Tag: university senate

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.

What motivated you to run for this position? 

I am a problem solver. I can’t stop myself from noticing the malfunctioning systems, unaddressed problems and subjects open to improvements. As the only sophomore running for this position, I want to bring change that will improve mine and my peers’ experience at Columbia.

Last year I went to a Bacchanal that was threatened multiple times by having an extremely divided configuration and then by last-minute security charges. I have learned that Columbia’s student journalists can face disciplinary action while covering a protest on campus. I saw that the Mathematics Building is completely inaccessible for differently able students, and many other buildings, namely Havemeyer, Uris, Earl, Philosophy, East Campus, Law Library, and Low Library can’t be accessed from their main entrances. As an engineer, I experienced the difficulties of being advised by an advisor who does not have an engineering background. I experienced the horror of seeing the Columbia Global Office at Istanbul being shut down without listening opinions of hundreds of Turkish alumni, dozens of Turkish Students, or our Association of Columbia Turkish Students.

Oppressiveness over press, inaccessibility, misguidance, and the threat to our diverse global outreach are not what engineers at Columbia deserve; they do not represent the truly free, sociable, supportive, and diverse nature of Columbia. Engineers provide solutions to problems. As an Industrial Engineer, I decided to run Senator of SEAS to seek the optimal solutions to our problems & weaknesses.

If elected, what would your goals be?

I will start with the most immediate & concrete solutions. First, I will provide a route for students with disabilities entering the Math Building so that they can reach the elevator. I will then move on to implement a Call Center for all emergencies for students with disabilities including Text and/or Video Call option for students with hearing disabilities.

Second, I will work to make our entrepreneurs more capable. With CUIT, I will create a platform where entrepreneurs can group together with skilled peers to work on their startups. I would aim to create a student government that supports our entrepreneurs by connecting them to Venture Capitalists to have guidance from start to finish on their work.

Third, I want our Engineers to be more relaxed while selecting classes and feel more supported on their academics. I will make sure SEAS students’ advisors either have an engineering background or are specialized in engineering. I will also work to establish relaxed connections between engineers from three lower class years. Pairing first years with sophomores based on academic interest, and matching sophomores with juniors with same intended major, freshmen can receive in-depth tips for balancing social life with academics whereas sophomores can get insights on internship research and challenges of their major.

As an International Student, I feel responsible to advocate for international students so that their voices are heard on campus and by the Office of Global Programs and Fellowships. I want to make sure the opinions of cultural clubs are respected when a decision about a nation’s Global Office or study/work abroad program is given. I ultimately want to expand the Global Outreach of Columbia with the support of International Students.

Additionally, I want to protect student journalists from facing disciplinary action while covering protests by making a change in the Rules of Conduct. I want to improve Bacchanal by allocating security payments to Student Government Facilities Fund and Administration while giving the Bacchanal Committee a budget to use solely use on bringing the best artist and working on staging without the fear of security payments. Also, I plan to hold multiple Town Hall meetings, possibly with the participation of all Senators to get feedback from students. If elected, I also will make sure the Senate reports quarterly on its effort of addressing the results of Quality of Life Survey.

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

 I want SEAS students to have much less stressful lives by having less dense midterm schedules. I plan to do this by working with the Education Committee. I hope to make sure engineers are not responsible of entering more than 3 exams within 48 hours.

Targeted advising to engineers will also contribute to their comfort. I will work with CSA to make sure advisors of engineers can provide in-depth information on classes engineers must take for their majors & minors. In-depth information, in my opinion, must include workload of classes as well as what topics they teach. This will ease the add-drop periods of all engineers as they will have an idea on how many classes they can juggle.

Lastly, with SEAS Peer Connection, freshmen SEAS students can get information on balancing social life and academics from their sophomore pair. Sophomore engineers can have an earlier insight on difficulties of their major as well as internship//job research with the advice their junior pair provides.

Any additional comments you would like to share with voters?

 By implementing my goals above and the rest which you can find at (http://izzetkebudi.wixsite.com/kebudi2016), I plan to improve our campus accessibility. I want to make sure our student journalists feel free while pursuing their simple duties of being press; this is a must at Columbia University, which is responsible of providing a progressive environment to its students. I want our entrepreneurs & engineers to be more capable when innovating, which could ultimately increase the number of successful startups rooting at our university. When it comes to academic change at Columbia, I want our engineers to have much less stressful lives, especially when they are selecting their classes for the next term. If elected, my goals will hopefully make Bacchanal much more entertaining as the capacity of the event will be higher and the artists will be selected by a more specialized Bacchanal Committee.

All of these can be done while I provide a much needed international voice to the student government of Columbia University as the only international candidate for ESC Senator.

In an email sent out to publications late last night, Columbia Elections Board has announced that Jeffrey Sollazzi has been disqualified from the School of General Students race for its one University Senate Position. In the email, CEB noted that he was disqualified for breaking election rules by attacking his opponent’s personal character and integrity during yesterday’s Elections Debates.

The full email can be found below.

After serious deliberation, the Columbia Elections Board has ruled to disqualify GSSC University Senator Candidate Jeffrey Solazzi from the race effective immediately.

The Elections Board does not take this decision lightly but the highly inappropriate conduct of the candidate in question justified its severity. The Elections Board was very explicit before and throughout the elections cycle that while a candidate’s ideas and proposals may be scrutinized, their personal character and integrity were unquestionably off limits to any attacks or any damaging actions on the basis of mutual respect. The Elections Board made it clear at the Rules Meeting held on Monday, April 11th by stating in the presentation “Do not attack the character of other candidate in any way.” The Elections Packets distributed to all the candidates also explicitly states that “it is strictly prohibited to demean any other candidate.”

Despite these repeated warnings of not attacking the personal character of another candidate, Jeffrey Solazzi during his live streamed debate publicly attacked his fellow candidate Ramond Curtis. Solazzi’s introductory statement was as follows:

“Hi my name is Jeff Solazzi, and I’m running for GSSC Senate. I’m someone that’s really committed to making the school better and I want the best for this school. If I didn’t think i was the best candidate for this position I’d step down. I’ve heard from Sean Ryan, next year’s chair of the Student Affairs committee that Raymond is crap.”

The last remark was not only a direct violation of the rules against attacks on personal character the Election Board has presented, but an extreme disregard for the integrity and fairness of the general election process.

Given the above reasons, the Elections Board affirms its decision to disqualify Jeffrey Solari from the GSSC University Senator race.




UPDATE (4/18): Jeffrey Sollazzi has shared the following response:

To whom it may concern, I have just been notified by the Elections Board that I have been disqualified from the election for my comment during the debate today. I apologize to the Elections Board, I apologize to the student body, I apologize to Sean Ryan, and most of all, I apologize to Ramond Curtis. After reviewing the remaining candidates, I give my endorsement to Ramond Curtis.


Photo Courtesy Jason Hagani and Josh Schenk

The Columbia Lion wants candidates who will make a change. While many candidates brought up issues we care about: more student space, mental health improvements, and supporting students, we want a candidate who is going to do something that will make an impact. And while comforting words are nice, they don’t really do much. If we want to continue calling student government ineffective, fine, but if we want actual change, it’s time to take a risk and vote for individuals who have a passion for making change rather than people who are simply going to deliver big words and leave us with blank promises of goals for the future. For this reason, The Lion is formally endorsing the following candidates for the University Senate:

Jason Hagani

The Lion choses to support Jason because of his commitment to fighting for environmental sustainability in the Columbia community. His proposals are both effective and realistic. He backs initiatives that the university has already thrown its support behind and can easily be achieved with the dedication that he will bring as a University Senator. For many, the prescriptions for saving the environment are often overlooked, from replacing a lightbulb to an extra NSOP program. These often overlooked ideas, however, can have a massive impact on Columbia’s carbon footprint. Jason’s ideas couple important ideals with reassuring practicality, which will ensure he can and will be an effective representative for Columbia College. You can find Jason’s full platfrom here.

Jason Hagani

Josh Schenk

The Lion’s endorsement of Josh is based upon his record of getting things done. He was able to secure air conditioning for residence halls as well as securing discounts for students. Josh’s platform, while bold, is reasonable and can be easily accomplished within the role as University Senator. He plans on expanding campus accessibility, increasing senate transparency, revamping of the rules of conduct, and prioritizing space for undergraduate students. Josh’s ideals, though mainstream, paired with his record of achievement ensure he can attain meaningful change for the Columbia College community. You can find Josh’s full platfrom here.

Josh Schenk

No matter who you choose to support, make sure to have your voice be heard in this year’s student council elections by voting. The link to the voting website can be found here.



William Essilfie, Editor-in-Chief

Arelena McClenton, Managing Editor

Joshua Burton, Director of Operations

Yael Turitz, Director of Campus Outreach

Michele Lin, Director of Technology

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 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.