Topics at this week’s ESC general body meeting included ESC a potential ESC bylaw amendment, housing for the fall, and a possible P/D/F grading policy for this semester.

The meeting began with Technology Representative Vish Rao (‘23) introducing an amendment to the ESC bylaws. ESC’s communications committee drafted the proposal, which would formally add the SEAS peer mentorship program to the council’s bylaws.

Vice President of Communications Adheli Gonzalez (‘21) explained that a previous communications committee member created the program. Gonzalez has been heading the program for the past several academic years. She hopes that adding the program to ESC’s bylaws would help ensure its future success by creating a clear outline for program operation.

The current draft of the amendment would formally put the program under the jurisdiction of the communications committee. Gonzalez explained that running the program is a lot of work and would do well to be a multi-person job.

Class of 2023 President Angel Mancera suggested that perhaps the program would fit well as an addition to the position of Professional Development Representative. Current Professional Development Representative Shomik Ghose agreed, noting that he is currently in the process of establishing a program where alumni would mentor students. Gonzalez and Student Body President Estevan Mesa (‘22) noted that the program involves communication with students as well as outreach to academic departments and student clubs, so it does fit with the goals of the communications committee.

Combined Plan Class Representative Zhuoli Zhang (‘21) is a current peer mentor and noted that he looks forward to becoming an alum representative. He encouraged collaboration between the two mentorship programs.

Council members will send further comments on this amendment in a feedback form, and members of the communications committee will present a revised amendment at next week’s general body meeting.

The meeting continued on to updates from various councilmembers. Mesa summarized his meetings from the past week with Vice President for Campus Services Scott Wright and Dean Morrison. Wright explained that registration for on campus housing for the fall semester will proceed as normal for now. Columbia hopes to bring all students back to campus in the fall.

If it is possible to house two students in each double dorm in the fall, then this should be possible. Even if students cannot share a dorm room this fall, it is possible that housing will be able to accommodate all students who want housing. Wright noted that the demand for housing for the Spring 2021 semester was lower than a typical semester. This is likely due to an increase in students living in off campus NYC apartments with NYC rent lower from COVID’s impact. Additionally, many students opted to remain at home this semester.

The Class of 2024 Council noted that some freshmen are concerned about housing for the fall. Sophomore housing options include a number of doubles and other group based options. Since the current freshmen have yet to experience college without COVID, many freshmen feel that they have not yet made connections with classmates and are unsure whom they would ask to dorm with them.

Mesa discussed potential plans for a P/D/F policy at a meeting with Dean Morrison this week. The administration is waiting to receive data on student usage of the P/D/F policy in the fall semester. Once they receive the data, which may happen this Wednesday, the campus student governments will also be able to review it and utilize the data in crafting a policy proposal.

Dean Morrison noted that a counter argument from faculty and administration members may be that since this is the third semester with online learning, students should have adjusted to the new norm by now. 

Many council members including Mesa and Class of 2021 Representative Ethan Thayumanavan (‘21) highlighted flaws in this argument during the general body meeting. Thayumanavan noted that many students are still not living on campus and facing all of the same challenges and uncertainties that last semester’s policy was meant to address. The council plans to preemptively address counterarguments when it drafts a P/D/F proposal.

Other council members provided updates on class specific events such as cocktail nights, qualitative information on the usage of the COVID-19 Resource Fund, and meetings with various Columbia personnel.

Lerner via Bwog Archives