After interviewing each candidate, Bwog has chosen to endorse Virginia Lo, Sadia Safa, and Albert Grass for the University Senate and Ali Winter for Student Services Representative. Find our endorsements below.
The Bwog editorial staff is proud to announce our endorsements for the Spring 2022 CCSC elections. These decisions were made after days of interviewing candidates interested in our endorsement and discussing each candidate’s platform. We thank everyone who sought out an endorsement. CCSC voting closes tomorrow at 5 pm, and we encourage all students to remember to exercise their right to vote. Below are the candidates we decided to endorse and why.
For University Senator: Virginia Lo
Seeking to participate in her third year on student council, current Student Services Representative Virginia Lo (endorsed by Bwog in Spring 2021) has demonstrated to Bwog her ability to excel in her role as University Senator, if elected. Virginia currently serves on the Student Wellbeing and Student Life Task Force, where she has worked on addressing student concerns regarding the possible lack of health resources that may follow if the University expands enrollment. On the Task Force, she also helped create a draft for the Mental Health Collaborative, a space for students to have comfortable conversations about their mental and physical health. Additionally, Virginia was on the Student Health Advisory Committee, where she helped review student health insurance plans and implement new student communication strategies.
Bwog was similarly impressed with Virginia’s record in CCSC, which informed her four-pronged platform. Virginia emphasized transparency and accountability, specifically regarding the University’s desires to expand undergraduate enrollment. If elected, she hopes to work with the University Senate’s Diversity Committee to highlight marginalized voices on campus and improve financial accessibility for students who live in areas that Columbia does not actively recruit from, including Harlem.
Further, Bwog admired Virginia’s desire to advocate for wider preventive care resources; she feels that many students aren’t familiar with the University’s existing preventative health resources or feel they don’t have the time to inform themselves about what’s available to them. Virginia also stressed the need for a University-wide wellness break, which would allow students a few days to step away from academics and learn to prioritize their health and wellness.
Another goal of Virginia’s platform was to strengthen the relationships between Columbia’s undergraduate and graduate schools. She noted that many events open to undergraduate students at some of Columbia’s pre-professional schools are not properly publicized within the undergraduate community. Virginia argued that having more structured cooperation between the different offices—or even a mentorship program—would greatly help students interested in learning more about law, business, journalism, and other pre-professional fields.
Bwog is confident that Virginia’s experience and platform, with her emphasis on improving student health and wellbeing and increasing transparency from the Administration and the Senate itself, would make her a great candidate for University Senator.
For University Senator: Sadia Safa
Sadia Safa, the current Race and Ethnicity Representative, has made extensive strides in student government, which signalled to Bwog her commitment to being a University Senator. In addition to her current role, Sadia has also served on the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Task Force, having helped plan small events and initiatives within the College, as well as creating the VP of Equity Amendment that distributes funding to student groups focused on student identities. Further, Sadia serves as the Co-Chair of Inclusion for the Events Council, a position which she is confident will help her work with the Senators from other colleges.
Bwog was impressed with Sadia’s platform goals, which center around transparency and collaboration. Sadia specifically hopes to increase transparency in the recruitment process for campus clubs and regarding the University’s COVID-19 policies. As a first-generation, low-income student, Sadia also wants to expedite book purchases to the Columbia FLI Partnership Library. She emphasized that relying on Book Culture can become a financial burden for some students, which could be alleviated by collaborating on discounts for FGLI students. Additionally, Bwog supports Sadia’s desire to increase awareness of the Bias Incident Reporting Process by promoting anonymous conversations between students and the Bias Response Team.
Overall, Bwog is certain that Sadia’s commitment to working with students and the Administration in improving student life, by increasing transparency within the College and supporting FGLI students, would make her an excellent candidate for University Senator.
For University Senator: Albert Grass
Given his experience working on various political campaigns and his platform’s focus on increasing student equity, Bwog is confident in Albert Grass’ ability to serve as a University Senator.
A large part of Albert’s platform focuses on increasing student access to summer classes. Currently, students have to pay to take classes over the summer, with no financial aid available. Albert is intimately familiar with this issue, having changed his major from Economics/Political Science to a Pre-Med/Biophysics track, which required him to take courses over the summer in order to keep up. While Columbia did offer free summer courses last semester due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Albert, who is FGLI, expressed his disappointment that the University effectively punishes students who change their majors, especially given the financial limitations of many CU students. Albert displayed a fierce willingness to fight for a more affordable way for students to take summer courses.
Another tenet of Albert’s platform is his belief that Columbia should give back to the local community by partnering with various local organizations like New York Cares. He finds that, currently, Columbia seems to incentivize students to refrain from getting involved with the local Harlem community. Albert, on the other hand, is a strong proponent of making sure CU students are familiar with the areas above 125th St. If elected, he plans to join the Committee on Diversity, to make sure that “diversity is the norm and not the exception.”
Given Albert’s devotion to improving the experiences of students on financial aid and ensuring that Columbia is engaging with the neighborhoods surrounding campus, it is evident to Bwog that Albert would make a great University Senator.
For Student Services Representative: Ali Winter
Bwog believes that Ali is the best candidate for Student Services Representative, given her desire to fix the issues that would make the biggest difference in students’ lives.
One of Ali’s main goals, if elected, is to improve the sexual assault resources on campus. She would strongly advocate for the University to hire counselors specifically trained in dealing with sexual assault. Further, she believes that the Columbia Psychological Services should expand the hours they are available to speak with students, in addition to making their resources more easily accessible. In general, a lack of staffing and resources is something Ali wants to address in her position, most specifically regarding Columbia’s Sexual Assault Hotline and the Gay Health Advocacy Project.
Bwog also admires Ali’s wishes to improve dining on campus. She hopes to create a centralized meal donation program for students in need of/with extra meal swipes, given the grave issue of food security on and around campus. Furthermore, she wants to ensure that Columbia’s promise of 24/7 dining options to prospective students on campus tours is made true.
In creating her platform, Ali made sure to speak with current CCSC representatives about what it is like to work so closely with College administrators and how feasible her goals are. In all, Bwog was impressed with Ali’s level of preparedness for this role—she even shared various backup plans she has in place, for the possibility that her ideas would be rejected by the University.
Bwog is confident that Ali will be devoted to solving the problems that plague the Columbia College student body. Moreover, her deep understanding of the demands of communicating with other CCSC members and administrators would make her an excellent Student Services Representative.
Now, go vote!
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