The Lion asked candidates to tell us about their campaigns to give us insight into their aspirations and motivations for running. Here is what Alfredo Dominguez had to say:
I am not affiliated with any party. I am Alfredo Dominguez, and I am running for University Senate. I became motivated, and stayed motivated to run for senator because of the egregious lack of diversity among the current senate make-up. This issue of representation is something that extends beyond the lack of people of color representing CC in the University Senate because we also do not have any first-generation or low-income students currently representing CC. As a first-generation, low-income student of color myself I can speak to the feeling of othering that is had when you are one of the most historically marginalized identities but you have no voice on the highest acting body in the University. I do not naively believe that I can be the voice for all people that identify as people of color, first-gen, low-income since every person has their own unique experience, but I am supremely confident that I can do a better job than those that have never lived the experience. With that being said, the goals that I have for my senate tenure are things that will benefit the entire Columbia community. I seek to improve mental health support on campus, and sexual violence and response. These things all provide a wholesale positive affects the Columbia community, but they Mental health has become the number one issue at Columbia, and for good reason. Our community was rocked by the recent waves of suicide and it is clear that something must be done to better campus-wide mental health. The Student affairs community has already created a steering group that will work with the Jed foundation to evaluate how the university needs to address the issues of mental health on campus. Hence, my focus as a University Senator would ensure that the voices of Columbia’s most marginalized communities, who are disproportionately affected by mental health, are brought to the conversation on how to better mental health on campus. The initiative I would center in these conversations would be increasing the diversity of the CPS staff. Me and every other student of color or first-generation student who wanted to have their CPS staff member to be a person of color or a first-generation would have to wait even longer than normal to receive help. This wait time could be up to half of the semester, which is a ridiculous amount of time to have to wait to receive help. Further, I want to take a comprehensive look at how CPS is handled during NSOP in hopes of decreasing the stigma around mental health and ensuring that as many people get help as need help. One such program that I would advocate for would be an Opt-Out appointment that all freshmen would be signed up for. Each student would choose if they wanted to actually attend the appointment, but this would remove the initial stress and stigma of having to schedule an appointment with CPS in the first place.
Next, even though sexual violence has remained a big issue in campus, it does not seem that there has been effective reform. It would difficult to convince the university to allocate more funds, but we can take a comprehensive look at the programs we have now and how we can improve them. For example, there was an SVR requirement during NSOP, but it was very light and played down how big of an issue sexual violence is on campus. Hence as University Senator, I will take a look an extensive look at these programs, and bring in the voices of groups like No Red Tape to center the experience of survivors in the process of reform.
I do not know if I would use the word “fix”, but I would like to improve upon Columbia’s commitment to Community Service. Community Service is a lacking part of the Columbia experience. Many of us acknowledge and criticize Columbia for its negative impact on the Harlem community, but few of us spend a lot of time trying to help the community. That is largely in part to the fact that many students just do not have the time to spend looking for community service opportunities. Hence, I will want to work with SGB and ABC, the umbrella organizations that contain almost all students groups, to incentivize all student groups to have more service events. These incentives would be given in the form of increased budget allocation.
Vote Alfredo Dominguez for University Senate!