The Lion


The Columbia bubble is a beautiful place, but sometimes you just need to get out and explore. While everyone here at the Lion loves Columbia Blue, sometimes a little NYU purple is exactly what you need when that bubble gets  claustrophobic.

Transportation:

First , before you can explore NYU, you have to know how to get there. As NYU does not have a campus, different areas of the university are closer to different subway stations, so knowing where exactly you want to go can be helpful for saving time. There are four main stops near the NYU area:

  • Astor Place

A stop on the 6 train, Astor Place is the closest station to the Tisch School of the Arts. It is, however, a bit of a hassle to get to from Columbia. If you’re up for the challenge, though, you can take the downtown 1 from Columbia to Times Square-42nd St. (or you can take the express 2 or 3 there by switching at 96th). Then, at Times Square, you can transfer to the downtown/Brooklyn-bound N, Q, R, or W trains and take that to 14th St.-Union Sq. There, you can finally catch the downtown/Brooklyn-bound 6 to Astor Place.

  • 8th St.-NYU

Located off the NE corner of Washington Square Park, the 8th St.-NYU station is very close to Astor Place and is much easier to get to. To get to this stop, you can take the downtown 1 from Columbia to Times Square-42nd St (or you can take the express 2 or 3 there by switching at 96th). Then, once you’re at Times Square, you transfer to the downtown/Brooklyn-bound W or R and get off at 8th St.-NYU. Easy-peasy!

  • W 4th St.

Located off the SW corner of Washington Square Park, W 4th St. is the NYU stop for the A, C, E, B, D, F, and M trains. To get here from Columbia, you take the 1 downtown to Columbus Circle-59th St., where you can then transfer to the downtown A, B, C or D, which takes you to W 4th. Then, ta-da! You’re in the land of the purple!

  • Christopher St.

The station that involves the least amount of transfers to get to, Christopher St. is located directly off the 1. Simply take it downtown from Columbia, and you’ll get there eventually. The 1 is local, though, so do take some class readings with you to get done on the train. You can always transfer to the 2 or 3 if you’d rather go express, but you have to remember to transfer back to the 1 at 14th St. so you can arrive at Christopher St.

 

Local Events:

Since NYU is located around Washington Square Park, there are often many things happening in this area. From parades to markets to protests, there is always something new to see or do. Facebook is often a great resource for finding out about these events, especially the unofficial ones. For sponsored events, though, you can check out these sites:

http://washingtonsquareparkconservancy.org/events/

http://www.washingtonsquarenyc.org/events/

 

Food:

Making the trek to Greenwich Village can be taxing, which means sustenance is essential for making it back to Morningside Heights. Depending on your budget, there are different food options available to you

Cheap Eats:

  • Papaya Dog is a great option if you’re in the mood for greasy food, and it’s cheap if you’re worried about not having enough money to buy textbooks next semester. Their hot dogs and fries will satisfy your craving for a midnight snack, especially since they’re open until 3 am.
  • Located by the W 4 station, Anton’s Dumplings are just like Grandma’s according to the New York Times. And if you’re a fan of Broadway, they’ve even got a special menu based off of Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812.
  • The Traditional Chinese Food Cart often parks itself near Bobst to feed the many hungry NYU students who have classes nearby. Known for their fried rice, they offer large portions for affordable prices, but make sure you have cash on hand because they don’t accept credit or debit cards.
  • Highly praised by various publications, NY Dosas will satisfy your hunger with its vegan creations. Make sure to check this food cart’s Facebook and Twitter, though, to see if it’s in the area before you go.
  • While you can also get this filling meal near Columbia, you can never go wrong with halal. There are quite a few places to get halal around NYU, but if you’re near W 4, Sammy’s Halal is critically acclaimed for their food.
  • If you’ve got friends who go to NYU, you can always mooch off their meal plan. It’s by far the cheapest way to eat, and their meal swipes can get you a chicken sandwich or an eight count of nuggets with fries and a drink at Chick-fil-a.

Not too cheap, not too expensive:

  • With relatively cheap ribs and other BBQ classics for sale, Mighty Quinn’s BBQ is closest to the Astor Place stop, but it’s worth the walk no matter what part of NYU you’re in.
  • A cute date spot, La Lanterna di Vittorio not only has outstanding lasagna but also sells pie that is to die for. If you’re feeling particularly indulgent, the hot chocolate with marshmallows can warm the coldest of hands and hearts.
  • Sick of waiting in line at Shake Shack but still want a good burger? Burger Joint is a small local chain with a shop near NYU that will fulfill your greasiest dreams with their burgers and fries.
  • Hungry, but only want snack food? Pommes Frites is for you. With authentic Belgian fries, large portions, and an extensive list of sauces, this food is worth the prices.
  • 1 AM on a Saturday night and craving chicken tenders? Stop by Sticky’s Finger Joint! This spot on W 8th St. will hit the spot with their hearty tenders and gimmicky sauces.

Quality Dining:

  • Run by Mario Batali, one of the most famous chefs around, Babbo has Italian food that’s out of this world, and the Michelin star to prove it. The prices are steep, though, so save up before going.
  • Also nearby and with a Michelin star is Blue Hill. If you don’t want to eat extremely early or late, though, be sure to book far in advance as reservations fill up quickly.
  • A recent addition to the Michelin guide, Sushi Zo offers impressive Japanese food. Bound to only get more popular with its recent reviews, it’s probably smart to go here sooner rather than later.

Coffee:

  • Want to keep getting hole punches in your Joe Coffee rewards card? Have no fear, there are multiple Joe Coffee shops by NYU as well! (West Village and Washington Square) The West Village storefront is small, however, so don’t count on finding a spot to camp out and get work done in.
  • An Indonesian Cafe and Ramen Bar, Kopi Kopi has some of the smoothest blends around. Don’t fall victim to the Dunkin Donuts located nearby; this place by far has better snacks and coffee to reinvigorate you.
  • La Colombe is one of the country’s largest independent coffee roasters, and their coffee doesn’t disappoint. Their shop in NoHo is a great place to stop before or after seeing a show at The Public, the theater which was home to Hamilton’s off-Broadway run.
  • Located off Mercer St. and W 3rd St., Think Coffee is small NYC chain of coffee shops which provides ethically and sustainably sourced coffee to its customers. It also provides a great place to study if you want to get off campus as they have free wifi.

Other Things to Do:

  • Close to Noho and Soho, the NYU area is a great place to shop. It might take a bit of walk to get to the stores, though, so if it’s cold, you might want to use Google Maps to see what subway stop is closest to the stores you want to visit.
  • Located near W 4th subway station, the IFC Center is one of the best places to go see independent films. On Fridays and Saturdays, they host Waverly Midnights, where they screen cult movies at midnight (as the name suggests), and they also show classic movies at 11 AM Fridays through Sundays.
  • Right off Washington Square Park is Uncommon Goods, a game cafe that hosts one of the largest collections of games on the East Coast. Open 363 days a year, this spot is always available for a late night game of Cards Against Humanity with friends. It’s $5 per person to play as many games as you want ($10 on weekends and holidays), and they’ve also got drinks, snacks, and coffee to keep you going.
  • Want to see a play or musical but don’t have the money to see something on Broadway? Have no fear, Off-Broadway theater is here! There’s plenty of shows you can see for as cheap as $15 at plenty of different venues! There’s the Gym at Judson, which was home to the New York Times Critics’ Pick Bedlam’s Sense and Sensibility; Under St. Marks, located in the East Village in a small basement which will make you feel like a theater nerd; Dixon Place, which not only hosts theater productions but also dance shows, literary events, and music performances; and Barrow Street Theatre, which starting February 14 will be putting on a production of Sweeney Todd coming straight from London.

Image via IDBD

Gloria Estefan was a trailblazer. She was one of the most successful female artists of all time, the most successful Latin-American crossover artist, and her voice is a force to be reckoned with. So when I took my seat at the Marquis Theater to watch her story come to life onstage, I had high expectations. But alas, I was disappointed.

The show On Your Feet: The Story of Emilio and Gloria Estefan has all the promise in the world. With songs like “Congo,” “On Your Feet,” and “The Rhythm is Gonna Get You,” the writers had a lot to work from. I practically congo-ed into the theater, eager to dance and clap along to Gloria’s famous beats and ready for Broadway’s liveliest show yet. But instead, I found myself falling asleep.

Broadway has had a history of success with these kinds of musicals. Jersey Boys, which was based on Franki Valli and the Four Seasons, is a smash hit. Mamma Mia!, written around ABBA’s famous songs, has been solidified as a classic. But for On Your Feet, it felt like Broadway gave up.

The opening number of On Your Feet is slow, boring, and actually quite confusing. For the first ten minutes of the show, scenery and time shifts at a mile a minute, and we are left extremely disoriented. First, a young Gloria awkwardly dances with strangers on the street while her mother jokes about the laundry, then solemnly sings to her father who is serving in the Korean War, and then all of sudden she’s all grown up and taking care of her MS-stricken father. Emilio enters the scene incredibly quickly, and before we know it Gloria is singing with his band and they fall in love without even a hint of a glitch. The entire first act happens quicker than you can imagine (and yet still manages to drag on with only the slowest of Gloria’s songs!) The act’s ending number, “Conga,” Gloria’s biggest hit, gave me hope that the second act would be livelier.

But of course, it wasn’t. The start of Act Two continued on in the same way, skipping so many years and milestones. All of a sudden Gloria is the biggest female artist in America, but we are given no details about how she got there or what her life is like. Only ten minutes into Act Two she is hit by a truck and the remainder of the show follows her road to recovery, once again choosing the slowest songs in her repertoire. In the final number, a coda after the story ends, the cast belts out “On Your Feet” and showcases some epic dance moves, but it was only the second number that had me smiling.

Of course, the show did have its highlights. Ana Villafane, who plays Gloria, is fantastic, and her pipes sound eerily similar to Gloria’s. The dialogue is well-written, well-acted, and actually quite funny. Gloria’s abuela, played by Alma Cuervo, is the show’s most entertaining and sentimental character, and overall the show’s arc is gripping. Where On Your Feet fails, however, is in its music choices and rough transitions. Perhaps if it had followed Jersey Boys’ example and blended much more fun with the serious, it might have been more exciting to watch. My Grade: B-

 

The Must-Watch List: If you are looking for a show to see, I’d definitely recommend getting tickets to Andrew Lloyd Weber’s School of Rock. The show will blow your mind with its insane music and witty dialogue, and you’ll be floored by the completely live musical performance by the show’s star children. If you loved the movie, you’ll love the musical even more. My Grade: A

 

Photo Courtesy of The Onion

 

Since my last post was less fun, we’re going to start this week’s column off with a game! It’s like a “pick your own adventure” game from way back when we were kids, with equally disappointing results and a little more abrasive language.

Here is the scenario:

You’re in a lovely dive bar near your campus, just hanging around and enjoying your Saturday with a few beers. Suddenly, a gentleman approaches you. You’ll allow it, as you are well aware that you are looking damn fine. Small talk ensues, and he asks what you do. For purposes of this game, you reply, “Oh, I study political science, focusing on security,” and suddenly, your response opens a floodgate. Vocabulary from basic international relations theory loosely related to current events are thrown into a cocktail of attempts at explanation. It’s like your very own salmon shorts clad Jervis! The explanations and buzzwords keep flowing and picking up pace, and you seem to be trapped! Do you:

a.)   Look desperately at the bartender to see if she can rescue you from your own personal hell with another round

b.)   Politely try and change the conversation to something slightly more engaging

c.)   Attempt to interject your own well-informed opinion

d.)   Get up and leave

Well, as I’m sure you’ve all deduced by now, I found myself in this very scenario! And I’m sure you’re all dying to know which ending I picked.

In reality, I applied all available tactics. First, I gave the “save me eyes” to no avail (side note: gentlemen, you should really learn to recognize this look). When that didn’t work out, I asked him about his internship at a law firm (gag, I know), but not even that could deter him from his professorial path. Finally, I outright said, “Yeah, I actually study this a lot, and I think it’s super fun to apply theory to everyday situations!” I then briefly explained my column to which–I SHIT YOU NOT–he responded, “Doesn’t that kind of delegitimize your knowledge of the subject?” At this point, I opted for Option D from above.

So sir, whom I desperately hope is now reading this, I have two things to say–which is more than I said throughout the entire duration of our brief encounter. First, doesn’t saying something so obnoxiously stupid and crass delegitimize your penis size? Second, fuck you.

Now that I have sufficiently publicly shamed this poor boy, I can get to the actual point of this piece: mansplaining. This scenario expertly depicts what exactly mansplaining is. I’m sure this is a term you’ve come across recently, especially if you’re more inclined to read liberal newsfeeds. But essentially, it is when men attempt to simplify or explain a subject to women because they, for some reason, don’t think the woman initially understood. Now, I’m a pretty passive feminist, but this is something that has increasingly started to bother me more and more. Perhaps it’s because I’m a woman in a predominantly male-oriented field, but it never feels good to be “taught” something you have literally dedicated hours of studying to, by means of slightly condescending words. This is not to be conflated with actual new information, or perspectives, which I welcome regardless of gender.

Still confused on what exactly mansplaining is? Let me Jamie-splain it to you!

Mansplaining is like America telling literally any EU member state how international institutions and organizations work. If America were to childishly lie about what an international organization is and how it could possibly function, without recognizing that international organizations and institutions dominate the majority of EU member states’ political dialogue, that would be equivalent to mansplaining.

Or, even more rudimentary: America explaining to Greece (also known as the founders of democracy) how democracy itself works. Greece, however, could take some notes on basic economic principles, but that is beside the point.

In summary, mansplaining is so very stupid, and in the words of my good friend from that bar, it delegitimizes any point or position you take afterwards. Instead, I recommend that you simply clarify where you are each at in terms of understanding, and then go forth and have exciting and engaging conversations.

Photo Courtesy of Joan Marcus

After a previously sold-out run off-Broadway, Lynn Nottage’s breathtaking play, Sweat, opened recently at the Studio 54 theater. The show, based in Reading, PA, focuses on deindustrialization and its lasting ramifications. In our current political climate, Sweat’s arrival could not be more timely. The show forces its audience to fully delve into the lives of blue-collar workers in America. In a country becoming increasingly divided, as evidenced through the 2016 Presidential Elections, Sweat explores and explains with breathtaking eloquence and clarity the malaise that has spread through many segments of the nation.

For those who have not seen the show, it focuses on the lives of friends working together at a local steel mill. Slowly, as jealousy flares and the workers realize their jobs–and the cultural status that came with them–are dwindling, they each begin to turn on each other. In trying so hard to save themselves and clinging to the work ideals many of their past family members have learned to expect, they are forced to find new work as the impacts of globalization and deindustrialization affect their town.

The show’s strong text is paired with skilled actors and a mundane yet detailed set. The play is primarily set in the local bar, where audience members watch the lives of these workers unfurl as if they were flies on the wall. In each interaction, one can see the close friendships of the characters. In particular, the show focuses on the close bond between two friends: Tracey (played by Johanna Day) and Cynthia (played by Michelle Wilson). In initial scenes, the two characters laugh and drink, jovially sharing stories about their students and their factory jobs, just like normal close friends do. However, after Cynthia is promoted to a role off the factory floor, jealousy flares as Tracey copes with not getting the promotion she truly wanted. As this jealously increases, tensions rise with conversations about race (as Tracey becomes convinced Cynthia was promoted solely for being Black) and the responsibilities of friendships.

To learn more about the show and how it came to be, we sat down with its playwright Lynn Nottage who–in addition to playwriting–is a Professor at Columbia’s School of the Arts. Nottage, originally from Brooklyn, studied at Brown University for her undergraduate degree and later studied and taught at the Yale School of Drama. She has won two Pultizer Prizes and received both the Guggenheim Fellowship and MacArthur Grant.

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Photo Courtesy of Jeremy Daniel.

The walls are falling apart, the floorboards are flying, and nothing seems to be going right in the show “The Play that Goes Wrong” on Broadway. This hilarious play is great for folks who loved “Noises Off” and just want a break from reality. It’s also the winner of London’s Olivier Award for Best New Comedy. What’s more is that it’s a play about a play being staged by amateurs – you can imagine the irony. The play plot is simple: a murder goes down at Haversham Manor – but who is the perpetrator? The characters embark on finding clues to figure out what occurred in the room where Jonathan’s corpse was found. The corpse does a terrible job at “playing dead,” adding to the hilarity of it all. An investigator is called and slowly the plot begins to develop as we try to figure out who the murderer is.

But, there is a plot twist. Jonathan’s fiancé was having an affair with her soon-to-be husband’s brother! Audiences observe many failed, awkward kisses, in addition to a character who seems to be very absorbed with applause from the audience (Max). Did she do it? Did he? Audiences are left guessing until the very end. Each character brings something to the stage, with their unique quirks and distinct expressions which had the audience gasping for breaths. Though the play is not for everyone, as the humor is certainly more for those who laugh at slapstick, it’s worth the watch for anyone who thinks it may suit their tastes.

With the wreckage of the set behind them, the cast of the show basks in the applause of the audience, which they definitely deserved after surviving the destruction of the set. Photo Courtesy of Joseph Marzullo.

With the wreckage of the set behind them, the cast of the show basks in the applause of the audience, which they definitely deserved after surviving the destruction of the set. Photo Courtesy of Joseph Marzullo.

Of course, the actors and actresses delivered fantastic performances – I even wonder how they held it together when the chaos of the stage falling apart was occurring. From the fainting fiancé who is always having “episodes” to the character mix-ups and stage that can’t seem to stay together, “The Play that Goes Wrong” is certainly a show that will make you laugh uncontrollably and makes for a great night out with friends. It’s whacky, it’s weird, but it’s also wonderful.

 

 

 

 

Tickets to “The Play that Goes Wrong” can be purchased here. For more information on how to get rush tickets to the show, message LionBot “How can I get rush tickets to The Play that Goes Wrong?”

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! 

The Lion asked candidates five questions about their campaigns to give us insight into their aspirations and motivations for running. Here is what Maria Fernanda Martinez had to say:

1. Are you affiliated with a party, and if so, which one? 

Nope 

2. What position are you running for, and what motivated you to run for it? 

Alumni Affairs–honestly, the closer graduation gets the more I realize how little we make use of our alumni connections and they’re one of our biggest resources on this campus. I want to make sure that this is a resource we all can feel comfortable using and knowledgeable about. 

3. If elected, what are your goals? How do you plan to actually achieve them? 

My goals are to increase accessibility in this area of our lives for all students, and I plan on achieving that by really keeping things simple and going back to basics. What is networking at its core about? It’s about making connections and maintaining relationships. The best way to do these things is to actually interact with people with whom we have shared interests and common backgrounds. My goals are simple: create a student-led newsletter for alumni, host curated alumni-student meet ups based on specific interests and backgrounds, and make sure to lead workshops prior to these meetings that help students work through anxieties about networking and provides folks with specific strategies they can implement. 

4. What is something you want to fix at Columbia? How would you plan to address this? 

I would love to push us towards an environment that is less about competing with each other and more about collaboration. I think this would be so useful in helping to deal with stress culture etc on campus. I plan on addressing this by creating spaces that function on the basis of people working together, and emphasizing that there is no need to compete when there are so many things to do and achieve! 

5. Any additional comments you’d like to share with voters

While I am running for your Alumni Affairs representative, there is a wide range of issues that I have been involved in throughout my time at Columbia, and I will be able to represent our interests across the board. 

The Lion asked candidates five questions about their campaigns to give us insight into their aspirations and motivations for running. Here is what Aaron Fisher had to say:

1. Are you affiliated with a party, and if so, which one?

I’m not affiliated with a party.

2. What position are you running for, and what motivated you to run for it? 

I’m running for CCSC Student Services Representative. For the past four semesters, I’ve been the head of Third Wheel Improv. Because the group is recognized at Barnard and not Columbia, we’ve had many issues concerning the governing boards and space allocation. In my capacity as head of my improv group, I began meeting with Columbia administrators about space allocation and club issues on our campus. Meanwhile, like many other students at Columbia, I’ve been alarmed and saddened by the mental health issues that affect our campus. I began thinking about how to tackle some of the many issues that we face as a community, and I started to realize that there are many seemingly small issues that, when fixed, would together improve our lives at Columbia. These issues range from the mundane–for example, the poor Internet connection in Butler–to larger, more essential issues, such as the lacking mental health support for many students in our community. Student services and community are intricately related: were we to have greater access to the lawns outside Butler, for example, we could further foster school spirit through events and Columbia traditions. I believe that because I’m a junior and have already been involved with a wide array of clubs and communities on our campus, I have the right mix of experience and freshness–I’ve never been involved with student government–to serve Columbia College as Student Services Representative.

3. If elected, what would your goals be? How do you plan to actually achieve them?

I plan to keep Nightline open all night, instead of closing at 3:00am, as it currently does. I plan to achieve this goal by speaking with the heads of Nightline and with administrators who work to improve mental health on our campus. I think that given everything that has happened on our campus in the past year, and given that students already staff CAVA all night, there will surely be students who are willing to work shifts at Nightline past 3:00. I also plan to bring back Staff Appreciation Week, which CCSC spearheaded in November 2015, but then cut from its budget. During this week, students went up to members of dining services, mail services, security staff, and other staff positions and gave them stickers that said “We Appreciate You.” At the end of the week, there was a luncheon to honor our staff members. I believe a week like this is crucial because it’s important to show staff members that they’re just as much a part of the Columbia community as we are. I also think this goal will be easy to achieve because it won’t cost CCSC very much money, and will attract a lot of support from the student body. I also plan to work to keep the lawns outside Butler open longer in the fall, and when they do re-open in the spring, I will try to keep both lawns open more often, instead of just having one open. I believe having more space to relax and hang out with friends on campus during the week will help alleviate stress within the student body. I’ve already spoken with a couple of administrators about this issue, and as Student Services Representative, I plan on continuing this conversation, while making sure students who are not involved with student government are included in the discussion. To find out about more of my campaign ideas and about the rest of my platform, please visit my website here: 

https://asfisher18.wixsite.com/ccsc2017/platform

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

The overarching theme of my campaign is improving community through student services. Often, there are many small things that bother students and make our everyday lives more difficult. Columbia is our home, and it’s important for us to live here as comfortably as possible. I will work to address this issue, among other ways, through fixing smaller issues on our campus. These issues include the difficulty some student clubs and groups have of reserving adequate space on campus. I believe University Events Management should work with individual clubs to make sure they’re getting the spaces they need. For example, some performance groups might need to rehearse in larger spaces, while academic clubs might be fine with smaller classrooms. Another such issue is the lack of air conditioning and the problem of overheating in some of the older residence halls on campus. As Student Services Rep, I’ll work with Columbia Housing to figure out solutions to these problems on our campus.

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

As I have written about in Spectator, too often, CCSC seems distant—even irrelevant—to many Columbia students. As your Student Services Representative, I will hold office hours to speak with any student about your ideas for how to make Columbia’s student services work better for you. Only by such measures of open communication can we learn from each other and ensure our voices are heard. After all, every one of us makes Columbia home, and every one of us deserves the best experience possible. 

The Lion asked candidates to tell us about their campaigns to give us insight into their aspirations and motivations for running. Here is what Ethan Kestenberg had to say:

Hi! I’m Ethan, and I’m running for Pre-Professional Representative (no party affiliation). For the past two years, I’ve worked on CCSC as an appointed representative. As a freshman, I served as Secretary of CCSC ’19. We were able to combat food insecurity issues on campus by partnering with 18 local restaurants to create discount meal programs for all 24,000 Columbia students. This year, I am working on the Committee of Finance, and am in the final stages of developing a new Student Events Fund to alleviate prohibitive event fees for eligible students on financial aid.

I want to continue my involvement with CCSC because I believe in the power of community. CCSC provides me with the greatest opportunity not only to get more connected with our community, but also to give back to it. I’ve learned that, without a doubt, the best thing our class council can do is build upon our community. The diversity of our student body, the array of our distinct individual voices, that’s our strength. I firmly believe that this position should be focused on expanding our community so that students of all backgrounds can soak in the rich benefits of our collective body. It’s not about getting everyone an interview at Goldman Sachs, or securing more offers at McKinsey. It’s about building people. It’s about paving the stones of our community. Then the rest will follow.

If elected Pre-Professional Representative, I will promote a more equitable pre-professional environment at Columbia so that students of all backgrounds can confidently prepare for their future careers. I will do so through three stages of community building.

First, I will tackle the hyper-competitive nature of pre-professional club recruitment at Columbia. It is no question that there are many aspects of Columbia that are unduly stressful; club recruitment is no exception. While pre-professional clubs provide students with incredible opportunities, the admissions processes for many pre-professional clubs systematically favor students with certain backgrounds over others, perpetuating already existing student imbalances. This club culture leaves many students feeling rejected and discouraged, particularly freshmen who are not accustomed to such levels of competition. This culture of rejection is installed by freshmen resume ‘screens’, rigorous interview processes, and students not being informed when they are rejected from student groups. I will work hard to ensure club recruitment is more egalitarian by addressing these burdensome club recruitment policies. I will implement a “no-resume rule” for freshmen applying to recognized pre-professional organizations. I will also ensure that clubs provide sample interview questions before each interview to increase transparency and level the playing field. It’s my mission to ensure that pre-professional clubs serve our entire community. This can only be done through an encouraging and cohesive environment, not one that pawns student against student, club against club. I will implement these policies by working with the Policy Committee to draft a motion for what constitutes hyper-competitive club recruitment policies. Then, I will work together with the Activities Board at Columbia to limit access to the activities fair for clubs engaging in hyper-competitive policies. I will also work together with SGA, GSSC, and ESC to curtail excess funding approvals through JCCC to clubs not complying with the CCSC bill.

Second, I will foster diversity in student career choices by connecting students and faculty through a Pre-Professional Mentorship Program. The initiative would enable students with the opportunity to build and develop close relationships with professors in their field of interest. Recent research suggests that schools that implement student-faculty mentorship programs not only reduce student feelings’ of being marginalized, but also empower students to embrace their unique identities. This program will inspire students to explore the various arcs along their career path, offering direction and encouragement to those who lack guidance in navigating the professional world. Moreover, this program will enable students with the ability to work one-on-one with their mentors through student projects, faculty research, and professional work experience. I am confident that this initiative will greatly enhance the focus and clarity of many student’s academic and pre-professional profiles. It will allow our community to soak in the knowledge and experience of our incredible, multifaceted faculty, and break away from the cookie-cutter mold so prevalent at Columbia. I will implement this initiative by first creating a taskforce on the Policy Committee to determine the preliminary structure of the program to propose to the administration. I recommend the proposal include several features, such as designating a faculty member as the program coordinator who is in charge of leading an orientation meeting with mentors and students at the beginning of the program. The proposal should also include some requirements on all mentorship participants, likely requiring each pair to meet at least once a month. Once we draft our proposal, I will work together with Dean Lisa Hollibaugh of Academic Planning and Administration to set up the role of program coordinator, and I will look to Dean Andrew Plaa of Advising for assistance in the development of our Pre-Professional Mentorship Program. Personally, I envision it will be most pragmatic to start with a small experimental group next year – say, fifteen mentor-mentoree pairs—in order to determine what works and what doesn’t work in the program. Then, the plan will be to build off our beta test by rolling out access to the program the following year to the greater Columbia community. We will create an application process for students interested in the program, which will consist of a variety of ‘fit’ and ‘interest’ questions to develop a well-rounded class of mentorees to benefit students of all backgrounds. Our taskforce on the CCSC Policy Committee will interview and screen all applicants to the program. This year on the Committee of Finance, through the Student Project Grants fund, we held a very similar interview and screen process that has proven markedly effective and pragmatic for CCSC to handle.

And finally, I will implement a CCSC database dedicated to pre-professional development that will be constantly maintained and updated each year. To name some examples, the database will include a library of Graduate School Prep Books, an archive of where current and former CC students have worked, and a series of guides on how to master industry-specific interviews. I will collaborate with CCE and our Alumni Affairs representative to ensure that this database is both comprehensive and applicable to Columbia students. This database will build on top of what CCE has to offer, however, it will have a student-minded spin. This initiative will leverage the benefits of near-peer mentorship. While CCE offers many great resources, it’s important to recognize that CCE is overtaxed in many areas and offers an adult-oriented approach to navigating the professional world. I believe that student-engineered database will perfectly complement the resources that CCE offers. Many of the greatest tools we use at Columbia are peer-developed. Think ‘CULPA’, the late ‘gradesatcu’, or Spec’s ‘THE SHAFT’. The initiative will be centered around an online forum for Columbia students to contribute tips and advice on industry-specific interviews, graduate school preparation, and relevant employer information. The forum will be built for students, by students. I hope to interweave this forum with our archive of where current and former CC students have worked so that students can contact their peers regarding specific posts or advice they’re interested in. The ultimate goal is to build a network of peer-developed resources that not only enriches our community, but also inspires interconnectedness across Columbia.

Overall, I see several clear ways of leveraging the responsibility of this position. First, by decreasing the hyper-competitiveness of pre-professional clubs and organizations on campus to expand our community; second, by fostering a pre-professional student-faculty mentorship program to deepen our community; and finally, by developing a warehouse of knowledge that enriches our community. I believe each measure will empower individual student growth and development, while reducing the necessity of students falling into the cookie-cutter mold that we so often get trapped in the vicious battle for internships and jobs.

This position is more than preparing students for the professional life. It’s more than building resumes. It’s about building individuals. It’s about strengthening a community and raising everyone together, not just supporting those already at the top. The greatest thing I can do for this community is to make it more equitable, diverse, and interconnected. I’m excited to do so by reinvigorating our pre-professional development.

The Lion asked candidates to tell us about their campaigns to give us insight into their aspirations and motivations for running. Here is what the members of the Low Beach Party had to say:

Dave Mendelson

My name is Dave Mendelson, and I’m running for CCSC President with Low Beach Party! The thought that many of my peers don’t enjoy their time at Columbia, and that there are a few tangible things I can do to help build the CU community, is what motivates me to run for CCSC Executive Board. I feel that the re-election of this year’s executive board would leave many students in the same place as they were this year; Low Beach Party brings in fresh ideas and a complete restructuring of CCSC that will significantly improve the student experience at Columbia. 

Our goals are threefold: events to decrease stress culture, policies to promote mental well-being, and CCSC re-structuring to bolster minority representation. On the intriguing topic of Fall Bacchanal: I have been working with administrators since November to plan this event, and I have figured out exactly how to craft it such that we can make it a campus tradition. First, we need to compromise with the administration and addresses their largest concern: student behavior. We will start small with something like a DJ on the lawns, and by successfully demonstrating to the administration that students will treat their peers, public safety officers, and livers with respect, we will move into a large-scale concert on the Steps. We offer this as an alternative to our opponent’s “fall bacchanal-esque” conert at Baker; I proposed this idea to the administration in January, and they told me that the noise would upset the local residents, and thus Columbia would not host this event. We also plan to host a TEDx Columbia and a few other events that our VP Campus Life Candidate, Vik, will tell you about in his interview. 

I know that Kristen will talk more about our proposals to CPS and policies on mental health, so I will go into detail on our proposal to open access to course materials. To promote equity for students who cannot take all the courses they want to during their time at Columbia, potentially because of a part-time job or health issue, we will urge administrators to allow students to access readings and presentations from all courses offered at Columbia, not only ones that you are currently or were previously enrolled in. This is something that I have spoken to many professors about, and they really support this idea. 

On the re-structuring of CCSC- this aims to fix the issue of the lack of minority representation on CCSC. It is impossible to elect students of every identity, every year, to represent the student body. With that said, we believe that people from a specific group facing an issue are best suited to speak on that issue and generate solutions. Thus, we aim to amend the CCSC constitution to build a Committee on Diversity and Inclusion, which would have representatives from many student groups and volunteers. The Committee would be led by the Inclusion and Equity Representative, and it would help plan events and policy proposals that specifically benefit members of our community who are not currently represented by CCSC. We also aim to create the positions of Sustainability Representative, Disabilities Representative, and Mental Health Representative, to spend all of their time working on initiatives specific to those three causes and hosting town halls on their respective areas of expertise. 

Adam Resheff

Are you affiliated with a party, and if so, which one?

I’m affiliated with Low Beach Party! 

What position are you running for, and what motivated you to run for it? 

I’m running for VP Finance of CCSC. I felt motivated to run because I’ve seen firsthand over the past two years that I’ve been on the Finance Committee the massive discrepancy that exists between the amount of resources this university has and the amount of resources that actually make their way to students. I’ve formulated a platform that will address this larger concern, making funding more accessible to student groups and ensuring there aren’t cost barriers for students to engage in campus life.

If elected, what would your goals be? How do you plan to actually achieve them?

I have several platform points that aim at reducing cost barriers for students to engage in campus life and to improve funding mechanisms for student groups. First I want to finalize the Student Events Fund. I served as the point person this year for the Students Event Fund initiative, working with administrators across different offices to create a fund that would cover the ticket costs of Columbia events for students who otherwise. The Dean’s office has indicated their support for this initiative, and I would finish putting this initiative into place by finalizing the logistical details of the fund with the Office of Financial Aid, the TIC, and Undergraduate Student Life to ensure student confidentiality. Next I want to create an Art Class Registration Fund. Currently cc students have to pay registration costs for art classes, as well as supply costs, that aren’t covered by the administration or financial aid that can total thousands of dollars. Students shouldn’t be prevented from taking a major or classes at a school like Columbia because off their financial status, and I’ve spoken to students who’ve said they couldn’t do an art major because it was too cost prohibitive. I would work with the deans office as well as the office of financial aid to help create this fund to cover registration fees for these classes and then look to expand it to cover supply costs. Next, I would create a Morningside Heights restaurant week. This concept is one that’s been implemented as several of our peer institutions such as Princeton and Yale. This week would allow all CC students to explore all the eating options in Morningside Heights at a reduced cost. During my first year at Columbia, I helped with securing restaurant discounts with my class council, so I would look to use my experience to make this event happen. Finally, I would make a reform to the JCCC (the Joint Council Co-Sponsorship Committee) constitution to create a per—student price cap. The past two years I’ve been on JCCC, the Fund has run out, which has prevented student groups that apply at the end of the year from getting adequate or any funding. This change would ensure that students groups get the funding they need, regardless of when they apply in the year. 

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

I want to help change the campus culture. We have a rampant stress culture at Columbia. Student council should be at the forefront of changing that culture on campus. I would address this issue through working with the other members of my party to plan fun events that bring the community together, such as a Fall Bacchanal and a TEDx Columbia. Additionally, a number of my Finance initiatives are geared towards making our community one that is all accessible to all students. If there are financial barriers for students to engage in campus life, it’s impossible for our community to come together to address stress culture for everyone on this campus. That’s why I have worked on and plan on implementing projects like the Student Events Fund and the Morningside Heights Restaurant Week – because I want to bring out campus together and reduce stress culture. 

Any additional comments you would like to share with voters?

I love working on student council. I feel it’s one of the most effective avenues of bringing positive change to campus. I have an extensive platform and the experience to make it happen – serving as Vice President of my Class this year and on the Finance Committee for the past two years, funding student groups through JCCC nearly every week, managing the Capital Investment Fund twice and again funding student groups, working on Student Project Grants, and pushing the Student Events Fund to its final stages. I will spend every second as VP Finance to address the needs of students and student groups on this campus, as I’ve always done. 

Wesley Hu

I am affiliated with Low Beach Party, and I’m running for Vice President of Communications. Throughout my first year at Columbia, while I felt that I was reasonably involved in a variety of campus groups, it seemed as if student government was always a bit out of reach and inaccessible. Only when I started considering for running did I begin to hear about the debates going on within CCSC doors, and felt as if more students should be aware of student council and aware of how they can use it to have their own concerns addressed as well.

Given my background and motivations for running, my main platform focus is on transparency. If elected, the first and easiest thing I’d like to do is bring back livestreaming CCSC meetings. ESC does it, CCSC has done it consistently in some years in the past, but this year the practice was not consistently continued. After elections were pushed back 2 weeks, a member of elections board and I tried to look for the recordings of the meetings in which the delay was discussed, but were unable to find anything and had to rely on hearsay about the meetings and what was discussed in them. Additionally, we’d like to better promote and publicize the CCSC website. It’s a really useful way to disseminate information and communicate with the student body. We’d add features to it, like a line of direct question that anybody could type any question in, and a member of exec board would have to respond within 48 hours. This way, any student could immediately have any concern addressed, and be able to voice any input they felt should be brought up at the next council meeting. We also would like to meet personally with representatives from student groups, especially those representing marginalized groups on campus. We feel as if administrative change is often slow and difficult from high up down, but if student groups can talk to members of student council exec board on a personal basis, they can very easily have their concerns voiced in student council meetings for much quicker remedies.

On top of the CCSC website, we’d like to improve CCSC’s facebook presence also. Using a combination of email and social media to survey and poll the student body would be effective at gauging student feelings about issues, and these polls and surveys can be incentivized by entering participants into raffles for gift cards or other simple rewards. Generally, it seems like an easier way to communicate with students is via catchy infographics on their newsfeed, rather than blocks of text in long emails.

Other than facilitating student council-student body connections, much of my platform is dedicated to helping to communicate to students information about the resources they have to them. So, I’d like to work together with health and wellness clubs on a wellness fair, to have fun events and free item giveaways to publicize these organizations. I’d like to revamp alcohol and sexual violence awareness training, both by increasing in person training, and reworking the standards for groups and organizations like Greek organizations and sports teams.

In general, the Communications role is all about information. And so, my job would be to facilitate the connections between students and campus life, and between students and CCSC. This way, we can all know how to best move forward collectively.

Vikramaditya Kapur

Are you affiliated with a party, and if so, which one?

I’m running with Low Beach Party for the Executive Council Positions!

What position are you running for, and what motivated you to run for it? 

I’m running for VP Campus Life. Currently I think the perception of Campus Life is solely as an event planning committee and I think that Campus Life entails not only events but also the wellbeing of the student body, both physical and mental. I was motivated to run because over 3 years at Columbia I have never been enticed by a Campus Life event and thus have never had a positive impact from the committee. Obviously I am not alone and thus I want to change the way Campus Life creates events to help students who feel marginalised or students that don’t have a place on this campus to feel included. I think this is an amazing way to combat mental health issues faced by students.

If elected, what would your goals be? How do you plan to actually achieve them?

Our party in an effort to be transparent has divided our platform into two sections: policy and advocacy. Policy changes are those that come within CCSC and we will definitely be able to secure. Advocacy points are those under other Columbia authorities that we will advocate for making sure the students voices are heard.

Policy:

  1. TedX Columbia: A great way for faculty, guest speakers and even students to share their stories with a wider audience
  2. Reinstate the Senior Lecture Series but make it accessible to the entire student body
  3. Appreciation Weeks: Athlete, Dining Staff, Public Safety and many more
  4. Fridays at the Beach: Student groups and music playing on the laws and at Low, to raise moral among students
  5. Involving Reslife and RHLO to advertise out events make sure they are better attended and utilise them to plan bigger and better events
  6. Week Long events before Bacchanal: Inclusive events for everybody! There are still some students during events like Bacchanal and homecoming that do not feel included these events would allow them to be more involved.

Advocacy:

  1. Opening the lawns more frequently
  2. Late Nights at Lerner: Make Lerner a place where students can meet and interact at night! Have Music Playing, allowing people to use Lerner not only to study but also to relax!

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

Rebuild this community! I want it to be a place where everyone feels included, people attend sports games, people meet new people all the time! I would address this by having events that inspire socialising, inclusion and school spirit.

Any additional comments you would like to share with voters?

While I am not an incumbent, I believe that CCSC requires radical change and fresh voices. I have not benefitted from CCSC in the past and I believe I am not alone, CCSC should be a body that makes a positive impact on everybody on this campus.

Kristen Santiago

My name is Kristen Santiago and I’m running as VP Policy with Low Beach Party. I decided to run as VP Policy because I have had the opportunity to make an impact in groups I truly care about on campus. This past year, however, I realized that those who aren’t a part of such passionate, warm groups often do not feel the same way on campus. Thus, I decided to run in the hopes of making an impact on a larger scale so that everybody feels included and a part of the Columbia community, which is currently lacking on a large scale. 

If elected, I would hope to expand CPS to combat the prevalent mental health issues on campus by advocating for identity-specific counselors for those who only feel comfortable approaching someone of a certain identity. Additionally, I would advocate for CPS to be a presence at career fairs given how stressful of an environment these can be. I would work closely with CPS and the administration to bring these proposals to fruition. 

Additionally, we would like to create a mental health day form, modeled after Duke STINF (Short Term Illness Notification Form), for students to notify professors that they will not be in attendance that day to due to mental health reasons. Hopefully the administration will then adopt this form so that students can take a day off when absolutely necessary. 

With regards to the tampon initiative, I would like to collect data to determine the need for sanitary items around campus and to increase the stock of sanitary items in restrooms so that no financial strain or inaccessibility would prevent a female from having these essential sanitary items. 

I will also pressure the administration to create a prayer space for Muslim students in either Uris or Lerner, along with a dining hall in Uris.