With polls opening Monday morning, the Editorial Board endorses Jared Odessky to represent Columbia College in the University Senate. Odessky brings the right mix of experience, innovation, and dedication to the position. After interviewing him and his competitor, David Froomkin, we believe that he is more likely both to make the senate responsive to undergraduate concerns and to improve the relationship between the general student body and the senate.
Having served as vice president for communications for Columbia College Student Council this year, Odessky has a wealth of experience representing undergraduate students and addressing undergraduate concerns in meaningful ways. Most notably, he spearheaded the establishment of What to Fix Columbia, a crowdsourcing website that provides a forum in which Columbia undergraduates can express their opinions regarding any sort of campus-related issue, thereby increasing dialogue between student leaders, the administration, and the student body.
Froomkin contends that student government insularity has led to a culture of disengagement among students, and he bills himself as an “anti-establishment” candidate who will rock the status quo and push the senate to address the issues most important to undergraduates. Indeed, when CCSC was looking to appoint a student to a vacated senate seat earlier this semester, we called on the council to choose an outsider to fill the position. But in this particular race, it is evident from the two candidates and their platforms that Odessky will make the better senator. We want a senator who can hit the ground running, and Odessky’s familiarity with University policies and administrative maneuvering will serve him well in the senate.
Moreover, Odessky has demonstrated not only that he fully understands the role for which he is running, but also that he knows which goals are feasible and—perhaps more importantly—which are not. Specifically, we applaud Odessky for including in his platform the compilation and effective use of the data garnered from the Morningside Student Space Initiative, his advocacy for the fifth and sixth floors of Butler to be open 24 hours a day all semester, and a push for continued student involvement in planning for the endowment of the Core Curriculum. All of these are excellent projects in which the voice of an active senator, advocating for Columbia College students, could have a lasting and meaningful impact. And we know from Odessky’s time on CCSC that he has a record of following through on the ambitious projects he initiates.
Froomkin’s platform, meanwhile, contains many sweeping goals that, while commendable, are unrealistic. We agree that eliminating “wasteful spending” on the part of the administration and releasing information about Columbia’s investments are good ideas, but we doubt that any senator has the capacity to accomplish them.
Above all, we want a senator who will increase communication and transparency, and Odessky has already proven himself willing and able to do so. In addition to these skills, Odessky also seems to have a sincere desire to serve the student body. All too often, elected positions go to those who simply desire to put one more line on a résumé, but Odessky is truly enthusiastic and creative. Should he be elected, we look forward to seeing what he will bring to the senate over the next two years.
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