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ESC Discusses Coronavirus Incidents

Continuing off of last week’s impromptu discussion, ESC debates whether to release another statement condemning recent incidents around campus related to coronavirus fears. ESC also discussed adding another representative to the Class of 2020 class council. ESC Bureau Chief Lori Luo reports.

Coronavirus Incidents
Last week, ESC discussed putting out a statement regarding the coronavirus. This statement (about one to two sentences) was sent out in the weekly newsletter. Class of 2020 Class President Sambhav Jain also put out his own statement in the senior newsletter. However, in light of two incidents last week, ESC President Alina Ying wanted to both discuss the incidents as well as a second ESC response or statement.

The first incident occurred in Butler Library, when someone wrote a statement in Chinese about a coronavirus quarantine area on a blackboard. The statement appeared biased against Chinese and Chinese-American statements. In response to this incident, the Chinese Students Club (CSC) put out a statement that heavily condemned racism and bias against Chinese students.

The second incident was in regards to the self-quarantine students returning from China must undertake. Barnard student Sylvia Su posted an email she had received from a Barnard dean on instagram and facebook that questioned whether she was staying in her room during the quarantine. While Barnard apologized on the instagram post via their official instagram, the emails have generated traction beyond Columbia, including being posted in the famous facebook group “Subtle Asian Traits”.

Class of 2021 Class President Kalisa Ndamage said that the issue to address is no longer the virus, but rather, our campus and its culture. He wanted ESC to potentially reconsider their last statement and put out a stronger one. President Ying agreed. She wanted to support CSC and had already reached out to them. She suggested sharing the statement they put out via the ESC facebook page and instagram.

International Students Representative Katherine Liu felt that since no one can control the virus, a potential second ESC statement should focus on the emotional side of the events. There is no reason to address the biological factor (the virus) at all. Rather, ESC should address how we treat each other. If ESC was to release a statement, it should be a general, community fostering message that also emphasizes the importance of being respectful. In her view, there was no need for strong statements on one side or another.

Ndamage disagreed. While he agreed ESC should only comment on the issues on campus, he felt that ESC should take a strong stance. Disability and Accessibility Issues Representative Ahmet Karadeniz agreed with Ndamage regarding needing to have a strong stance and a clear tone.

Regarding how best ESC should put out a statement, President Ying presented two options: spreading the existing CSC statement or putting out a statement of their own. After being shown the CSC statement, ESC agreed that their statement is well written and accurate. To compromise between the two options Ying presented, Liu suggested doing both by sharing the original and adding ESC’s own small statement to the bottom.

ESC voted unanimously to release a statement and also voted unanimously to share the CSC post.

Additional Senior Class Representative
In a discussion topic, Class of 2020 Class President Sambhav Jain suggested increasing the number of class representatives for the senior class from two to three as the senior class has around an event a week. Due to this heavy workload, having a third representative would help a lot. Furthermore, Jain argued that having a third representative would help the senior class be more involved with ESC.

Student Groups Representative Can Akdere suggested that the senior class council have a trial with a senior to see if having they like having another representative. Similarly, Vice President of Policy Estevan Mesa suggested Jain bring on an extended member of the class council. This option would be easier than writing an amendment, having a discussion, voting, and then amending the constitution. Furthermore, that process would also require an election unless it was within a month of the next election.

Ying also addressed the issue, noting that the process would likely be a direct appointment after a sequence of applications and interviews from E-board and members of the current senior class council. Jain clarified he would prefer this appointment process. Class of 2021 Vice President Jenny Martinez noted that it still may be a good idea to amend the constitution so that future senior class councils can benefit.

Miscellaneous Updates

  • Vice President of Student Life Bret Silverstein and the student life committee are planning a second Got Fu’d this semester that is paradise themed. They hope to have new things this time, such as a chocolate fountain and board games.
  • Vice President of Finance Sophia Sagandyk and the Finance committee have started passing out the metrocards from their metrocard initiative on Monday. The giveaway will continue through Wednesday.
  • Class of 2023 Class Council is planning a raffle, which will include an iPad.

Lerner Hall via Bwog

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