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2011 CCSC Candidate Debate Recap

Last night, Alex Jones, a Bwogger who wonders what the Beats would think about an official CCSC debate in their once-legendary hangout, checked out the Spec-sponsored Q&A. The three parties running for the CCSC Executive Board in next week’s elections went head-to-head at Havana Central…

The master of ceremonies, Sam Roth, took almost a minute to quiet the crowd in Havana Central, despite the aid of a microphone. Once people heard his pleas for silence, Mr. Roth spoke briefly about how The Columbia Daily Spectator wanted to engage with and support the Columbia community by hosting a student government debate. Havana’s back room was filled with chairs, of which very few were covered with butts. Perhaps students were less concerned with student government “fostering” community, and more concerned with enjoying their own community?

Run Down of the three CCSC Tickets

Better Columbia CU Charge UniteCU
President Barry Weinberg, CC ’12 Aki Terasaki, CC ’12 Andrew Nguyen, CC ’12
VP Policy Ganiatu Afolabi, CC ’12 Ryan Cho, CC ’13 Elizabeth Kipp-Giusti, CC ’12
VP Student Life Wilfred Chan, CC ’13 Jasmine Senior, CC ’12 Megan Carley, CC ’12
VP Funding Steele Sternberg, CC ’13 Kevin Zhai, CC ’12 Brandon Christophe, CC ’12
VP Communications Varun Char, CC ’14 Virat Gupta, CC ’12 Alana Tung, CC ’12

The debate began with a short introduction from each party:

  • Better CU: Barry told the audience how his initial impression of CCSC as a party-throwing organization had changed. He now sees it as a powerful tool to shape the undergraduate experience at Columbia. He noted that he has experience working with student government on the issue of gender-neutral housing issue, through his work with Everyone Allied Against Homophobia. Also, how cool would it be to have two President Barrys affiliated with Columbia?
  • CU Charge: Aki claimed that his ticket was “uniquely qualified” to lead CCSC, and that their main issue was modernizing and streamlining democracy. Vagueness!  CU Charge also wants to work on a centralized portal system with CUIT and hopes to strengthen the community by partnering with student organizations.
  • UniteCU: Andrew changed the introduction game by introducing not only himself, but his whole ticket. They extended their CCSC-related radicalism even further when they announced their intent to get rid of study breaks that only offer free food (Um, way to put us out of business!). Instead, UniteCU would encourage events that are educational or provide a public forum for discussion.  Most importantly, Andrew Nguyen promised a two-day Homecoming Carnival—with a ferris wheel!

Given Columbia’s recent drug busts, fake I.D. busts, and frat de-housing, the state of Columbia’s party scene has an uncertain future.  What is CCSC’s role in this issue?

  • Better CU: Wilfred reminded the crowd that he is a “Carman type of guy,” which got some chuckles. He claimed that there was nothing for CCSC to do on the party front. The brownstone problem is an issue for people involved in Greek leadership, who will do their best to earn their houses back.
  • CU Charge: Aki argued that Greek life is a huge part of campus, and whatever happens to Greek life has massive ramifications for undergrads’ quality of life.  Although CU Charge could not officially endorse underage drinking, Aki claimed that people who are under 21 can still have loads of fun at student sponsored events.
  • UniteCU: Brandon said that while nothing can replace the frats’ role in the Columbia party scene, UniteCU would offer “dynamic” programs to help supplement the tragic loss. It’s called pre-gaming guys.

What should be done to foster sustainability at Columbia?

  • Better CU: Barry argued that sustainability is largely the result of personal decisions that need to be made by students, but that where CCSC can help, it will. He promised to make all CCSC events carbon neutral.
  • CU Charge: Jasmine explained how she is currently working on a plan that would place LCD TVs near elevators in every dorm so that fewer TVs would be needed, and student groups could run ads on the TVs.
  • UniteCU:  Elizabeth pointed to actions already being taken to support eco-friendliness. She is personally involved in many campus sustainability initiatives. Among other things, we are apparently getting new publication racks soon. She added that UniteCU would encourage student groups to be more sustainable.

With regard to the recent stir about safe spaces, what can CCSC do to make campus more comfortable and inviting for all students?

  • Better CU: Steele made Better CU’s commitment to safe spaces clear: “If any part of our community is unsafe, we need to change it.”
  • CU Charge: Virat complimented Columbia’s student body for being so active and vocal about issues that affect not only students, but people around the world. He cautioned, though, that the rhetoric surrounding this and other controversial issues must be toned down. CCSC, he believes , is an organization that shouldn’t take a stand on divisive issues, but should instead facilitate a better conversation by providing a forum for debate.
  • UniteCU:  Andrew is a staunch defender of safe spaces. The most important part of this issue, for him, is that freshmen, who don’t have a supportive group of friends in place, can feel comfortable participating in Columbia’s community.

Next, questions were asked to each specific party.

Better CU – How will you address complaints about CUIT? A Havana Central phone rang and a Speccie awkwardly answered it, so this Bwogger missed the exact question and beginning of the response, but Barry spoke about how he has contacted CUIT directly about their internal plans for future upgrades. He reports that CUIT’s primary concerns relate to issues surrounding Manhattanville. He then declared CUIT’s unresponsiveness to the sentiments of students unacceptable, and promised that he would push for the creation of a CUIT student advisory board that would work with CUIT. Steele mentioned possible Gmail-ification of cubmail, and his plans for a reformed space registration system.

CU Charge – Should CCSC take a stance on any difficult issues? Aki maintained his previous stance regarding safe spaces–CCSC should not take sides on issues, but should encourage education and dialogue amongst students.  He criticized the lack of leadership and substance in the ROTC town halls. CCSC has an obligation to provide for students who are willing to augment their peers’ education.

UniteCU – Your ticket has a lot of experience and quite a few policy planks, but what is your overall vision for Columbia? Reeling from this softball question, Andrew spoke about UniteCU’s commitment to community building and about his experience passing resolutions. His tickets’ significant background in student groups, he claimed, has provided them with the knowledge of exactly how to streamline the funding process.

Lastly, Mr. Roth returned to a round of general questions for each ticket.

What events would you get rid of, and what events would you offer in their place?

  • Better CU: Wilfred challenged the idea that study breaks should be banned if they are only free food-based. He harkened back to his freshman year, when he learned about and joined student clubs based solely on free food study breaks. That doesn’t mean, he cautioned, that there can’t be better athletic or educational study breaks, as well. Wilfred, meanwhile, took aim at UniteCU’s proposal for a homecoming carnival, estimating that the costs of renting a ferris wheel for two days would be about $12,000. He argued that CCSC shouldn’t pretend to be experts at planning parties, but instead should give more money to students so that they could throw their own events. This was easily the most exciting retort of the night!
  • CU Charge: Jasmine said that she would keep the successful and community building events—events where people didn’t go just for the free food.  Two example she offered were Passport to Columbia and the Tree Lighting Ceremony.  But she doesn’t want to keep the study breaks that are just about free food. Wait, really?
  • UniteCU: Megan thought that the Backyard Barbecue should be scrapped in favor of an off-campus two-day homecoming carnival (remember the ferris wheel!) that students could get to by shuttle bus.
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  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous Doesnt anyone find these professional quality photos for the iparty a little suspect. Everyone looks TOO good in this pics, and they are way too happy to be real:

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous “and got loans replaced by grants for families making under $50K.”

    not true, it was a donor, kluge, who got this done

  • betterCU says:

    @betterCU looks like the strongest of the lot from what I read of this review and what I know of the candidates. I am a bit skeptical of the motivations for a couple people on UniteCU. I doubt BetterCU can accomplish even half of what they have proposed but they are at least practical in their proposals.

  • Just wanted to copy and paste the bios says:

    @Just wanted to copy and paste the bios Barry definitely brings a lot more experience than people on this thread have given him credit for, maybe even more experience than Andrew and Aki, especially with SGB and his ridiculous amount of clubs.

    Andrew Nguyen, CC ’12 – President
    Andrew Nguyen (CC ’12) was born and raised in sunny Redington Beach, Florida, where he spent his high school years performing in musicals and plays and serving as the Youth Governor of Florida Youth In Government. He studies Economics-Political Science.

    Andrew serves as the CCSC Executive Board VP Policy, Columbia Economics Society Co-VP, and Columbia Queer Business Society Co-founder. As the CCSC VP Policy, he has authored over twelve resolutions ranging from Academic Affairs to Dining Services to Club Sports ( and is excited for the opportunity to expand upon this work as President.

    He envisions a united, more fun Columbia campus, and he understands that students demand a stronger sense of community and the resources to achieve their academic goals. With the experience and knowledge gained from his role on the executive board, he knows exactly how to implement what are ultimately student-generated solutions. He recommends checking out the “Initiatives” section of the website to learn more about the motivation and drive of UniteCU and concrete plans the team hopes to implement.

    Aki Terasaki
    Major: Economics
    Hometown: Newark, DE

    Favorite Bubble Tea: Ginger
    Favorite 90s Show: Legends of the Hidden Temple
    Place of Birth: Tokyo, Japan
    Favorite Newspaper/Magazine: GQ
    Favorite Song of 2011 thus far: Coming Home (Diddy Dirty Money)
    CU Campus Activities: CCSC (2012 Class President), Columbia Japan Society (President)
    Why I am Running for CCSC Executive Board:
    Having served on council since my freshman year at Columbia, I have seen a number of different leaders impact this community in a positive manner. I strongly believe that CU Charge is the right ticket to head next year’s student council because we not only bring experience and fresh faces, but we have a drive and an energy to do more for this campus and its students. We want to change the status quo, increase student access to CCSC, and bring a new passion to changing student council for the better. CU Charge is ready to lead the way, driving Columbia forward for all Columbians.


    Barry is from Indianapolis, double-majoring in East Asian Languages and Cultures, and Economics-Political Science.

    Barry is the chair of the Student Governing Board of Columbia University, the university’s longest-running governing board, the only board representing over 80 religious, political, activist, humanitarian and ideological student groups across all four undergraduate schools. He was formerly an SGB representative.

    He is a student representative on the Committee on the Core Curriculum, and is a member of Columbia College Student Council’s policy committee. Barry is the coordinator of the Columbia Anti-Violence Coalition, a coalition which includes the Rape Crisis/Anti-Violence Support Center, Take Back the Night, the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, and the Panhellenic Council. Barry is a peer advocate for the Gay Health Advocacy Project with Health Services.

    Barry is director of outreach for Everyone Allied Against Homophobia, and has previously served as treasurer, and vice president. He is associate editor and treasurer for the Columbia East Asian Review/Columbia University East Asian Studies Initiative and is a member of the Columbia Political Union’s Governing Board. He is the former Lead Activist for the College Democrats. He was a co-founder of Advocates for the Arts Initiative.

    Barry was proud to represent Columbia as a Utility with Columbia Water Polo at the first All-Ivy Water Polo tournament in almost three decades. Barry never goes anywhere without wearing the color green and a pair of sandals. He can be spotted at First Friday, or any event his former LLC suitemates are organizing. He was involved with the Columbia Urban Experience.

    1. Sooooo says:

      @Sooooo Barry certainly has a long list of things he’s involved in, but come on — “He was involved with the Columbia Urban Experience”????? What does that mean, he participated in it? That doesn’t mean anything. Also, saying that “Barry is the coordinator of the Columbia Anti-Violence Coalition, a coalition which includes the Rape Crisis/Anti-Violence Support Center, Take Back the Night, the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, and the Panhellenic Council” just means he’s listing all of the “included” organizations to make it sound impressive. Barry might have experience running organizations, but the fact that his list here is so clearly inflated makes me nervous.

      Another thing — not to be mean to underclassmen, but why is a rising sophomore in Barry’s party? Even if Varun Char has a lot of ideas or whatever, the fact remains that he’s only been at Columbia for (less than) a year and hasn’t experienced the types of things CCSC does as much as other people have (i.e. upperclassmen). Barry’s party is by far the youngest on average, and I think experience is the factor that will be the most important contributor to making CCSC a success.

      1. council geekette says:

        @council geekette Karishma Habbu was a first year when she was elected VP of Communications. Sana Khalid, VP of Communications last year, had zero council experience.

        Sarah Weiss, last year’s VP of Policy, also had zero council experience.

        Seth Flaxman, former CCSC president in 2007, zero council experience. He built a coalition of student groups, got elected to council, and got loans replaced by grants for families making under $50K. Like Barry, he was also in the Dems.

        All four of the above, were considered to be, and still are, incredibly transformative people.

        Just sayin.

        1. furthermore says:

          @furthermore Barry’s done good work on the CCSC policy committee, which is more than a lot of council members can say.

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous ummm funny how he has probably done the most to make an actual difference on this campus and has bee nthe most involved in student life. Andrew is imcompetent and obviously has gotten nothing done on this campus with all his “experience” and and Aki is nice, but let’s face it, things don’t work the way they are now. Personally I’m voting a Better CU.

    1. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous didnt mean to post that twice, sorry about that

      1. imcompetent? says:

        @imcompetent? you are incompetent

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous I am a bit disappointed in Aki’s n0-stance stance…

    “The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in times of great moral crises maintain their neutrality.” -Dante

  • I am so scared says:

    @I am so scared of what Columbia will look like under the leadership of Barry Weinberg. He seems so incompetent, and the puzzled questions he asks about the simplest things make me think that there’s no way he will be able to catch up in less than a year. The rest of his party is OK, even good, but I would much rather see either Aki or Andrew running the show.

    Please don’t elect Weinberg. :(

    In things such as these experience does matter and Andrew, Aki, Brandon, Ganiatu, Virat and Jasmine all have enough of it. Better CU just *looks* good…

    1. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous I completely agree… kudos

      Seriously, please please don’t elect Weinberg =(

    2. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous ummm funny how he has probably done the most to make an actual difference on this campus and has been the most involved in student life. Andrew is imcompetent and obviously has gotten nothing done on this campus with all his “experience” and and Aki is nice, but let’s face it, things don’t work the way they are now. Personally I’m voting a Better CU.

    3. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous Have you been involved with any student group activities? If you were, you’d know that Barry Weinberg has done far more for this school than any other candidate. I think Aki Terasaki is a great choice as well (Andrew, while a really nice guy, has been absolutely useless), but while Weinberg hasn’t served on council, he knows the system better than any other contestant – hands down. He’ll change council for the better, no questions asked.

  • ahhh says:

    @ahhh so much politics. so much trolling. i don’t mean go all hipster/cynical on your asses, but SO MUCH SHIT OF THE BULL.

  • Barry Weinberg says:

    @Barry Weinberg could not have a more Jewish-sounding name. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. See you in Boca!

  • LM says:

    @LM two words, folks: VIRAT GUPTA.

    seriously one of the nicest, most passionate and dedicated student leaders here.

    that is all.

    1. seconded! says:

      @seconded! a reason alone to vote for cu charge.

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous I LOVE EKG! EKG IS ALL FOR ME!!!!

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous Ahhh having been at the debate last night I can definitely say this article isn’t too biased. UniteCU really didn’t come across looking that good. And Better CU really slapped them on their 12 K ferris wheel idea.
    That being said, Better CU is obviously very dynamic but there really is no way a group with so little experience could be productive. They may have won the debate, but insofar as they don’t have a chance to begin with and brought down UniteCU quite a bit, I think CU charge came across as the most appealing group. And Aki’s a pretty good speaker too. CU charge will get my vote.

    1. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous perfectly stated

    2. yeah says:

      @yeah because people in CCSC have been getting sooooo much done, right?

  • Uhhhhhhh says:

    @Uhhhhhhh SERIOUS QUESTION: Why would anyone want to get rid of free-food study breaks???????????????

    Also: There’s also a lot to be said for re-electing people who have been on CCSC already, because they know the ropes and understand the existing bureaucracy… ultimately CCSC is about organizing events and there’s only so much they can do in terms of ideas — what’s important is their ability to ACTUALLY GET THEIR IDEAS TO WORK. This requires a lot of knowledge of how Columbia’s bureaucracy works and it takes a long time to fully understand how the system works and build relationships with people at Columbia who will help you get the job done.

    1. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous YES. I AGREE!

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous this article is incredibly biased toward better CU.

  • DUH says:

    @DUH whoever is saying “better cu” and “cu charge” over Unite CU is clearly cognizant of the fact that Unite CU is the most popular choice right now, and thus the one you have to hate on most if you want anyone else to win. Chill the f*ck out! think about why they are popular…because they’re full of the nicest and most fun people, as well as the most qualified. Sure you might want a better Columbia, but that just means a vote for Unite CU.

    1. CC11 says:

      @CC11 Imma let you finish, but can I just point out that Andrew and Brandon have been fucking useless this whole year, just like Spec predicted they would be when they reluctantly endorsed Learned? Better Columbia had a point when they said it had been over 300 days since CCSC finance updated their site. Before I get the fuck outta here, I’m voting for a Better Columbia, cuz this place needs it.

      1. DUH again says:

        @DUH again Just shut up. Everyone knows youre on Better Cu, TRACKERRRRR REMEMBER?

  • Claire says:

    @Claire Remember we have a tracking feature guys!

    1. Ignorant Freshman says:

      @Ignorant Freshman What does that mean? What does a tracking feature do?

      1. Alex says:

        @Alex It highlights all comments that have been submitted from the same IP address. Obviously, there are ways around being tracked.

        1. Anonymous says:

          @Anonymous um yeah everyone in my suite tracks as one

  • ugh says:

    @ugh politics.

    i should have formed a “blunt assholes of cu” and stuck it to all of these people.

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous seriously? try harder better cu and cu charge, these comments are so fake. i haven’t seen a more enthusiastic and qualified group than unitecu, they definitely deserve some recognition here

    1. seas says:

      @seas I’ll agree with you about Brandon, but that’s it.

  • seas says:

    @seas too bad i can’t vote, but uniteCU is clearly just a bunch of politicians with big talk.

    roof day? Columbia would NEVER approve it.

    ferris wheel? off campus? really? that would NEVER work. people barely come to on campus events. why blow a ton of money on something off campus?


  • lolling says:

    @lolling “Reeling from this softball question”

    you rock, Bwog. That being said, carnival >>> backyard bbq.

    1. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous at least we dont have to take a bus to baker field for the bbq… unlike this half baked carnival idea

    2. Money says:

      @Money Funding for student groups > Carnival that nobody will attend. That’s why I’m voting Better CU.

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous The learning curve for Better CU would be absolutely ridiculous. There’s no way they could figure out everything about student council within the first semester, much less everything that the E-board needs to know. A vote for them is a vote for a wasted year.

    Vote CU Charge.

    1. so says:

      @so we are to choose experience and worse ideas and ideology over less experience and better ideas and ideology? I assume you voted for McCain in 2008?

    2. cc 12 says:

      @cc 12 yeah, this wasn’t written by cu charge or anything..

    3. There's says:

      @There's hardly a learning curve for CCSC.

      And since Barry’s got experience with governing boards, he knows everything you need to know to be on CCSC. You’ll be hard pressed to find a current member of CCSC who knows as much as he does.

      1. Anonymous says:

        @Anonymous apparently there is a CCSC learning curve. just ask andrew.

  • Stephan Vincenzo says:

    @Stephan Vincenzo Hey guys, I’m gonna be a write-in candidate this year. Support the Riker’s Party! Also if anyone has any coke, please let me know

  • CC11 says:

    @CC11 Better CU, you be killin’ em

  • the comments above says:

    @the comments above are about as unbiased as bwog’s comments about spec.

  • clearly says:

    @clearly uniteCU ftw

  • Yeah says:

    @Yeah I have to agree.

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous after reading this…go Better CU!!

  • Clearly says:

    @Clearly Better CU > CU Charge > UniteCU

    1. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous truth.

      Better CU they seem to genuinely want improvement. and they’re PRACTICAL.

      And CU Charge just seems more dynamic, they could get a lot done with their personalities.

    2. LBB'12 says:

      @LBB'12 This is nice and all but I’m pretty sure I’m just going to vote for my friends

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