Category: submission

The Lion asked candidates to tell us about their campaigns to give us insight into their aspirations and motivations for running. Here is what members of the party Alliance had to say:

Nathan Rosin

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

Alliance

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

I’m running to be the next CCSC President with my party, Alliance!  I initially decided that I wanted to be a part of council because I thought it would give me the chance to make changes that would help people feel a stronger cohesive community on campus. Through my years on council, I’ve learned that we have an important and relevant voice in planning events and shaping University policies. I’ve had the privilege of serving on council the past three years and contributing to the community in a variety of ways through my different positions. Just this past year, I’ve taken the lead on organizing and executing campus-wide events, working with my committee and other councils to bring experiences like Homecoming, Tree Lighting, College Days, and Silent Disco to the Columbia community, to name a few.Up until this point, I have worked tirelessly to build community on Columbia’s campus, largely from a programmatic perspective – looking forward, I would love to expand my reach to building and changing community from an institutional and systematic perspective in addition to a programmatic one.

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

We are very focused on bringing the intersection of identity and mental health on campus to the forefront of discussions pertaining to mental health. Beyond the buzzword, we recognize that mental health affects people of different identities in unique and specific ways, which call for policy changes that uniquely recognize these individual needs and cater to them specifically and directly. Given the especially trying year on Columbia’s Campus, and the administration’s recent efforts to improve mental health here, we will ensure that the specific and individual needs of students from different backgrounds are expressly considered in making new policy. In the same way that the new students of color and LGBTQ+ spaces have been promised in Lerner, we will work together with other identity-based groups to ensure that their needs for mental health and well being are being served by the administration. More specifically, we intend to host open Town Halls with Deans Valentini, Aquino, and Kromm where students will have the opportunity to directly convey to administrators what their specific needs are regarding mental health and what they think the administration can do to best support them.

Our most tangible goal is to establish an alumni-council student group fund that will expand student group funding allocations and allow for new and innovative programming across campus. We have already met with the alumni office to lay the groundwork for the fund and we see it as a two-step process. The first will be to build a platform, through which alumni and other interested parties can financially engage directly with student groups to fund small-scale new projects on campus. The second is to work with the alumni office to build and even endow a fund (working off the model of Yale College Council’s new endowment) that will act as a more constant a solid source of larger-scale new funding for student groups to present innovative initiatives. The goal is to make it such that we can increase student group allocations without having to increase the student life fee in tuition to do so! We have already built a database of Council alumni who might support the seeds for the fund, and have begun conversations with the alumni office to reach out further and connect student groups with people across their network.

We will also work with Dean Kromm and the Office of Undergraduate Student Life to expand funding for pre-orientation programs like COOP, ISOP, and CUE and carry those strong community experiences through NSOP and students’ first months on campus. We recognize that while community exists in strong small pockets at Columbia, for some who don’t find a strong small community it can be easy to fall through the cracks. By expanding pre-orientation programming so more students can participate, thereby building close and strong community early, and revamping NSOP and the first month on campus, we aim to restructure students’ experiences here from day one so people feel stronger cohesion and support as early as possible.

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

Throughout my time here I have been acutely focused on the sense of community (or lack thereof) that Columbia students feel on campus. I want to work towards creating a Columbia where community isn’t just a series of dotted experiences, but is a cohesive lifestyle that permeates everyday life on campus. I think that improving funding and expanding programming for student groups and student council is a great first step, but we need to even work beyond that to create a general feeling of cohesive community, because one more event isn’t going to change the Columbia community insofar as how students feel about the life they live for their entire four years here. I think we can build towards this goal with a twofold approach – the first is to tackle mental health concerns on campus from both a reactionary and preventative perspective, and the second is to work with the Offices of Undergraduate Student Life and University Life to build consistent programming and communications from the University that set the stage for a stronger community experience. For the first goal, we will work with Counseling and Psychological services to improve reactionary measures to mental health issues (including shorter wait times for appointments, online signups, increased number of clinicians from underrepresented backgrounds, consistent communications to student body from CPS and Ask Alice! etc.) but also preventative measures where we can tackle mental health and stress at the root (by shrinking the core syllabus, training faculty on mental health awareness, etc.). For the second goal, we will act as advisers to the aforementioned offices to help them build programming that is more relevant to what students want rather than just what the administration decides it wants to do for programming by itself (by building a student advisory board for events programming with the offices, etc.)

Any additional comments you would like to share with voters?

We are super excited to be running this year and truly believe that our experience sets us up to effectively carry out important and necessary changes for the Columbia community. Given our work thus far, we believe we have the clearest image of what is and isn’t feasible from a council perspective, and have made an active decision to make promises that we know we can follow through on. By meeting with administrators and student groups to discuss our ideas and workshop them into something we all believe can be made into reality, we believe we are set to actually make real changes on this campus, beyond giant promises that might not be fulfilled, so people will actually feel like council is successfully serving them. You can find our platform and bios here!

Alex Cedar

My name is Alex Cedar, and I am running to be the next VP for Campus Life of CCSC, with Alliance for CCSC Executive Board. Our party includes Nathan Rosin (President), Nicole Allicock (VP Policy), Heloise Taillet (VP Finance) and Sreya Pinnamaneni (VP Communications).

I was motivated to run for VP Campus Life as I am truly passionate about ensuring that Columbia College students are getting the most out of their time here, and to make sure that the events that CCSC and the University arrange for undergraduates are as attractive to students as possible. Having served on the Campus Life committee for the past year, I took a leading role in organizing events including Homecoming, Tree Lighting and College Days. 

If I am elected, my overarching goal is to engage as many CC students as possible in meaningful and frequent events and programming led by the campus life committee. I will do this by increasing the amount of campus life events to two each week. Alliance wants to supplement the large-scale traditional events like Homecoming, College Days and Tree-Lighting with smaller scale events (like snack breaks in Butler and movie screenings) designed to foster community and give students the chance to take a break. This will require more people to be appointed to the Campus Life committee, however it is a feasible way of increasing the involvement the the Campus Life committee plays. Alliance will also hold a Fall Bacchanal-esque concert at the Baker Athletics Complex after the Homecoming Game. While a Fall Bacchanal on Low Steps remains (to quote an administrator with whom I met) impossible, a concert at Baker is much more financially viable, and the university is much more likely to allow it to happen, given the security, infrastructure and logistical services already in place for the football game. An Alliance CCSC E-board would collaborate with Columbia AthleticsJCCC, the Bacchanal Committee, the other three undergraduate councils as well as the university administration to stage this concert, thus generating interest in the Homecoming weekend and creating a festival-like atmosphere.

Something I would like to fix at Columbia is the lack of recreational space for undergraduates. Lerner is not fit for purpose as a student center, as it plays the role of an administrative and bureaucratic building more than a place to have fun with friends. JJs serves the purpose of a late-night hangout spot, however it requires money to enter, thus making it exclusive and inaccessible to the whole undergraduate population. Alliance will create more undergraduate recreational space by designating certain rooms in Lerner and in residence halls to be used for recreational purposes on a regular basis. For example, this could involve music and dancing in the Lerner Party Space every Saturday night, or a movie screening in John Jay Lounge every Sunday.

You can find the complete Alliance platform at http://alliance-for-ccsc.webflow.io/ !

Nicole Allicock

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

Alliance

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

I was motivated to run for Vice President for Policy because I want to dedicate my senior year to focusing on and seeing through the policies I have been working on these past three years on CCSC. My favorite part of being on CCSC has always been hearing a friend talk about a problem or seeing a post on Facebook and knowing that there is something I can do to impact that change. Though I have felt with my time as President, I have been able to facilitate conversations and initiatives as well as effectively communicate to administrators the needs of the student body, as VP Policy, I hope to spend more of my time crafting proposals, continuing advocacy for ongoing projects, and beginning new initiatives.

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

The main goal of Alliance is to build a community of allies which contains two parts, building community and engaging in allyship. 

For the former, Alliance hopes to both address the current atmosphere of poor mental health and stop it from pervading into future years. By instituting faculty mental health training we can ensure that every member of the community, whether student, faculty, staff, or administrator, is actively engaged in building a stronger and healthier community. Currently, all Columbia College staff are receiving mental health training. Alliance hopes to advocate for a training that would allow staff to not only be able to recognize signs of distress, but to also be able to have a conversation about mental health with a student. By advocating for shrinking the Core syllabus, Alliance hopes to stop the stress culture before it begins in a student’s very first semester wherein every student is expected to read 100 pages for a single class. With the review of the Lit Hum syllabus coming up next semester, we hope to actually achieve this goal by speaking with the Deans and professors who directly oversee this process and expanding the voices involved in the conversation to students.

Allyship can apply to many individual identities, but in addition to under-represented ethnic minorities and LGBTQ students, Alliance would also like to focus on survivors of sexual assault and students affected by ongoing political obstacles occurring outside of the university. We are proposing a four year suite of training for all students first beginning with bystander intervention for first-years, then intimate partner violence amongst students and within student groups for sophomores, then identity intersectionality in the conversation of sexual assault for juniors, and sexual violence and bystander intervention beyond Columbia for seniors. Alliance hopes to work with the Title IX coordinator and campus advocacy and activist groups to revamp the Sexual Respect Initiative to include all students, rather than just the same group of “student leaders” after freshman year, and to build on each training rather than repeat the same content, Alliance hopes to improve the campus culture around sexual violence, engage all students on its many levels, and help them build actual skills. Secondly, by working to ensure that students impacted by federal policies around undocumented and international students are included in the University’s conversations both broadly and on a policy level, Alliance hopes to make sure that these students are not hindered by their status in their pursuits at Columbia. 

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

I would like to fix the level of intellectual engagement Columbia students have with non-Western cultures. In the current iteration of the Global Core, the lack of clearly articulated goals makes it so that students are unsure what they are supposed to be learning and often go into the classes looking for the easy A rather than engaging with the content. I hope to remedy this by advocating for one of the Global Core courses to be a seminar. Though students can and will still be looking for easier classes to balance out their workloads, in a 22 person discussion based format, students will have to discuss and critically engage with the primary material of a non-Western culture and in speaking about them, engage their own identities and viewpoints. Although many of the lecture courses are very interesting, they often do not require more than passive receipt of information. Running parallel to the 6 semester-long discussion based Western portion of the Core (Lit Hum, CC, Art Hum, Music Hum), I believe this adjustment will more clearly define what the Global ‘Core’ is supposed to be and ensure that every students who graduates from Columbia has had to actively discuss a non-Western culture as well as enjoy closer interaction with the faculty who teach them.

Any additional comments you would like to share with voters?

Alliance is committed to making change on campus, has feasible policy ideas, and knowledge of what exists already and what is yet to be done. I have been working on students council since coming to Columbia with policies like recurring Writing Center appointments for First-Generation students, shadow declaring to connect students with their departments earlier, and administrative funding to support student group travel alongside smaller initiatives like getting the Ferris omelette bar open later, increasing the number of printers on campus and working with EcoReps to institute sustainability talks in the first floor meeting for incoming first-years. I hope to apply this same dedication next year as VP Policy with the rest of my party Alliance. Voting starts Wednesday!

Sreya Pinnamaneni

My name is Sreya Pinnamaneni, and I am a first-year in Columbia College running for CCSC Executive Board with my party, Alliance. I am running for VP Communications, and I was motivated to run for this position as I found a pathway to implement my ideas for reform — tangible mental health, funding, and administrative transparency changes — that is tied to experienced, qualified leaders. Nicole Allicock and Nathan Rosin, our President and VP Policy candidates, have already served on CCSC Exec, and have the insights and connections with administrations to put concrete changes forward. My own ideas for communications and service have been influenced by my involvement on campus, and I chose to run for VP Communications to voice my frustrations through different labels I identify with on campus – a female, a student of color, a sexual consent educator, a public speaking coach, and a mental health advocate. I have lived through the difficult transition period that Columbia must unfortunately claim, and I view CCSC as a medium to bring about real reforms for Columbia College students. 

If elected, my goals are primarily administrative transparency, student group funding transparency, and uplifting student voices. Alliance is in contact with deans and administrators, planning to achieve these goals by setting up an approved schedule for open Town Halls (between, for example, student leaders and President Bollinger/Dean Valentini), allocating specific advisors for marginalized and international students, and meeting with the F@CU facilitators to clarify the Funding at Columbia University process for student groups and class councils alike. Unlike other platforms, we are working to ensure student funding outside of student life, ensuring that student groups feel financially comfortable and are able to voice their needs and concerns.

My goals as VP Communications are unique in this sense — Alliance leaves no room for empty promises of unverifiable concerts or vague online submissions, but rather seeks approaches such as in-person student-administrative consulting and faculty mental health training. Our approach channels our brand: we strive for genuine, bottom-up coalition building on campus and aim to put student needs before all else. With the experience and resources necessary to implement our goals, we can envision a Columbia where every student feels safe and accounted for. 

Heloise Taillet

My name is Heloise and I’m a Junior in CC running for VP Finance with ALLI?NCE.

After spending freshman and sophomore year on class council, I decided to take a break to focus on my studies. Over the year, I realized how much I missed taking part in all the discussions/decisions that shape our Columbia community. Since I’m an Economics-Mathematics major with a few finance internships under my belt, I thought it would be most appropriate to rejoin student council as VP Finance.

A few projects I have in mind for next year’s Finance Committee include:

  • Working with our VP Comms, Sreya, to improve transparency with regards to the F@CU process. We want students to understand how student councils use/distribute the $1million+ generated from student life fees.
  • Expanding current efforts to address food insecurity and provide affordable eating options both on and around campus. Finding the best solutions for our school would involve working in collaboration with the Sandwich Ambassador, First-Generation/Low-Income Partnership, Columbia University Dining, and the Columbia University Food Bank, as well as researching how other schools adress and mitigate food insecurity.
  • Implementing/managing a Columbia crowdfunding platform (on our CCSC website) to finance and encourage creative, community-oriented projects. 
  • Organizing workshops & compiling/adapting resources to improve students’ financial literacy skills (aka day-to-day budgeting, taking out loans, filing taxes, choosing a credit card, saving for the future)
  • Creating a fund where alumni can finance small-scale student/student group projects directly

I hope that my party will help change the pervasive stress culture that everyone on this campus knows so well. Though my party has a number of ideas on how to adress this, as VP Finance, I hope to alleviate financial stress by increasing revenue streams (i.e. Student Group Fund, Columbia KickStarter) for student/student group projects, advocating for/providing support for students affected by food insecurity, and offering students money management tips through workshops/adapted resources.

For the voters:

Nathan (President), Nicole (VP Policy), Alex (VP Campus Life), and Sreya (VP Comms) are some of the sweetest, smartest, and most dedicated people on this campus, and I encourage you all to take a second to learn about how they each have already helped/would like to help improve our campus.

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

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

No, I am not running with a party. However, my campaign is called Fuller Representation

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

I am running for Inclusion and Equity Rep because as a WOC at Columbia, I understand the importance of feeling heard and represented, especially in the administration. I feel that I can make strides in the areas of inclusion and diversity on campus and ensure that all marginalized groups know that someone is fighting for them. 

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

To tackle some of the issues at Columbia surrounding marginalized groups, I will focus on access, representation, and open discourse. Students should be focusing on class and enjoying all that this university has to offer, not worrying about where their next meal is coming from or how they will physically navigate campus. I plan to find more funding and a permanent space for the undergraduate Food Bank as well as support FLIP’s partnership with the Share Meals App. I want to set up a notification system that will let students know when certain elevators, entrances, or walkways are blocked so they can find alternative routes to class. I also want to redo the steep wheelchair ramps and talk to the administration about having discussion sections in classrooms that are accessible to everyone (ex. not on the 8th floor of Hamilton that has no wheelchair access). In regards to representation, I feel as though students have often been very vocal about what types of changes they want to see here to feel more included but I do not think that their ideas are always acted upon in a timely fashion. I intend to meet with as many of the marginalized groups on campus to hear their thoughts and see how I can fix them, particularly issues intersectionally affect different groups. Lastly, I look forward to setting up an email/Facebook page where students can contact me directly about their ideas. I want full transparency so that my peers can know what I’m doing and also hold me accountable.  

Any additional comments you would like to share with voters?

I will do everything in my power to provide you all with Fuller Representation. 

The Lion asked candidates to tell us about their campaigns to give us insight into their aspirations and motivations for running. Here is what some of the members of Grassroots Columbia had to say:

Cindy Liu

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

We are Grassroots Columbia! Rui is running for Student Body President; Richard for VP Policy; Cindy for VP Campus Life.

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

I’m running for VP Campus Life because too many ideas and talented brains are not being implemented the way they should–whether due to bureaucracy, CCSC as a popularity contest, lack of funding, inadequate space, etc. My experience co-leading a formal petition for music performance space on-campus last semester (with over 1,000 signatures garnered) taught me much about working through every administrative loophole to accomplish a single goal, and I fully intend to carry the lessons I learned into helping every CC student feel as if his/her voice matters.

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

  1. LGBTQ+ & POC advocacy: With the new open space in Lerner Hall designated for our LGBTQ+ & POC communities, we plan to ensure that its resources meet student needs to the fullest extent and that the administration follows through on their promise. I want to work closely with UEM, the administration, ABC, and the groups to whom the new space is dedicated to create a research spreadsheet of space usage throughout one semester, ensuring full transparency between UEM and the student groups.
  2. Space allocation for student groups: along a similar vein, though UEM’s/Facilities’ mantra is, “Columbia is a space-constrained campus and we are doing our best to maximize what we have,” I want to ensure every student group on campus obtains the best possible space for their programming and events. If a group is denied such space, it becomes a self-perpetuating cycle: the group’s members cannot program with the innovation and creativity they’d like, their allocation could decrease into the next year as a result of perceived “poor programming,” and they are less motivated as a result to express themselves fully. I want to sit down with/personally email every group’s e-board and ask them for the specific days/times per week their group requires space, and any end-of-semester bookings. Going into precalendaring for each semester, I hope to provide UEM with this comprehensive research so there is less conflict across groups in booking space.
  3. Preserving traditionIn the wake of the “abrupt restricting [of] the location of Orgo Night,” growing disillusionment plagues the Columbia undergraduate community that cherished student traditions are under threat. At a school that structures its otherwise-lacking school spirit around Orgo Night, the Tree Lighting Ceremony, Bacchanal, and primal scream, how can one expect to create community if such traditions are undermined? We will insist that any potential administrative changes to student-run and -loved traditions be firstly discussed and implemented with the four undergraduate student councils, the student group running the tradition, and the administration. This will provide the Columbia community with the transparency it deserves while maintaining what makes Columbia, Columbia.
  4. Disability Services: Columbia’s campus should be just as accessible to students with physical disabilities as it is accessible to students without physical disabilities. No student should be deprived of fundamental access to Columbia facilities. A few ideas: make accessibility information available in all CCSC emails about events; make event lines accessible; make sure important/prestigious campus events like World Leaders Forum are accessible; prioritize accessibility for student groups that specify it for their meeting spaces/times; make sure elevators are properly maintained.
  5. Mental Health: an integral part of Grassroots’ platform is addressing cutthroat campus stress culture and destigmatizing mental health through initiatives with student groups. Aside from those peers a student lives with, his/her immediate circle of friends, and classmates, the friends in their student groups are the ones with whom they spend the most time with on campus and alongside whom they pursue their passions. We hope to encourage groups to facilitate dialogue amongst themselves in their meetings and programming to promote inclusiveness 

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

Since I’ve explained in-detail many things we’d like to fix above, I’ll add something obvious and annoying: very few, if any, printing stations have staplers (that are filled), and not everyone has time to run to a nearby library or the Hartley Hospitality Desk before they need to submit a paper. We plan to securely knot working staplers to each CUIT printing station on the Morningside Campus.

Any additional comments you would like to share with voters?

The differences between Grassroots Columbia and the opposing two parties could not be more distinct. We believe in free CCSC events that benefit and enhance the entire Columbia community. We believe in increased funding to student organizations so that they can continue doing what they do best: improving the lives of students across campus. Mental health can only be improved from the bottom-up, which means empowering our clubs to have the funds to host the events that best express their missions.\

Richard Nederlander

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

I am affiliated with Grassroots Columbia.

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

I am running for VP Policy because I have noticed a strong lack of cooperation and partnership between CCSC and student organizations on campus. I am currently the President of the Columbia Science Review, and during that time I have noticed that CCSC’s main (if only) connection to student organizations at large is how much money they allocate to ABC (Activities Board Committee). Unfortunately, this relationship between CCSC and ABC (which is a proxy for all student organizations) is fraught because ABC is always wary of losing its ever-shrinking allocation. Currently ABC only has $360,000 for over 150 clubs (which is continually growing). Furthermore, huge portions of that allocation go to a few clubs, and the rest go to clubs with huge travel expenses. That only leaves a small amount of money for clubs to host events and board bonding events that would contribute to campus life. With mental health a big issue on campus, I would say that in order to drastically improve campus culture, we must empower our student organizations. And that means increasing funding to ABC to at least $500,000. Student clubs would then be able to put on more events unique to their own identities that would naturally draw students to them. Furthermore, the money exists in CCSC. Much of this money, however, does not leave CCSC because it is allocated towards CCSC-events that either never happen or lead to very low turnout. A bad event is worse than no event, because the money could have gone to a club who could have presented a better event. This leads into something else I plan on implementing. For next semester, there will be a Columbia Carnival where CCSC works with all student organizations to host activities integral to their clubs’ identities on the Butler Lawns. Not only would this showcase all of the diverse talents and experiences on campus, but it would be free to all students (and would naturally draw a huge portion of the student body.) Overall, mental health is not something that can be corrected from the top. Rather, it must be addressed from the bottom-up. We need to empower student groups with the funding and resources necessary to create a strong campus culture.

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

Another issue Grassroots Columbia plans to tackle, in addition to those mentioned by Cindy and Rui, is food insecurity. Currently, if you go to the CCSC website, you will find information on local food pantries and student-run efforts to make sure any student can find food when he or she needs it (CU Meal Share Facebook page). However, what is lacking is a CCSC-specific effort to addressing food insecurity. We plan on implementing such an effort by centralizing the word of such Facebook pages as CU Meal Share so that such information becomes widely available to the entire Columbia community. 

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

We would like to emphasize that Grassroots Columbia plans on improving campus culture without charging students for future CCSC events. Unlike the teams we are running against, we plan on hosting a free huge event that will likely draw much of the student body. It will be modeled after “Glass House Rocks,” but will take place outdoors on the Butler Lawns, and will be free to all students.

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

Are you affiliated with a party, and if so, which one? What position are you running for, and what motivated you to run for it? 

I am running for President of CCSC 2018 with my party, #RALLY. I’m running for Senior Class president for a few reasons. Having served on CCSC this year as the 2018 VP, I gained valuable experience in learning how to take on policy initiatives, have effective meetings with administrators, and navigate the administrative bubble. Moreover, with the help of our class council, I’ve helped plan lots of fun giveaways (laptop stickers, hot chocolate/doughnuts) and worked food deliveries (grilled cheese deliveries our sophomore year)  that I think have, in the moment, caused temporary sighs of relief and moments of relaxation and happiness for many students in our class. I’m super passionate about trying to enable positive policy changes by personally meeting with administrators, but I also love partaking in campus life events and volunteering at them when I can. 

I know that another year on council would bring me another opportunity to keep working towards this type of positive change, but with even more efficiency. In addition to policy, collaboration with the other councils (ESC and GSSC 2018) would make it super easy to plan senior wide and senior exclusive events. We have one year left and I really know it’s gonna be a great one, and I’m motivated to do everything I can in terms of event planning, policy pushing, and overall, working hard to make sure we have a good time.

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

1) Collaboration with the Mental Health Task Force to advocate for timely, reasonable improvements to CPS (one idea is the establishment of support groups for people with common illnesses) – scheduling monthly meetings with administrators from CPS (Dr. Eichler) to work towards slow, gradual changes and ensure constant input and ideas are being heard. 

2) Working with the financial aid office / possibly the Senior Fund to provide subsidized rates for Senior exclusive events, such as the Senior Gala, boat cruise, etc. I would hope to allot a certain number of tickets at each event to be provided at a reduced cost, and those who would want such tickets due to various reasons could fill out an anonymous form to be eligible. Ensuring that there is a biweekly event, exclusive to seniors, whether large or small (examples being t shirt giveaway or outside barbecue). Just want us to consistently be doing fun things for and with our class.

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

The stigmatization of mental health on campus is a problem that I’d love to address. Mental health will always be amongst the most paramount of topics at Columbia, and, with this, it should be something that is easy to talk about with people. Resources for addressing potential mental health issues should be well advertised.

My ultimate goal would be to establish a Project lets chapter at Columbia – “lets” standing for “let’s erase the stigma.” Project lets is a non profit organization that ultimately aims to provide a community for individuals who may even have the slight thought they suffer from a mental health illness. The chapter would provide for lets spaces on campus, which are essentially designated spaces with peer mental health advocates (trained peers) where people can go to seek counseling, participate in some form of body-based movement (i.e., yoga), relax and participate in some sort of fun activity (coloring, drawing, puzzles, etc.), and do this on a regular basis while preserving anonymity. Designating certain spaces on campus to be ‘lets’ spaces could certainly provide relief for those who may feel they have nowhere to go, and the benefit of it being peer led offers a nice alternative to people who prefer to be around someone they’d consider more of a friend as opposed to a professional that’s less relatable. Having applied for Columbia to have a lets chapter, and still waiting to hear back, I remain hopeful that I am able to bring lets to campus.

Any additional comments you would like to share with voters?

I think we bring a wide range of perspectives and a variety of leadership roles from different organizations on campus, whether that be through Athletics, the URC, CCSA or NSOP, to make it so that we have a firm feel of what the pulse on campus is like, and what our fellow students desire. We hope to work our hardest, if elected, to really rally for what both we and our friends and classmates alike believe in.

The Lion asked candidates to tell us about their campaigns to give us insight into their aspirations and motivations for running. Here is what some of the members of the Class of 2020 party LionHeart had to say:

Siddharth Singh

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

LionHeart

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

Class President. During Freshman fall, my friend James Ritchie and I identified a number of problems experienced by our peers around campus. They all brought these to our attention regularly and both of us realised that it was soon our ambition to remedy these problems and serve our class to the best of our abilities. Having created LionHeart with James Ritchie, Danielle Resheff, Grant Pace and Astrid Walker-Stewart, we hope to represent our entire class by listening to feedback from students and hope that we will have another opportunity to do again. 

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

We’ve identified 4 major platform points, that have been brought to our attention by members of the class and that we feel are achievable, we go into detail on how we hope to achieve them: 

1.Mental Health, 
-address underlying causes of stress culture in line with a preventative approach
-send out regular detailed updates on what CCSC has achieved regarding community health; 
-create greater incentives to attend CPS and other general mental health events; 
-produce more Stressbusters sessions – not just during midterms and finals season; 
-foster a more philanthropic atmosphere through events to give back to the community; 
-send weekly emails where we give shout-outs to members of the Class of 2020 who have done great things as well as a nominated person of the week and meme of the week;
-convey student concerns with mental health policy and CPS to the administration in tandem with the Mental Health Task Force 
-increase the number of puppy study breaks for students; 
– promote relevant stress-relieving apps which have been proven to positively impact our community’s mental health;

2. Building Community
– create new long-lasting traditions to serve the wider Columbia community (e.g. fun charity events, speed-dating, talent show, battle of the bands);
-Increase the number of affordable options for Class of 2020 apparel; 
-Be spontaneous! We can’t make the world work as we want it to, so when the opportunity comes for a fun event (great weather), we’re going to be ready to provide it for you!

3. Marginalized students 
– plan a number of events beginning with a celebration of the opening of the LGBTQ centre;
– continue to advocate for policies supporting LGBTQ students and students of color, as well as students of other marginalized identities (first-generation, low-income, international); 
– continue to improve resources for marginalized students in health services, financial aid, preprofessional advising, and more.

We are underwhelmed by the resources available to students with disabilities and would like to work with them to make Columbia a more welcoming place for all.

4. Networking and career Opportunities 
– advocate for more sophomore summer internship opportunities through working with CCE to improve Handshake powered by LionShare;
-provide you with regular updates on jobs specifically for sophomores available at CCE;
-coordinate study breaks with CCE so that we can have fun while pursuing career opportunities.

Finally, we would like to finalize our ongoing initiatives from this year. We are currently in the process of achieving subsidized MTA subway cards for students for academic, professional, and extracurricular purposes and ensuring availability of on-the-go breakfast items (along with more variety and value for your money!). LionHeart would like to continue our successful track record with our new platform for next year.

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

We’ve addressed the problems we’d like to fix in our platforms. All of us have now gained ample experience amongst administration, procedure and student council to know who the right contacts to approach are concerning specific changes. Having gained this knowledge over our tenure this year, any changes that we try to implement will be swifter and quicker. We also feel transparency is key amongst our class and we now intend to update the class regularly on our progress with our platform points. LionHeart also prides itself on its ability and awareness to adapt to emerging concerns on campus throughout the school year. 

Any additional comments you would like to share with voters?

We would like to encourage students to VOTE, be it for LionHeart or our opposition. We hope to see a large voter turnout because it is important that the students decide who they want to represent themselves, who they feel can make changes and who can improve there future years ahead at Columbia.

James Ritchie

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

I am a member of the LionHeart party.

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

I am running to be Vice-President of the Class of 2020.  My primary motivation for running is based upon a ferocious sense of pride to represent my friends and peers in my class.  I am very thankful for the many ways that my classmates ameliorate, and contribute to, my daily life and I feel that the best way for me to give back is by serving them and advocating to the administration on their behalf.

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

There are four primary points to our platform: mental health, building community, marginalised students, and networking opportunities.  I want to continue to work with the administration to address the stress culture which pervades the Columbia campus by making mental health measures preventative rather than simply palliative.  As a ticket we have several ideas for fun new traditions on campus which will help to foster a better community between the students.  I want to build on the success of the new LGBTQ centre by advocating for more access to space for students who feel marginalised on campus.  Finally I would like to work closely with the CCE to plan events which will demystify the internship process to relieve stress about finding jobs.

To see our full platform follow this link:

https://docs.google.com/a/columbia.edu/document/d/1YI_iZEPRIKyxoWjHvzYWzDuDN7Ylj3WrfWvswBn1eyE/edit?usp=sharing

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

My primary goal were I to be elected as Vice-President would be to combat the Columbia stress culture – something that is of course much easier said than done.  However, I believe that by being persistent and frank with the administration, and through seeking consultation from experts who are unaffiliated with the university we can make strides in the right direction.  I want to destigmatize going to CPS and make discussions of mental health a non-taboo topic which everyone feels comfortable sharing their opinions on. 

Any additional comments you would like to share with voters?

It has been an absolute pleasure serving as Vice-President so far and I would be deeply honoured if you allowed me the opportunity to continue to work on your behalf bettering the Columbia community.