Category: Campus News

Photo Courtesy of Double Discovery Center

Today, an email was sent out to the Double Discovery Student Volunteers by the executive director of the program to let them know that the Department of Education has ceased their funding of the Upward Bound program for first-generation and low-income students due to a technicality: incorrect spacing in parts of the application.

The full email can be found below:

Dear Double Discovery Student Volunteers:

I am writing with some difficult news regarding Double Discovery Center’s Upward Bound Program, which, as you may know, each year provides supplemental schooling and support to prepare nearly 200 first-generation and low-income college-bound students for success.

We have been notified by the U.S. Department of Education that DDC’s application to continue funding for our Upward Bound program from July 2017 through June 2022 has been deemed ineligible for consideration due to a technicality regarding the line spacing of our charts, tables, figures, and graphs. That means a devastating loss of funding for this important program.

The decision by the Department of Education has been distressing given its direct impact on students and the longevity and proven success of our Upward Bound program. We have received Upward Bound support from the U.S. government for more than 50 years. Unfortunately, DDC is not alone–at least 40 other Upward Bound programs have had their applications denied due to technicalities this year.

Upward Bound is an essential part of DDC and an invaluable service to our community and we are committed to doing all that we can to maintain the program in the future. Columbia College and Columbia University Government and Community Affairs have contacted our senators and congressmen, who are advocating for the program at the highest levels. Key legislative members have asked Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and others within the Department of Education to reconsider our application.

The College has identified contingency funding for the Summer Academy so that we can provide assurances that the summer program will take place regardless of what happens on the legislative front. Our Talent Search grant, which was renewed last year for four years, is not impacted by this current situation.

We remain committed to Double Discovery’s work of providing academic, career, college, and financial aid counseling and support services to low-income and first-generation college-bound youth in our neighboring communities, and we are grateful for your support of and dedication to this work and to Double Discovery students.

I will notify of you of any updates. In the meantime, I wish you the luck on your remaining finals, and encourage you to reach out or stop by our offices if you have any questions or if you want to talk about this difficult news.

Sincerely,

Joseph Ayala

Executive Director

The Roger Lehecka Double Discovery Center at Columbia College

Earlier today, the Barnard community received notice of a phishing attack aimed at university students. The phishing attempt occurs when a hacked university account attempts to share a Google doc with the target. When the target clicks the link to open the document, the hackers gain access to the target’s login information and may install malware to their Google account. Victoria Swann of Barnard User Services offers tips for staying safe and what to do if you’ve been hacked below*:

Dear members of the Barnard community,

There is currently a major phishing attack underway; not just at Barnard, but also Columbia and many other higher ed institutions. It takes the same form as any ordinary notification of a Google Doc being shared with you; and it may come from a person you know, or it may come from an address at “mailinator.com“.

DO NOT respond to that message or click the link in it.  If you did click the link, change your password immediately at password.barnard.edu or contact the BCIT Service Desk for assistance at 212-854-7172.  (Students can also go to 307 Diana for assistance; faculty and staff can go to Milbank 13.)

The link *may* also have given the malware package other access to your Google Account.  Please check the apps linked to your account (My Account -> Sign-in & Security -> Connected apps & sites) and remove any that you do not recognize.  Again, please contact BCIT if you need further assistance.

Google is aware of the issue and is working to alleviate it; and we are working to block additional copies of the attack coming into our domain.

Best Regards,

Victoria Swann
Director, User Services
Barnard College | Columbia University

*The procedure may be different for Columbia students. Contact CUIT for assistance.

The Lion asked candidates to tell us about their campaigns to give us insight into their aspirations and motivations for running. Here is what Alfredo Dominguez had to say:

I am not affiliated with any party. I am Alfredo Dominguez, and I am running for University Senate. I became motivated, and stayed motivated to run for senator because of the egregious lack of diversity among the current senate make-up. This issue of representation is something that extends beyond the lack of people of color representing CC in the University Senate because we also do not have any first-generation or low-income students currently representing CC. As a first-generation, low-income student of color myself I can speak to the feeling of othering that is had when you are one of the most historically marginalized identities but you have no voice on the highest acting body in the University. I do not naively believe that I can be the voice for all people that identify as people of color, first-gen, low-income since every person has their own unique experience, but I am supremely confident that I can do a better job than those that have never lived the experience. With that being said, the goals that I have for my senate tenure are things that will benefit the entire Columbia community. I seek to improve mental health support on campus, and sexual violence and response. These things all provide a wholesale positive affects the Columbia community, but they Mental health has become the number one issue at Columbia, and for good reason. Our community was rocked by the recent waves of suicide and it is clear that something must be done to better campus-wide mental health. The Student affairs community has already created a steering group that will work with the Jed foundation to evaluate how the university needs to address the issues of mental health on campus. Hence, my focus as a University Senator would ensure that the voices of Columbia’s most marginalized communities, who are disproportionately affected by mental health, are brought to the conversation on how to better mental health on campus. The initiative I would center in these conversations would be increasing the diversity of the CPS staff. Me and every other student of color or first-generation student who wanted to have their CPS staff member to be a person of color or a first-generation would have to wait even longer than normal to receive help. This wait time could be up to half of the semester, which is a ridiculous amount of time to have to wait to receive help. Further, I want to take a comprehensive look at how CPS is handled during NSOP in hopes of decreasing the stigma around mental health and ensuring that as many people get help as need help. One such program that I would advocate for would be an Opt-Out appointment that all freshmen would be signed up for. Each student would choose if they wanted to actually attend the appointment, but this would remove the initial stress and stigma of having to schedule an appointment with CPS in the first place.

Next, even though sexual violence has remained a big issue in campus, it does not seem that there has been effective reform. It would difficult to convince the university to allocate more funds, but we can take a comprehensive look at the programs we have now and how we can improve them. For example, there was an SVR requirement during NSOP, but it was very light and played down how big of an issue sexual violence is on campus. Hence as University Senator, I will take a look an extensive look at these programs, and bring in the voices of groups like No Red Tape to center the experience of survivors in the process of reform.

I do not know if I would use the word “fix”, but I would like to improve upon Columbia’s commitment to Community Service. Community Service is a lacking part of the Columbia experience. Many of us acknowledge and criticize Columbia for its negative impact on the Harlem community, but few of us spend a lot of time trying to help the community. That is largely in part to the fact that many students just do not have the time to spend looking for community service opportunities. Hence, I will want to work with SGB and ABC, the umbrella organizations that contain almost all students groups, to incentivize all student groups to have more service events. These incentives would be given in the form of increased budget allocation.

Vote Alfredo Dominguez for University Senate! 

The Lion asked candidates five questions about their campaigns to give us insight into their aspirations and motivations for running. Here is what Maria Fernanda Martinez had to say:

1. Are you affiliated with a party, and if so, which one? 

Nope 

2. What position are you running for, and what motivated you to run for it? 

Alumni Affairs–honestly, the closer graduation gets the more I realize how little we make use of our alumni connections and they’re one of our biggest resources on this campus. I want to make sure that this is a resource we all can feel comfortable using and knowledgeable about. 

3. If elected, what are your goals? How do you plan to actually achieve them? 

My goals are to increase accessibility in this area of our lives for all students, and I plan on achieving that by really keeping things simple and going back to basics. What is networking at its core about? It’s about making connections and maintaining relationships. The best way to do these things is to actually interact with people with whom we have shared interests and common backgrounds. My goals are simple: create a student-led newsletter for alumni, host curated alumni-student meet ups based on specific interests and backgrounds, and make sure to lead workshops prior to these meetings that help students work through anxieties about networking and provides folks with specific strategies they can implement. 

4. What is something you want to fix at Columbia? How would you plan to address this? 

I would love to push us towards an environment that is less about competing with each other and more about collaboration. I think this would be so useful in helping to deal with stress culture etc on campus. I plan on addressing this by creating spaces that function on the basis of people working together, and emphasizing that there is no need to compete when there are so many things to do and achieve! 

5. Any additional comments you’d like to share with voters

While I am running for your Alumni Affairs representative, there is a wide range of issues that I have been involved in throughout my time at Columbia, and I will be able to represent our interests across the board. 

The Lion asked candidates five questions about their campaigns to give us insight into their aspirations and motivations for running. Here is what Aaron Fisher had to say:

1. Are you affiliated with a party, and if so, which one?

I’m not affiliated with a party.

2. What position are you running for, and what motivated you to run for it? 

I’m running for CCSC Student Services Representative. For the past four semesters, I’ve been the head of Third Wheel Improv. Because the group is recognized at Barnard and not Columbia, we’ve had many issues concerning the governing boards and space allocation. In my capacity as head of my improv group, I began meeting with Columbia administrators about space allocation and club issues on our campus. Meanwhile, like many other students at Columbia, I’ve been alarmed and saddened by the mental health issues that affect our campus. I began thinking about how to tackle some of the many issues that we face as a community, and I started to realize that there are many seemingly small issues that, when fixed, would together improve our lives at Columbia. These issues range from the mundane–for example, the poor Internet connection in Butler–to larger, more essential issues, such as the lacking mental health support for many students in our community. Student services and community are intricately related: were we to have greater access to the lawns outside Butler, for example, we could further foster school spirit through events and Columbia traditions. I believe that because I’m a junior and have already been involved with a wide array of clubs and communities on our campus, I have the right mix of experience and freshness–I’ve never been involved with student government–to serve Columbia College as Student Services Representative.

3. If elected, what would your goals be? How do you plan to actually achieve them?

I plan to keep Nightline open all night, instead of closing at 3:00am, as it currently does. I plan to achieve this goal by speaking with the heads of Nightline and with administrators who work to improve mental health on our campus. I think that given everything that has happened on our campus in the past year, and given that students already staff CAVA all night, there will surely be students who are willing to work shifts at Nightline past 3:00. I also plan to bring back Staff Appreciation Week, which CCSC spearheaded in November 2015, but then cut from its budget. During this week, students went up to members of dining services, mail services, security staff, and other staff positions and gave them stickers that said “We Appreciate You.” At the end of the week, there was a luncheon to honor our staff members. I believe a week like this is crucial because it’s important to show staff members that they’re just as much a part of the Columbia community as we are. I also think this goal will be easy to achieve because it won’t cost CCSC very much money, and will attract a lot of support from the student body. I also plan to work to keep the lawns outside Butler open longer in the fall, and when they do re-open in the spring, I will try to keep both lawns open more often, instead of just having one open. I believe having more space to relax and hang out with friends on campus during the week will help alleviate stress within the student body. I’ve already spoken with a couple of administrators about this issue, and as Student Services Representative, I plan on continuing this conversation, while making sure students who are not involved with student government are included in the discussion. To find out about more of my campaign ideas and about the rest of my platform, please visit my website here: 

https://asfisher18.wixsite.com/ccsc2017/platform

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

The overarching theme of my campaign is improving community through student services. Often, there are many small things that bother students and make our everyday lives more difficult. Columbia is our home, and it’s important for us to live here as comfortably as possible. I will work to address this issue, among other ways, through fixing smaller issues on our campus. These issues include the difficulty some student clubs and groups have of reserving adequate space on campus. I believe University Events Management should work with individual clubs to make sure they’re getting the spaces they need. For example, some performance groups might need to rehearse in larger spaces, while academic clubs might be fine with smaller classrooms. Another such issue is the lack of air conditioning and the problem of overheating in some of the older residence halls on campus. As Student Services Rep, I’ll work with Columbia Housing to figure out solutions to these problems on our campus.

5. Any additional comments you would like to share with voters?

As I have written about in Spectator, too often, CCSC seems distant—even irrelevant—to many Columbia students. As your Student Services Representative, I will hold office hours to speak with any student about your ideas for how to make Columbia’s student services work better for you. Only by such measures of open communication can we learn from each other and ensure our voices are heard. After all, every one of us makes Columbia home, and every one of us deserves the best experience possible.