Our coverage of the CCSC elections continues with another statement from a Senate candidate. Richard Sun may have a sunny disposition, but he’s not afraid to talk serious with the Cub Pub. Here’s what he has to say.
The Senate was established in the wake of the events of ’68 to be a forum for an active and participatory governing body. In this spirit, the Senate should be a place to push forward important and complex initiatives, initiatives that are too great for just one school’s governing body or administration to handle. Things like open course evaluations, the Morningside Student Space Initiative, “Quality of Life” on campus, and the need for greater transparency, accountability, and accessibility of our senior administration—these are the important initiatives that the Senate should be addressing and these are the issues that I have and will continue to fight for in the Senate. I believe that based on my experiences I am uniquely qualified to serve as your University Senator. I believe that I have the ability to follow through and realize our shared vision.
For the past two years, I have served as Chief of Staff of the Senate’s Student Affairs Committee, a body composed of 24 student senators across all schools. In this role, I act as part chief strategist, part press secretary, and part personnel director to the Chairs of a committee charged with representing graduate and undergraduate interests.
My experience as SAC Chief of Staff has allowed me to learn the different stakeholder interests at play. During last year’s ROTC debates, we saw Senators stifled by the lack of an ability to directly reach out to their constituents; we also heard cries for transparency from the general student body. It was the system, and not individual Senators, that failed the greater Columbia Community. This year, the Senate has passed a resolution that allows senators to directly reach their communities. SAC has been at the forefront of that effort, and I have been a part of every major committee discussion we made regarding this policy. This is a vision we have realized, a result that we can be point to and be proud of.
My time as SAC Chief of Staff has also taught me the importance of rethinking the traditional survey methodology—instead of “statistically significant” surveys that ask you to rank “strongly agree/disagree”, giving people an open textbox to share their thoughts not only allows for more free-form thinking, but has also empirically increased the response rate, as I have seen in my role as a principal member of MSSI. It is this sort of innovative thinking, rather than a vague conception of “collaboration between student groups” that will ultimately enhance the fabric of our shared Columbia community.
My role as SAC Chief of Staff has also showed me the limitations of an appointed position without a popular mandate. Given the 18-6 graduate to undergraduate ratio of student senators (and the College occupying only 3/6 of those undergraduate seats), often times my duties as SAC Chief of Staff have been focused on the general University population rather than the College in particular. It is my intention to bring the focus of my efforts back to the College. It is my intention to pound the table and advocate for you to administrators that I’ve already worked with and have earned credibility with. It is my intention to represent you with honor and dignity as your University Senator.