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ESC Says Goodbye For The Semester

This week, ESC had its last general body meeting of the semester. They had a short(er) meeting that primarily went over position updates. For the last time in 2019, ESC Bureau Chief Lori Luo reports.

Meeting with Dean Morrison
Vice President of Policy Estevan Mesa, along with President Alina Ying and other members of ESC, met with Dean Morrison to discuss a couple of issues that have previously been brought up in ESC. Mesa updated ESC about the status of a few of the initiatives that ESC had hoped to implement.

The first was expanding Pass/Fail for SEAS. At the moment, SEAS only is able to P/F up to six credits of nontechnical 3000-level classes. This issue was discussed in the ESC meeting two weeks ago, specifically in the disparity between P/F policy for CC and SEAS. This week, Mesa informed ESC that the current P/F policy that SEAS has was only created after 5 years of campaigning from ESC a few years ago. The policy was implemented to address the problem of SEAS students not being able to explore non-STEM classes, and the policy aimed to encourage academic exploration. Columbia realized that this was an issue, a pilot was ran, and they observed that students did take advantage of the then new P/F option.

Dean Morrison reportedly had an issue with comparing to CC as an argument for why new policies ought to be implemented. Mesa noted that SEAS does have significant advantages, such as the later SEAS add/drop deadline for classes and how a D counts as passing a class in SEAS while in CC it’s failing. These measures, specifically the late add/drop deadline, is a huge stress on the registrar in terms of their accounting for rooms for each class and ensuring that students are able to take the classes they need to. However, these measures benefit the students, so the policies continue. Thus, if ESC intends to move forward with requesting changes to the current SEAS P/F policy, they need to find a problem that a fix would solve, such as the issue with academic exploration that was found a few years ago.

On the issue of co-ops, Dean Morrison was hesitant with the idea, as generally a co-op indicates some sort of 5 year plan to graduation, which he said was not going to happen at Columbia. However, there were hints that one way to implement a similar program would be to instead make it easier for students to take a year off to go into industry.

At the moment, there are many issues that make it difficult for students to take a leave or a semester of absence. For one, students are not guaranteed housing once they return from their absence. Similarly, there are also issues with financial aid that would arise with taking a leave of absence. Both of these issues would discourage students to pursue some opportunity in industry, and as such, solving them would be helpful to students interested in those kinds of opportunities. Dean Morrison reportedly also discussed other opportunities that are similar to co-ops, such as the independent study or field work (which is primarily for international students). Essentially, Mesa boiled down the issue around co-ops to be that the term co-op should not be used when creating an initiative and that instead, ESC ought to find problems to solve.

Other issues Dean Morrison reportedly had were with issues around what he believes co-ops would set students up for. He does not want Columbia to be a school where engineers graduate and go to the back and “design a widget”. Instead, he wants Columbia engineers to be in boardrooms making decisions, not just serve as technical experts.

Miscellaneous Updates

  • In the senate, there is currently a resolution to establish a program for a dual MA in Islamic studies and a MA in Muslim Cultures from the Graduate School of Arts and the Aga Khan University in London. This was proposed by the education committee.
  • Gender Identity and Sexuality Representative Giorgia Fujita is working on a Student Health Guide that will be an interactive PDF aimed to educate students about Columbia health structures, policies, and external resources.
  • Tree Lighting will be December 5th! There will be t-shirts, donuts, and hot chocolate, with t-shirts being given out using tickets. Dean Morrison will be saying a few words on behalf of SEAS.
  • A member of ESC informed me that after the meeting, they managed to fit 15 ESC members into one elevator. Truly SEAS students.

From Bwog, have a great thanksgiving break and holiday season!

Ornament made by Class of 2020 Class Representative Youngjae Ryu via Bwog

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