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Meet Aakanxit Khullar – ESC Elections – Class of 2018 President

Photo Courtesy Aakanxit Khullar

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 have been elected VP of ESC 2018 twice consecutively since my freshman year. Serving on the class council has been one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences of my life at Columbia. Working to address the problems faced by my constituents has helped me bridge the gap between the engineers and Columbia administration. Often, people have approached me with issues – real issues that affect students (incuding myself). By bringing these up during weekly disucssions with various deans and administrators, I have been a part of the process of finding solutions to a given problem.

Be it enhancing Wi-Fi connectivity on campus, increasing utilization of Makerspace, developing ESC project grants, working towards a better financial aid policy, or organizing engaging, fun events for my class – I have relished it all. Assosciated with the council is a steep learning curve which we have enjoyed negotiating. I now want to capitalize on this experience and while serving as the President, make the second half of my fellow engineers’ experience at Columbia even more enriching!

If elected, what would your goals be?

My council and I want to continue the efforts we began to improve accessibility and distribution of information relevant to 2018 engineers. Remember the weekly newsletters we sent last year as part of our agenda before elections? This year we want to consolidate information about events in a class of 2018 calendar.

A major task of junior class council is to organize industry showcases and career-oriented events. If elected, we want to expand industry participation in both of these. We plan on hosting grad school info sessions for juniors with grad students and seniors who applied to grad school while making students more aware of already available resources regarding post-grad options, especially resources in CCE.

Finally, we seek to get students more involved with the overall community and student life. Last year, we designed and sold over 200 SEAS department specific T-shirts to engineers across all four classes. Organization of well attended events such as Project X-Wing and SEAS Get Degrees was made possible by meticulous planning and smart execution, for instance the quadcopter flying obstacle course competition in X-Wing. For major declaration, we invited faculty members, CSA and CCE advisors to help fellow engineers plan their future. The success of SEAS Get Degrees was palpable in the large number of genuine questions posed by the engineers, the frank answers given by Professors, CSA, and CCE advisors. We will certainly host many more events partnered with sports teams like engineers’ nights that will get students  more active in school spirit. We will also seek out more businesses that would partner with us and host events for engineers that foster a sense of community among engineers.

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

Stress culture and lack of environmental awareness. Columbia is not the friendliest of colleges and the stress asscociated with academics is something all of us have felt at some time or the other. Unfortunately, the lack of ability to handle stress sometimes is so pronounced that even simple things like talking to a friend appear difficult. As President, I will work to the best of my ability to improve CPS resources that would make students feel safe and stable not only physically but also mentally. My council will work with Columbia administration to make CPS service around the clock. We also intend to plan workshops in association with the Mental Health Task Force to make students more aware of the resources available to them to help tackle both academic and non-academic stress.

I am sure we have all witnessed blatant wastage of electricity and come across a certain degree of lack of awareness surrounding environmental issues on campus. Climate change is real, and our actions as individuals directly impact our planet. My council feels strongly about raising awareness about green initiatives around campus. If elected, we will work with EcoReps and other groups to get engineers thinking generally more eco-friendly,and specifically through design competitions to solve ecological problems like beverage waste.

Any additional comments you would like to share with voters?

I am extremely proud of what we’ve been able to achieve in the past two years together with you on council. I hope we can count on your continued support for the upcoming year as we seek to work on a variety of issues and make your journey at Columbia an even smoother one. While I suggest that you vote Mac n SEAS, I do concede that what is the most important is that you exercise your vote. So starting Monday, choose wisely!

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