Check out Bwog’s CCSC e-board endorsements and then vote in the only 2020 election we can be bothered to care about right now.

President and VP Policy: Kwolanne Felix and Brandon Shi – CU Soon

Bwog feels that Kwolanne and Brandon’s combined leadership would give Columbia the best chance of successfully stepping into this unprecedented era. Collaboration and inclusion are the cornerstones of Kwolanne’s approach to serving as the President of CCSC. Bwog was impressed with passion with which both Kwolanne and Brandon spoke about the issues that affect Columbia students’ daily lives. Just from a twenty-minute conversation with these candidates, Bwog’s editorial staff could feel how much Kwolanne and Brandon cared about improving the Columbia community through building upon their previous initiatives as well as incorporating ideas from student groups and activists.

In an interview with Bwog’s editorial staff Monday night, one of the first things Kwolanne emphasized is that the only way to achieve success in anything, especially student government, is through collaboration. CCSC will only work if the voices of student organizations and activists are heard. She has prior experience with such collaboration, having worked with groups like Native American Council and No Red Tape, that she hopes to put to work as President. Specifically, Kwolanne and Brandon hope to expand their previous work of the Inclusion and Diversity Task Force, founded by Kwolanne, by providing free meal plans to those who need it on campus during Winter Break and creating “more reasonable” definitions of sexual consent alongside No Red Tape. She plans on listening to and incorporating these and other student groups’ opinions in creating inclusive policies and new committees within CCSC.

Kwolanne shared her goals of engaging students more regarding CCSC’s efforts as well as with Columbia in general. Having experienced overt racism on campus herself, Kwolanne has a first-hand understanding of the lack of availability of resources for students who have been discriminated against. At the time, she felt that there were no resources to help her or that, at least, she did not know of any. As President, she hopes to increase awareness of services aiming to help students with any situation they face on or off campus. Kwolanne and Brandon agreed that it’s a priority for them to work with different offices on campus to publicize their services as well as point people for different issues. There are so many acronyms and different office names that it’s easy to get lost in it all without finding the resource that you really need.

Bwog has also decided to endorse Brandon for CCSC’s Vice President of Policy in part because of his demonstrated capacity for and dedication to listening. Instead of simply using our questions to launch into a campaign speech, he took the time to address every single part of any multi-part questions we might offer and made sure to give details that might have been glossed over in earlier parts of the conversation to ensure that we had the fullest picture of his platform. Additionally, his goal to create a peer mentorship program to pair incoming first-year students and sophomores with juniors and seniors is a solid one. Brandon made it clear that he’s not reinventing the wheel here, detailing for us the program ESC reps have recently started in SEAS, while also highlighting ways to best adapt it to the unique situation of Columbia College. This ability to take good programs and adapt them to our specific circumstance is key to achieving as much as possible in a single term on CCSC and it’s encouraging to see both Brandon and Kwolanne already engaging in that kind of policy-making. Finally, we appreciated Brandon’s dedication to the queer community on campus, evident in both his past work and in his reasoning for getting involved in student government in the first place.

We were a bit hesitant about the lack of specific policy ideas written into their platform, which also didn’t directly address what they would do should our Fall 2020 semester take place online. While we would have liked to see a few tangible goals for their term, outside of peer mentorship and internal reforms for CCSC, especially given the uncertain time in which we live, Bwog is certain that the dedication they’ve shown to uplifting the voices and concerns of those who are often overlooked will allow Kwolanne and Brandon to build a stronger community that benefits all members of the student body no matter from where we’re taking class, after they take the time to listen to what members of the campus community actually want from their leaders. 

VP Comms: Krishna Menon – CU Soon

We were impressed by Krishna’s dedication to making CCSC accessible to the entire Columbia College student body in a way that moved beyond the usual talking points usually put forward by candidates for the Vice President of Communications. His desire to revamp CCSC’s social media presence and website to ensure important information is consolidated and easy to find are both relatively fixes that have the potential to improve the lives of students in small but measurable ways that will reverberate beyond a single term in office while being achievable within his time on the board. His experience running social media for campus acapella group SHARP also suggests he has the experience necessary to achieve that goal. Similarly, his desire to make CCSC more transparent—a goal shared by many predecessors—included concrete steps, including inviting student publications to cover committee meetings as well as the general body, and personally sitting down with the media to discuss new initiatives that will impact our Columbia experience.

Most strikingly, as a transfer student himself, Krishna spoke passionately and convincingly about the need to ensure the transfer student community knows that CCSC exists and has the information to ensure that they can win their own positions on the council if they so choose. Though it was not an issue many of our editorial staff had considered prior to Menon’s interview, we soon realized that we couldn’t name a recent CCSC e-board member who was a transfer (though that doesn’t mean they didn’t exist). The role of VP Comms is uniquely suited to ensuring that transfer students have access to the wider world of student government. Menon’s status as a transfer gives him both the personal drive and experience to know what’s missing and how to fill in those gaps so everyone has the chance to make their voice heard. In general, his entire platform seemed well-balanced between ambition and pragmatism with the passion to follow through on his promises. We are confident that should he be elected, Krishna will be a powerful voice for the Columbia student body.

VP Campus Life: Travis – CU Soon

Bwog has decided to endorse Travis Nelson for VP Campus Life. We were impressed with his commitment to engage Columbia community members and to create the type of environment that would be most fruitful for our college experiences. Travis not only emphasized the importance of maintaining campus traditions but also effectively explained his commitment to improving multiple facets of Columbia student life. 

When introducing himself, Travis mentioned how he is an intentional person, and he proved this through his specificity in what he would like to work on as VP of Campus Life. He emphasized the importance of continuing traditions, like Tree Lighting, while also creating new ones such as a possible Homecoming alumni celebration on the EC lawns before the game. Travis mentioned wanting to expand Homecoming celebrations and activities to be more dynamic and reflect the wants of the student body. Other events he mentioned include class picnics and brunches. On a more daily level, Travis mentioned his commitment to improving CPS by making their resources more accessible and pushing the University to hire more counselors. 

Travis acknowledged that he will have to be creative in his role as Vice President of Campus Life while we are not physically on campus. He mentioned initiatives to foster a sense of community while not physically together, such as hosting events and partnering people in different years to talk on group streaming platforms like Zoom. Travis has the foresight to understand how both sweeping and small changes can improve campus life.

VP Finance: Emma James – CU on Houseparty

For VP Finance, Bwog has decided to endorse Emma James.  In her introduction, Emma mentioned her contribution to sustainability on campus– she is involved with Ecoreps, Columbia carbon neutrality, and she served on the finance committee for past presidential candidate Andrew Yang. Not only were we impressed with her past experiences, but we were also impressed with her financial policy and the goals she has set. 

During our conversation, she acknowledged that we were going through a unique situation in regards to COVID-19. As a response, she hopes to push for a summer work exemption grant similar to that of Barnard. Currently, only Barnard College is offering this exemption grant, as was announced in an email by President Beilock last week. She plans to push for this grant for all undergraduate colleges. She also discussed a few financial subsidies for students. She plans on subsidizing the co-pay for local mental health practitioners due to the under-staffed and difficulty getting an appointment at CPS. Yearly, we see CCSC platforms claiming to improve CPS, but this is a different approach that seems plausible and actionable. She also discussed subsidizing MetroCard swipes– currently, low-income students get 6 free swipes, but she would like to increase the number of swipes per student. She also discussed subsidizing cultural activities such as museum tickets, shows, concerts, and more. She said she would encourage students to let her know if there was an event that they wanted to attend and she will try her best to make it happen. 

We were impressed with Emma because she had real, tangible goals. Her solutions to mental health on campus and the current COVID-19 situation were realistic and helpful. As a Questbridge scholar, she also has the personal connections and knowledge to make sure new financial policies actually help low-income students on campus. She had the attitude of doing her best to make students happy, without making any empty promises. 

Voting is happening now through Friday for CCSC. More information can be found for each candidate on the Columbia Election Commission’s website.

Editor’s Note: Bwog’s CCSC Bureau Chief Adam Kluge is running for Vice President of Campus Life. Due to our conflict of interest policies, he was not involved in any way in the interview or selection process for Bwog’s endorsements. He was also not taken into consideration for an endorsement and his exclusion should not be considered a statement on the quality of his platform.

oh campus how we miss you via Bwog Archive