After a week off, CCSC is back and better than ever, tackling the needs and demands of the students. Sit down, buckle up, and enjoy this recap of the weekly meeting by Bwogger Nadra.
Though you might not expect it from Columbia students, last week’s CCSC meeting was cancelled to accommodate the Super Bowl. Luckily, our illustrious delegates have wandered back after their brief reprieve, for a meeting that was all about policy.
Zoha Qamar (VP Policy, ESC), 2021 Rep Aja Isabel, 2020 Rep Danielle Resheff, and 2020 Rep Grant Pace delivered a presentation on the stalled pads and tampons program, a joint CCSC-ESC initiative that launched with a pilot program last year. The program was meant to increase accessibility to menstrual products for those in need, whether due to emergency or financial burden.
Originally, 26 campus bathrooms (including men’s, women’s, and gender neutral bathrooms) were stocked weekly with 12 tampons and 9 pads; most of these supplies were exhausted within the week. To find the upper bound, a few heavily-trafficked bathrooms were stocked with “unlimited” supplies—that is, they were stocked twice a day. In bathrooms with high traffic (s/o Hamilton 3 women’s), around 30 pads or tampons were used a day. But while this might suggest there is need for the pads and tampons program, Facilities has suggested it is unclear who is taking the tampons, and whether people are taking more than they should.
Instead, the department is considering replacing the bins of freely available pads and tampons within bathrooms with vending machines outside bathrooms, which would dispense menstrual products for free. This would allow for better tracking and discourage people from taking more than they should, but Qamar and her fellow presenters argued that vending machines would be ill-suited to the aim of the project; siting decisions would have to be made, making the products less accessible for some, particularly in emergency situations. Instead, they urged individual CCSC members to sign onto a petition that would advocate for a return to the original plan: pads and tampons in bins, in the bathroom.
They also called for suggestions, of which there were many. Perhaps dispensers for pads and tampons (of the kind found in public bathrooms) could be a good compromise between bins and vending machines, said Alumni Affairs Rep Fernanda Martinez. VP Policy Nicole Allicock concurred, pointing out that several bathrooms at Barnard already had these machines. President Nathan Rosin wondered if the “laundry technology” that had allowed Columbia to track students’ use of laundry facilities (before the advent of free laundry) could be re-purposed to track use of menstrual products; students would be required to swipe to access the products. When Qamar and others expressed doubts about the feasibility and sense of imposing a “quota” on pads and tampons, Rosin said instead of forcing a quota, such a system could offer Facilities anonymized information about the use of these services. And as Allicock pointed out, students would be swayed from taking advantage of the program.
While some of these suggestions were clearly new to the group, they took them in stride. Resheff put it best: “We don’t want to wait for other schools.” If there is need, Columbia should strive to implement the best solution, as soon as possible.
After this session, individual CCSC members took the time to sign the petition.
How many times have we had this conversation? CCSC returned to debating the role of and potential for lounges at Columbia, intending to eventually deliver a series of recommendations to administrators. As usual, members tried to navigate the tension between hang out and study spaces, and between reservable and non-reservable spaces.
A consensus emerged that lounges should be recast as “places to come and hang out, and less places to study and be silent,” in the words of VP Finance Adam Resheff (the Elder). Or as 2021 Rep Ramsay Eyre put it, “It’s called a lounge after all.” But members had qualms. Should there be additional considerations for buildings with many lounges, like Hartley? For residence halls which contain internal suite space that is already used for socializing, like EC? For halls that contain neither lounges nor suite space, like Woodbridge?
And people had other gripes too. Isabel brought up her aggravation with students who “camp out” in John Jay floor lounges during finals season. “Sometimes people not even from our grade!” added 2021 President Prem Thakkar. Isabel then posed a question that was perhaps too deep for the conversation taking place: “Do you have the right to reclaim your space?”
This segment of the meeting ended with a consideration of how building lounges are occasionally reserved by student groups for small meetings. 2018 Rep Matt Neky proposed that all events that take place in such lounges be required to be open to the larger campus community. Though instituting such a policy might be tricky, Allicock wondered if the booking system could be revised to require an attendance minimum for certain spaces, while Student Services Rep Jordan Singer thought groups could perhaps check a box on the booking site. This would effectively “reallocate spaces” to student groups that would most impact the campus community through their programming.
Rising From The Ashes
Columbia Elections Board is dead, but in its place we have the newly-formed Columbia Elections Commission, which will oversee CCSC and ESC elections starting this spring. This commission will be comprised of seniors from CCSC and ESC, along with students not involved in student government. Currently, applications are being solicited for the Commissioner and Vice Commissioner positions: fill out this form by Thursday, February 15 at 5 pm if you’re interested.
Tampongate via Recycled Bwog Image