The Engineering Student Council voted to support the Columbia College Student Council's decision to boycott concessions at Homecoming in a closed meeting Monday night.
The decision came following a presentation by CCSC President Michelle Oh, CC '06, and CC junior class President David Chait, CC '07, who were part of a Sunday vote to boycott the Lion's concession stand which resulted from an athletic department policy that will ban bringing alcohol to Baker Field.
The numerical result of the ESC vote was not released in accordance with council's policy of conducting closed votes. Although weekly meetings are generally open to the public, ESC conducted the entire discussion of the boycott behind closed doors.
Barnard's Student Government Association did not make a decision about the boycott at their regular Monday meeting, but "a motion to create a petition supporting the boycott in spirit is what passed," said Andi Grossman, BC '06 and officer to the SGA board. SGA will vote on the boycott proposal within the next 24 hours, as will the General Studies Student Council.
ESC President Tom Fazzio, SEAS '06, said that prior to the CCSC's decision to boycott concessions at Homecoming, ESC members had hoped to pursue negotiations with administrators regarding the policy, but that "at the end of the day, we all agree on what we want to get done. The issue we are taking a stance against is the lack of student input and disenfranchisement."
"We wanted to ... maintain a diplomatic approach," Fazzio said.
Vice President Internal Nick Sharma, SEAS '07, added that "we wanted a unified decision of the entire student body." He added that ESC has proposed amendments to the boycott that will not be made public until they are discussed with CCSC later this week.
The potential amendments reflect varying opinions among council members about how to approach the tailgating policy. Though there was some disagreement among CCSC members between Sunday evening's vote and Monday night's follow-up meeting, council members all seemed happy with the group's stance by late Monday.
"Like with any group dynamic, there's obviously varying opinions on various issues, and we've gone through periods of strife," Chait said. "But within 24 hours we've really united, and we now have one voice and one opinion."
Senior class president and Spectator sports columnist Kwame Spearman, CC '06, said he feels SGA was not fully aware of all the issues at the meeting on Monday, and hopes they will vote to support CCSC.
"This isn't just giving the middle finger to administration," he said. "It's demonstrating that students don't agree with their policy."
In an interview before the meeting, Oh said the boycott was the first time in recent memory that the council has protested a controversial University-wide policy, and that past councils have reacted to issues like last spring's race protests and the MEALAC controversy by issuing statements, not taking action.
"This time, there was such a strong student consensus," she said. "Past issues for protesting were of a very sensitive nature, and groups of students had distinctly separate opinions. But in this case, every student who typically goes to games will share a common sentiment towards this policy."
Chait said that though it is important to respect the administration and maintain dialogue with them, "mutual respect is gained by calling them out when we think we're being treated unfairly."
Since CCSC is encouraging students to boycott the concession stands, some members are looking into providing alternative food and drink.
"The CC and SEAS classes of '06 are going to have some sort of joint open bar in the neighborhood [of Baker Field], or about doing open bars or drink specials for students," said Spearman. "We will make it so that every amenity you could buy from the University will be available for you on Saturday at the same cost or free."
On Monday, CCSC ordered 700 shirts bearing the campaign's slogan, "Support the team, not the policy," and the phrase "Don't spend a penny." According to Andrew Russeth, CC '07 and CCSC's vice president for funding, SDA approved the use of student life fees to pay for the shirts at a total cost of $2,500.
Russeth said CCSC has also been reaching out to alumni for donations, and at least one sympathetic alumnus had already donated. He added that council members would also set several hundred shirts aside to sell to parents and alumni at the game itself to help offset the cost of their production.
Although council members said they were excited about the united front they would present, several added that they were unsure about whether they could affect a new policy.
Adam Goldberg, SEAS '06 and ESC's director of technology, said the boycott would likely "not be strong enough to have any lasting change." He added that the graduate student strikes last spring "sent a powerful message. It said, 'this is not a one-time thing and this is not going to change.' Resistance is important."