Allyship and Mental Health
In improving the mental health of our community, Alliance believes that recognizing the ways in which different identities interact with and are affected by the culture and policies of this institution is critical. Noting trends in poor mental health specifically and unduly affecting underrepresented communities such as LGBTQ and students of color, we hope to strengthen both the institutional support for and the level of allyship felt by the student body.
Alliance recognizes that community exists in small and sometimes isolated groups at Columbia. For those not directly affiliated with student groups or other pockets of community, it can be easy to fall through the cracks. We aim to systematically and programmatically ensure that all students feel a sense of large-scale Columbia community on our campus in addition to existing individual communities. By working to expand pre-orientation programs like COOP and CUE, we hope that more students will come in already feeling a sense of connectedness to their peers.
Student Group Fund
Alliance will work to establish a strong and direct financial connection between student groups and alumni. We will build a program to connect small-scale alumni funding with specific student and student group projects and initiatives, and will work towards establishing a larger fund that will allow for expanded programming beyond student life fee funding.
Faculty Mental Health Training
Though there are currently many faculty members who are comfortable discussing mental health, the lack of uniform training for faculty leaves many students unable to engage their professors on the issue. Alliance hopes to advocate for training that would give faculty the tools to not only understand the issues facing many of their students but also to recognize potential signs of their distress.
Sexual Respect Initiative
Alliance will work to reform the current Sexual Respect Initiative so that all students take a different iteration of training each year rather than a handful of students taking the same training every year (because of Greek life, COOP, club executive boards, etc). By having training for first-year students specific to their entry to college and the Columbia community, more advanced training for sophomores and juniors dealing with relationship violence and intersectionality, and training for seniors about what sexual respect looks like post-Columbia, Alliance hopes to create a safer community for all students.
Shrinking Core Syllabus
The current syllabus for Lit Hum and CC makes it extremely difficult for students to complete all the readings in the time allotted causing not only stress to first and second-year students but also precluding them from full academic engagement. By advocating for a reduction in the number of texts on the syllabus, Alliance hopes to improve both quality of life on campus and help more students actually be able to complete their assignments.
Adapting to Political Obstacles
In lieu of recent executive orders, many students from affected countries have been wondering what traveling internationally means for them. In addition to staying a sanctuary for undocumented students, we will advocate for these students’ status to be taken into consideration when decisions for summer housing are made. Moreover, Alliance will work to ensure that all policies and policy changes that affect these students include them in the conversation.
Alliance will work with First-Generation/Low-Income Partnership, Columbia University Dining, and the Columbia University Food Bank to address and mitigate food insecurity on campus. We will also advocate for the administration to increase institutional support for students dealing with this issue.
Alliance will work to implement and manage a Columbia crowdfunding platform as part of our mission to facilitate the flow of funds towards creative, community-oriented projects for students and student groups.
Alliance will collaborate with student groups to carry out workshops, and compile and adapt resources, so students can improve their financial literacy skills while studying at Columbia. Topics may include, but are not limited to: day-to-day budgeting, taking out loans, filing taxes, choosing a credit card, or saving for the future.
Designated undergraduate student space
Alliance will work to ensure undergraduates have more access to recreational spaces by repurposing the student center and residential lounges we already have. Currently, the most popular spaces in which students gather include JJ’s Place (which requires a meal swipe to access) and Butler Library (which only exacerbates stress culture). We hope to create more opportunities for undergraduates to enjoy student spaces that are accessible, free of charge and specifically designated for fun. These will involve arcade games, movie screenings and board games in Lerner Hall and residence buildings with large lounges such as John Jay, Broadway and East Campus. Alliance’s goal is that through facilitating centralized places to hang out and relax with friends, we will be building community and helping to counter stress culture.
Fall Concert at Baker after Homecoming
Alliance hopes to collaborate with the Bacchanal Committee, the three other undergraduate VPs for Campus Life/Student Life, JCCC and the Columbia administration to organize a fall concert for undergraduates at the Baker Athletics Complex to take place after the Homecoming football game. This will generate greater student interest in the Homecoming game, and will make the weekend a real occasion for the wider undergraduate population at Columbia, rather than just those interested in athletics.
Two Campus Life events each week
Alliance aims to hold at least two events each week in the 2017/18 academic year. While this will require more appointed representatives to the CCSC Campus Life Committee, this is a goal that remains attainable. Traditional, large scale events such as Homecoming, Glasshouse Rocks and College Days will be supplemented by new events designed to foster a greater sense of community, which will be held on a regular basis like water balloon fights, yoga on the lawns, and ping-pong competitions.
Facilitating Administrative Transparency
Alliance will work to ensure transparency from the administration and its services. We aim to make students feel heard and accounted for by pushing administrators to interact frequently and directly with student leaders and to provide rigorous justification for wide-reaching policy changes. In the face of the evolving political climate, Alliance is additionally committed to the clarity of resources, specifically stances and tangible support systems for international and minority students.
Funding at Columbia University Transparency
We will also work to ensure that the Funding at Columbia University (F@CU) process, wherein all student groups and class councils receive funding allocations from the student activities fee, is more clear to the general student body. Alliance hopes to make this information more readily accessible to all students both to understand and engage.
Uplifting Student Voices
Student voices are often lost among the institutional processes required to enact change, yet Alliance is committed to overturning this barrier. We will work to provide students outside of student council access to forums and discussions with administrators, including open Town Hall meetings with Deans across departments. Alliance seeks to provide easy access to open conversations surrounding policy and cultural issues on campus. These forums will uplift the voices of student organizations and communities while instilling a feeling of administrative accessibility in every Columbia student.
I'm Nathan, a junior from the Boston area studying MESAAS and Econ. I’ve been working on building community at Columbia since Freshman year, starting as an appointed rep and working my way towards my current position as VP Campus Life. I’ve enjoyed working from a programmatic perspective to enhance the community experience here, both through my current position and as McBain Hall Council President last year, and hope to expand my reach by tackling issues from a systematic and policy-focused perspective. I’m a proud member of the Advisory Board for the Undergraduate Recruitment Committee, COÖP, and the Columbia Bartending Agency.
I’m Nicole, a junior from the DC area studying Linguistics. I have been working on policy since coming to Columbia, with projects like shadow declaring for first-year students to connect with departments earlier and recurring appointments for first-generation students at the Writing Center. As current President, I have been working on improving the engagement level of the Global Core, setting up a travel fund for student groups, and allowing double majors to double count classes. I’m proud to have also been a part of the Activities Board at Columbia, the Undergraduate Recruitment Committee and Alpha Omicron Pi alongside CCSC.
I’m Alex Cedar, a sophomore from London, UK, studying Film Studies and Political Science. I have served as an elected representative for CC’19 on CCSC for the past academic year, and I am currently a member of the Campus Life committee under Nathan. I took a leading role in organizing events such as Homecoming, College Days and the Tree Lighting Ceremony and really hope I can build on this experience and bring some of my new ideas next year, to the role of VP Campus Life! Away from council, I am proud to be a current member and former Co-Head of Third Wheel Improv.
I’m Heloise, and I’m a junior in CC studying Economics-Mathematics with a concentration in Russian Language & Culture. I joined student council as an appointed member during my freshman year, and was later elected class representative the following year. During that time, I sat on the Finance Committee, working primarily with Student Project Grants and Bacchanal. In my free time, I love to dance, eat, and explore NYC (and am also a proud member of Delta Gamma and One-to-One Tutoring!!).
I’m Sreya Pinnamaneni, a first-year in CC studying History from Orlando. I’m interested in political analysis, writing for Columbia Undergrad Law Review, Columbia Political Review, and Roosevelt. I’m also driven by the appeal of campus service: I teach sexual consent through Peer Health Exchange, develop curriculums for Youth for Debate, and am a member of CU Food Bank, Gender-Based Misconduct Prevention Task Force, and Kappa Alpha Theta. Each of these organizations has exposed me to diverse student voices. As VP Communications, I hope to create bottom-up change on campus.
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