Didn’t hear CCSC talk about spaces on campus, textbook affordability, and Halloween this week? Bwog is here with the highlights!
- Housing Equity Town Hall on Oct. 29th
- Clothing Swap on Nov. 4th – donate your clothes this week!
- Meet Eat and Greet on Nov. 5th
Council members did stuff!
- Columbia recognized Indigenous Peoples Day! Yay!
- International Student Advisory board is helping students affected by the travel ban – if you are affected by the ban or other visa struggles, please talk to them!
- CCSC reps continue to talk with Columbia Housing to figure out what to do with students who take medical leaves – how is their lottery number affected, how should they choose housing, and so on.
CCSC board also did stuff!
- Earlier this week, CCSC met with Barnes and Noble to work out a plan/deal to try and make textbooks more affordable. The suggested plan would consist of a box filled with all necessary course books delivered to the student at the beginning of the semester, containing a mix of new, used, and online materials. The program would be opt-in and cost an additional “few hundred dollars” on top of tuition. The books would then all be returned at the end of the semester. Details are still being ironed out, and CCSC is still meeting with various groups and committees to try and figure out if this deal would be helpful for FGLI students.
- Halloween costume contest: on Oct. 31st, send CCSC your costumes, which they will then post on their social media. The winner of the contest will be awarded two tickets to Beetlejuice on Broadway.
Now, going into the meat of the meeting, CCSC met with and questioned Vice President of Campus Services Scott Wright. “Campus Services” is a broad term for a vast bureaucracy that spans the management of housing, dining, health, environment, events, Lerner, and admin services (print, mail, transportation). There were a number of issues brought up by CCSC, most concerning the allocation of different spaces around campus.
To start, CCSC asked about the plans for an integrated health center on campus. Currently, with offices and small clinics scattered across campus, health is inefficient and inaccessible to students. Scott echoed the sentiment that healthcare should be centralized, and the main barrier between that ideal and reality is the lack of physical space on campus. Currently, Campus Services in conducting a study of the health centers around campus to figure out what is needed and what could be improved. Ideally, a new space would be built or purchased near campus for health facilities to use.
Next, the question of dining during winter break was brought up. Currently, students who cannot afford or do not wish to travel for winter break are stuck in campus housing without any campus dining. For students in dorms such as John Jay and Carman this is especially difficult because there are no easily-accessible kitchens. Although not enough students stay on campus to merit opening a dining hall, Dining is considering allowing students to swap their meal swipes for Flex, allowing them to buy food and groceries in Morningside Heights.
Following that, the question of lounge/community spaces for marginalized groups was discussed. Currently, there are two such lounges: the Malcolm X lounge for black students and the Donaldson lounge for LGBTQ+ students. CCSC asked how Campus Services could help expand and improve spaces like these, especially facilitating students in efforts to decorate/customize spaces for particular communities’ needs. Scott replied that campus currently simply does not have enough space, lounge or otherwise. Hopefully, if Health moves out of John Jay 3 and 4, other services can shuffle around, and more spaces can be created. In addition, the next major building renovation will be Woodbridge, and with this renovation, Housing is hoping to include a community space separate from Residential Life meant for community/group organizing.
Then, the discussion shifted to summer housing. Currently, there are 10 free beds available to whoever needs them over the summer. There is little data on demand for these spots, so Housing is still unsure if it should expand the program. Unfortunately, Housing is self-funded, so more subsidized/free housing means the other residents have to pay more. Campus Services is currently working with other Columbia offices to perhaps get funds for more subsidized housing.
Finally, Scott discussed the 2017-2020 sustainability plan, which is clearly nearing its expiration date. Although the new (perhaps 10-year) plan is still in the works, Scott said that building upgrades, slow replacement of gas with electric power, and other facilities “greening” initiatives will most likely be in the plan. Students interested in influencing the new plan are encouraged to join or form committees and have discussions with Campus Services.
With that, the CCSC meeting drew to a close, wishing all happy midterms!
Lerner via Bwarchives