Student Affairs Committee

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The Student Affairs Committee of the University Senate is the committee that represents student interests. It comprises the 24 voting Senators from the schools of Columbia University (including Barnard and Teachers College) and one non-voting observer from the Union Theological Seminary.

It is also coterminous with and functions as the student caucus or student voting bloc of the University Senate, as all student Senators are automatically members of the Student Affairs Committee. The Student Affairs Committee does not function as a "super-student council". However, it is primus inter pares and first in the order of precedence of student governance, as it is both the senior body, and the only body at Columbia University representing students across all the schools. Student members, therefore, are subject to very high standards and expectations.[1]


According to the Senate's founding documents, the "Student Affairs Committee" once comprised a limited number of students along with faculty and administrators, while the "student caucus" comprised all twenty-four. However, the pre-1995 Student Affairs Committee's mandate was limited strictly to student issues, while the all-encompassing student caucus was able to weigh in on all Senate issues.

In 1995, a merger was effected, faculty and administrators left the Student Affairs Committee, and the entire twenty-four member body was (incorrectly, and somewhat nonsensically) known as the "Student Affairs Caucus" until 2010. In 2010, it was definitively rebranded as the "Student Affairs Committee" to emphasize its open, deliberative nature, as opposed to identifying it strictly as a voting bloc.

As a vehicle and organ for representing the students of all schools at the University, it is in a sense the successor to the Columbia University Student Council. Unlike the Council, however, which was a toothless advisory organ, SAC members are full voting members of the University Senate, with equal voting power to faculty and administrator members.


Due to the requirement and responsibility of the SAC leadership to work across different schools, departments, and campuses, many of SAC's leaders tend to have multiple Columbia degrees. Columbia College and Columbia Business School appear to be the most common, although General Studies and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences are also in there.

Year Chair/Co-Chairs Annual Report
2014-2015 Will Zvara, Business '15
Zila Acosta, Law School '15
2013-2014 Matthew Chou, CC '14
Akshay Shah, SEAS '14
2012-2013 Eduardo Santana, CC '13 (until January 2013)
Richard Sun, CC '13
Anjelica Kelly, Business '13
2011-2012 Alex Frouman, CC '12
Adil Ahamed, Business '12
2010-2011 Tao Tan, CC '07, Business '11 Link to Report
2009-2010 Andreas Svedin, PhD (Astronomy) '12 Link to Report
2008-2009 Genevieve Thornton, CC '02, Business '09
Amena Cheema, Arts '09
Link to Report
2007-2008 Andrea Hauge, CC '02, Business '08
John Johnson, Law '08
Link to Report
2006-2007 Chris Riano, GS '07
Marcus Johnson, CC '07
Link to Report
2005-2006 Adam Michaels, Business '06
Holly Snow, Barnard '06
Link to Report
2004-2005 Matan Ariel, GS '06, Business '11
Nathan Walker, MA (TC) '02, MDiv (UTS) '05, EdM (TC) '08, EdD (TC) '13
Link to Report
2003-2004 Matan Ariel, GS '06, Business '11
Brian Tobin, MPH '05
Nathan Walker, MA (TC) '02, MDiv (UTS) '05, EdM (TC) '08, EdD (TC) '13
Link to Report
2002-2003 Roosevelt Montás, CC '95, MA '96, MPhil '99, PhD (English) '04
Jerald Boak, CC '95, Arts '04
Marni Hall, MA '01, MPH '05, PhD (Public Health) '07
Link to Report
2001-2002 Rohit Aggarwala, CC '93, MPhil '98, Business '00, PhD (History) '02
Roosevelt Montás, CC '95, MA '96, MPhil '99, PhD (English) '04
Link to Report
2000-2001 Rohit Aggarwala, CC '93, MPhil '98, Business '00, PhD (History) '02 Link to Report
1999-2000 Rohit Aggarwala, CC '93, MPhil '98, Business '00, PhD (History) '02 Link to Report
1998-1999 Records missing
1997-1998 Corby Dale, MPH '95, MA '98, MPhil '00, PhD (Psychology) '00
1996-1997 Montimer "Monty" Mason, GS '97
Joshua Ratner, CC '98, Law '02
1995-1996 Frank David, MA '96, MPhil '96, PhD (Pathobiology) '00, MD '01
1994-1995 Records missing.
1993-1994 R. Shary Crossfield-Peguero, CC '91, Law '94 (Student Affairs Committee)
Mitchell Wong, CC '94 (Student Caucus)
1992-1993 Eric Finseth, Law '94
Sean Gaffney, Arts '93
1991-1992 Records missing.
1990-1991 Records missing.
1989-1990 Matthew Kohl, GS '90
1988-1989 Tom Kamber, CC '89
1987-1988 Ellen Ostrick Knight, CC '88, Law '91
1986-1987 Records missing.
1985-1986 Steve Cancian, CC '86

Board of Visitors

The Board of Visitors of the Student Affairs Committee was established in 2010 by SAC Chair Tao Tan and SAC Chair Emeritus Chris Riano. The Board of Visitors is charged with serving as an "advisory body to the Student Affairs Committee, and will be composed of those alumni who ... exemplified the highest ideals of leadership while at Columbia University, and who continue to achieve the highest levels of success within their chosen profession."

The Board possesses a tripartite mandate:

  • To support and assist the current members of the Student Affairs Committee on a non-executive advisory basis.
  • To pass on institutional knowledge and, when necessary, facilitate introductions and relationships that have served student Senators well in the past.
  • To serve as a development vehicle to support the activities of the Student Affairs Committee.

Membership and Election

The Board of Visitors consists of nine members, with one class of three elected every year. The Board is self-perpetuating and elects by its own processes two of the three seats. The third is elected from a list of nominees provided by the current Student Affairs Committee in consultation with the Alumni Affairs Committee of the University Senate.[2]

Each Visitor serves for a three-year term, renewable once. Emeritus status can be conferred upon the end of service by a majority vote of the seated board.

Honorary Visitors are appointed in extraordinary circumstances by unanimous consent for individual alumni "of particular merit and accomplishment, and who have a long and successful record of encouraging and fostering student involvement in University governance."

Alumni of the Student Affairs Committee who have served for at least one year are eligible for membership one year following graduation from the Columbia University degree program wherein the University Senate service took place. Visitors may not concurrently serve as student or alumni Senators.

Current Board

The seated Board of Visitors is as follows.

Name Senate Service Board Term
Chris Riano, GS '07, Chair 2005-2007 2010-2013
Adam Michaels, Business '06, Vice Chair 2004-2006 2010-2013
Roosevelt Montás, CC '95, MA '96, MPhil '99, PhD (English) '04 1999-2003 2010-2013
Matan Ariel, GS '06, Business '11 2003-2005 2011-2014
Justin White, GS '05, Business '07 2001-2003 2011-2014
Rebecca Baldwin Fuller, Nursing '04, Nursing '07 2004-2006 2011-2014
TBD 2012-2015
TBD 2012-2015
TBD 2012-2015

External links