Proposed: October 25, 2013
MEETING OF OCTOBER 4, 2013
Lee Bollinger, the president, called the Senate to order shortly after 1:15 pm in 107 Jerome Greene Hall. Sixty-two of 96 senators were present during the meeting.
Minutes and agenda. The minutes of May 3, 2013 and the agenda were adopted as proposed.
President’s remarks. The president said EVP for Research Michael Purdy was monitoring the federal government shutdown that began October 1. In a statement to the Columbia community, Dr. Purdy said a very brief shutdown will not have a significant long-term impact on the institution. But the effect of a failure to raise the federal debt ceiling by the October 17 deadline would be catastrophic.
ROTC’s return. The president mentioned a recent ceremony welcoming ROTC back to campus. He said the Senate had played a leading role in the university-wide discussion and debate that resulted in ROTC’s return. He noted the historic significance of this decision by the Columbia community. He said members of the community—like himself—who were students at Columbia in the late 1960s have a special sense of the origins of this issue. There was a special significance also for those who were associated with higher education, particularly law schools, and who faced the tensions and questions of values raised by the issue of discrimination based on sexual orientation in the military beginning in the 1980s. That these longstanding issues could have been resolved in the ways that they were is truly worth noting, he said.
Manhattanville. Earlier that day there had been a “topping off” ceremony marking the installation of the highest point in the Jerome Greene Mind Brain Behavior building in Manhattanville. He said he couldn’t stress strongly enough the historic importance for Columbia of having this new campus to expand into, and of being able to work with the surrounding communities in ways that Columbia couldn’t in the past.
Capital campaign. The president expressed confidence that when the current campaign ends on December 31, it will have reached $6 billion in nine years, having surpassed its original goal of $4 billion two years earlier. By contrast, the last Columbia capital campaign raised $2.2 billion in 13 years. He said this is an enormously important resource for an institution that, as everyone painfully understood, is not as well endowed as some peers.
Sen. Ronald Breslow (Ten., A&S/NS) led the Senate in a round of applause for the president.
The president said Columbia was winding up one of the most successful capital campaigns ever in the United States. Harvard just announced a $6.5 billion campaign. He said capital campaigns include future gifts—from pledges, bequests, and other sources. What Columbia has in hand right now are the funds raised in the last academic year, which was the best single year ever for Columbia fundraising, with $645 million, a big increase over the previous high of $497 million. Columbia is now regularly in the top three or top five in that category.
Closing a capital campaign is a subtle task, the president said. The one message the university does not want to convey is that the campaign was wonderful, and now people don’t have to give anymore. The point of a campaign is to raise people’s sights about what they can give, and this sense must be included in any celebration of the campaign’s success.
Endowment returns. Last year’s endowment returns, released the day before, reveal another sensational performance by the Columbia Investment Management Corp., led by Narv Narvekar. Over a five- and 10-year period Columbia has had the best-performing endowment in the United States. People at the university benefit from this achievement every day.
Global centers. The president said the centers are up and running. There have been some 80-90 proposals from faculty to take advantage of the President’s Fund for Global Projects, and 17-20 of them have been funded. He said the proposals overall were terrific. Additional programs, to be announced in the next couple of months, will enable other members of the community to use the global centers.
The president said the university was off to a great start this year. There are five new deans, with two more dean searches underway, for the Law and Architecture schools.
Sen. Daniel Savin (Research Officers) urged the president and the provost to include associate research scientists and scholars along with junior faculty in the recently announced diversity initiatives. Sen. Savin said this group of researchers is more diverse than the faculty, and could do a great deal to enhance the diversity of the institution.
Provost John Coatsworth said that was a good suggestion, and deserved consideration.
Executive Committee chair’s remarks. Sen. Sharyn O’Halloran (Ten., SIPA) welcomed senators to a new academic year. She expressed appreciation for the strong turnout at the first meeting, and apologized to those who had to stand. She promised a larger room for future meetings.
Nominations to committees.
Executive Committee. Sen. O’Halloran (Ten., SIPA) asked the Senate to elect the new Executive Committee, for which the faculty and student caucuses had nominated the following members: tenured senators James Applegate (A&S/NS), Jeanine D’Armiento (P&S), Letty Moss-Salentijn (Dental Medicine), Sharyn O’Halloran (SIPA), Samuel Silverstein (P&S), and Debra Wolgemuth (P&S); nontenured senators Soulaymane Kachani (SEAS) and Arthur Langer (Continuing Education), and student senators Matthew Chou (CC), Akshay Shah (SEAS) and Zahrah Taufique (P&S). The Senate unanimously elected the entire slate.
Standing committee roster. The Senate then approved all the other committee assignments listed on the standing committee roster, which had been distributed.
Welcome to new senators. Harry Khanna (Stu., Nonsen., Law) then read aloud the names of 26 new senators (Ex. 1) and asked them to stand. At the end of the list, the Senate welcomed the new senators with applause, and Sen. O’Halloran thanked them for their service.
Online Learning Task Force. The chair said the task force has worked in cooperation with a provostial task force on online learning. The Senate group’s draft report will be circulated widely. It will include content and recommendations from a number of Senate committees. The process has been collaborative, across the entire institution, and has taken into account many different perspectives in an effort to think strategically about ways to make the best use of online learning technology.
Student Affairs Committee quality-of-life survey. SAC co-chair Matthew Chou said the committee had conducted a survey of 36,000 Columbia students last spring. About 8,100 people opened the survey and 6,300 completed responses. By the end of October SAC hoped to produce a report on student satisfaction levels over funding, housing, academics, and other basic issues. Before presenting the report to the Senate, SAC will be circulating it to certain members of the Senate and the administration to make sure there is agreement on the recommendations.
Sen. O’Halloran praised the work of the students in addressing topics of importance to undergraduate and graduate students throughout the university.
Smoking policy. Sen. O’Halloran said she was working with the president’s office on assembling a task force to implement the smoking policy approved by the Senate last spring, including its recommendation of a small number of designated smoking areas on campus.
Sen. Savin asked how long it will take before the new policy recommendations are implemented. He said he sees constant violations of the present policy, which forbids smoking within 20 feet of academic buildings on campus.
Sen. O’Halloran said a key weakness of the 20-foot smoking rule adopted by the Senate in December 2010 was the lack of thoughtful implementation. The new task force has been established to address precisely that problem. Part of the effort will be better monitoring of the 20-foot rule before the new policy goes into effect.
Sen. Brendan O’Flaherty (Ten., A&S/SS), who chaired the task force that brought the measure approved by the Senate on May 3, said the enacting resolution called for the new policy to come into effect on July 1, 2014.
Committee annual reports.
Campus Planning and Physical Development. Chairman Ronald Breslow (Ten., A&S/NS) said the committee now has two planning experts on its roster: David King, a junior faculty member in the Architecture School, who was just elected vice chair, and new senator Christina Ford (NT, SIPA). Sen. Breslow expressed concern about the Manhattanville development: a successful outcome would be wonderful for the university; a failure would be a terrible waste.
Sen. Breslow noted that the square footage of the Manhattanville development is about the same as the main Morningside campus. The university also had to build a “bathtub” around the foundation of the Manhattanville campus, to make sure water can’t get in. The committee is following the construction of the Mind Brain Behavior building, which has had to undergo some modifications. The committee would be hearing more about this at its next meeting in the coming week from Prof. Thomas Jessell, the academic leader of the MBB initiative.
The committee is also following planning efforts—already under way—for the Lenfest Arts Center and the Conference Center. Another major occupant will be the Business School, which will move to Manhattanville once it has completed its fundraising.
The School of Engineering also needs to expand, Sen. Breslow said. SEAS needs space for its new data sciences center, and the committee is keeping track of that effort.
The Physics Department, in Pupin, is a cause for concern. Sen. Breslow said some of Columbia science buildings are impressive memorials to the past, but the university needs its science facilities to face the future. There is a plan for the renovation of Pupin, starting at the top and working its way down to the lower floors.
The committee has also learned about the space needs of Columbia College from Dean James Valentini. Columbia has persistent shortages of housing and academic space, which must be addressed. An important piece of this puzzle is Uris Hall after the Business School moves to Manhattanville. It is crucial to make the right decision about this space, Sen. Breslow said, because such decisions tend to be irreversible.
The committee endorsed the idea of a refurbished graduate student center back in 2010-11, and was now pleased to see progress on this project, though it was now somewhat smaller than what the committee had originally hoped for.
A new project for the committee involves the 119th Street entrance to campus at Amsterdam Avenue. This is more or less the garbage disposal area for the Morningside campus, and not an image the university wants to project. The committee has invited Architecture School students to come up with a plan to improve the quality of that space.
Sen. Breslow said the medical campus is also forging ahead, with eight construction projects now under way. One project of particular interest is a long overdue plan to clean up the 168th Street subway station, which has not had major renovation since it was built. The committee offered a proposal a couple of years ago to ask the MTA, with some help from Columbia, to make improvements to the station. And a project is now under way, with commitments of $30 million from the MTA and $1 million apiece from Columbia and Presbyterian Hospital. This effort bears watching, Sen. Breslow said, since there haven’t yet been proposals for how to spend the money, and Columbia has a serious stake in the outcome of this initiative.
The president thanked Sen. Breslow for his report, which he said reminded him about something he should have mentioned earlier. Groundbreaking has taken place for the new education building at the Medical Campus. This is important because the new building will provide the first first-rate facilities for CUMC students. The president said the new building has a striking design by Diller, who is also working on designs for the Business School. The building at CUMC will fulfill his hope to have distinctive architecture on different Columbia campuses, which at the same time conveys a common Columbia theme.
Sen. Breslow said the new CUMC building will serve the vital function of bringing students in the health professions together with graduate students in the basic sciences.
Sen. William Harris (Ten., A&S/SS) asked if there are plans for additional faculty and graduate-student housing in Manhattanville.
The president said housing is part of the overall Manhattanville plan, but the funds are not in hand yet for that purpose. That will have to be considered in Phase 2 of the Manhattanville development, after 2015.
Sen. Harris said there is a pressing shortage of Columbia housing.
Prompted by the president, Provost Coatsworth explained that Columbia’s agreement with New York City requires the university to provide, by the time the Manhattanville development is complete decades from now, 800 new housing units, the first 300 of which must be completed as soon as Columbia has constructed 1.2 million square feet of the 6.8 million square feet that it will ultimately build. He said the construction of the Mind Brain Behavior and Business School buildings, along with the other two current building projects, will make it necessary to start building additional housing, perhaps in the 2020s. The provost said there hasn’t been discussion about how much of the housing would be for graduate students and how much for faculty.
Sen. Mariangels de Planell Saguer (Postdoctoral research officers) asked if postdocs will be on the list for housing. The provost repeated that there hasn’t been discussion of who gets what housing, but there is no reason to exclude postdocs.
Sen. Eli Noam (Ten., Bus.) asked if there are plans to upgrade the elevated subway station at 125th Street and Broadway, which is now inadequate for the needs of a Manhattanville campus.
The president responded that there have been renovations to the 125th Street stop, but he didn’t know more than that. He said he would see that Sen. Noam got an answer to his question.
In response to a question, the provost said he thought the new graduate student center would be ready sometime this academic year.
Sen. Samuel Silverstein (Ten., P&S) pointed out that the 168th Street station is not just for Columbia. It is used by thousands of patients on their way to and from Presbyterian Hospital.
The elevator service is inadequate or nonexistent. Access to the medical complex is both unfriendly and unworkable—a disgrace.
Sen. Breslow responded at some length on the issue of elevator service in subway stations.
Research officers. Committee chair Daniel Savin said he and his fellow researcher senators and committee members represent some 2,000 research officers at Columbia, including roughly 600 professional research officers, 400 staff officers, and 1,000 postdocs.
Salary equity. The committee has spoken regularly with Senior Vice Provost Stephen Rittenberg about salary equity studies of research officers that the provost’s office has conducted. After the first study was completed in 2010, the committee saw few signs that its recommendations were being implemented. Last year Dr. Rittenberg began a new study of the same subject. Sen. Savin asked Dr. Rittenberg, who was present, when the current study would be complete and available.
Dr. Rittenberg said the study was complete, and was now being reviewed and shown to the provost. After that it would be made public.
Health coverage for postdoctoral research fellows. Sen. Savin urged the administration to provide health coverage for fellows who don’t have coverage in their fellowships. He said these fellows are the cream of the crop. Some peer institutions, such as Yale, Stanford, Duke, and Penn, do provide such coverage.
Effort reporting. Sen. Savin said he had discussed this issue at length in his last report. But he remained concerned that Principal Investigators still don’t all understand what effort reporting means for their research staffs.
Problems with Accounting and Reporting at Columbia. Sen. Savin remained concerned about how slowly the ARC system is being implemented, particularly for people who have to manage grants. Many still can’t get regular monthly reports on their grant spending.
The president thanked Sen. Savin for providing the Senate with the perspective of researchers throughout the president’s 12 years at the university.
Sen. Breslow said that at one point he too was unable to get basic information about his grants, but now he gets it without difficulty. The only exceptions are non-government grants or gifts, but that information is now available too. He thought Sen. Savin should be able to get that information too.
Sen. Savin said some units are serving as test departments for the ARC program being rolled out, and may be having an easier time of it than others. He said he personally can now get his grant information, but some of his colleagues still can’t get theirs.
Update on Naval ROTC at Columbia. Sen. Jeffrey Kysar (Ten., SEAS), chair of a committee advising the provost on the implementation of Columbia’s 2011 agreement with the Navy, recalled his report to the Senate of a year earlier: Naval ROTC was just back in business at Columbia, with four students on campus, and a room for the program on the first floor of Lerner Hall was just being finished. He said there is a lot more to report this year.
Sen. Kysar introduced Captain Matthew Loughlin, director of Naval ROTC at Columbia, and also Lieutenant Col. Michael Songster of the Marines, associate director of the Columbia program. He invited senators to visit the office in Lerner and meet the staff. The program’s main offices are at SUNY Maritime in the Bronx.
Sen. Kysar said there are two entry points to Columbia’s ROTC program. Students can come as undergraduates through Columbia College, SEAS, or, informally, through Barnard College. The other entry point is through the School of General Studies, where enlisted sailors and Marines can pursue training programs and their college degrees. Right now there are five students in Columbia’s Naval ROTC program: Two are undergraduates in the College (a freshman and a sophomore), two are in General Studies (a sailor and a Marine), and one is a Barnard student who is participating informally. In May the program will have its first formal commissioning ceremony in two generations.
In addition to their normal class load, students in ROTC travel to SUNY Maritime two or three days a week. Two of those trips include early-morning physical training sessions. On Wednesday afternoons there are classes. Students who come in through the Columbia College program can expect to take a total of eight classes (one per semester), on subjects ranging from how ships operate to leadership and other subjects. In the agreement that President Bollinger signed with the Secretary of the Navy in 2011, Columbia agreed to evaluate the eight ROTC courses. One of them, Ships Systems, has been approved through normal channels by the faculty of SEAS for Columbia University credit. Sen. Kysar said he is a professor of mechanical engineering, and it’s not uncommon for students for students in that department to go into the shipbuilding trade upon graduation. So it was decided that Mechanical Engineering would be the appropriate department for that class. The review procedure included study of the syllabus for the ROTC class and an examination of all the work students had done in it at SUNY Maritime. Columbia reviewers then suggested ways to make the classes more appropriate for Columbia students, with different approaches or additional course material. The Navy was very flexible about Columbia’s adjustments to the curriculum, and Ships Systems has been approved by the SEAS Committee on Instruction as a 1000-level freshman class. The SEAS faculty as a whole also approved the class.
One other class is now going through the Columbia College review process, Sen. Kysar said. It appears that it will be the second ROTC course to carry Columbia credit.
Sen. Kysar said Senior Vice Provost Stephen Rittenberg has made arrangements for any ROTC courses taken at SUNY Maritime, whether they are accepted for Columbia credit or not, to appear on the student’s Columbia transcript. Columbia has also talked informally about similar arrangements with the Air Force program at Manhattan College, which has two informal Columbia student participants, and the Army ROTC program at Fordham, which has three. That makes a total of ten ROTC students on the Columbia campus.
Sen. Kysar mentioned the ROTC welcoming ceremony that took place earlier in the week, with talks from Assistant Secretary of the Navy Juan Garcia III and President Bollinger. He concluded that the Naval ROTC program is in steady state, with the academic aspects fully normalized, and students participating on a daily basis. He invited questions.
Sen. Bette Gordon (NT, Arts) asked if the time was right, now that ROTC has been established on campus, to take up an issue that has been on many people’s minds—sexual harassment. One way might be to offer a workshop or a course to help future military leaders deal with this issue more successfully. She suggested that Sen. Kysar’s advisory committee might take up this idea. She said she had previously sent him an op-ed piece by journalism professor Helen Benedict that offered valuable suggestions for just such a learning opportunity.
Sen. Kysar said that was a good suggestion. His committee had not discussed the Benedict article, but would take it up.
Sen. Gordon asked if the idea of a course on sexual harassment should be presented to Sen. Kysar’s committee. She asked who is now on the committee.
Sen. Kysar said the committee has five or six faculty members, and a few students and administrators. He said there would need to be a discussion of whether this topic should be addressed only among the faculty members on the committee or by the whole committee. He would also seek the guidance of Vice Provost Rittenberg on this issue.
Sen. Justin Carter (Stu., General Studies) asked what efforts have been made to attract more students to Columbia through the ROTC program.
Sen. Kysar said high school seniors can apply for national scholarships, but this, like simply getting in to Columbia College or SEAS, is a high threshold. There is nothing his committee can do to influence admissions decisions, not would it want to. There are potential opportunities for currently enlisted sailors and Marines, which will be displayed on the Columbia ROTC website, which is nearly finished.
Sen. Silverstein added that the P&S should be another focus of recruitment for the program. There is an acute need in the military for medical personnel, and their scholarships are very favorable.
--Update on the government shutdown and Sequestration and their implications for Columbia: G. Michael Purdy, Executive Vice President for Research, and Maxine Griffith, Executive Vice President for Government and Community Relations. Referring to PowerPoint slides that were projected onto the screen behind him, Dr. Purdy said a quarter of Columbia’s revenues come from federal grants and contracts of various kinds, so a government shutdown would be expected to cause a crisis. But while it is a major concern and a serious disruption, the present shutdown is not a catastrophe in the short term because almost all of the funding Columbia receives for research comes in two-year-long and three-year-long grants and contracts. Those funds are already here, and there is no indication that the federal government will restrict them. At any given time Columbia has more than 3,000 grants and contracts across the university, and it has received a stop-work order on only one.
Dr. Purdy said that his office has been focusing over the past few days on getting information out to investigators about the impact of the shutdown. The EVPR webpage has a headline on the bottom left-hand corner called “Update on the Government Shutdown.” He said Grants.gov is still running, and receiving submissions, but nothing happens to them. There’s no peer review, no panels, and no access to any of the federal government systems. He said two columns on the web page offer more specific guidance on NIH and NSF issues.
Dr. Purdy encouraged people with questions to contact his office. He hoped the shutdown would be over in a few days, but admitted that he could not predict what will happen. He said reopening the government would be a positive step, but there will still be tremendous uncertainty about the 2014 budget. He asked Maxine Griffith to take it from there.
Ms. Griffith introduced her aides Loftin Flowers, AVP for Government Affairs, and Karen Jewett, her office’s liaison to the Senate and also VP for Government and Community Affairs. She then read a prepared statement:
Our guidance indicates that we are unlikely to see significant adverse impacts on the university’s ability to administer financial aid to students, provided the shutdown is of a relatively minimal duration. Program funds for Pell grants, other campus-based aid programs, and direct student loans are provided through mandatory and carry-over appropriations from previous fiscal years, and thus would not see significant interruption in the near term. Commercial student-loan servicers and other contract employees will continue to work as independent contractors. They are not directly subject to furlough; however, again, if the shutdown continues beyond two or three weeks, their work could be curtailed, as the department would have no ability to pay them. No new contracts will be awarded.
The Department of Education is expected to furlough over 90 percent of its total staff for the initial week of a shutdown; in the event of a longer duration, up to 6 percent of the workforce could be called back to perform “essential functions”—among these functions would be paying grantees and awarding student aid. Still, any interruption in work of this magnitude is likely to yield delays in awarding and processing of grants and contracts later in the year. Slowdowns resulting from the backlog could be felt for months.
The Pentagon said this week that it would not grant new tuition assistance for classes beginning on or after October 1 until Congress passed a spending bill for the Department of Defense. DoD will continue to pay current obligations until funds run out, likely after two weeks. This would only impact active-duty military, of which there are only a handful at Columbia.
Archivists, collections specialists, or other library personnel who work primarily with federally managed resources, such as those of the Library of Congress, would have no ability to perform their work. We have heard anecdotally of such cases already at other universities.
The Education Department has shuttered the website of its research arm, the Institute of Education Sciences. Visitors to the site aren’t able to access the department’s trove of data on colleges and universities available on the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System known as IPEDS. Prospective college students or parents hoping to use the department’s CollegeNavigator website—which allows consumers and others to compare information about individual colleges—will be unable to do so.
The Education Department’s main website will not be updated, but sites relating to federal student aid programs, including the popular Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), will mostly continue operating as normal. On Capitol Hill, the House Subcommittee on Higher Education has postponed a hearing scheduled for the coming week about simplifying student financial aid.
Finally, of potentially greater is the longer-term budget crisis. A continuation of Sequestration-level funding, if the Sequester isn’t reversed or replaced as part of the debt-ceiling talks, would mean continued reductions to many campus-based aid programs. Current proposed short-term Continuing Resolutions presuppose the current funding levels under Sequestration. Further, some have speculated that should Congress fail to increase the debt ceiling by October 17th, and Treasury go into default, it would prioritize certain payments over others, with potentially serious consequences to federal student aid.
Ms. Griffith summarized her remarks, which she said closely tracked Dr. Purdy’s. A government shutdown of one or two weeks would be annoying, but not a very big deal. If it lasts beyond two weeks, there will be a real problem, and if the debt ceiling is not raised by October 17th there will be a bigger problem.
Ms. Griffith said she would make her statement available in some form. On the new Columbia Government and Community Affairs website there is a link to an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education that outlines her remarks in more detail. Like Dr. Purdy’s, her office has consultants in Washington who are trying to keep her up to date on what is happening there.
Sen. Silverstein said Speaker Boehner had said he won’t allow a debt default. But some consequences of the shutdown are already clear. NIH has canceled many councils, many review panels, and it will take weeks to months for those panels to reconvene, and to get reviews, and process the grants. Therefore, downstream, there is going to be an inescapable hiatus in funding. Sen. Silverstein asked Dr. Purdy to anticipate what will happen when the hiatus comes. It will mean the loss of millions of dollars for laboratories that would ordinarily be refunded, or laboratories that are applying for grants, that will not appear until months, or as much as a year, behind the current schedule. Either they go out of business, Sen. Silverstein said, or Columbia finds some way to support them.
Dr. Purdy said he was aware of these consequences. He said the outcome will depend largely on how long this shutdown goes on. He said he is already hearing of reviews delayed. The magnitude of the impact will depend on how many get delayed. He stressed the importance of monitoring the situation carefully, and keeping an eye to the future.
Sen. Jeanine D’Armiento (Ten., P&S) said she appreciated Dr. Purdy’s monitoring and his presentation. She said many who depend on NIH for grants have already been on these websites and understand the consequences. What people are really looking for is a plan, She recalled a Senate discussion of the Sequester during the last academic year. She was assured that the consequences would be small. But the Sequester didn’t end, it wasn’t short-term, and it has already severely affected many researchers who depend on grants.
Sen. D’Armiento expressed concern about an apparent lack of planning within the academic center. She said it was important for the research community to have some security, a sense that people are looking out for what might be a big disaster in a year’s time. She said one example of deeper problems is that she and her colleagues are not taking graduate students anymore, because they can’t afford to. They are keeping their labs alive and paying their main staff, but they can’t pay to provide additional training. The long-term effects will be severe. She said there are numerous examples that she could put together, but there was no sign of concern on the part of the administration about what she saw as a desperate situation.
Sen. D’Armiento mentioned another troubling point about the shutdown. Her understanding from clinical colleagues was that contracts are different from grants and continue to be honored during a shutdown—for reasons she didn’t entirely understand. But earlier that that day she had heard that some contracts are now not being honored because of the shutdown.
Sen. O’Halloran said there is a need for short-term, intermediate, and long-term planning.
Sen. Silverstein asked Ms. Griffith for suggestions on advocacy. What should people do?
Ms. Griffith said the university has already signed on to a number of letters. It is part of the American Association of Universities advocacy team. She said she preferred not to use the word “lobbyist,” but she said Columbia’s advocates in Washington are active. She said the present situation is a national crisis, not just a problem for the higher-education or private-university sector. Columbia is joined by a wide cross-section of groups this time. In so many ways, it would be a disaster if the situation were to go on much further. She had meetings scheduled for the coming week with New York office of Housing and Urban Development in connection with the other half of her job—Columbia’s relationship with its surrounding community. Those meetings were canceled, with no plan for rescheduling them. She said she would keep people apprised of individual or broader advocacy efforts that could be helpful.
Sen. Silverstein offered some suggestions. First, everyone in the Senate, including students, has a professional society with an effective political arm. People should join one of these. Everyone should also be writing to their Congressional representatives and their staffers and inviting them to the university—even if they’re already allies—in order to explain to them exactly what the Sequester is doing.
Ms. Griffith agreed. She said Congressmen Rangel and Nadler were going to visit Columbia this weekend, but they had to be in Washington, dealing with this situation.
Ms. Griffith invited senators to call her office with questions and suggestions.
Sen. O’Halloran adjourned the meeting shortly after 2:30 pm.
Tom Mathewson, Senate secretary