Opinion | Staff Editorials

An endorsement for the GSSC elections

Updated April 19, 2:16 p.m.

Polls for the General Studies Student Council race opened on Monday, April 18 and will close on Wednesday, April 20.

Three weeks ago, GSSC and the Columbia Elections Board chose to re-open registration for all GSSC positions, with the exception of vice president of communications and vice president of campus life. We are happy to see that the extension of the registration deadline led to a GSSC race in which no positions are uncontested. We hope our endorsements will help General Studies students decide whom to vote for in what is sure to be an exciting race.

As an editorial board, we read through the bios and platforms made available by the elections board and invited all of the GSSC candidates to meet with us. And as we did with our Columbia College and School of Engineering and Applied Science student council elections endorsements, we issued our support only to candidates we unanimously support as an editorial board.

Our ideal candidate has an understanding of the School of General Studies’ thriving, diverse community, specific policy goals linked to their position, and the institutional knowledge necessary to realize GSSC’s proposals.

GSSC Student Body President

We were impressed by Anthony Salamone, GS ’19 and the current GSSC first-year class president, due to his extensive experience working as a leader within the Columbia community as well as within the professional world. We appreciated Salamone’s willingness to work with the student councils of the other undergraduate colleges at Columbia as well as his platform’s emphasis on intercollege community. We also appreciated the clarity of Salamone’ eight-point plan.

While Karlee Rodrigues, GS ’19 and current member of the GSSC communications committee, came prepared with several compelling proposals, including stress-relief activities and website improvements, that would serve the General Studies community well, we felt that Rodrigues’ platform was one-dimensional and focused too much on communications.

We also appreciated how Julian LaRosa, GS ’19, highlighted career development, financial resources, and community events, and also proposed creating a student-run initiative that would help fund GS students’ tuitions. However, although there are merits to an outsider status, we were concerned by LaRosa’s lack of student government experience.

Therefore, we endorse Anthony Salamone for GSSC student body president.

GSSC VP of Policy

SiLin Huang, GS ’18 and the current GSSC student services representative, impressed us with her experience planning a GSSC food bank and supporting the Emergency Meal Fund. We found her policy proposals, which included increasing study spaces for commuter students and expanding the Zagster Bike Sharing Program to GS students living in University apartment housing, to be fresh and, most importantly, relevant to the GS community.

While Duane Thompson, GS ’19 correctly identified the diverse range of identities and experiences within the GS student population, we felt that his platform lacked any substantial, actionable policy proposals. Likewise, Michael Higgins, GS ’18 and the current GSSC chief policy representative, has plenty of institutional knowledge. However, his platform, which focuses on financial insecurity, fails to mention any specific policy suggestions.

Davida Biggins did not meet with us or submit a platform to the elections board.

Therefore, we endorse SiLin Huang for GSSC vice president of policy.

GSSC University Senator

Ramond Curtis, GS ’19, and the current GSSC academic affairs representative, came prepared to our meeting with policy suggestions for accessible childcare, more spaces for commuter students on campus, and continued improvements to Dodge Fitness Center. Curtis, a military veteran, also emphasized the importance of caring for General Studies’ sizable Milvet community vis–à–vis mental health resources.

When we met with Jasmine Bernstein Yin, GS/JTS ’19, she described privately funding GSSC’s ventures with her own family’s money while waiting for funding approval from the University. While we appreciated her dedication to the realization of GSSC’s goals, we were greatly concerned with the ethics of her proposal.

We could not deliberate upon a potential endorsement for University senator candidates Jason Delancey, GS ’17, and Michael Price, as they did not meet with us or submit their bios and platforms to the elections board.

Jeffrey Solazzi, GS ’18, was recently disqualified from the University senator race.

We felt that Curtis’ suggestions were especially mindful of the unique interests of the GS community. As such, we endorse Ramond Curtis for University senator.

GSSC VP of Campus Life

Adrienne Burfield, GS ’17, and Ronald Telemarque, GS ’17, are both newcomers to GSSC. While we appreciate the fresh perspectives they offer, both of their platforms failed to mention concrete ideas for events that would bring the Columbia community together.

Brett Krasner, GS/JTS ’17, the current JTS representative to GSSC, and current publisher of The Federalist, has several campus activity ideas, including a General Studies week taking place during the winter months, that we feel will appeal to many students in the University community. Krasner also emphasized working with GS-specific organizations, including Columbia Milvets and Peer Advising.

Therefore, we endorse Brett Krasner for GSSC vice president of campus life.

GSSC VP of Communications

Dennis Zhao, GS ’18 and current vice president of campus life and member of the Interschool Governing Board, brings plenty of experience to the campaign trail. Nevertheless, we’re not sure if Zhao’s plans for an increased GSSC social media presence and improved calendars are enough to keep the GS community informed.

We were particularly impressed by Raisa Flor, GS ’19, who proposed weekly student council updates through videos. We also appreciated the community-building implications of Flor’s proposal to improve GSSC’s branding strategies by working with Columbia students interested in graphic design.

Therefore, we endorse Raisa Flor for GSSC vice president of communications.

GSSC VP of Finance

We felt that the platform of Jacob Case, GS ’18, failed to discuss concrete financial ideas and focused too much on abstractions about campus life. While Daria Greeno, GS ’17, emphasizes expanding funding initiatives and increasing alumni donations, we felt that her proposals were too vague.

Sam Rosecan, GS ’17 and a current member of the Club Sports Governing Board, proposed inter-council collaboration and more robust advertising for the co-sponsorship funding available through the Joint Council Co-Sponsorship Committee. Rosecan’s clear dedication and willingness to learn impressed us.

Therefore, we endorse Sam Rosecan for GSSC vice president of finance.

GSSC International Students’ Representative

Yuxuan Zhang did not meet with us or submit a platform to the elections board.

Rudra Gopinath, GS ’17, impressed us with his specific community-building activity proposals, which include a preorientation buddy system and a “World Cup” soccer tournament. However, we were concerned that Gopinath did not adequately stress the logistical concerns, including navigating the visa application process, common among the international students at GS.

We appreciated the focus Diego Filiu, GS ’17, placed on the mental health needs of international students. Yet while Filiu has identified an important problem within the GS community, we felt his discussion did not contain concrete proposals.

Valeria Pizzi, GS ’17, discussed working with the Center for Career Education to provide work and internship opportunities for more international students in GS. Pizzi also emphasized the importance of mentorship and volunteer networks to help international students acclimate to the Columbia community and, more broadly, New York. We appreciated the equal emphasis Pizzi placed on community and practical concerns.

Thus, we endorse Valeria Pizzi for GSSC international students’ representative.

GSSC JTS Representative

Both candidates for GSSC JTS representative, Shira King-Berkman, GS/JTS ’19, and Zachary Oster, did not meet with us or submit platforms to the elections board. Oster announced he would drop out of the race in an email to the elections board on April 18.

According to the GSSC constitutions, candidates are not allowed to run unopposed; as such, the GSSC JTS representative will be appointed by the members of GSSC in the fall.

Therefore, we cannot issue an endorsement for the position of GSSC JTS representative.

GSSC Veteran Students’ Representative

Cristian Reinosomontes, GS ’19 and Angela D’Ancona did not meet with us or submit platforms to the elections board.

James M. Ward, GS ’17, has a clear understanding of the needs of the veteran community at Columbia. However, in his platform, this understanding is not backed up by clear policy or event proposals.

Thus, we do not endorse any candidate for veteran students’ representative.

The authors are members of Spectator’s 140th editorial board. Catie Edmondson and Clara Chan recused themselves from contributing to this editorial due to their continued coverage of the elections.

To respond to this staff editorial, or to submit an op-ed, contact opinion@columbiaspectator.com.

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