ESC has reconvened after Fall Break! This week, they discussed departmental advising and position updates. ESC Bureau Chief Lori Luo reports.
Departmental Advising Concerns
Yesterday, Student Body President Alina Ying met with Dean Morrison, Dean of Undergraduate Affairs, to discuss departmental advising. Issues with different departments and advisors have been a continual source of discussion between ESC and Dean Morrison for about two years, but now, she specifically wanted to ask ESC for anecdotal evidence and stories about issues people have had with their department advisors.
Multiple representatives who have declared Industrial Engineering and Operations Research (IEOR) as their major spoke about their issues with the department’s advisors. Racial Diversity and Inclusivity Representative Sabina Thomas discussed how her assigned advisor only gave her basic advice regarding her questions, such as telling her to just go to class and read the textbook when asked on how to do better in classes. After some questions from President Ying, Thomas clarified that this was the advisor assigned to her after she declared her major and that she also knew not everyone in IEOR has this advisor. Another ESC member similarly had issues with the IEOR department, specifically in getting in contact with their assigned advisor. Specifically, they originally wanted to double major in applied math and IEOR, and so, they emailed their advisor five times, never getting a response.
First Gen and Low Income Representative Diana Carranza discussed the system in the Chemical Engineering department, criticizing the ambiguity of the system. At the moment, advising appointments are set up through a spreadsheet with advisors and availabilities, and thus, students’ advisors change from semester to semester. For students such as Carranza, this meant that she had to re-explain her questions and situation every time she had a new advisor. Many of them also weren’t able to offer helpful advice. Class of 2021 Class President Kalisa Ndamage also mentioned his issues with the Chemical Engineering department, saying that there is minimal training for faculty for advising. As a result, he had to explain many of the requirements to his advisor during his meeting.
Multiple ESC members stressed that they were contacted by their advisors very late, and Vice President of Policy Estevan Mesa noted that it seems odd that students aren’t contacted by their mentors before second semester sophomore year after declaring, as that is when many students begin to take major specific classes. He elaborated that talking to an advisor then would’ve been helpful to avoid issues such as a too-heavy workload. There also seemed to be confusion around how many advisors each student has. President Ying asked everyone if they knew that they each had three advisors: one in CSA, one department faculty, and one department non-faculty. Many members of ESC raised their hands that they did not know.
President Ying concluded the discussion by saying that she intends to make a document to send to the SEAS general body to gather more anecdotes and stories about people’s experiences with departmental advising. Ideally, she’d like to gather about 30 to 40 such anecdotes to present to Dean Morrison so that concrete action can be taken.
VP Policy Estevan Mesa presented an amendment to the Finance at Columbia University (F@CU) constitution specifically related to who needed to be present at meetings between school years. This amendment was briefly presented during earlier meetings, but essentially sought to remedy the issue around there being a meeting after school ended for the school year that required both the former President and Vice President to attend with the new President and Vice President. The amendment would change the meeting to instead take place before the school year begins and requiring only the new President and Vice President to be in attendance. The amendment was passed by ESC unanimously.
Mesa is also currently looking into grade policy differences between CC and SEAS, specifically around pass/fail. At the moment, SEAS students can’t uncover pass/fail grades as easily as CC can, meaning that if a SEAS students does better in a class than they expected, it is harder for them to get that class to count towards their GPA. SEAS also is only able to pass/fail two classes and also have many more restrictions than CC regarding pass/fail. It is unclear why there is a difference between the policies for each school.
Vice President of Student Life Bret Silverstein and his committee will be announcing the winner of the Tree Lighting t-shirt design contest soon. They are also planning a study break at the beginning of reading week, during which sweatshirts will be given out. Sustainability Representative Ade Balogun is talking to EcoReps about last week’s town hall on Friday regarding the Climate Change task force, specifically about people’s concerns with the task force. Gender Identity and Sexuality Representative Giorgia Fujita is working on a proposal with Dean Aquino, Associate Dean of Multicultural Affairs, for gender neutral bathrooms in the freshman dorms.
Northwest Corner Building via Bwog