Check out the class of 2020 t-shirts, designed by first-year Grant Pace!

Monday maven Nadra Rahman checked out last night’s CCSC meeting. Here she is, reporting from the Satow Room on food insecurity measures, fresh (Council) meat, and laser tag, despite being removed from the room twice for closed votes.

The bulk of Sunday night’s meeting of the Columbia College Student Council (CCSC) focused on selecting new representatives for the Class of 2019, Academic Affairs, and the Class of 2017. However, food insecurity and mental health remained persistent themes through the night, as they have been through the semester, with funding for the CU Food Bank on the table.

Food Bank
The first business of the night was funding the CU Food Bank (previously known as the GSSC Food Bank), a student-funded and -organized initiative meant to address food insecurity on campus. The CU Food Bank had requested reimbursement from CCSC for serving any Columbia College student, along with help in promoting the services of the Food Bank via listservs and social media. Though Council members agreed on the importance of the Food Bank, there was discussion over the administration’s lack of presence in the arena. Was focusing on stop-gaps like the student-run Food Bank a good tactic, when the issue should ultimately be addressed by the school itself?

USenator Sean Ryan noted that students trying to solve large-scale problems without administrative involvement was “not something that should be normal,” further criticizing the school for focusing on the Manhattanville expansion instead of “kids going hungry.” 2018 President Jordana Narin agreed, saying that while she was “totally fine” with funding the program, it was “kind of crazy that students are responsible for fixing food insecurity on campus.” In response, VP Finance Anuj Sharma said that while it wasn’t a long-term solution, this kind of funding was an ideal use of the $40,000 Council surplus: a one-time pilot program that would allow for data collection. As VP Campus Life Nathan Rosin further elaborated, the cost would be relatively low anyway: only five Columbia College students had accessed the CU Food Bank over Winter Break, and zero so far this semester, with cost per student at $30.

Allicock put forth the idea that advertising the Food Bank would help increase its reach, along with the potential for data collection—collected data could then be presented to the administration as a basis for action on their part. Rosin raised a concern about the accuracy of the data, as it would likely understate the extent of the problem: as he said, in all likelihood, “CC students don’t even know this food bank exists.”

Despite these concerns, the vote indicated unanimous support for the funding of the CU Food Bank.

Mental Health
Mental health awareness was addressed from several quarters last night, including the speeches of the Rep applicants:

  • The University Senators were frustrated that the Office of University Life had issued a public memo on their future steps to address mental health awareness, as this seemed to stymie negotiations with the Senate on how the University should change its tactics.
  • VP Policy Abby Porter said that a formal proposal synthesizing the ideas from last Tuesday’s meeting on mental health would soon be produced.
  • In meeting with Dean Madigan, Allicock had discussed the potential of setting up an event with faculty to help them learn signs of distress. Allicock also mentioned talks with the University of Pennsylvania student government, since they had gone through a similar mental health crisis last year; she hoped to learn and incorporate their methods of creating a change in student culture.

New Representatives
Three positions were filled during last night’s meeting: Class of 2019 Rep, Class of 2017 Rep, and Academic Affairs Rep. The 2019 Rep position was handled painlessly, as there was only the single candidate—sophomore Grant Der Manouel. His confirmation passed unanimously, leaving the other two spots open for deliberation.

Each candidate for the open positions had three minutes to deliver a brief speech and three to answer questions from Council members; as the number of the night was three, there were as many candidates for each position, narrowed down from an initial wider field.

Academic Affairs applicants Briley Lewis (CC ’18), Ethan Kestenberg (CC ’19), and Nikola Danev (CC ’20) all emphasized stress culture and the need for increased advising as parts of their platforms, but Briley Lewis was the one to eventually secure the position—perhaps due to her experience as president of the astronomy club blueShift and more fleshed out plans for addressing mental health in academic affairs.

The three applicants for 2017 Rep focused on events, accessibility to fellow students, and preparation for life after college as their central points. Kunal Kamath, whose ideas included events highlighting interesting or talented seniors, a class-wide concert, and neighborhood tours for students planning to stay in New York, got the vote. (We, of course, were kicked out for these votes.)

The meeting was adjourned after the votes were counted, but never fear—updates await.

More updates:

  • Class of 2020: Over 350 Class of 2020 T-shirts have been sold, prompting cheers from the assembled Council members. Orders are being accepted until February 20. Additionally, a mental health awareness event is taking place today from 4 to 7 pm in the John Jay Lounge, in light of recent events.
  • Class of 2018: The formal boat cruise for juniors is coming up, but costs still need to be covered. On a positive note, tickets might be subsidized, a first for the junior class.
  • University Senate: USenate is putting forth a resolution to support students affected by Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), an immigration policy started by the Obama administration. This would be policy support for the University’s already-established stance as a sanctuary school.
  • Policy: According to Porter, Metrocards might be incorporated into the transportation fund—distributed to students who need to go to city events for class.
  • Campus Life: Laser tag is still happening, this Thursday in Lerner from 8 pm to 1 am. There are a few slots left (probably gone by the time of publishing) but teams are mostly finalized and confirmed. As usual, Lerner is the place to be on a Thursday night.


Image via CCSC (designed by Grant Pace).