Barnard Students And The Case Of The Missing Mirrors

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The pantry gets a mirror, but the students don't

The pantry gets a mirror, but the students don’t

So we’re back from summer and settling into our primitively furnished, university-provided dwellings, right? Well, turns out we can’t even rely on Columbia or Barnard to even meet the primitive room necessities which we actually kinda require. In her latest investigation, Internal Editor Betsy Ladyzhets peers into the murky pool of Barnard’s facilities—but she sees no reflection.

When I walked into my new Plimpton double, one of the first things I noticed was not the raised beds, the full-sized wardrobes, or the window looking out onto Amsterdam. I noticed an absence in my room – the absence of an object that I’d come to expect from any dorm room I’d have at Barnard. My room was missing a crucial object, a staple item, something almost as necessary for day-to-day my existence as bagels from Absolute Bagel. My room doesn’t have a mirror.

Now, don’t get me wrong—I’m not particularly vain or self-centered. I don’t need to stare at my reflection for an hour every morning. I have no intentions of recreating the story of Narcissus. But I do like to check that my clothes aren’t inside out before I leave for class in the morning. And I don’t consider it unreasonable to expect at least one mirror to be present in a room shared between two people.

My bafflement only grew when I ventured out into the rest of the suite, then opened the door at the end of the hallway to discover that the pantry has a mirror. That’s right—the pantry. Apparently, discount bags of tortilla chips and extra rolls of paper towels have more reason to gaze at their reflections than I do.

After discovering this blight on my new suite, I decided to investigate, and realized that the conspiracy goes much further than one Plimpton suite. The first person I talked to was one of my suitemates, who had moved in early. She told me that she asked about the mirrors (of the five rooms in our suite, two are missing mirrors) when she first moved in, and was told that Res Life is trying to “phase out” mirrors in rooms. If any individual mirrors are damaged, they won’t be fixed.

Asya Sagnak, a fellow Bwog writer and mirrorless Plimpton dweller, confirmed this “phasing out” tip when she told me about her own experience with Res Life. Nobody in her suite has mirrors, except for, of course, the pantry. An RA friend of hers has been fielding questions about where to find mirrors, but has no idea what to to tell her residents—and “none of the other Res Life staff seems to [know anything] either.” Her suite has put in several work orders, but has seen no development on the mirror front. (At one point, they were told that Facilities has “run out” of mirrors. But if the pantry mirror breaks, that mirror and that mirror alone can be replaced.)

And the problem doesn’t stop there. According to senior staffer Sarah Dahl, none of the rooms in 616 have mirrors, either. But their bathrooms have mirrors, and their hallways have mirrors. By asking around, I discovered that the situation in 600 is similar: a friend told me that one of the rooms in her suite had three mirrors, while her double didn’t have any. Her roommate was able to buy a mirror off of Buy/Sell/Trade. which is admirable, but causes me to question why students are spending money on items that should, by all rights, be included with our rooms.

Barnard students pay $9,230 a year for double rooms and $10,714 a year for singles. That’s enough money to buy 2,000 full-length mirrors from Target. But Barnard, apparently, just isn’t willing to put in the extra money to buy mirrors or the effort to install them, which leads me to question what’s really going on behind the scenes in the Res Life office. Are they trying to increase competitiveness between us by forcing us to share communal mirrors? Are ten percent of Barnard students actually vampires that will whither into dust if they look at their reflections? Are there ghosts of Barnard alumni in our pantries that rely on pantry mirrors for survival? Or is the Barnard administration just penny-pinching by skimping on what they clearly consider non-essential dorm amenities?

I can only take comfort in the fact that Barnard students are easily adaptable, and will recover from this distressing situation even if Res Life becomes increasingly cryptic. “At least we won’t get seven years of bad luck,” said my roommate, Allegra Geanuracos. And Kira Mitchel, my friend from 600, claims that she’s okay with mirror-less-ness because she “doesn’t have a reflection.”

If you have any further information or stories about the lack of mirrors in Barnard dorms, please enlighten us by emailing Right now, we’re as confused as you are.

A mirror for ghosts? via Bwog Staff

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