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GSSC To Update Elections Process

ceremony of sparkly lights thanks to our student councils

Happy Wednesday! Bwog’s GSSC (General Studies Student Council) Bureau Chief, Alex Tang, is back with updates on last night’s council meeting.

This week’s GSSC meeting was one of a nitty-gritty, technical nature, focusing mostly on structural and financial matters regarding the council.

To start, GS President Sam Demezieux introduced the plan for the four Columbia undergraduate student councils (GSSC, CCSC, ESC, and Barnard SGA) to form a four-school fund. Since there are certain events that all four schools share (including Tree Lighting and Glass House Rocks), creating a common fund would make logistics much easier. Allocations for funds would be set up in the beginning of the term, saving discussion time during student council meetings. At the earliest, the four-school fund would be implemented by the coming spring semester.

VP of Policy, Raisa Flor, introduced and passed two bylaw amendments to the current GSSC constitution. Firstly, the removal of any associate of the GSSC must now require a majority vote by the executive board (rather than at the sole discretion of the committee chief). The GSSC policy committee will also add a health/wellness position, due to the immediate importance of the issue at Columbia.

Flor also spoke about GSSC’s progress in revamping its own elections process. For weeks now, GSSC’s policy team has been working on a report that compiles research about the elections processes at other peer institutions. The report reviews aspects including election timelines, allowed campaign material, as well as rules regarding harassment, bribing, coercion, and endorsements. Once GSSC reviews the report, council representatives will meet with representatives from other GS student groups, in order to gather recommendations. Furthermore, members of the GSSC policy committee will hold open office hours to talk with the GS student body to receive more recommendations. GSSC will then review all ideas about new elections policy at a public council meeting, as a further opportunity to gather student input. Finally, the policy team will write the text for the new GSSC elections policy, hopefully over winter break. To identify potentially problematic, confusing sections of the future document, all GSSC members will receive a survey asking them to interpret certain bylaws of the elections policy text.

Afterwards, GS University Senator Ramond Curtis updated the council on his current agenda. Curtis’s team is working with the university on the “banning the box” initiative to prohibit criminal record screens during university admissions. The team is drafting a memorandum for the university, and plans to contact sponsors of “banning the box” legislation in the New York State legislature. Following recent protests against controversial speakers on campus, Curtis’s team is also actively working with the university on freedom of speech issues, with the goal that no student will “fear retaliation when practicing freedom of speech.” Finally, Curtis mentioned that he is confident that Columbia will have a permanent testing space for students with disabilities by the spring semester of 2019.

Before ending the meeting, GSSC heard (and later approved) the nominations of several new board members. The new members of GSSC are:

  • Mary Liu (Tech Chair): A computer science major at West Point, Liu has ample experience in website development and marketing strategy, and hopes to get lots of GS students to use the future GSSC website effectively.
  • Jonathan Criswell (Chief of Policy): The current Representative for Students with Disabilities, Criswell plans to continue serving the population of students with disabilities, as well as help the policy community become more effective on a broader scale.
  • Zack Murdock (JTS Representative): Murdock aims to connect JTS with GS in a more “social” fashion, and to make JTS students (especially those under 21) feel more welcome at GS events.

Other Updates:

  • Tree Lighting is tomorrow (Thursday). The free giveaway (student apparel, etc) will be at 5:30pm, and student group performances and speeches by university leaders will continue until 6:55pm, when the trees will be lit. Be sure to come early to get stuff and find a good seat!
  • GSSC is hosting a Holiday Sweater Party on December 7 from 9-11pm at Amity Hall. Food will be provided, as well as drink tickets for the 21+ crowd. Come in a holiday sweater for more drink tickets or other awards!
  • Know anyone fabulous on campus? Submit stories about awesome students, faculty, and administrators to GS OWL.

lit trees via Columbia College

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