This week CCSC discussed summer financial aid, shuttle services, disability services programs, and data privacy.

As always, CCSC members were busy this week meeting with university administrators in their efforts to open up more campus services to students. While some members may have better luck than others collaborating with and swaying administrators, the enduring mentality to serve Columbia College students who need it most continues to prevail amongst CCSC members even amidst setbacks.

VP Policy Rads Mehta had some exciting news after meeting with Dean Chang: it has been confirmed that financial aid will be offered for the summer term. The final financial details as well as who will be eligible should all be finalized and made public by March 1st. In other pleasant news, after meeting with CPS last semester to discuss diversifying the outside referral network, VP Mehta was pleased to announce that six women of color mental health professionals have been added to CPS’s official referral list. In other campus services news, after speaking to Scott Wright about excessive wait times and shuttle inaccessibility, VP Mehta was happy to announce that at least one more shuttle will be added to the Via shuttle fleet by the end of spring break.  

VP Mehta also gave us a final Resource Fund update now that the submission form is officially closed. Thanks to the hard work and dedication of both VP Mehta and VP Finance Sophia Adeghe (CC ’22) throughout both last and this semester, the Resource Fund was able to approve all outstanding requests, completing over 700 orders of student necessities and spending over $120,000 on slightly over 300 students, averaging out to around $150 spent per student who utilized the Resource Fund. The most often requested items were winter clothes, pre-professional clothes, and Airpods. There is a potential for the Resource Fund reopening later in the semester once more finances have been allocated, however, given the clear decline in the number of item requests the longer the submission form had been open, CCSC EBoard members hope that most needs have been met. This endeavor was a huge success thanks to the dedication of both VP Policy and VP Finance. 

Disabilities Representative Blake Jones (CC ‘22) had a long-anticipated meeting with Columbia Disability Services to discuss his ideas for potential collaborative work for the semester. To Representative Jones’ dismay, Disability Services responded less-than-enthusiastically, frankly telling him that it is unlikely they will be able to work with him at all this semester. It is unclear whether this is due to disinterest, tight budgets, or low staffing, but Representative Jones made clear that he is committed to do all he can to actively serve disabled students during his time in office, even if that means working alongside groups and university offices who are not Disability Services. Despite this minor setback, Representative Jones perseveres, and is working with the Disability Representatives from the other colleges’ student councils on holding a roundtable for disabled students in early March. Exact date and details will come in upcoming weeks and newsletters! 

President Joon Baek (CC ‘21) presented a new initiative called Privacy Working Group and is hoping to not only gain support and involvement from CCSC general body members, but also from any other Columbia students interested. President Baek expressed concern that since COVID, everything from our social to academic to professional lives have become nearly entirely virtual. Given that our worlds have shifted to being largely online, more and more personal data is on the internet for third party entities to harvest and profit from. President Baek is particularly interested in how Columbia plays a role in the utilization of personal student or applicant data. President Baek’s goal for the Privacy Working Group is to produce a report by the end of September 2021 detailing Columbia’s usage of personal data and to implement a new set of data privacy guidelines as a part of the Club ReFuel process.

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Image via Bwog Archives