Bwog’s humble correspondent gives you a quick run-down of the May USenate Plenary session, the final one of the year. 

  • I arrived late and very hungover, in time to catch the tail end of the president’s report – PrezBo was monologuing about affordable housing and Columbia’s commitment to trying to lessen or moderate its gentrifying impact on the Manhattanville Campus, without any apparent sense of irony.
  • Professor June Cross of Columbia’s School of Journalism then delivered a presentation on some issues with the School of Professional Studies, focusing on the contention between SPS and other comparable schools, due to the overlap between programs SPS offers and the programs that other professional schools offer. According to Cross’s presentation, this has been an ongoing dialogue throughout the year.
  • After Cross’s address, there was another presentation on an initiative to get more tenured women faculty members in Columbia Law School, parallel to a similar discussion in March’s USenate Plenary centering around advancing women’s equity in the field of medicine. According to this presentation, Columbia is apparently around the middle of the pack when compared to other schools in terms of the percent of women among its tenured law faculty, and is making some efforts to get more women on track towards tenure.
  • We got an update on the new expense reporting system used by Columbia. Columbia’s Finance Department is feeling more confident about it now.
  • The Senate voted to pass a resolution saying Provost John Coatsworth is a pretty cool guy, titled literally a “Resolution to Honor John H. Coatsworth for His Service as Provost.” The resolution also had an administrative function in giving the Executive Committee the power to do the Senate’s job, while the senators themselves were away over the summer. PrezBo made a power move and just passed both measures by acclamation, even though a couple senators voted against the second resolution granting power to the Executive Committee and others were confused about what they were voting for. Given that it’s like a one-page resolution, and very straightforward, this was kinda on them for not knowing what the hell was going on.
  • A few committees, including the Education Committee, External Relations and Research Policy Committee, and the Student Affairs Committee, all gave their annual reports. Some highlights among these reports included: the recent creation of a new Department of African American and African Diaspora Studies at Columbia, as well as an attempt to create a new senior administrator overseeing issues of mental health, sexual respect, inclusion. The presentations of these annual reports were all short (their written forms are very short too, if you’re the kind of masochist who likes reading that sort of thing), and almost passed clean through my brain like a neutrino beam.
  • Professor Jeffrey Kysar, the Faculty Adviser to NROTC, gave a report on updates within Columbia’s NROTC program. According to Kysar’s report, the number of students actually involved in NROTC is in the single digits, but it’s The Military, so we needed a whole report to the Senate about it.
  • Lots of people either graduating or retiring or passing into the Great Lobster Tank in the Sky or whatever had nice things said about them (but had no resolutions passed for them, only the Provost gets that!).
  • At some point, PrezBo just sorta casually snuck out. I liked his sweater, it was a nice shade of blue (somewhere between navy and ultramarine).
  • Cake was also provided. I ate more than I had any right to.

Honestly, I’m amazed by how little actually happens at these sessions, yet how much trouble people seem to be going to outside of them to deliver opaque, dry, and often rather meaningless speeches. I never thought I’d say thank God for bureaucrats, but these meetings are starting to make me think that without our very own deep state, nothing would ever get done at this school.

Photo via Bwarchives