Chairman Mao Heinrich?

Chairman Mao would be encouraging greater self-criticism

We’re back at school, and CCSC’s back at business. Our Satow Room Bureau Chief Joseph Milholland took notes.

The first Columbia College Student Council meeting of the Spring 2014 semester took place under the influence of two articles from student publications: the request from the Editorial Board of the Columbia Daily Spectator that the CCSC’s semester reports be more self-critical, and Anna Bahr’s (BC ’14) article for The Blue & White about the handling of sexual assault at Columbia.

Most of the council raised their hands when asked if they had read The Blue and White article on sexual assault. CU Dems President Sejal Singh, CC ’15, came to the meeting to talk about sexual assault on campus. Singh said she wanted more statistics and transparency about the sexual assault investigation process and a “dialogue” between students and deans about sexual assault at Columbia. She also found it “disturbing” that interviews with survivors were not recorded and that there were mistakes in the hand-written interviews, as revealed in Bahr’s article.

Singh and University Senator Marc Heinrich, CC ’16, have had many meetings with Dean Martinez and other administrators, as well as with the Office of Gender-Based Misconduct and Title IX coordinators. The meetings with Martinez lead to a “fairly productive” meeting with a subcommittee of the President’s Advisory Committee on Sexual Assault who were “sympathetic” to their requests. However, PACSA is “untransparent” (its membership is a secret, but it includes “two confidential students”). Heinrich is hoping to form a public subcommittee of PACSA. There also has been some progress: SAFER (Students Active for Ending Rape) will come to campus, and a task force has been formed to address the lack of seriousness in Consent in Sexy, both in its teaching and enforcing its mandatory status. Marc Heinrich stressed that the Student Affairs Committee, the CU Dems, CCSC, and many other student groups are working towards a “significant policy change” by spring break.

With regards to the Spectator editorial, President Daphne Chen, CC ’14, said she wanted to take a “self-critical moment” to prepare for the “always crazy” Spring semester. One suggested change to the semester reports that Harvard, Princeton, and Fordham use is arranging the report by issues (like campus life) rather than organizations (like class councils). Also, the semester report has only been around for two years and has been getting more transparent over time.

After an initial overview of the report, the council broke up into small groups to discuss improvements they could make and then re- convened to share them with the whole council. Jackson Tse, CC ’15, noted moments of hostility in the council and wanted to “improve the unity of [the] council.” Kareem Carryl, CC ’15, wanted to record which of the council’s events people actually went to for “institutional memory.” He also noted that there had been “difficulties” co-ordinating with SGA. Zach Vargas-Sullivan, CC ’14, said the retreat “was whack” from a lack of interaction. He also stressed the importance of “addressing elephants in the room” and to “start trusting each other.” Sarita Patankar, CC ’14, wanted to make sure initiatives don’t “fall through the cracks.”

The self-criticism environment was perhaps aided by the fact that all the tables in the Satow Room had disappeared and had been replaced by chairs, so the council had to form an impromptu circle for their meeting. The council also used this new meeting format to do a quick recap at the beginning of the meeting about what they did over the break, both CCSC related (getting “no more fire alarms before 10 am” and preparations for the first CUIT Advisory Committee meeting on February 17) and personal (working with the EPA on “biofuel regulations,” viewing “four seasons of Breaking Bad,” working on a “One Direction fandom tumblr,” and, of course, “playing roulette with Jason Sudeikis”).

Leftist figures of yore via Shutterstock