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Meet Blake Mueller: CCSC 2016 Elections – University Senate

Photo Courtesy Blake Mueller

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.

Blake Mueller (CC ’18) – University Senate

  1. What motivated you to run for this position?

Unsolved problems.  I love to think of ways to improve how things are done, so each time I thought “Yikes, that could be better” or “Why is this not in-place already?” I encouraged myself to run. I decided that my input of time and thought necessary for these reforms were worthwhile, because I care about these issues and my fellow Columbians. I felt compelled to run so that I could be in a position to reform policies to make life here better.

II. If elected, what would your goals be?

Ultimately, to streamline Columbia’s bureaucracy and increase quality of student-life. Specifically, to name a few in no particular order, I know that my priorities would be: reforming UEM so that we have access to more space (by adding Uris and Manhattanville’s Lenfest theatre and lowering costs of Miller Theatre), reimplementing our ability to petition the Core Office, raising Dining’s health standards, relieving the Securities & Facilities Fund, rewarding CAVA volunteers with academic credit, raising lectures to 4 credit-points, reinforcing transparency in the Diversity Fund, and of course figuring out how to make Bacchanal great again.

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

How Columbia handles the Securities and Facilities Fund (SFF). It is more important than how obscure it sounds. The Class Student Councils divvy up this money for the recognized clubs on campus. The recognized clubs register their events via UEM in order to host them, and if CUPSD deems that an event merits more security then clubs draw on the SFF. This process harbors two huge problems, because it often proves cost-prohibitive which empowers CUPSD to effectively stifle both our Freedom of Speech and our Freedom of Fun by limitation of clubs’ ability to host events. Since this process is less-than-clear, CUPSD can choose to restrict any event on whatever basis because we don’t know their justification for regulation.

For example, look at two events just this year: “After Charlie Hebdo: French Laïcité [secularism] and Islam: Can the “Republican” Model [of government] hold?” and Bacchanal. The latter event faces increasing bills for “security measures” to an extent that threatens event’s existence, since their budget can only live if it has a cheaper lineup, or if it increases income (student life fees) which would in-turn cost the Student Body more. This obviously is outrageous. What are they protecting us from? How do stringent crowd-control measures contribute to our safety? The former event was scheduled to take place in early November 2015 but it was canceled in response to Da’esh’s attacks on Paris. While this would’ve been a wonderful event, costs for security due to its “controversial” nature proved prohibitive. The would-be hosts (Maison Française and a few Institutes—European, Middle Eastern, Religion/Culture/Public Life and some others) did not see why they should dedicate so much money to a single event, as they have other programming, scholarships, fellowships, etc. that need funding. It is a shame that the very events that we so deeply need for debate and fun are the ones that face proscription. It is essentially a pricing-model for censorship, since these added-costs are inherently penalizing, they act as a controversy-tax and it has an arbitrary basis.

I refuse to let Columbia’s Public Safety ruin our campus environment for the sake of “security” like Robespierre’s Public Safety ruined the French Revolution. Security is doubtlessly important, but we did not come to the greatest university in the greatest city in the greatest nation in the world to be regulated; we came to be educated and invigorated.

Luckily, I have come up with a simple yet powerful reform to protect our Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Fun. I propose that if any club faces a security-bill from CUPSD for more than $600 (what it costs to host an event in Roone w/ 2 guards) then CUPSD ought to pony-up the additional costs, as well as attach their reasoning for the added-security. This does several things: it protects our Freedom of Speech since no event would face prohibitive costs, it forces CUPSD to be more cost-effective (they’d be less likely to demand more security-measures unless it’s absolutely necessary since they’ll pay for it) which saves money, and it enables our Freedom of Fun since we’ll have more events, and it keeps CUPSD accountable since they could no longer hide behind unpublished rationales.

IV. Any additional comments you would like to share with voters?

I earnestly hope that they would tell me their questions or suggestions about my policy-positions, and that they would give me their votes if they think that I would be a good advocate for them.

 

 

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