The Columbia College and Engineering Student Councils unveiled their plans to improve healthcare services and make campus events more accessible and more sustainable at their respective meetings Sunday and Monday night.
The new council members were elected last April in mostly uncontested elections, with several representatives returning to council for their second, third, or even fourth consecutive year.
This semester, both councils plan to collaborate more with each other on event planning through the creation of a joint CC and SEAS events planning board, similar to Barnard’s McIntosh Activities Council. The board will funded by both councils but will remain independent.
ESC was rocked last year by several impeachments, which ended in the departure of its President and VP Finance, as well as changes to its constitution. This semester, ESC President Ria Garg, SEAS ‘20, hopes to bring stability to the council.
“I think it’s about cultivating a different culture in ESC this year… for [impeachment] to not feel like an option for people,” she said.
At the ESC meeting, council members highlighted the new vending machine in John Jay, which stocks contraception pills, condoms, tampons. Senator Zoha Qamar, SEAS ‘19, who chaired the ESC policy committee last year and spearheaded the vending machine initiative, also announced the installation of two more machines, one in Uris Hall and another in Schapiro Hall.
While the machine provides students with access to hygiene products, Garg said that the council plans to continue pushing for free pads and tampons.
At the CCSC meeting, VP Policy Elise Fuller, CC ‘19, outlined her plans for this semester, which include pushing for more events specifically for faculty and students of color and helping to create a manual for groups to make their events more accessible to students with disabilities.
Senator Toqa Badran, CC ‘19, has started working with Amina Darwish, the new Muslim Life Coordinator, who was appointed after years of student requests for a permanent advisor, on a new Muslim Life Task Force.
Both Qamar and Senator Alfredo Dominguez, CC ‘19, expressed a desire to ensure that healthcare and mental health conversation on campus are open to all, after concerns about transparency were raised during a town hall last April.
Adekunle Balogun, SEAS ‘20 and ESC VP Policy, plans to redirect focus on sustainability efforts on campus. Balogun helped lobby the councils last year, as a member of the Roosevelt Institute, to include a referendum on carbon neutrality in the spring election ballots. He plans to get recycling bins installed in every dorm and revitalize the Green Fund to fund student sustainability initiatives.
Both councils were visited by Michael Higgins, GS ‘21, the co-founder and chair of the Food Pantry at Columbia, formerly known as the Food Bank, who asked the councils to help promote the pantry and expressed his wish to form long-lasting relationships with the councils. Higgins visit came after councils asked for data last semester on how many of their constituents actually used the pantry.
Both councils are still awaiting the election of the Class of 2022 Representatives, voting for which will begin Sept. 23 and end on Sept. 26.