Tag: profiles

Photo Courtesy Josh Schenk

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.

I decided to run for University Senate because of my experience as the CCSC Class of 2019 President and as a member of the Senate Committee for Students with Disabilities and the Senate Libraries Committee. Over the last year, I’ve had the opportunity to work closely with other students, faculty, staff, and administration on important issues. My accomplishments this year include securing air conditioning for undergraduate housing, partnering with 20 NYC restaurants for CU student discounts, and launching Peer Connect for first-year student. I feel that these experiences will allow me to begin immediately pursuing important University-wide initiatives as a University Senator.

There are a lot of issues I would like to fix at Columbia. I would address issues of race and diversity on campus. There are no spaces for many minority groups, and I would advocate for the further allocation of space to underrepresented minorities. Additionally, I hope to work with the Senate to recruit and retain a diverse student and faculty body. There remains a shortage of diverse staff in STEM fields as well as instructors of color teaching core classes. Lastly, it is necessary to add staff members of different ethnicities and cultural backgrounds to Columbia Psychological Services.

As Columbia begins to make the move to the Manhattanville campus, I will push for more lounges and study spaces on both the Morningside and Manhattanville campuses. Columbia students deserve places to relax and socialize.  I’ll also work to increase access to outside spaces, such as the grass lawns in front of Butler.

One of my biggest priorities is to make the actions of the Senate more accountable. I would hold town hall meetings once a semester to ensure that Columbia College student voices are heard. The Senate represents a diverse group of students and faculty, and it is important for Senators to not forget their constituency. Additionally, outside students are not currently allowed to attend committee meetings. As Senator, I would seek to change the guidelines so that Student Affairs Committee meetings are opened up to students. Lastly, I would like Senate committees to publish their minutes.

There needs to be a change in the University Senate’s Rules of Conduct that explicitly protects student journalists covering protests on campus. Students have a right to know what is happening at their school, and this right is not protected when reporters risk disciplinary action if they cover a protest. I plan to consult with the rules committee of the Senate to produce guidelines protecting journalists.

As a current member of the Senate committee addressing disability access, I will work to provide accessible entrances and access points, especially in getting from lower campus to upper campus. If an entrance or elevator is not functioning, students should be immediately notified by Disability Services and provided with an approximate timeline for service and an alternative route.

I would aim to change the finals schedule so that students do not have testing on December 23rd. It is unfair for international students and west coast students to not be home for the holidays. Additionally, professors should not react to this by scheduling finals before or during reading week. That’s just not right – reading week is a time for students to study in peace.

I will push for official University forms to provide an option for identifying as transgender/genderqueer. The University should continue its move towards gender-neutral bathrooms by accelerating the pace with which such bathrooms are implemented in buildings like Butler and Hamilton.

These are some of the issues I think are most important to address right away. Since my term would end when I’m still a junior, as opposed to most who would be second-semester seniors, I would be held accountable for my duties on the Senate and have more than two years to work on important initiatives.  If anyone reading this has any suggestions or issues that they’d like to see addressed, please email me at jms2430@columbia.edu! My full platform is available at http://joshschenk.wix.com/senate.

Photo Courtesy of Columbia Political Union/Columbia Elections Board

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.

N/A Party – Andre Adams (Prez) & Iqraz Nanji (VP Policy)

What motivated you to run for this position?

I decided to run for student body president because I am fed up. I am fed up with a student council does not take into consideration the opinions of the students that they’re meant to represent. I am fed up with the lack of resources that the school dedicates to the debauchery of its students. But most importantly, I am fed up with my empty, empty schedule. I mean seriously, when I’m not filling out student life surveys, I’m just sitting in my room, staring blankly the wall or at some dimly­lit screen, subconsciously counting off the seconds until I become subsumed into the singularity, and can frolic in eternity ­ man and machine existing as one. Beep beep, boop bop.

I just want something to do until then.

If elected, what would your goals be?

I don’t have any in particular. I think the Columbia community fetishizes “achievements” and “accomplishments” and “goals.” If elected, I do hope to fulfill the basic requirements and responsibilities of the position. Anything I do above and beyond that is akin to getting a grade above a B in one of my classes: it’s nice but I’m not particularly concerned about it. You know: it’s okay to just be okay.

In addition, I seek to raise the profile of The Lion, so that they can finally compete with the Spectator, if not Bwog.

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

I want to make Columbia great again. I think the most important step that I can accomplish in doing that is removing Barnard College from the University. For too long, they have trespassed upon our campus, taking our classes and soaking up our precious academic resources. Look, these people they think they can just mark across Broadway and take advantage of us. They get to graduate with the name of our university on their diploma. And what for? They didn’t have to sit through gratuitous Fro Sci lectures every Monday morning freshman year. Their discussion sections weren’t impeded by the bludgeoning yawns and shortcomings of student athletes. Hell, they didn’t even send their best applications to Columbia! It’s time to stop shuttling them across our campus in the wee hours of the night. It’s time to bury their zines in the rubble of their library. It’s time to make sure that our professors are capable of writing recommendations for CC students and CC students alone! Now some might say that my positions are “bigoted” or “exclusionary”, to which I would respond that I’m running for CCSC, not the “Student Government” of Barnard College. We must look out for our own. Some might say that this goal is unrealistic, to which I would say that we have already made promising progress towards restoring Columbia to it’s former glory. Barnard students are no longer welcome in our dining halls, and they’re forced out of their housing over winter break inevitably causing some of the displaced “students” there to freeze to death in the bitter New York winter. However, I believe

that this does not go far enough. We need a wall. A mighty wall. All wall running from 114th St. Up to 122nd St. At least 20 feet high made of steel and concrete. My understanding is that the administration played with this idea back in the 80s, although back then it was to separate us from Harlem. However, at this time I think it’s clear which of the two is the far greater threat to our very existence.

Any additional comments you would like to share with voters?

Haven’t been getting a lot of matches on JSwipe recently, so any tips for beefing up my profile would be greatly appreciated.

Photo Courtesy Blake Mueller

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.

Blake Mueller (CC ’18) – University Senate

  1. What motivated you to run for this position?

Unsolved problems.  I love to think of ways to improve how things are done, so each time I thought “Yikes, that could be better” or “Why is this not in-place already?” I encouraged myself to run. I decided that my input of time and thought necessary for these reforms were worthwhile, because I care about these issues and my fellow Columbians. I felt compelled to run so that I could be in a position to reform policies to make life here better.

II. If elected, what would your goals be?

Ultimately, to streamline Columbia’s bureaucracy and increase quality of student-life. Specifically, to name a few in no particular order, I know that my priorities would be: reforming UEM so that we have access to more space (by adding Uris and Manhattanville’s Lenfest theatre and lowering costs of Miller Theatre), reimplementing our ability to petition the Core Office, raising Dining’s health standards, relieving the Securities & Facilities Fund, rewarding CAVA volunteers with academic credit, raising lectures to 4 credit-points, reinforcing transparency in the Diversity Fund, and of course figuring out how to make Bacchanal great again.

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

How Columbia handles the Securities and Facilities Fund (SFF). It is more important than how obscure it sounds. The Class Student Councils divvy up this money for the recognized clubs on campus. The recognized clubs register their events via UEM in order to host them, and if CUPSD deems that an event merits more security then clubs draw on the SFF. This process harbors two huge problems, because it often proves cost-prohibitive which empowers CUPSD to effectively stifle both our Freedom of Speech and our Freedom of Fun by limitation of clubs’ ability to host events. Since this process is less-than-clear, CUPSD can choose to restrict any event on whatever basis because we don’t know their justification for regulation.

For example, look at two events just this year: “After Charlie Hebdo: French Laïcité [secularism] and Islam: Can the “Republican” Model [of government] hold?” and Bacchanal. The latter event faces increasing bills for “security measures” to an extent that threatens event’s existence, since their budget can only live if it has a cheaper lineup, or if it increases income (student life fees) which would in-turn cost the Student Body more. This obviously is outrageous. What are they protecting us from? How do stringent crowd-control measures contribute to our safety? The former event was scheduled to take place in early November 2015 but it was canceled in response to Da’esh’s attacks on Paris. While this would’ve been a wonderful event, costs for security due to its “controversial” nature proved prohibitive. The would-be hosts (Maison Française and a few Institutes—European, Middle Eastern, Religion/Culture/Public Life and some others) did not see why they should dedicate so much money to a single event, as they have other programming, scholarships, fellowships, etc. that need funding. It is a shame that the very events that we so deeply need for debate and fun are the ones that face proscription. It is essentially a pricing-model for censorship, since these added-costs are inherently penalizing, they act as a controversy-tax and it has an arbitrary basis.

I refuse to let Columbia’s Public Safety ruin our campus environment for the sake of “security” like Robespierre’s Public Safety ruined the French Revolution. Security is doubtlessly important, but we did not come to the greatest university in the greatest city in the greatest nation in the world to be regulated; we came to be educated and invigorated.

Luckily, I have come up with a simple yet powerful reform to protect our Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Fun. I propose that if any club faces a security-bill from CUPSD for more than $600 (what it costs to host an event in Roone w/ 2 guards) then CUPSD ought to pony-up the additional costs, as well as attach their reasoning for the added-security. This does several things: it protects our Freedom of Speech since no event would face prohibitive costs, it forces CUPSD to be more cost-effective (they’d be less likely to demand more security-measures unless it’s absolutely necessary since they’ll pay for it) which saves money, and it enables our Freedom of Fun since we’ll have more events, and it keeps CUPSD accountable since they could no longer hide behind unpublished rationales.

IV. Any additional comments you would like to share with voters?

I earnestly hope that they would tell me their questions or suggestions about my policy-positions, and that they would give me their votes if they think that I would be a good advocate for them.



Photo by Aaron Appelle (CC '18)

Photo by Aaron Appelle (SEAS ’18)

Welcome to Columbia!  On behalf of everyone here, The Lion team would like to be one of the first to congratulate you for your achievements and welcome you to the Columbia community.

As you prepare for your arrival, our team went out and polled students from a variety of academic years and backgrounds in a series of upcoming posts asking them questions about Columbia that they wish they knew before arriving on campus. Our goal for this series is to provide you with an accurate understanding of what to expect when you join us on campus.

In this community editorial, we asked students: “What are things you wished you knew about Columbia before arriving?”

*Note: We chose not to edit these quotes nor filter out “problematic” ones. The Lion does not endorse any of these, but hopes to show initial thoughts of current students and alumni.

Continue Reading..

Born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Dan-el Padilla Peralta came to the United States with his family at the age of four. He received his B.A. summa cum laude from Princeton University, where he was chosen salutatorian of the class of 2006. He received his MPhil from the University of Oxford and his PhD in classics from Stanford University. He is currently a Mellon Research Fellow at Columbia University.

Where are you from?

I was born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

What were you interested in studying/becoming when you were younger?

I had all kinds of interests when I was younger.  At various stages of my life, I wanted to become a neurosurgeon, an entomologist, an engineer, a biologist, and a classicist, the last of which I am right now! I was interested in law at some point but didn’t really want to practice it. I preferred learning about the academic side of it. That should give you a sense of some of my aspirations.

What is your current position? What do you enjoy most about it?

I’ll give you the full title of my position, which will make me feel really empowered! I am a Mellon Research Fellow in the Society of Fellows at Columbia and lecturer in classics. Essentially, I am a post-doc with an affiliation in the classics department. I have several responsibilities: I teach in the Core and I have my own research in the study of Roman religion.

How do you like it here?

I love being here. I did my PhD in Stanford and completed it in 2014 before coming here. I appreciate the contrast between the two institutions because Stanford is a very different place from Columbia.

What brought you to Columbia?

I did my master’s at Oxford and my B.A. at Princeton. It was at Princeton that I realized I wanted to pursue classics as my profession. I chose Columbia for my post-doctoral research because of the interdisciplinary fellowship. One of the most productive sides of this society is thinking about your own field, understanding other fields, and creating connections between them. I study ancient history, and having folks that work in early American art history and other different fields makes me realize my contribution to their studies. That is why I love being here.

However, I was drawn into getting my masters at Oxford because, along with Cambridge, Oxford really prepares you for a concentration in classics. Oxford is very unlike any U.S institution. One difference is that at Stanford, Columbia, or Princeton, one central administration oversees the study life of students. At Oxford, these responsibilities are distributed into different colleges. This lack of centralization allows you to do pretty much whatever you want, especially the graduate students. For some people it can be very good, and for some, it can be really bad.

How has your upbringing impacted how you approach your current position?

I immigrated to the United States from Dominican Republic when I was 4 years old. My family and I were undocumented until I left for Oxford. The question I always asked myself was, what do I become? My mom made the decision to stay in the States because she thought her children would have the best education here. That put pressure on my brother and me.

Do I simply pursue the things that give me joy and help me intellectually grow? Don’t get me wrong, for some people, being a lawyer or doctor gives them the joy that I was looking for. However, there is the fact that I was undocumented because I was scared that I wouldn’t be able to go to college. I was lucky enough to have great mentors, tutors, and teachers who helped me build my way through college, so my background had everything to do with long term professional outcomes that have been and will shape my life up to this day. However, one should be patient with figuring out one’s interests. When I arrived to Princeton my freshmen year, I had a huge list of classes I wanted to take. I was also under the impression that my interests would never change. After taking five courses my first semester, I realized I had more interests that I wanted to explore than I first thought. So, the moral of the story is that your interests will always evolve and that is perfectly fine.

When you were growing in homeless shelters, did you have any potential hesitations for not only going to a college like Columbia, but going to a college at all?

I’ve had several inspirations growing up: my mother and my mentors. I had an art instructor at the homeless shelter who had tremendous amount of faith in me. He gave me educational access so I could start private school at 7th grade in the Upper West Side, Manhattan. He made sure that I always kept the mindset that going to college is something I should expect from myself. I had amazing teachers too. My Latin/Greek teacher in high school was so committed to me buying into the idea that not only would I go to college, but I would also get into a great classics program. She is one of the people that inspired me to apply to Princeton. She had a great determination to teach her students not to be deterred by obstacles.

However, I do feel comfortable telling you this one thing. I’m still not quite sure to this day if it was a nightmare I had or if actually happened in real life, but one of my instructors at the homeless shelter told me that my family and I would never be able to leave the shelter. I was only nine, so I wasn’t sure if she was being serious, sarcastic, a hater, or just trying an alternative way of inspiring me to succeed. So, the haters will always be there and they have a way of pushing you to do better.

How did your socioeconomic status affect your college life when you were an undergraduate?

When I was an undergrad, I was really broke but I had a full ride. The major difference I had with my friends was they could take up the extracurricular activities and social lives that couldn’t afford. Like, who is going to buy the snacks? What are we going to do after the study break? As I got older, these small experiences would scale up in a very dramatically big way. For example, Princeton had eating clubs, similar to fraternities at Columbia. 70% of the upperclassmen population were members. The eating clubs were usually divided into two groups: the clubs for those who were rushing as members and the clubs that were open to anyone. Back in my day, it cost around $5,500 to $10,000 to be a member of an eating club. However, the clubs were not owned by the university, and they were funded by the alumni and other supporters, which meant my scholarship would not alleviate the cost if I were to apply to an eating club. I’m actually returning to Princeton as an Assistant Professor in 2016 after I complete my post-doctoral research here at Columbia.

I’ve been waiting for my green card since 2012 and I know you’ve had visa appeals from people like Hillary Clinton.  Could you elaborate more on that process?

I was undocumented all through my senior year of college. Then, I met someone from Cornell Law. His name was Steven and he helped me throughout the entire process of trying to retroactively change my status. If I could show that I couldn’t change my status when I was a child because I had neither money nor time, I would be able to change my undocumented status to F1 visa. So, I would be “normalized” and hold a legal status that could help me pursue opportunities after college.

After I graduated from Princeton, I had a dilemma of either going to Oxford for my master’s, which carried the possibility of me not being able to come back to the United States for 10 years! So I made a brave move and took my chances with Oxford. It was very likely that I wouldn’t be able to come back. But then, I knew if I did stay in the States, then I wouldn’t be able to have a job anyway, even as a Princeton graduate. When I finished my master’s at Oxford, Steven helped me apply for tourist visa but it was rejected the very same day I applied. I got lucky when Princeton offered me a job as a research assistant. The only reason I was offered this job was because I had a specialized training to help a project about the study of Roman history and the digital data base. Through that, I was eventually granted a work visa and a waiver! But the story does not end here…

When I got back to the States, I decided to get my PhD. Stanford was the best choice for a doctoral study in classics. However, I was not able enroll as a student since I had work visa. I had to go to my “home country” to get a student visa since I was considered an international student. So I applied for student visa as an undocumented immigrant living in the United States since four, and despite the rare chance of my application being accepted, I was granted a student visa! The story still does not end though…

After finishing graduate school, I still needed a work authorization to work at Columbia as a fellow. After obtaining my work authorization, I decided to propose to my long term girlfriend. Currently I’m waiting on my spousal documentation!

Lastly, any advice for low-income, undocumented/documented immigrant students at Columbia University? As I’m one of them, and I would love to hear some!

The most important thing I can emphasize is to remember to remain curious and open in both the classroom and your extracurricular activities. And remember to ask questions, lots of questions! Trust me, the instructors love when students ask questions. They get excited and actually appreciate those questions because it shows thinking and an effort to understand the material. Also, don’t forget that in college, the learning experience doesn’t strictly happen in a classroom setting. It also happens when you interact with your friends because they take different courses and participate in different activities. That is why it is important to remain curious and open and to hear and learn from others.