While most politically aware members of the Columbia community watched and/or drank to the Presidential Debate last night, ESC took time away from the hustle and bustle of watching [insert your preferred candidate here] succeed and [insert your undesirable candidate here] fail to discuss a variety of topics. Although a number of members seemed to persistently glance at their phones (I can’t blame them—both your humble ESC correspondent and Spec’s reporter had the livestream running in parallel to the meeting), ESC made headway on growing relationships between the undergraduate colleges and the administration while determining how to proceed with ESC special elections.
In terms of maintaining whatever modicum of school spirit exists at Columbia, ESC is moving into ‘Homecoming mode’. Columbia’s Homecoming game against Dartmouth on the 17th will be preceded by a cosponsored prep rally on Low Plaza the day before. At the event itself, ESC will be dispersing “giveaways” to engineers. Furthermore, members of ESC met with administrators under the purview of Suzanne Goldberg (who holds the Executive Vice Presidentship for University Life among other titles) to discuss facilitating the growth of a community spirit among all of Columbia—including faculty, administration, alumni, and graduate students. The primary concern of ESC is that events such as Homecoming and the Tree Lighting Ceremony are funded by the undergraduate councils while these events, in reality and in practice, serve all members of the Columbia community. In classic Columbia fashion, administration responded that, while the administration would be happy to selectively provide certain services or amenities for these events, they are hesitant to give direct funding to the event or to the councils. But, hey, they might throw in a bouncy castle for Homecoming. Behold the process of the carrot and stick approach.
This mixed reaction was somewhat eclipsed (in your correspondent’s opinion) by promises to encourage President Bollinger to actively attend and speak at such Columbia events. As PrezBo used to speak at the Tree Lighting Ceremony in the (relatively) distant past, and as Barnard President Debora Spar actually does attend such events, the administration proffered PrezBo’s appearance as a means to inspire some inter-school bonding. We here at Bwog have to admit that it would be nice to hear from PrezBo besides the times when he is speaking at Convocation or when he is sending his Executive Liaison to threaten protestors under the full ‘letter of the law’.
Otherwise, the biggest news offered at the meeting revolved around upcoming special elections, currently slotted for the end of October. As covered previously, ESC has spent an incredible amount of time and effort discussing the creation of new Diversity Representative positions on ESC: representatives for gender and sexuality, first generation and low income students, racial diversity and inclusivity, and disability and access. After much debate regarding the creation of such positions—then-Academic Affairs Representative and now-absentee University Senator Luis Rivera (SEAS ’19) notably led the debate against creating unaccountable positions—ESC finally created the Disability and Accessibility Issues Representative, the International Students Representative, and the Racial Diversity and Inclusivity Representative (I believe this is all of the new positions, the ESC constitution has not been updated as of yet). However, the Disability and Accessibility Issues Representative and the Racial Diversity and Inclusivity Representative are still empty, which means special elections will be run in parallel to the SEAS 2020 election to fill these spots—despite ESC President Neha Jain criticizing the Columbia Elections Board’s “antiquated [rules that] need to be discussed”.
- ESC is facilitating disability access initiatives, having been successful in installing buttons which can open the doors on the walkable bridges connecting Mudd to other buildings. For now, ESC is attempting to expand usage of more of Mudd’s bathrooms to those who are handicapped, despite questioning the legality of inaccessible amenities such as doors or bathrooms in the first place.
- The Council is pushing for signs to be installed on the Lawns which denote hours of operation, the phone number of Columbia Facilities, the phone number of Columbia Public Safety, etc. This should hopefully provide those who want to use the Lawns with resources to know when they are “technically” allowed to be on the grass, as well as offer contact information to above the mentioned offices in the case of emergencies or concerns.
- Besides disability issues, ESC discussed LGBT concerns at Columbia. Primarily, ESC is looking into the establishment of an LGBT student center on campus. Every other Ivy supposedly has such a center for their LGBT student population, and Columbia’s current operation allegedly consists of a “basement closet with mold in Furnald” according to Vice President Sidney Perkins.
- ESC is now filming their meetings, having taken a note on transparency from former CCSC strongmen Ben Makansi and Viv Ramakrishnan. Where this video will be uploaded remains to be seen. However, on the newly designed (and still being toyed with) ESC website, you can find a record of each meeting’s minutes.