The feel when you've never had a productive meeting with an advisor, probably because of your own failings

The feel when you’ve never had a productive meeting with an advisor, probably because of your own moral failings

Amid confusion and concern, experienced CCSC translator Joe Milholland brings to us the relevant details from this week’s meeting—in particular, the focus on improving academic advising services for students. This probably applies to you!

At Sunday night’s Columbia College Student Council (CCSC) general body meeting, as the council was discussing the Center for Student Advising (CSA) and its relation to the Committee on Academic Standing (CAS), USenator Sean Ryan asked, “Do we know who sits on that [the CAS’s] board?”

“I have no idea,” replied CCSC President Benjamin Makansi.

The council was reacting to student concerns about CSA submitted to them anonymously, one of which dealt with a student who faced difficulties during registration because of CAS. Other council members painted a similarly negative picture of the CAS and its issues with transparency and conflicts of interest; VP of Policy Vivek Ramakrishnan was worried that student advisers who appeared before the CAS were representing their students in front of their co-workers and bosses, and Alumni Affairs Rep Daniel Liss said he once dealt with CAS and he felt at that time that his advisor was just giving him the CAS’s response to his concern.

The council’s discussion of the CSA was prompted by Dean Monique Rinere’s resignation earlier this semester. After her resignation 2018 VP Lani Allen, Academic Affairs Rep Nicole Allicock, and ESC VP of Policy Meaghan Hurr made up a list of things to address at CSA.

Their suggestions included reviewing data collected last year on the CSA, allowing first-years to make a declaration of interest so they can contact a faculty advisor in their department, enforcing personalized check-ups from advisers, instituting joint pre-professional/general advising, surveying first-years on what kind of advisor they want (ex. emotional support vs. a hands-off approach), adding engineering advisers to CSA (this point was changed to expanding the specialities of advisers during the meeting), and clarifying the role of the Director of Undergraduate Studies.

Along with the issue about CAS, council members suggested other things that could be brought to CSA. Class of 2018 President Ezra Gontownik pointed out the high approval rating for CSA in its 8-question survey to students where it got approval ratings of at least 82% among 4 categories– knowledge, responsiveness, accessibility and care. He wondered if the same statistics would occur if polling was done by students, and VP of Communications Grayson Warrick suggested the results may have been affected by the way the questions were worded.

Ramakrishnan suggested a CULPA page for advisers.

Council members will do more investigations into how CSA will change before they make a formal proposal.


Also at the general body meeting, Makansi suggested the council make public its sheet of which council members volunteer at events. This provoked much discussion about the nature of these events.

Lani Allen pointed out the class council members volunteered at class-wide rather than council-wide events, so they would have reasons for missing events. Sanky pointed out that Senators have a wide-range of responsibilities which typically preclude them from volunteering at events.

USenators Ramis Wadood and Sean Ryan questioned why volunteering at campus events was tracked but not work put into policy-related initiatives. Makansi replied that CCSC had begun tracking volunteering because there was a lack of council members showing up at events. Ramakrishnan mentioned how it’s bad publicity when a CCSC event falls apart due to lack of attendance.

Eventually, the time CCSC had allotted for this discussion ran out, and a motion to extend discussion on this didn’t pass.

Updates (update form can be viewed here):

  • CCSC will be involved in several staff appreciation activities this week. The 2018 council has 250 staff appreciation stickers (all 4 undergrad councils have a total of 1,000) that they will hand out around campus on Tuesday. Later in the week, a meal will be held for staff members and CCSC members will serve them. Warrick is planning a Security Guard of the Week/Month series. Inclusion and Equity Rep Ewoma Ogbaudu suggested white boards where students write down why they love Columbia Staff.
  • Makansi met with VP for Campus Services Scott Wright, who gave him a touch-test of 3 different types of toilet paper, all of which Makansi found unsatisfactory because they were made of double ply, receycled paper. Makansi suggested triple ply toilet paper, so Ramakrishnan is doing research on the market value of triply ply toilet paper.
  • Wright is also looking into opening dining halls during break and wants to create a lounger area in the Cafe 212/Cafe East area.
  • “Potential changes to printing quota page allocation” were discussed at the Printing Advisory Committee, along with improving PawPrint.
  • In the CCSC updates Google Doc, 2019 Class Council, Alumni Affairs Rep, Inclusion & Equity Rep, and Pre-professional Rep all had blank spaces. The Sandwich Ambassador’s space was filled with a picture of a grilled cheese sandwich. Although the space for University Senators was blank, Wadood urged people to spread the Rules of Conduct Judicial Board application (applications are due Wednesday).

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