Editor’s Note: Columbia students: Don’t sit by when the college is deciding our future

By Alexandra Yetter, Editor-in-Chief

Alexandra Yetter
(312) 369-8834

In my first editor’s note of the semester, I called on the college to have more open, earnest communication with students in the midst of an impending Master Plan for 2030.

Now that the college is actually doing this through workshops, a forthcoming survey and individual interviews, students have reverted to passivism.

In a Wednesday, Feb. 19 Master Plan workshop—one of two held thus far—only four students showed up. Two of those students were Chronicle staffers covering the event.

To put it bluntly: This is embarrassing.

From my experience in classrooms and from interviewing students for nearly two years, I know the student body has important, meaningful ideas with more depth than how comfortable the chairs in the Student Center are or how many places there are to pick up coffee on campus.

First of all, students need to recognize this momentous opportunity. For the past five years, the Strategic Action Plan has dictated where money, resources and time are siphoned off to, from increasing enrollment to building the Student Center to growing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion initiatives.

Now, students have the opportunity to have a say in where these resources are allocated for the next 10 years.

Although the current student body will likely not still be at Columbia in 10 years, we will be alumni who can dictate on the front end what resources should be available to us in 10 years. More importantly, we have the chance to make the school better for future generations of Columbia students based on our own experiences.

Sure, the college can certainly be more aggressive than sending out a few emails to create awareness of Master Plan workshop events. For instance, social media campaigns, classroom announcements and partnering with well-established student organizations on campus—such as the Student Government Association and the Black Student Union—may be a next step, but we need to meet them halfway.

Active students on campus, including SGA and BSU’s leadership teams, should be proactive by bringing their organizations to workshops or holding events of their own specifically to talk about what ideas they could recommend for the Master Plan. However, individual students are just as responsible for showing up.

Because—not to be dramatic—this is our chance to change everything.

This is our chance to ask for more mental health resources and counselors on campus; for lower tuition costs and more scholarship opportunities; for safe spaces for undocumented students in the midst of ICE raids ordered by the Trump administration; for more prevalent environmental efforts to make the campus zero-waste, such as widespread composting initiatives and; for more nationally-recognized keynote-worthy speakers to come to address the campus; for more access to campus resources, such as the Photography Lighting Studio, across majors; for more study abroad programs and scholarships for students to participate in said programs; or even for more gender-inclusive housing units in residence halls.

These initiatives could have a lasting effect on the face of the college for long after the Master Plan expires in 2030.

We, as students, cannot continue to sit out major opportunities like this one and have passive remorse after the fact. Much like the 2016 presidential election, people who do not participate in the process should not feel at liberty to criticize the results. It’s time for Columbia students to step up and make good on the civic participation we all like to tout.