At tonight’s CCSC meeting, Daphne Chen announced that 2016 representative and Campus Life Committee member Ben Kornick resigned for “personal reasons.” In this letter to the council’s board, leaked on our anonymous tip form, he disagrees with the current state of the Campus Life Committee (one of four committees) and notes how he hopes to spark “self-reflection” in other members of the council.

He writes that he was “disappointed to see a lack of initiative, creativity, dedication, and work ethic among the current leaders and proposed future leaders of the Campus Life Committee.” Kornick questioned the throwing away of money on giveaways and other events with poor planning and minimal support; he recommended that Campus Life “disband and disperse its budget to groups who could put it to better use.”

Kornick continues on about three kinds of CCSC members: “those who do a ton of work and come to every meeting, there are those who do dismal work but come to every meeting, and there are those who do a ton of work but do not make many meetings.” Kornick places himself in the last category. According to CCSC’s end of semester report, he missed 2.5 meetings in the fall; out of the thirty-odd members of the council, two members missed three meetings, and one other missed 2.5.

CCSC members have spoken recently of tensions within the group. After last week’s meeting, the council held an off-the-record discussion about the “elephants in the room.” We hear the trumpeting. In addition, indirect elections will be held to fill Ben’s position. Ramis Wadood, CC ’16 president, says CCSC “would love to do a direct election, but right now [they’re] leaning towards an indirect election, which would be as direct as possible.” Hmm.

Read Kornick’s full letter to the board below.

February 15, 2014

Dear CCSC,

I am writing today to inform you of my decision to resign as an elected Representative of the CCSC Class of 2016. I am not happy with the direction that the Campus Life Committee has taken and do not feel that the current leadership can bring about a positive turn of events in the near future. However, please note that out of respect for the organization as a whole, I will see to my responsibilities and obligations by continuing to work on my current projects, including the 9-day Columbia Music Festival and various activities sponsored by the Class of 2016 Council.

This past year, I ran for an elected representative position on CCSC for the Class of 2016, in hopes that I would be able to have a greater impact on developing events and activities that would bring about a stronger sense of community on campus. Urban schools like Columbia often face a lack of school spirit and campus unity. With the resources available to CCSC both on campus as well as within the greater New York City, I was disappointed to see a lack of initiative, creativity, dedication, and work ethic among the current leaders and proposed future leaders of the Campus Life Committee. Last year’s committee streamlined many new and exciting events, while this year’s has just been playing catch-up on the “mandatory” events we have to throw. It seems that we are throwing money at giveaways and events other groups are planning rather than stepping up and planning our own. While writing this, I received yet another email about a proposal to throw money and minimal support at an event RHLO is doing. I am not saying we shouldn’t support these other groups, but we have to prioritize our own work at some point. Further, when one person caused a major setback in Columbia Music Festival, there were talks of just cancelling it. That’s 50,000 dollars. That amounts to a yearly salary for many Americans. Who are we to just throw it away?

This past year, CCSC has been a huge disappointment. The leaders of the Campus Life Committee have been unprofessional, uncommunicative and unsupportive of the members at large, who are working tirelessly to make things happen.

The Campus Life Committee of CCSC has a large financial backing, particularly in comparison to the other Councils and various clubs, and yet does very little, with the exception of simple events around “swag” and giveaways. I feel that the goal should be to use its budget to bring unique and special events to campus that would further unify the student body and encourage school spirit. Glass House Rocks is a perfect example of the type of thing CCSC should be immersing itself in, and, although I imagine the Council might in fact applaud themselves for it, I would caution CCSC to take credit for it, as for the last two years, it was run by non-elected members. All CCSC did was foot the bill. Furthermore, with uninspiring leadership, it is simply hard to stay motivated. Nevertheless, I tried to instill changes to the best of my ability as the only underclass member of the committee, but those changes have only brought Campus Life Committee up from a dysfunctional committee to a functional one, not one that should be praised.

There is so much we could do and it is for this reason that I wanted to run for VP of Campus Life. As the only active elected member of Campus Life not graduating, I thought I was the most qualified candidate. However, both running parties informed me of their decision to go with someone else both less qualified and less experienced than me but who fit the demographic profile they were looking for to “round out their party.”

Putting my issues and concerns aside, I encourage those running next year to seriously think about why they are running and what they hope to accomplish as a member of the Board. I recognize the good work of the Policy Committee but I am very concerned about the Campus Life Committee. The Committee is not in a good place at this time, since its strongest members are graduating. If we do not have in place the leaders qualified enough to make good things happen, perhaps CCSC should move away from planning events and put the money towards sponsoring events produced by other clubs and groups. In other words, if we don’t start achieving excellence, I recommend that Campus Life disband and disperse its budget to groups who could put it to better use.

As far as I can tell, there are three types of people in CCSC. There are those who do a ton of work and come to every meeting, there are those who do dismal work but come to every meeting, and there are those who do a ton of work but do not make many meetings. I like to think I am part of the third group and my resignation is one way of owning up to that fact. I do not see the value in meetings where we sit around and talk in circles and nothing gets done. I hope the resignation of someone in the third category sparks some self-reflection for those who are in the second category. I feel I have worked very hard for this organization, and yet, when the leadership draws the line for potential impeachment or resignation, only the third category is significant. Perhaps the CCSC Constitution should be revised such that members in the second category also qualify for impeachment. Or better yet, that these members hold themselves accountable and consider resigning, just as I have done.

For the most part, my experiences in CCSC have been great. I have met a ton of people who I absolutely love and respect. I want to make this clear, as this letter highlights the negatives rather than the positives. To those I love, you know who you are and I sincerely hope we stay in touch, even though many of you are graduating. I wish you all the best. Finally, I hope this letter comes off as constructive criticism rather than an attack, but ultimately, if anyone has any questions, I invite you to come speak to me directly.


Benjamin Kornick

Photo via Sig Nu