The Blog

Meet Josh Schenk: CCSC 2016 Elections – University Senate

Photo Courtesy Josh Schenk

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

I decided to run for University Senate because of my experience as the CCSC Class of 2019 President and as a member of the Senate Committee for Students with Disabilities and the Senate Libraries Committee. Over the last year, I’ve had the opportunity to work closely with other students, faculty, staff, and administration on important issues. My accomplishments this year include securing air conditioning for undergraduate housing, partnering with 20 NYC restaurants for CU student discounts, and launching Peer Connect for first-year student. I feel that these experiences will allow me to begin immediately pursuing important University-wide initiatives as a University Senator.

There are a lot of issues I would like to fix at Columbia. I would address issues of race and diversity on campus. There are no spaces for many minority groups, and I would advocate for the further allocation of space to underrepresented minorities. Additionally, I hope to work with the Senate to recruit and retain a diverse student and faculty body. There remains a shortage of diverse staff in STEM fields as well as instructors of color teaching core classes. Lastly, it is necessary to add staff members of different ethnicities and cultural backgrounds to Columbia Psychological Services.

As Columbia begins to make the move to the Manhattanville campus, I will push for more lounges and study spaces on both the Morningside and Manhattanville campuses. Columbia students deserve places to relax and socialize.  I’ll also work to increase access to outside spaces, such as the grass lawns in front of Butler.

One of my biggest priorities is to make the actions of the Senate more accountable. I would hold town hall meetings once a semester to ensure that Columbia College student voices are heard. The Senate represents a diverse group of students and faculty, and it is important for Senators to not forget their constituency. Additionally, outside students are not currently allowed to attend committee meetings. As Senator, I would seek to change the guidelines so that Student Affairs Committee meetings are opened up to students. Lastly, I would like Senate committees to publish their minutes.

There needs to be a change in the University Senate’s Rules of Conduct that explicitly protects student journalists covering protests on campus. Students have a right to know what is happening at their school, and this right is not protected when reporters risk disciplinary action if they cover a protest. I plan to consult with the rules committee of the Senate to produce guidelines protecting journalists.

As a current member of the Senate committee addressing disability access, I will work to provide accessible entrances and access points, especially in getting from lower campus to upper campus. If an entrance or elevator is not functioning, students should be immediately notified by Disability Services and provided with an approximate timeline for service and an alternative route.

I would aim to change the finals schedule so that students do not have testing on December 23rd. It is unfair for international students and west coast students to not be home for the holidays. Additionally, professors should not react to this by scheduling finals before or during reading week. That’s just not right – reading week is a time for students to study in peace.

I will push for official University forms to provide an option for identifying as transgender/genderqueer. The University should continue its move towards gender-neutral bathrooms by accelerating the pace with which such bathrooms are implemented in buildings like Butler and Hamilton.

These are some of the issues I think are most important to address right away. Since my term would end when I’m still a junior, as opposed to most who would be second-semester seniors, I would be held accountable for my duties on the Senate and have more than two years to work on important initiatives.  If anyone reading this has any suggestions or issues that they’d like to see addressed, please email me at! My full platform is available at

Comments ( 0 )

    Leave a Reply