Staff writer Olivia Mitchell covers GSSC this week as they discuss the pilot program for the low-cost meal plan, the importance of the student wellness survey, and gender-based misconduct and discrimination on campus.
The night’s council was joined by three special guests: Dean Marlyn Delva, the dean of students for General Studies, Daniel Rodriguez, the General Studies Director of Educational Financing, and Joseph Greenwell the Vice President of Student Affairs.
Dean Delva started off the night with a quick plug for the re-opening of the ARC on 111th and Broadway. The ARC — Academic Resource Center — is the center for General Studies students, and it provides peer advising, tutoring support, help with navigating academics, and any work being done teaching university studies, among other things. The ARC will be open Monday through Friday from 11 AM to 8 PM. Appointments can be made through their website. The microphone was then passed to Daniel Rodriguez and GS’s new low-cost meal plan. Rodriguez went on to explain that the program is currently helping students pre-identified as being of the highest need, which amounts to around 300 students. The program cuts the lowest-priced dining plan from $1,091 to $450 and includes 75 meal swipes per semester. The GSSC board was fast to ask questions and give comments on the failures and successes of the current pilot, with some expressing a need for transferrable meal swipes, kosher meals, an expansion of dining hall choices, access for graduate students, and possible expansion of the program’s swipes, and others communicating thankfulness for the implementation of this plan, especially due to the high rates of food insecurity that General Studies students face on campus, with General Studies holding the highest amount of disbursements among schools since the inception of the Columbia Food Pantry in 2016.
After the words of Dean Delva and Daniel Rodriguez, the board was joined by Joseph Greenwell, the first-ever Vice President of Student Affairs. Greenwell happily introduced himself and his background to the board, explaining the importance of student wellness to him due to his personal experience with suicide, discrimination, and high academic standards. Greenwell went on to discuss the launch of the Columbia University student wellness survey, which formally launched Monday night. The survey, he describes, is completely anonymous, and the schools only receive aggregate, raw data on students who participated. Greenwell continues to unfold the importance of completing this survey, stating that the “data substantiates the needs” of students and allows the university access to the types of support and funding that students need. The board continued the night by asking Greenwell about current initiatives on campus on types of support that exists for students, as well as raised concerns concerning the current reporting process for sexual assault and the rising discrimination against Asian students due to perceptions based on the Coronavirus outbreak. Greenwell responded by emphasizing the University’s policy on supporting students who experience racism on campus, as well as investigating their claims, and saying that any student who has had concrete problems with reporting sexual assault should report their experiences to Student Affairs or Greenwell personally.
After the words of the night’s guests, the board shifted back to its own announcements, starting with Campus Life, which discussed their upcoming event — the Flamingo Mingle — that’ll take place on February 13th, from 7 PM – 10 PM at Amity Hall. Sign-ups for tickets will close on February 12th at 11:59 PM. The topic then shifted to Glass House Rocks, which will be taking place on February 20th, from 8 PM – 12 AM in Lerner Hall, accompanied by 20 student performances, including CUMB, which the board specifically mentioned. They then motioned to allocate $2,100 for General Studies contribution, which was unanimously passed. The Campus Life Committee also quickly mentioned the deadline to confirm graduation requirements for seniors, which are due by March 13th. The night’s council meeting was then closed by the University Senator, who updated the board on a resolution for carbon neutrality which had gotten passed. This resolution created a university task force on sustainability comprised of eight senators and six non-senator experts.
Well, that’s this week’s GSSC meeting. Special shoutout to the Vice President of Policy Joshua Lefkow for getting into Harvard Law! Go Pilgrims!