.
Virat: These highlight how we want to bring the community together and not just by creating events on our own.
Kevin (VP Funding): These communities already exist on campus, and we want to give them more exposure and resources. Along with that we want to give students grants that they can directly apply for from CCSC. Things like making a movie, holding an event on Low Plaza or a blood drive, these are things that aren’t necessarily done through a group that is connected traditionally to sources of funding. People could apply directly to CCSC for funding.
Aki: These student project grants were started by Nuriel [Moghavem] two years ago. They haven’t been continued this year, despite that being a campaign promise from Learned last year.
Kevin: And it would become something that is a rolling process, not just a cycle of applications. It could be something that is integrated into our appeals meetings or something, and we could deal with it on a weekly basis.
Ryan: Yeah, people don’t come up with good ideas only between May 1st and May 31st.
What do you think is the biggest concern for students?
Aki: I think that the larger category is that students feel like Columbia doesn’t care about them. And they feel like they are being treated like disposable banks that come through, and they withdraw the money, and they leave in four years. There is not a lot of input that goes into that. That’s not a very specific thing, but I think that is significant, because it really affects every aspect of the student’s life. One thing that we talked about at the beginning of our campaign was focusing on not just the student groups that really have those tight networks, but more on the general student expertience and fostering that. Whether that be through initiatives with housing or dining, or whether that be fixing the Lerner mail services, which was actually a resolution recently passed through CCSC. Those kind of aspects of daily life that all student have to deal with are just as important. Students should feel a little more appreciated by the university, because they would feel like someone is looking out for them. And down the road, when they graduate, they will look back on their Columbia years, and they will say they had a great time.
Ryan: One of the things that I said when I came on, I told Aki that I wanted to work on making students’ lives easier. Those little things that you complain to all of your friends about. Those small, simple failures. Let’s fix those! For example, I’m on a meal plan. Ferris Booth closes at 8, but the gates close at 7:30, even though there is a huge contingency of students that get out of class at 7:25. There is a huge rush, and there is no where to sit. These are the small things that we can work on.
Aki: One of our key points is an online portal system. It is an idea that started with George Krebs three years ago. He came up with this idea based on what our peer institutions had, and it’s basically a centralized log-in system. So you would log-in once and have access to CourseWorks, SSOL, Cubmail. Then you wouldn’t have to go to 20 different sites and log into each one. There was an initial push, but it was dropped by that administration, and CUIT also wasn’t very on board with that at that time. We’ve been in talks with Kenny Durell. He continues to work with CUIT, and he has said that it is a very real possible goal, but CUIT needs to see the need from the student body, they need to see the push from the student body to make it one of their priorities. If we were elected, then we could send a message to CUIT to push that forward.
What about Cubmail converting to Gmail?
Aki: I don’t think people really have trouble forwarding Cubmail to Gmail as it is.
Virat: And I’m probably the only one who still logs into Cubmail…haha.
Ryan: But also, it’s an idea that was brought up this year, but then was dropped for no reason. And now UniteCU is running on the idea. Pretty strange.
What experience would your ticket bring to CCSC? People can read your website, so give me a quick run down of your most important experience.
Virat: I’m one of three class representatives for the 2012 class council. I’m also a member of the Bach Society—I sing. And I’m also a teacher for Youth for Debate. And I’ve been on the communications committee since 2009.
Ryan: I’m a member of a club sport, Kendo, which is Japanese fencing. I serve on ABC which is one of the five governing boards, and I’m also a student services rep. I dealt with the dining meetings, the health services meetings, the Lerner advisory meetings. I’m in a fraternity, the Multicultural Greek community.
Aki: I’ve been on class council for the past three years. I was a class rep for the first year, and I’ve been president for the past two years for the class of 2012. That’s where most of my leadership experience comes from. My outside experience would be the Columbia Japan Society. I’ve worked my way up to the presidency. I’ve also been on the co-sponsorship committee for the past two years and on the policy committee for the past one and a half years.
Jasmine: I’m currently class representative on the 2012 class council. I’ve been on the campus life committee for the past two years. I also am a member of the Varsity Christian Fellowship as a group leader. I am an ASP mentor. For Black History Month, I was the treasurer for this past year.
Kevin: I’m on the swim team. I’m in the Sigma Nu fraternity. I was the treasurer for 2010, because we operate on the calendar year. I have been in AAA [Asian American Alliance]. And then this year, I’m on ABC. In terms of relevant experience, I think being being a leader such as being the president of AAA, being the treasurer of Sigma Nu, and then also being on ABC, I have experience working on three executive boards, and it’s shown me different ways that people run organizations. Starting at the very bottom of one student club, and then working my way up to the top of the organization, I’ve seen the entire process of how this money flows.
Ryan: I’d like to say that we’re pretty balanced. We have been in organizations that affect all five governing boards. I think that’s pretty relevant experience for all of us directly.
How do you see CCSC as a part of the larger University?
Ryan: We have three senators that sit on the university senate. We have a voice, but the question here is how does connect that to the students. On recent issues, ROTC, the smoking ban, our senators did vote on those issues, but there was a disconnect between the senators and the students. One of the things we want to do is make sure that the general public, the general college community is informed most of all. There are a lot of people, even people in positions of power, who didn’t know about these issues to the extent that they should. All of these various questions about what policies are actually going to look like. We should be in charge of informing the general populace about what is going on.
Secondly, we should make sure that we connect the senators to the students. They need to be acting in accordance with the students on campus. We should facilitate discussion with the senators with the students. There needs to be direct contact with students.