The room where it happened (a.k.a. the Satow Room in Lerner Hall)

The room where it happened (a.k.a. the Satow Room in Lerner Hall)

Sweetgreen may be accepting Flex, a better reinforcement on the smoking ban around campus, and a favorite: tampons–all discussed at the ESC meeting last night. Finn Klauber takes you into the room where it all happened (the Satow Room, that is).

ESC last night, either by chance or by intent, seemed to touch upon many major issues raised in Spec op-eds over the past year. Perhaps this was an attempt to present the most generalized snapshot of ESC to the many new council representatives. Or perhaps it was a symptom of ESC’s expanded size, which pushed some members to ask for another table in the Satow Room. Or maybe this is just what happens at the beginning of the school year, when there hasn’t been enough discourse to prompt “new” topics of debate. Who knows.

But the ESC meeting did shed new light on a number of major topics in Columbia undergraduate student life, particularly due to the tone in which some elements of Columbia’s infamous bureaucratic malaise were discussed. For example, planning for Bacchanal has already begun, with ESC entering discussions with the other councils and James McShane in regards to the “Public Safety Fund” and the increasing costs of Bacchanal upkeep/fence and gate arrangements/riot control layout. The Public Safety Fund refers to the pooled funds, contributed by the various undergraduate schools’ councils, to pay for the placement and maintenance of the fences and officers. While these things are supposed to aid in maintaining the existence of Bacchanal, the increasing size of the cash requirement states differently. The Fund stands at about $100,000 this year, prompting a comment from President Neha Jain that the allocation of money should be discussed, as the Fund is increasing at a faster year-on-year rate than are the salaries of Public Safety officers.

But if you thought ESC was just revisiting Bacchanal before moving onto newer topics, you wouldn’t have guessed ESC to discuss tampons, again. In discussions with Honey Fishman (Executive Director, Business Services and Lerner Hall Operations) and Scott Wright (Vice President for Campus Services), ESC was being pushed towards focusing on substantive tampon distribution plans for Lerner Hall as opposed to any of the Engineering buildings on North Campus. Admittedly, this pressure seems to emerge from the administrative authority with which the two administrators can control Lerner Hall. Their zeal for a combined council effort to facilitate first approaching this issue in Lerner could be representative of their personal dedication towards not letting tampongate officially lose. Nevertheless, ESC may be reaching out to the other buildings’ administrators with the expressed hope of providing tampons in SEAS populated buildings.

And in spite of a failed motion to extend the session, ESC VP of Policy Sidney Perkins began to broach a topic that may have wide repercussions during this school year. This last week, a survey circulated through Columbia’s undergraduate schools regarding the smoking policy on campus. In the 545 responses received—51.6% CC and 42.9% SEAS—58% of respondents were supportive of a campus ban on smoking. Independently, 72% of respondents report that there should be more regulation/reinforcement of current regulations in regards to campus smoking. Currently, Columbia maintains a ban on smoking within 20 feet of housing, with the act contained in the 14 denoted “smoking spots” distributed throughout the main thoroughfares of the school. There is a resolution to be presented and discussed regarding affirmation of a smoking ban on campus.

Although such a recommendation is shockingly hasty in relation to the statistical and ethical judgments in deciding to fully legitimize the weeklong survey at first sight, the resolution should face significant debate from the entire council, in a public space, when they can actually manage to squeeze that conversation into their meeting schedule.


  • ESC is in talks regarding increasing accessibility around campus—specifically, in McBain and Ruggles. A third party is undertaking a study on possibly installing ramps over the steps to allow access to those who are wheelchair bound. One issue, allegedly, is that the ramps have to meet ADA compliance with angles of ascent. If such a solution isn’t feasible, those spaces will remain inaccessible to many.
  • Columbia is continuing its program to expand off campus FLEX to more markets in Morningside Heights. Sweetgreen filled out an application, but has yet to come to terms with a contract. Strokos, on the other hand, seems to have abandoned the effort entirely. There was one vendor which approached Columbia about the topic—Uber. Honey Fishman is heading this process, with ESC encouragement expressed via straw poll with a clear majority of council members in support.
  • Columbia is planning on getting rid of the student mailboxes in Lerner. This is not an immediate plan, but when approached with issues surrounding the new and exorbitant mail key fee, the administration was unresponsive towards any short time efforts, as Columbia will be moving towards a “condensed mail solution” in the impending future.
  • In a near repeat of a misfortune which befell ESC last year, the council lost most of its data when its website went down earlier this week. Apparently, they haven’t yet succeed in acquiring a University P-Card, which is essentially a program by which Columbia can give funding to a group in the form of a preloaded Visa card. The loss of immediate funds assumedly prompted this loss of data. The loss, however, is somewhat mitigated in that ESC has been revamping their website material, anyways. The new ESC website will be styled more as a “blog”, with content already submitted by the Columbia Space Initiative. As one member brought up, though, the repeated loss of website data these past two years does not bode well.

Photo courtesy of East Coast Asian American Student Union Website