This week, ESC discussed creating a mission statement, town hall meetings for SEAS students, and several opportunities to collaborate with CCSC.

A somewhat tired student council logged on to Zoom at 9:30 PM yesterday. ESC members agreed to keep the meeting on the shorter side, since councilmembers are in the midst of midterms season.

Student Body President Estevan Mesa began the meeting by welcoming ESC’s newest members. Athena Tsu (‘23) is serving as ESC’s Gender and Sexuality Representative, and Dilara Zaimoglu (‘24) is the new Disability and Accessibility Issues Representative. With these positions filled, this year’s ESC is now complete.

After a few minutes spent reminding ESC members to send in information for ESC social media bios, ESC discussed the idea of creating monthly town halls for SEAS students to speak with ESC members. These town halls would hopefully improve communication between ESC and the rest of the students in SEAS. It would also allow ESC to gain a fuller picture of the problems SEAS students face and to implement student suggestions for improvements. 

Technology Representative Vish Rao is a member of ESC’s Communications Committee, the committee that is working on this proposal. He detailed how the town halls might work. At least one member of each ESC committee would attend. If ten or fewer students showed up, everyone would stay in one Zoom, and every student would have a chance to present their ideas and feedback. If more than ten students were in attendance, the town hall would split into several small breakout rooms. Each breakout room would include at least one ESC representative. Students would have the chance to present their ideas in these breakout rooms.

VP Finance Sophia Sagandyk (‘22) suggested having students share what they planned to discuss in advance of the town hall meeting via Google Form. This way, the relevant ESC members could attend and address the topic of discussion.

ESC moved on to discussing a mission statement and vision statement. Class of 2021 Representative Ethan Thayumanavan (‘21) is working on updating ESC’s website and noticed that, unlike other student councils, ESC currently does not have these statements. Thayumanavan drafted a mission statement and a vision statement and presented these to the rest of ESC for feedback.

After a few minor edits, the ESC seemed to be in agreement that the statements were suitable. Mesa proposed a vote on whether to adopt each of these statements, and both statements were ultimately adopted with a strong majority. These statements, which detail ESC’s day to day goals and long term mission and aspirations, will soon be available on ESC’s website.

Next, Mesa asked for volunteers to serve on the Columbia Elections Committee, which oversees student government elections. University Senator Joe Hier (‘21) and First Generation and Low Income Representative Martha Escobedo (‘21) offered to do this.

With this settled, Mesa informed the ESC members of a potential collaboration with CCSC. CCSC’s VP Policy Rads Mehta (CC ’22) reached out to Mesa asking if ESC would sign in support of CCSC’s COVID-19 Academic Adjustments Proposal. Mesa summarized the goals of this proposal, and asked ESC members what they wanted to do. He also noted that ESC’s board was unsure if they should sign on, since not all of the proposal pertains to SEAS. Still, some of the proposal, if implemented, would impact SEAS students. ESC can always sign in support of CC students for the aspects that do not affect SEAS students.

Academic Affairs Representative James Wang (‘22) suggested that if ESC signs on to the proposal, a request to allow SEAS students to uncover grades of classes initially taken as pass/fail be added. 

Escobedo and Class of 2023 President Angel Enrique Mancera suggested surveying SEAS students to understand the challenges that they are facing. With the data collected from this survey, ESC can move forward in a manner that best serves the students it represents. 

The discussion of the COVID-19 Academic Adjustments Proposal concluded for the day with a general consensus that ESC should first survey the SEAS student body and then resume discussions of whether to adopt the proposal. These future discussions will include the possibility for the addition of measures to the proposal, such as Wang’s pass/fail request as well as any ideas in response to the data from the SEAS student survey.

ESC is also working with CCSC on a survey for students about course concerns. In this survey, students would document specific classes where professors and TAs refused to make reasonable accommodations in the light of timezones, privacy concerns, and other COVID related issues. 

The meeting ended with updates from ESC’s At-Large Representatives and Class Councils. VP Student Life Katherine Liu (‘21) and the Class of 2022 Council both discussed Among Us game nights. This led me to the realization that on the ESC Zoom meetings, I am the impostor. I mean, I’m not on ESC, but I sit in on their Zoom meetings anyway. Very sus.

Lerner via Bwog Archives