This week’s episode, I mean General Body Meeting, of the ESC featured discussions about creating a new biology minor and more new faces. 

The 2020-2021 Engineering Council is almost completely assembled and prepared to lead the SEAS community in these topsy turvy times.

Five new ESC members joined this week’s meeting. Lori Luo (‘23), former Bwog ESC Bureau Chief is now serving as ESC’s Student Health and Wellness Representative. Martha Escobedo (‘21) is this year’s FGLI Representative, and Theo Mack (‘24) is the newly minted Student Group Representative. This year’s International Student Representative is Egem Yorulmaz (‘22), and Zhuoli Zhang is serving as the Senior Class Representative for the 3-2 program.

After welcoming these new members, the ESC listened as Jason Mohabir (SEAS ‘21) advocated for the creation of a Biology minor for SEAS students. Mohabir first considered a minor in biology after working in a lab during the summer before his sophomore year. He began taking biology courses at the encouragement of his advisors and deans. Two years later, he has been offered two options: get a Columbia College concentration in biology (a 22+ credit endeavor) or turn to the ESC and ask for its help in petitioning for the creation of a biology minor for SEAS students.

Mohabir explained that this minor would likely require six courses, which is typical of a SEAS minor. Two of these would be introductory biology courses, and Mohabir hopes that the remaining four courses would be electives that could be chosen from a list of pre-approved courses in biology. 

The minor, Mohabir explained, differs significantly from Biomedical Engineering, which is a major offered in SEAS. Biomedical engineering is a material science, whereas the biology minor would allow for exploration of topics such as microbiology and genetics. While these disciplines do overlap, they also encompass two distinct types of research.

After Mohabir explained his plan, the floor was opened for councilmembers to ask questions about this potential minor. Academic Affairs Representative James Wang and Class of 2021 Councilmember Ethan Thayumanavan asked questions pertaining to how courses would be deemed eligible for the minor. Mohabir suggested that should the petition for the creation of the minor advance, they could consult with professors in the Biology department to create a list of suitable courses for electives within the minor.

Following this discussion, the council voted in favor of supporting Mohabir’s endeavor to create this SEAS Biology minor. The council plans to work with the deans moving forward to advocate in favor of the creation of this minor.

With this decided, the council briefly talked about what time to hold future general body meetings. ESC members are filling out a survey and will continue to reflect on this question for a bit longer. As of now, the most popular meeting time among councilmembers is 10:00-11:00 PM EST on Mondays, followed by the current meeting time, 9:30-10:30 PM EST on Monday nights. Class of 2021 Councilmember Ashley Rosenberg and Class of 2023 Councilmember Angel Mancera both voiced concerns about moving the meeting time later, because they wanted to ensure that ESC members in certain time zones would not be put in positions where meeting times would be even more challenging for them to make. The ESC is still working on finalizing a meeting time.

The meeting continued with discussions of various ESC member’s and council’s endeavors. VP Finance Sophia Sagandyk discussed how the budget may be allocated to the four class councils within SEAS. Each council may initially be given the surplus of last year’s budget to work with, with the option to ask for more funds if necessary. The freshman class council will be allocated a portion of the funds as well. 

VP Student Life Katherine Liu discussed several ideas for events and community initiatives, including the creation of a SEAS cookbook and a virtual escape the room event.

VP Policy Ahmet Karadeniz, who could not attend for time zone reasons, asked Student Body President Estevan Mesa to convey that Ahmet is working on creating subcommittees within the ESC committees to address the unique challenges presented by online learning.

Lerner via Bwog Archives