“Why are you wearing flip-flops?” Elections Board chair James Bogner, CC ’10, quizzed first-year council candidate Emilio Santiago.
“Uh, because I have a Hawaiian shirt on?” Let’s Party member Santiago responded.
Columbia College Student Council first-year elections opened Tuesday morning, but last night prospective members from the six parties debated policy and practicality in Roone Arledge cinema in a debate that honed in on prospective smoking bans and community building—though less so on candidates sartorial decisions.
With the major CCSC policy question of the day about the future of a proposed on-campus smoking ban, candidates weighed in on possible next steps.
Laila Sultana, presidential candidate for the Blue Union Party, noted that she was personally allergic to the smoke and believed that as a learning environment, the campus should be healthy for all students.
Other parties commented that regardless of their own personal feelings on the possible campus smoking ban—most who shared their opinions came out against it—the council needs to increase outreach to better gauge student opinion.
Still, most parties acknowledged that previous student polling regarding the ban had seemed flawed and incomplete, and that the council may need to look past traditional surveying techniques.
At Sunday night’s CCSC meeting, some members questioned the concept and effectiveness of campus polling.
Bogner called back to the third-party polling conducted among students last fall at the height of debate over whether NROTC should be introduced on campus, a survey that ultimately came back inconclusive.
“Polls usually never work, that’s what we’re hearing,” Tara Reed, presidential candidate for the Lion’s Initiative, said. She suggested reallocating that money to alternative ways of gathering opinion in a more “grassroots” method—perhaps approaching more people individually or in different settings.
“Knocking on people’s doors isn’t going to work,” presidential candidate for the Impact Party Alexander Jasiulek shot back. It would be, he said, an invasion of personal space—as well as just another form of polling, which Reed had suggested stepping away from.
For the Lion’s Initiative party, priorities are recovering study days for the exam reading week—a priority shared by the Karma Party—and pushing to open up Ferris Booth commons to meal plans, a change that an opposing candidate said seemed unlikely. The Impact Party said that they were interested in increasing transparency between the central administration and the students, as well as working to provide wireless internet in all campus dorms—possibly the most unattainable goal suggested at the debate, Bogner commented when asked about its feasibility.
The Let’s Party spoke of the need for a more efficient student registration system for the school, and said they wanted to further green initiatives like cutting down on campus fliering—though an audience member retorted that he had seen at least five fliers for their party alone in an elevator that day.
Sultana said her Blue Union party would like to see more interaction between the CCSC and students, and presidential candidate for the Columbia University Activists party Jonathan Trujillo remarked that improving campus hygiene, particularly in the bathrooms, was high on his list and seemed a feasible goal.
For Eleanor Stein’s one-person, borderline unpronounceable Hiphopopotamus party, Stein, who is running for representative, said she thought the class of 2013 would benefit from more freshmen-only programming, and hoped it could put her on her way to recognizing most faces on campus.
“There really hasn’t been a lot of overlap—that means there’s a lot of stuff to be worked on,” Bogner said.
He also encouraged the candidates to push their fellow students to vote.
“This is important because right now, in the write-in votes, Jesus is really doing well,” he warned.