First-year class council candidates for Engineering Student Council and Columbia College Student Council discussed the honor code, class registration, and the relationship between councils at a series of debates on Sunday.
Unlike in the elections last semester, all council races are contested. Three parties are running for ESC first-year class council, while six are running for CCSC first-year council. All nine presidential candidates are men.
Despite the longer ballot, only about three percent of each class turned out—fewer than 10 students for the ESC debate and about 40 students for the CCSC debate.
The three parties running for ESC positions—They SEAS Me Rolling, Vitamin SEAS, and PT292—made it clear that they believe communication between CCSC and ESC needs to be improved.
Last semester, ESC rescinded its support for a proposed new academic honor code after CCSC and the General Studies Student Council had passed a resolution. Jonathan Barrios, SEAS '17 and a candidate for vice president on the They SEAS Me Rolling ticket, attributed the issue to a lack of communication between the councils.
“The fact that the honor code didn't get passed last year is just a demonstration of the poor communication between CCSC and ESC, which should really be changed,” Barrios said.
While candidates expressed their support for an honor code, Sidney Perkins, SEAS '17 and the PT292 party's candidate for president, said that more needed to be done to combat academic dishonesty.
“The honor code, on whole, is a fantastic idea,” Perkins said. “However, I don't think that it is sufficient to preventing cheating. I think it needs to be implemented with a secondary program.”
Seth Hochhauser, an independent candidate for representative of the 3-2 Combined Plan—a program for students to study at SEAS for two years after completing a three-year liberal arts education—said that he didn't believe the honor code was necessary.
“I think something that would be much more effective would be making a public awareness campaign about cheating,” Hochhauser said, adding that signing a pledge at the beginning of the school year would do little to combat cheating during the semester.
Most candidates did not support a merger between the two bodies, an idea that was proposed last semester.
“Socially, there's a lot of potential for collaboration and overlap between the two councils,” Sarah Yang, SEAS '17 and a candidate for class representative from Vitamin SEAS, said. “It's just much easier and much more efficient to separate them as two bodies,” Yang added.
Each of the parties had its own pet proposal. Members of the PT292 party said they hope to ease the registration process for first-years and hold study breaks with upperclassmen and professors, Vitamin SEAS members said they want to find incubator space for entrepreneurs on campus and organize more engineering-specific events, and They SEAS Me Rolling candidates discussed potential networking events and a mobile application to condense the registration process.
Later in the afternoon, CCSC candidates from six parties—Prestige Worldwide, The Council, Lion Heart, The Lion's Pride, Morningside Mojo, and Starr/Treasure—discussed student life, academics, and student engagement. Among these candidates, opinions were divided on the proposed ESC and CCSC merger.
While Prestige Worldwide—Teddy Finkelstein, CC '17, and Marshall Bozeman, CC '17—supported a full college merger with all schools united under one council, members of The Council party argued that the two should remain separate entities.
The candidates got into a heated exchange over printing, challenging one another's election promises and budgeting capabilities as indicators of their ability to improve a printing situation some described as broken.
Several parties suggested software overhauls, pressuring the administration for better printers, and having clearer indications of which printers are broken.
Morgan Hughes, CC '17 and an independent candidate for representative, suggested placing “direct [phone] number above printers, so we can call to get help right away,” while Michael Starr, CC '17, candidate for president for the Starr/Treasure party, said, “We're going to go in and meet with IT people.” Other candidates pointed out that these steps were already being taken, and no party had a clearly-articulated plan to fix printing.
The debate, moderated by Spectator Editor in Chief Sammy Roth, CC '14, also focused on improving student life, including suggestions for student events.
Thomas Arbuckle, CC '17 and a presidential candidate running on the Lion Heart ticket, said that his goal is to create “a clear line of communication between students and administration about events.”
Shannon Zhao, CC '17 and a vice presidential candidate for The Lion's Pride, suggested holding “socials and parties where you can communicate your issues with us.”
Other topics of discussion included ways to streamline registration, suggestions for how to make CCSC meetings more accessible, plans for town hall meetings, and improvements to the space-booking system, which some candidates said was too complex.
“One of my friends was trying to book a space on campus for a documentary screening,” Abby Porter, CC '17 and an independent candidate for student representative, said. “The job of student council is to make sure that students have the ability to plan events.”
Sammy Roth recused himself from the editing of this story.
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