The discussion got a bit heated (dare we say, to red?) when a representative from No Red Tape met with CCSC at their meeting last night. Luckily, Bwog writer Joe Milholland was, as always, on the scene to report details of the discussion.
“Our experience so far with the administration has been consistent with previous experiences, in which it’s obvious that unless we mobilize and we use various channels to achieve our goals, they will not listen. Suzanne Goldberg has not responded in any way to our demands,”said Amber Officer-Narvasa, a representative from No Red Tape (NRT), at Sunday night’s Columbia College Student Council general body meeting. Officer-Narvasa was speaking about NRT’s recent list of proposed changes to Columbia’s sexual violence response.
Two representatives from NRT, as well as Abby Porter, from Coalition Against Sexual Violence (CASV), came to meeting with proposals for CCSC about the university’s response to sexual violence.
First, Lena Rubin and Officer-Narvasa from NRT asked CCSC to support their proposed changes and promote it via a college-wide email.
Their petition had five categories of proposed changes: support, accessibility, accountability, funding, and enforcement.
The NRT reps gave examples of changes they want from each of these categories. Under support, they want a 24/7 rape crisis center and a hot line staffed with people trained in trauma response. Under accessibility, they want increased communication between Disability Services, the Office of Gender-based Misconduct (OGBM), the four undergrad colleges, and the grad schools. Under accountability, they want Barnard and Columbia to send out alerts whenever a sexual assault is reported on campus, as per the Clery Act. Under funding, they want $15 an hour for rape crisis center staff. Under enforcement, they want more prevention campaigns with more student participation.
CCSC ended up not voting on whether to promote this petition, and they had several question about NRT’s strategy. CCSC President Benjamin Makansi asked whether promoting the petition, rather than going directly to the administrators, was the best strategy. He said he could go individually to administrators such as VP for Campus Services Scott Wright and VP for Public Safety James McShane and promote goals from the petition.
In response, Officer-Narvasa said that NRT are going through administrative channels. She also said that NRT is going to met with McShane and had met with Suzanne Goldberg, who oversees a lot of sexual violence policy in her several administrative posts.
Later on, Makansi said he might be more willing to tackle the issues in the petition one-by-one rather than endorsing the whole thing. He also questioned the feasibility of some of the requests, like the potentially high cost of a 24/7 rape crisis center.
Officer-Narvasa said, in response, that while there are multiple ways for change, CCSC’s endorsing the petition would increase its visibility. She also cited the university’s $9 billion endowment in response to the question of the cost a rape crisis center.
2017 President Ravi Sinha suggested NRT meet with lower-level admins who might have soft power over higher-up admins. VP Policy Vivek Ramakrishnan wondered if NRT had the best tactics for its cause.
Officer-Narvasa responded to this by saying that NRT had met with lower-level admins and were told to speak with people higher up in the administration. She also said NRT has had lots of internal discussions about its tactics.
2016 President Saaket Pradhan asked whether CCSC would, by endorsing NRT’s petition, be endorsing NRT itself and its political positions, including its ties to Students for Justice for Palestine and Apartheid Divest. Rubin said in response that their petition’s goals were not political in nature and that students of any political ideology would benefit from it.
During the discussion, Julia Crain, a sophomore in Barnard, got up to speak about NRT’s ties to SJP and Apartheid Divest. Crain said she had been heavily involved in NRT but had distanced herself from the organization because it developed anti-Israel politics. Officer-Narvasa, in response, re-iterated that the petition would help all students on campus.
As for Abby Porter, from CASV, she brought in a proposal to bar students who had been found responsible in sexual assault hearings from becoming TAs. Porter explained TAs are in a huge position of power and could abuse it, citing an article about this topic in the Spectator last year.
Porter faced questions about how this rule could be enforced. She said those found responsible would have to self-report during the application process, although Charles Sanky brought up a system he had seen on other applications where the application-taker could tell the university to access their disciplinary record.
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