News | Student Life

Communication takes center stage at CCSC, ESC debates

  • Yue Ben / Senior Staff Photographer
    ELECT ME | Members of CCSC executive board party (front row from left) Mandeep Singh, CC ’15, Sejal Singh, CC ’15, and Peter Bailinson, CC ’16, at Sunday afternoon's council debates.

Over the course of four hours on Sunday, candidates for Columbia College Student Council and the Engineering Student Council executive boards, class councils, and at-large positions presented and debated their platforms.

CCSC executive board 

Executive board parties Insight and TAP, as well as independent candidate for VP for Campus Life Mary Joseph, CC ’15, all focused on reaching out to student groups to determine what CCSC’s priorities should be. 

TAP’s presidential candidate Peter Bailinson, CC ’16 and current VP for Communications, wants to increase club outreach and publish a list of the council’s proposed events for the semester. 

Insight VP for Policy candidate Mandeep Singh, CC ’15, suggested hosting more student events and meeting with student leaders on a regular basis to better represent the issues of student groups. 

All candidates supported reviving College Days and making the Campus Life Committee a more active part of CCSC to help improve school pride.

“There was a systematic problem with Campus Life this year in that they didn’t propose new events,” Joseph said.

TAP VP for Campus Life candidate, Andrew Ren, CC ’15, envisions College Days built around the Core with each day focusing on a different class, while both Joseph and Insight VP for Campus Life candidate Sarah Yee, CC ’16, proposed a looser approach that would leave more room for student input in the future.

Both parties want to reduce CCSC’s operating surplus, but through different methods. Insight seeks to reduce the CCSC budget by 20 percent by limiting class council spending and use the surplus to hold a second Bacchanal in the fall and create a fund for clubs’ campus-wide initiatives. TAP proposed using CCSC’s surplus to increase allocations to student groups.

CC University Senator

The five CC University Senate candidates focused on using the senate to improve the resources available to students and increasing student interest in the senate. Candidates also responded to Sunday’s release of the quality of life survey report.

Michael MacKay, CC ’15, Daniel Liss, CC ’16, and Daniel Stone, CC ’16, all said that the quality of life survey was not the best use of the senate’s time.

“The senate wasn’t working on issues that was more relevant to the senate,” Liss said. 

“I think it’s a bit unwise to put emphasis on the quality of life survey,” MacKay said.

Jacob Johnson, CC ’17, proposed the idea of sending shorter, more specific surveys throughout the year as a better way of soliciting student input.

Meanwhile, current senate staffer Ramis Wadood, CC ’16, said that the data-based quality of life survey was a powerful tool to present to administrators.

Every candidate except Stone supported the release of course evaluations to students. Stone said he had a “philosophical objection” to releasing the information because he felt the discussion around course evaluations has had a focus that he described as “anti-intellectual.”

CCSC at-large representatives 

Candidates for at-large positions focused on providing better opportunities for students and improving services such as space allocation and printing. 

Student services representative candidates Chris Godshall, CC ’15, Mikhail Klimentov, CC ’16, and Charles Sanky, CC ’16, all said that the lack of transparency in how Public Safety charges for events was a problem.

Thomas Arbuckle, CC ’17 and an academic affairs representative candidate, said that one of the things he wants to do is to push back the CC drop deadline.

CCSC class councils

Unlike last year’s elections, all three class councils were contested. 

In the senior class, Seniorit15 members said that their past experience on the council would help them make better and more informed decisions.

The People People members said that their shared experience on different campus groups brought a new perspective to the council. They said they would reach out to a broad spectrum of student groups on campus.

The class of 2016 debate had two parties and one independent candidate, all with differing tones.

Alma Matters focused on having more town halls with the class of 2016 with the goal of holding programming that students would be interested in.

Freedom Liberty and Freedom party, which only had a presidential and vice presidential candidate, focused on improving the quality of life through softer toilet paper and organizing a slip-and-slide on campus.

Polina Porotskaya, CC ’16 and an independent candidate for class representative, focused on improving the CCSC website for communication and tackling issues that students have strong feelings about, such as drop deadlines.  

The class of 2017 debates were the most heavily contested, with four parties and one independent candidate. All candidates spoke about improving communication with students and hosting more events for the class. 

Wolf Pack members also said they would find ways to improve Lerner Hall.

Independent candidate Christian Truelove, CC ’17, said that his outgoing personality helps him reach out to a wide group of students.

The Heights party emphasized their experience as the current class council, while Wolf Pack, Refresh, and Columbia Classy all said they would use their ability to reach the student body through co-sponsoring events with different groups. 

ESC executive board 

Out of the Blue is the only party running for ESC’s executive board. Party members are focusing on expanding student-alumni connections and finding student space.

VP of Policy candidate Malini Nambiar, SEAS ’15, wants to work with faculty and advisors to implement the new honor code, as well as reforming swipe access to better integrate 3-2 students into the wider student body. Nambiar also wants to expand cross-registration between schools.

VP of Communications candidate Joshua Boggs, SEAS ’15 and a member of Spectator’s editorial board, said he would like to hold town halls at which the council would present semester reports to encourage students to attend the publicly held board meetings. 

Out of the Blue also wants to increase the number of student project grants that ESC started this year.

SEAS University Senator

Michelle Haines, SEAS ’15, and Jillian Ross, SEAS ’16, the two candidates for the undergraduate SEAS senate seat, said they wanted to improve how the senate responds to the quality of life survey.

Haines proposed an annual survey where the data would be analyzed more quickly so that it could be more useful. 

Ross also said she would push to address issues highlighted by the survey.

ESC at-large representatives

All ESC at-large candidates are running in uncontested elections this spring, except for the academic affairs representative.

Cathy Jin, SEAS ’16 and one of the two academic affairs representative candidate, said she would improve grading transparency and students’ relationships with administrators. Harry Munroe, SEAS ’17 and the other academic affairs representative candidate, said that he wants to improve departmental advising and to continue his current work on grading curves.

Sarah Yang, SEAS ’17 and the student services representative candidate, also wants to better connect students with administrators.

Radhe Patel, SEAS ’15, Howei Chen, SEAS ’17, and Andrew Sohn, SEAS ’17, are all running for liaison positions with the other councils and said they want to increase the number of collaborative events.

ESC class councils

Blue Union, the uncontested party for 2015 class council, wants to create a peer mentoring program for incoming transfer students and 3-2 program students. 

Class of 2016 vice presidential candidate Chloe Blanchard, SEAS ’16, said her party would focus on the diversity of the council, integrating 3-2 students within their class, and creating career-oriented events with the Center for Career Education. 

The Class of 2017 council elections were the only contested class council elections for ESC. 

Blue SEAS wants to help their class with major selection and receive student feedback from council-hosted events. Blue SEAS presidential candidate Robert Adelson, SEAS ’17, also wants to improve communication between the Center for Student Advising and departmental advisors.

Spirit of SEAS wants to work on improving the relationship between the class council and the larger ESC organization. The party’s class council presidential candidate Rachit Mohan, SEAS ’17 and a sales analyst for Spectator said he wants meal swipes to “carry over.”

Stephanie Frescas contributed reporting

news@columbiaspectator.com  |  @ColumbiaSpec

Clarification: An earlier version of this article was unclear about why Daniel Stone raised objections to releasing course evaluation data. The article has been updated to reflect a more specific explanation of his objections.

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