Welcome to the University Senate elections debate.  We will be liveblogging the proceedings as the candidates make their stand at the Satow Room in Lerner.  Learn more about half of the candidates here, we’ll have the other half for you tomorrow.


4:34: We’re hangin’ here waiting for the debate to begin.  Pizza is being served and the candidates are now all seated.  Let’s a-goooooooo

4:36: Sammy Roth, Spec’s EIC, is moderating and has begun.  Candidates are restricted to 60 second responses.  He notes that at the last debate he moderated, there were only 2 candidates, as opposed to the 9 we have today.

4:37: Candidates begin intros.  Conor Skelding kicks things off, saying he wants people in the Senate who want to speak directly to the student body.

4:38: Alexander Andresian notes that he’s been in CCSC for 3 years and has spent a year on the Senate.  He’s “very aware of what students want” and is familiar with the Senate agenda.  He wants to make the Senate digital and communicate more directly.  Also notes the Quality of Life Survey and addressing sexual assault in better, clearer ways.  “I’m a senior, I’m not looking for reelection, I just want to do what’s right for the school.”

4:39: Manik Uppal, also a senior, reiterates he’s not looking for reelection.  Says the Senate has “frankly” missed a lot of important issues.  “I want to change the conversation.”  Wants to use the public role to advocate on behalf of the students.

4:41: “I really do care about this university.” — Samer Ozeir.  He likes connecting with people and can understand what people want.  There are really important issues that he would really like to get on work with (sexual assault, Quality of Life)

4:42: Jacob Johnson is a freshman, but has worked in his high school board.  Wants to make course evaluations open and end the smoking ban debate–“we should maintain the smoking ban rules as they are.”  Stop divestment, only invest in alternative energy sources, and publish anonymous data on sexual assault.  His brother is a senior so he knows the issues on campus.

4:43: Yassamin Issapour, a junior, was upset that at last week’s plenary the Senators were unable to talk, especially about things that affect CC students.  Addresses Manhatanville, Uris Library.  Wants to open email communication with student body, hold office hours.  Improve printers and communication and online learning.

4:45: Marc Heinrich reiterates Skelding’s point about the origin of the Senate, to get Columbia students actually involved in making a difference on campus.  “I’m the only person who’s actually on the Senate as a staffer.”  Says there needs to be more transparency–make meeting open to students and make meeting notes public.  Wants bike share to be for all undergrads, university-wide.  Thinks the Senate needs to be more responsive to students.

4:47: David Froomkin talking now.  We’ve got our first prepared, written intro.  Overhaul psychological services, save students’ money, renegotiate dining contracts, improve campus technology (campus-wide wi-fi).  Notes that none of these issues are really controversial and wants to reform Senate so that they are addressed.

4:48: David Kang notes that he transferred here last year and loved that it welcomed him with open arms, wants to give back.  As CUDems treasurer, he worked a lot in affecting change rather than just talking about it–working, not talking.  He’s been working on divestment, sexual assault, and name dropped Chad Washington.  He wants to actually do things and “put in the work,” not just talk.

4:50: Question 1: How to improve Senate responsiveness to students’ interest. Kang suggests adding a feature to lionmail which shows whether or not an email has been read. Froomkin suggests open Senate meetings, and public deliberation. Heinrich suggests open minutes . Heinrich and Issapour also agree to open meetings and minutes.

4:54: Johnson suggests initiatives and referendums.

4:56: Ozeir emphasizes technology as a tool for communication between senate and students.

4:57: Uppal reminds us of the power of the Senate and that updates can keep students aware of Senate activity.

4:58: Andresian suggests a Senate that “bends to the whim of the students” would be well connected to the study body.

5:00: Skelding: “the Senators are never going to set the agenda at plenary.”  Going against what basically everyone else had said–as students, we don’t have much of a voice on the plenary and the best we can do is communicate what’s going on to the rest of the student body.

5:01: Aaaand all the candidates are now responding to Skelding.  Heinrich asserts that there are a few people who can help change agenda.  Issapour asserts that’s why we need people on the Senate who will be there for longer than one year.  Ozeir (who insists on standing every time he talks) asserts that we can change the agenda through persistence.  We almost had a sports reference, but Ozeir ran out of time.

5:02: Holy shit look at the USenate website: http://senate.columbia.edu/

5:02: Question 2: biggest issues you care about?  Skelding top 2 priorities: cutting back on student surveilance and improving labor relations.

5:03: Andresian: use Facebook.  Notes that he worked digital on the Obama campaign so knows how to make that accessible to students.  Also personally cares about sexual assault and handling it to make relations better.  “Mitigate the problems of its causes and make punishments stricter.”

5:04: Uppal: Create a mobile app to improve transparency.  Take a shot every time someone says “transparency.”  He’s read the Student Wellness report and thinks it fell short–wants to improve quality of life.  Wants to support issues the Senate doesn’t normally address.

5:05: Ozeir: improve quality of life–though we never know what issues are going to pop up after elections.  Release the Quality of Life survey results (this is happening later this semester, FYI).  Brings up sexual assault–really bothered by statistics about amount of college women who are assaulted.

5:06: Johnson (wearing a red blazer): improve Quality of Life.  First mention of The Core.  Wants to do more specific surveys about specific issues that come up.  Voting by student body in a ballot.  Open course evals!  Gosh we would really love that.

5:07: Issapour: what we’ve seen in a lot of Spec op-eds is that communication and open discussion is messed up and needs to be fixed.  Specifically WRT sexual assault and quality of life.  Improve Columbia online learning; she’s taking one of the first online learning classes at Columbia.

5:08: Heinrich reminds everybody that he’s actually been working in the Senate on the Quality of Life survey, so he’d be able to seamlessly work.  References WTFColumbia to get students involved.  Wants to have Columbia email address have an option to be your first name/last name rather than UNI, to help when emailing potential employers.

5:09: Froomkin: “any agenda cannot succeed unless we make the Senate work for us.”  Open minutes, public participation, use technology.

5:10: Kang thanks candidates for coming up with ideas, but notes that none of them have specific ideas for how to actually fix things.  Talks about CUDems concrete format to enact change.

5:11 Audience question: how can the Senate connect with the Board of Trustees?

5:12: Kang: students can bring attention to issues.

5:13 Froomkin: bring students into meetings

5:17: Candidates continue agree that what students care about is important.

5:18: Audience question: if you weren’t elected, how would you continue improving campus?  Skelding: continue talking to students and admins and teachers to understand what issues are and how they work.  Andresian: through his continued work on CCSC.  Uppal: if I’m not elected, I’ll become a Senate staffer.  Ozeir: he’d be happy to be still breathing, were he not elected.  Would probably become a staffer.  Johnson: he’s a big fan of the initiative process and would join specific student interest groups (environmental, economics, student wellness) to promote initiatives.

5:20: Issapour would write a lot on WTFColumbia and go directly to CCSC, name drops the board and Senators.  Would write op-eds.  Spec op-eds getting so much love here.  Should we start doing op-eds?  Lol jk never.  Heinrich: I’m already a staffer, motherfuckers.  Froomkin: just keep swimming.  Kang: would double down on activism, through CUDems.  Dems want contraceptive vending machines!!!!!!!!

5:23: Skelding responds to Kang, asserts that other groups (SWS, BCDivest) also enact change, not just CUDems.

5:24: Froomkin quotes Elizabeth Warren, says he wants to take an activist approach.

5:24: Kang: “I’m not here to pitch for the CU Democrats” but they have a great model on how to get things done.

5:25: Question: how would you use the results of the quality of life survey? Skelding: don’t send out a giant survey in the middle of finals. Andresian: “use data for effective solutions.” Uppal: There were about 90 question. “I do physics and math. We do a lot of problem solving.”

5:28 Ozeir: analyze data and figure it out from there. Johnson: Follow-up surveys. Mentions consensus on rollover meals. Issapour: create a survey space for student health and wellness.

5:30: Heinrich: Get rid of redundant questions, figure out what students really want done.  He really wants to remind you that he’s already on the Senate. Froomkin: open up committee process to student participation, move beyond the survey. Kang: distribute survey information among students and media, discuss and re-hash.

5:33: Skelding’s response: the data won’t tell the senate exactly what to do. “Conversation with individual students is far more important.”  Aaaand now all the candidates are shouting “oh hell yeah we’ll be talking to individuals!!!!!”


5:35: Bwog’s crying.  Jesus campus politics.

5:36: EVERYONE “STRONGLY SUPPORTS” IT.  Andresian wants to get more information before really agreeing.  Skelding signed the petition.

5:37: READY FOR CLOSING STATEMENTS? (yes, yes we are.)

5:37: Skelding: Been going to Senate meetings since 2010, “I don’t have anything to lose by pissing off administrators.”

5:37: Andresian: experience in CCSC and Senate.  “The Lion said that I strangle kittens.”  That’s not true.

5:37: Uppal: use Senate responsibilities as stronger advocate for stuff that’s not normally discussed at Senate.  Told us to check out his website but didn’t give us the URL–reminding us lots of Bling Ring.  That movie was awesome.

5:38: Ozeir raises a fist at a friend who just walked in.

5:38: Johnson: is really pumped on getting student body to respond to ballots and stuff.  Wait didn’t we almost not have an election because the Senate thinks the student body doesn’t respond to campus politics a lot?

5:39: Issapour: I’M A GIRL.  Every student’s voice should be heard–including SEAS!  Shout out to Nicole Bleuel, SEAS’14.  Also tells us to check out her website, also doesn’t provide the URL.


5:41: Froomkin wants “smart, sensible solutions.”  Direct participation, open meetings, open minutes.  Direct public interaction and participation.  Technology!  An activist Senate that gets results.  “Reform the broken process.”

5:41: Kang: “I’m ready to get my hands dirty.”  Tells us to check out his website and actually provides URL!  dkang.org

5:42: Aaaaaaand we’re done here.  Voting starts on Wednesday!