In light of the upcoming special election for the Columbia College Student Council class of 2016 representative—a position Ben Kornick, CC '16, vacated in February—we asked each of the five candidates what the most important goal would be for them as CCSC representative. Below are their responses. Voting is online from March 3 to 5.
As an elected CCSC representative, I'd like to shift the focus of CCSC in attempting to build a community ground-up to instead facilitating the lively conglomerate of interacting communities that Columbia has to offer. As a member of several of these communities, I see how engaged students are within activities such as Greek life, theater life, singing and dance groups, cultural groups, political activist groups, and so on. These associations give rise to incredibly tight communities that defy the notion that Columbia lacks any type of social cohesion. CCSC has a massive budget and the authoritative power to facilitate, regulate, and support these communities that students pledge themselves to, yet CCSC spends loads of money on events that don't result in increased spirit (a trend that resulted in the resignation of Ben Kornick). Columbia spirit isn't about the football team having a great season—its about being incredibly proud that you are a member of one of the most diverse, talented, and intelligent student bodies in the world and wishing to contribute to that with your own talents. It's the role of CCSC to facilitate that kind of spirit by giving mass support to the communities already existing at Columbia.
My most important goal as a CCSC 2016 Representative would be to foster and build community within the greater community at Columbia and within the class of 2016. Upon arriving at Columbia my first year, I very quickly realized that every one here had such unique and interesting passions. In short, I believe Columbia to be a community of passionate and driven individuals. Very often, these passions and interests manifest themselves through the student organizations that are on campus. The current methodology of uniting students through events such as study breaks does not unite our community except for reminding us all that we exist in such a stressful environment. While events such as Glass House Rocks succeed in showcasing the passion of student groups on a macro-scale, they fail to effectively facilitate discourse between different communities. I'd like to implement similar events, but on a micro-scale, to allow discourse, which will allow our community to come together.
In my opinion, the biggest problem with the Student Council is the lack of general awareness about what they do. This lack of knowledge leads to lack of accountability, a more serious problem.
My solution would be to implement a crowdsourcing website similar to WTF Columbia. There each student council would add event/policy plans for the general public to see. Students would visit the website and vote these ideas up or down. Similarly, students could add their desired changes so the student council can see and implement them. Thus the students have a more active role in changes, and the student council gets immediate feedback. Additionally, the students will see what actually the Council has accomplished. Another change I would make would be to provide more information on spending (i.e. what exactly is being purchased at each event). In short, I want to see more accountability for the student council.
Students at Columbia are known for being independently driven and determined to find the next opportunity. It's almost ingrained in our campus culture, and we are widely successful because of this. Yet sometimes, we forget to take a step back and focus on our overall wellness and happiness.
Our community comes together at large-scale events, such as Homecoming in the fall or Bacchanal in the spring. As a class, we've had a few events, yet many were not brought to their full potential. I know we can do more. Wearing “Columbia class of 2016” apparel, having more intimate and engaging study break events, adding movie screenings, and ending the year with a successful sophomore formal are just a few ways to bring our small community together. We only have four years here, so let's build a community not only within the University as a whole, but also within the class of 2016.
Radhika Gupta did not provide a submission for this piece.
The authors are all Columbia College sophomores running for the position of class of 2016 council representative.
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