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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.

What motivated you to run for this position? 

I am a problem solver. I can’t stop myself from noticing the malfunctioning systems, unaddressed problems and subjects open to improvements. As the only sophomore running for this position, I want to bring change that will improve mine and my peers’ experience at Columbia.

Last year I went to a Bacchanal that was threatened multiple times by having an extremely divided configuration and then by last-minute security charges. I have learned that Columbia’s student journalists can face disciplinary action while covering a protest on campus. I saw that the Mathematics Building is completely inaccessible for differently able students, and many other buildings, namely Havemeyer, Uris, Earl, Philosophy, East Campus, Law Library, and Low Library can’t be accessed from their main entrances. As an engineer, I experienced the difficulties of being advised by an advisor who does not have an engineering background. I experienced the horror of seeing the Columbia Global Office at Istanbul being shut down without listening opinions of hundreds of Turkish alumni, dozens of Turkish Students, or our Association of Columbia Turkish Students.

Oppressiveness over press, inaccessibility, misguidance, and the threat to our diverse global outreach are not what engineers at Columbia deserve; they do not represent the truly free, sociable, supportive, and diverse nature of Columbia. Engineers provide solutions to problems. As an Industrial Engineer, I decided to run Senator of SEAS to seek the optimal solutions to our problems & weaknesses.

If elected, what would your goals be?

I will start with the most immediate & concrete solutions. First, I will provide a route for students with disabilities entering the Math Building so that they can reach the elevator. I will then move on to implement a Call Center for all emergencies for students with disabilities including Text and/or Video Call option for students with hearing disabilities.

Second, I will work to make our entrepreneurs more capable. With CUIT, I will create a platform where entrepreneurs can group together with skilled peers to work on their startups. I would aim to create a student government that supports our entrepreneurs by connecting them to Venture Capitalists to have guidance from start to finish on their work.

Third, I want our Engineers to be more relaxed while selecting classes and feel more supported on their academics. I will make sure SEAS students’ advisors either have an engineering background or are specialized in engineering. I will also work to establish relaxed connections between engineers from three lower class years. Pairing first years with sophomores based on academic interest, and matching sophomores with juniors with same intended major, freshmen can receive in-depth tips for balancing social life with academics whereas sophomores can get insights on internship research and challenges of their major.

As an International Student, I feel responsible to advocate for international students so that their voices are heard on campus and by the Office of Global Programs and Fellowships. I want to make sure the opinions of cultural clubs are respected when a decision about a nation’s Global Office or study/work abroad program is given. I ultimately want to expand the Global Outreach of Columbia with the support of International Students.

Additionally, I want to protect student journalists from facing disciplinary action while covering protests by making a change in the Rules of Conduct. I want to improve Bacchanal by allocating security payments to Student Government Facilities Fund and Administration while giving the Bacchanal Committee a budget to use solely use on bringing the best artist and working on staging without the fear of security payments. Also, I plan to hold multiple Town Hall meetings, possibly with the participation of all Senators to get feedback from students. If elected, I also will make sure the Senate reports quarterly on its effort of addressing the results of Quality of Life Survey.

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

 I want SEAS students to have much less stressful lives by having less dense midterm schedules. I plan to do this by working with the Education Committee. I hope to make sure engineers are not responsible of entering more than 3 exams within 48 hours.

Targeted advising to engineers will also contribute to their comfort. I will work with CSA to make sure advisors of engineers can provide in-depth information on classes engineers must take for their majors & minors. In-depth information, in my opinion, must include workload of classes as well as what topics they teach. This will ease the add-drop periods of all engineers as they will have an idea on how many classes they can juggle.

Lastly, with SEAS Peer Connection, freshmen SEAS students can get information on balancing social life and academics from their sophomore pair. Sophomore engineers can have an earlier insight on difficulties of their major as well as internship//job research with the advice their junior pair provides.

Any additional comments you would like to share with voters?

 By implementing my goals above and the rest which you can find at (http://izzetkebudi.wixsite.com/kebudi2016), I plan to improve our campus accessibility. I want to make sure our student journalists feel free while pursuing their simple duties of being press; this is a must at Columbia University, which is responsible of providing a progressive environment to its students. I want our entrepreneurs & engineers to be more capable when innovating, which could ultimately increase the number of successful startups rooting at our university. When it comes to academic change at Columbia, I want our engineers to have much less stressful lives, especially when they are selecting their classes for the next term. If elected, my goals will hopefully make Bacchanal much more entertaining as the capacity of the event will be higher and the artists will be selected by a more specialized Bacchanal Committee.

All of these can be done while I provide a much needed international voice to the student government of Columbia University as the only international candidate for ESC Senator.

I am far from the first person to wonder what the answer might be. The idea we are special certainly isn’t new; the core curriculum gives us plenty of arguments to back up that idea. From Aristotle to Kant to yes, even Darwin, our greatest thinkers have always believed that human cognition is unparalleled in the universe. So here we stand, at the top of the food chain, looking down at the rest of the animal kingdom and wondering; are we actually unique, or just egocentric?

Neuroscience might finally give us that answer we crave. For a field younger than some of our parents, it has managed to begin the daunting process of untangling the web of neurons in our brains, while giving us Buzzfeed-worthy headlines along the way. Neuroscience has a way of getting up in every other field’s business, with a reach that’s far exceeded standard academic discourse – perhaps that’s why I’m so hopelessly fascinated by it.

Like an angsty teenager, this young field has a tendency to argue and frequently change its mind. Unlike a teenager, when new research dethrones one theory and crowns another, the public often loses faith in our credibility. After all, we once believed the heart was the seat of all intelligence, and the brain was nothing more than a simple regulator. How can we be expected to really know anything at all?

As scientists, we learn to accept this inherent instability, the sobering truth that we’re wrong far more frequently than we’re right. But as scientists, it’s also on us to explain why our work, even in its failures, is important. Perhaps more importantly, we do not work in a vacuum, and this field is poised to understand how we think and how we live. For all of humanity’s success in conquering the world, our species now stares down threats primarily of our own making. What better way to approach these issues than through understanding who we are and what makes us tick? After all, most of our salaries come from you, the taxpayer – ultimately it is up to the public to see the value in what we study.

This column is an attempt to use powerful discoveries about our brains to propose science-backed solutions to wider social issues. Neuroscience is an ever evolving, consistently contradictory, frequently flawed, and ultimately and beautifully human pursuit of the kind of knowledge we like best: knowledge about ourselves. While it’s not perfect, it’s hard to deny that studying our brains might provide some valuable insight into our uniquely human problems.

Uniquely Human runs alternate Mondays. Questions, comments, concerns, and thoughtful dialogue are always welcome.

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Meet Katie Meili. Meili, a Columbia College alumna and competitive swimmer hails from Colleyville, Texas. This past summer, Meili won a gold medal for swimming the preliminary heats of the 4 x 100 relay and a bronze medal in the 100 meter breast stroke at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. We sat down with her to learn more about her background in swimming and how her time at Columbia has influenced her athletic career.

How did you originally get involved with swimming?

I started competitive swimming when I was 8. My older sister, Maureen, and I both did gymnastics but she had a bad ankle injury when she was 13 and I was 8. Her doctor suggested swimming for physical therapy and since I wanted to do everything my sister did, my mom signed us both up for the summer league swim team. The rest is history!
Did your time at Columbia impact how you swim?
Absolutely! I always say that I would not be the swimmer I am if I had not attended Columbia. Columbia made me into the person I am and I so loved and appreciated my time there. Swimming at Columbia set me on the path I needed to be on to get to where I am now. I met all the people I needed to meet, especially my coaches at Columbia – Diana Caskey and Michael Sabala, and I interacted with the sport the way I needed to – with joy and appreciation. My time at Columbia didn’t just impact the way I swim now, it created everything!
How do you clear your mind/focus before you compete in a race?
Before I race, I like my mind to be completely clear. When I step up on the blocks, I tell myself that all the work has been done and that my body knows how to accomplish the task at hand. I get to turn my brain off and race completely free. It’s an amazing feeling!
What were you most excited about getting ready for Rio? What was life in the Olympic Village and the Games Like?
I was most excited for small things that hold a big meaning to me personally. Wearing my Ralph Lauren opening ceremonies outfit (something I have wanted to have since I was a young girl); getting my American flag cap with my name on it; swimming in a pool with the Olympic Rings hanging above it. Those are the things that make you take a step back and think, “Wow, I actually made it here”, and those small moments are my favorite.
Life in the Olympic Village was amazing! I loved seeing and meeting people from all over the world, and getting to see a glimpse of their cultures and customs. To me, the Olympics are about the World coming together in a peaceful way to celebrate our similarities and our differences as human beings. It’s a beautiful event that holds significance in every culture in the World. It’s unique and important and I could feel that power everywhere.
How did you react/feel upon realizing you medaled in two different events?
I was so full of joy! I always dreamed of going to the Olympics and winning a medal but I never actually thought it would happen. It’s impossible to put in words what it feels like to have a dream of that magnitude come true. I smile every time I hold my medals in my hands. They mean so much to me… hard work and sacrifice, but also all the people that helped me along the way (and there are SO many). Those medals belong to my family, friends, teammates, coaches, and supporters just as much as they belong to me.
Do you think you will be swimming in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics? 
I have not made a final decision on Tokyo yet. Right now, I’m just enjoying the experience from Rio!
What was the greatest challenge you faced as a swimmer?
When you’re trying to be the best in the World at something by the smallest of margins, you have to have an extreme sense on non-complacency. Every day in practice, you have to want to be better, do more, try harder, etc. Even when you do something great, you have to have the attitude that it’s not quite good enough and that you still need to improve. That kind of attitude and approach is necessary for any type of success, but too much of it can get exhausting and can be detrimental. For me, finding the right balance to use that attitude to my advantage was the greatest challenge I faced swimming at this level.
What advice would you give to current student athletes?
Stay focused and if you have a dream or a goal, even if it seems out of reach, don’t be afraid to chase it. Ask for help along the way!
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Interested in interviewing students and alumni about how their time at Columbia has shaped their experiences and outlook? Join The Lion Profiles team by sending an email to team@columbialion.com.

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.

ESC Class of 2020 Party, “SEAsus Take the Wheel.”
Party Candidates:
President – Ria Garg
Vice President – Marisa Ngbemeneh
Class Representatives – Joanna Paik and Abhi Chakraborty
 
1. What motivated you to run for this position?
We want to inspire positive change (aka +ΔSEAS)! Columbia Engineering is already a small community, and we understand that at times it can feel very separate from the College. We like to think that this division creates an opportunity for a tight-knit community and academic support system in SEAS. After all, not only will we be in the same classes for the next four years (s/o to Art of Engineering), but the social networks we form here will last us long after we graduate. We’re running in hopes that we can improve both student life by becoming liaisons between our classmates and the administration. Not to mention, we get to meet so many amazing people in the process of running!
 
2. If elected, what would your goals be?
Our six point plan focuses on Class Unity, Diversity, Sustainability, Academic/Career Support, Student Amenities, and Transparency. While we don’t want to give too much away, we’re looking to introduce informal SEAS events, free SEAS gear, pet therapy (for stressed-out students…aka everyone), Professor Meet and Greets, an idea submission portal, and energy-saving changes for each building. Although we have a basic set of ideas for the coming year, we would definitely love for our classmates to get involved and offer their suggestions!
 
 
3. What is something you want to fix at Columbia? How would you plan to address it?
One thing we want to tackle this year is making wet lab spaces more available. Currently, students in majors like Chemical, Environmental, and Biomedical Engineering don’t have the same access to wet lab spaces for independent projects as people in other majors do. We hope that this initiative will take after the reasoning behind the MakerSpace, so students can pursue their academic interests more freely.
 
4. Any additional comments you would like to share with voters?
With three women, four different (and underrepresented!) majors, and a variety of interests, SEASus Take the Wheel is one of the most diverse groups to ever run for ESC. That being said, we can’t fully represent our community without our peers and their engagement! You can get involved with SEASus Take the Wheel by following us on Instagram (@seasustakethewheel; we follow back!), liking our page on Facebook (facebook.com/seasustakethewheel), or talking to any of the four of us on campus! We hope to see you at the (virtual) polls!

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.

SEAS the Moment Party Candidates:

President- Cindy Soifer

Vice President- Jonathan Schleien

Class Representatives- Meghna Gorrela, Jakub Ostrowski

What motivated you to run for this position?

We are running so that we can help our class literally seize the moment here at Columbia. We are all freshman in this class, which can be a little intimidating and daunting. But we believe that with our leadership, we can help our class transition to college life and grab hold of every opportunity that freshmen are presented.

If elected, what would your goals be?

SEAS the Moment has a very comprehensive platform. We plan on starting a donation fund to support new engineering projects, give free access to tools such as iClickers, and increase financial opportunities for SEAS. Furthermore, we want to film the first class of large intro courses, like Chemistry, for waitlisted and potential students to determine whether or not they want to take the class. We always want to hear our class’s ideas and will constantly advocate for their benefit. These are just some of our many goals, and if elected, we plan on following through with all of them.

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

While we have been here only a few weeks, we would like to bring some changes to Columbia. We would like SEAS to be more involved in NSOP to further encourage bonding among new engineering classes. Furthermore, we understand that Columbia can be quite stressful and we hope to develop more school-wide events that fundamentally “de-stress,” such as the barbecue that was put on by Columbia dining and Res Life.

Any additional comments you would like to share with voters?

SEAS the Moment is diverse. We are experienced. We have great ideas. We want to hear from you – what you think needs fixing and what needs to be better. Check out our Facebook page: at SEAS the Moment – Engineering. We believe that our slogan sums up why you should vote for us: “We’re engineers. We’ll solve your problems.”