The great CU

The great CU

Columbia College Student Council (CCSC) has seen some big happenings recently. Bwog sent staffer Joanna Zhang to sit down with one of CCSC’s newest members, Class of 2019 President and turtle-owner Josh Schenk. Here’s their convo.

Tell us a little about yourself:

I was born and raised in Los Angeles and this is my first time in New York. I’m thinking about studying political science, but that might change. I decided to do student council because it was something I’ve always done and I think it’s good to be an active part of any change that’s taking place. It’s a great way to meet people and hear about their concerns.

If you could publish a memoir 25 years from now, what would it be about and who would write it?

If I’d have someone to write it, it’ll definitely be my twin sister. We’re very close and she knows a lot about the things I’m passionate about and involved with. It will probably just be about student council, because she knows a lot about my passion for student government and making positive change in the school.

Based on your previous experiences in student council, what unique challenges do you think student government at Columbia would offer?

The biggest challenge is that it’s much more international here, and everyone has their unique background and different concerns. Sometimes these concerns are conflicting, so I’ll have to work with everyone to figure out what’s best for the community and our grade as the whole. One thing our council plans to do every other week is to have town halls where it’s an open forum for people to come and voice their concerns. The idea is that we’ll be very accessible and willing to reach out to others to gauge where people stand to see what’s best for the majority of students.

What kind of leader do you think you are, Stalin, Obama, Rob Ford (the mayor of Toronto who was caught smoking crack), etc?

Well definitely not Rob Ford. I’ll go with Obama because he’s been someone people can really relate to. That has something to do with the transition of our era, but he’s been the most active on social media and someone who people really feel like they can connect with. So hopefully people feel the same way about me.

Walk us through what you’d like to accomplish in your time:

My goal is two-fold. Spirit and community on one hand, and policy on the other. We really want to bring community together, especially the freshman class. Actually next week we have two events, one is a study break in Carman lounge where there will be Insomnia cookies so people could relax a little bit during midterms, there will also be a pumpkin carving event next Saturday. Throughout the semester, we’ve planned out spirit events that would tie us together whether it’s through sports or classes, etc. Another important component is policy. To bring about change in policy is hard, so we’ll have to spend a lot of time hearing what’s important and finding the best way to implement whatever change we want to bring. Hopefully during the time that I’m elected, I can bring a lot of new ideas and positive change to Columbia.

Your platform mentions some changes such as expanding the Columbia ID and a change in the meal swipe policy, how would you go about implementing it? I know Columbia is particularly strict about the whole no taking out food after you eat deal.

For the CUID, that’s actually something that I did in high school that was very successful. Basically I reached out to vendors, and in exchange for advertising to students, they gave us discounts. Hopefully it’s something we can do in New York City as well, since everything is very expensive. By reaching out to vendors, whether through email or in-person, we can make some partnerships that will make New York more affordable for students. As far as the dining hall policy goes, it’s very tricky, so we’ll have to work together to find the best way to implement this change. Allowing students to change between dining halls within an hour of swiping in will reduce wasted food, it’s also something that other schools have been doing. We’ll have to find the right people to talk to in order to work in the most efficient way.

Tell me about the turtle.

When I first moved to NY, two of my friends bought a turtle for me during NSOP. It was just a random thing, and they dropped it off at my room without any advanced notice. I’ve always had pets, so it’s great. It’s been living in my room in Carman, and when the campaign started, I made it our mascot. During campaigning we had a couple of events where we bought it outside for people to meet and greet. People came to meet the animal, and at the same time we told them about our platforms. It’s been great having the turtle.

What’s your life motto?

I’d say live everyday to the fullest. I know being in college can be stressful and it’s easy to find yourself overwhelmed. If you take a step back and appreciate what’s around, there’s really so many opportunities and so many things we can do. So recognizing that and living everyday to the fullest is one of the best ways to live.

What movie or tv show would you watch for Netflix and chill?

House of cards. I mean it’s obviously a political show, but it has a lot of underlying themes. I think that’d be an interesting Netflix and chill dynamic.