Administrators have agreed to cover the security costs of events organized by student groups that require a large security presence or the presence of University delegates, Columbia College Student Council announced on Sunday.
The policy, which was outlined in CCSC’s fall 2017 semesterly report, will apply retroactively to controversial speaker events held by Columbia University College Republicans last fall. This means that the high costs incurred by hosting the speakers will no longer come out of a fund comprised of student activities fees, which students from all four undergraduate schools pay.
This change in policy stems from a petition delivered by the Black Students’ Organization last December that called for CCSC to defund CUCR for hosting white supremacist speakers Tommy Robinson and Mike Cernovich. CCSC then submitted a formal concern report to the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards against CUCR for using the student activities fee to cover the costs of securities and facilities services.
The costs for the events featuring Robinson and Cernovich were $1,358 and $2,185 respectively, a stark contrast to last year’s median of $672 for all student-organized events.
“It’s a really big win for us because those events are just a huge financial burden,” CCSC President Nathan Rosin, CC ’18, said. “[It] means that it won’t be affecting any future student programming.”
The report quotes an administrative statement: “Beginning in the 2017-2018 academic year, for those events sponsored by recognized undergraduate student groups that the University Event Review determines require the presence of university delegates, security costs and security-related facilities costs for the events will not be charged to student activities fees, but instead these costs will be fully covered by the University,” the statement read.
According to the Undergraduate Student Life website, university delegates, referred to as “president delegates” on the website, are summoned by Public Safety for events that have a “potential for significant disruption,” and that “significant disruptions are those situations that may jeopardize the event.”
However, it is not clear what criteria the University Event Review, which oversees the structure of student events that require additional arrangements, will use to determine which events will require the presence of such delegates.
According to Rosin, the announcement, which was made at Sunday’s general body meeting, is the result of the initial concern report and of conversations between CCSC leaders and university administrators.
The fall report, which is set to be officially released this week, also includes updates on other major CCSC initiatives such as the Alumni Fund, to which graduates of Columbia College can donate to support student groups. Most ongoing proposals detailed in the report focus on making resources more accessible to students as well as improving the state of mental health on campus.