Category: submission

With graduation on the horizon, the Lion reached out to seniors to hear their thoughts. Here is what Kevin–a senior who is graduating from Columbia College with degrees in Mathematics and Music–had to say.

What are you passionate about, and how has Columbia helped you find these passions?

I am passionate about music, especially guitar. Columbia has no doubt provided me with so many opportunities, both to learn the craft of music-making and to showcase it in venues like Carnegie Hall. To be honest, I didn’t expect much from Columbia’s music scene initially, but now I’m really grateful for everything I came across: Arthur Kampela’s guitar/life lessons, Susser’s Ear Training, Milarsky’s Conducting, free concerts at the Italian Academy, and fabulous student performance groups like CCP. Also, being in NYC, I could easily go watch concerts and shows downtown, e.g. at Lincoln Center, Broadway, Carnegie Hall, 92nd Y, or Smalls.

If you could re-experience one thing you did during your time at Columbia, what would it be and why?

Bacchanal, freshman year. I didn’t do much back then.

 What is your least favorite thing about humanity?

Tendency to resort to close-mindedness for an easy way out.

If you were a Columbia library, which one would you be and why?

I would be the Music Library. It’s a hidden gem that not many people even know exists. It’s really a hidden gem. Actually.

 What advice do you have for the incoming class?

Broaden your horizon! Hanging out with people in fruitful ways will help you, not necessarily spending more hours at Butler.

With graduation on the horizon, the Lion reached out to seniors to hear their thoughts. Here is what Rozanne–a senior who is graduating from the School of General Studies with a degree in Anthropology–had to say.

What are you passionate about, and how has Columbia helped you find these passions?

My mother was a genealogist and avid collector of family photos and memorabilia, and so perhaps I get my obsession with family history from her. Before Columbia University I had always chalked up that interest to nostalgia. But my study of anthropology helped me see that my interest in family lineage and archival material, such as old photographs, letters, family Bibles, newspaper clippings, etc., actually serves my deeper passion for storytelling and narrative. During my time at Columbia I learned how to locate the internal logic of archival material and discover how documents can tell a narrative about the past while simultaneously opening up meaning concerning the cultural patterns enacted in present day relationships.

If you could re-experience one thing you did during your time at Columbia, what would it be and why?

The Anthropology Senior Thesis class was by far one of the most rigorous and time-intensive classes of any I have taken at Columbia. But I would do it all again in a heartbeat. Certainly I came away with valuable research skills and increased confidence in my ability to write under pressure. But above all, I learned what it is like to work as colleagues with my professors, preceptors and classmates. Offering and receiving feedback and gaining an appreciation of the personal investment that each of us had in our work built a tremendous level of trust that I have since found difficult to replicate.

What is your least favorite thing about humanity?

So many of us think that we have a key to solving someone else’s personal problems. We may not say it out loud, but you can hear the judgment in statements like, “If that person would only…” or “If it were me, I would…” Chances are that there are hidden histories and relationships attached to any one person’s personal struggles.

If you were a Columbia library, which one would you be and why?

Butler Library. Because it’s haunted and naturally, as an anthropologist I’ve always had a thing for ghosts.

What advice do you have for the incoming class?

The best advice that I received was to find excuses to regularly visit my deans or to go to my professors’ office hours and let them know what was going on in my life. I did not expect to become best friends; in fact, I always made a point of addressing them as Dean or Professor to indicate that I respected the boundaries of our relationship. Still I think it’s important for our deans and professors to be reminded that students are human. I was often surprised at their compassion as well as their knowledge of specific resources that helped me manage my situation. Also, take a class with Professor Thomas Roma, especially if you are not majoring in visual arts. He will alter your entire perspective on learning and life.

With graduation on the horizon, the Lion reached out to seniors to hear their thoughts. Here is what Kunal–a senior who is graduating from Columbia College with a degree in Human Rights–had to say.

What are you passionate about, and how has Columbia helped you find these passions?

I’m passionate about community building! This means everything from socializing with friends watching a movie in a floor lounge, to attending academic symposiums and meeting exciting people. Columbia has a space for everyone, and I believe that the struggle lies in find one’s niche and figuring out how you want to go through the four years that you get to spend here. 

If you could re-experience one thing you did during your time at Columbia, what would it be and why?

I want to re-experience the Bacchanal-Holi celebrations! The day on which these events occur has been, hands down, among my favourite days of the year. The amount of fun (and drink!) which was had was unparalleled. I wish that we had more events that would bring our community together, which make it more fun, and less stressful.

What is your least favorite thing about humanity?

Measuring the weather in Fahrenheit instead of Celsius (this system literally makes no sense…). But seriously, I would say lack of empathy is deeply concerning to me. This is of course something that extends beyond Columbia’s campus, but I find that it plagues us here too. Talk to that random person you see who looks stressed out, say hi to strangers in elevators, just take a moment to listen 🙂

If you were a Columbia library, which one would you be and why?

I would be definitely be the area outside the Law Library – I say this because I have studied in a library exactly 9 times in the span of my Columbia career. The area outside the Law library is nice though – it comprises of nice couches and talking and eating (even smiling!) students, which are all the things I wouldn’t find in the ref room in Butler. 

What advice do you have for the incoming class?

Try everything under the sun! I hope that by the time you graduate, you have experienced stress, contentment, heartbreak, loneliness, wholesome love, (being in) love, incessant worry, and delirious happiness. Do everything you can to achieve all that you want – but never forget to value the important people around you. 

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.