Provost Claude Steele
The Provost’s Office
(aka the North Pole)
Dear Provost Claude Steele,
I’ve been at Columbia for four years. We are the best school in the world, in my opinion, but something is lacking. I know you don’t control everything, but you are one of the smartest people to come to Columbia and people listen to you. Could you please bring me one of the following presents for each day of Christmas?
1) On the first day of Christmas, please bring me involved alumni.
Columbia needs alumni who will give back, possibly by giving money to student-life endowments. But giving back doesn’t have to be monetary. Encourage seniors to join the Alumni Representative Committee, which interviews prospective students. Or ask alumni to join mentorship networks with students.
2) On the second day of Christmas, please bring me equality in funding and support for students.
The Multicultural Greek Council is one-sixth the size of the traditional Inter-Fraternity Council, yet it receives five times as much funding. Per capita, MGC students receive 30 times more money than IFC students. That isn’t right.
3) On the third day of Christmas, please bring me infrastructure and support.
If we remove ROLM phones in every room, we can put that funding towards wireless Internet on campus, or maybe open the ID center for a few hours over the weekend. Students generally lose their IDs on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
4) On the fourth day of Christmas, please bring me transparency from the University Senate and administration.
Please ask the Senate to relax the stringent confidentiality rules proposed, and maybe pass a freedom of information act wherein community leaders can request access to old/inactive documents from administrators.
5) On the fifth day of Christmas, please bring me better advising.
There’s already a beacon of hope for this. Monique Rinere, dean of advising and associate dean of student affairs, is a fantastic choice to lead advising at Columbia out of the dark ages.
6) On the sixth day of Christmas, please bring me joint programs with the graduate schools.
Ask Columbia’s graduate schools to admit more Columbia undergraduates. You may find that students will give back more as alumni if Columbia goes out of its way to help them. Don’t lower standards just for Columbia students, but give them preference when looking at nearly identical candidates.
7) On the seventh day of Christmas, please bring me Manhattanville.
Use our lawyers to win the eminent domain case. We need to expand. We provide a social good. Gentrification will come, but that gentrification will create a center of learning that generates intellectual capital.
8) On the eighth day of Christmas, please bring me an expanded Columbia Video Network for undergraduate students enrolled in CVN-recorded classes.
CVN is currently an idea at the University of Pennsylvania. Lectures are video-recorded and available online. Right now, graduate students can see SEAS lectures several times with CVN, while undergraduates only have one opportunity (when the professor actually lectures) to grasp difficult concepts. Not only should CVN be open to SEAS undergrads, but Columbia College should start recording classes and posting them on secure sites.
9) On the ninth day of Christmas, please bring me expanded Greek Life.
Greek Life has been the most influential factor on my years here. Any group that uses alcohol to recruit isn’t worthy of being at Columbia, but the brotherhood I’ve developed will last forever. More people should be so fortunate as to experience what I have at my fraternity.
10) On the tenth day of Christmas, please bring me a better academic calendar.
Please remove the Wednesday before Thanksgiving from the class schedule. Also consider starting classes before Labor Day. I know faculty with kids will be inconvenienced, but if you provide temporary baby-sitting for their children we could get home a week—not a day—before Christmas.
11) On the eleventh day of Christmas, please bring me better student life.
I know there are liability issues, and yes, students can be stupid, but please bring back 40s on 40 and Homecoming celebrations. Columbia doesn’t have many traditions, so please let us keep the ones we have.
12) On the twelfth day of Christmas, please bring me representatives on student council who work for ME, not for their resumes
I know this a function of whom people vote for, but try to make sure that leaders know they are in office to serve their constituents’ best interests. They aren’t there to pad their résumés. It’s something that some student leaders have forgotten.
I know many items on my list will be difficult to deliver, but if we can get even one of these things done every year, we just might create an infinitely happier campus—what’s more in keeping with holiday cheer than that?
Thank you, Santa… I mean, Provost Claude!
Rajat Roy is a School of Engineering and Applied Science senior majoring in industrial engineering and operations research and minoring in environmental engineering. He is a University senator from SEAS. Cutting the Blue Tape runs alternate Thursdays. email@example.com