Class Council Constitution

The constitution and bylaws of the Class Council of the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons is outlined below. 

Preamble and Mission Statement

The Class Council of the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons (“VP&S”) is the governing body of the students of VP&S. The Class Council exists to develop, facilitate, and promote student missions at VP&S and to represent student interests to the VP&S administration. The Class Council will also function to train and develop student leaders and to work with other organizations at VP&S, at Columbia University, and outside of the University.

Vision Statement

From the organizational foundation described herein, the VP&S Class Council will establish a framework for promoting student needs at VP&S by working with VP&S administration and faculty and developing and implementing new initiatives. We believe that medical students should play a central role in crafting their education and professional development and in teaching their peers. By working to connect the different classes of the student body with one another and with the faculty, we hope to empower VP&S students to be engaged in their education and to develop effective student leaders at VP&S.

Article I: Membership and Organization

Each class year will elect its own set of Class Council Officers. Class Council Officers will represent their class and work on their behalf and in collaboration with Class Council Officers from other classes. There are four class years: Year 1 consists of Fundamentals 1 and 2, Year 2 consists of Fundamentals 3 and Major Clinical Year 1, Year 3 consists of Major Clinical Year 2 and D&I 1, and Year 4 consists of D&I 2 and D&I 3.

Article II: Class Council Positions

Class President: Each class will have one (1) Class President. The Class President is the head of his/her class' Class Council and is the primary liaison between the students and the administration. The Class President attends meetings of the Dean's Advisory Committee, the Alumni Association, the Student Wellness Committee, the Transition Committee and a number of other VP&S, CUIMC, and Columbia University committees. The President should work with the other council members as they field feedback from his or her class in presenting them to the administration. The President attends class president meetings with the administration, and is the representative of the student voice on administration, committees and projects. The president will assist in putting together the class council interest meeting for the next entering class along with the VP&S Club Director during Fundamentals 3, is responsible for holding an election for the Teacher of the Year every spring, facilitates the formation of the Transition committee during Fundamentals 3 in preparation for Major Clinical Year (MCY), and is responsible for assisting the selection of a speaker for graduation during Differentiation & Integration (D&I).

Vice President: Each class will have one (1) Vice President. The Vice President works closely with the President to ensure all projects that require their effort can be accomplished, and assists the president as needed. The Vice President collects class dues at the beginning of the academic year and, through communication with the Director of the VP&S Club, functions as the treasurer by managing these funds and presenting the council’s financial status at class council meetings. The Fundamentals 1/2 Vice President serves as the official class liaison to other schools in CUIMC, while the Fundamentals 3 Vice President will serve in an advisory capacity in the fall to help aid in the transition. The Vice President is to facilitate communication with student leadership in the other CUIMC schools in order to enhance the social, extra-curricular, and academic experiences of VP&S.

Admissions Representative: Each class will have one (1) Admissions Representative. The Admissions Representative for each class is a liaison between the Admissions Office and the student body. The Fundamentals 1/2 representative’s main responsibility is to ensure that Interview Days are going smoothly for prospective students visiting VP&S. The Admissions Representative is responsible for scheduling tour guides and lunch hosts that enthusiastically and faithfully represent VP&S. During interview season, the admissions representative organizes regular meetings with the Dean of Admissions to ensure that the needs of admissions are being served. The Fundamentals 1/2 Admissions Representative will oversee a committee of students from his or her class to meet with the Dean of Admissions on a regular basis to ensure the needs of the Admissions Office are being served. The Fundamentals 2 Admissions Representative is responsible for organizing Revisit Weekend and planning the social events accordingly. Other Admissions Representatives will provide a support system for the Fundamentals ½ Representative, and continue to play a role in assisting the Office of Admissions.

Addiction Illness: Medical Solutions (AI:MS) Representatives: Each class will have two (2) AI:MS representatives, one male and one female. The AI:MS representatives are non-judgmental resources for classmates that are struggling with addictive or compulsive illnesses. They work closely with the Director of AI:MS, Center for Student Wellness, and VP&S staff to offer confidential referrals and funding for students seeking professional help, as well as support for friends and family members of those affected.

Alumni Association Representatives: Each class will have two (2) Alumni Association Representatives. The Alumni Association class representatives serve as liaisons between the class and the VP&S Alumni Association. They attend Alumni Association dinner meetings at the Faculty Club and present student proposals to the alumni, and they are responsible for reporting pertinent issues discussed at these meetings to the class. They also assist the Alumni Association with projects and events.

Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) Representative: Each class will have one (1) AAMC Representative. The AAMC Representative will be a member of the AAMC’s Organization of Student Representatives. The AAMC Representative will work on annual nominations for the AAMC’s Humanism in Medicine Award and may represent VP&S at AAMC regional and national meetings in the fall and spring.

Curriculum Representatives: Each class will have three (3) Curriculum Representatives. Curriculum Representatives work with the Class President to communicate class concerns to the faculty/administration, and field day-to-day curricular concerns. Curriculum representatives work closely with CERE to frequently gather class curricular feedback. They attend meetings of the subcommittees governing the curriculum.

Dean's Advisory Committee Representatives: Each class will have three (3) Dean’s Advisory Committee Representatives. Dean’s Advisory Committee Representatives attend monthly Dean's Advisory Committee meetings with members of the administration and faculty to discuss pertinent student issues. Dean’s Advisory Committee Representatives are the primary fielders of student concerns. They work closely with the President in preparing agenda items for DAC meetings, where, together with the president, they speak for their class, and they communicate information regarding solutions to DAC issues back to their class. They therefore act as “at-large” representatives. MD/PhD students will have one additional DAC representative elected from the students entering the laboratory phase. Columbia-Bassett students will have one additional DAC representative elected for the Major Clinical Year. The Fundamentals 1/2 DAC reps are responsible for taking the minutes of the monthly DAC meetings.

Eco Representative: Each class will have one (1) Eco Representative. The Eco Representative is responsible for raising student awareness of environmental issues. He or she will work with the office of Environmental Stewardship, Housing, Facilities, and Eco Representatives from other Columbia University Medical Center schools to reduce the environmental impact of the university’s operations and improve environmental stewardship at the grassroots level.

Ethics Representative: Each class will have one (1) Ethics Representative. The Ethics Representative works with the Class President on issues with ethical considerations. He or she also acts to heighten class awareness at VP&S of broader ethical issues concerning the medical field at large. The Fundamentals 3 representative will serve as the president of the Ethics Club during the fall semester and the Fundamentals 2 representative will serve during the spring semester. All four representatives are encouraged to arrange for their classmates (and themselves) the opportunity to attend hospital ethics committee meetings. The Fundamentals 1/2 and 3 representatives will collaborate in hosting Fall and Spring Ethics Nights.

Financial Aid Representatives: Each class will have two (2) Financial Aid Representatives. Financial Aid Representatives are liaisons between students and the office of Student Financial Planning and meet regularly with the Director of Financial Planning and attend the monthly DAC meetings. Financial Aid Representatives are responsible for informing their class on relevant financial issues including loan consolidation and renewal aid applications.

Housing Representatives: Each class will have two (2) Housing Representatives. Housing Representatives attend regular meetings with the Assistant Vice President for Housing to communicate issues concerning Bard Hall and the Towers. Housing Representatives communicate regularly to inform their class with updates and general information regarding housing, meal plan and work to ensure VP&S Housing facility concerns are promptly reported to the Housing Office and Faculty Club.

VP&S Club Representatives: Each class will have two (2) VP&S Club Representatives. The VP&S Club representatives serve as the class social chairs by coordinating on- and off-campus events that enhance the out-of-class student experience. Planning class socials, large-scale campus events (such as the annual formal), and other VP&S Club initiatives with the Director of Student Activities and VP&S Club are the main responsibilities of this position. VP&S Club Representatives also assist in overseeing New Student Orientation, Super Night (pre-Match Day celebration for 4th year students), Class Day (award ceremony for graduating students), and other VP&S Club events. In addition to event planning, the reps work closely with the student groups that comprise the VP&S Club, organize the fundraisers that sustain the Club, and regularly meet with the Club’s Faculty Advisory Board. The D&I 3/4 reps serve as the VP&S Club presidents.

Student Health Services Representative: Each class will have one (1) Student Health Services Representative. The Student Health Services Representatives is a member of the Student Health Advisory Council, which meets once a month with the SHS staff and administrators, and is responsible for communicating student priorities to SHS administrators and SHS policy to students.

Webmaster: Each class will have one-two (1-2) Webmasters. The webmasters are responsible for building and maintaining a class website. Although the exact contents of the website are left to his or her discretion, in general it should include class-related materials (lecture slides, audio recordings, study guides), the class calendar, a message board, and a class directory. A reasonably strong background in web design is recommended but not necessarily required. Also the webmaster will communicate concerns regarding the library or its services to the appropriate staff, as well as campus computing and printing issues. Communicating to their class changes and information important to IT, the library, and study spaces. It is recommended that they attend monthly DAC meetings.

Wellness Committee Representatives: Each class will have four (4) Wellness Committee Representatives, one male, one female, one MD/PhD candidate, and one Bassett student. The Wellness reps work with the Center for Student Wellness and focus on ensuring their classmates’ mental and physical well-being. Representatives plan events that promote wellness, such as lectures, discussion groups, student outreach, and most commonly study breaks during exam blocks. Fundamentals representatives assist in the coordination of the Step 1 preparation programs. D&I representatives chair the VP&S Student Wellness Committee and coordinate the Mock Residency Interviewing Project. During the PhD years, the MD/PhD Wellness Representatives foster interclass activities for their peers also in the lab. The Bassett Wellness Representative is charged with organizing wellness activities during the clinical period in Cooperstown, NY. Once elected, this position is for all 4 years.

Yearbook Representatives: Each class will have two (2) Yearbook Representatives. The Yearbook Representatives are the class historians, responsible for collecting photographs and memorabilia throughout the year for eventual use in the VP&S Yearbook (available after graduation). The Yearbook Representatives during Fundamentals and MCY ensure that pictures are being taken at class events and contact the class periodically to remind them to take pictures. They also coordinate with the class webmaster to post some of the collected pictures during the year. The D&I 2/3 Yearbook Representatives put together the yearbook for the graduating class.

University Senator: There will be (1) University Senator position to represent all VP&S students. The University Senator will attend meetings, plenary sessions and take part in committees throughout the academic year as the sole VP&S student representative on the University Senate. The University Senate position serves a term of two academic years and is separate from the Class Council Election schedule. This election will also be conducted by the Director of Student Activities and VP&S Club as determined by the University Senate rules and procedures.

For more information, please view By-Laws, Statutes, and Rules of the Columbia University Senate.

Article III: Election Procedures

Eligibility: Class Presidents, Vice Presidents, Curriculum, Dean’s Advisory Committee, Financial Aid, VP&S Club Representatives, Student Health Representative, and University Senator must be currently enrolled as VP&S students in good academic standing and will serve with the class they are currently enrolled with.

For all other positions, candidates must be either enrolled as a current VP&S student in good academic standing or available at CUIMC to serve in their position and are only away from VP&S for a total of one year, which includes research and other graduate programs (MPH, etc.). During this one year away, the elected student is able to serve with their original class. Upon returning to VP&S, the student would be eligible to run for office with his or her new class, if they are interested in continuing with a role in class council. All students are eligible for elections during fundamentals, but students in the Ph.D. portion of their MD/Ph.D. and Bassett MCY students are not eligible to serve on class council during their away time (exceptions include MD/Ph.D. and Bassett DAC Representatives during MCY and Student Wellness Representative Positions). 5

All positions will be reelected during each election period except for AI:MS and Wellness Representatives. Once AI:MS and Wellness are elected during Fundamentals 1, they will maintain their position for the remainder of their time at VP&S. The MD/Ph.D. Wellness Representative entering the Ph.D. portion of their academics will remain part of the Student Wellness committee for the remainder of their time at VP&S, but will not be affiliated with a specific class. The Bassett Wellness Representative is still able to maintain their class specific position during MCY year and will continue with their class as scheduled.

Other exceptions are: DAC Representatives Positions for MD/Ph.D. and Bassett, which are only elected for the MCY term and the University Senator position as listed above in Article II.

Timing of Election: Fundamentals Class Council Officers will be elected in the beginning of semester 1 for the Fundamentals part of the curriculum (term comprised of semesters 1-3). The next election will occur at the end of semester 3 for Major Clinical Year (term comprised of semesters 4-5). The last election will occur at the end semester 5 for D&I (term comprised of semesters 6-8). This structure has been established to follow the current medical school curriculum.

Election Timing Schedule: The following schedule spans the fall and spring semesters across four years of medical school:

  • Year 1, Semester 1 (fall): Fundamentals, hold elections in September for Fundamentals
  • Year 1, Semester 2 (spring): Fundamentals
  • Year 2, Semester 3 (fall): Fundamentals, hold elections in November / December for Major Clinical Year
  • Year 2, Semester 4 (spring): Major Clinical Year
  • Year 3, Semester 5 (fall): Major Clinical Year, hold elections in November / December for Differentiation and Integration
  • Year 3, Semester 6 (spring): Differentiation and Integration
  • Year 4, Semesters 7-8 (fall and spring): Differentiation and Integration

Term of Office: All Class Council Officers except the AI:MS Representatives, Student Wellness Committee Representatives , and University Senator position will be elected for one term at a time. The Fundamentals term will last three semesters, MCY term will last two semesters, and D&I term will last three semesters. Class Council Officer Elections will occur at the beginning of Fundamentals (semester 1), end of Fundamentals (semester 3), and end of MCY (semester 5). MD/Ph.D. and Bassett DAC Representatives will only exist during the MCY term.

Election Process: The Director of Student Activities and VP&S Club will run all Class Council Officer Elections. The Director will establish the election timeline, notify students, solicit statements of intent from the voting class via email and conduct the elections online. The election timeline should last approximately two weeks.

Unfilled Positions: Any positions for which there were no nominees will be filled at the discretion of the newly elected Class President for his/her class.

Article IV: Meetings

Introductory Meeting: The first P&S-wide Class Council Meeting will take place immediately following the conclusion of Fundamentals elections. At this meeting, Class Presidents will give a general update, reviewing major events of the previous year, highlighting significant upcoming issues and providing general leadership to the Class Council. The large meeting will be followed by breakout groups in which Officers holding the same positions in different years meet to review major position-specific issues and set an agenda for the coming year. The proceedings of the introductory meeting will be summarized in a planning document circulated to all VP&S students. The Fundamentals 3 President chairs this meeting.

Year-End Meeting: The Year-End Meeting will take place each April. At this meeting, a representative from each Position Group will update the Student Council on the Group's progress. Any amendments to the Constitution may be reviewed and voted on at this meeting.

Position-Specific Meetings: Every Representative will attend faculty and administrative meetings specific to his/her Position Group. Representatives will update all VP&S students on a regular basis on their work.

Article V: Amendments

Amendments to this Constitution will be written by a subcommittee of the Class Council formed by the Class Presidents. The Subcommittee will communicate the proposed Amendment to the Class Council in person or via email. The Class Council will vote on the proposed Amendment either in-person or via an online vote. Any Amendment winning at least a 2/3 majority of Class Council Representatives voting on the amendment will be ratified. The Dean of Student Affairs will have veto power over any proposed Amendment.