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Meet Aaron Appelle – ESC Elections – VP, Communications

Photo Courtesy Aaron Appelle

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

What motivated you to run for this position? 
After serving on council this past year as the Technology Representative, I’m struck by the disconnect between the student body, the student council, and the administration. How is it that people in the same institution have such different mindsets? From the administration I have witnessed restrictions on bacchanal, hesitancy to create an aerospace engineering minor despite overwhelming support, and unwillingness to negotiate on academic requirements. Even though students are often able to rally together in support of a common cause, it’s disheartening when that support isn’t reflected in changed policy. Furthermore, I regret how so few students know what ESC does or can do for them. I want to be the next ESC VP of Communications so I can work to fix the disconnect between students, council, and the administration. As the Tech Rep this year, I meet weekly as part of the Communications Committee. This was my first year on council, and going in, I wasn’t sure if I would end up sticking with it. But I became passionate about the potential for Communications to make a real difference on campus. I’m motivated to be the next VP of Communications so that I can take my passion for council and apply it on a broader scope than technology on campus.
If elected, what would your goals be?
My fundamental goal, which will guide my entire term, is the desire to be in touch with both students and administrators. Already in the campaign I’ve visited a variety of engineering student groups, and it is enlightening to learn about each group’s woes. By continuing this dialogue throughout the year, I am confident that I can help bring council closer to the students. ESC wont’ be just another far-away bureaucratic entity.
I would increase transparency of council initiatives by publishing detailed meeting notes with comments enabled, as well as tabling in Lerner to casually chat with students. I would strongly advocate for open data in every council initiative. This means re-publishing JCCC funding information online to illustrate the amount allocated to each club.
Secondly, I would create a precedent for writing professional reports based on student surveys that we can take to the administration. Hopefully with this foresight and preparation, administrators would apprehend survey results better.
I would expand council’s relationship with CUIT in order to better take advantage of technology resources on campus. As Technology Rep, I advocated for expanded WiFi outdoors and in Hamilton, for additional printers in Mudd, for student advertising space on TVs in residence halls and dining halls, and more. Next year, I want to use my expanded purview as VP of Communications to encourage collaboration between CUIT and other administrative bodies.
I want to make it easier to book rooms by revamping the UEM/EMS websites as well as repurposing underutilized spaces on campus for student availability.
What is something you want to fix at Columbia? How would you plan to address it?

I want to fix the lack of space for club work, storage, and just hanging out. After talking with engineering student groups such as AIAA, FSAE, and CSI, I realize that there is a surprising lack of lab space in order to manufacture complex machines such as airplanes, cars, and rockets. These engineering clubs do amazing work and deserve to have a dedicated place to store manufacturing materials. As VP of Communications, I plan to create a survey and a petition to garner support from over a hundred people in engineering student groups. After gathering all this support together, I’ll write an official report in order to relay the results to administration. Hopefully, they will agree to repurpose ONE large room in an academic building on campus for the purpose of storage and/or work space. There are currently large cubbies in Lerner for select performance groups to store instruments and props. I envision a second similar space for all the engineering clubs that desperately need more.

Regarding hangout space, council has failed in the past to advocate for additional space. However, I see great potential in repurposing spaces in Lerner so that they are more inviting and more fun. For example, how many people usually sit in the black chair lineups on the fourth and fifth floors of Lerner? Not very many. This space could instead have group tables, pinball/foosball, board games, and more. As VP of Communications, I would reach out to SEAS students school-wide using surveys, word of mouth, and in-person visits. For instance, I would advocate to convert the public area of Lerner/Cafe East into a student-focused hangout space with a pool table and comfy group seating.

Any additional comments you would like to share with voters?
Before I joined council this year, ESC did not have a website due to a server error that caused major data loss. As Technology Representative, I rebuilt and redesigned the ESC website so that it now serves as a potential platform for much more. Having already restored the website, I now hope to utilize it as a valuable tool for transparency. I’m a proven hard worker — someone who does something if he says he will. Council is the kind of group that I’m willing to sacrifice sleep for, because I feel personally fulfilled working on initiatives for the student body. I encourage all voters to critically evaluate candidates based on their demonstrated contributions to the Columbia Community. I serve as a Program Manager in Engineers Without Borders, play the saxophone in the Wind Ensemble, welcome new students as a COÖP leader, and help build cool space things in CSI. I also took lots of pictures for council events last year. I’m extremely devoted to Columbia in many different areas, and because of this, I have great potential to relate to the SEAS student body. Having been on council this past year, I know that there are certain things that candidates promise every year which are unrealistic. I’m a practical candidate with realistic goals that I feel passionate about, and I’m truly excited to work on them next year!
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