The Lion


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. 

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

My name is Nikola Danev and I am running for CCSC Student Services Representative. I’m an international student and a member of CU-EMS, and as such I have experienced hands on many of the issues I would like to address, if elected. One of my main platform points is Columbia Health – I strongly believe that we must have walk-in times at Columbia Health Services. More importantly, CPS must expand its walk-in times, both in terms of duration and number of locations. I believe that these two changes will greatly improve student health at Columbia. A second, and also very important goal of my platform is ensuring financial security for all students. By this, I mean waiving the financial aid reapplication fee, ensuring Residence Halls have hot water at all times, and making sure that either dining halls have extended hours during academic breaks, or that Flex dollars or debit cards are accessible to students on financial aid that decide to stay on campus. I have already discussed my ideas with stakeholders in Columbia Health and other relevant offices and plans have been developed to implement these ideas within the timeframe of one academic year. Lastly, I would like to see a professional 24/7 hotline with a psychiatrist on call during more stressful periods of the year, where students can seek mental health advice discreetly. With regards to student spaces, I believe that students should be able to book classrooms much like study rooms in Butler after classes in academic buildings. Most importantly, none of my ideas would incur additional costs to the CCSC or student group budgets, allowing for funding for other groups and projects.

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

Nathan Rosin

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

Alliance

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

I’m running to be the next CCSC President with my party, Alliance!  I initially decided that I wanted to be a part of council because I thought it would give me the chance to make changes that would help people feel a stronger cohesive community on campus. Through my years on council, I’ve learned that we have an important and relevant voice in planning events and shaping University policies. I’ve had the privilege of serving on council the past three years and contributing to the community in a variety of ways through my different positions. Just this past year, I’ve taken the lead on organizing and executing campus-wide events, working with my committee and other councils to bring experiences like Homecoming, Tree Lighting, College Days, and Silent Disco to the Columbia community, to name a few.Up until this point, I have worked tirelessly to build community on Columbia’s campus, largely from a programmatic perspective – looking forward, I would love to expand my reach to building and changing community from an institutional and systematic perspective in addition to a programmatic one.

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

We are very focused on bringing the intersection of identity and mental health on campus to the forefront of discussions pertaining to mental health. Beyond the buzzword, we recognize that mental health affects people of different identities in unique and specific ways, which call for policy changes that uniquely recognize these individual needs and cater to them specifically and directly. Given the especially trying year on Columbia’s Campus, and the administration’s recent efforts to improve mental health here, we will ensure that the specific and individual needs of students from different backgrounds are expressly considered in making new policy. In the same way that the new students of color and LGBTQ+ spaces have been promised in Lerner, we will work together with other identity-based groups to ensure that their needs for mental health and well being are being served by the administration. More specifically, we intend to host open Town Halls with Deans Valentini, Aquino, and Kromm where students will have the opportunity to directly convey to administrators what their specific needs are regarding mental health and what they think the administration can do to best support them.

Our most tangible goal is to establish an alumni-council student group fund that will expand student group funding allocations and allow for new and innovative programming across campus. We have already met with the alumni office to lay the groundwork for the fund and we see it as a two-step process. The first will be to build a platform, through which alumni and other interested parties can financially engage directly with student groups to fund small-scale new projects on campus. The second is to work with the alumni office to build and even endow a fund (working off the model of Yale College Council’s new endowment) that will act as a more constant a solid source of larger-scale new funding for student groups to present innovative initiatives. The goal is to make it such that we can increase student group allocations without having to increase the student life fee in tuition to do so! We have already built a database of Council alumni who might support the seeds for the fund, and have begun conversations with the alumni office to reach out further and connect student groups with people across their network.

We will also work with Dean Kromm and the Office of Undergraduate Student Life to expand funding for pre-orientation programs like COOP, ISOP, and CUE and carry those strong community experiences through NSOP and students’ first months on campus. We recognize that while community exists in strong small pockets at Columbia, for some who don’t find a strong small community it can be easy to fall through the cracks. By expanding pre-orientation programming so more students can participate, thereby building close and strong community early, and revamping NSOP and the first month on campus, we aim to restructure students’ experiences here from day one so people feel stronger cohesion and support as early as possible.

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

Throughout my time here I have been acutely focused on the sense of community (or lack thereof) that Columbia students feel on campus. I want to work towards creating a Columbia where community isn’t just a series of dotted experiences, but is a cohesive lifestyle that permeates everyday life on campus. I think that improving funding and expanding programming for student groups and student council is a great first step, but we need to even work beyond that to create a general feeling of cohesive community, because one more event isn’t going to change the Columbia community insofar as how students feel about the life they live for their entire four years here. I think we can build towards this goal with a twofold approach – the first is to tackle mental health concerns on campus from both a reactionary and preventative perspective, and the second is to work with the Offices of Undergraduate Student Life and University Life to build consistent programming and communications from the University that set the stage for a stronger community experience. For the first goal, we will work with Counseling and Psychological services to improve reactionary measures to mental health issues (including shorter wait times for appointments, online signups, increased number of clinicians from underrepresented backgrounds, consistent communications to student body from CPS and Ask Alice! etc.) but also preventative measures where we can tackle mental health and stress at the root (by shrinking the core syllabus, training faculty on mental health awareness, etc.). For the second goal, we will act as advisers to the aforementioned offices to help them build programming that is more relevant to what students want rather than just what the administration decides it wants to do for programming by itself (by building a student advisory board for events programming with the offices, etc.)

Any additional comments you would like to share with voters?

We are super excited to be running this year and truly believe that our experience sets us up to effectively carry out important and necessary changes for the Columbia community. Given our work thus far, we believe we have the clearest image of what is and isn’t feasible from a council perspective, and have made an active decision to make promises that we know we can follow through on. By meeting with administrators and student groups to discuss our ideas and workshop them into something we all believe can be made into reality, we believe we are set to actually make real changes on this campus, beyond giant promises that might not be fulfilled, so people will actually feel like council is successfully serving them. You can find our platform and bios here!

Alex Cedar

My name is Alex Cedar, and I am running to be the next VP for Campus Life of CCSC, with Alliance for CCSC Executive Board. Our party includes Nathan Rosin (President), Nicole Allicock (VP Policy), Heloise Taillet (VP Finance) and Sreya Pinnamaneni (VP Communications).

I was motivated to run for VP Campus Life as I am truly passionate about ensuring that Columbia College students are getting the most out of their time here, and to make sure that the events that CCSC and the University arrange for undergraduates are as attractive to students as possible. Having served on the Campus Life committee for the past year, I took a leading role in organizing events including Homecoming, Tree Lighting and College Days. 

If I am elected, my overarching goal is to engage as many CC students as possible in meaningful and frequent events and programming led by the campus life committee. I will do this by increasing the amount of campus life events to two each week. Alliance wants to supplement the large-scale traditional events like Homecoming, College Days and Tree-Lighting with smaller scale events (like snack breaks in Butler and movie screenings) designed to foster community and give students the chance to take a break. This will require more people to be appointed to the Campus Life committee, however it is a feasible way of increasing the involvement the the Campus Life committee plays. Alliance will also hold a Fall Bacchanal-esque concert at the Baker Athletics Complex after the Homecoming Game. While a Fall Bacchanal on Low Steps remains (to quote an administrator with whom I met) impossible, a concert at Baker is much more financially viable, and the university is much more likely to allow it to happen, given the security, infrastructure and logistical services already in place for the football game. An Alliance CCSC E-board would collaborate with Columbia AthleticsJCCC, the Bacchanal Committee, the other three undergraduate councils as well as the university administration to stage this concert, thus generating interest in the Homecoming weekend and creating a festival-like atmosphere.

Something I would like to fix at Columbia is the lack of recreational space for undergraduates. Lerner is not fit for purpose as a student center, as it plays the role of an administrative and bureaucratic building more than a place to have fun with friends. JJs serves the purpose of a late-night hangout spot, however it requires money to enter, thus making it exclusive and inaccessible to the whole undergraduate population. Alliance will create more undergraduate recreational space by designating certain rooms in Lerner and in residence halls to be used for recreational purposes on a regular basis. For example, this could involve music and dancing in the Lerner Party Space every Saturday night, or a movie screening in John Jay Lounge every Sunday.

You can find the complete Alliance platform at http://alliance-for-ccsc.webflow.io/ !

Nicole Allicock

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

Alliance

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

I was motivated to run for Vice President for Policy because I want to dedicate my senior year to focusing on and seeing through the policies I have been working on these past three years on CCSC. My favorite part of being on CCSC has always been hearing a friend talk about a problem or seeing a post on Facebook and knowing that there is something I can do to impact that change. Though I have felt with my time as President, I have been able to facilitate conversations and initiatives as well as effectively communicate to administrators the needs of the student body, as VP Policy, I hope to spend more of my time crafting proposals, continuing advocacy for ongoing projects, and beginning new initiatives.

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

The main goal of Alliance is to build a community of allies which contains two parts, building community and engaging in allyship. 

For the former, Alliance hopes to both address the current atmosphere of poor mental health and stop it from pervading into future years. By instituting faculty mental health training we can ensure that every member of the community, whether student, faculty, staff, or administrator, is actively engaged in building a stronger and healthier community. Currently, all Columbia College staff are receiving mental health training. Alliance hopes to advocate for a training that would allow staff to not only be able to recognize signs of distress, but to also be able to have a conversation about mental health with a student. By advocating for shrinking the Core syllabus, Alliance hopes to stop the stress culture before it begins in a student’s very first semester wherein every student is expected to read 100 pages for a single class. With the review of the Lit Hum syllabus coming up next semester, we hope to actually achieve this goal by speaking with the Deans and professors who directly oversee this process and expanding the voices involved in the conversation to students.

Allyship can apply to many individual identities, but in addition to under-represented ethnic minorities and LGBTQ students, Alliance would also like to focus on survivors of sexual assault and students affected by ongoing political obstacles occurring outside of the university. We are proposing a four year suite of training for all students first beginning with bystander intervention for first-years, then intimate partner violence amongst students and within student groups for sophomores, then identity intersectionality in the conversation of sexual assault for juniors, and sexual violence and bystander intervention beyond Columbia for seniors. Alliance hopes to work with the Title IX coordinator and campus advocacy and activist groups to revamp the Sexual Respect Initiative to include all students, rather than just the same group of “student leaders” after freshman year, and to build on each training rather than repeat the same content, Alliance hopes to improve the campus culture around sexual violence, engage all students on its many levels, and help them build actual skills. Secondly, by working to ensure that students impacted by federal policies around undocumented and international students are included in the University’s conversations both broadly and on a policy level, Alliance hopes to make sure that these students are not hindered by their status in their pursuits at Columbia. 

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

I would like to fix the level of intellectual engagement Columbia students have with non-Western cultures. In the current iteration of the Global Core, the lack of clearly articulated goals makes it so that students are unsure what they are supposed to be learning and often go into the classes looking for the easy A rather than engaging with the content. I hope to remedy this by advocating for one of the Global Core courses to be a seminar. Though students can and will still be looking for easier classes to balance out their workloads, in a 22 person discussion based format, students will have to discuss and critically engage with the primary material of a non-Western culture and in speaking about them, engage their own identities and viewpoints. Although many of the lecture courses are very interesting, they often do not require more than passive receipt of information. Running parallel to the 6 semester-long discussion based Western portion of the Core (Lit Hum, CC, Art Hum, Music Hum), I believe this adjustment will more clearly define what the Global ‘Core’ is supposed to be and ensure that every students who graduates from Columbia has had to actively discuss a non-Western culture as well as enjoy closer interaction with the faculty who teach them.

Any additional comments you would like to share with voters?

Alliance is committed to making change on campus, has feasible policy ideas, and knowledge of what exists already and what is yet to be done. I have been working on students council since coming to Columbia with policies like recurring Writing Center appointments for First-Generation students, shadow declaring to connect students with their departments earlier, and administrative funding to support student group travel alongside smaller initiatives like getting the Ferris omelette bar open later, increasing the number of printers on campus and working with EcoReps to institute sustainability talks in the first floor meeting for incoming first-years. I hope to apply this same dedication next year as VP Policy with the rest of my party Alliance. Voting starts Wednesday!

Sreya Pinnamaneni

My name is Sreya Pinnamaneni, and I am a first-year in Columbia College running for CCSC Executive Board with my party, Alliance. I am running for VP Communications, and I was motivated to run for this position as I found a pathway to implement my ideas for reform — tangible mental health, funding, and administrative transparency changes — that is tied to experienced, qualified leaders. Nicole Allicock and Nathan Rosin, our President and VP Policy candidates, have already served on CCSC Exec, and have the insights and connections with administrations to put concrete changes forward. My own ideas for communications and service have been influenced by my involvement on campus, and I chose to run for VP Communications to voice my frustrations through different labels I identify with on campus – a female, a student of color, a sexual consent educator, a public speaking coach, and a mental health advocate. I have lived through the difficult transition period that Columbia must unfortunately claim, and I view CCSC as a medium to bring about real reforms for Columbia College students. 

If elected, my goals are primarily administrative transparency, student group funding transparency, and uplifting student voices. Alliance is in contact with deans and administrators, planning to achieve these goals by setting up an approved schedule for open Town Halls (between, for example, student leaders and President Bollinger/Dean Valentini), allocating specific advisors for marginalized and international students, and meeting with the F@CU facilitators to clarify the Funding at Columbia University process for student groups and class councils alike. Unlike other platforms, we are working to ensure student funding outside of student life, ensuring that student groups feel financially comfortable and are able to voice their needs and concerns.

My goals as VP Communications are unique in this sense — Alliance leaves no room for empty promises of unverifiable concerts or vague online submissions, but rather seeks approaches such as in-person student-administrative consulting and faculty mental health training. Our approach channels our brand: we strive for genuine, bottom-up coalition building on campus and aim to put student needs before all else. With the experience and resources necessary to implement our goals, we can envision a Columbia where every student feels safe and accounted for. 

Heloise Taillet

My name is Heloise and I’m a Junior in CC running for VP Finance with ALLI?NCE.

After spending freshman and sophomore year on class council, I decided to take a break to focus on my studies. Over the year, I realized how much I missed taking part in all the discussions/decisions that shape our Columbia community. Since I’m an Economics-Mathematics major with a few finance internships under my belt, I thought it would be most appropriate to rejoin student council as VP Finance.

A few projects I have in mind for next year’s Finance Committee include:

  • Working with our VP Comms, Sreya, to improve transparency with regards to the F@CU process. We want students to understand how student councils use/distribute the $1million+ generated from student life fees.
  • Expanding current efforts to address food insecurity and provide affordable eating options both on and around campus. Finding the best solutions for our school would involve working in collaboration with the Sandwich Ambassador, First-Generation/Low-Income Partnership, Columbia University Dining, and the Columbia University Food Bank, as well as researching how other schools adress and mitigate food insecurity.
  • Implementing/managing a Columbia crowdfunding platform (on our CCSC website) to finance and encourage creative, community-oriented projects. 
  • Organizing workshops & compiling/adapting resources to improve students’ financial literacy skills (aka day-to-day budgeting, taking out loans, filing taxes, choosing a credit card, saving for the future)
  • Creating a fund where alumni can finance small-scale student/student group projects directly

I hope that my party will help change the pervasive stress culture that everyone on this campus knows so well. Though my party has a number of ideas on how to adress this, as VP Finance, I hope to alleviate financial stress by increasing revenue streams (i.e. Student Group Fund, Columbia KickStarter) for student/student group projects, advocating for/providing support for students affected by food insecurity, and offering students money management tips through workshops/adapted resources.

For the voters:

Nathan (President), Nicole (VP Policy), Alex (VP Campus Life), and Sreya (VP Comms) are some of the sweetest, smartest, and most dedicated people on this campus, and I encourage you all to take a second to learn about how they each have already helped/would like to help improve our campus.

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

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

No, I am not running with a party. However, my campaign is called Fuller Representation

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

I am running for Inclusion and Equity Rep because as a WOC at Columbia, I understand the importance of feeling heard and represented, especially in the administration. I feel that I can make strides in the areas of inclusion and diversity on campus and ensure that all marginalized groups know that someone is fighting for them. 

If elected, what would your goals be? How do you plan to achieve them? What is something you want to fix at Columbia? How would you plan to address it?

To tackle some of the issues at Columbia surrounding marginalized groups, I will focus on access, representation, and open discourse. Students should be focusing on class and enjoying all that this university has to offer, not worrying about where their next meal is coming from or how they will physically navigate campus. I plan to find more funding and a permanent space for the undergraduate Food Bank as well as support FLIP’s partnership with the Share Meals App. I want to set up a notification system that will let students know when certain elevators, entrances, or walkways are blocked so they can find alternative routes to class. I also want to redo the steep wheelchair ramps and talk to the administration about having discussion sections in classrooms that are accessible to everyone (ex. not on the 8th floor of Hamilton that has no wheelchair access). In regards to representation, I feel as though students have often been very vocal about what types of changes they want to see here to feel more included but I do not think that their ideas are always acted upon in a timely fashion. I intend to meet with as many of the marginalized groups on campus to hear their thoughts and see how I can fix them, particularly issues intersectionally affect different groups. Lastly, I look forward to setting up an email/Facebook page where students can contact me directly about their ideas. I want full transparency so that my peers can know what I’m doing and also hold me accountable.  

Any additional comments you would like to share with voters?

I will do everything in my power to provide you all with Fuller Representation. 

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

Cindy Liu

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

We are Grassroots Columbia! Rui is running for Student Body President; Richard for VP Policy; Cindy for VP Campus Life.

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

I’m running for VP Campus Life because too many ideas and talented brains are not being implemented the way they should–whether due to bureaucracy, CCSC as a popularity contest, lack of funding, inadequate space, etc. My experience co-leading a formal petition for music performance space on-campus last semester (with over 1,000 signatures garnered) taught me much about working through every administrative loophole to accomplish a single goal, and I fully intend to carry the lessons I learned into helping every CC student feel as if his/her voice matters.

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

  1. LGBTQ+ & POC advocacy: With the new open space in Lerner Hall designated for our LGBTQ+ & POC communities, we plan to ensure that its resources meet student needs to the fullest extent and that the administration follows through on their promise. I want to work closely with UEM, the administration, ABC, and the groups to whom the new space is dedicated to create a research spreadsheet of space usage throughout one semester, ensuring full transparency between UEM and the student groups.
  2. Space allocation for student groups: along a similar vein, though UEM’s/Facilities’ mantra is, “Columbia is a space-constrained campus and we are doing our best to maximize what we have,” I want to ensure every student group on campus obtains the best possible space for their programming and events. If a group is denied such space, it becomes a self-perpetuating cycle: the group’s members cannot program with the innovation and creativity they’d like, their allocation could decrease into the next year as a result of perceived “poor programming,” and they are less motivated as a result to express themselves fully. I want to sit down with/personally email every group’s e-board and ask them for the specific days/times per week their group requires space, and any end-of-semester bookings. Going into precalendaring for each semester, I hope to provide UEM with this comprehensive research so there is less conflict across groups in booking space.
  3. Preserving traditionIn the wake of the “abrupt restricting [of] the location of Orgo Night,” growing disillusionment plagues the Columbia undergraduate community that cherished student traditions are under threat. At a school that structures its otherwise-lacking school spirit around Orgo Night, the Tree Lighting Ceremony, Bacchanal, and primal scream, how can one expect to create community if such traditions are undermined? We will insist that any potential administrative changes to student-run and -loved traditions be firstly discussed and implemented with the four undergraduate student councils, the student group running the tradition, and the administration. This will provide the Columbia community with the transparency it deserves while maintaining what makes Columbia, Columbia.
  4. Disability Services: Columbia’s campus should be just as accessible to students with physical disabilities as it is accessible to students without physical disabilities. No student should be deprived of fundamental access to Columbia facilities. A few ideas: make accessibility information available in all CCSC emails about events; make event lines accessible; make sure important/prestigious campus events like World Leaders Forum are accessible; prioritize accessibility for student groups that specify it for their meeting spaces/times; make sure elevators are properly maintained.
  5. Mental Health: an integral part of Grassroots’ platform is addressing cutthroat campus stress culture and destigmatizing mental health through initiatives with student groups. Aside from those peers a student lives with, his/her immediate circle of friends, and classmates, the friends in their student groups are the ones with whom they spend the most time with on campus and alongside whom they pursue their passions. We hope to encourage groups to facilitate dialogue amongst themselves in their meetings and programming to promote inclusiveness 

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

Since I’ve explained in-detail many things we’d like to fix above, I’ll add something obvious and annoying: very few, if any, printing stations have staplers (that are filled), and not everyone has time to run to a nearby library or the Hartley Hospitality Desk before they need to submit a paper. We plan to securely knot working staplers to each CUIT printing station on the Morningside Campus.

Any additional comments you would like to share with voters?

The differences between Grassroots Columbia and the opposing two parties could not be more distinct. We believe in free CCSC events that benefit and enhance the entire Columbia community. We believe in increased funding to student organizations so that they can continue doing what they do best: improving the lives of students across campus. Mental health can only be improved from the bottom-up, which means empowering our clubs to have the funds to host the events that best express their missions.\

Richard Nederlander

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

I am affiliated with Grassroots Columbia.

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

I am running for VP Policy because I have noticed a strong lack of cooperation and partnership between CCSC and student organizations on campus. I am currently the President of the Columbia Science Review, and during that time I have noticed that CCSC’s main (if only) connection to student organizations at large is how much money they allocate to ABC (Activities Board Committee). Unfortunately, this relationship between CCSC and ABC (which is a proxy for all student organizations) is fraught because ABC is always wary of losing its ever-shrinking allocation. Currently ABC only has $360,000 for over 150 clubs (which is continually growing). Furthermore, huge portions of that allocation go to a few clubs, and the rest go to clubs with huge travel expenses. That only leaves a small amount of money for clubs to host events and board bonding events that would contribute to campus life. With mental health a big issue on campus, I would say that in order to drastically improve campus culture, we must empower our student organizations. And that means increasing funding to ABC to at least $500,000. Student clubs would then be able to put on more events unique to their own identities that would naturally draw students to them. Furthermore, the money exists in CCSC. Much of this money, however, does not leave CCSC because it is allocated towards CCSC-events that either never happen or lead to very low turnout. A bad event is worse than no event, because the money could have gone to a club who could have presented a better event. This leads into something else I plan on implementing. For next semester, there will be a Columbia Carnival where CCSC works with all student organizations to host activities integral to their clubs’ identities on the Butler Lawns. Not only would this showcase all of the diverse talents and experiences on campus, but it would be free to all students (and would naturally draw a huge portion of the student body.) Overall, mental health is not something that can be corrected from the top. Rather, it must be addressed from the bottom-up. We need to empower student groups with the funding and resources necessary to create a strong campus culture.

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

Another issue Grassroots Columbia plans to tackle, in addition to those mentioned by Cindy and Rui, is food insecurity. Currently, if you go to the CCSC website, you will find information on local food pantries and student-run efforts to make sure any student can find food when he or she needs it (CU Meal Share Facebook page). However, what is lacking is a CCSC-specific effort to addressing food insecurity. We plan on implementing such an effort by centralizing the word of such Facebook pages as CU Meal Share so that such information becomes widely available to the entire Columbia community. 

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

We would like to emphasize that Grassroots Columbia plans on improving campus culture without charging students for future CCSC events. Unlike the teams we are running against, we plan on hosting a free huge event that will likely draw much of the student body. It will be modeled after “Glass House Rocks,” but will take place outdoors on the Butler Lawns, and will be free to all students.

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

Are you affiliated with a party, and if so, which one? What position are you running for, and what motivated you to run for it? 

I am running for President of CCSC 2018 with my party, #RALLY. I’m running for Senior Class president for a few reasons. Having served on CCSC this year as the 2018 VP, I gained valuable experience in learning how to take on policy initiatives, have effective meetings with administrators, and navigate the administrative bubble. Moreover, with the help of our class council, I’ve helped plan lots of fun giveaways (laptop stickers, hot chocolate/doughnuts) and worked food deliveries (grilled cheese deliveries our sophomore year)  that I think have, in the moment, caused temporary sighs of relief and moments of relaxation and happiness for many students in our class. I’m super passionate about trying to enable positive policy changes by personally meeting with administrators, but I also love partaking in campus life events and volunteering at them when I can. 

I know that another year on council would bring me another opportunity to keep working towards this type of positive change, but with even more efficiency. In addition to policy, collaboration with the other councils (ESC and GSSC 2018) would make it super easy to plan senior wide and senior exclusive events. We have one year left and I really know it’s gonna be a great one, and I’m motivated to do everything I can in terms of event planning, policy pushing, and overall, working hard to make sure we have a good time.

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

1) Collaboration with the Mental Health Task Force to advocate for timely, reasonable improvements to CPS (one idea is the establishment of support groups for people with common illnesses) – scheduling monthly meetings with administrators from CPS (Dr. Eichler) to work towards slow, gradual changes and ensure constant input and ideas are being heard. 

2) Working with the financial aid office / possibly the Senior Fund to provide subsidized rates for Senior exclusive events, such as the Senior Gala, boat cruise, etc. I would hope to allot a certain number of tickets at each event to be provided at a reduced cost, and those who would want such tickets due to various reasons could fill out an anonymous form to be eligible. Ensuring that there is a biweekly event, exclusive to seniors, whether large or small (examples being t shirt giveaway or outside barbecue). Just want us to consistently be doing fun things for and with our class.

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

The stigmatization of mental health on campus is a problem that I’d love to address. Mental health will always be amongst the most paramount of topics at Columbia, and, with this, it should be something that is easy to talk about with people. Resources for addressing potential mental health issues should be well advertised.

My ultimate goal would be to establish a Project lets chapter at Columbia – “lets” standing for “let’s erase the stigma.” Project lets is a non profit organization that ultimately aims to provide a community for individuals who may even have the slight thought they suffer from a mental health illness. The chapter would provide for lets spaces on campus, which are essentially designated spaces with peer mental health advocates (trained peers) where people can go to seek counseling, participate in some form of body-based movement (i.e., yoga), relax and participate in some sort of fun activity (coloring, drawing, puzzles, etc.), and do this on a regular basis while preserving anonymity. Designating certain spaces on campus to be ‘lets’ spaces could certainly provide relief for those who may feel they have nowhere to go, and the benefit of it being peer led offers a nice alternative to people who prefer to be around someone they’d consider more of a friend as opposed to a professional that’s less relatable. Having applied for Columbia to have a lets chapter, and still waiting to hear back, I remain hopeful that I am able to bring lets to campus.

Any additional comments you would like to share with voters?

I think we bring a wide range of perspectives and a variety of leadership roles from different organizations on campus, whether that be through Athletics, the URC, CCSA or NSOP, to make it so that we have a firm feel of what the pulse on campus is like, and what our fellow students desire. We hope to work our hardest, if elected, to really rally for what both we and our friends and classmates alike believe in.

The Lion asked candidates to tell us about their campaigns to give us insight into their aspirations and motivations for running. Here is what some of the members of the Class of 2020 party LionHeart had to say:

Siddharth Singh

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

LionHeart

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

Class President. During Freshman fall, my friend James Ritchie and I identified a number of problems experienced by our peers around campus. They all brought these to our attention regularly and both of us realised that it was soon our ambition to remedy these problems and serve our class to the best of our abilities. Having created LionHeart with James Ritchie, Danielle Resheff, Grant Pace and Astrid Walker-Stewart, we hope to represent our entire class by listening to feedback from students and hope that we will have another opportunity to do again. 

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

We’ve identified 4 major platform points, that have been brought to our attention by members of the class and that we feel are achievable, we go into detail on how we hope to achieve them: 

1.Mental Health, 
-address underlying causes of stress culture in line with a preventative approach
-send out regular detailed updates on what CCSC has achieved regarding community health; 
-create greater incentives to attend CPS and other general mental health events; 
-produce more Stressbusters sessions – not just during midterms and finals season; 
-foster a more philanthropic atmosphere through events to give back to the community; 
-send weekly emails where we give shout-outs to members of the Class of 2020 who have done great things as well as a nominated person of the week and meme of the week;
-convey student concerns with mental health policy and CPS to the administration in tandem with the Mental Health Task Force 
-increase the number of puppy study breaks for students; 
– promote relevant stress-relieving apps which have been proven to positively impact our community’s mental health;

2. Building Community
– create new long-lasting traditions to serve the wider Columbia community (e.g. fun charity events, speed-dating, talent show, battle of the bands);
-Increase the number of affordable options for Class of 2020 apparel; 
-Be spontaneous! We can’t make the world work as we want it to, so when the opportunity comes for a fun event (great weather), we’re going to be ready to provide it for you!

3. Marginalized students 
– plan a number of events beginning with a celebration of the opening of the LGBTQ centre;
– continue to advocate for policies supporting LGBTQ students and students of color, as well as students of other marginalized identities (first-generation, low-income, international); 
– continue to improve resources for marginalized students in health services, financial aid, preprofessional advising, and more.

We are underwhelmed by the resources available to students with disabilities and would like to work with them to make Columbia a more welcoming place for all.

4. Networking and career Opportunities 
– advocate for more sophomore summer internship opportunities through working with CCE to improve Handshake powered by LionShare;
-provide you with regular updates on jobs specifically for sophomores available at CCE;
-coordinate study breaks with CCE so that we can have fun while pursuing career opportunities.

Finally, we would like to finalize our ongoing initiatives from this year. We are currently in the process of achieving subsidized MTA subway cards for students for academic, professional, and extracurricular purposes and ensuring availability of on-the-go breakfast items (along with more variety and value for your money!). LionHeart would like to continue our successful track record with our new platform for next year.

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

We’ve addressed the problems we’d like to fix in our platforms. All of us have now gained ample experience amongst administration, procedure and student council to know who the right contacts to approach are concerning specific changes. Having gained this knowledge over our tenure this year, any changes that we try to implement will be swifter and quicker. We also feel transparency is key amongst our class and we now intend to update the class regularly on our progress with our platform points. LionHeart also prides itself on its ability and awareness to adapt to emerging concerns on campus throughout the school year. 

Any additional comments you would like to share with voters?

We would like to encourage students to VOTE, be it for LionHeart or our opposition. We hope to see a large voter turnout because it is important that the students decide who they want to represent themselves, who they feel can make changes and who can improve there future years ahead at Columbia.

James Ritchie

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

I am a member of the LionHeart party.

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

I am running to be Vice-President of the Class of 2020.  My primary motivation for running is based upon a ferocious sense of pride to represent my friends and peers in my class.  I am very thankful for the many ways that my classmates ameliorate, and contribute to, my daily life and I feel that the best way for me to give back is by serving them and advocating to the administration on their behalf.

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

There are four primary points to our platform: mental health, building community, marginalised students, and networking opportunities.  I want to continue to work with the administration to address the stress culture which pervades the Columbia campus by making mental health measures preventative rather than simply palliative.  As a ticket we have several ideas for fun new traditions on campus which will help to foster a better community between the students.  I want to build on the success of the new LGBTQ centre by advocating for more access to space for students who feel marginalised on campus.  Finally I would like to work closely with the CCE to plan events which will demystify the internship process to relieve stress about finding jobs.

To see our full platform follow this link:

https://docs.google.com/a/columbia.edu/document/d/1YI_iZEPRIKyxoWjHvzYWzDuDN7Ylj3WrfWvswBn1eyE/edit?usp=sharing

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

My primary goal were I to be elected as Vice-President would be to combat the Columbia stress culture – something that is of course much easier said than done.  However, I believe that by being persistent and frank with the administration, and through seeking consultation from experts who are unaffiliated with the university we can make strides in the right direction.  I want to destigmatize going to CPS and make discussions of mental health a non-taboo topic which everyone feels comfortable sharing their opinions on. 

Any additional comments you would like to share with voters?

It has been an absolute pleasure serving as Vice-President so far and I would be deeply honoured if you allowed me the opportunity to continue to work on your behalf bettering the Columbia community.

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

My name is Briley Lewis – I’m a junior in Columbia college majoring in astrophysics, and I am running for Academic Affairs Representative (no party affiliation). I am running for academic affairs rep for two reasons mainly: 1. It is the position I currently hold on CCSC (I was elected this semester in a special election, because the previous rep graduated early) and I feel that I want/need more time to finish up the initiatives I have been working on and to start new ones. 2. I want to do this because I care about the community here, and I feel that I have experience and skills that can really make concrete changes for the better. Academics is the main reason why we’re all here, and it’s important that we as students have a voice in shaping our education.

My main goals are: 1. Mental health awareness and support, including coordinating opportunities for workshops and collaborations between CPS and student groups on campus and continuing the campus-wide discussion on this issue; 2. Expanding access to student research and unpaid internships, especially through reducing the Summer and Semester Work Contributions and/or expanding the Work Exemption Program; 3. Increasing access to faculty mentorship and streamlining the advising process, making it easier to find who can help students with a given academic/career situation. I know that to achieve these things I’ll need to work closely with many administrators and faculty, and I plan to do so. Many groups/offices on campus are trying to achieve these same goals as I, so instead of starting from the ground up I plan to work closely with them and work together (for example, Alice Health, the new working group on mental health, and of course CPS are working on initiatives already – it wouldn’t make sense to start from scratch, but instead help harness those resources and guide them in the direction students want). As far as research and the summer work contribution, I know that students and faculty alike are dealing with this issue, and harnessing that broad base of support for this initiative would help it become reality.

I am qualified, experienced, and passionate about both helping the Columbia community and about the importance of education in which the students have an active role in shaping their curriculum and experience. Over the past few years, I have served as president of BlueShift (the Columbia Astronomy Club) and more recently this semester I have been the Academic Affairs Rep on CCSC – these experiences have taught me a great deal about how to get things done here and how to navigate the bureaucracy, and also I have seen many different perspectives on the educational experience here at Columbia. I would be honored to have the opportunity to give back to my community in the capacity of this role on CCSC, and I promise to be committed, thorough, and responsive to the community in all I do as academic affairs representative if elected.