GSSC debates involvement in the Tuition Strike, hears from the Columbia food pantry, and passes two new proposals.

The meeting was called to order. First of all, as I listen to this fun run of names (bureaucracy is huge), I just want to say how exciting it is to be at this meeting as a GS student! 

It is WILD how formal some parts of this meeting are. I’m a big fan. 

GS council yielded time for a Columbia food pantry presentation. (Try saying that 3 times fast!) Critical food bank information included a confidential intake form, and anyone who can access the buildings is welcome. There is also a farm share initiative with the food bank! They now have a virtual site where students can choose free supplies for pickup during open hours.

Learn more about the Columbia food bank here

Update on CARES

GSSC stated that international students do not file FAFSA, so it is unclear if they will receive CARES stipends. GS has also been looking to other councils to sign in with them on CARES Act issues. They also encouraged General Studies seniors to write senior theses and apply for grants.

GSSC also passed two new proposals, amending the constitution to replace binary pronouns with gender-neutral pronouns and to add referenda clauses. The referenda clause proposal was initiated in order to allow GSSC to have referenda power, similar to ESC and CCSC. Following this development, JTS Representative Josh Brunnlehrmann brought forward conversation on the 30% threshold for a referendum to pass and suggested increasing the threshold because it may lead to larger conflict without administrative receptiveness. GS students then spoke on their concerns with this referendum, discussing whether it will lead to antisemitism and if the structure of the referendum will make a powerful enough statement.

Tuition Strike

GSSC then discussed the tuition strike petition’s wide-range of subjects. GSSC wants to decide how much to get involved. GSSC also realized that a lot of their students, particularly in the Tel Aviv joint program, may be opposed to the divestment point of the tuition strike—considering that divestment conversations often relate to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Students with Disabilities Representative Joan Bolanos Martinez also pointed out that over 800 students in GSSC are international students and if they participated in the strike, many of them may lose their student visas. International Students Representative Rhe-Anne Tan recognized that while this may be a more difficult choice for international students, supporting the ideas of the strike does not mean forcing students to comply. Additionally, it was recognized how many communities are working together for the strike and the relevance for current students, especially TAs. Finally, it was recognized that because GS has a program with Tel Aviv University, it will be difficult to vote on the strike as a whole. 

GSSC then brought forward the idea of writing up a separate document regarding some of the strike issues without having to sign on to the strike word for word. Several students talked about the danger of signing on to such a large strike with wide-ranging calls to action. Other students spoke about the power of intersectional justice and not sacrificing the traction gained or ignoring the power GSSC has. It was also raised that many students don’t know the full content of the strike, agreeing with the tuition relief but not knowing what they are fully signing for. Students also struggled with accepting all elements of such a wide-ranging petition. Several students specifically spoke about recognizing potentially antisemitic undertones in point 4 of the petition.  The conversation was tabled in order to allow GSSC to form a subcommittee and discuss this issue in the future. Information on joining this subcommittee will be in the GS weekly email.

Reminder: There is a virtual tree lighting at 8 pm on December 9th (that’s today)! Bring your hot chocolate!

Image via Bwog Archives