University Senate


Student Affairs Caucus (SAC)


End of the Year Report 2007-2008

The members of the Student Affairs Caucus (SAC) have had a productive year and have addressed several issues impacting university-wide student life.  While much of this year’s more visible work has been in response to bias incidents on campus, SAC has also worked with the university administration to foster a greater sense of community across schools.

SAC recognizes that it is the only body in the university that includes elected student representatives from every school in the university and affiliates.  With that in mind, SAC worked this year to position itself as a resource for students seeking redress of university-wide student concerns and a resource for university administrators seeking the pulse of the student body, both graduate and undergraduate.

We set our goals for the year as follows:

Within the Senate we sought

  1. Greater input in the plenary agenda,
  2. Collaboration with other Senate committees, and
  3. Support for student senators to use their positions to serve the wider university while also working as a resource to address their respective constituencies, needs and concerns.

Outside of the Senate, we sought to increase the unity among schools through university-wide events.

Beyond Columbia, our goal was to foster greater community involvement and partnership.

We met a number of these goals.  The Executive Committee was very responsive to student concerns this year and allocated substantial attention to discussing both the Report on Bias Incidents and the draft mandate for the Commission on Campus Diversity and Equity. The Executive Committee also facilitated the SAC’s efforts to resurrect the University Senate’s Committee on Rules of University Conduct to review campus disciplinary proceedings. Student input also reached the plenary through efforts to enhance campus housing and library services and to facilitate socially responsible planning and practices during the University’s Manhattanville expansion.

SAC’s work with the External Relations Committee was especially productive in investigating student concerns after the bias incidents.  The collaboration between the committees not only resulted in the Follow-up Report to Student Affairs Caucus’ 10/26/07 Memorandum on Acts of Hateful Intimidation and Vandalism on Columbia’s Campus, but also served to launch a Commission on Campus Diversity and Equity.  We hope the work between SAC and the External Relations Committee will serve as model for future collaboration.

SAC members also sought to be resources for each other through research, support, sharing of administrative contacts, and the like.  SAC members generally served the student body by bringing coordination gaps and inconsistencies to the attention of administrators. Senators also established opportunities to inform their respective schools about pending expansions into Manhattanville.

This year, many senators have also shown great initiative and have used their position to make individualized contributions. Senators spoke at an MTA hearing to note student perspectives while challenging a potential fare hike. One of our undergraduate senators continued her work to create a more integrated sign-in dormitory procedure for undergraduate students at Columbia University. Other Senators collaborated with the Housing Committee to improve conditions in General Studies and Graduate Student housing. A senator from the Professional Schools provided opportunities for student mentorship. In coordination with Lisa Hogarty, one of our uptown senators secured new printing equipment and printing services for the Health Sciences Campus, increased bus service between uptown and downtown campuses, and made print quotas available across campuses/networks.  He also provided insightful input into the library renovations process. Additionally, he worked with CUMC administrators to establish a better balance of interests among the different schools uptown.  Another of our undergraduate senators worked with university libraries to increase study space availability by working on a new “anti-camping policy” and the launch of a study space website.  This same senator also worked closely with administrators to communicate Sakai, the potential new platform for Courseworks, to the student body. Undergraduate senators also worked to provide better alumni relations. And lastly, one of our senior senators organized and chaired an inter-school governing board to facilitate student efforts to work across school lines. This list is only illustrative and in no way exhaustive of all the work of this year’s SAC membership.

To foster a greater sense of community across schools, SAC worked to launch university-wide events.  From this work, the World Leaders Forum:  Emerging Leaders event was launched as was the Let’s Talk series, which serves as a forum for students across the university to hear from and speak to university administrators and faculty working on issues of student concern. SAC hopes that administrative dedication to such a forum will help students offer constructive criticism in a manner that is open to the entire student body.

SAC has also worked to engage students with the wider community of Harlem.  A number of student senators have begun to speak with their fellow students and administrators about community service graduation requirements.  Others have begun to strategize about ways in which their schools can keep community needs in mind in the transition to the Manhattanville campus, through programs such as a Community Business Resource Center.

The SAC is proud of its accomplishments this year, and thanks the University Senate for this opportunity to serve the university-wide student community.