This week’s ESC meeting focused on getting others involved in the Mental Health Task Force and collaborating with CCSC in the future. Oh, and we’re all hoping for JJ’s milkshakes.
Note (April 26, 2017): In a previous version of this article, specific references were made to the efforts of CC University Senator Sean Ryan under the influence of his participation in the Mental Health Task Force to transform the Schapiro Gym, a space open to all Columbia students, into a semi-privatized space for one specific community at Columbia, efforts crassly referenced in the irreverent tags of the article. While some of these tags were almost immediately removed by Bwog staff as they could possibly be seen as hostile towards said community—and I want to clarify that in no way were such criticisms intentionally meant in a hostile manner against any private person—I want to explain the purely political criticism of said University Senator’s endeavours to privatize this space.
This transformation under the University Senator was first raised in an aside at a previous ESC meeting, and was determined with minimal democratic participation of the student body in making such an impactful choice—especially given the earlier commendable decision to turn unused space in Lerner into a new semi-privatized area for this specific community. In the opinion of this specific journalist in the role of a political correspondent, the manner in which the transformation of the Schapiro Gym was determined has infringed upon the values which our Student Councils hold dear; that a democratic consensus ought to be attained, whether in the discussion of an elected and representative body or in legitimately gathered data, before instituting such wide-reaching policy and space changes. No announcement has been made to the student body of this plan, as far as I am aware, beyond the confines of my ESC coverage—despite the massive impact on all students who use this space already and the potential impact on student choice of dorms in Housing Selection. It may be that this change in status of the space is necessary and proper. However, the process of restricting access should impose a reasonable burden of proof upon those seeking limitations upon what is now a decidedly public area.
This criticism is launched against the University Senator not out of personal hatred or bias, but out of anxious concern from a Columbia College constituent and journalist who covers the efforts of the Mental Health Task Force and has found severe fault in such endeavours as led by the University Senator—endeavours the University Senator publicly defended on the most-watched conservative news show in America. This issue was brought to mind given the discussion in ESC of a desire to expand the Mental Health Task Force beyond undergraduate students in Columbia College and, specifically, those students primarily active in Columbia College Student Council and student government. As a journalist in a privately funded, staffed, and maintained news organization, who is intimately familiar with the mechanisms of student government, I desired to express the full magnitude of these concerns, which, while aimed at the University Senator, are intended to be based in a purely political context. Furthermore, Bwog may travel in satire, but it is never our intent to engage in satire which is either unnecessarily or undeservedly critical.
Budget and Policy Reconciliation
VP for Policy Zoha Qamar reported her meeting with CCSC’s Nicole Allicock regarding future collaboration between councils. As there are now multiple positions between the two councils with the same goals (i.e. diversity reps, Student Services, etc.) there will be closer interactions between CCSC and ESC. Starting next semester, there will be at least one joint CCSC-ESC policy-wide meeting, so as to further this collaboration.
In terms of budgetary reconciliations, VP for Student Life Ben Barton explained how there is a lot of intertwining debt among the different school councils, with councils having accrued a certain level of debt so as to hinder interactions and planning between them. Therefore, there will be a giant meeting with the VPs for Student Life from across the three Columbia schools, their counterpart in Barnard’s SGA, and the council advisors. The goal is to “have everything fresh with no debt.”
The Mental Health Task Force
This Task Force, which was inaugurated this semester as a way to combat the mental health epidemic at Columbia, is looking for expanded representation of Columbia students. In particular, there are many CCSC people on the Task Force but few SEAS voices. They’re also looking for students not associated with student government or any other organization of this type. Apparently that guy in your CC class chafing under his double major can add more to a discussion on mental health than a CC University Senator who cares about climbing the political ladder. Who knew?
The Task Force is specifically discussing CPS issues: the number and type of appointments which can be made, whether short or long term care is offered, and a general increase in trust between the student body and the Administration/CPS.
Image via Wikimedia Commons