Tag: Columbia

College is expensive, Columbia ridiculously so. Columbia is the most expensive school in the Ivy League and amongst the most expensive in the nation. Now, Columbia is very generous with financial aid, meeting 100% need for all students and not packaging student debt in its financial aid offering. However, student debt is still an option. In 2013, the WSJ reported that the average student loan at time of repayment was $12,500. If you end up like the 4.2% of college graduates unemployed as late as September of 2016, that’s a difficult debt to pay down, still so if you consider yourself underemployed at Starbucks.

Hillary Clinton, urged by a primary challenge by Bernie Sanders, wants to change this. The Democratic Platform wants to make public college debt-free, community college totally free, and current debt re-financeable. If accomplished, her plan theoretically would free up money for the consumer economy that otherwise would go to paying down interest, and it would make college as accessible as high school is today. Too bad she won’t get to enact this entire plan. Major legislation needs to get through Congress before it gets to the president’s desk, and for a variety of reasons, the House is probably going to stay Republican. She could change the executive’s interpretation of the law, a power often used by President Obama and widely criticized by anyone who believes the president should not have too much power. For that very reason, she probably couldn’t get away with too much without alerting the House. She could also, as she suggests, pressure states to cough up some of the funding necessary to make community college free and fund other parts of her agenda, but that was the same system the Affordable Care Act used, and Republican governors by-in-large revolted.

It doesn’t sound like this affects Columbia much if successful, given Columbia isn’t a public university nor does it host community colleges. But competition can play a role. With free and debt-free options available, many students that Columbia would otherwise recruit might prefer to use those free local options instead of expensive private schools which may not have an accurate picture of what 100% need means for them. Columbia would probably reach into its endowment and rest on its prestige to give more full scholarships, which also sounds like it shouldn’t be a problem, but of all the Ivy League universities, only Yale experienced positive endowment growth last year. A significant increase in financial aid to remain competitive may add to that concern, though not as much as it would for smaller private colleges.

This is the part where I describe the nominal Republican alternative, where the government gets out of the debt business and leaves student loans in the hands of the private sector. For people with good credit, this would be good news. Your interest rates wouldn’t be as low as an auto loan or mortgage, but because the banks trust you, they’ll feel safe loaning money at lower interest rates. People with no credit history, however, get stuck with the higher interest rates, and people with bad credit might not get a loan in the private sector at all. But, Donald Trump complicates everything, as he promised to cap presumably federal loan payments at 12.5% of income and forgive the rest after 15 years. That’s more generous than the current Democratic plan to cap payments at 10% but only forgive after 20 years. That also means it’s more expensive and doesn’t fit into the economic conservatism that normally characterizes the Republican Party and such a plan would have a hard time passing Congress, but Donald Trump would also have the executive branch and the same power of interpretation Obama enjoys today. In case you thought endowments would be safe here, though, Donald Trump also threatened to revoke tax-exempt status for endowments, which certainly isn’t winning him any fans in the administration.

Those are your options. No pressure.

If you have been living under a cave for the past year, you might want to keep hibernating. Presidential elections have always been contentious since the results determine control of an entire branch of government for four years.

This year, things have gotten rather grim. With two of the most disliked candidates in history running within the much-maligned two-party system, sitting at home sounds like a sweet release with few real-life consequences. After all, even if America picked the worst candidate and they implemented terrible policies as president, a university in solidly liberal New York is the perfect bubble to ride out that storm, right? No. The sentiment is nice, though.

For the outside world, this election obviously has implications for economic, social, and foreign policy and you should take the time to look those up on your own. However, whoever wins the presidency could have a direct effect on admissions, disciplinary, and financial aid policy here at Columbia for four years. To put that in perspective, if you’re reading this before the election as an undergraduate, this election determines policy for the rest of your time as an undergraduate at Columbia. The goal of this article and this series: Columbia and the 2016 Election, is to convince you, a student of Columbia University, that this election has direct consequences for you as a student here. For higher education, this election is a choice between Hillary Clinton’s maintenance of the status quo with minor adjustments or the radical shift of a Donald Trump administration, and those are two two different realities for Columbia and how it interacts with the federal government. Whether or not you vote this November, it’s critical as a student voter to understand these hyper-local factors as well as other factors that may be on your mind. With that, good luck with midterms, and watch this space.

Ufon’s mini-series, Columbia and the 2016 Election, will run through the November 8th Presidential Elections.

The Lion is the only Columbia publication with an open-submissions policy. To respond to this piece or to submit one of your own, email submissions@columbialion.com

Earlier this evening, the Columbia Elections Board announced the winners of the Fall 2016 elections. We are excited to share the results below. Congratulations to the newly elected representatives.

CCSC 2020 President & Vice President

Siddharth Singh and James Ritchie

CCSC 2020 Class Representatives

Grant Pace

Danielle Resheff

Astrid Walker-Stewart

CCSC 2017 Representative

Tracy Ting Cao

CCSC Sandwich Ambassador

Joseph Villafane

ESC 2020 Class President

Ria Garg

ESC 2020 Class Vice President

Marisa Ngbemeneh

ESC 2020 Class Representatives

Joanna Paik

Abhishek Chakraborty

ESC 3-2 Representative

Priscilla Wang

ESC Disability and Accessibility Issues Representative

Adriana Echeverria

ESC International Students Representative

Pranav Arora

ESC University Senator

Izzet Kebudi

Someone recently posted on the Columbia/Barnard Class of 2019 Facebook page with Benjamin Sweetwood’s argument “Republicans at Columbia are scared to admit who they’re voting for”, asking for thoughts.

I have so many thoughts on this that I figured I’d write an opinion piece in response.

To me, it is definitely an issue when a group of students feel voiceless or unwelcome/unsafe speaking up on campus and in class. I think it is an issue that people, and especially people in power (like professors who have power in a classroom setting) can be dismissive of views students have just because they can be categorized as “conservative” or “republican” views—or as any “type” of view, really. It can definitely create further issues when a community or campus becomes in an echo chamber and is not considering outside views.
While I believe professors, who are in positions of power, should be welcoming to all ideas, or at least conversation about all ideas, this is obviously not always the case. For an in-class-related situation, I believe professors should take time (whether during or outside of class) to respond and analyze the students’ views and—if they don’t agree with their student—respectfully explain or discuss how their views and their reasoning differ and to explain why they’d dismiss the comment a student made in class. Maybe the professor fundamentally disagreed with the student and had no patience for outside ideas—that’s bad teaching. If the professor fundamentally disagreed with you and had time constraints for their lesson plan, which they wanted to get through with the whole class that day, but are willing to talk with you and/or whoever else is interested outside of class to dissect your comment further—that’s good teaching. Granted, if the school community seems hostile towards conservative or unfavorable or unpopular views, it’s understandable a student might not feel as safe going to office hours to discuss an issue further with their professor or to discuss it with peers outside of class. And that’s an issue the community may definitely want to address.

That being said, political views can be very heated and polarizing, inside or outside the classroom. Sometimes rather than starting a meaningful and healthy debate about why we hold different values and beliefs on specific issues, it’s easy for people to respond by dismissing the other side’s views or by mocking it. (You see this problem all over the media, and I believe this is a HUGE issue in this country, one which truly drags our national discourse further and further down and away from meaningful, substantial, healthy debate.) Especially when every time someone hears an opinion from the other side than theirs and then does have a debate, if everyone usually stays on the same sides after the debate, people can find that process both discouraging and infuriating. Why put themselves through that again? This is why people often avoid mentioning politics altogether and why some families decide to make political conversations taboo during holidays. Though I recognize this as a strategy of self-preservation, I think it’s unhealthy when everyone goes back inside their own echo chambers. Especially in an academic setting, I believe there is definitely a need for spaces where people can speak freely and openly and talk with people who see the world differently than they do.

Okay. So, let’s check in here. I feel like most people can agree with everything that’s above this line. But the world isn’t so neat and reasonable. Here’s where this issue gets more muddled:
As I’ve said, people can get very heated and passionate and divided over political views. Now, in this 2016 presidential election, there is a LOT to be heated and passionate about. I personally feel that on so many issues in this specific election—with all that Donald Trump has said dealing with minorities (Mexicans, Muslims, immigrants, African Americans, women, small business owners, etc.) and with the violent suggestions and dismissive ways Donald Trump has dealt with people who HE doesn’t agree with—to many people, hearing that someone would vote for Trump is like saying that person agrees with Donald Trumps views in that arena. Now, if you support Trump, that literally means you support him and want to see Trump—who holds and represents these views—in charge of your country. It doesn’t necessarily mean you are as racist or sexist or xenophobic or anti-free speech as Trump. It doesn’t mean you agree with EVERYTHING that that man says. But I think there is a good argument that it means you are at least privileged enough to vote for him anyway, despite those hateful things he stands for. And that might be why you’re getting targeted in class and on campus. Which I’m not saying is okay, because it’s not a crime to be privileged. You shouldn’t be made to feel unsafe on campus. But I think it is an issue to be privileged and ignorant of how your privilege affects the rest of the world. Or at least, the United States, which is the country/presidential election we’re talking about here. And that’s how you’re coming across to a lot of your classmates.

Honestly, I personally do not understand how people can vote for Trump, knowing how he treats people and what he stands for. I am curious, though. I know some people from my hometown—not from the Columbia community—who would vote for him because they don’t want to see Hillary Clinton get elected. And I still don’t fully understand their point of view, either. (I haven’t decided completely who I will vote for yet. I am dissatisfied with my choices). But at least I can talk to the people who do or do not want to vote for Hillary about it! At Columbia, I don’t know who I would talk to for the conservative or Republican view, because that voice definitely does seem silenced and taboo here at this very liberal campus. I honestly suspect part of that might be because at this very liberal campus of ours, a large percentage of people here value the lives of minorities and less privileged communities enough to be horrified that the Republican party nominated Trump for president, and maybe this highly educated campus doesn’t have enough Republicans who are so strongly committed to their beliefs as to look past these huge faults of Trump. I imagine that Republicans exist here who do not support Trump, but I don’t know them personally either. This divide may have happened on campus before Trump, but it certainly hasn’t been helped by him. I can’t speak about my experience (or lack thereof) with Republicans on campus for years before this election, because I only joined this community last fall.

Let me say, Donald Trump has said things that I totally agree with! Not many, but a few. The thing is, he says whatever the hell he feels like with no regard for the consequences. And though I sometimes admire people who are like that, that is not a quality I look for in a leader, especially not in the leader of an entire country. Especially when he doesn’t take himself seriously—he mocks and ridicules people’s responses. I believe the most change happens on local and state levels, but I am honestly rather fearful of how he would treat this country as an elected president. I am fearful of what that represents about our nation. I am already horrified by how he is treating our country today and by how poorly he has treated local businesses in my home state of NJ in the past, not paying small-business contractors and getting away with impunity.

To summarize:

  • I do think that it is problematic that Republicans, as a minority on this campus, do not feel safe expressing their views here. I want students to feel safe and welcome on this campus. I also think some professors could probably do a better job addressing conservative views, especially those brought up by students.
  • Because many students feel unsafe expressing Republican or conservative views, the whole community loses a chance to have meaningful conversations about both sides of these political issues.
  • -At the current time in our country right now, the elected leader of the Republican Party represents a lot that I cannot support. I can value Trump supporters as people worthy of respect and love, but honestly, I don’t know or interact with any Trump supporters, at least not in settings where we’re talking about politics. Probably because #1, I’m picky with my friends and who I surround myself with and I don’t think anyone who shares my core values could in good conscience vote for Trump. (My father and siblings are liberals or independents. My mother, however, has been a Republican at least all my twenty years of life, and with this election she quit the Party. She cannot and will not support Donald Trump.) And #2, the second reason I don’t know many Trump supporters is because I go to a very liberal school where Republicans apparently feel silenced. It’s not a good thing. I would love to talk with a few Republicans who support Trump. Maybe I will make an effort to find some this year. But will I spend my energy trying to make Trump supporters feel more welcome on campus? Honestly, no. I will spend my free time and energy on working towards bettering the lives of people who are less privileged than Trump and his supporters.

Those are my thoughts. Thanks for sharing this article, and your viewpoint. I honestly appreciate it, and wish there was better, more respectful dialogue on campus and in our national media.

Grace is a sophomore at Barnard College studying Urban Studies with a focus on Education Studies and Chinese/English Translation.

The Lion is the only Columbia publication with an open-submissions policy. To respond to this op-ed or to submit one of your own, email submissions@columbialion.com

Two Columbia University students, Shreyas Vissapragada (CC) and Ankeeta Shah (BC), were named as winners of the Barry Goldwater Scholarship. Three other Columbia students were named as honorable mentions. They were Irene Zhang (CC), Kristy Choi (CC), and Sarah Yang (SEAS). The full listings for each student are listed below. You can check out the rest of the winners and honorable mentions on the Goldwater Scholars website.

Winners:

Ankeeta B Shah
Institution: Barnard College
Major(s): Biology, Computer Science
Career Goal: Ph.D. in Systems Biology. Conduct biomedical research and teach at the university level.

Shreyas Vissapragada
Institution: Columbia University
Major(s): Astrophysics, Computer science
Career Goal: Ph.D. in astronomy with a specialization in astrochemistry. Conduct interdisciplinary research on the chemistry of exoplanet formation and teach at the university level.

Honorable Mentions:

Irene P Zhang
Institution: Columbia University
Major(s): Physics
Career Goal: Ph.D. in Condensed Matter Physics. Conduct research in materials science and teach at the university level.

Kristy Choi
Institution: Columbia University
Major(s): Computer Science-Statistics
Career Goal: Ph.D. in Computational Biology. Develop new statistical tools to conduct data-driven research in biology and teach at the university level.

Sarah J Yang
Institution: Columbia University
Major(s): Chemical Engineering
Career Goal: Ph.D. in Bioengineering or Chemical Engineering. Conduct research in protein or metabolic engineering and teach at the university level.