Category: Politics

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.

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. For more information, email submissions@columbialion.com.

What motivated you to run for this position? 

I was part of the student council in high school for all four years, and I served as president for the last two years of high school. Naturally, I wanted to run for student council at Columbia too. As an international student, I can directly experience the vast difference in academics and cultures that my fellow international classmates have to adjust to. As the International Students Representative for SEAS, I hope to give all the international students a voice that matters as well as try to solve some of the problems that we face in various aspects of college.

If elected, what would your goals be?

Some of the issues that I hope to address are:

Offer subsidized summer housing to international students – Many internationals prefer to stay back in New York during breaks as traveling back to their home country is expensive. I hope to build upon the model Barnard uses to provide their students researching or interning in New York with subsidized summer housing and offer the same to the international community at Columbia.

Build a directory dedicated to on-campus jobs available to international students – Many of these jobs have certain limitations that do not allow internationals to apply, and as a result, it is difficult to find jobs that international students are eligible for. I hope to create a directory specifically for jobs available to international students and provide detailed instructions for applying to them. I hope that this will make the process of searching for an on-campus job easier for international students.

Create easy-to-comprehend academic integrity and Optional Practical Training (OPT) guides – This is something that at least I was worried about even before starting college! I spoke to a lot of people and researched a lot, but I could only obtain documents that explain both of them in a very complex manner. Since they are a very big part of international students’ lives, I hope to create guides that are easy-to-comprehend and layman-friendly so that internationals have to worry no longer about both of them.

Offer one-to-one peer mentoring – The best sources of advice for me have been international upperclassmen because they went through all the problems with adjusting to the culture and academics a while back. I hope to connect each underclassman with an upperclassman (if possible, from the same country) so that underclassmen have someone to relate to and talk to whenever they feel that they need help with any aspects of college.

Monthly stress buster events – What is the point of having such a diverse class if we do not celebrate all the cultures that help constitute it? I hope to host monthly events with themes from different nationalities every time so that students in our community get to know their classmates and their culture better. At the same time, the event will offer them a break from academics and give them time to have some fun.

International student friendly class placement criteria – I believe that the current placement system is biased towards students who have taken the AP, IB or the A level examinations. Students who have not taken one of the tests mentioned above have to take a placement exam regardless of their past standing in the subjects they were being tested on. Working with the academic departments, I hope to broaden the criteria for exemption from introductory classes so that internationals can easily take higher level classes without having to take placement tests.

In addition to these goals, I will always be working to bring about any change that a fellow international student in SEAS suggests.

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

My goals address some issues that I hope to fix at Columbia. Ultimately, I want to create a better academic and social experience for the international community in SEAS.

Any additional comments you would like to share with voters?

While I am a first-year, I believe that I can do as good a job as any sophomore, junior or senior could, if not better. I have had enough experience with student council in high school to know how to work my way around administrations, and I’m willing to work as hard as it takes to ensure that our (the international students’) voices are heard, and efforts are made to incorporate changes that we ask for.

And DJ Khaled endorsed me (http://imgur.com/rtML8dO)

Someone recently posted on the Columbia/Barnard Class of 2019 Facebook page with Benjamin Sweetwood’s argument “Republicans at Columbia are scared to admit who they’re voting for”, asking for thoughts.

I have so many thoughts on this that I figured I’d write an opinion piece in response.

To me, it is definitely an issue when a group of students feel voiceless or unwelcome/unsafe speaking up on campus and in class. I think it is an issue that people, and especially people in power (like professors who have power in a classroom setting) can be dismissive of views students have just because they can be categorized as “conservative” or “republican” views—or as any “type” of view, really. It can definitely create further issues when a community or campus becomes in an echo chamber and is not considering outside views.
While I believe professors, who are in positions of power, should be welcoming to all ideas, or at least conversation about all ideas, this is obviously not always the case. For an in-class-related situation, I believe professors should take time (whether during or outside of class) to respond and analyze the students’ views and—if they don’t agree with their student—respectfully explain or discuss how their views and their reasoning differ and to explain why they’d dismiss the comment a student made in class. Maybe the professor fundamentally disagreed with the student and had no patience for outside ideas—that’s bad teaching. If the professor fundamentally disagreed with you and had time constraints for their lesson plan, which they wanted to get through with the whole class that day, but are willing to talk with you and/or whoever else is interested outside of class to dissect your comment further—that’s good teaching. Granted, if the school community seems hostile towards conservative or unfavorable or unpopular views, it’s understandable a student might not feel as safe going to office hours to discuss an issue further with their professor or to discuss it with peers outside of class. And that’s an issue the community may definitely want to address.

That being said, political views can be very heated and polarizing, inside or outside the classroom. Sometimes rather than starting a meaningful and healthy debate about why we hold different values and beliefs on specific issues, it’s easy for people to respond by dismissing the other side’s views or by mocking it. (You see this problem all over the media, and I believe this is a HUGE issue in this country, one which truly drags our national discourse further and further down and away from meaningful, substantial, healthy debate.) Especially when every time someone hears an opinion from the other side than theirs and then does have a debate, if everyone usually stays on the same sides after the debate, people can find that process both discouraging and infuriating. Why put themselves through that again? This is why people often avoid mentioning politics altogether and why some families decide to make political conversations taboo during holidays. Though I recognize this as a strategy of self-preservation, I think it’s unhealthy when everyone goes back inside their own echo chambers. Especially in an academic setting, I believe there is definitely a need for spaces where people can speak freely and openly and talk with people who see the world differently than they do.

Okay. So, let’s check in here. I feel like most people can agree with everything that’s above this line. But the world isn’t so neat and reasonable. Here’s where this issue gets more muddled:
As I’ve said, people can get very heated and passionate and divided over political views. Now, in this 2016 presidential election, there is a LOT to be heated and passionate about. I personally feel that on so many issues in this specific election—with all that Donald Trump has said dealing with minorities (Mexicans, Muslims, immigrants, African Americans, women, small business owners, etc.) and with the violent suggestions and dismissive ways Donald Trump has dealt with people who HE doesn’t agree with—to many people, hearing that someone would vote for Trump is like saying that person agrees with Donald Trumps views in that arena. Now, if you support Trump, that literally means you support him and want to see Trump—who holds and represents these views—in charge of your country. It doesn’t necessarily mean you are as racist or sexist or xenophobic or anti-free speech as Trump. It doesn’t mean you agree with EVERYTHING that that man says. But I think there is a good argument that it means you are at least privileged enough to vote for him anyway, despite those hateful things he stands for. And that might be why you’re getting targeted in class and on campus. Which I’m not saying is okay, because it’s not a crime to be privileged. You shouldn’t be made to feel unsafe on campus. But I think it is an issue to be privileged and ignorant of how your privilege affects the rest of the world. Or at least, the United States, which is the country/presidential election we’re talking about here. And that’s how you’re coming across to a lot of your classmates.

Honestly, I personally do not understand how people can vote for Trump, knowing how he treats people and what he stands for. I am curious, though. I know some people from my hometown—not from the Columbia community—who would vote for him because they don’t want to see Hillary Clinton get elected. And I still don’t fully understand their point of view, either. (I haven’t decided completely who I will vote for yet. I am dissatisfied with my choices). But at least I can talk to the people who do or do not want to vote for Hillary about it! At Columbia, I don’t know who I would talk to for the conservative or Republican view, because that voice definitely does seem silenced and taboo here at this very liberal campus. I honestly suspect part of that might be because at this very liberal campus of ours, a large percentage of people here value the lives of minorities and less privileged communities enough to be horrified that the Republican party nominated Trump for president, and maybe this highly educated campus doesn’t have enough Republicans who are so strongly committed to their beliefs as to look past these huge faults of Trump. I imagine that Republicans exist here who do not support Trump, but I don’t know them personally either. This divide may have happened on campus before Trump, but it certainly hasn’t been helped by him. I can’t speak about my experience (or lack thereof) with Republicans on campus for years before this election, because I only joined this community last fall.

Let me say, Donald Trump has said things that I totally agree with! Not many, but a few. The thing is, he says whatever the hell he feels like with no regard for the consequences. And though I sometimes admire people who are like that, that is not a quality I look for in a leader, especially not in the leader of an entire country. Especially when he doesn’t take himself seriously—he mocks and ridicules people’s responses. I believe the most change happens on local and state levels, but I am honestly rather fearful of how he would treat this country as an elected president. I am fearful of what that represents about our nation. I am already horrified by how he is treating our country today and by how poorly he has treated local businesses in my home state of NJ in the past, not paying small-business contractors and getting away with impunity.

To summarize:

  • I do think that it is problematic that Republicans, as a minority on this campus, do not feel safe expressing their views here. I want students to feel safe and welcome on this campus. I also think some professors could probably do a better job addressing conservative views, especially those brought up by students.
  • Because many students feel unsafe expressing Republican or conservative views, the whole community loses a chance to have meaningful conversations about both sides of these political issues.
  • -At the current time in our country right now, the elected leader of the Republican Party represents a lot that I cannot support. I can value Trump supporters as people worthy of respect and love, but honestly, I don’t know or interact with any Trump supporters, at least not in settings where we’re talking about politics. Probably because #1, I’m picky with my friends and who I surround myself with and I don’t think anyone who shares my core values could in good conscience vote for Trump. (My father and siblings are liberals or independents. My mother, however, has been a Republican at least all my twenty years of life, and with this election she quit the Party. She cannot and will not support Donald Trump.) And #2, the second reason I don’t know many Trump supporters is because I go to a very liberal school where Republicans apparently feel silenced. It’s not a good thing. I would love to talk with a few Republicans who support Trump. Maybe I will make an effort to find some this year. But will I spend my energy trying to make Trump supporters feel more welcome on campus? Honestly, no. I will spend my free time and energy on working towards bettering the lives of people who are less privileged than Trump and his supporters.

Those are my thoughts. Thanks for sharing this article, and your viewpoint. I honestly appreciate it, and wish there was better, more respectful dialogue on campus and in our national media.

Grace is a sophomore at Barnard College studying Urban Studies with a focus on Education Studies and Chinese/English Translation.

The Lion is the only Columbia publication with an open-submissions policy. To respond to this op-ed or to submit one of your own, email submissions@columbialion.com

On July 12, CNN held a town hall in which everyday citizens asked questions of Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. Zak Marcone (CC’19) was one of those invited to ask a question. The Lion interviewed him about his experience challenging the Speaker’s decision to endorse the Republican Nominee for President, Donald Trump.

How did you get invited to the town hall? 

About two months ago, I was invited to a Ted Cruz town hall. I went to that one, but I didn’t get an opportunity to ask a question. Someone from CNN remembered me from the past town hall and sent me an email when the spot opened up for this one.

What question did you ask Paul Ryan?

It concerns me when the Republican leadership is supporting someone who is openly racist, has said Islamophobic statements, and wants to shut down our borders. How can you morally justify your support for this kind of candidate?

Even though attendees asked many questions at the town hall, a lot of publications (Huffington Post, Politicus USA, etc.) really noticed yours. Why do you think that is?

I guess it was because I wasn’t afraid to ask what was on everyone’s mind with Paul Ryan, specifically the moral issue of his support for Donald Trump. It is the elephant in the room and something that’s ignored, which he did when he answered my question. I think it’s also because I used the words “racist and Islamophobic” and he did not deny that Trump is those things in any way at all. I think that that was probably the main reason that it got so much attention.

How did you feel about confronting Ryan?

I wouldn’t call it a confrontation. I just couldn’t think of any answer for myself for why he would support Trump, and I wanted to see for myself how he would answer the question.

How do you feel about Paul Ryan’s answer to your question?

I wasn’t really expecting anything and I didn’t really get anything either. It was a last effort on my part to elicit some sort of moral compass from Paul Ryan and a larger, general stance from a Republican leader.

In your opinion, what options do young Republicans have if they don’t support Trump’s views but also don’t want to vote Democrat?

I would very strongly say that you have to vote for Hillary Clinton. I don’t think that there is a third party option unless you agree with Libertarian policy. I think if you’re a moderate Republican like me, you really need to vote for Hillary Clinton. Even though a lot of her policies are different than conservatives are looking for, the other option is  much much more dangerous. In a binary choice between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, there’s only really one option, and that’s Hillary Clinton.

Does Trump’s choice of Mike Pence as a running mate alter your opinion about Trump as a candidate in any way? Why or why not?

I really didn’t think my opinion of Trump could get any worse. Well it did. Pence is a terrible person who clearly has deep prejudices against the LGBT community as well as other groups. This makes me even more disappointed in Paul Ryan for supporting him.