The navel-gazing was intense last night. Bureau Chief Nadra Rahman reports straight from the 212. 

Say, "I love transparency and accountability and here's the Lionlink to vote!"

Say, “I love transparency and accountability and here’s the Lionlink to vote!”

Last night, CCSC took a picture of itself. It was ostensibly for the yearbook. E-board, class councils, and at-large members milled about, searching for direction. People (jokingly) fought to stand next to 2018 Rep Lord Hyeamang, who if you don’t know, is also a football star. There were a few takes, including a “silly” one. The photo was taken by a Spec reporter. Notably, this occurred on a day that VP Campus Life Alex Cedar, VP Finance Adam Resheff, and VP Communications Sreya Pinnamaneni were all absent. What were they up to, I wonder?

After this moment was reified, CCSC turned to deliberating how to best solicit student feedback, particularly with regard to the body’s policy and initiatives.

How To Talk To Peers 101

Remember WTF Columbia, that website where students would submit ideas for “the improvement of their undergraduate experience” and provide feedback to student governments? Probably not, since it’s been down for years, with President Nathan Rosin citing high server cost as the main contributor. But Rosin added that the site was successful at the time, leading to a high volume of ideas and less tangibly, more student engagement. Last night’s discussion focused on the use and feasibility of using a similar platform to foster such student engagement, alongside other forms of outreach. (In the present day, with Columbia-supported sites, costs should not be as much of an issue.)

The first half of the discussion focused on the need for CCSC to survey the student body with regard to policy areas and the ability of a WTF Columbia-style platform to support this (and enter participating students into giveaways). 2021 Rep Ramsay Eyre advocated for an alternative—a Senate Quality of Life-esque survey that would be CC specific and allow for a more nuanced breakdown of problem areas, but USenator Omar Khan expressed concern about the survey fatigue experienced by students; he added that the best approach to eliciting such general data would be to insert more CC-specific questions into the Senate’s survey so that school-specific data could be “spliced out.” Another alternative was proposed by Student Services Rep Jordan Singer, who thought a Google form could act as a depository for student suggestions and complaints, supplementing more formal surveying.

Members like 2018 VP Emily Lavine pointed out that they often received informal feedback from students—whether in the form of complaint-ridden texts or “passive aggressive” Facebook posts—and that a more formalized feedback mechanism would make complaints more constructive and help CCSC evaluate areas of need. While others echoed her point, a large part of the later discussion focused on how members of CCSC should nurture individual conversations, as speaking with their peers, especially those they are not familiar with, will help them gain a more personal, nuanced understanding of campus issues. 2021 President Prem Thakkar spoke about cultivating a “personal philosophy” of always being open to conversation, and the need to make oneself visible at highly-trafficked areas like dining halls. On a similar note, 2018 Rep Nikki Felmus had an issue with how student outreach would often stop the minute ballots closed. She said, “That is the attitude we need to have year-round,” adding, “We need to continue to knock on doors, continue to talk to random people we don’t know, different constituencies.”

This conversation fueled a flurry of suggestions including: tabling at dining/residence halls and soliciting feedback; holding office hours; organizing a social media campaign that would make members of CCSC more visible; creating door signs for people on CCSC (so now they can can truly achieve their srat dreams); having more food delivery events where poor CC students are subjected to talking about their needs when what they really need is a study break brownie; publicizing CCSC meetings, especially those on pertinent topics like mental health; and livestreaming meetings.

Academic Affairs Rep Dafne Murillo raised the concern that certain student groups were distrustful of student government because they had not been brought into the conversation after elections, despite campaign processes. Even with a new outreach program in place, they might feel hesitant to engage once again with CCSC. Khan suggested that any immediate outreach be undertaken by current seniors, who are obviously not seeking office again, while Rosin added that the campaign could wait until after elections—so it would be clear they were soliciting feedback, not votes.

So this is your warning…look out for CCSC at Ferris sometime in late April!

Selected Updates

  • Student Services: Singer and Rep Aaron Fisher are:
    • Developing scripts alongside CPS that would more clearly communicate information to students about drop-in hours
    • Preparing stickers and index cards (some personalized) for Staff Appreciation Week
    • Sending out surveys on fellowships and residence hall lounges
    • Wishing doorstops could be distributed to dwellers of singles, but alas, they are against fire code (though Fisher is meeting this week to see if that’s actually a problem)
  • Inclusion and Equity: Rep Elise Fuller indicated that there would soon be an unofficial pilot of the childcare drop-off program (staffed by CC and Teachers College students), potentially using space owned by Columbia but not strictly on campus.
  • 2020: The kids are growing up. Show up at Major Declaration! (exclamation point included) in the Broadway Room at Lerner on Tuesday, March 6 from 3:oo to 5:40 pm. Food, photo props, and more included.

I Hate CCSC courtesy of Nadra Rahman