As the second full day of student council voting kicks off, Bwog is taking a moment to endorse Zoha Qamar for University Senate. After meeting with her Sunday to discuss her platform, we were impressed by her dedication and passion in improving Columbia on a whole-university level, despite some reservations about her goals regarding the housing lottery.
As VP Policy of ESC this year, Qamar worked to publicize study abroad programs for SEAS students and propel mental health training initiatives through collaboration with the Jed Foundation and the Mental Health Task Force. We particularly appreciated her successful work in installing forthcoming wellness vending machines around campus that will include emergency contraception, as well as her active commitment to stocking bathrooms with free pads and tampons despite university pushback – actions we believe demonstrate her passion for the community.
Other aspects of her platform, including more CPS/SVR and Jed transparency, extended health services hours, and follow-ups for promised POC and LGBTQ+ spaces, demonstrate her acknowledgment of current student concerns. Informed by her experience in several health initiatives on campus, Qamar aims to improve students’ daily lives. When asked about her inclusion of sexual assault reform in her platform, Qamar discussed meeting with SVR regarding Columbia’s treatment of the issue. As SEAS University Senator, Qamar hopes to coordinate attention to sexual violence as a campus-wide issue and to develop an improved reporting process, beyond the current limitations posed by working within one specific undergraduate council.
While Bwog is endorsing Zoha Qamar, we are unsure if her goal to change the housing lottery system will be successful. In a system similar to one currently employed at UPenn, Qamar proposes to add a separate, higher lottery tier for students who demonstrate community involvement by partaking in optional training sessions regarding mental health, diversity, etc. Although many on Bwog agreed that changes could be made to the Columbia Housing system, some believed these changes could be potentially detrimental to low-income students or other students too active in other areas on and off campus to involve themselves in the community in this specific way – students who would thus receive lower lottery numbers. After voicing our grievances with the proposal in our meeting, however, it was clear that Zoha is more than willing to openly discuss the lottery process.
After meeting Zoha Qamar, Bwog believes that she is a prepared, passionate, and well-informed candidate that deserves your consideration. (Check out her impressive website!) With her past experience in the SEAS 2019 Class Council, Student Health Advisory Committee, Mental Health Task Force, and many other campus initiatives, it is clear that Qamar is well-equipped to change mental health on campus. Her platform outlines goals that are realistic, approach campus issues through an inclusive and holistic approach, and have the potential to change daily life on campus.
No matter who you decide to vote for, be sure to cast your vote before 5 pm on Wednesday, April 11. Campus reform begins with your participation.
Betsy Ladyzhets, Editor in Chief
Victoria Arancio, Managing Editor
Sarah Kinney, Internal Editor
Youngweon Lee, Social Media Editor
Photo via Zoha’s website