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Meet Karlee Rodrigues – GSSC Elections – President

Photo Courtesy of Karlee Rodrigues

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? 

I first started attending GS’ Student Council meetings to learn about what resources, clubs, events, network, and financial opportunities were available on campus for students. I was inspired by the serious commitment and dedication from the council members and got overwhelmingly excited at the incredibly diverse opportunities they were creating for students that I was unaware even existed! I wanted to help create and spread this information with the rest of the student body. Therefore, I joined the council as part of the Communications Committee!

On council, I served as the communicator between the student body and GSSC, as well as spreading communication between committees. Adding to the council’s weekly agenda and taking Meeting Minutes made me quickly learn what’s working for the Columbia Community and what isn’t, what we had to improve on and what should remain the same, as well as how long each type of event or resource takes to plan.

Having this great overall understanding of the student body’s needs and GSSC’s needs (finance, policy, campus life, communications, international students rep, MilVets rep, etc.) made me feel qualified enough to run for Student Body President. Similarly to my goals when I first started council, I want to make sure the bountiful amount of resources academically and financially on campus are being taken to full advantage students to help and progress our Columbia community.

If elected, what would your goals be? What is something you want to fix at Columbia? How would you plan to address it?

Here are some of my key points!

COMMUNICATIONS:

As President I will enforce “Operation Organization,” organizing the plethora of diverse resources already available on campus, such as club info and important events so that they are appropriately presented to students so that they are aware of the diverse opportunities and initiatives that already exist!

I plan to address this integration issue by making this information easily accessible to students online and physically.

– An updated online clubs page with their objective, meeting times, and meeting locations.

– Physical packets with club info available in the GS Lounge for those who have limited access to internet/social media.

– Making the GS Lounge a hub for resources. Adding a monitor that displays GSSC led events for the week! (Or for more cost-friendly purposes, a bulletin board).

– A BRAND NEW UPDATED GSSC WEBSITE. The council has worked on this during the Spring 2016 term, however, I want it to be fully implemented in the Fall! We are in negotiations for access to both the gssc.columbia.edu and yourgssc.com domain with CUIT and the former VPs of council. We have a template ready and secured. And if we do not get access to either of those domains – we have a plan C to start from scratch and the design already planned.

– On this website will be a public Google Driven calendar where GSSC students can directly import an event.

– As President, I liaise with the other university presidents to present a system so that everyone has access to GSSC events but also CC, SEAS, and Barnard.

Once this system is organized and enacted – the communications committee can reach out to groups like the MilVets to ensure that if there is an event that might be of great benefit for their members, they will know about it. Additionally, if the MilVets host an event for their club, they can easily reach other students on campus.

FINANCE:

Financial security for students is a huge topic currently being presented to council.

Once “Operation Organization” is complete, students in financial need will be able to easily locate resources to help them financially. From scheduling appointments with advisors to applying for GS institutional scholarships, GS special scholarships, outside scholarships, and scholarships for nontraditional students.

As GSSC President, I will be continuously requesting sponsorships and in-kind donations rather than using our valuable money in the budget for food, for example, at many if not most of the GS events. Our savings would be put together for a Student Body Scholarship for those in financial need (and eventually perhaps, a second that’s need-blind). Through this scholarship, applicants can write to council about their experience on campus life – what they found to be beneficial and what could be improved. This way, council will have an array of continuous feedback and we would be building a students’ financial security for the semester. I plan to address this proposal by working closely with the VP of finance to determine how much exactly we have saved that will be distributed in the scholarship. Additionally, I will speak with administration to have this scholarship apply towards tuition. This means I would also reach out to the Accounting Office for easy transactions and billing info. If the cannot apply towards tuition (although I will petition and strongly advocate for it), the scholarship could benefit students for the cost of living expenses.

Additionally, I will continue to advocate alongside prospective VP of Policy Silin for emergency meal funds and a food bank (which was just passed at tonight’s meeting woo hoo). GSers should have a food pantry in the GS Lounge for those who are in need of a meal. I plan to address this by continuing to advocate alongside the council for the construction of the pantry. We already have a contractor on board.

I also strongly agree with prospective Senator Ramond about child-care services. Right now, PHD students are offered child-care services. However, GS students are not. We must offer GS parents child-care services!! Advocating for this is extremely important.

POLICY:

As GSSC President I will promote SVR (Sexual Violence Response) initiatives that Columbia mandates in orientation. I want to review and change the TA policy on campus. Right now TAs can be hired regardless of a sexual assault violation. This should not be the case. Offenders find content in exuding power over their victim. Why then would we give these offenders (who is known to find this fulfillment in exuding power) power in the classroom?! It would be a trigger!!! Changing the policy would be ensuring students safety and peace of mind.

It came to my attention recently that a student took a medical leave and as a result, was denied to use the psychological/medical service centers during the time of their leave. This is a moment where students might be needing these services the most. Students should have access to these resources their ENTIRE TIME at Columbia. I will speak to CPS and administration to make change happen.

Any additional comments you would like to share with voters?

A suggestion box will be created in the new year so that students can share their ideas with council and how we can improve!

Last but certainly not least, if the Student Body/Committees are divided on a topic, before making any decision, I would weigh the pros and cons. I will enforce a political, financial, and social discussion. What would be the financial benefits and/or consequences of this situation. How would this decision impact students on campus? Are there any alternatives? Can there be a trail period for our decision?

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