Category: Profiles

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.

Photo Courtesy of Karlee Rodrigues

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? 

I first started attending GS’ Student Council meetings to learn about what resources, clubs, events, network, and financial opportunities were available on campus for students. I was inspired by the serious commitment and dedication from the council members and got overwhelmingly excited at the incredibly diverse opportunities they were creating for students that I was unaware even existed! I wanted to help create and spread this information with the rest of the student body. Therefore, I joined the council as part of the Communications Committee!

On council, I served as the communicator between the student body and GSSC, as well as spreading communication between committees. Adding to the council’s weekly agenda and taking Meeting Minutes made me quickly learn what’s working for the Columbia Community and what isn’t, what we had to improve on and what should remain the same, as well as how long each type of event or resource takes to plan.

Having this great overall understanding of the student body’s needs and GSSC’s needs (finance, policy, campus life, communications, international students rep, MilVets rep, etc.) made me feel qualified enough to run for Student Body President. Similarly to my goals when I first started council, I want to make sure the bountiful amount of resources academically and financially on campus are being taken to full advantage students to help and progress our Columbia community.

If elected, what would your goals be? What is something you want to fix at Columbia? How would you plan to address it?

Here are some of my key points!

COMMUNICATIONS:

As President I will enforce “Operation Organization,” organizing the plethora of diverse resources already available on campus, such as club info and important events so that they are appropriately presented to students so that they are aware of the diverse opportunities and initiatives that already exist!

I plan to address this integration issue by making this information easily accessible to students online and physically.

– An updated online clubs page with their objective, meeting times, and meeting locations.

– Physical packets with club info available in the GS Lounge for those who have limited access to internet/social media.

– Making the GS Lounge a hub for resources. Adding a monitor that displays GSSC led events for the week! (Or for more cost-friendly purposes, a bulletin board).

– A BRAND NEW UPDATED GSSC WEBSITE. The council has worked on this during the Spring 2016 term, however, I want it to be fully implemented in the Fall! We are in negotiations for access to both the gssc.columbia.edu and yourgssc.com domain with CUIT and the former VPs of council. We have a template ready and secured. And if we do not get access to either of those domains – we have a plan C to start from scratch and the design already planned.

– On this website will be a public Google Driven calendar where GSSC students can directly import an event.

– As President, I liaise with the other university presidents to present a system so that everyone has access to GSSC events but also CC, SEAS, and Barnard.

Once this system is organized and enacted – the communications committee can reach out to groups like the MilVets to ensure that if there is an event that might be of great benefit for their members, they will know about it. Additionally, if the MilVets host an event for their club, they can easily reach other students on campus.

FINANCE:

Financial security for students is a huge topic currently being presented to council.

Once “Operation Organization” is complete, students in financial need will be able to easily locate resources to help them financially. From scheduling appointments with advisors to applying for GS institutional scholarships, GS special scholarships, outside scholarships, and scholarships for nontraditional students.

As GSSC President, I will be continuously requesting sponsorships and in-kind donations rather than using our valuable money in the budget for food, for example, at many if not most of the GS events. Our savings would be put together for a Student Body Scholarship for those in financial need (and eventually perhaps, a second that’s need-blind). Through this scholarship, applicants can write to council about their experience on campus life – what they found to be beneficial and what could be improved. This way, council will have an array of continuous feedback and we would be building a students’ financial security for the semester. I plan to address this proposal by working closely with the VP of finance to determine how much exactly we have saved that will be distributed in the scholarship. Additionally, I will speak with administration to have this scholarship apply towards tuition. This means I would also reach out to the Accounting Office for easy transactions and billing info. If the cannot apply towards tuition (although I will petition and strongly advocate for it), the scholarship could benefit students for the cost of living expenses.

Additionally, I will continue to advocate alongside prospective VP of Policy Silin for emergency meal funds and a food bank (which was just passed at tonight’s meeting woo hoo). GSers should have a food pantry in the GS Lounge for those who are in need of a meal. I plan to address this by continuing to advocate alongside the council for the construction of the pantry. We already have a contractor on board.

I also strongly agree with prospective Senator Ramond about child-care services. Right now, PHD students are offered child-care services. However, GS students are not. We must offer GS parents child-care services!! Advocating for this is extremely important.

POLICY:

As GSSC President I will promote SVR (Sexual Violence Response) initiatives that Columbia mandates in orientation. I want to review and change the TA policy on campus. Right now TAs can be hired regardless of a sexual assault violation. This should not be the case. Offenders find content in exuding power over their victim. Why then would we give these offenders (who is known to find this fulfillment in exuding power) power in the classroom?! It would be a trigger!!! Changing the policy would be ensuring students safety and peace of mind.

It came to my attention recently that a student took a medical leave and as a result, was denied to use the psychological/medical service centers during the time of their leave. This is a moment where students might be needing these services the most. Students should have access to these resources their ENTIRE TIME at Columbia. I will speak to CPS and administration to make change happen.

Any additional comments you would like to share with voters?

A suggestion box will be created in the new year so that students can share their ideas with council and how we can improve!

Last but certainly not least, if the Student Body/Committees are divided on a topic, before making any decision, I would weigh the pros and cons. I will enforce a political, financial, and social discussion. What would be the financial benefits and/or consequences of this situation. How would this decision impact students on campus? Are there any alternatives? Can there be a trail period for our decision?

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.

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 submissions@columbialion.com.

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.

Winners:

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.