CCSC dragged itself back into Lerner for the first post-break meeting and Joseph Milholland joined to witness an awful lot of talking about things.
After a week off due to Fall break, the student council returned all together Sunday night with a heavy schedule lined up for the meeting. The first major item they addressed was a visit from CU Democrats about the sexual assault petition. The CU Dems came up with the petition after they had received numerous complaints about how sexual assault was handled at Columbia and other universities. In particular, there was a recent case at Yale were 4 rapists received written reprimands as their only punishment. Currently, the only statistic on sexual assault Columbia releases is the number of reported sexual assaults each year. The CU Dems is looking for the university to disclose statistics about how sexual assault is handled on campus that will keep the confidentiality of those involved. Similar statistics have been released at UConn, and the Department of Justice supports the release of these statistics. The CU Dems wants to got to PACSA (President’s Advisory Committee on Sexual Assault) with a lot of student backing so the petition does not get lost in bureaucracy.
Although not on the petition, the CU Dems also wanted to change to location of the Rape Crisis Center, which is currently in Hewitt Hall in Barnard and makes non-Barnard students give up their ID to the guard on duty and declare they are going to the Rape Crisis Center to get in. Additionally, the Rape Crisis Center is only open until 11 pm on weeknights, and the CU Dems want it to be open 24/7, The council is working on writing a resolution in support of the petition.
After that, Deantini came to take questions from the council. He took a seat in front of the council and offered himself up humbly for questions. He told the council they were like the trustees only “younger and smarter.” He said that the trustees were a “good bunch” with the student body as their number one concern. He also asked the the difference between clapping and snapping for support (snapping shows agreement without drowning out the speaker).
One council member asked Deantini what initiatives he was working on. He wants to get former students to meet with current students and tell them about how the path of their lives was shaped by a Columbia education. When asked about issues brought up during his office hours that CCSC was not addressing, Deantini said that the major questions brought to him he addresses to student groups. On the subject of the new Dean of Student Affairs, he said he “needs students involved in the actual search process.” He wants some one who would “represent the idea” of “[existing] to provide service and support” to students at Columbia College. Deantini has been in contact with members of CU Dems over accessibility to the Rape Crisis Center in Hewitt, but the rest of the issue he had not heard about and could not comment on. Finally, his Q&A session prompted a discussion on student wellness. Deantini said that the administration of course has a responsibility for wellness, but cannot take over students’ lives. In terms of Columbia’s course load, altering it is a difficult prospect. Administration could put limits on the number of credits students can take on or stop students from double majoring, but there would be backlash from students. In terms of individual courses or major requirements, the workloads are so variable it would be difficult to find solutions. Deantini does not want to close in on student freedom but wants to help students.
Finally, at the end of the meeting, there was a presentation on a new community-building project with a tentative title “I am Light Blue.” In 2007, there was an initiative with the same name that made some videos highlighting students and gave out some free stuff, but it fizzled out after a year. The program that will be implemented aims to build a community “around the central idea of being a Columbia University student.” The goals are to increase community and school spirit, have more alumni connections, and have more interactions with the community around Columbia. Some of the suggested initiatives have been flash mobs, speed friending, and a “Humans of CU” series like “Humans of New York.”
There were also some updates at the meeting. Importantly, the Class of 2014 is no longer selling sweatshirts. The Class of 2017 is planning a Tuesday study break from 8-10 in the Carman Lounge with free Insomnia Cookies. The Class of 2016’s class apparel is being released this week. The Class of 2015 is holding a clothing drive on Sunday November 17 and 24. Work is being done on extending Columbia College’s drop deadline, but the biggest problem is a 1999 report that said teachers appreciated the drop deadline as it is. The Policy Committee has improved getting same-day appointments at CPS. There will be another Bagelpalooza on Monday November 11.
ShutterStock model via Shutterstock