The two parties running for Columbia College Student Council executive board faced off at a debate on Sunday night, staking out their positions on student space on campus, student involvement in curricular decisions, and the importance of CCSC candidates having previous experience on the council. The Spectator-sponsored debate was moderated by Spectator editor-in-chief Sarah Darville, CC ’13.
One of the parties, The 212, has three members with previous CCSC experience. Block Party presidential candidate Alex Jasiulek, CC ’13, is the only member of his party with previous council experience, which he said gives Block Party an advantage.
“There’s this notion that only if you were elected to CCSC do you have anything to offer,” Jasiulek said. “Look how many things our ticket has done over the years. What CCSC needs is an injection of a new sort of energy, a new sort of direction for how we want to envision our school.”
The 212 has two members who have not been on the council before and three who have, which Habbu said gives the party a sense of balance.
“We have specific ideas,” Habbu said. “We know how to turn it into reality. We’ve done a lot because we care about this school.”
Habbu was largely responsible for sparking the ongoing internal review of the financial aid office, and communications vice president candidate Jared Odessky, CC ’15, spearheaded the Center for Student Advising’s new peer advising pilot program.
Habbu added that student leaders need to have respectful relationships with administrators but should not try to be friends with them. She discussed working with Dean of Financial Aid Laurie Schaffler on the financial aid office review.
“Your primary allegiance is to students, not necessarily to them [administrators],” Habbu said. “I had to be like, ‘No, you’re not listening to me. This is what’s important.’ You have to be informed when speaking to them.”
Jasiulek, however, criticized The 212 for not putting forth enough new ideas. He emphasized that his party includes leaders from different student groups—Lauren Barriere, CC ’13, and Peyton Bell, CC ’13, are involved with Greek life; Bell plays on the rugby team; Janice Yoon, CC ’14, is co-president of Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month; and Jean-Pierre Salendres, CC ’14, is involved with the Columbia International Relations Council and Association.
“I need enthusiastic, new, fresh people with a wide grasp of our community to go forward,” Jasiulek said. “I don’t think we can do that with 212.”
Jasiulek also said that the Block Party would work on humanizing administrators by hosting dinners with them at the end of each semester.
In addition to the question of experience, the parties disagreed on how they would handle the planned Educational Policy and Planning Committee, which will advise Executive Vice President for Arts and Sciences Nicholas Dirks on curriculum and course-staffing issues. The EPPC could have influence over key decisions relating to the Core Curriculum and other facets of undergraduate education.
The EPPC’s charter does not currently require student membership. Habbu said that The 212 supports adding student members, as students “deserve” a say in their education.
Jasiulek, though, questioned whether discussions about the EPPC would be a good use of the council’s time.
“What am I going to focus on? What are we going to focus on? Am I going to focus on the EPPC?” he said.
Asked about undergraduate space on campus, Salendres, Block Party’s policy vice president candidate, discussed working on “big projects” when it comes to student space, noting that Lerner “was a student center before, but now it’s over 50 percent administration.”
Habbu said that The 212 would “demand some kind of written guarantee” from administrators that undergraduates will get some of the space that is vacated when several schools move to the new Manhattanville campus, although she added that this would require a lot of student involvement.
“If students make enough of a ruckus about it, if they bang their pots and pans, it becomes really important,” Habbu said. “That’s what it takes. It takes student support.”
Sarah Darville recused herself from the editing of this story.