Finn Klauber takes you through the exciting happenings of last night’s ESC meeting. From a new website to a new constitution, things are looking up for the ESC.
After a few weeks of gently postponing a necessary ratification vote, the Engineering Student Council formally ratified their updated 2016 constitution, revised under the committee leadership of VP for Policy Sidney Perkins, SEAS ’17. This final leap faced one small hiccup, however, in VP for Student Life Piyushi Bishnoi’s, SEAS ’17, inquiry regarding Article four, Section three, Clause D, which calls for the Council to approve the allocation of funds amounting to more than $500. Although ESC determined VP Bishnoi’s move towards a friendly amendment negligibly changing the wording would have to face a vote next week, the generated discussion called for VP Perkins to actually look up within the document in question the outlined procedures for entertaining a friendly amendment in such circumstances.
Standing in stark contrast to the nominal discussion of that notorious Smoking Resolution, “A Resolution To Support Pro-Bono Student Software Development”, proposed by Technology Representative Vinay Mehta, SEAS ’18, faced gritty attacks from all angles. The original proposal outlined the creation of a software development subcommittee under Representative Mehta, consisting of Mehta, the Vice Presidents of Policy and Communication, and anybody else interested, with an annual appropriation of $500. The subcommittee would attempt to obtain and distribute developer licenses and other resources, covering fees, server hosting, and providing other tech capabilities.
2018 Finance Representative Saarthak Sarup pointedly asked how this subcommittee would differ from other ESC project grants, such as that given to The Lion’s messenger bot which directs students to appropriate Columbia resources. Representative Mehta clarified that this would be an open year long committee which could handle any situation with immediate resources, as opposed to simplistically handing out cash to promising proposals. A number of questioners—most notably VP Bishnoi, President Neha Jain, SEAS ’17, and University Senator Izzet Kebudi, SEAS ’19—were most concerned with the costs associated with this committee. Mehta further explained the envisioned details of his subcommittee, which would decide on case-by-case bases which projects to support, while utilizing their funding to purchase individual iOS developer licenses under the umbrella of ESC. Senator Kebudi was concerned with ESC holding these $100 licenses, which made ESC somewhat accountable for any published apps, while others raised questions about the intellectual property of ESC-subsidized apps. Mehta, with a unanimously negative straw poll, shut down any possible IP or financial involvement of ESC in iOS app publishing rising from this resolution, ultimately maintaining that Columbia owns all software derived from Columbia’s resources.
After President Jain’s insistence that somebody from ESC’s Finance representatives sit on this committee and that the appropriation be lowered to $250, Vice President for Finance Aida Lu, SEAS ’17, spoke at length about the non-sustainability of utilizing their entire annual surplus on such ventures, and thus not adhering to their own budget. VP Lu particularly noted that it is imperative “we are holding ourselves to the same guidelines that we hold other organizations.” From this tangent, President Jain, Representative Mehta, and VP Lu—in commune with ESC—stated that these specific funds would be taken from the E-Board’s discretionary budget, but to maintain ESC’s solvency at the rate with which Columbia increases the Council’s budget, similar initiatives must be outlined financially during Funding@CU later in the year. With these ominous words said, ESC voted almost unanimously to pass this resolution.
Photo courtesy of Charles Sykes