Category: submission

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.

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

My name is Briley Lewis – I’m a junior in Columbia college majoring in astrophysics, and I am running for Academic Affairs Representative (no party affiliation). I am running for academic affairs rep for two reasons mainly: 1. It is the position I currently hold on CCSC (I was elected this semester in a special election, because the previous rep graduated early) and I feel that I want/need more time to finish up the initiatives I have been working on and to start new ones. 2. I want to do this because I care about the community here, and I feel that I have experience and skills that can really make concrete changes for the better. Academics is the main reason why we’re all here, and it’s important that we as students have a voice in shaping our education.

My main goals are: 1. Mental health awareness and support, including coordinating opportunities for workshops and collaborations between CPS and student groups on campus and continuing the campus-wide discussion on this issue; 2. Expanding access to student research and unpaid internships, especially through reducing the Summer and Semester Work Contributions and/or expanding the Work Exemption Program; 3. Increasing access to faculty mentorship and streamlining the advising process, making it easier to find who can help students with a given academic/career situation. I know that to achieve these things I’ll need to work closely with many administrators and faculty, and I plan to do so. Many groups/offices on campus are trying to achieve these same goals as I, so instead of starting from the ground up I plan to work closely with them and work together (for example, Alice Health, the new working group on mental health, and of course CPS are working on initiatives already – it wouldn’t make sense to start from scratch, but instead help harness those resources and guide them in the direction students want). As far as research and the summer work contribution, I know that students and faculty alike are dealing with this issue, and harnessing that broad base of support for this initiative would help it become reality.

I am qualified, experienced, and passionate about both helping the Columbia community and about the importance of education in which the students have an active role in shaping their curriculum and experience. Over the past few years, I have served as president of BlueShift (the Columbia Astronomy Club) and more recently this semester I have been the Academic Affairs Rep on CCSC – these experiences have taught me a great deal about how to get things done here and how to navigate the bureaucracy, and also I have seen many different perspectives on the educational experience here at Columbia. I would be honored to have the opportunity to give back to my community in the capacity of this role on CCSC, and I promise to be committed, thorough, and responsive to the community in all I do as academic affairs representative if elected.

We sat down with Zachary Skypeck (CC’20), member of the heavyweight rowing team and current candidate for CCSC Alumni Affairs Representative.

What motivated you to run for this position?

All throughout high school I was very interested in becoming involved in student government but I had so many things going on that I just never really found time for it. Having been in leadership positions before in different clubs and athletics teams, I found that Columbia would be a good environment for me to capitalize upon my desire to be a leader and to become involved in student government.

If elected, what would your goals be?

My biggest goal would be to centralize a mentorship program that has easier accessibility than the ones we have in place right now. There’s Columbia College Women – that’s a big one. There’s a lot of easy pairing between women students and alumni. I would like to have a system like that for the entire student body, that would be the most important thing. I think that bringing all alumni into that would forge relationships and reconnect them to the school which could be beneficial in other ways.

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

As a student-athlete myself, I see all the time student-athlete alumni are very willing to help with internships and job opportunities once they’ve graduated, and we get emails all the time about different opportunities that are available. I don’t see that as much in the general student body, and I think that a better job could be done of making those connections. It’s the same thing as the mentorship program, making connections between alumni and students; and helping forge a path to success through the alumni network.

Any additional comments you would like to share with voters?

“A vote for me is a vote for the people!”

Remember to vote in the CCSC elections! Voting begins April 19th.

It’s finally registration time, so you’ve likely already loaded up your schedule with as many classes as possible. However, you’ve still got plenty of chances left to edit that list, and to help you in that task, The Lion staff has compiled a list of favorite classes that we’ve heard from students.

Data Structures with Paul Blaer

“Blaer is literally the man. I loved every moment of his cheesy jokes and he made learning really easy. He also was super approachable and offered a ton of support if you asked. Definitely recommend this class for anyone (and if you’re a CS major, you have to take it).”

The American Presidency or something with Peter Awn

“Islam with Peter Awn was by far the best course I’ve had at Columbia. He’s an outstanding lecturer, and you actually will not want to miss any of the classes just because of how good his lectures are. That’s not in the course catalog anymore,  I’ll link you to something else. If you’re into politics, The American Presidency with Richard Pious is an incredible class.

The guy knows a ton, and he has a lot of personal anecdotes to relay based either on his research or his individual encounters with some of the people he lectures about. Plus his book (Why Presidents Fail) is one of the few professor-authored required readings that you will ever actually enjoy. It’s well-written and really, really interesting. I loved this class and I recommend it to anyone with even a passing interest in American politics, whether or not you’re a PoliSci person.”

History of the Modern Middle East

“Khalidi is super smart and very entertaining. Even though the class meets early, I liked going to the lectures. The take-home midterm essays were a good method to test knowledge and get you to learn without forcing you to cram random facts in your head. Also, it covers a global core requirement.”

Galaxies, and Cosmology and Cellular and Molecular Immunology

“‘Favorite class” is kind of a weird thing to say. Does it mean “enjoyable?” I’ve taken a lot of classes here that taught me a lot about an interesting subject but beat me senseless in the process (looking at you, Orgo). I will therefore submit two different kinds of favorites:

Stars, Galaxies, and Cosmology with Prof. Putman fits squarely into the enjoyable category. Learning the basics on everything from how stars generate elements, to how we measure distance in the universe to what happened in the time immediately after the Big Bang was fascinating. The class even made me consider a major in Astronomy until I figured out that I am bad at physics. There’s a problem set every once in a while, but it’s fairly trivial. Most of the class consisted of knowing how to use some provided formulas.

In the more difficult but really interesting category, I would put Cellular and Molecular Immunology with Solomon Mowshowitz. Immunology is an extremely complicated, but fascinating subject and Mowshowitz teaches it with aplomb and a decent sense of humor to boot. He also brings in really interesting guest lecturers. The TAs were also a great resource, at least when I took the course. It’s not particularly easy, but if you put in the work, a good grade is well within reach.”

Any class with Professor Tamara Mann Tweel

“God she is so brilliant. Probably the best manager of seminar conversation I had at Columbia, period. Kind, always prepared for class, and deeply insightful. Professor Tweel has a historical perspective that stretches beyond – in examining the roots of “philanthropy”, we went all the way back to early Christian concepts of charity right through nitty-gritty stuff like U.S. tax policy and how it incentivizes a certain kind of charitable giving. She is both a believer in institutions and demands powerful critiques of them and changes to them, which I found helpful in my own path of studying how social change happens in the U.S.”

Philosophy and Feminism

“If you’re new to philosophy, Philosophy and Feminism with Christia Mercer is also life changing for a lot of people (it covers not only feminism, but also intersectionality, the prison industrial complex, and the role of science today)”

Critical Approaches in Social and Cultural Theory

“has changed how I think about everything. 12/10”

War, Peace, and Strategy

“If you’re a political science major, especially in international relations, it’s easy to lose perspective on what you’re talking about after a certain point. Sure, you know your theories well enough, but when and how should states apply them? Why do certain states favor one approach to another? How do non-state actors factor in? How does “power balancing” actually work when it comes to the part where shots are fired? And once the guns do go off, why does one side win and the other lose?

Professor Betts and his mammoth reading list can actually get close to answering all of these questions and more. He’s a fascinating lecturer with endless Cold War annecdotes that are worth taking the class for in themselves, but most of all, what you read in this class will change how you look at war, politics, and political science itself. This is one of those life-changing classes, so don’t let the workload (or Betts) scare you off. At the very least, download the syllabus and add it to your summer reading.”

Black Intellectuals

” I took a class called Black Intellectuals, which was absolutely fantastic. He [Professor Frank Guridy] holds a great space for class discussion, has radical politics in this inclusive way that makes people comfortable, and is an open-minded guy. As a Afro-Dominican man, one lens he brings is the importance of international influence on American radical traditions (as well as the impact of going abroad on the activists themselves). I learned so much. Oh and no bullshitting in his classroom.”

Computing in Context

“My favorite class has been Computing in Context with Professor Adam Cannon. The class was a great intro to coding for people new to Computer Science and taught me so much. Even two years later, I still use the concepts I learned in the class. I think it’s only offered in the fall now, but if you want to try Computer Science class, I highly recommend starting with this over 1004”

Art and Music Hum

“My favorite classes were art/music hum because they felt like a no-pressure environment where you could actually learn things or not, as you pleased, without much repercussion. And that freedom, along with the lack of pressure to know every single thing on every single slide, meant that I actually felt interested in learning the subject matter.

It’s like when you get assigned a book in high school that you would’ve enjoyed had it been for pleasure, but now that there’s discussion questions and essays to write, you kind of already hate it. I know classes are heavily professor-dependent, but in general, I feel like classes are run so I can walk in, sit down, and talk about what I see/hear — forget problem sets, equation sheets, or memorizing tons of studies to know what’s going on.”

Romantic Poetry

“Erik Gray is the current director of the English Undergrad department and a veritable god of reading. If you’re considering an English major, take this class and you’ll be convinced (Literary Texts and Critical Methods is pretty scary, but required.) Gray has a soothing and melodious voice, and he knows everything about everything, basically. Also, poetry classes don’t pose a serious amount of reading, and the assessments aren’t that daunting either. You’ll have fun. Who doesn’t love reading about daffodils?”

Principles of Economics

“Gulati is a superstar in the econ department who is known for his global political economy work. At Columbia, he’s famous for being on the American FIFA board and his amazing (but intimidating) lecture quality. Be there early—his classes often start at 8:30, and he’s known to sign add/drop forms for all except the latecomers.”

“The class may kill you but the man is worth it! A tremendous teacher and the President of U.S. Soccer (if you’re into that stuff). You won’t be disappointed.”

Science of Psychology

“The quintessential psychology class. Science of Psychology is known for being a good alternative to Astro for the science requirement and is one of the lighter pre-med classes. Multiple-choice tests remind you of high school. For those new to the subject, it can be fascinating to learn about why people think the way they do. For the more neuroscience-y types, Mind, Brain, and Behavior is an excellent follow-up.”

The Social World

“A great introduction to the field of sociology. It’s heavy on the readings and has weekly quizzes and response papers, but it will make you rethink the extent of the inequalities present in society. To quote CULPA, ‘As you choose which classes you should take at an institution that charges us upwards of $50,000 for a supposed world class education, ask yourself if you want to be challenged.'”

Intro to Java (CS 1004)

“Although required for most SEAS majors, many CC students also take this class to learn more about the hard coding behind the technology they use every day. Projects can get pretty challenging, but people often work in groups. Adam Cannon is a great lecturer and often convinces otherwise science-shy students to give computer science a chance.”

Colloquium on East Asian Texts

“The go-to Global Core option. Its nickname is Asia Hum, and the similarities to Lit Hum are striking. Professor de Bary makes the “Analects of Confucius” come alive. The final is an oral presentation, which can be intimidating, but as long as you’ve been following the readings, it’s not too bad. It’s a good counterpart to the Western-dominated canon of the Core.”