Maren Killackey braves political promises and an ice cream buffet to bring you the updates from the first CCSC meeting of the year.
The Satow Room abnormally peopled with student leaders, overachieving freshmen, and ice cream-loving freeloaders, the air of last night’s inaugural Columbia College Student Council meeting was rife with anticipation and excitement, albeit exuding almost exclusively from this year’s executive board, comprised of President Karishma Habbu (aka Prezbu), Vice President of Finance Daphne Chen, Vice President of Policy Will Hughes, Vice President of Campus Life Yanyi Luo, and Vice President of Communication Jared Odessky.
Prezbu’s impassioned opening remarks were a clear attempt to rally the troops. Replete with calls for change and allusions to creating tangible impact, 2012-13’s CCSC Commander in Chief appeared eager to please, even saying of the ice cream sundae buffet – and only half-jokingly perhaps – “We’re trying to buy your love.”
Being the first meeting of the year, it was pretty talking heads-; e-board members going on about what they consider their responsibilities to be, what their vision for their respective committees are, details of an ambitious agenda, blah blah blah. However, what was impressive was the work a number of council members have been doing over the summer. That’s right Columbians, your elected student officials aren’t just in it for the line on their resumes. They actually like… do stuff and care:
Voter Registration – CCSC collaborated with pretty much every relevant student group on campus to partner with TurboVote, a self-described Netflix for voting service, that would allow students to register to vote and receive free voting materials, so that we all might participate in the second most hallowed American tradition: democracy. The first most hallowed tradition is, of course, deep fried butter.
Policy – Thanks to the efforts of VP Campus Services Scott Wright and VP Policy Hughes, all buildings on campus should now be wireless. “Should.”
Hughes and GendeRevolution President Gavin McGown also worked with the admissions office to end the heteronormative practice of printing only Male/Female gender options with adjacent check boxes on applications and will now include a blank line giving students the ability to completely self-identify.
On what might be a disappointing note for underclassmen, Hughes has also been talking to admin about an ETA for the East Campus entrance remodel. While it would prevent the weekend bottleneck and be more efficient or whatever, it would make it way harder for non-residents to sneak in friends from other schools, and where else are you going to take them to get free alcohol? Turns out that ETA is right around the corner… as in Tuesday, to which virtually every single person in the room responded, “Hahahahahaha. Yeah right.
As he didn’t want to “prescribe too much,” Hughes mentioned just two main policy initiatives he’s looking forward to pursuing this year. The first is rescuing the Columbia Arts Initiative, which is currently in a rather rough state. The second, born out of discussion Gavin McGown and CQA Prez Marita Inglehart, is to start work on a Queer Studies concentration that would be housed within the Women and Gender department. Hughes said he has already been in contact with various professors and administrators about what classes would be included, and that hopefully “it will be available for people graduating in Spring 2014.”
Finally, as a sort of present-future hybrid policy item, Hughes revealed that it’s actually pretty easy to add vendors to Flex and that equipped with this information he’ll be soliciting ideas for recommendations on what vendors should be approached to add to the system. Hughes is currently engaged in discussion with – drum roll, please – Oren’s and Joe, though both have yet to sign on. If there’s a business you want take Flex, you can e-mail Hughes at wmh2116, but also be sure to let said business know it’s a service their customers appreciate.
Campus Life – VP Yanyi Luo took a moment to briefly outline what she hopes to accomplish this year, most of which she says center on the idea of benefiting students’ Columbia experience on a daily level. Tossing around suggestions from random bagel breakfasts in Hamilton to bouncy castles on the lawns, Luo implied that this year Campus Life will be about planning a greater number of small events that have a big impact on student life.
Communications – Following up on an idea widely discussed during last year’s Council, VP Jared Odessky’s first comments about Communication initiatives in the Habbu Administration centered on the publication of “How To” guides on topics like using basic resources, shopping smartly in Morningside Heights, booking space, etc. Odessky said that the centerpiece of the reference collection would be the guide How to Make a Difference, and all guides will be released during a How to Make a Difference event this October.
Finance – VP Daphne Chen expressed a desire to “spend as much as we can” of CCSC’s $950,000 budget this year, “as wisely as we can.” She hopes to give most of it away to clubs and in the form of Student Project Grants, and also plans to create two reserves, one to be called the Travel Fund, which would be expressly for clubs travelling to competitions and such, and the other the Capital Investment Fund, which would allow clubs to purchase larger ticket items like cameras or other necessary items.
C@CU – Academic Affairs Representative Steven Catellano said that he’s still talking with administrators about how to best handle the recent increase of academic dishonesty at Columbia. He aims to develop an honor code that will be written in blue exam books or syllabi (or both) as well as establish a committee on academic integrity.
Liaisons – In a change to the council structure, being a liaison to other governing boards will NOT be one of the hats council members will have to wear this year. Says VP Communication Odessky, “we’re trying to keep [members’] council commitments at a minimum” so that their attention won’t be divided and they can focus on doing the jobs they were elected to do well. This means that the positions will be open to all non-council students, who can look forward to the application for the position being released soon.
Sweet Progress via Wikimedia Commons