News | Student Life

At debate, General Studies Student Council candidates talk communication

  • David Brann / Senior Staff Photographer
    VYING FOR VOTES | GSSC candidates for president, Joseph Giovanni Ramos, Hannah Germond, and Robbie LeDesma, pitched their platforms Tuesday night.

Candidates for General Studies Student Council emphasized the need for greater student outreach and better communication between GS and the larger Columbia community at a debate Tuesday.

Unlike elections for Columbia College Student Council and Engineering Student Council, all the positions for GSSC this year are contested.

Current council members said this is the first time in recent memory where there are multiple candidates running for all the positions.

About 40 students attended the debates, and candidates said that the sizable turnout was indicative of greater student involvement in the election process.  

The three candidates for GSSC president mostly stuck to campaign rhetoric instead of specific proposals.  Community Services Representative Robbie LeDesma, GS, said he wanted to make the council more accessible by publicizing resources designed to help GS students. 

“Here at GS we’re a proud bunch of do-it-yourselfers,” he said. LeDesma plans to outline specific goals with the larger community and identify ways in which GSSC can work more closely with the administration.

Joseph Giovanni Ramos, GS and current vice president of student events, said he hopes to improve efficiency in the way GSSC is run.

“My favorite thing in the whole world is efficiency—things working how they should, when they should,” he said.  He said he sees the role of president as “the ultimate mediator” and a centralized leader for other GS student leaders. 

Hannah Germond, GS and current first-year class president, said she would like to restructure the format of GSSC meetings. If elected president, Germond said she would move audience questions to the beginning to make meetings more appealing to the public and give council members a better sense of community issues.

Meetings would also include a presidential address summarizing current GSSC actions at the beginning of each meeting, to give the audience context. 

All three candidates stressed the importance of reaching out to new students during New Student Orientation Program and placing a continuous emphasis on resources such as the new peer advising network and the Dean of Students office. 

The candidates for vice president of policy said they want to improve student services. Michael Christie, GS, said he wanted to improve the accessibility of mental health services.

“There’s a gap between those who need mental help and are considering seeking it, and those walking in the door,” he said. Edgardo Martinez, GS and current first-year class vice president, said he wants to focus on a peer mentoring program to make advising more accessible to students, because the deans are busy and potentially more intimidating, he said.

Both candidates also talked up the need for better communication between students and the administration, saying that to create effective change they have to work as one community rather than two competing ones.

Ari Platt, GS and current vice president of communications, is also running for vice president of policy but was unable to attend the debates. While the turnout for the debates was big, a substantial portion of the audience consisted of current GSSC members.

Nonetheless, after the debate, LeDesma said, “This is the best turnout I’ve ever seen. More students are becoming actively involved.”

elizabeth.sedran@columbiaspectator.com | @ezactron

An earlier version of this article quoted the girlfriend of one of the candidates without such a disclosure. The quotation has been removed from the story.

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GS '14 or '15 posted on

I'll be voting based on superficial impressions I receive from pictures I see online—who catches my fancy. Don't laugh; it's not easy. This is where I'm at right now:

LeDesma's shaggy-headed, boho-bespectacled, blazer and jeans, scholar-cum-politician assemblage is totes working. Does he have a goatee, or is my screen dirty? Either way, it's appropriate. His look fills me with the spirit of the student revolutionary and you can tell that we are all going to be moved to effect some real change if he is elected. OMG YOU GUYS, let's all grow goatees and it'll be like 1968 when that guy who wrote plays was here and that one guy was locked in Brownie's cafe or wherever! Girls, you can draw your goatees on with eyeliner (me too since my facial hair doesn't grow that well). VIVA Le DESMALUTION!

Ramos doesn't mess around; he isn't taking this lying down and he means srs business. ORLY? YA RLY, he's wearing a tie, people! Those are like, not cheap, I don't think, and his clothes look like they fit really well. Mine are more loose and raggedy, and I would make a terrible president. I think you know what I'm talking about. OMG: his facial hair and his other hair are all about precision! Look at those lines. If you can chisel hair, he totally did it. Maybe that's the kind of detail you want in a President? You can tell he probably has a killer resumé (or CV? You guys, I never know which one to say!) I mean, Ramos is clearly going places so we might as well grab hold and ride along I guess. He has the perfect head tilt in this pic btw.

And then there's Germond. Is that a pant suit? Whatever it is, I am literally all about it. I like how it's all black and her face is waaay white with that light yellow hair; it's like she photoshopped herself and turned the contrast way up. I didn't even know you could do that but I suck at graphics so whatever. When I look at Germond I think of two important words: the movie Working Girl. RIGHT?!? Germond's hair makes me say she's totally a Tess McGill, but OMG you guys what if she's really a Katherine Parker in 1980s good girl disguise?!? (Shh...Can I tell you secret? I think I'd rather have Katherine Parker for pres! Ahhh!) Yeah, it's the best movie ever and that's because of shoulder pads—also two important words. Nobody's shoulders are big enough any more. My advice to Germond, and to everybody I guess, would just be to get bigger shoulder pads. I don't think they're that expensive and you can't really go wrong with them.

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Anonymous posted on

1:330am. You musta been really bored. This analysis is amazing.

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joe ramos posted on

so obviously the elections are over now and I finally just got the chance to read all of your awesome comments. Seriously whoever you are who wrote this ,you're f****** brilliant. Let's be friends

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Anonymous posted on

There were three comments yesterday. What happened, Spec?

Also, this is brilliant journalism. Amber Ewin is JOSEPH RAMOS' GIRLFRIEND. It doesn't take long to figure this out - did you interview anyone else??

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Anonymous posted on

on the previous comment (when the news was published), someone wrote that Robbie's girlfriend in the election committee. and ended his/her sentence with question, "Isn't this the conflict of interest?" (something like this).

is this true? does Robbie's girlfriend in the election committee???

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Anonymous posted on

To suggest that two people in a romantic relationship cannot work together reflects a fairly immature understanding of the way the "real world" actually works. GSers are professional and mature enough to handle Student Life ethically and jutly.

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Anonymous posted on

I just wanted to clarify is this information is true or not. I didn't mean anything negative behind.

But because you started first, i will answer.
a) so this is true that his girlfriend in the committee?
b) it is a competition, and candidates are competitive and enormously want this position, and i have seen these days how they behave and do to get votes and this position. As one of candidates told me, "it doesn't matter how you would do and get the position. What is matter is the result." And this is "real world." or isn't?

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Anonymous posted on

a) Correct.
b) That is very sad to hear that a candidate would represent the elections in such a manner. One thing that's fairly obvious in this elections is whose in it for the right reasons and who has a general lack of authenticiy. It would be very unfortunate if student candidates were saying something like that. GS is a fantastic community and at the end of the day, we're all on the same team to better our school. While this election matters very much, there is no one getting paid for these positions and student council more or less determines how much it accomplishes. Those GS'ers who've had work experience can tell you that having a boss, a set of metrics to which you're held accountable, and a livelihood that's dependent on your success will tell you that the university functions very, very differently than other realsms.

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Anonymous posted on

I agree. I think it's fairly obvious (annoyingly so) who is canvassing votes for the right reasons - to make constructive, friendly connections - and who is self-promoting. Whose intentions in this race are genuine are so painfully clear and it's getting obnoxious how many Facebook posts are needed to say "I'll be a great president" and "I have friends in this and this club" rather than talking personally to people about issues that matter, like on-campus services, integration, and post-CU support.

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Anonymous posted on

Yes, it's true.

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Anonymous posted on

Germond mentioned that there should be a "VP of Student Life" created for the E-board. Isn't this the exact title that the VP of Student Events used to be called? Someone on council now, please clarify. Does she suggest two VP's who work on events? Do we really need more positions on council?

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Anonymous posted on

In fact, this would be HIGHLY redundant. There are representatives for International Students, Working Students, Events, First Years, Seniors, JTS and Community Service, Academic Affairs, and Student Services. "Student Life" is alive and well represented on GSSC!

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Anonymous posted on

I disagree completely that "The three candidates for GSSC president mostly stuck to campaign rhetoric instead of specific proposals." I still don't know who I'm voting for but I felt Mr. LeDesma did a superb job of stating the realistic feasibility concerns about leading a team but that he can use his relationships and experience to further expand the peer mentoring program, distribute clearer information on financial aid, and continue service programs. Reorganizing agendas is a bit different and more towards political rhetoric, I agree.

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Anonymous posted on

Germond proposed a "student life" officer. Isn't that what the GSSC VP of Student Events used to be called?

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Anonymous posted on

There's also Student Services Rep, Working Students Rep, International Students Rep, and Four Council Rep. Student Life is alive and well represented on Council!

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Anonymous posted on

I love her idea! There is no officer dedicated strictly to overall outreach. I think it's smart for her to notice that need and prioritize integrating students into active engagements via creation of an additional e-board position. Past labels are pretty irrelevant - this is about function. Which brings me to my next point - not only are none of the rep positions just mentioned dedicated to the type of outreach Hannah outlined, but none are E-board positions, so they have minimal power and are not subject to the same rigorous elections process.

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Anonymous posted on

What I would really like to know is how people feel about LeDesma's girlfriend sitting on the committee that came up with his debate questions. Is this not a conflict of interest? How is this allowed?

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Anonymous posted on

I'll be voting based on superficial impressions I receive from pictures I see online—who catches my fancy. Don't laugh; it's not easy. This is where I'm at right now:

LeDesma's shaggy-headed, boho-bespectacled, blazer and jeans, scholar-cum-politician assemblage is totes working. Does he have a goatee, or is my screen dirty? Either way, it's appropriate. His look fills me with the spirit of the student revolutionary and you can tell that we are all going to be moved to effect some real change if he is elected. OMG YOU GUYS, let's all grow goatees and it'll be like 1968 when that guy who wrote plays was here and that one guy was locked in Brownie's cafe or wherever! Girls, you can draw your goatees on with eyeliner (me too since my facial hair doesn't grow that well). VIVA Le DESMALUTION!

Ramos doesn't mess around; he isn't taking this lying down and he means srs business. ORLY? YA RLY, he's wearing a tie, people! Those are like, not cheap, I don't think, and his clothes look like they fit really well. Mine are more loose and raggedy, and I would make a terrible president. I think you know what I'm talking about. OMG: his facial hair and his other hair are all about precision! Look at those lines. If you can chisel hair, he totally did it. Maybe that's the kind of detail you want in a President? You can tell he probably has a killer resumé (or CV? You guys, I never know which one to say!) I mean, Ramos is clearly going places so we might as well grab hold and ride along I guess. He has the perfect head tilt in this pic btw.

And then there's Germond. Is that a pant suit? Whatever it is, I am literally all about it. I like how it's all black and her face is waaay white with that light yellow hair; it's like she photoshopped herself and turned the contrast way up. I didn't even know you could do that but I suck at graphics so whatever. When I look at Germond I think of two important words: the movie Working Girl. RIGHT?!? Germond's hair makes me say she's totally a Tess McGill, but OMG you guys what if she's really a Katherine Parker in 1980s good girl disguise?!? (Shh...Can I tell you secret? I think I'd rather have Katherine Parker for pres! Ahhh!) Yeah, it's the best movie ever and that's because of shoulder pads—also two important words. Nobody's shoulders are big enough any more. My advice to Germond, and to everybody I guess, would just be to get bigger shoulder pads. I don't think they're that expensive and you can't really go wrong with them.

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