The Blog


Earlier today, the Barnard student body received an email about a wage increase for student workers. Here’s the full statement:

We are pleased to announce that Barnard College will be raising the minimum wage for student workers employed by the College to $15.00 per hour over the next three years.  The increase will be implemented incrementally: first to $12.00 per hour effective September 6, 2016; then to $13.50 effective September 5, 2017; and finally to $15.00 effective September 4, 2018.

By increasing the minimum wage to $12.00 per hour this year, we will positively affect nearly 70% of all student jobs on campus. Our multi-year commitment accelerates the timetable established in the recent law passed by the State of New York.

The College recognizes that New York City is an expensive place to live and study.  Our student employees make vital contributions to academic and co-curricular life on campus each and every day, and should be compensated fairly for their work.  We appreciate the passionate efforts of student advocates who helped put this issue on the agenda and engaged with us in productive discussions about wages and income inequality in general.  We look forward, as always, to continuing these discussions.

Sincerely,

Robert Goldberg
Chief Operating Officer

Avis Hinkson
Dean of the College

Photo Courtesy Jacob Case/Columbia Elections Board

As part of our elections coverage, The Lion is sharing responses from candidates about the following questions:

  1. What motivated you to run for this position?
  2. If elected, what would your goals be?
  3. What is something you want to fix at Columbia? How would you plan to address it?
  4. Any additional comments you would like to share with voters?

Below, you can find the candidate(s)’s unfiltered responses to help in deciding who you choose to vote for.  The Lion has yet to endorse any candidate at this time and the views below do not necessarily represent the views of our team. For more information, email submissions@columbialion.com.

What motivated you to run for this position? 
First, I would like to describe myself briefly: I am 25 years old, I served in the Marine Corps from 2008-2015 and began studying at Columbia a month after separating from the military. I am a first generation student. I believe myself to be organized, driven and honest candidate for the position of Vice President of Finance. I believe my experience in the military and my current work-study position at The School at Columbia have provided the experience necessary to transition to the Vice President of Finance. I have experience in budgeting and allocating funds, as well as tracking purchases and maintaining ledgers. Additionally I have experience outside of the military in organizing events, communicating with various offices or businesses, and project planning to meet deadlines.
If elected, what would your goals be?
I decided I wanted to run for the GSSC when arriving in the Fall of 2015. Through speaking with involved students throughout Columbia and seeing their enjoyment in making their own mark, I decided this would be my chance to make mine. The Vice President (VP) of Finance is an arduous task, which requires work outside of the general GSSC meetings and requirements, and more involvement with the four schools and clubs across campus. In my opinion, this position is crucial in ensuring GS meets the needs of the students involved, GS students’ voices and concerns are heard, and the clubs/organizations on campus are inclusive and not exclusive.
What is something you want to fix at Columbia? How would you plan to address it?
Additionally, one of my goals would be to create a smooth transition from VP of Finance this year to next year and years following by implementing a ledger/binder that would outline responsibilities and usual timelines, points of contact, forms used and mistakes to avoid. Additionally, I would like to limit the time constraints of the position through appointed positions or constitutional amendments, with board approval and through the proper channels of attaining this, in order to maximize responsibility and time for the position. I find it concerning that any VP of Finance would spend 20+ hours a week on the responsibilities, and in a school like Columbia where time management is key, those hours would create a stressful environment in which mistakes could occur both in the position and in the classroom; I would like to mitigate this.
Any additional comments you would like to share with voters?
Lastly, I would like to address all GS students in saying that our time here might seem long, but in reality is short and that we should make the most of our opportunities. Students should be involved, meet students from other schools, and really attempt to broaden their horizons. The Columbia experience is to learn from our professors and friends, evolve into the people we wish to be, and create new friendships: those that last. I want my prospective voters to know that I am the candidate that doesn’t half-ass anything and I would love to forge my path here at Columbia, beginning with VP of Finance.

Photo Courtesy Diego Filiu/Columbia Elections Board

As part of our elections coverage, The Lion is sharing responses from candidates about the following questions:

  1. What motivated you to run for this position?
  2. If elected, what would your goals be?
  3. What is something you want to fix at Columbia? How would you plan to address it?
  4. Any additional comments you would like to share with voters?

Below, you can find the candidate(s)’s unfiltered responses to help in deciding who you choose to vote for.  The Lion has yet to endorse any candidate at this time and the views below do not necessarily represent the views of our team. For more information, email submissions@columbialion.com.

What motivated you to run for this position? 

My name is Diego Filiu, and I am running for the position of International Student Representative in the next GSSC election. A French citizen raised in Syria and Tunisia (and also, strangely enough, born in San Francisco, but no one can hear that behind the thick French accent!), I am enrolled in the Dual BA between Sciences Po (The Paris Institute of Political Studies) and Columbia.

As such, I have spent the first two years of this program in France, studying social sciences and Middle Eastern studies. I am now in my first year at Columbia, studying political science and Arabic-Middle East. I am also enrolled in the Five Year Joint Program with SIPA, so I will be on campus for the next two years!

As you can see, I am indeed very much an international student. But this not the only reason why I am running. What has struck me as an international student on campus in Columbia is the extreme breadth and diversity as international initiatives, but also the lack of connections between such globally-minded projects. As the International Student representative, I intend to put all my best efforts towards reinforcing the linkages between such initiatives, giving a voice to the body of international students as a whole.

If elected, what would your goals be?

The international students are a crucial component of the vibrant GS community. Nevertheless, the specific concerns of international students, ranging from technical difficulties (VISA issues, unresponsive foreign bank accounts, slow bureaucratic systems at home) to more emotional concerns (homesickness, need for social and emotional support, identity crises) are not always fully taken into account by the body of students as well as by the administration.

As next year’s International Student Representative, I will do my best to make sure that such demands are not only precisely identified and categorized, but also followed through and thoroughly dealt with using all of our school’s resources –both in financial and in human terms.

What is something you want to fix at Columbia? How would you plan to address it?

Too often, international students are tempted to socialize with fellow nationals, and thus miss out on many opportunities for cultural discoveries that socializing with fellow international GSers would have provided. As such, and in order to fully involve GS’s international students within the school community, several initiatives could be put forward –more regular international student gatherings in addition to that of NSOP, but also specific Dean hours devoted to dealing with the issues faced by international students in GS.

In an effort to discuss the rise anti-Semitic rhetoric in the Middle Ages, my history class was tasked to read an op-ed by Dr. Sarah Lipton entitled “The Words that Killed the Jews.” In it, she takes on the task of comparing Donald Trump’s Anti-Muslim (and anti-immigrant and anti-abortion) rhetoric, with the way language gave rise to violence against the Jews across Europe at the time. The op-ed attempts to make the point that violent language can and should be blamed for noted increases in attacks against Muslims, immigrants, and Planned Parenthood. In discussion, a Jewish student objected to this comparison, as she felt that it conflated the issue, trivialized Jewish suffering then, and forgot about anti-Semitism that exists today. I disagreed but I didn’t say anything because I felt it would disrupt the class and make us stray entirely from the point, but I feel it is important to understand why these connections should, in fact, be made:

Images of the Holocaust and the Spanish Inquisition are constantly fresh and present in popular consciousness as two of the greatest tragedies of all time. The Holocaust, especially, has been memorialized time and again with films, museums, books, articles and the like. And mentions of the Holocaust often come with the caveat: Never Forget. We promise to never forget these past atrocities and its countless victims, but what people tend to forget is that the term was also popularized as a warning to never allow something like it to happen ever again. Because the Holocaust was allowed to happen. The Nuremberg laws were published publicly. The mass deportations were no secret. The ghettos weren’t hidden away. People watched as bad things happened to innocent people and they did nothing to stop it. So we promised to never forget. We promised to never allow the bystander effect to keep the whole world standing still while innumerable men, women, and children were massacred.

And yet, Donald Trump can say that he wants to force Muslims to wear clear marks of identity. He wants to perform mass deportation on the millions of undocumented immigrants living in the United States, to send them back to places they’re escaping from largely due to problems the U.S. itself created. People are quick to highlight how similar Donald Trump’s campaign ideals are to Adolf Hitler’s, not out of a desire to trivialize Jewish suffering or to deny the existence of anti-Semitism, but in fulfilment of the promise we all made to Never Forget. By drawing these comparisons, we are actively honoring the memories of those who have been lost,we are ensuring that their deaths aren’t so in vain, and that we, as a society, won’t allow these things to happen again.

History is a potent driving force. Humans are fickle creatures, afraid of change and afraid of making decisive decisions. When we show someone how something happened in the past, we ground our claims in an undeniable reality. By linking Donald Trump’s rhetoric to historical counterparts that led to great tragedies, the historian paints a picture of what can happen if we do not stand up and stand firm for those who may lack imagination. The historian, as an artist, commemorates the victims in history not by painting a picture that will sit in a museum, but by creating one that should stir people to action.

In exciting news from CCSC Vice President of Policy, Viv Ramakrishnan (CC ’16), seniors with financial need will be eligible to to receive subsidized Senior Ball tickets. Thanks to contributions from Dean Valentini and Dean Boyce, students with the greatest financial need will be able to receive free tickets, while other students on financial aid will be eligible for half-priced tickets.

A full copy of the announcement can be found below:

Dear Columbia College,

I’m writing with news about an exciting collaboration between Deans Valentini and Boyce, CCSC, ESC and the Senior Week Committee that will ensure this year’s Senior Week is the most financially accessible yet.
Due to the generous financial contributions of Dean Valentini and Dean Boyce, for the first time ever, CC and SEAS students with the highest need will be able to receive a free ticket to the Senior Ball. Several half-price tickets will also be made available due to the size of the deans’ contribution
Moreover, the expanded accessibility to Senior Week will impact every graduating class going forward. The deans intend to financially support subsidization in perpetuity provided that student organizers continue to use the funds responsibly.
For some background, Senior Ball is the formal event during Senior Week that brings together the senior classes from all four undergraduate schools for a final celebration just prior to graduation. However, Senior Ball tickets typically cost between $90-$100, preventing several students from attending altogether. Councils first broached the idea of subsidizing tickets for low-income students with the deans back in the fall, and then the CCSC/ESC policy committees developed a full subsidization proposal this spring. Not only were the deans receptive, they elected to provide enough funding for the best-case scenario in our proposal, a version of which I have appended for those interested. The deans also stressed that student organizers have full autonomy to deploy their contribution towards subsidization as they see fit on a year-to-year basis.
In addition to to Deans Valentini and Boyce, we would like thanks to the Senior Week Committee for working tirelessly to help us develop the proposal and ensuring the logistics are handled. Additionally, Senior Ball venues used in the past had capacities of approximately 1100, meaning not all seniors could attend the event. This year’s Senior Week Committee found a new venue that will be able to hold all seniors who want to attend. Finally, we are deeply grateful to Dean Kromm and the staff of Undergraduate Student Life for handling the application and distribution process for subsidized tickets. This truly could not be done without them.
 
Ticket Info for Seniors: Earlier today the Senior Week Committee released detailed ticketing info to the senior class. For your convenience, the relevant links are below.
Application for fully-subsidized/free tickets (CC/SEAS seniors only): https://www.cc-seas.columbia.edu/node/32466
Link to the general ticket sales (sales start on 4/8): http://www.cuseniorweek.com
Half-price tickets: If you do not qualify for a free ticket but still feel the other options pose too large of a financial burden for you, then please emailhonorcodetickets@cuseniorweek.com.
Warmly,
Viv Ramakrishnan
VP-Policy for CCSC