This week, the Council met to discuss important updates on its advocacy for HEERF, the 2021–2022 tuition freeze, and a retroactive P/D/F option for the Summer 2020 semester.

President Jane Jeong (GS ’22) began GSSC with a call to order, then promptly moved on to important updates surrounding major pieces of advocacy. 

The first update involved HEERF (Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund) which was established by the CARES Act and provides federal aid to Columbia University. Spearheaded by the VP of Policy, Serengeti Timungwa (GS ’23), the Council sent a letter to Columbia, advocating for HEERF and recommending the University accept at least 6.8 million dollars of the 13 million available. While GSSC is hopeful the University will accept the funds, they are prepared to act in case the University refuses. 

The next piece of information centered around the tuition freeze for the 2021–2022 academic year. The GSSC is currently drafting a letter promoting the freeze and plans on sending it to President Bollinger and the Board of Trustees. President Jeong remarked that if any GS student wants to give feedback or further considerations regarding the letter, they should do so before the letter is mailed later this week.

Another policy update involved a retroactive Pass/D/Fail option for the Summer 2020 semester. While students were able to P/D/F courses in the Spring 2020, Fall 2020, and now Spring 2021 semesters, students were not given the same option for the summer. VP Timungwa and her policy team have already reached out to Dean Rosner about enacting this modification. They are currently waiting to hear back. 

President Jeong then gave a shoutout to Tech Chair Dylan Lee who has been pushing the Council to provide support to students in Texas who have lost power. He also reached out to Dean Delva and will be reaching out again to him soon with follow-up questions. 

Finally, President Jeong notified everyone of the GSSC Excellence in Teaching and Administration Awards. Every year, the Council is responsible for giving out teaching awards to professors, TAs, administrators, or advisors worthy of their nomination. The link for nominations will go out this week in their newsletter. 

Next, Vice President of Campus Life, Liam McGrane, shared that there will be an international mixer on Friday (at two different times) and emphasized the availability of study spaces on Discord, given the midterm season. 

The Council then moved on to hearing from the nominations for Election Commissioner. Elections Chairperson David Johnson brought up three nominations for this position, citing their energy, enthusiasm, and inability to be deterred by the burden that the Council places upon them as the impetus for choosing these candidates. 

The first candidate, Tyler Franklin (GS ’22), shared that he wishes to be involved with GSSC in any way he can. He described how the work he would be doing as an Election Commissioner mirrored the work he had done at previous schools and in his past career as a software developer.  

The second candidate, Avery Gaines (GS ’23) mentioned she is willing to give her all to the Council. She then listed off her history with event planning and work as a student senator at her previous school as qualifications for Election Commissioner. 

The final candidate, Charissa Kathleen Ratliff D’addario (GS ’22), described her desire to try something new by becoming a part of GSSC. She referred to her past as a dialysis technician as proof of her organizational skills. 

President Jeong thanked the candidates for their devotion. After checking if there was any standing business, communications from the floor, or public comment, the Council voted to move into Executive Session where they would vote on the candidates for Election Commissioner. Students will be notified either Thursday or Friday of the election results.

Find the minutes from Tuesday night’s session here.

Columbia University via Bwarchives