Tampons, smoking bans, and tree lighting malfunctions, Oh my! A lot happened in this week’s ESC meeting. Let Finn Klauber recount the details of some important, new innovations coming to a bathroom near you very soon.
The student council initiative first spearheaded last year by CCSC President Ben Makansi and VP for Policy Viv Ramakrishnan to provide free tampons and pads to Columbia’s student population won a second round of support last night. In support of authorizing a tripartite, Council-led, pilot program for the upcoming semester, CCSC Executive VP for Policy Abby Porter and CCSC Student Services Rep Sam Safari presented an initiative blueprint already approved by CCSC.
The initiative, Abby and Sam explained, would pick up upon programs already in place at other schools, such as Brown, NYU, and the New York public school system, to stock pad and tampon boxes in specific bathrooms across Columbia proper for public consumption. After meeting with Columbia Health and Scott Wright of Student Services, CCSC attained substantive administrative support for this pilot program in the form of Student Services taking responsibility for installing the sanitary supply boxes in agreed locations. Student council members, in exchange, will take responsibility for collecting data on tampon and pad usage while also restocking the supplies, which the Councils will be responsible for purchasing. The proposed financial burden on each Council would amount to $210.96 from ESC, $622.32 from CCSC, and $221.51 from GSSC—though GSSC will vote upon the proposal later today. However, any money unused in the purchase of sanitary supplies will be returned to the Councils as appropriate. The list of buildings receiving tampon and pad boxes is as follows:
- Lerner Hall (2)
- Butler Library (2)
- East Campus (2)
- Northwest Corner Building (2)
- Mudd Hall (2)
- Hamilton Hall (2)
- Carman Hall (1)
- McBain Hall (1)
- Lewisohn Hall (2)
- Schapiro Hall (1)
The specific locations for the distribution boxes will be in women’s and either a men’s or gender inclusive bathroom with floor access, though exact locations are still being hashed out. The rationale for including boxes in men’s bathrooms amounted to a hope that supplies be made as accessible as possible, as well as the need for statistical integrity in gathering data about pad and tampon usage. In reply to questions regarding SGA involvement, especially given Barnard students’ usage of many of these “Columbia” buildings, VP Porter responded that the facilities and health departments at the two schools operate separately, and that she believes Barnard already provides free tampons and pads in specific bathrooms on the Barnard campus. Scott Wright told VP Porter and Representative Safari that this program, if successful, will be probably be picked up in the following semester by Administration, with funding from Columbia Health, the Councils, and other possible sources. In a vote by-hand after the presentation, ESC almost unanimously voted to support CCSC’s tampon and pad initiative.
On another health related note, Executive VP for Policy Sidney Perkins related the results of his inquiries regarding enforcement of the previously passed “smoking ban” resolution. In a meeting with Public Safety head James McShane, VP Perkins was told that Public Safety will not enforce the current smoking policy, as such enforcement is up to the power of individual students on campus. That is, Public Safety will not, at the moment, enforce current smoking policies as outlined by Columbia, without even touching stricter measures to regulate smoking on Columbia’s campus. Smoking is enumerated as a “community issue” and, as such, multiple different offices and bodies can be held accountable for pushing stricter guidelines or rules. In a a meeting with Scott Wright, Perkins found support for increasing signage on campus regarding appropriate smoking rules. Furthermore, Perkins will meet with Dean Kromm and the Butler Administration to try and gather support from alternative avenues. Despite this, Public Safety’s refusal to consider stricter enforcement amounts to an Administrative rejection of the proposed “smoking ban”, and ESC will most likely gather little substantive momentum for this contentious policy.
- The ESC website is down. Again. Technology Representative Vinay Mehta explained that the website will be closed for maintenance following this unexpected crash, and won’t be open again until January of 2017. In the meantime, he is reinstalling WordPress and putting most of the website’s information, which had been backed up, back on the ESC site.
- ESC is working with ADI and CCE to try and create an Alumni Database to serve as a conversational medium for questions and concerns between students and Columbia alumni. Ideally, the site would have filters by industry, major, city, and student organizations, would include no personal or private information—just a forwarding email, as Craigslist operates—, FAQs per alumni, student profiles, would be an opt-in system, and would require Columbia authentication. Possible issues include spamming, questions of ownership and maintenance, privacy of questions, and encouraging of non-career centered communications.
- Both the Tree Lighting and Midnight in Mudd events were successful endeavours, according to Executive VP for Student Life Piyushi Bishnoi, although ESC is investigating why there was a small lighting fiasco where half the trees did not initially light correctly. As per Midnight in Mudd, ESC is looking to expand the event next semester and add “more heavy breakfast food” like eggs, bacon, toast, etc.
Photo courtesy of Cosmopolitan