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Meet Thomas Arbuckle – CCSC Elections – University Senator

Photo Courtesy Thomas Arbuckle

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.

For the three years I’ve been at Columbia, I’ve been consistently involved in student government, without a break: from CCSC to ABC, and a few boards in between, as well as working in the office of the University Senate for over a year. The University Senate is the opportunity to make effective changes that students want at the highest level. It’s also a place where I can put my skills and experience to good use. I care about Columbia and its students. They need someone who can represent them well, fiercely defend their interests, and, most importantly, get the job done. I surmise that, far too often, officers of administration and faculty forget why they’re here. Students remind them why they’re here and students are the best at getting things done on this campus. So what’s my motivation for running? The students I’ve talked to and worked with over the last three years, the administrators who genuinely love and care about students and who know that I will work everyday, as I have been already, in the best interests of the student body.
An important goal I have is to make sure that Columbia is better for students now and in the future. Whether that comes from shifting the oftentimes tense relationship that students and administrators have, making sure that students getting to class, fulfilling part of their primary academic function, becomes a non-issue, circumventing financial issues so that student groups can travel and represent Columbia and so students who are low-income and first generation, like myself, are able to participate in activities on campus and in the city without having to worry if buying their ticket to their annual class event means they will have to go without food until their paycheck comes in, until they find out that the check will be late coming in and now they have to see how they can stretch the $15 in their bank account for a week. I’ve been there and that is not what we want for our students here.
Space. Space is a huge issue for me. As representative for Performance groups on ABC and a performer myself, I constantly hear about the struggle to find rehearsal space and performance spaces on campus. There’s a student group who had to do their fall show downtown because Miller Theatre, our own campus venue, is too expensive. Undergraduate students don’t have a building to themselves on campus, unless it is a residence hall, but even residence halls interrupt this: Health Services, Heyman Center, and the Earth Institute being three prime examples. The way space works at Columbia has to change, because Manhattanville is not going to be the answer to our prayers. We know there’s a scarcity of space and that every school/department is holding on to what they control. In doing that, there is an inefficient use of spaces, which is why students will squat buildings for spaces to study, meet, etc. The “formal” space system does not correspond with real-time needs and availability and that causes confusion and the “every-man-for-himself” mentality that venue managers and students have regarding spaces.
I work with the University Events Management Student Advisory Board, that I happen to chair. The plan is to connect with venue managers, survey the spaces they control and the usages, and see how we can fit undergraduate activity in those spaces without having to incur a ridiculous cost. This happens based on student needs: needs of music, dance, and theatre groups, for example, and needs of group study spaces. The Manhattanville discussion develops further on a daily basis and I plan to make sure that student voices, specifically undergraduate voices, and our needs, are at the forefront of these discussions. Working with the Campus Planning Committee and other relevant entities, I would work to get undergraduate students the space they need to work, to practice, and to grow, which accomplishes the long term goal to make it better for Columbians to come.
I have committed my time in college to serving the Columbia students. If I am elected Senator, I will continue and work harder and ensure that things get done. I want to make Columbia better and I have the experience and ability to make it happen. Being in the Senate gives me the ability to amplify your voice and make sure that the issues that matter to you are heard. I will represent you and make sure that issues of space, diversity, and accessibility are heard so that there is a multiplicity of voices heard. After three years successfully of representing you on multiple levels, I would be honored to represent you on the Senate and work relentlessly for your benefit.
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