USenate Elections: Meet Your Candidates, Part 1
Written by Bwog Staff
We’re pleased to introduce you to half of your USenate candidates. We did the honors of asking ’em all the same questions and present them to you in the order in which we received responses. Read on, get informed, and get ready to vote. We will have another post later with the remaining candidates. Voting begins this Wednesday, check Bwog for more updates. There will be a debate today at 4:30 pm in the Lerner Satow Room. See you there.
Name, school, class year: Samer Ozeir, Columbia College ’15
What do you bring to the table? An active voice in the Senate and a good judge on issues for the greater good.
What issues do you care most about? I care about the issues that are presented to me by the student body when or if I take office. Right now the biggest issue would be quality of life on campus and making sure the overall student body is pleased.
Have you been involved in campus politics? How? I have not ever been involved with campus politics but I am eager to get involved.
If you could change one thing about Columbia, what would it be? The school pride and spirit, I don’t think it is as high as it should be.
Would you rather give up oral sex or cheese? No comment.
Name, school, class year: Marc Heinrich, Columbia College, 2016
What do you bring to the table? As the only candidate currently working for the University Senate, I have the experience and the background necessary to hit the ground running if I am elected.. As a sophomore candidate, I would also have more than two years to pursue projects that would benefit students. Essentially, I would be able to work on both short-term projects, because of my experience, and long-term projects, because of the length of my term.
What issues do you care most about?
My first priority as Senator would be increasing the transparency in the Senate. Many students are unaware of the types of issues the Senate tackles, and do not have many opportunities to have voices heard. To fix this, I want to change the Senate’s current confidentiality guidelines to make the default structure for committees to be open to the public, give committee chairs the ability to publically release minutes, and hold semester town hall meetings for CC students to talk with their Senators. I also will try to make sure the Quality of Life Survey, a survey which was put out last year to all 36,000+ students at Columbia becomes a bi-annual survey. I’ve had the opportunity to dissect the survey results, and I believe it is a great way to ensure student opinion drives Senate policy.
In the short term, I would work to make CU Bike Share a University-wide, sponsored program. Currently, it is only available on a trial basis for a limited number of CC and SEAS students, but there is a strong student demand to have this program expanded. It would also allow for greener transportation for Columbia students – especially when it becomes necessary to travel to the Morningside Campus.
Long-term, I also think we need to update Columbia’s technological infrastructure and expand group study space. The current NINJa printing system is outdated and ineffective and I would advocate for CUIT to look into other systems, including the current Medical School’s printing system, PHAROS, which allows you to print from a global queue.
Have you been involved in campus politics? How? I currently serve as a staffer for the University Senate, working on projects such as the Quality of Life Survey, expanding online learning at Columbia, working to keep library study spaces open later, advocating for CUIT to update campus technology, and bringing the Senate website into the 21st century (one of the oldest looking websites at Columbia, seriously, check it out at senate.columbia.edu). Through my position, I’ve been able to learn a lot about how the Senate works, what is possible to change in the short term, what are realistic long-term goals, and, importantly, what is not feasible. I believe I will be able to use my experience to have the most productive Senate term possible.
If you could change one thing about Columbia, what would it be? I believe a more intimate housing system, like Yale’s residential colleges, could foster grater relationships with other students, faculty, and alumni. Columbia has more resources than one can count, and this would be a great step towards ensuring that every student is able to make the most of their Columbia education. Obviously, this isn’t a possible achievement for an individual Senator, but if we are able to get the conversation started, even goals this big might one day come to fruition.
Would you rather give up oral sex or cheese? C’mon, this is politics. It seems like actual Senators have shown that giving up oral sex is awfully unrealistic.
Name, school, class year: David Kang, Columbia College, 2015
What do you bring to the table? My heart is for activism, any and all kinds of activism. I am a proud member of CU Democrats, an organization primarily concerned with providing outlets for students to get involved in politics. Whether this activism happens through protests, canvassing, petitions, or administrative meetings, the CU Democrats has been a large part of my service to the university. I believe this spirit of activism is what I can bring to the table. I won’t just talk about change and make promises about my platform from an armchair; I will go out and fulfill those promises in any way I can and put in the energy needed to accomplish them.
What issues do you care most about? I believe Columbia should invest time in developing a smartphone application (perhaps call it the Lion App, Princeton calls them Tiger Apps). To keep up with peer institutions such as Princeton, Vanderbilt, and Duke, Columbia needs to remain competitive technologically to broaden incoming student appeal (and it’d be really cool to have an app!). I also think that the administration can be more forthcoming about a variety of things. Projects that the CU Democrats and I are working on: transparency of the campus sexual assault policy and transparency of Columbia’s investment in oil companies. This is information that should be released to students as soon as possible.
Have you been involved in campus politics? How? I have not been involved in campus politics, per se. While not a part of student politics, I am currently working on a project to institute annual voter registration drives for all incoming students to Columbia University (CC, SEAS, BC, GS). I am arranging meetings with the Office of Government and Community Affairs and the Office of Leadership and Civic Engagement this week. With that said, I think the Senate can use a breath of fresh air, someone who hasn’t come in through the traditional governing board avenue.
If you could change one thing about Columbia, what would it be? I would add a feature to Lionmail that could check if a person has opened an email or not. I hate getting the administrative run-around.
Would you rather give up oral sex or cheese? Short term–give up cheese. Long term–I guess if there are other means to have sex, I would pick cheese over oral.
Name, school, class year: Yassamin Issapour, Columbia College, 2015
What do you bring to the table? I am an effective communicator, who cares about the Columbia Community. Most students at Columbia don’t know what the function of the University Senate is, and I plan on using my communication skills (updating the senate website, emailing students, conversations, office hours etc.) to ensure that students know what is going on as Senate policy’s directly affect all students. As a junior, I am able to serve an almost full term in the senate; this is crucial because of the way that the senate functions, so I can ensure that projects are given the long-term attention that they need. For example, the smoking ban debate was an issue that started in the summer of 2012. It takes time, vision, and communication not only between members within the senate, but also between senate members and the students that they represent.
What issues do you care most about? There are new projects that need to be tackled, and projects that have been underway that need care and attention–such as analyzing the results of the Quality of Life Survey and Morningside Student Space Initiative. Updating campus technology–including printing, the senate’s website, and wi-fi in dorms; expanding online learning; supporting and expanding Columbia’s Global Centers; and ensuring that Columbia College students benefit from the effects of the Manhattanville expansion.
Have you been involved in campus politics? How? I have moderated election debates, and attended meetings, but I haven’t directly been involved in campus politics.
If you could change one thing about Columbia, what would it be? Create a stronger network of communication between all members of the Columbia community. There are so many things going on here that I think it’s easy to get buried in all of the academic work that we have as students, and as a result withdraw from other aspects of student life. The first step towards doing this would be updating some of the school’s informational websites, and allowing time for more face-to-face contact between students and their representatives. Columbia is a dynamic place, and if we come together, we can make the changes that we want to make.
Would you rather give up oral sex or cheese? This question is no longer as exciting for me because I recently discovered that I am lactose intolerant.