Columbia College Student Council voted to increase the allocation of funding for its pilot MetroCard program by $4,100, increasing the likelihood that nearly the full student demand for subsidized MetroCards will be met.
CCSC previously voted in October 2018 to allocate $5,000 of a budget surplus to the MetroCard program, which will distribute pre-loaded cards each with six rides to a number of low-income students. Students can opt into the program through a sign-up form; however, due to high demand, full need was not met with funding solely through the budget surplus. If the available funds do not cover the costs, students will be chosen through a lottery system.
According to council members, physical MetroCards are currently on the way from the first round of funding, and CCSC expects to deliver those cards soon, though a date was not specified at the meeting.
The additional $4,100 will come from funds raised through a Columbia College Alumni Association fundraiser. Council members also proposed alternative initiatives for which to allocate the funds, such as to purchase books for course reserves or to the Bacchanal committee. However, after about 10 minutes of discussion, council members introduced a motion to vote on the proposal to allocate the full amount of funding to the MetroCard program, deciding instead to focus on broader initiatives related to accessibility.
According to testimonies from council members, they hope that this allocation of funds will draw increased attention to the program, potentially opening avenues to fund the program with university support in the future.
“I feel like at that point it would be really hard for the administration to say, ‘No, we’re not going to throw our own funds at it’ even after we’ve both fundraised externally and used our own budget for it,” Aaron Liberman, CC ’19, said.
Members of CCSC also expressed that directing the CCAA funds toward initiatives that would directly impact Columbia College students should be a priority.
“This is money that would be coming specifically for Columbia College Student Council. It would make the most sense for the money to go to something that will directly affect us and not just everyone else.” Elise Fuller, CC ’19, said.
During Monday night’s meeting, Michael Higgins, the co-founder of the Food Pantry at Columbia, was also present to address concerns raised by students following the publication of an op-ed regarding the state of the Food Pantry and his Letter to the Editor response to said op-ed. According to Higgins, the Food Pantry is also hoping to expand into the Columbia University Medical Center campus with hopes to have a satellite location within the next academic year.
Higgins also emphasized that the Food Pantry is open year-round, including during school breaks, and that the pantry has begun to make improvements to its offerings in order to better serve students through increasing its options, as exemplified by the increase in available shelf-stable milk.