Voting for the Columbia College, School of Engineering and Applied Science, and General Studies student councils and their respective University senator positions starts today at 10 a.m.
On Monday, we endorsed candidates for the Columbia College Student Council executive board. Below are the rest of our endorsements.
CC UNIVERSITY SENATOR
We endorse Ramis Wadood, CC ’16, for CC University senator. This year featured an array of strong candidates, but ultimately, we feel that Wadood presents the strongest case.
Michael MacKay, CC ’15, should be recognized for his prioritization of technology. However, University senators should be prepared to deal with the range of important issues that affect the University. Focus should come through specific initiatives, not a single-issue platform.
Daniel Stone, CC ’16, has a commanding grasp of the history of the senate, and a clear passion for reform. Stone has an entire section of his platform labeled “Secret Meetings are Suspicious!” and implies that a norm of confidential meetings indicates a conspiracy. While we are also concerned with accountability, we feel Stone’s muckraker tendencies would better serve the student body in his role of editor at The Lion.
Daniel Liss, CC ’16, is a strong choice for one main reason: his track record. On his platform page, there is a list of links to news coverage about his projects that spans an entire page. As alumni affairs representative, Liss has worked to connect hundreds of students with alumni and distributed frequent-flyer miles.
However, his platform appears to mostly be a continuation of his role as alumni affairs representative. His first-listed priorities are about careers, alumni, and funding, while important issues like sexual assault, space, and transparency from the University Senate are almost entirely absent from his platform. For that reason, we cannot endorse him.
Wadood is currently class president of his year. In this role, he has demonstrated leadership and the ability to reach out and gauge student needs—both of which we feel are vital to the position of University senator.
Moreover, he also has an entire year in the senate as research assistant to Sharyn O’Halloran, the chair of the Senate’s Executive Committee. This means that Wadood has already made strong working relationships in the senate that others would need at least months to make.
We have minor reservations about Wadood’s commitment to the Quality of Life survey. Although it has the potential to prove useful through its data, the survey has been a huge sap of time and effort, and there are more important issues to focus on. But we are encouraged by Wadood’s acceptance of criticism about the survey and particularly excited by his other project in the senate—his work with O’Halloran on implementing online education.
Wadood’s platform is a strong list of specific initiatives organized into general categories of senate transparency, student wellness, academics, and student life. They demonstrate ingenuity and an understanding of the breadth of topics that a University senator should be focused on.
SEAS UNIVERSITY SENATOR
We do not endorse either candidate for SEAS University senator.
Michelle Haines, SEAS ’15, does not have the necessary experience, and her platform demonstrates this. She will also graduate next spring, and so will be able to serve only one year of the two-year term, making her not a logical choice.
We find that Jillian Ross, SEAS ’16, has experience and connections that would likely prove valuable. However, she similarly lacks a nuanced understanding of what it means to be a University senator, despite her current position as vice president of communications for the executive board of the Engineering Student Council.
GS UNIVERSITY SENATOR
We endorse Katharine Celentano, GS ’17, for GS University senator. Throughout debates on Tuesday, Celentano demonstrated that she is the most experienced candidate both on and off campus, particularly with her experience as a legislative assistant in the University Senate, where she has already drafted and passed policies.
Celentano demonstrates a clear understanding of issues and how they relate to GS. Notably, when asked about sexual assault policy, Celentano made several specific qualifications pertaining to GS students, rather than stating vague platitudes about generic policy. We are confident that if elected, Celentano would be able to work effectively to implement much of her platform.
We choose not to endorse either candidate for General Studies Student Council executive board president.
Both Peter Nason, GS ’15, and Joshua Dominic, GS ’16, struck us as competent, qualified individuals. We are sure that either of them would serve well, but we could not differentiate between the two enough to come to a decision.
GSSC VP POLICY
We endorse Elizabeth Heyman, GS/JTS ’16, for the position of GSSC vice president of policy.
Heyman’s focus on a holistic representation of student concerns is promising, and we found her concerns about improving the clarity and ease of registration to be on point. We have some concerns about a lack of specificity, but are encouraged by her genuine motivation to serve the student community in GS.
Peter Andrews dissented from this staff editorial.
Staff editorial dissent
I respectfully dissent from the editorial board in its endorsement of the Columbia College University senator. In my opinion, Daniel Liss, CC ’16, is the best option for the college. Liss’ platform—a focus on technology and alumni issues—and accomplishments within Columbia College Student Council suggest that he will bring immense drive and a unique perspective to the position if elected.
I agree with the editorial board in its conclusion that Ramis Wadood, CC ’16, would be an effective senator, and I respect his past work in student government. However, CC’s delegation of three University senators should represent a broad range of issues and passions. I have serious reservations about electing a second senator in one academic year—following Marc Heinrich, CC ’16—who previously served as a senate staffer. Serving on senate staff should not become a de facto prerequisite for election.
If elected, Liss will bring a fresh voice and a record of accomplishment to the University Senate.
Peter Andrews is a Columbia College senior majoring in American studies. He is a member of Spectator’s editorial board.
Clarification: The editorial board, with the exception of Peter Andrews, endorses Ramis Wadood for CC University senator.
To respond to this staff editorial, or to submit an op-ed, contact email@example.com.