It’s time for a regime change! Ohーnot really? Well, close enough. Last night, CCSC appointed a lot of people to replace the flakes and haters who are leaving CCSC next semester (e.g. those are studying abroad or understandably tired). Along the way, they addressed some important issues. Nadra Rahman reports.
Last night, CCSC opened up their meeting by addressing a recently publicized, troubling video in which a Columbia student harasses other students using racial rhetoric (like…”White people are the best thing that happened to the world. We’re white men. We did everything.”). The incident took place early Sunday morning, and the student is believed to have harassed multiple groups of students at that time. VP Policy Elise Fuller characterized the comments as emblematic of white supremacism and described the student’s behavior with a second group of studentsーalong with his ranting and raving, he had touched one person in the group and asked “Do you love white men?” before eventually wandering over to JJ’s and being carted away.
Fuller said that the Black Students Organization (BSO) would soon release a statement condemning the incident, and encouraged members of CCSC, the audience, and the student body at large to sign onto the statement. Addressing the Council, she said, “You, as people on Council, can make change here.” She added, “I hope this energizes you, as well as makes you mindful, of things you might work on next semester.”
USenator Alfredo Dominguez said that the incident was being seriously discussed by the Senate Rules Committee, and that further action will be pursued next semester. He connected the comments to a lack of diversity in the Core Curriculum, saying, “I think the situation makes it clear that more diversity training needs to happen and more often, and that the Core also needs to be looked at, particularly in how it promotes Eurocentrism and a dominant narrative.”
After these comments, the meeting went ahead as scheduled.
A Quick Update On Co-Sponsorships
CCSC members have hashed out new, clearer guidelines on the distribution of funds to student groups through co-sponsorships, following general confusion this semester and a recent discussion on the topic. With no discussion, the proposed amendments to CCSC bylaws were passed. Speedy!
The amendment updates the bylaws by expanding on the co-sponsorship process and articulating a detailed process for the publicization, vetting, funding sources, and approval of potential co-sponsorships, both monetary and non-monetary. For monetary co-sponsorships, these steps include a two week period at the beginning of each semester during which a co-sponsorship application will be available, a conference between VP Finance and VP Campus Life which will result in a joint recommendation to Council, and a presentation of the potential co-sponsorship to CCSC as a whole, when it will be voted on. Funds for monetary co-sponsorships will come from the Campus Life budget.
Five people are leaving us next semester, leaving us with five empty slots: International Students Rep, Gender and Sexuality Rep, Alumni Affairs Rep, Class of 2020 Rep, and Class of 2021 Rep. A veritable host of eager faces joined us in the Satow Room last night, where each candidate gave a 1.5 minute long speech before everyone was summarily dismissed and CCSC deliberated behind closed doors.
Here are the results:
International Students Rep: Beom Joon Baek (CC ‘21)
Baek began his speech, “If there’s two things I learned while serving for two years in the Korean army in the DMZ…” If that wasn’t formidable enough, he had concrete items for his agenda as International Students Rep, including facilitating international students-specific career fairs, ensuring food security and community for students staying on campus during Winter Break, and addressing country-specific concerns, such as the inability of Chinese students to access Courseworks when in their home country.
Gender and Sexuality Rep: Kwolanne Felix (CC ‘22)
Felix spoke about her experience working with student groups oriented towards queer and trans students, which has given her more insight into how the various departments and bureaucratic divisions at Columbia can have an impact on queer and trans students. She also referenced the work of current rep Sabina Jones, and said she would continue to work with administrators and insurance companies to make it easier for students to receive gender-confirming surgeries.
Alumni Affairs Rep: Yasna Vismale (CC ‘22)
Vismale has a three-pronged plan: (1) Expand awareness of the Odyssey Mentoring Program, while simultaneously making it more casual and accessible so students aren’t intimidated by their mentors; (2) Create networking workshops where people can learn how to send emails, follow up, and sustain relationships with mentors; and (3) Funnel alumni funds to students in need through scholarships and other mechanisms.
Class of 2020 Rep: Joshua Elias (CC ‘21)
In his speech, Elias emphasized his previous experience in student government at the community college he attended before Columbia, which had a student body that was similarly individualistic and strapped for time. He asserted his intention to build more community at Columbia through innovative events and to foster a greater commitment to volunteering.
Class of 2021 Rep: Srivatsav Pyda
Pyda spoke to his strengths as a C.S. major, which will enable him to continue departing rep Sarah Radway’s work in liaising with CUIT and creating new apps (such as a student events calendar) that will benefit the student body. He described other initiatives as well: short programming classes for non-majors, making use of leftover dining hall food, and pushing for a later add/drop deadline. He finished his speech with, “Most importantly, I care.” Great!