The Blog

Photo Courtesy Andrew Mangeni

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

What motivated you to run for this positon?

I wanted too make sure the ideas students had needed to be represented because I feel that right now the current council isn’t doing so. The group I’m running with wants to work towards transparency, and create a stronger sense of community within SEAS.

How would you go about building that sense of community?

Well for example we have the 3-2 students coming in (3-2 is this program that allows students to do 3 yrs at another institution and their last two years at Columbia) we can provide those students with mentors so they feel welcome and understand how things work here. I also want more student input with the events that are being planned so that students are engaged. For example, this council didn’t really ask students what shirt design they wanted, and its little things like this make students feel more involved. We could also do a better job with transparency by getting people on the same page so that students clearly know what events are going on. Also I believe we need more engagement with the faculty so that students have those close student-faculty relationships.

How would you go about creating more transparency, and strengthening student-faculty relationship?

Transparency is as easy as letting people know what you’re doing when it comes to things like planning events or institution new initiatives. With regards to faculty, we should have professors come to the different events SEAS holds and allowing students the one and one time they need with faculty.

What do you think is the main problem facing 2018 SEAS students and what would you do to make it better?

Since we’re going to be juniors its about to get real out here. We need to find internships, and out classes are going to be a lot harder. This is the time when you really need to form those faculty relationships, and have a community so we have a support system when things get tough. One thing I think we should do that’s really simple is having a calendar with internship deadlines so you know the opportunities available, and a place for just SEAS students to go to get help with applications and interview prep for engineering internships.

Two Columbia University students, Shreyas Vissapragada (CC) and Ankeeta Shah (BC), were named as winners of the Barry Goldwater Scholarship. Three other Columbia students were named as honorable mentions. They were Irene Zhang (CC), Kristy Choi (CC), and Sarah Yang (SEAS). The full listings for each student are listed below. You can check out the rest of the winners and honorable mentions on the Goldwater Scholars website.


Ankeeta B Shah
Institution: Barnard College
Major(s): Biology, Computer Science
Career Goal: Ph.D. in Systems Biology. Conduct biomedical research and teach at the university level.

Shreyas Vissapragada
Institution: Columbia University
Major(s): Astrophysics, Computer science
Career Goal: Ph.D. in astronomy with a specialization in astrochemistry. Conduct interdisciplinary research on the chemistry of exoplanet formation and teach at the university level.

Honorable Mentions:

Irene P Zhang
Institution: Columbia University
Major(s): Physics
Career Goal: Ph.D. in Condensed Matter Physics. Conduct research in materials science and teach at the university level.

Kristy Choi
Institution: Columbia University
Major(s): Computer Science-Statistics
Career Goal: Ph.D. in Computational Biology. Develop new statistical tools to conduct data-driven research in biology and teach at the university level.

Sarah J Yang
Institution: Columbia University
Major(s): Chemical Engineering
Career Goal: Ph.D. in Bioengineering or Chemical Engineering. Conduct research in protein or metabolic engineering and teach at the university level.


Photo Courtesy Jason Hagani and Josh Schenk

The Columbia Lion wants candidates who will make a change. While many candidates brought up issues we care about: more student space, mental health improvements, and supporting students, we want a candidate who is going to do something that will make an impact. And while comforting words are nice, they don’t really do much. If we want to continue calling student government ineffective, fine, but if we want actual change, it’s time to take a risk and vote for individuals who have a passion for making change rather than people who are simply going to deliver big words and leave us with blank promises of goals for the future. For this reason, The Lion is formally endorsing the following candidates for the University Senate:

Jason Hagani

The Lion choses to support Jason because of his commitment to fighting for environmental sustainability in the Columbia community. His proposals are both effective and realistic. He backs initiatives that the university has already thrown its support behind and can easily be achieved with the dedication that he will bring as a University Senator. For many, the prescriptions for saving the environment are often overlooked, from replacing a lightbulb to an extra NSOP program. These often overlooked ideas, however, can have a massive impact on Columbia’s carbon footprint. Jason’s ideas couple important ideals with reassuring practicality, which will ensure he can and will be an effective representative for Columbia College. You can find Jason’s full platfrom here.

Jason Hagani

Josh Schenk

The Lion’s endorsement of Josh is based upon his record of getting things done. He was able to secure air conditioning for residence halls as well as securing discounts for students. Josh’s platform, while bold, is reasonable and can be easily accomplished within the role as University Senator. He plans on expanding campus accessibility, increasing senate transparency, revamping of the rules of conduct, and prioritizing space for undergraduate students. Josh’s ideals, though mainstream, paired with his record of achievement ensure he can attain meaningful change for the Columbia College community. You can find Josh’s full platfrom here.

Josh Schenk

No matter who you choose to support, make sure to have your voice be heard in this year’s student council elections by voting. The link to the voting website can be found here.



William Essilfie, Editor-in-Chief

Arelena McClenton, Managing Editor

Joshua Burton, Director of Operations

Yael Turitz, Director of Campus Outreach

Michele Lin, Director of Technology

Photo Courtesy Columbia University/Zagster

Starting Monday April 4, Columbia University students, faculty and staff can ride around campus and beyond on brand new cruiser bikes as part of a new bike-share program through Zagster, Inc. The program is piloting with 14 Zagster cruiser bikes at three Morningside campus locations.

Following the leadership and success of the EcoReps bike-share group for undergraduate students and through Columbia’s recruitment of Zagster to campus, a bike-share program is now open to the entire University community.

“Columbia recognizes the many benefits of bicycle travel and is continuing its efforts toward growing a bike culture on campus,” says Jessica Prata, Assistant Vice President, Environmental Stewardship. “Bringing bike share to all Columbia members is part of the University’s commitment to a healthy and sustainable Columbia. Creating a more bike-friendly campus reduces traffic and parking congestion, improves the health of the University community, and offers an easy, alternative travel mode to and around Columbia.”

Zagster bike share is located on campus at:

–          Eastern entrance of Lerner Hall

–          Between Butler Library and John Jay Hall

–          Wien Courtyard

The bike share is offered through three different options, following standard guidelines of bike-share programs at other campuses: annual, monthly and one-day memberships, described below.

  1. Annual Membership

$20 membership fee billed annually

Trips under 1 hour are free; then pay $3/hour (up to $30/ride)

  1. Monthly Membership

$8 membership fee billed monthly

Trips under 1 hour are free; then pay $3/hour (up to $30/ride)

  1. 24-Hour Membership

$5 one-time fee

Trips under 1 hour are free; then pay $3/hour (up to $30/ride)

* Riders will be charged an additional $35 overtime charge for keeping a bike over 24 hours. 

In addition to Columbia, Zagster has bike-share programs at Ohio State, Yale, Princeton and more than 130 other colleges and communities across North America.

“Columbia sought out an opportunity to immediately make bike sharing available to the entire university community while Citi Bike, New York City’s largest and most recognized bike-sharing program, systematically expands northward in Manhattan,” continued Prata.  “We will monitor the usage and popularity of the Zagster bike share through this pilot initiative and look for opportunities to expand it, particularly in Manhattanville.”

The bike-share expansion to the entire Columbia community is one of several bicycle-friendly initiatives Columbia is leading.  Following the successful pilot of the bicycle parking enclosure in the Grove, a second enclosure has been installed in Wien Courtyard.  There are several workshops on bicycle street skills and traffic safety being offered to Columbia affiliates in conjunction with Bike New York.  Ride Your Bike to Campus Days are returning on April 13 at Morningside, and April 15 and a special Earth Day event on April 22 at the Columbia University Medical Center campus.  All bicycle-related information at Columbia has been centralized on the Columbia Transportation website at

The Columbia bike share features the Zagster 8, an award-winning bike known for its practical design, comfortable ride and easy handling. The bike includes a spacious basket that’s perfect for carrying groceries, takeout or personal belongings. And because rider safety is a priority, every bike includes automatic lights, a bell and full reflectors. An integrated bike lock enables riders to park and lock their bikes wherever they want during a trip, instead of being required to re-dock at a station, giving them greater flexibility to enjoy everything the city has to offer.

To join and ride, users can visit, or download the free Zagster Mobile App, available for iPhone and Android. Each bike has a unique number that riders enter into the app to obtain a single-use code to open the lockbox on the back of the bike. (Alternatively, riders can obtain unlock codes via text message.) A key in the lockbox allows the bike to be locked and unlocked throughout a ride. After the rider returns the bike to a designated Zagster bike station, the rental ends, and the bike is available for the next person to enjoy.

About Zagster 

Founded in 2007 and headquartered in Cambridge, Mass., Zagster is the largest and fastest-growing bike share provider in the United States. Zagster works directly with over 130 communities across North America to make scalable bike-sharing programs available in areas where traditional bike share providers can’t reach. The company’s goal: To make the bike the most loved form of transportation. More information about Zagster and its programs can be found at

Photo Courtesy Michael Anagnos

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

What motivated you to run for this position? 

I was motivated to run for CCSC Alumni Affairs Representative because of my long experience working with the Columbia alumni community. I have been on the executive board of the Alumni Association’s Student Ambassadors for the past two years, and will serve as Vice President of the group next year. Because I have been involved with the Columbia Alumni Association (CAA) and the Columbia College Alumni Association (CCAA) as a Student Ambassador since I arrived on campus, I have long been interested in running for Alumni Affairs Representative.

If elected, what would your goals be?

As your Alumni Affairs Representative, I will open the Alumni Directory to students, expand mentorship programs to all Columbia College students, connect students studying abroad with international alumni, and broaden alumni involvement in Center for Career Education (CCE) Internship Programs, specifically Columbia College Alumni-Sponsored Student Internship Program (CCASSIP), and Columbia Exploration Externship (CEE). In addition to increasing the sheer number of alumni involved in these programs, I will also ensure that internships for non-traditional career paths are better represented in these programs, and that students from diverse socioeconomic, geographic, and skill backgrounds have equal accessibility to alumni mentors and alumni-sponsored internships.

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

I strongly believe that the Columbia Alumni Directory should be open and accessible to students. Existing student-alumni programs are beneficial, but there is no better way to improve students’ chances of getting internships and job offers than to give them the freedom to contact alumni directly. In particular, this will facilitate connections between Columbia College students and alumni from schools across the university. I also would like to emphasize the fact that I have already begun dialogue with the alumni community and the Administration about opening the directory to students. This week, for instance, I met with board members of the Columbia Alumni Association and a VP in the Administration’s Office of Alumni and Development to review the structure of the Alumni Directory and discuss the process of opening it to students.

Any additional comments you would like to share with voters?

I am not only the candidate with by far the most experience working with the Columbia alumni community, but I am the only candidate with any experience in alumni affairs. Because of my long experience as an Alumni Student Ambassador, my policy positions are more than just proposals I will work toward as Alumni Affairs Representative. These are goals and conversations that I have already begun pursuing within the Columbia Alumni Association, Columbia College Alumni Association, and the Administration’s Office of Alumni and Development. I have spent the last two years cultivating relationships in the alumni community and administration, and therefore I have already built the foundation that will allow me to implement my platform as your Alumni Affairs Representative.