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Jesús Guerra / Columbia Daily Spectator

The debate was only attended by a handful of people, but reached a wider audience on Facebook, marking a departure from last year’s poorly publicized first-year debates.

First-year candidates for the Columbia College and Engineering Student Councils presented platforms on issues of campus community, financial access to resources, and stress culture at the candidate debate on Saturday.

In a stark contrast to last year’s Spring debate, all first-year positions were contested, with 39 students running for nine open positions. This was especially true for the CCSC race, in which 30 students are running for five open positions.

Voting began today at 5:00 p.m. and will close on Wednesday, Sept. 26, at 5:00 p.m. Students can vote here and can access the full list of candidates and their platforms on the Columbia Elections Commission’s website.

The debate was co-hosted by The Blue and White magazine and the Columbia Elections Commission, which was formed last year in response to repeated criticism of the now defunct Columbia Elections Board.

The debate was only attended by a handful of people, but reached a wider audience on Facebook, marking a departure from last year’s poorly publicized first-year debates.

CCSC candidates highlighted the need for subsidized MetroCards, as well as free pads and tampons for all undergraduate students.

Eva Bogomilova, CC ’22, of the Blue Ivy party said that her group wants to secure access to free tampons and pads—an initiative that has been attempted in the past by previous council members, but has never secured a reliable funding source.

“We feel like this is just a necessity; it’s like toilet paper. It’s a must and we don’t understand why it hasn’t already been implemented, and we’d like to use these 3,000 dollars for this basic hygiene necessity,” she said.

Students running for ESC said they felt like there were not enough events opportunities focused primarily on SEAS students, and many proposed increasing career fairs and social events that would target first-years.

“A lot of times, the SEAS community is viewed as a minority group because we’re the smaller of the two schools here on campus and as first-years especially we’re valued even less,” Estevan Mesa, SEAS ’22, of FUnk up the SEAStem said.

Candidates for both councils expressed their frustration at navigating information on classes and clubs, and proposed creating more centralized and up to date directories to help incoming students.

“The club directory is totally out of date, the websites have links from 2007, the events are scattered all over Instagram and Facebook; it's impossible to find anything and as freshmen it's really important that we engage with everything that Columbia has to offer,” Arya Rao, CC ’22, of ALMA Matters said.

In addition to the first-year races, SEAS students will also be able to vote for their Student Services Representative. Only one student, Montana St. Pierre, SEAS ’19, is running for the position.

jesus.guerra@columbiaspectator.com | @ColumbiaSpec

First-year debate CCSC ESC Columbia Elections Commission
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