Overall Rating Gold - expired
Overall Score 67.06
Liaison Allie Schwartz
Submission Date April 14, 2015
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.0

Columbia University
PA-6: Support for Underrepresented Groups

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.00 / 2.00 Alycen Ashburn
Associate Director of Communication
Columbia College and SEAS Student Affairs
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Does the institution have mentoring, counseling, peer support, academic support, or other programs to support underrepresented groups on campus?:

A brief description of the programs sponsored by the institution to support underrepresented groups:

Office of Multicultural Affairs (OMA): The umbrella organization for students in underrepresented groups is the Office of Multicultural Affairs. Responding to the needs of Columbia’s diverse undergraduate student body, OMA aims to promote an inclusive university climate by acting as an educational resource that prepares students to succeed in a heterogeneous and ever-changing society. The Office provides a supportive environment for intercultural communication, constructive interaction and mutual understanding. OMA aims to strengthen and enhance the richly diverse fabric of the Columbia community by providing and supporting programs and services in the following areas: Critical Intellectual Inquiry; Mentoring; Advocacy; Social Justice and Inter/Intra Cultural Programming; Leadership Development and Training; Diversity Education and Training; and Cultural & Identity Based Student Organization Advising.

The Intercultural Resource Center (IRC), a part of the OMA, is devoted to promoting a just society and exploring intercultural and diversity issues within and beyond the Columbia University community. The IRC provides a forum for education and social exchange that encourages self-discovery, increased social awareness, and an appreciation of the cultural histories within and between communities on campus. We strive to equip students, faculty, and staff with the tools necessary to empower themselves, successfully navigate their environments, and positively impact the community at large. http://www.studentaffairs.columbia.edu/multicultural/aboutus/rescom/irc.php

Student Engagement
Columbia offers a wide range of student clubs, organizations, and initiatives, including Proud Colors, Society of Women Engineers, Black Theater Ensemble, Multicultural Business Association, Grupo Quisqueyano, Native American Council, and many, many more. (List attached of Student Clubs and Organizations.) http://lionlink.columbia.edu

Academic Success Programs (within Center for Student Advising)

The Arthur O. Eve Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP), currently found in over sixty independent colleges and universities, was established by the New York State Legislature in 1969 to assist eligible residents in obtaining higher education at private institutions. HEOP is funded jointly by the University and the New York State Arthur O. Eve Higher Education Opportunity Program, and programming activities are supported, in part, by a grant from the New York State Education Department.

HEOP participants receive the following:
Financial aid awards will be based on each student’s demonstrated financial need, as determined on a case by case basis.
- Parents with calculated incomes below $60,000 a year and typical assets are expected to contribute $0 toward their children’s Columbia education.
- Financial aid packages at Columbia contain no loans.
- Students can estimate their financial aid eligibility by using the Net Price Calculator.
Academic, personal, career, and financial advisement;
Peer mentoring;
Academic workshops and seminars;
Individualized and/or group tutorial services; and
Semester book allowance.

In order to be eligible for HEOP, students must meet both academic and economic criteria set forth by the State of New York.

In 1986 Columbia University created the National Opportunity Program (NOP), making a commitment to providing the same kind of academic and financial support to students from all over the United States. In 2006, The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science established a National Opportunity Program.

NOP participants receive the following services:
Academic, personal, career, and financial advisement;
Peer mentoring;
Academic workshops and seminars;
Individualized and/or group tutorial services; and
Financial aid awards will be based on each student’s demonstrated financial need, as determined on a case by case basis.
Parents with calculated incomes below $60,000 a year and typical assets are expected to contribute $0 toward their children’s Columbia education.
Parents with calculated incomes between $60,000 and $100,000 and typical assets are also eligible for significant financial aid.
Financial aid packages at Columbia contain no loans.
Students can estimate their financial aid eligibility by using the Net Price Calculator.

In order to be eligible for NOP, students must meet academic criteria set forth by the University.

First-in-Family Programs (within the Center for Student Advising)
Columbia College and Columbia Engineering are proud to have more than 900 undergraduates who are the first in their family to attend college. First-in-Family (FIF) Programs serves these students, and all students, by supporting them as they make the cultural leap into the college environment. First-in-Family is by definition a secondary identity. The FIF constituency hails from every corner of the socioeconomic spectrum, every ethnic background, and every area of study. The philosophy of FIF is that ""students don't know what they don't know."" FIF Programs aims to introduce students to the huge variety of possibilities for their Columbia education.

Orientation: We hold a reception during the New Student Orientation Program (NSOP) to welcome new first-generation college students and their families to campus. The 2014 FIF Welcome Reception featured a panel discussion where five current FIF students shared their experiences with twenty-nine incoming students.

Peer Mentoring: FIF administers a peer mentoring program that pairs incoming and upperclass FIF students. The mentoring relationship enriches new students by connecting them with the attention and wisdom of FIF students who are farther along in their Columbia careers. The 2014-15 FIF Peer Mentoring Initiative will launch mid-September.
Social Events: All FIF students are invited to participate in FIF-exclusive social events throughout the academic year. Programming for the fall semester will be announced in early September.
Academic Support: The Center for Student Advising provides academic support resources through the Academic Resources in Support of Excellence (ARISE) program. All FIF students are encouraged to inquire about these resources.

A variety of alumni affinity groups help sustain links to Columbia University and strengthen connections between alumni and student communities.
Alumni Affinity Groups: http://alumni.columbia.edu/alumni-community/alumni-clubs/affiliated-organizations

Undergraduate Programs
Bridge to Ph.D. Program in the Natural Sciences – Graduate School of Arts & Sciences
This program enhances the participation of students from underrepresented groups in Ph.D. programs in the natural sciences. With funding from the National Science Foundation, the Bridge Program provides an intensive research, coursework, and mentoring experience to post-baccalaureates seeking to strengthen their graduate school applications and to prepare for the transition into Ph.D. programs. Bridge Scholars have been sponsored by the Departments of Astronomy, Biological Sciences, Chemistry, Earth and Environmental Sciences, Neuroscience, Physics, and Psychology. There are currently ten participants in the program. Twelve of the participants who completed the program in its first three years have been accepted into doctoral programs at leading universities.

Summer Research Program – Graduate School of Arts & Sciences
The goal of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Summer Research Program (SRP) for undergraduates from historically underrepresented groups is to prepare students for doctoral study in their area of academic and intellectual interest. The program's purpose is to expose underrepresented students to graduate-level academic research so that they may begin to view the academy as a viable and realistic career path, thereby addressing the shortage of underrepresented minorities in doctoral study and college and university faculties. The program provides promising undergraduate students from historically underrepresented groups all over the United States with the opportunity to participate in an eight to ten week summer internship program conducting graduate-level research under the supervision of a Columbia University faculty mentor.

Biostatistics Enrichment Summer Training Diversity Program (BEST) – Mailman School of Public Health
With funding from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, BEST was established by the Mailman School’s Department of Biostatistics in 2008 to expand and diversify the behavioral and biomedical sciences’ workforce by introducing undergraduates from underrepresented racial and ethnic minority groups, disadvantaged backgrounds, and students with disabilities to biostatistics and quantitative applications in cardiovascular, blood, sleep, and pulmonary disease research.
Summer Program for Minority Students – Columbia University Medical Center

The Summer Public Health Scholars Program is a partnership among Columbia’s College of Physicians and Surgeons, College of Dental Medicine, School of Nursing and Mailman School of Public Health. Funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the goal of the program is to increase the knowledge and interest in public health and biomedical science among minority undergraduates. The program will recruit and train 50 students a year from community colleges, four-year colleges, and post-baccalaureate programs who are undecided about their career choices. The intensive 10-week program allows students to work alongside public health professional mentors while taking courses in epidemiology, public health and health disparities, and cultural competence.
Summer Program for Underrepresented Students (SPURS) - College of Physicians & Surgeons
The Summer Program for Underrepresented Students (SPURS) provides an intense undergraduate biomedical research experience for talented students from backgrounds that are traditionally underrepresented in the biology and chemistry fields. SPURS main goal is to help minority science undergraduate students, primarily from New York City, achieve a career in science by pursuing an advanced degree (Ph.D., M.D./ Ph.D. or M.D.). SPURS participants are accepted primarily from the City University of New York (CUNY) senior colleges, including Hunter, Brooklyn, Queens, and City Colleges. The program has been supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Fund and other private donors. Now in its ninth year, over 100 students from underrepresented groups have been trained in the biological sciences. With funding from National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, the program will be expanded into the neurosciences to leverage the training opportunities with the outstanding faculty at Columbia University.

Summer Medical Education Program (SMDEP) – College of Physicians & Surgeons and College of Dental Medicine
The Summer Medical Education Program (SMDEP) is a six-week residential program for first and second year college students interested in careers in medicine and dentistry. Supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the program aims to assist students who represent economic, geographic, cultural, racial and ethnic diversity in their pursuit of gaining admission to medical or dental school. Columbia University is one of 12 academic institutions hosting the program across the nation.

State Pre-College Enrichment Program (S-PREP) – College of Physicians & Surgeons
The State Pre-College Enrichment Program (S-PREP) is a rigorous academic program for underrepresented minority and economically disadvantaged high school students, grades 9-12, interested in science, medicine or related health professions. The program aims to be a pipeline that will assist with increasing the number of underrepresented minority physicians, scientists and other health professionals. The program exposes students to basic and medical sciences, provides career awareness in science and medical professions, and college preparation.

Northeast Regional Alliance (NERA) MedPrep Scholars Program – College of Physicians & Surgeons
Funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Health Resources and Services Administration, the program builds on the collective expertise of four institutions—Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New Jersey Medical School, Mount Sinai School of Medicine Center for Multicultural and Community Affairs, and the Manhattan Staten Island Area Health Education Center – to expand health careers preparation for minority and disadvantaged students from junior high school through medical school with the goal of increasing competitiveness for medical school.

The Sophie Davis BS-DDS Pilot Program Collaboration – College of Dental Medicine
The Sophie Davis BS-DDS Program is dedicated to producing broadly-educated, highly-skilled primary care practitioners to provide quality services to under served communities. The program is designed as a seven-year integrated curriculum leading to the Bachelor of Science (BS) and Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) degrees. After successfully completing the BS degree at The City College of New York, students then transfer to the cooperating dental school for their final two years of clinical training. In the inaugural year of the program, five students will be accepted for eventual transfer to Columbia University College of Dental Medicine.

Masters Programs
Sustainable Engineering Graduate Scholars Program: Diversifying the Pipeline to the PhD - School of Engineering and Applied Science
The onset of the 21st century has prompted a reevaluation of the role of engineers in light of current societal and environmental challenges. The goal of this National Science Foundation supported program, Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (S-STEM), is to prepare a cohort of engineers to meet such challenges, with an emphasis on the areas of water, energy and infrastructure. Building upon undergraduate and PhD-level engineering education reform undertaken by the faculty team leading the project, this program targets the Masters level. A research-based M.S. degree will provide S-STEM Scholars with a well-supported “segue” between an undergraduate degree in engineering or applied science and a doctoral program. The program emphasizes the recruitment and retention of graduate students from underrepresented populations. Mentoring, cohort building and leadership development are important aspects of the program.

Doctoral and Junior Faculty Programs
Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) Program – School of Engineering and Applied Science
The National Science Foundation’s Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) program was developed to meet the challenges of educating U.S. PhD scientists and engineers who will pursue careers in research and education, with the interdisciplinary backgrounds, deep knowledge in chosen disciplines, and technical, professional, and personal skills to become, in their own careers, leaders and creative agents for change. Offering traineeships to students pursuing their PhDs, the program is intended to catalyze a cultural change in graduate education by establishing innovative new models for graduate education and training in a fertile environment for collaborative research that transcends traditional disciplinary boundaries. It is also intended to facilitate diversity in student participation and preparation, and to contribute to a world-class, broadly inclusive, and globally engaged science and engineering workforce. Columbia University is home to four IGERT programs:

Solving Urbanization Challenges by Design: A New PhD Program Between Architecture and Engineering - School of Engineering and Applied Science
The goal of this IGERT program is to integrate architectural and engineering PhD education in a new interdisciplinary program that aims to fundamentally transform design and planning approaches to contemporary urban expansion. IGERT trainees will make use of emerging science and technology research at the interface of architecture and engineering to develop new paradigms that enable urban areas to adapt to changing requirements, absorb disturbance and effectively reorganize and recover, and reduce their impact on the natural environment. Collaborations with universities in urban environments located within Europe, Africa and Asia will provide a global perspective to the program. This IGERT program will graduate a cohort of diverse doctoral students who can help shape the policies, priorities, and investments needed for contemporary urbanization. Participants include students and faculty from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, School of Engineering and Applied Science, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, School of International and Public Affairs, Mailman School of Public Health, and Earth Institute.
Engineering Photons for a Sustainable Future – School of Engineering and Applied Science
This IGERT program facilitates the unique interdisciplinary training of PhD scientists and engineers in the field of sustainable and renewable energy solutions. The energy economy is an immediate and grand challenge that must be tackled by current and future generations of scientists and engineers. This program addresses this challenge by focusing on technology innovations in two subsystems of direct relevance: next-generation solar photovoltaics, and next-generation efficient optical data and communications networks. The cross-training scientific research is synergistically integrated with innovative educational approaches and an emphasis on underrepresented groups. Working with major industrial partners, the IGERT will conduct outreach to undergraduate and K-12 schools in Harlem and Nashville, encouraging underrepresented groups to enter science, technology, engineering, and mathematics areas of higher education.

From Data to Solutions: A New PhD Program in Transformational Data & Information Sciences Research and Innovation – School of Engineering and Applied Science
This IGERT program provides PhD students with the interdisciplinary training necessary to extract useful information from vast amounts of collected data. Consumer opinions, information on disease and its symptoms, and breaking information on social websites allow information gathering on a scale previously unknown. Columbia University and the City University of New York, in collaboration with international partners in Argentina and Brazil, have created a new program involving the interdisciplinary training of students in making sense of big data. Researchers from Computer Science, Electrical Engineering, Psychology, and Statistics are partnering with Biomedical Informatics, Business and Journalism to educate this next generation of information scientists. Aided by advisors from large corporations, major research labs, and small start-up companies, the program encourages IGERT trainees to pursue patents, and to apply their research in society. A major goal of the program is to attract more diverse students to information sciences by emphasizing real world applications, a supportive environment, and diverse faculty role models.

Optical techniques for actuation, sensing, and imaging of biological systems – School of Engineering and Applied Science
In this IGERT program a new generation of scientists and engineers will be trained through a set of five research thrusts that cross three fundamental core competency areas: optics, photonics, and sensor electronics; biomolecular detection and cellular-level analysis; and applications to medicine and public health. With 19 faculty members representing academic departments across Columbia University’s School of Engineering and Applied Science, School of Arts and Sciences, Mailman School of Public Health, College of Physicians and Surgeons, and Teachers College, and incorporating strong interaction with City College, Queens College, and The Cooper Union in New York City, IGERT trainees will experience a truly diverse community sharing in integrated educational and research activities and will be exposed to a wide spectrum of cutting-edge applications. This program fulfills a compelling need to train a diverse workforce of U. S. scientists and engineers trained in an area of large and growing competitive importance to the United States. Significant resources are committed to ensuring recruitment and retention of participants from underrepresented groups.

Initiative for Maximizing Student Development (IMSD) – Mailman School of Public Health
The Initiative for Maximizing Student Development (IMSD), an education project funded by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, is aimed at increasing the number of underrepresented students who enter research careers in public health. The program supports eight doctoral students with one to two years of research mentoring, tuition benefits, and funding to attend scientific conferences.

HIV Intervention Science Training Program for Underrepresented New Investigators – School of Social Work
Columbia University’s HIV Science Training Program for Underrepresented New Investigators (HISTP), funded by National Institutes of Mental Health, is a multidisciplinary training program that seeks to develop and facilitate the growth of scientists from underrepresented groups conducting HIV-related dissemination and implementation research. The program’s goals are to address the urgent need to increase dissemination and implementation research to ensure that effective HIV prevention interventions are delivered to the communities that need them, and to train a new generation of HIV researchers to conduct such research to make a major impact in reducing new HIV infections, particularly among communities of color. Fellows participating in the program receive two years of support via an innovative dual mentorship structure, training seminars, workshops and institutes, pilot study support, and grant writing assistance. The program utilizes a distance learning approach which allows junior faculty from across the U.S. to participate from their respective institutions.
Programs to Increase Diversity Among Individuals Engaged in Health-Related Research (PRIDE) – Mailman School of Public Health/College of Physicians and Surgeons

The goal of Programs to Increase Diversity Among Individuals Engaged in Health-Related Research (PRIDE) is to recruit and train junior scientists who can improve public health and reduce health disparities nationwide. Sponsored by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, it provides rigorous training and mentoring opportunities to junior faculty members from underrepresented racial and ethnic minority groups, disadvantaged backgrounds, and individuals with disabilities and equips them with the essential skills needed to conduct comparative effectiveness research and secure grant funding to address today's most complex health problems.

The website URL where more information about the support programs for underrepresented groups is available:
Does the institution have a discrimination response policy and/or team (or the equivalent) to respond to and support those who have experienced or witnessed a bias incident, act of discrimination or hate crime?:

A brief description of the institution’s discrimination response policy, program and/or team:

Bias and Discrimination Response Protocol

As members of Columbia College and Columbia Engineering, we share the University’s commitment to creating a learning environment free from unlawful discrimination and harassment. Unfortunately, we acknowledge that no campus community is removed from larger systemic issues, such as racism, homophobia, religious intolerance, sexism, and classism.

Undergraduate Student Life and its partners have worked with students and key administrative offices to develop a protocol for responding to acts of hate and bias/discrimination in our community in order to better create a safe and secure environment for all of our students.

Students who witness, hear of, or are victim to acts of bias and hate should immediately contact Public Safety at 212-854-5555. Once Public Safety is notified, the Bias and Discrimination Response Team is alerted, and several steps are taken to respond to the needs of our community.

Public Safety

Once notified of an incident, Public Safety will provide any immediate assistance necessary regarding safety. If there is physical harm or threat of harm to individuals involved, Public Safety will provide appropriate support and action. If the act is in the form of public defacement of property, Public Safety will secure the premises and/or cover-up the area until:

thorough documentation is taken;
the defacement is removed by Facilities, a unit which also is contacted immediately after the initial report to Public Safety.

Documentation by Public Safety includes formally taking an incident report and gathering information (e.g. taking photographs of defacement of property, interviewing victims or witnesses to an act).

If the incident may involve a hate crime, NYPD will be contacted. (See “Disciplinary Action for Hate Crimes and Bias Incidents” for more information).


For individual(s) who may be specifically targeted:
Members of the Discrimination/Bias Response team (e.g. Multicultural Affairs, Residential Programs, Center for Student Advising) meet with the individual(s) to address the personal, physical, emotional, and psychological safety of those targeted. While providing ongoing support and referrals to additional resources as needed, the staff works with the student(s) involved in creating an appropriate community response. Depending on the nature of an incident, personal situation, and concern of safety, a student may not want wide publicity. In such cases, the University will be considerate of the student’s wishes and attempt to minimize and/or limit the publicity to the extent possible. However, reporting the incident will still help inform general community education programs and support services.

For a community or communities that may be targeted:
Members of the Discrimination/Bias Response team meet with members or organizational leaders of communities most immediately targeted by the bias-related act. In the initial meeting, students are alerted to the incident and have the opportunity to share their concerns and the concerns heard among their peers. Administrators will collaborate with students to create needed programs to support their communities internally as well as programs to educate the campus. Follow- up meetings to plan and implement programs, to provide ongoing support, and to continue dialogue are held as needed.


In addition to Public Safety notifying relevant administrative units and Undergraduate Student Life staff notifying targeted constituencies, outreach to the general CC/SEAS community takes place when appropriate. After meeting with, consulting, and receiving consent from the individual(s) or constituencies most affected, public notification (through email, floor meetings, or other forums) will be sent out to students describing the nature of the incident and reminding all that these acts are against the collective principles of our community. The amount of details about the incident that will be disclosed to the community will depend on several factors including but not limited to the decision of the students/ groups most targeted, level of concern that repeating exact details may re-victimize targeted person(s), and pending legal and judicial processes.

Campus Education

Response programming is informed and shaped by meetings with student leaders and individual(s) and communities most affected. Undergraduate Student Life staff and students collaborate to create relevant forums, town halls, and dialogues. Additionally, all documentation and records of incidents help inform future programming and improvement of existing programs and services. For instance, if biased or hateful behavior seems to stem from misinformation of particular communities’ cultures or experiences, new programming or better promotion of current resources can be implemented. Similarly, if a bias- related action continually occurs, educational campaigns and accompanying dialogues can be held.

Disciplinary Action for Hate Crimes and Discrimination/Bias Incidents

Hate crimes/ bias-related incidents involve behavior that is motivated by hostility to race, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity, national origin, gender identity and expression, age, or disability. We understand the deep pain and consequence hate crimes and discrimination/bias-related actions have on our entire community. Any behavior motivated by hate will not be tolerated. Columbia College and Columbia Engineering students involved in perpetrating a hate crime/ bias incident will be subject to an educational and/or disciplinary process determined by Judicial Affairs. Hate crimes are acts of hate and bias that are accompanied by crime through such actions as threats of violence, property damage, personal injury, and other illegal conduct. If a reported incident is designated by the NYPD as a hate crime, perpetrators will be prosecuted under state and federal laws. After a full investigation by the NYPD and the legal process are complete, Columbia College and Columbia Engineering students involved will also be subject to a judicial process through Dean’s Discipline, which may result in suspension or expulsion.


Any personal information obtained during the course of an investigation of a hate crime or discrimination/bias-related incident and/or adjudication of such matter will be handled with discretion and kept confidential to the extent possible.

The website URL where more information about the institution’s discrimination response policy, program and/or team is available:
Does the institution offer housing options to accommodate the special needs of transgender and transitioning students?:

Does the institution produce a publicly accessible inventory of gender neutral bathrooms on campus?:

Additional Links:

Additional Notes:
Open Housing is an arrangement whereby two students, regardless of sex, gender, or gender expression, are permitted to share a room in Columbia’s residence halls. The primary reason for such a policy is to provide housing options that take into consideration varying identities and preferences, and to ensure a safe and comfortable environment for all students. http://www.studentaffairs.columbia.edu/OMA/trans

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution or simply email your inquiry to stars@aashe.org.