Annual Report 2005-6
The Student Affairs Committee (‘SAC’, ‘Student Caucus’ or ‘the Committee’) believes that in addition to ‘reactively’ representing the student perspective on issues that come before the University Senate, it is imperative for the Committee to ‘pro-actively’ set an ambitious agenda from which we can drive a healthy debate. To this end, during the annual retreat of the Student Affairs Committee last summer, the Committee set about achieving three objectives:
1) Improving Internal and External Communication
2) Building a Bridge between the Columbia Community and New York City
3) Building a Bridge among the 20 Different Schools within Columbia University
This State of the Committee Report will review how the Student Senators have represented their constituents on the various Standing and Special Committees of the University Senate as well as detail the progress of the various issues the Committee has initiated this year. Overall, the SAC, as well as Senate Staff and various leaders of the University Senate feel that this year was one of the most productive and effective years for the students in recent history.
Next year, Chris Riano and
Standing and Special Committee Reports from the SAC
Alumni Relations Committee
Budget Review Committee
The Budget Review committee, represented by Stacey Hirsch
The Columbia Alumni Association (CAA) was established this
year in order to bring together the alumni communities from Columbia’s
different schools. The CAA approached the University Senate’s Student Affairs
Committee to serve as its gateway to the student body for purposes of outreach
and to help publicize events geared towards students and alumni. Jacob Press
(Senator, ARCH) and
The CAA held its first student-alumni event on April 27th,
“Columbians Shaping the Future of New York City,” which featured graduates from
Task Force on Campus Planning
The Task Force was chaired this year by
The Education Committee was busy this year, with significant input from the Student Caucus. Adam Michaels (BUS), Rob Meyerhoff (CC), Kira von Ostenfeld (GSAS/SS), and David Bornstein (GSAS/H) represented the Student Affairs Committee to ensure that the student perspective was recognized during the discussions of each issue.
A student-led initiative that was discussed in the Education Committee this year was the review of the academic calendar. As documented in the By-Laws of the University and the Senate, the Education Committee has oversight of the Academic Calendar. Because of calendar irregularities with respect to Labor Day, some years place Labor Day late (at times, September 7th). Because there are government-mandated minimum course hours, times when Labor Day falls late in the calendar put significant constraints on the end of the Fall Semester. At times, study days are cut short (sometimes only one study day is available to students) and finals are given very close to the holidays (there are times when finals need to be given on December 23rd, which makes flights home difficult and expensive). While final deliberations are still being made, the student recommendation is to start school on the first Tuesday in September, which will alleviate the most egregious calendaring situations.
Another notable student-led initiative was a partnership
with Da Afghanistan Bank (DAB), the central bank of
This year, Chris Riano (GS) of the Student Affairs Committee was appointed to chair the Elections Commission for the Senate. Working closely with Structure and Operations, the students were able to change elections procedures in order to include all students within the Senate body. The students also pushed for and were successful in creating a special commission to look at ensuring that all elections to Senate follow statute and bylaw regulation.
The Executive Committee, represented by Student Senators
External Relations and Research Policy Committee
The External Relations Committee (ERC) focused primarily on two issues this year: Manhattanville Expansion and the Sweatshop Issue. Manhattanville Expansion meetings included meetings with CB 9 chair, Jordi Reyes Montblanc, and representatives from Action on Bioresearch at Manhattanville Expansion. The Sweatshop Issue meetings included meetings with student representatives from SEEJ, as well as law professor Mark Barenberg. In late April, Senator David Fraccaro(UTS), invited Prof. Barenberg to share his understandings of the Designated Suppliers Program with the External Relations Committee.
On a separate
topic, in early April, David and Senator
Honors and Prizes Committee
Honors and Prizes Committee met twice in the Spring 2006 to short list nominees
for recommendations to the Trustees for Spring 2007 Commencement.
Housing Policy Committee
There is a feeling in the SAC that although this committee can potentially serve a useful purpose, in its current state, it has little power or ability that would permit it to enact changes on behalf of students or other residents in university housing. The two student members, Jacob Press (ARCH) and David Ressel (JOURN), were both frustrated by the limitations placed on the committee by its mandate. One area in which this body can potentially serve a useful purpose is as an arena for the airing of grievances. Unfortunately, few people are aware that the committee even exists and are not likely to turn to the Senate for help. In the future, members of the Housing Committee should consider broadening this body’s scope and publicizing its usefulness as a place to hear complaints so that it can more adequately respond to the needs of the University Community.
Libraries and Academic Computing Facilities Committee
The Libraries Committee, represented by David Ressel (JOURN) and David Bornstein (GSAS/H), addressed several issues this year. Primarily we focused on the Library culture; there is a great rift between graduate students who want to use libraries as quiet study places, and undergrads who need to socialize and study in groups. We have sought to address this issue through a variety of means including a resolution to put our space needs in the queue that ultimately led to some input from Lisa Hogarty and Kevin Fox. One meeting was devoted to our space issues along with several others.
Other topics of interest over the year included a potential
new remit to split the committee to better address IT issues. Our final
decision was that at this point it is not the right move. We have been actively
involved in the libraries RECAP program---a joint venture w/ NYPL and
Online Learning and Digital New Media
led by Ellen Wong (TC) and
There are other projects such as the undergraduate housing lottery, which are pending as well. Topics such as online courses and prioritization of CUIT projects were discussed in the Committee. Pertaining to CUIT projects, the online committee has made recommendations for prioritization to CUIT.
Physical Development Committee
Task Force on Research Misconduct
Because it was not on the agenda over the summer, and thus
not ‘planned for’, the Research Misconduct policy is powerful example of
‘reactive’ service to the Student Community. Adam L. Michaels (BUS) and
Task Force on Sexual Misconduct
The Sexual Misconduct Task Force engaged in reworking the
University’s policy and adjudication process for two and a half years. They attended workshops, tours and town halls
with administrators, professionals in the field, and students. Specifically, Senator
Socially Responsible Investing (SRI) Committee
In November of 2005, the SRI Committee, represented by
Stacey Hirsh (SEAS) from the SAC, held its annual Community Hearing to reach
out to members of the Columbia Community. In addition, students brought a
proposal to the committee, which requested that
Structure & Operations Committee
This year the students, led by Chris Riano (GS), were able to work on Senate policy and procedure by chairing and directing the operations of the Structure & Operations Committee. By doing so, we were able to put forward policies that helped to ensure that all students will be represented within the Senate. We also worked on items of interest to the entire Senate body, including seat apportionment, attendance policy, and confidentiality of Senate documentation. We look forward to another year of hard work in leading this important committee.
Commission on the Status of Women
on the Status of Women (CSW) is chaired by Victoria de Graza
and Carolyn Mutter and represented by
The second was a report addressing post-graduate student attrition and graduation rates, also concluding with a series of recommendations for the University. The Commission will be exploring closer relationships with other Senate Committees in the coming year, including the Student Affairs Committee, in particular regarding the possible formation of a Diversity Committee. Diversity issues have been of importance to the CSW, working closely with Jean Howard and the Office of Diversity. Another report will be released by the Advance Initiative through the Earth Institute, regarding the involvement of women in the natural sciences.
Finally, the Commission plans to organize a networking event between different women-focused student groups on campus.
Special Initiatives of the SAC
Improving Internal and External Communication
In order to better communicate with the student body, the Student Affairs Committee continued to enhance their website, including sections on Student Senator Profiles, Current Initiatives and Student Government. To view the site log onto: http://www.columbia.edu/cu/senate/ and click on the Student Caucus link on the far left.
University Town Halls
This year, led
by Rob Meyerhoff (CC) and
University Senate Attendance/ Effectiveness
Chris Riano (GS) led an important initiative this year to bring more structure to the Student Affairs Committee. This included the structure and level of debate within the Caucus as well as the attendance of Caucus members, at their various committees, the SAC and the Plenary Meetings. Specifically, we have formalized our Attendance Policy into a Resolution, which was passed unanimously with the SAC. This works is also beginning to ‘leak’ into the wider Senate, producing specified term limits, attendance being posted online, and we are now in the process of a complete review of the elections procedures at all the colleges within Columbia.
We have found
considerable success for the Student Affairs Committee this year in our
relations with the University Trustees. Continuing the great work that
Building a Bridge between the Columbia Community and New York
Discounted Public Transport for CU Community
goal by the Student Affairs Committee, led by
1) Leverage the existing service provided by the Internal Revenue Service and the U.S. Government to use pre-tax income to buy Metrocards. This could save the students over 30%, depending on an individual’s tax bracket.
2) Leverage the ‘miscellaneous funds’ earmarked for student services to subsidize public transportation for the student body.
We have met
David Ressel (JOURN) met with Greg Mosher and the staff of CUArts to see how the SAC via the Senate might help his mission. Mr. Mosher related his many ideas and plans for the year, and stated that his chief difficulty was getting the word out. The objective of the SAC was to attempt to connect the decentralized nature of the student body and we believe that the SAC might be a good resource for his marketing, or possibly to spread the word among SAC members. Senator Ressel subsequently spoke with Mr. Mosher via telephone, and spoke at one of the cuarts events. He was positive and said that things were going well.
The SAC, led by Stacey Hirsh (SEAS), has been working
actively to improve students' involvement with the Columbia Club. This
year, new connections were established and the Columbia Club is now marketing
its opportunities with the Senior Fund Committees to better reach out to
students. Furthermore, the Columbia Club has been organizing more Happy
Hours, for the purpose of connecting students with young alumni and to give
students more exposure to the club. The Columbia Club is also
investigating new outreach methods to student groups on campus so students can
benefit from the Columbia Club's facilities and events at an earlier point in
Building a Bridge
among the 20 Different Schools within
Graduate School Athletics
Affairs Committee has begun a dialogue with Dr. Dianne Murphy, Director of
Intercollegiate Athletics, and
of the Student Affairs Committee sought to make formal recognition and funding
options available for student groups with members from more than one school,
e.g. the Columbia University Partnership for International Development (CUPID),
an organization that has run 10 events this year with 230 members from
primarily 10 different graduate schools as well as a small number of
undergraduates. The members of the subcommittee were David Bornstein (GSAS/H),
The subcommittee requested and was granted an observer seat on the recently-established President’s Council on Student Affairs, which meets three times a year and includes the President, the Provost, and students and administrators to address student issues.
The Mentoring Forum Series 2005-2006, led by Jianshu Dong (SEAS), was designed to foster interaction
between the many undergraduate and graduate schools across campus. Each mentoring forum was focused on students
from specific school of Columbia. All
students from across Columbia University were then invited to interact and
learn from these students. Each forum
consisted of a panel of speakers followed by an informal reception. Many times, a resume booklet accompanied by
contact information of the panelists were distributed to participants. The goal of this Series is to build the
foundation for cross school interaction across
Continuation of Previous Year’s Initiatives
In 2004, several Student Senators developed
a model for increasing interdisciplinary collaboration and providing a virtual
space for students, faculty and staff to form groups based on intellectual, research
and social interests; the project was called AGORA and presented to the full
senate with an overwhelmingly positive response. Core aspects of the AGORA
project include searchable profiles, the formation and management of interest
groups and an integrated calendar system for managing events. Despite interest in
furthering development on the part of ACis, AIS, DKV
and the Provost’s Office, the reorganization of the IT infrastructure delayed
This year, the
SAC continued its work on the Diploma Redesigning initiative. Members of the
SAC, led by
National Tuition Endowment
The National Tuition Endowment, an initiative to redirect the waste in the federal financial aid system back into student aid, has grown this year to a national student movement. In the fall, students from around the country assembled at Columbia University to draft the legislative language for the National Tuition Endowment. Following that assembly, the National tuition Endowment received the endorsement of student organizations such as the Minnesota State College Student Association, American Student Association of Community Colleges, the National Association of Graduate and Professional Students and many other individual schools. Recently, the National Tuition Endowment team was invited by the U.S. Senate to hold a staff briefing. This briefing was well attended by staffers from both parties in Congress and many of the attendants expressed enthusiasm towards the possibility of increasing financial aid without an increase in taxes. To learn more about the National Tuition Endowment, visit <www.TuitionEndowment.org> or contact email@example.com.