Updated 11:28 a.m.
Columbia College Student Council Class of 2016 Representative Benjamin Kornick resigned for “personal reasons,” CCSC President Daphne Chen announced at Sunday’s meeting.
Kornick notified the CCSC executive board over the weekend about his resignation. Kornick, who was elected in largely uncontested elections last spring, was not present at Sunday’s meeting.
“All the work I’m still doing for CCSC will be done. I’m just not going to meetings. I won’t be sitting at meetings for three and a half hours each weekend,” Kornick said in a phone call after the meeting.
Ramis Wadood, the 2016 class council president, said that while the class council will decide within a week whether to hold direct or indirect elections, if it held indirect elections it would solicit as many candidates as possible.
“Given the time and the elections board’s lack of resources, we would have this direct election in three weeks, and in another week and a half there’d be the election, which brings that person out of power," he said.
Several CCSC representatives who asked to remain anonymous said that Kornick’s resignation has to do with internal conflicts between council members. At last week’s CCSC meeting, members gathered for a closed-door meeting to discuss what was referred to as the “elephant in the room”—individual complaints regarding how CCSC has operated.
“What is very admirable is that he has chosen to continue working on student council, but not as an elected official,” an anonymous member of CCSC said. “There’s an element of protest in this decision. He’s lost faith in the leadership structure.”
In a resignation email sent internally to the executive board of CCSC after Sunday’s meeting, Kornick said he was concerned with member accountability and the direction of the Campus Life Committee.
“It seems that we are throwing money at giveaways and events other groups are planning, rather than stepping up and planning our own,” Kornick said in the email.
In CCSC’s fall 2013 report released last December, the Campus Life Committee had a budget of $11,456, dwarfing all of the individual class council budgets. With the exception of Bagelpalooza, the top five events organized—the tree-lighting ceremony, homecoming activities, passport to Columbia, and basketball mania—were organized with other councils.
“I think he has for a while been becoming disenchanted with CCSC as a whole, and it was his personal decision,” another anonymous CCSC member said.
“Some members of the CCSC Campus Life Committee (CLC) expressed disapproval of the committee’s direction,” the CCSC executive board said in an email early Monday. “It is important to note that the consensus expressed by members of the CLC was that issues within the committee had been addressed internally, that they were already seeing improved progress this semester, and that they wanted to focus on moving forward.”
The first anonymous CCSC member said that Kornick didn’t appear interested or excited about the council’s work at last week’s closed-door meeting.
“At the elephant conversation he was not expressing excitement at working on future projects,” the anonymous member said.
Kornick also said that all CCSC members didn’t necessarily do the same amount of work.
“There are certain groups of people who do a lot of work and others that don’t,” he said.
Kornick’s email came immediately after CCSC failed to pass a resolution at Sunday’s meeting that would decrease the number of class council representatives from three to two. The text of the resolution said the proposal was in response to “a disinterest in council programming and initiatives and a lack of substantial contribution to their committee meetings and general body meetings.”
Chen said that while the executive board holds the power to decide whether direct or indirect elections will be held following resignations, it would delegate that responsibility to the Class of 2016 council.
“According to our constitution, the E-board decides,” she said. “Because it’s a sophomore rep, we’re giving the sophomore class a say.”
“The CCSC E-Board will continue working to improve the CLC and empowering its members to plan great events. CLC meetings continue to be public and take place every Sunday at 5 p.m. in Lerner 501,” the executive board said. “The E-Board thanks Ben sincerely for the work he contributed in his time on council, and wishes him the very best in the rest of his endeavors.”
Last fall, University Senator Cleo Abram, CC ’15, stepped down and prompted the remaining Columbia College senators to hold indirect elections. After an email from the CCSC class of 2014 council questioning the decision, however, the senators held direct elections.
“Ben was one of the best council members I’ve worked with,” Wadood said. “He’s been a great member and I’m really really sad to see him go.”
Update: An earlier version of this article ommitted part of Ramis Wadood's quote on holding indirect elections due to space constraints in the print edition. Because other publications were referencing that quote, the original quote is:
“We would love to do a direct election, but right now we’re leaning towards an indirect election, which would be as direct as possible—we would reach as many students as possible, we would blast the student body, we’d blast on facebook, get as many students as possible to apply for this position the student council would vote on,” Wadood said.