Columbia College Student Council voted to allocate $5,000 to a pilot MetroCard program for low-income students in Columbia College during its general body meeting on Sunday.
Calls for subsidized MetroCards have previously gone unanswered for years. Past council members have attempted to introduce similar programs, and first-year candidates proposed funding MetroCards for students at the debate in September, but no plans had ever been implemented.
The program, which will be rolled out in the spring, will utilize $5,000 of CCSC’s budget surplus to provide MetroCards to low-income students. Students will be able to opt in to the program by filling out an interest form. If students show more demand than can be met, participants will be selected through a lottery system.
The number of MetroCards subsidized and swipes provided on the cards will be decided by the council later this semester.
Currently, the CCSC budget surplus is the initiative’s only source of funding, but CCSC President Jordan Singer, CC ’19, said the council hopes that the pilot program will demonstrate widespread student interest and convince the administration to facilitate the initiative by helping CCSC more accurately identify low-income students, and potentially provide funding for the program in the future.
CCSC’s budget surplus stems from an increase in the student activities fee, a portion of student tuition that goes directly toward student councils for programming. This year, the fee rose from $226 per student to $238, a $12 increase that allowed CCSC to allocate the money to new initiatives.
Last month, the council spent $2,560 of the surplus budget to help fund Morningside Heights Community Supported Agriculture, a student-run group that provides local organic produce to students and community members. According to Class of 2019 President Mina Mahmood, CC ’19, who proposed the initiative, by subsidizing the farmshare program CCSC would help afford food-insecure students access to fresh produce. Students can currently participate in CSA for $230 per semester for a bundle that feeds four—CCSC’s subsidy would bring the cost down from $57.50 per student per semester to $20.
The MetroCard initiative was proposed by Class of 2021 Representative Sarah Radway. Radway argued that, by subsidizing students’ travel costs granting more students access to the city, the council would effectively be upholding the college’s mission statement.
“There’s a really strong disparity among students in regard to getting out and exploring New York City, and one of the possible burdens to that is finances,” Radway said. “I want to make sure that they get to go explore New York City, see art museums, use it to go interview for a job.”
During Sunday’s meeting, council members also voted to sign the Columbia Statement Against Anti-Semitism in the aftermath of the Pittsburgh Tree of Life Synagogue shooting last Saturday, in which a lone gunman killed 11 people attending temple service.