USenate: PACSA, QoL and ASCRI

Written by

But otherwise it was not this empty.

PrezBo was late. Awkward.

Yesterday’s University Senate plenary was packed with action and acronyms. We sent Low Lover Maud Rozee to observe.

PrezBo missed the first half of the plenary because he was at an event congratulating donors on the success of the capital campaign. His absence stymied the “Questions for the President” part of the agenda, which is too bad because there would’ve been some interesting questions about Columbia’s investment in private prisons and fossil fuels. PrezBo apologized for his tardiness.

1. Report from the Advisory Committee of Socially Responsible Investing (ACSRI):

  • ACSRI is a committee of neutral experts which advises the trustees of a university on what they should divest from, and how they should vote in various proxy votes which are brought up by the companies they are invested in.
  • Currently, Columbia is in the process of divesting from companies which fuel conflict in Sudan, as well as tobacco companies.
  • ACSRI tries to get input from students through collaboration with certain courses, as well as events like an upcoming panel discussion on fossil fuel divestment, which will be held on Monday, April 7th from 7:00-9:00 pm in Earl Hall. The panel is cosponsored by ACSRI and Barnard Columbia Divest for Climate Justice (BCD).
  • Columbia College Senator Jared Odessky brought up the concern that there was no opportunity for BCD to have a conversation with ACSRI, or the panelists. The ACSRI representative responded that there would be 60 minutes of Q & A after the discussion.

  • Odessky also asked whether ACSRI was on track to produce a report and recommendations on fossil fuel divestment by the end of the semester. The ACSRI representative responded that ACSRI was not, and did not have a deadline on their consideration of fossil fuels.
  • Odessky raised the concern that there is no transparency in ACSRI’s process, and that members probably have agendas which are contrary to the interests of students. The representative said that ACSRI are only advisors, and that they are committed to transparency and discussion with students through town halls. Odessky reiterated that the conversation about the transparency of ACSRI’s process was not over.

2. Resolution to Fund and Institutionalize a University-Wide Student Quality-of-Life Survey and Proposal

  • Student Affairs Committee Chairs Matthew Chou and Akshay Shah noted that the previous quality of life survey had provided data to drive decisions and allowed student voices to be heard.
  • Many other senators who represent student bodies made statements in support of the resolution.
  • After a lot of questions from faculty skeptical of the need for a survey every 2 years, or that there would be too much access to the data, the resolution passed.
  • The Quality-of-Life Survey will be carried out at most every 2 years.

3. Resolution to Amend the Presidential Advisory Committee on Sexual Assault

  •  The membership of PACSA will be streamlined to 13, appointed for two-year terms, with co-chairs or chair designeated by the president. Membership will include at least three tenured faculty, one non-tenured faculty with relevant expertise and three students, one undergrad, one grad and one a member of the USenate Student Affairs Committee. Faculty and student members will be nominated by the USenate. A member of the Office of the General Council will be an ex officio member of PACSA. Membership will be public.
  • PACSA will have a website which hosts its mission statement, mandate and an annual report to the president and the Senate, which will be released no later than 1 year from now.
  • PrezBo assured questioners that gender balance will be considered when making up PACSA.
  • PrezBo also promised that PACSA will have the adequate staffing so that it can make things happen.
  • The resolution passed unanimously.
  • PrezBo also stated that he is working on a letter to the community with updates on the response to the town hall and other concerns about sexual assault.

The plenary wrapped up with a presentation from Richard Witten, Special Advisor to the President, on entrepreneurship. His mission is to make Columbia’s reputation better among entrepreneurs, and to increase profitable research and entrepreneurship at Columbia. To that end, Columbia will open a We Work space on Varrick Street to help young alums advance their ventures.

Action-packed plenary via Shutterstock

Tags: , , , , , , , ,


  1. cc'15  

    GO JARED! thank you for those questions/pressure on ACSRI

    • `14  

      Isn't it a bit worrying that our representatives are being subversive instead of constructive? Senators need to build constructive relationships with administrators, not burn bridges.

      • Formerly ccsc  

        Snaps on snaps on snaps.

        No administrator will respect/listen to radicals. Progress comes from being pragmatic.

        • Student leader  

          You two are spot on. I am glad that we elected two senators who aren't afraid to agree with the administration and stop these troublemakers.

          • Lol

            I completely agree - we should ONLY elect senators who advocate for the administrations' opinions, not students. Our goal should be to ensure that all Senators are working to help further the administrations goals - I really hope this doesn't change!

      • beyonce pad thai

        I don't think we need more yes men in the name of "coalition building"
        circle jerks can occur in the privacy of usenate offices.

      • anon  

        I know, is he like, seriously asking for accountability?! And that admins do their freaking jobs?! What has this world come to?!!!

        • CCSC

          There's a distinction made between asking for accountability and being a gadfly in public. If you hassle someone in public, however fulfilling 2 minutes of grandstanding will feel, the person will become unwilling to engage in private for the 2 hours or 2 days or 2 weeks or 2 months or however long it takes to actually address the issue.

          What do you want to do more? Grab newspaper headlines, or actually accomplish something?

  2. Anonymous

    Fuck off, Matt Chou.

  3. rjw

    I have had the honor to have Matt as a mentor, and view him as a role model. I cannot understand how anyone could be so hateful of such a dedicated and caring person.

  4. Subversive?  

    This is what a student representative is supposed to do -- Jared's asking questions in a plenary meeting, not storming Low. Representing student concerns and voices *is* constructive. How else should he be advocating for students?

  5. I feel sorry for RJW  

    You chose one of the most self-serving people to have as a mentor. His dedication is to his resume, not Columbia. Chou cares only insofar as it benefits himself.

  6. Dear Sen. RJW  

    If Chou is your role model, I fear I voted for the wrong man.

  7. Adam Smith

    And what exactly is wrong with that? if the invisible hand makes Columbia a better place through his devotion to his resume, does it matter what his motives are?

    "Too many chief executives are instantly forgettable. It's the flamboyant, visionary bosses who change the world"


© 2006-2015 Blue and White Publishing Inc.