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ESC: Zoom Edition

ESC is back via Zoom! Today, they discussed a constitutional amendment regarding the senior class council and the 3-2 representative. ESC also discussed and decided when elections would occur. ESC Bureau Chief Lori Luo reports from California.

Constitutional Amendment
In previous meetings, the senior class council brought up adding an additional member to their class council due to them having a larger workload than the other class councils. The proposed amendment would’ve added the current 3-2 representative onto the senior class council, essentially creating a third senior class representative who would specifically be a 3-2 student and eliminating the Combined Plan 3-2 Representative position.

Many members of ESC wanted to know how the senior class council would change. Class of 2020 Class Representative Youngjae Ryu asked if there would be an increase in funds allocated to the senior class council. VP Finance Sophia Sagandyk answered that there likely wouldn’t be an increase in allocated funds, but the decision would be up to F@CU.

Class of 2023 Class President Avi Gupta also asked how many 3-2 students are in SEAS. VP Policy Estevan Mesa answered that there were around 100 to 150 students, so about 10% of SEAS. Ryu added that in the MechE department specifically, 3-2 students made up around 70% of the major, with around 42 3-2 students in the overall group of 60 students.

Most of ESC’s questions centered on how specifically this position would work and the implications of the position on 3-2 representation in ESC and how 3-2 students could benefit.
Ryu noted that while he thought the amendment was a good initiative, he wanted to ensure that expectations of the position were clear. One issue he brought up was a potential decrease of 3-2 representation in ESC. To help remedy this, Ryu suggested adding a specific 3-2 representative to the senior class council but also keeping the at large 3-2 representative.

While Mesa clarified that 3-2 students generally can only serve during their senior year and the amendment wouldn’t change 3-2 participation in ESC, members of ESC were concerned that the 3-2 senior representative would not be able to effectively help and serve 3-2 students given their main senior class council responsibilities. Racial Diversity and Inclusivity Representative Sabina Thomas spoke in favor of Ryu’s plan of having the new representative as an additional representative since the senior representative likely would not be able to help welcome 3-2 students to campus. Since Columbia can be unwelcoming and intimidating, having such a representative and role is important.

To address these concerns, Mesa amended the amendment to only add a 3-2 student onto the senior class council while keeping the at large representative. This change would increase 3-2 representation on ESC by having two 3-2 seniors in ESC positions. The amendment passed by a majority, which means the amendment will be implemented next election cycle and not now.
Elections
The other main topic was the ESC election campaign, for which there were three possible options for ESC to vote for: i. having all elections in the spring (this semester), ii. having all elections in the fall (next semester), or iii. having only e-board in the spring, the rest in the fall. President Alina Ying noted that since it is a lot harder and possibly insensitive for people to campaign now, holding elections now would disadvantage people not on the council running for positions or who don’t have internet access to campaign.

Academic Affairs Representative James Wang asked if the decision ESC would make would be the same for CCSC as well. Ying answered that she confirmed the various student councils (ESC, CCSC, GSSC and SGA) could all have different election timelines. While ESC is the first council to be voting first, CCSC will likely chose the third option as they have seniors on their e-board.

Class of 2021 Class Representative Ethan Thayumanavan spoke in favor of the second option (having elections in the fall) as ESC doesn’t have any seniors on their e-board. Given Covid-19 and the current instability, having turnover now would be especially difficult as it would need to be done digitally. The new e-board would also have a harder time establishing connections with staff and faculty that the current e-board has. Thus, to ensure ESC would be successful, it would be better to hold elections in the fall.

One of the main concerns with holding elections in the fall was with how finances would work, specifically F@CU. If elections were held in the fall, VP Finance Sophia Sagandyk pointed out that she would likely end up deciding the budget for next year, which she felt would be unfair to the next e-board. Class of 2021 Class President Kalisa Ndamage asked why a budget Sagandyk made would not be in the interest of the incoming board. Sagandyk clarified that there are certain tweaks she can make at her discretion that the next council possibly wouldn’t agree with. The discretions she has include how much money is allocated to different initiatives/class councils, how much money ESC contributes to F@CU, and how much money is allocated to different governing boards. While it is possible to shift the internal ESC budget later, Ying noted that given specific budgets are told to clubs and people, it would be hard to reallocate money. However, Thomas noted that the new e-board should understand given what’s going on.

Thayumanavan also pointed out that if elections occurred now, there would be less people than normal. Usually, most students do not watch the live streams for the debates. If the whole process was done online, there would be even less student participation and the elections would bias it towards people on council.

Elections, if they occured in the fall, would likely be the first week of school. The timing would mean that current seniors, who usually vote in elections, likely would not, but that incoming freshmen (Class of ‘24) could potentially vote. This change raises the questions of who it’s more useful to have voting, freshmen who would be impacted by the decisions or seniors who know the community better. No matter what, the entirety of SEAS would vote, just different people. Ultimately, whether the class of ‘24 would be able to vote was added to the vote of when elections would be held.

Both option ii (having all elections in the fall) and freshmen voting passed with a majority.

How ESC is meeting now, via Flickr

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