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Meet Neha Jain – ESC Elections – President

Photo Courtesy Neha Jain

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?

Improving the lives of SEAS students. It’s as easy as that. The role of Engineering Student Council is to improve the lives of all SEAS students by advocating on behalf of their diverse array of interests and needs. As VP Finance this year, I observed that while we have done a good job of addressing certain issues–heavily advertising club funding resources, soliciting student feedback on Bacchanal, and working with students to create new minors– we have left out many important issues. How can ESC better serve to address new and equally important issues affecting our students? ESC can find creative ways to address unconscious bias held by students and professors in STEM against certain demographics that restrict some of our fellow SEAS students from reaching their engineering potential. Council members can advocate for inclusive programming across all levels of our school by encouraging Residential Life, student groups, and their own class councils to advertise accessibility information or providing subsidization or alternate food options. Our academic and career services representatives can ensure that SEAS students have the same access to alumni, study abroad opportunities, and post-graduation opportunities that our counterparts in other schools do. The possibilities are endless, and I believe that as ESC President, I have the unique opportunity to expand the scope of the kind of work ESC does and to use my leadership, experience, and vision to ensure that ESC makes real progress on behalf of our fellow students.

If elected, what would your goals be?

  • A few of my initiatives include (1) working with SEAS student leaders, Dean Boyce, faculty, and the Center for Teaching and Learning to increase inclusivity in SEAS; (2) collaborating with the Office of Global Programs and the leaders of Columbia’s Global Centers to expand English-language summer study abroad opportunities for SEAS students; (3) and increasing undergraduate interactions with SEAS alumni by creating a new SEAS LinkedIn network and by creating opportunities for SEAS undergrads to attend alumni events. These goals cannot be achieved without an efficient, and well-run student council. Therefore, one of my major goals is to provide council members the tools, resources, and confidence to begin their terms determined to positively impact students and leave their terms satisfied that they have done their jobs well. As ESC president, I will create a student government that every SEAS student can be proud of and can trust to advocate on their behalf.

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

  • One specific issue I have observed within SEAS is that while a large number of students enter Columbia wishing to study abroad, the academic constraints of SEAS limit the number of students who actually study abroad. I believe that creating more summer study abroad opportunities, more English-speaking study abroad opportunities, and more ABET-accredited/Columbia-recognized study abroad opportunities would better serve SEAS students’ needs. There are several steps that need to be executed in order to create these opportunities: (1) By end of first semester, conduct a survey to gauge how many students wish to study abroad, why they did/did not study abroad, preferences for certain global core classes/CC, preferences for types of upper-level engineering courses to offer abroad, etc.; (2) Concurrently by end of first semester, leverage my connections within the Office of Global Programs, and the Global Centers Initiative to gain insight on the logistics and feasibility of putting these new programs in place. (3) By the end of second semester, establish 1-3 new programs and lay foundation for the addition of future SEAS-friendly programs even after I graduate.

Any additional comments you would like to share with voters?

  • My entire party– Aida Lu, Charles Harper, Piyushi Bishnoi, Anthony Kim, and me– has had such a wonderful time working together over the last few weeks to put together our platforms, hear SEAS students’ concerns, and collaborate to come up with new solutions. We would all be honored if you would give SEAS++ the opportunity to work for you next year!
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