GSSC spoke about elections, events, and anti-discrimination efforts during their last Council meeting of the year.

This Tuesday night was GSSC’s last Council meeting for the 2020-2021 academic year! Election debates will be held next week during the regular meeting time.

With this in mind, President Jane Jeong (GS’22) reminded everyone that candidate platforms are due by Friday and the second Rules meeting will be held today, Wednesday, at 8pm EST. Attending a Rules meeting is required for all candidates. Jeong also stated that official campaigning will begin next week.

Second, President Jeong spoke about the Council’s ongoing antiracism work on campus. She expressed hopes that beyond statements and ensuring that students feel heard, the Council could be more proactive with their outreach to student groups to support their work and share resources like platforms and funding. Jeong also spoke about policy issues that GSSC can advocate for, like amending the GSSC constitution to have a more explicit procedure on antiracism action and advocating for Ban the Box, an effort to remove the question about an applicant’s previous criminal records on the GS application. Additionally, Jeong mentioned potential stopgap measures like offering self-defense courses and peer walkers. Jeong praised the Council for its commitment to antiracist work.

Next, VP of Policy Serengeti Timungwa (GS’23) reminded the Council that GSSC Excellence in Teaching award nominees have been selected by the Policy Committee. From here, the Committee will present their selections to the Council and the Council will approve the nominations in executive session. Awards will be presented on April 29th.

With no updates from the Finance Committee and Communications, VP of Campus Life Liam McGrane (GS’24) announced upcoming events for the GS community. Today, Wednesday, at 8pm EST there will be a Women’s Poetry reading. Other upcoming events include an ODS Town Hall on April 5th, an Interfaith Roundtable on April 6th, a mental health check-in on April 9th, and an end-of-year mixer right before finals.

The Council then moved onto New Business where Senior Class President Safia Southey (GS’21) announced to the Council that seniors are planning for a senior gift and travel fund so that students can attend Class Day without financial concerns. Southey is currently speaking with the Finance team to identify budget allocations that could be given to the seniors without impacting the budget. Next week there will be an email for the Council to vote on this travel fund allocation.

First-Year Class President Kambi Gathesha (GS’23) asked for clarification on the Ban the Box initiative, specifically on how Columbia uses the question about a student’s previous criminal record. President Joeng suggested asking Dean Rogers and Dean Rosemitch who have more information on the issue, but that currently GS admissions makes disclosing previous criminal records optional in the application and is only used to ask how this record fits into the prospective student’s GS story.

Next, the Council moved to Public Comment, where students Shaqed Tzabbar and Ezra Dayanim presented a resolution to define and condemn antisemitism at the University. Tzabbar and Dayanim pointed to the recent rise of antisemitic incidents at Columbia and in the US more generally. They proposed a definition of antisemitism to be used in the proposed GSSC resolution and hopes that the Council would push the University to recognize antisemitism as a hate crime. The full resolution can be accessed via request from the Council.

Councilmembers asked for more detail into the requests that the proposed resolution would make and for some clarification on the language of the request. Veteran Student Rep Tony Costanzo (GS’23) highlighted the stopgap measures that President Jeong opened with as a means of mitigating the feelings of unsafety felt by Jewish students on campus. JTS Rep Josh Brunnlehrmann (GS/JTS’23) motioned to assemble a GSSC committee to address the rise in hate crimes more generally on campus. After some discussion, the Council decided that it was best to deliberate more over the nuances of Tzabbar and Dayanim’s proposed resolution before acting. Brunnlehrmann withdrew his motion, agreeing that further deliberation on the resolution was necessary.

The Council reiterated their deep concern about the rise of hate crimes on campus and nationally. Jeong referenced the Council’s current work to rethink the GSSC constitution and to be proactive in their antiracist and anti-discrimination work to help all members of the GS community. Jeong expressed her personal empathy in knowing what it’s like to have to advocate for oneself when violence is happening and noted that discussions on these issues will continue to happen in the hopes of identifying tangible solutions.

With that, President Jeong asked for a motion to move into Executive Session, and public comment ended.

Meeting Minutes are available for Tuesday night’s meeting.

What’s Up With GSSC? via Bwog Archives