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ESC Continues Debating Art

Engineering Student Council met last night to hammer out two primary discussions: the proposal from the Committee on Art Properties and an emergency funding request from Engineers Without Borders. ESC Bureau Chief Finn Klauber reports on this week’s meeting.

Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder

ESC began last night by continuing their discussion on the set of proposals advanced by the Committee on Art Properties last week. Although both CCSC and GSSC were convinced during their first meetings, ESC approached the issue more critically.

For one, ESC councilmembers still doubt that the placement of Manship’s bronze statue will have no impact on the NSOP food tent set up on the John Jay lawn each year—especially as the Venetian wellhead in Fayerweather Plaza is to be moved for the damages associated with the Business School’s food catering. The representative did explain that a protective tarp would be placed around the statue during that lawn’s use by Dining during NSOP, however.

Certain members also inquired again about lawn usage, and the representative from the Committee on Art Properties revealed his discussion with the head of Facilities about this issue. All the lawns on North Campus have been renovated, particularly by removing the hedges which block out those wishing to use the spaces. Facilities will be continuing to work on South Campus’ lawns so that they do not have to be tarped during the winter. Already this year they renovated the drainage for the lawns, which allowed them to remain tarpless into the winter. Yet, as one councilman put it, the “biggest thing we lack on campus is space,” and ESC was more critical of the potential elimination of such space than either CCSC or GSSC.

Perhaps ESC’s biggest roadblock to the vote was that some members “don’t see the big upside of this,” with one councilman claiming that he would not place the Manship sculpture in their own backyard. The representative countered that art is subjective, with such pieces uplifting the campus in a way that is supposed to pique our interests as we pass by. More concretely, the representative explained that Manship sculpted with heavy influences from Indian art and architecture despite his Western background—something unprecedented in the early 1900s. The representative claimed that the statue “stands as a physical testament to the Core Curriculum,” but admitted that “at least it’s a point of curiosity…and a landmark.”

The vote on this issue was actually split to address both proposals—moving the Venetian wellhead and installing the Manship statue. In two straw poll votes, both proposals passed with simple majorities.

$600, $755, or $900?

Most of the remaining meeting was concerned with a confusing jaunt into the world of Columbia club funding. Engineers Without Borders, a chapter of a national engineering organization which works with international communities to build public works like water filtration systems and bridges, requested an emergency quantity of money to cover unforeseen costs imposed on them by the university. EWB planned a northeast conference for Sunday with 155 conference registrants which aimed to improve their relations and provide networking opportunities in breakout groups. They had raised $2000 for the event and maintained a balanced budget, attaining partial funding through a cosponsorship with ESC.

They had originally booked Roone Auditorium, but ended up reserving space for the conference in Mudd and NoCo. How could this happen? Well, EWB had reserved Roone and received confirmation of their reservation. But when Columbia began their precalendaring process for 2019, Roone was slotted for another organization. This left EWB out in the cold, but they managed to reserve space in Mudd. This led to the unexpected fees, which include a $755 audio/visual fee and potentially up to $400 for a furniture movement fee. They actually would have had to pay more, but they got their reservation fee waived given that Columbia single-handedly and for no real reason screwed them over.

When the representative from EWB pitched the emergency grant to the ESC VP for Finance, he had not made clear that EWB would be asking for more than $600. This was due to the presidents of EWB determining that there would be a furniture movement fee (though they do not yet know the costs). Add to this a few miscommunications, and the resulting confusion ate up quite a bit of time. ESC councilmembers offered different proposals, such as only funding the $755 fee which EWB has right now. EWB was asking for $900, not only to cover the $755 A/V fee but also to help cover the undetermined furniture fee. ESC did not like this, especially as they were only prepared to discuss the original $600 request.

This sense of confusion continued into voting procedures, though ESC voted positively on a $600 allocation. Future emergency expenses can be brought to ESC again when there is a clearer picture of what they would be funding.

Engineers via Wikimedia Commons

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