University Senate                                                                                              April 26, 2002






This year has been an important one for students at Columbia. Earlier this spring, a segment of us that included graduate and undergraduate students from across the University voted on whether we wished to be considered, as provided us by law, as employees of the University. While the vote concerned only a percentage of the student body, the question is a fundamental one for all students and signals a historic moment in the relationship between the University and its students. The outcome of the vote is still unknown, but the fact of the vote is symptomatic of students’ widespread sense of alienation from the University’s administration. The student caucus organized its effort to facilitate substantive debate on the issues surrounding student unionization by hosting two hearings in the weeks before the union vote and posting the transcripts of these hearings on the University’s website. The caucus did this without full Senate auspices because of concerns about the Senate’s status as management and the possibility of an unfair labor practice lawsuit if the Senate became officially involved in the unionization debate.

            In the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks, the student caucus brought before the Senate a resolution affirming the University’s commitment to open debate and calling on all members of the community to preserve an environment conducive to the exchange of diverse opinions.

            Throughout the year, members of the student caucus, in response to dissatisfaction expressed concerning the administration of Columbia’s graduate-level dual degree programs, have continued to study the many logistical problems raised by dual degree programs. As a result of two years of extensive research and discussions in the Education Committee, we have collaborated with that committee, and with students currently enrolled in dual degree programs, to generate a set of guidelines to govern the administration of dual degree programs, which we are co-sponsoring for adoption by the Senate at its last meeting of the academic year.

            A second yearlong project in which the caucus has engaged is creating a framework for inter-school cooperation among the various student councils on the two main campuses. The work has been a notable success, with the Student Affairs Committee being awarded half of the President’s and Provost’s Student Initiative Fund for their proposal of an inter-school party at the beginning of the fall 2002 semester welcoming incoming president Lee Bollinger. A subcommittee of the Student Affairs committee continues to work hard to bring this production together. This initiative is of special significance, because the student caucus is the only representative body of students from across the University. This initiative has been undertaken with the explicit aim of creating a framework for further coordinated work among the student councils of the many schools.



Student Affairs Committee