The Student Governing Board recognized six new groups and floated a new student forum initiative at a town hall meeting on Thursday evening, even as student groups represented by the board have faced funding cuts.
The board approved recognition for Nourish International, the Columbia chapter of American Red Cross, Students of AMF, Barnard Columbia Divest for Climate Justice, the Columbia chapter of The Alexander Hamilton Society, and Columbia Community Outreach. Global Youth Mentorship Initiative did not receive recognition.
All six groups recognized at the meeting had SGB's recommendation. Board members approve Global Youth Mentoring Initiative because they felt the group did not do enough on-campus programming.
The approved groups cover a range of issues, from community service to emotional support to environmental advocacy. Some have only been around for a few semesters, while others are established Columbia institutions. Columbia Community Outreach, which organizes an annual day of community service projects, has been around for 17 years.
“We just try to build Columbia community, even if it's just for a day,” Scarlett Tohme, CC '14 and CCO co-president, said. After 17 years existing independently, “We want to be part of SGB because we want to build more community; we want to have this really great network,” she said.
While the new groups celebrated their recognition, the board's chair apologized for across-the-board funding cuts over the last semester.
“I really want to thank you guys for putting up with SGB this semester,” SGB chair Abdul Rafay Hanif, CC '14, said. “I know a lot of you guys had budget cuts. Hopefully that will change next year, and we will be able to give you guys as much money as you deserve.”
Aside from voting to recognize groups, SGB discussed the initiatives it's currently working on, including a plan to hold forums on a range of issues from student wellness to the Manhattanville expansion.
“Let's say you're concerned about something on campus, and you really believe that students are passionate about it. We want to help you bring together all the students that would be even tangentially concerned about an issue like it to come together,” Hanif said.
Board members are also working with University Event Management to create an advisory board in order to ease the space-booking process. Some group leaders are frustrated with UEM for cancelling bookings and sending jargon-filled emails.
“We want to cut that down for you guys,” Rakhi Agrawal, BC '14 and SGB secretary, said, “but we want you guys to be involved.”
They're also working with Columbia College Student Ambassadors to increase alumni interaction with student groups,by helping groups get in touch with alumni to speak at their events or serve as informal mentors.
And the board is focused on new technology, including a new “user-friendly” website, a growing technology rental program, and increased online flyering through the LionLink system.
“It's a step in the right direction,” Hanif said of online flyering. “Being able to cut costs in the right places and at the right times can be extremely effective.”
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