Amid torrential downpours (and without an umbrella), Nadra Rahman dragged herself to the Satow Room, all to bring you the student government coverage you crave.
Printing quotas, gun control, and in case you missed it, President Nathan Rosin’s phone faithfully livestreaming everything from the back of the room—just a few of the things that livened up last night’s CCSC meeting. Let’s start off things with the climax:
Yes To Gun Safety
Two weeks ago, CCSC received a call to action on gun violence from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, causing the body to deliberate what its place was in the context of larger national conversations. Should they, as they had been asked to, write a letter to our local representatives to advocate for gun safety? Members brought up issues related to timing (why did the Parkland shooting, and not countless others, provoke this response?), the dubiousness of making a statement on behalf of a potentially divided student body, and the dimensions of their duties, which some contended did not relate to national politics.
To address these concerns, a working group put together a letter that would be explicitly signed by CCSC, not representative of the entire student body (in full below). The document addresses the connections between gun violence and school safety, but does not push for any specific policy; furthermore, it acknowledges the delay in entering the conversation, noting, “[We] regret that we and others did not raise our voices until a more privileged community was affected. Still, just because we did not speak before does not mean we cannot speak now.”
This time around, the debate was shorter. Concerns about misrepresenting the student body were allayed by references to precedent (CCSC statements on other national issues like scholarship displacement and Title IX), while others pointed to the framing of the issue in the letter. The focus is on creating safer school environments, not on particular policy mechanisms or political platforms, and as 2019 Rep Tarek Deida said, “I think everyone can agree they want to live in a safe school.”
Demonstrating the immense fragility of representational democracy, Rosin asked press to refrain from voting using the link he sent to members. In the end, 27 members voted in favor of the letter, and one abstained. Soon, the letter will be sent to our representation (based on Columbia’s location).
Rosin then asked which members would be willing to send individual letters to their home representation (using a template almost identical to the letter voted on). After collecting names and zip codes, Rosin prepared to send the necessary information to Marjory Stoneman, where the letters will be collated and distributed. Bizarrely, multiple members of CCSC did not remember their zip codes.
Paws Off My Printing Quota
Also: changes to PawPrint?? CCSC was visited by Jose Santiago of CUIT, the figure responsible for the CUIT service desk, university email, and printing, among other sources of trauma. Santiago presented his proposal to shift from a weekly printing quota to a semesterly printing quota, allowing students greater flexibility and control. The shift would also be accompanied by a cut in the quota. Currently, if students use their quota to its full potential, they can print around 1,500 pages a semester, though 450 is the average. Santiago cited peer institutions’ semesterly quota of 750 pages, which would be a sharp decrease.
Many students expressed concerns about such a steep cut, which would especially affect students studying the humanities. Student Services Rep Aaron Fisher and 2021 Rep Aja Johnson pointed to potential disparities between students studying, for example, history, and those studying math. The average might be 450, but it might result from outliers on both ends of the spectrum, meaning a 750 page quota would limit many students. An interesting proposal emerged from this—Rosin proposed a ShareMeals equivalent for PawPrint, whereby students who had quota left over could give pages to those in need via some centralized system. Santiago immediately termed this “PawPrint Venmo” and seemed interested in the possibility.
A few straw polls gave Santiago a sense of where students stood. When choosing between the current system (100 pages a week and 100 pages in the semester’s floating quota) and a semesterly quota with a 750 page limit, the vote was straight down the middle. When the limit was amended to 1000 pages, however, the majority of CCSC was in favor of the new system.
A few amendments to the Constitution and Bylaws were made last night, mainly concerned with changing language from “Columbia Elections Board” to “Columbia Elections Commission ” (and adding a few details about the latter). Another proposed amendment was focused on changing the voting around selecting replacement members for CCSC (this year, Student Services Reps Jordan Singer and Fisher, along with Pre-Professional Rep Patricia Granda, were replacements). Apparently, the current high vote threshold for selecting a new member compromised the integrity of some votes, as members felt pressured to change their votes to end the lengthy deliberations. However, this amendment fell through, partly due to confusion on the part of non-senior members of CCSC (who had not been involved in the process), and partly due to desires to maintain a higher threshold.
When Fisher asked if the amendment could be reworded and revisited, a now-testy Rosin responded, “Well, I don’t want to put this on the agenda again, so you can debate it next year if you want.” Really, truly, he is over CCSC.
Also, at some point the livestream stopped working because Rosin’s phone died. A bad day all around.
April 8, 2018
We, the elected members of the Columbia College Student Council, write this letter in support of the movement for gun policy reform in the United States. Inspired by a request from a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, we write to you to advocate for legislation on gun policy that will make our campus environment, as well as campuses across the country, safer. We join the movement to say, along with so many others, never again.
The overwhelming toll gun violence has taken on American communities, and specifically school communities, is unacceptable. We see our responsibility to our fellow Columbia College students, as outlined in our constitution, as being “their primary representative, advocate, and liaison to the Columbia University community, including its administration, faculty, alumni and students, as well as to the public.” Because we believe the safety of our classmates to be of the utmost importance, we write to you to ask that you bring our concerns into the national dialogue. Our school community joins the call for national gun reform in the hopes of mitigating the real threats of gun violence on our campus and others.
We ask that you also acknowledge the important intersection of this conversation with race, class, and gender in our society. We are concerned that voices in underrepresented communities are not being heard in this debate, especially given that people in these communities are disproportionately targeted as compared to others.
We acknowledge that this dialogue has been needed at the national level for a long time, and regret that we and others did not raise our voices until a more privileged community was affected. Still, just because we did not speak before does not mean we cannot speak now. We are committed in this moment to standing with every single person in our Columbia community affected and angered by gun violence. We believe that we cannot wait any longer to bring our voice to this crucial national conversation.
The Columbia College Student Council
Columbia University in the City of New York