This the last of our CCSC Interviews, so now you know everything you need to know to vote, starting Monday. While her fellow sophomores were partying on a boat, Bwog Daily Editor Sameea Butt interviewed another batch of CCSC candidates. Read on to see what UniteCU has to say about CCSC, “Columbia community,” and bureaucracy.
N.B. They also and the fight song with great aplomb but we cannot post it here due to technical difficulties. Jk, it’s below now!
How would you evaluate the job done by the current student council? Especially the current executive board?
Andrew Nguyen (President): I think they’ve done a fantastic job in terms of collaborating with other governing boards. I think that’s how we’ve had tremendous output. If you look at our website, you’ll see that we’ve passed over 13 resolutions which show that we have been in touch not only with other student governing boards but also that student groups and individuals who want to be involved with policy can be. It’s been exciting because we’ve passed the most resolutions since 2004.
Brandon Christophe (VP Funding): I think the executive board has done a great job of enhancing student allocating money to the governing board in Columbia collectively. We’ve been making sure that student life fees are used on them this year, and we’re trying to give students the resources. Overall the executive board has done a great job to span the campus and get things done to empower the students.
Andrew: But this year’s e-board is not without caveats. With all that we’ve accomplished, we want to maintain the breadth we’ve had and drive forward with larger issues and initiatives.
Alana Tung (VP Communications) : It’s done a fantastic job and we’re honored to have Andrew and Brandon on our ticket, but we also have new perspectives from me, Megan, and Elizabeth. We can give new and necessary perspectives.
Megan Carley (VP Campus Life): Having been a leader in her student group, Alana knows what processes aren’t working, Elizabeth is involved in green initiatives, I, myself, am in a sorority and on the lacrosse team. We all have new perspectives.
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?
Elizabeth Kipp-Giusti (VP, Policy): It’s been an issue that’s been brought up here every year. Part of the problem is the way our campus has been structured, the fact that we’re in this city is going to play into that, but I also think that there is some campus culture that is directed in terms of individuality, and your attention goes to what you are interested in. One way to combat that is to plan to have large events in the center of campus. The role of the Student Council is to transcend groups and bring people together as groups and recognize that we’re people who share the same space. We mentioned the idea of study breaks being less centered on food–the idea is not to reduce the presence of food on campus, the idea is to have people come together and hang out. It’s a little idealistic to want to have breaks to come and hang out, but it’s good to have that.
Brandon: Elizabeth brought up a good point. There are glimpses of that community—there’s huge attendance at events like 40s on 40 and Glasshouse Rocks because people are invested in those things. We need to make sure that things happening on campus are things that people are invested in.
What do you understand to be the major concerns of students? Given those concerns, what would be your board’s top new policy priorities?
Elizabeth: I personally think a large part of the problems on this campus comes from tech stuff, making things more digital. All of the Lerner Event management stuff has to happen online, online course evaluations, switching from Cubmail to Gmail, making sure CULPA isn’t the only resource we have, fixing Courseworks. CUIT has a large presence in our lives. We need to make sure that the platforms we’re building at Columbia are as strong as possible. So I think the idea of having student input with CUIT is important.
Megan: I learned in my Planet Earth class that the University of Arizona has implemented a program that allows students to test out iPads. For us, as students at one of the highest caliber institutes in the country, not to test out cool programs like that because our technology is not up to date, is not the way this university should operate. I think that students should want to come to this institute to test out technology, and I think we should be able to update our technology and stay on top of it
What experience does each of your ticket members bring to CCSC’s executive board?
Megan: I have not been involved in Student Council before, but that makes me more excited because I’ve been a leader in other respects. I’m Vice President of communications at my sorority, Delta Gamma. I’m on the lacrosse team, and within athletics, I’m a part of Leaders for Life where student athletes work with administration and coaches to facilitate relationships. There have not always been Greeks or athletes on Student Council, but they’re dominant campus groups.
Elizabeth: I like to talk to people. I enjoy getting to know people, and I think that’s a big part of having an impact on people. I’ve spent the past two years as Eco Rep, and I’m on the board of Green Umbrella now. I had a column in the Spectator, an environmental column, so I got a journalistic side of things. That gave me leeway into knowing how reporting works here, which is important: it’s good to know how students get their information.
Alana: This past year I was President of the Chinese Students Clubs, a large multicultural student group on campus. Learning the ins and outs of a student group and facing a number of hurdles in booking space, funding, and general confusion with several processes led to me to become a Representative on ABC. Experiencing what goes on on a governing board level, I realized there was so much not being effectively communicated among the governing boards and between the governing boards and student groups. Fostering these connections and lessening the hierarchical divide is one of my number one motivations for running for VP Communications. My goal is utilizing these experiences I’ve had to benefit the students—for instance, help them get better funding from the governing board. I want to be that voice for student groups on the whole, fight through bureaucratic processes.
Andrew: I’m Co-Vice President of the Economics Society, and I co-founded Columbia Queer Business Society. This year was also my first time in an elected position on the Student Council, and I was able to implement a lot of new ideas. That doesn’t leave me jaded at all, but empowered, Knowing about the role of CCSC and how to get things done on this campus, I’ve had to learn who to talk to and when, how to push buttons. I don’t think there’s anything we haven’t been able to accomplish.
Brandon: My resumé is a lot shorter than theirs. I’m a mentor in a program and Philanthropy Chair of SigEp. I was a class representative on the CC 2012 Student Council and VP Funding for CCSC. There’s a lot of finance funding, and I’m interested in providing student groups with the resources they need.
How do you see the role of the council as it relates to not only students in CC, but the administration, the senate, and the wider university community?
Andrew: It’s hugely important. CCSC is just one wheel in the system. CCSC is as important as ESC and SGA. We need to build a consensus among ourselves. It’s our responsibility to take the initiative to ask each other what we want. We understand this process, so when we talk to the administration, we really need to solicit everyone’s ideas. CCSC needs to remind senators that they represent CC, which they know, but we want closer relationships with them.
Brandon: I think CCSC is very strategic because we’re not governing over their lives, we’re advocating for them. The reason this power’s been entrusted to us is that we’ve built relationships and know how to navigate channels.
Elizabeth: There’s a reason why they call it “civil servant,” because you’re supposed to be serving the people you represent. It’s a serious job that requires knowing what is feasible in administrative eyes, knowing what groups’ problems are, and making sure that as much work is being done as possible.
Comments on Thursday night’s debate:
Elizabeth: I’m so happy that people are involved in these campaigns on an intellectual level, and it was good to see that come out in Thursday’s event. I think it pushes everyone to make sure that they not only know what they’re doing, but can also express it in a tangible way.
Alana: I wish it was more of a forum where information could have been shared among the parties. We didn’t get to respond. There was an issue we wanted to respond to—our policies are geared at pushing towards more student group involvement. It’s about bringing groups together. The Film Festival idea is a way to get people involved.
Megan: Taking the experience of Student Rewards that we have in athletics, I think we should mirror that within the whole student body. I think it’s the job of CCSC to bridge that gap and bring more people to come to these games and build a better sense of community, giving them reasons to come to games by offering free t-shirts at your second game and providing more shuttles up to Baker. People shouldn’t have to swipe if the athletes don’t have to. That’s a program that’s worked with athletics, and it can work with the general body, too.