SGA Talks About the Barnard Housing Crisis

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SGA’s Housing Advisory Board (HAB) just sent us this forthcoming letter to Barnard students. Highlights:

  • There are still nine students who have not moved off-campus and have not yet received on-campus housing.
  • HAB considered the possibility Housing would convert Plimpton corner singles to doubles, “but never felt that it would prove necessary.”
  • HAB is concerned that students forced to live off-campus won’t be well-integrated into the Barnard community.
  • Clearly responding to the whole “Housing quietly kicked returning students off the guaranteed waitlist” scandal, HAB says they’ll “ensure that any contractual changes are clearly articulated going forward.”
  • There will be town halls in a few weeks!

Dear fellow Barnard students,
We are writing to offer our assistance as your representatives in light of the many changes to housing this summer. We sympathize with and regret the frustrations, burdens, and anxieties that have been raised over the past week. We apologize for the lack of communication and hope that you will join us in a larger conversation moving forward.
We are pleased that 90% of students awaiting assignments have been offered housing for the fall. To Residential Life and other campus offices involved, we thank you for your tireless efforts to accommodate every student. Yet, there remain nine students on the Unguaranteed Wait List who have not yet been placed in campus housing.To all students affected by the shortage, we offer our sincerest apologies for your hardships and will strive to assist your communication with campus offices.

The SGA Housing Advisory Board has actively worked since last fall with the Office of Residential Life & Housing and other campus offices to address the housing shortage and prevent its recurrence. We briefly weighed the Plimpton corner room option last fall, but never felt that it would prove necessary. We understand that the possibility of this option should have been communicated sooner and invite you to share with us any residual concerns and questions this situation has created for you. Over the last week and a half, SGA has been in regular contact with the administration discussing how best to respond to the problem at hand and how to increase communication moving forward.

We sympathize with the students who bear the burdens of the present situation. Though we applaud Residential Life for their success in housing transfer students, we are saddened that the type of residential community afforded to these students must be different this year and will work to create new opportunities for them. Meanwhile, we expect that Barnard will continue its support for students residing off-campus. We encourage the Financial Aid Office to consider the specific and unusual nature of these students’ situations in setting their allotments and in determining loan packages. We also endeavor to ensure that any contractual changes are clearly articulated going forward.

Looking ahead at this juncture, the SGA Housing Advisory Board pledges to continue actively working with the Office of Residential Life & Housing to locate sustainable long-term options. We appreciate the transparency that Dean Hinkson’s statement represents and we strive to foster information exchange between administrators and students that is open, timely, and complete. The Representative for Student Services and Representative for Community Development will continue working through the Housing Advisory Board to communicate your concerns to Residential Life and the larger administration each week.

We hope you will provide your opinions and concerns about the state of housing as we solicit feedback. If the present situation has caused you personal hardships, we welcome you to be heard at these forums and are each accessible at our email addresses listed below as well as at and at In the next weeks, we hope to continue to address the problems caused by this situation through direct forums for your concerns. Additionally, we welcome you to voice these concerns at our weekly Representative Council meetings. Opportunities will also be available to join the Housing Advisory Board in the fall. Should Barnard ever find itself under similar housing strains in the future, we hope you will engage in crafting the course of action. We look forward to your support in determining constructive solutions to these varied problems.

Once again, the Student Government Association is committed to increasing communication on these matters. Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions, suggestions, and concerns you wish to share. Thank you again for your patience and understanding.


Jennifer Fearon, Housing Advisory Board Chair,
Winn Periyasamy, Representative for Community Development,
Leah Rothstein, Representative for Student Services,
JungHee Hyun, SGA President,
Julia Kennedy, VP Student Government,

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  1. Anonymous

    QUICK I need reruns of this show before the weekend is over. Bwog, help a brother out.

  2. Anonymous

    "We encourage the Financial Aid Office to consider the specific and unusual nature of these students’ situations"

    You know what would be really helpful? An actual statement for the Financial Aid office.

  3. Anonymous

    Here's what it will take to convince me that SGA is a group of legit student advocates and not the Barnard administration's puppets.

    1) By saying, "We are pleased that 90% of students awaiting assignments have been offered housing for the fall," they're echoing Dean Hinkson's comment that strategically minimizes the non-guaranteed students who stopped awaiting housing because all of them were told they would not get it:
    "At this time we do not have any housing vacancies to assign to students on the non-Guaranteed Wait List."
    Back when the shortage was still 80 people, ResLife said that they weren't even *preparing* to rank unhoused students for assignment because there would be no housing openings: not a single one. Barnard wrote, "We encourage students to look for off-campus housing." If the unhoused students found housing, yes they are not among the 9 people "still awaiting housing," but before Barnard deceptively boasted about the low remaining number, I'd like to know how many of those 80 people found housing after Barnard's not-so-subtle hint and accordingly took themselves off the waitlist.

    2) What is this sentence "We also endeavor to ensure that any contractual changes are clearly articulated going forward"? If contracts change before people sign them, there's nothing to articulate. If SGA is articulating something about contract changes, that means the change is after people agreed to them, which undermines the purpose (and endorses the illegal breaking) of written agreements.

    • Anonymous

      But if they don't follow the company line, they won't get their laudatory letters of recommendation from the dean!

    • Anonymous

      it's weird how letters from the student council seem to parrot the tone and voice of letters from the administration ... it's like students come into columbia as normal human beings, but then over the years get slowly corrupted by an endless barrage of bureaucratic bullshit which turns them into mini bureaucratic spawn themselves.

  4. bummed-out bear

    I've really had it with the administration's half-assed attempts at sincere apology since this whole thing started. with the backhanded manipulation of contracts. with everything and they wonder why alumnae giving is so low...

  5. Anonymous  

    Also, notice how they don't mention that in the past week or so, transfers and others have dropped off the list, either because they've decided to not attend Barnard or because they're struggling to find something off-campus. So the whole "nine students left" really doesn't mean as much as they would like us to believe.

  6. Anonymous

    here's a petition if you think the administration should question whether dean hinkson should continue serving as dean of the college. SGA has indicated they will consider it if there are enough signatures.

    • BC '15

      Thats so stupid. Dean Hinkson is an amazing dean who reaches to the students directly. Unlike other administration she is very approachable and truly listens to the concern of the students. She made my Barnard transition all the better and has touched the lives of many other students

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