Committed CCSC reporter Joe Milholland breaks down the four major themes that CCSC tackled during their two-hour weekly meeting last night.
Sexual Respect Program
Dean of Undergraduate Student Life Cristen Scully-Kromm, CSA Dean Monique Rinere, and professor Rogerio Pinto from the school of social work talked to the council. The Columbia administration is requiring all students, in order to graduate, to go through one of five programs on sexual respect, including workshops or submitting an art piece, by March 13.
Information and resources will appear on Courseworks when the program is launched. The workshops can be completed through student groups, but the administration wants around 30 students per workshop. The art project can be completed through a variety of genres, either individually or in a group, and a website will host the art pieces from student who allow their artwork to be posted there.
Several council members asked about students who may feel uncomfortable going through the sexual respect training. Dean Rinere noted there are a number of ways to complete the program and that she wants students to confront topics that may make them uncomfortable, but she also indicated exceptions may be granted “case-by-case.”
CCSC President Peter Bailinson asked if this program would occur annually. Dean Rinere responded that the program is a pilot so far, and the administration hasn’t determined what it might look like in the future.
University senator Marc Heinrich asked if there was anyway to prevent students gaming the system by submitting low-quality, poorly-thought-out artwork. Dean Kromm said she would be able to follow up on artwork deemed inappropriate or excecuted without effort.
Class of 2015 president Kareem Carryl asked how this program would interact with seniors close to graduation, and Dean Rinere said that the video initiative, which would require students to watch short videos and write a 250 word reflection, would likely require the least input in terms of time. Rinere said that she wanted, as a goal for the program, for every student to put an hour of thought into sexual respect.
When class of 2016 VP Anne Scotti asked about training for faculty, Rinere noted that admins already go through similar training. Riniere also stated that Barnard is not participating in this because of decisions made by Barnard administrators.
Proposed Changes to CCSC Election
VP of finance Michael Li gave a presentation on moving CCSC elections from the spring semester to fall semester. This would mean that council members would have terms that ran through the calendar year rather than the school year, there would be no first-year representation the fall semester, and juniors elected in the fall would serve for three semesters, through the end of the senior year. This potential change would not apply to senators.
Li’s hope for this change is to increase the productivity of the council over the summer, preserve institutional memories, and ensure that projects started by one council would continue in the next one. He also hopes the changes will allow council members to study abroad and create better by-law revisions. Li admitted the costs of this change would be that students would only vote for class councils three times, and they would have no representation their first semester of freshman year.
Li also said the benefits of the plan would be to allow first-years to vote on E-boards and at large reps and give the first-years who run at the end of the fall semester better platforms. He also noted that F@CU would likely remain at the end of spring semester with the current and previous e-boards.
Several council members commented on this proposal. VP of policy Sejal Singh worried that this would raise the barrier to entry for students not already in CCSC and who would have to plan their schedules around the council. Student services rep Chris Godshall questioned whether the time over the summer would actually increase productivity, since council members would have other responsibilities over the summer. There was also discussion of how this would effect elections, especially with ESC. Elections Board chair Joey Levy (also Bwog’s associate publisher) said it would be easier to accommodate if ESC and GSSC changed their elections as well. Class of 2016 rep Richin Kabra wanted to reach out to peer institutions to see how they did their elections.
The council may vote on this proposal next week.
Food Insecurity Proposal
Sejal Singh presented a the idea behind a policy to relieve food insecurity on campus. The proposal would give every student 5 free meals a semester, no questions asked, if they asked for it at an office. After five meals, someone in the Columbia administration would talk with the student to see what was going wrong with the student and how their situation could be improved. Singh emphasized that this money could come from a number of places and would not necessarily raise the price of meal plans.
Much of the conversation the council had on this issue focused around who on campus experiences food insecurity and how food insecurity connects to financial aid. Singh said that there could be a number of reasons for food insecurity, including checks arriving late. She also said that, if the free meals required financial aid, it would be difficult for students to get their financial aid documents together in order to get a meal.
Some students mentioned that free riders would cause the cost of meal plans to go up for everyone and that the program was just a band-aid, which Singh acknowledged was true.
FLIP (First-generation and Low Income Partnership) founder Mandeep Singh, who was at the meeting, stated that students who receive high amounts of financial aid are often not on meal plans.
Quality of Life Survey
Senator Marc Heinrich also gave some updates on this year’s quality of life survey. He said that the last survey had helped get gender-neutral bathrooms and public safety training. This year’s survey will have questions removed, such as those asking what social rung students were in or about the romantic life of students (“We can’t do anything about that, so go somewhere else,” said Heinrich about the removed question). Questions about transportation were removed (because Columbia can’t do anything about the length of a New York City block), as well as questions about the libraries (since the libraries already conduct a survey). The new survey will include questions directed towards commuter students, veteran students, and religious students.
Heinrich noted that grad students will analyze the data this year, which should allow the data to get out faster. However, the senate cannot release any data unless Columbia’s Institutional Review Board permits them to.
The view from Lerner via Shutterstock