Columbia College Student Council appointed four new members to fill recently vacated positions, including preprofessional and student services representatives, at its general body meeting on Sunday.
The Columbia Elections Board has traditionally presided over student council elections for CCSC, Engineering Student Council, and General Studies Student Council, but the group has faced criticism in past years for mishandling election proceedings. These complaints were particularly apparent last fall as CEB failed to adequately publicize elections, eliciting disapproval from council leaders that culminated in the resignation of the board’s president.
Joshua Burton, CC ’18, served as interim CEB chair for the appointment proceedings, which were handled by committees made up of CCSC members, as per the council’s constitution.
The positions became available after class representative Sofia Petros, CC ’19, and student services representatives Monique Harmon, CC ’19, and Toqa Badran, CC ’19, left to study abroad this spring, while preprofessional representative Rafael Ortiz, CC ’19, resigned at the end of last semester.
Out of approximately 40 applicants, 12 prospective representatives—three for each vacant role—were given the opportunity to present their platforms before the council on Sunday.
Two of the central issues that candidates discussed were were mental health and resources for low-income students, while some also promised to hold office hours, expand mentorship programs, and increase visibility and accessibility of existing campus resources.
“[The position] kind of spoke to me on a personal level. Being low-income and Latina, it was really hard to navigate internships and [the Center for Career Education] my first year, and I was very blessed to have mentors that helped me navigate these different opportunities and resources, but many other students remain unaware of all the help CCE and Columbia networking can provide,” newly elected preprofessional representative Patricia Granda-Malaver, CC ’20, said.
“After two and a half years here, I’ve seen how the demands of this institution can affect students’ mental health, and I’d wanna work with CPS to reduce wait times by getting students certified in mental health first-aid through NYC’s department of health and mental hygiene,” one of the new student services representatives, Jordan Singer, CC ’19, said.
Despite past criticism of CEB, Burton and other members of the appointment committee expressed the group’s commitment to change going forward.
“My personal priority with the election was trying to reach as many people as possible,” Burton said. “My belief in student council is that it’s at its best when you reach a broad audience or recruit from a broad pool of people, and that’s one way Columbia Elections Board has not been at its best in the past.”
According to the college council president, Nathan Rosin, CC ’18, CCSC is working together with ESC to reform the elections process, while GSSC is working separately on its own process. Burton, whose role as CEB chair remains temporary, pointed to reaching out to diverse campus communities as a critical next step for the future of the group.
“Recruitment is one thing that I really hope Columbia Elections gets right going forward, even after I’m gone,” he said. “I have not heard any word, nor has anyone particularly asked me if I wanted to stay on per se.”
The new members of CCSC are as follows:
2019 Class Rep:
Student Services Rep (2):