CCSC keeps drinking haterade, and Bwogger Nadra Rahman is here to give you some secondhand hydration. And yup, there are CUCR updates.
CCSC returned to its regular programming last night (after a particularly spicy meeting two weeks ago), with the bulk of the meeting time focused on the student advising system. But before that, members had to finalize the language they will use in their complaint against the Columbia University College Republicans (CUCR)—a complaint that will be evaluated by the Student Group Adjudication Board and might result in serious ramifications for CUCR’s funding or future programming.
The concern report drafted by CCSC (in full below) centered on the “objective costs” of CUCR’s recent objectionable programming rather than the emotional and mental tolls that were discussed in-depth at the last meeting. These costs include (1) the excessive financial burden placed on the security and facilities funds (funded by student activities fees) by the Tommy Robinson and Mike Cernovich events and (2) these events’ effects on space accessibility, as they resulted in the barring of students from Lerner and the cancellation of other events set to take place in the building. The report claims that these costs are not outweighed by the benefits of CUCR’s programming and as such, the organization should face consequences: “As representatives of the student body, we believe that students should not have to pay for the decisions of one group which do not only negatively impact the community, but in fact restrict all other potentially positive community programming.”
In response to concerns about this focus on objective impacts, VP Policy Nicole Allicock said that the language was intended to elicit an administrative response, which might be muted if the report were more emotional. 2018 Rep Matt Neky added that student adjudicators had not yet been trained, so it is likely that administrators (who are sticking to the free speech defense) will be the first to investigate the report, necessitating careful language. Allicock further clarified that the investigation would itself determine whether the events had a positive or negative impact: the specific complaints were initial avenues of exploration for the adjudicators.
CCSC members made additional edits to this draft last evening—the biggest change was an added emphasis on the fact that CUID holders were barred from Lerner during the nights of the two events, despite reports to the contrary, with Academic Affairs Rep Dafne Murillo adding the language. There was a brief conversation about the role of supporting evidence with regards to this claim. Should CCSC submit supporting evidence? What would this evidence look like? 2019 Rep and CCSC appointment to the Student Group Adjudication Board Sofia Petros suggested that submitting supporting evidence would be appropriate, given that the report is likely to be evaluated by administrators with limited time to investigate, but others felt that time was of the essence. Neky said that CCSC had waited long enough and that “These videos [of CUID holders being barred from Lerner] aren’t going to be the make or break for CUCR’s funding.” Alumni Affairs Rep Fernanda Martinez concurred, saying that adjudicators could simply email CCSC if they needed additional evidence (USenator Omar Khan added that if videos couldn’t be found, there were surely enough eyewitness testimonies).
After this digression, members voted to approve the language for CCSC’s official report to the Student Group Adjudication Board, with no supporting evidence being submitted at this time.
General Concern Report
We the Columbia College Student Council (CCSC) would like to request an investigation into two events held this semester by the Columbia University College Republicans (CUCR): speeches given by Tommy Robinson and Mike Cernovich. Though these events may not have strictly broken University policy, there was an objective detriment to all other student groups in two ways: (1) the excessive financial burden placed on the Facilities and Securities funds (which are funded by the student activities fees and support all recognized student group programming) and (2) the burden on space accessibility caused by barring student access and programming to Lerner for the two nights of these events, including CUID holders who wanted to use the Student Center and non-CUID guest sign ins from (at least) 6pm to 11pm. For the former (1), the securities costs that these two events incurred are much larger than those of most events historically. Every dollar of security costs incurred for one event results in one less dollar available for security for future events, which means the enormous costs of these two events necessarily financially limits student programming for the rest of this academic year. For the latter (2), the Engineering Student Council’s general body meeting, an LSAT training session, and the Columbia International Relations Council & Association’s board meeting had to be cancelled or rescheduled due to the Mike Cernovich event, just to name a few.
Considering the functional ramifications of these events on student groups (financially and accessibility-wise) as well as the voiced concerns of many individual students and student groups against these events, there is a clear negative impact on the community and its programming. The CUCR’s decision to hold these specific events (because of the costs they incurred and the physical barriers they imposed), limits the resources available to other student groups to program for the rest of the year. Even if these events have also brought a positive benefit to our campus and community (which we argue they have not) this would need to substantively outweigh the objective negative impact to justify this burden on all other student groups. As representatives of the student body, we believe that students should not have to pay for the decisions of one group which do not only negatively impact the community, but in fact restrict all other potentially positive community programming.
Advisors Suck (What Else Is New)
Last spring, Deantini hosted a spring roundtable where he announced, among other initiatives, that there would be changes to the student advising system. Discernable action has not been taken on this, so CCSC took the time to air their grievances about advising—so that a document can be presented to Deantini outlining frustrations with the current system and/or solutions. The conversation had two main threads, with CCSC members focused on (1) defining the role of an academic advisor, and (2) creating the opportunity for student feedback on advisors.
On one hand, members did not totally agree on what services an academic advisor should provide. VP Policy Adam Resheff, for example, felt frustrated that some advisors could not tell their students anything about their majors or classes—and said this was an underlying issue that had to be addressed before anything else. In response, Allicock suggested that advisors shouldn’t have to know everything about academics, as most information is already available on the Bulletin.
So what should their role be? After recounting an experience with an advisor who “literally couldn’t help [him] figure out a schedule,” Neky said that advisors might be most useful if they helped you navigate the tools provided by the University, like the Bulletin, so you could best plan for the future. Martinez advocated for making sure advisors, as a standard, are expected to act as liaisons between students and professors when students are facing mental health issues or problems with their professors. Other members agreed that advisors needed to enhance their understanding of mental health, with Petros sharing a story of the department’s insensitivity on this issue. The controversial scheduling chart was, of course, brought up. Khan noted, “At the end of the day, you can’t separate things like mental health from academics.”
Some members envisioned restructuring advising entirely. Resheff proposed a process in which one would go to different advisors based on one’s needs: one advisor might help with academic planning and another with sticking to the plan, based on their strengths or training. Alternatively, advisors might be paired with students based on their areas of academic expertise, as 2018 Rep Nicki Felmus suggested.
Finally, many members, including Resheff, Student Services Rep Monique Harmon, and Inclusion and Equity Rep Elise Fuller, emphasized the need to improve connectedness between academic advisors and other figures involved in students’ lives, such as RAs, the Office of Disability Services, and Counseling and Psychological Services.
On the other hand, CCSC members were frustrated by the uneven quality of academic advisors. There was confusion about the training that they receive—Allicock joked, “I honestly feel like Google is part of that training.” Petros said a skill-share might be useful, in which advisors would share with one another templates and resources that have helped their students. Khan advocated for a formalized feedback system on advisors, whether private or public (an “AdvisorAdvisor” as one Senate staffer put it), in order to keep advisors accountable and incentivize them to do well. He added, “When individuals have traumatic experiences with their advisors….that advisor should be fired.”
These conversations about creating a more holistic, effective advising process will continue in the days to come: a separate working group will assemble to craft the document that will be presented to Deantini.
By the way, all this was observed by a group of visiting students and teachers from China, who got to see Columbia students do what they do best: rag on Columbia.
USenate: The Quality of Life survey has closed out with an unusually high 11,700 respondents (⅓ of the student body). Results and policy recommendations will be released in December. Additionally, Lerner space plans are moving forward (check out the last meeting’s coverage).
Finance: Morningside Heights Restaurant Week is set to take place from January 22 to 27. Three restaurants have confirmed (Mel’s, Amir’s, and Kitchenette), and five to seven more are interested. Regarding the Capital Investment Fund, it is expected that nine to ten groups will receive a total of $10,000 to $11,000.
Student Services: Reps are working to ensure services provided by Columbia Health are better represented on the forthcoming redesigned website.
Pre-Professional: CCE is looking to set up a space for students with roommates/other impediments to conduct remote interviews. The office is also planning a workshop on student empowerment for unpaid internships.
Inclusion and Equity: Fuller met with the SGA Inclusion and Equity Committee to discuss programming for future political events, and specifically the need to center diverse voices in conversations that are about diversity.
2021: A survey related to alternative diets was released, which will be used in discussions with Dining.
We’re acting like it’s #tbt when it’s really Monday via Bwog Staff