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Meet Arabelle Chafe – ESC Elections – Class of 2018 President

Photo Courtesy Arabelle Chafe

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?

The SEAS Class of 2018 consists of about 330 students. This is about the size of my high school class. I remember knowing the name of every single person in my high school class. Unfortunately, with my SEAS family, I cannot stay the same. There is a big void in terms of a class community. People don’t know each other, and there is a lack of sufficient opportunities for community building. As we enter into the final half of our college careers, we really ought to create something special, something that we can look back upon after graduation with fondness. But we won’t be able to create this community at the pace at which we are currently moving. If our time at Columbia ended this May, would you be content?


Recognizing this problem, I looked into the SEAS student council to see what was going on. I read meeting minutes, spoke with some council members, and tried to research what our class council had done over the past 2 years. The result was not surprising. The events for SEAS Class of 2018 alone have been few. On the rare occasion that there is an event, it is usually just piggybacking off of a CCSC initiative. This is a shame. We are engineers. We are supposed to be the creative builders and innovators. We need a student council who will both collaborate with CCSC and originate its own initiatives to benefit and bring our class together.


In order for this to happen, we need fresh blood in student council. We need leaders from all walks of life, from different campus clubs and communities, who have taken part in creating communities and successful policies outside of student council. This is what I will offer as President, and this is the philosophy behind my party, SEASoned Engineers. We all come from different parts of the world and have participated in different aspects of student life. From these experiences, we will take an out of the box approach to student council that will revolutionize our class dynamic.


If elected, what would your goals be?

As Class Council President, my main job will be building the community that we deserve. I plan on taking ideas from another, similarly sized but much more tight-knit, community that I am a part of at Columbia and reimplementing those ideas for the SEAS Class of 2018.


While student life will be a crucial part of my job as Class President, I see the purview of my position as much broader than insomnia study breaks or free soul-cycle classes. I want to serve as a representative of my class in tackling the larger policy issues that affect our entire campus. To accomplish this, I plan on working with my council to develop a communications infrastructure for collecting student input so that we can make informed policy decisions and actually carry out the desires of our class. I see myself as a class champion, listening to the concerns of my peers and bringing them directly to administrations.


What is something you want to fix at Columbia?

As an engineer, and as on Operations Research major in particular, I look for ways to optimize processes. Certain parts of the way in which our university operates are both outdated and inefficient. Examples of this are timesheets for university employees, which are still done by paper, the messy manual reservation system for fitness equipment at Dodge Fitness Center, and the abysmal failures of temperature control in certain dormitories and academic spaces.


How would you plan to address it?

Technology and communication are always the answer. For the timesheets and the fitness equipment reservations, I plan on proposing digitized and/or online systems for streamlining these processes. Regarding the temperature in dorm rooms, I think that Housing made an important first step with the installation of AC units in floor lounges. While air-conditioned floor lounges can provide an escape from the often inhuman temperatures of dorm rooms, they are only a temporary fix. As someone who lives in a McBain shaft room, I live through the struggle of suffocating heat almost daily, even in winter. In August and September, the hot outdoor temperatures turn my room into a Sauna. Then, just when Autumn temperatures start to kick in, Columbia fires up the heater and keeps it on until April, regardless of what the actual temperatures outside are. A mere 5 minutes in the bedroom can often be enough to require a second or third shower for the day, and sleeping is nearly impossible. I plan on inviting administrators into these rooms at their peak temperatures so that they truly experience the need for a long-term fix.


Any additional comments you would like to share with voters?

Our council is really excited to serve you, not just the SEAS Class of 2018, but the larger Columbia community. Come talk to us if you have ideas. Send us a Facebook message and we can get coffee. Like us on facebook. Follow us on the campaign trail via Snapchat @seas2018. Also, we’ll be doing a fun video blog to talk more about our ideas. Be sure to check it out. Guaranteed to make you laugh.

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