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Meet Diego Filiu – GSSC Elections – International Student Representative

Photo Courtesy Diego Filiu/Columbia Elections Board

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? 

My name is Diego Filiu, and I am running for the position of International Student Representative in the next GSSC election. A French citizen raised in Syria and Tunisia (and also, strangely enough, born in San Francisco, but no one can hear that behind the thick French accent!), I am enrolled in the Dual BA between Sciences Po (The Paris Institute of Political Studies) and Columbia.

As such, I have spent the first two years of this program in France, studying social sciences and Middle Eastern studies. I am now in my first year at Columbia, studying political science and Arabic-Middle East. I am also enrolled in the Five Year Joint Program with SIPA, so I will be on campus for the next two years!

As you can see, I am indeed very much an international student. But this not the only reason why I am running. What has struck me as an international student on campus in Columbia is the extreme breadth and diversity as international initiatives, but also the lack of connections between such globally-minded projects. As the International Student representative, I intend to put all my best efforts towards reinforcing the linkages between such initiatives, giving a voice to the body of international students as a whole.

If elected, what would your goals be?

The international students are a crucial component of the vibrant GS community. Nevertheless, the specific concerns of international students, ranging from technical difficulties (VISA issues, unresponsive foreign bank accounts, slow bureaucratic systems at home) to more emotional concerns (homesickness, need for social and emotional support, identity crises) are not always fully taken into account by the body of students as well as by the administration.

As next year’s International Student Representative, I will do my best to make sure that such demands are not only precisely identified and categorized, but also followed through and thoroughly dealt with using all of our school’s resources –both in financial and in human terms.

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

Too often, international students are tempted to socialize with fellow nationals, and thus miss out on many opportunities for cultural discoveries that socializing with fellow international GSers would have provided. As such, and in order to fully involve GS’s international students within the school community, several initiatives could be put forward –more regular international student gatherings in addition to that of NSOP, but also specific Dean hours devoted to dealing with the issues faced by international students in GS.

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