ESC had their last meeting of the year, marking the end of the current councils terms. In a very short open meeting, they vote on resolutions and discuss a potential stance on grading for Fall 2020. ESC Bureau Chief Lori Luo reports for the last time this school year.
This meeting, ESC voted on the two issues that were brought up last meeting: amending the requirements for Student Health and Wellness Representative and a virtual vote constitution change.
As recommended by some members of ESC last meeting, current Student Health and Wellness Representative Juliet Sampson proposed a continuing resolution that requires all future Student Health and Wellness Representatives to participate in the peer health network. The resolution itself was based on another continuing resolution previously passed by ESC. This continuing resolution passed.
The other vote that was held was on a constitutional change to allow for virtual votes. There were some concerns over specific wording to, as Class of 2020 Class Representative Youngjae Ryu said, to ensure things were as specific and as defined as possible so there would be minimal interpretation needed in the future. This measure would also make sure the change would not be abused or misused.
University Senator Joseph Hier also proposed to only define time sensitive issues as when the Executive Board unanimously agreed it was instead of just under the Executive Board’s discretion. However, multiple other members of ESC emphasized the importance of expedience for the proposed change. Class of 2023 Class President Avi Gupta argued a unanimous decision wasn’t necessary as it could take extra time. Furthermore, there are other measures, like quorum and measure that would be voted on failing to prevent it from being used unjustly.
Class of 2021 Class Representative Ethan Thayumanavan elaborated on this, emphasizing that the goal is to prevent any delay and that sometimes being able to put statements out fast and being able to communicate quickly is better than delaying it by a week
The measure to allow for virtual votes failed and did not pass.
Final Statements To the Public
The last discussion topic was just an open discussion for any members of ESC to say anything to the public for the last time. The discussion ended up focusing on what the fall semester would look like. Specifically, ESC discussed whether or not to take an early stance on grading if the fall semester was also online.
Although no one knows if classes will be online for the fall semester, Gupta proposed that ESC take a position on grading for the fall semester. Thayumanavan said that he felt an online fall semester would be pass/fail as well, given that this semester is. Even though summer classes will be given regular grades, since they don’t offer financial aid and much of the pass/fail considerations have to do with disadvantaged groups, there’s no reason for an online fall semester to be graded. However, he agreed that ESC should be pushing for changes in the fall if it’s online because the same concerns still apply.
Gupta agreed, but asked if it would be possible to pass resolutions in the summer. While President Alina Ying said resolutions would need to be passed at the beginning of fall, all of the Executive Board is on call until their term officially ends in the fall.
Class of 2021 Class President Kalisa Ndamage noted that Columbia may choose to have fall semester be graded because no one chose to take online classes this semester. However, if people are opting in in the fall, maybe classes will be graded. Thayumanavan pointed out that on a university level, taking a gap year (which would be necessary since you can’t just take a semester off due to spring courses being dependent on previous fall courses) for non medical reasons leads to significant burdens, including financial burdens and the loss of guaranteed housing. He emphasized that if there’s a real chance Columbia will have a graded online fall semester, ESC should push for policy changes to help.
Gupta also said he was worried that something would be announced in August, making it too late for ESC to act. Ying closed the discussion by saying ESC may discuss this issue again at the tail end of summer.
That’s all for ESC this school year! Thank you all.
ESC waving goodbye via Needpix