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Nov

21

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Money Money Money – ABBA

Barnard Bwogger Dassi Karp covered this week’s SGA meeting which was rather interesting as it covered Barnard’s budget, expenditure and food insecurity. 

It’s the day we’ve all been waiting for: the return of the administrative guests. This week, Barnard’s Student Government Association welcome Chief Operating Officer Robert Goldberg and VP Finance Eileen DiBenedetto to explain to Rep Council about Barnard’s budget and revenue sources. This may seem like a dry topic. It is. And the information has not really changed since the Goldberg and DiBenedetto gave the same presentation last year. Its a really important topic, though. Students need to better understand what kinds of funds Barnard can and does access when they make demands of the administration. Many of the Rep Council members (about a third) were conspicuously absent last night, and didn’t get a chance to hear that sweet sweet info. But, as Goldberg explained, “right before break is a good time to talk about finances.” So here it goes:

Barnard’s budget this year was about $207.7 million. About half of that money goes to salaries and benefits for faculty, staff, and administrators. “This makes sense,” said Goldberg, “because this is a people-driven organization.” About a quarter of the money goes to financial aid. Because of Barnard’s need-blind admissions policy, there is no specific budget set for financial aid, and it changes according to the needs of that year’s students. A smaller portion of the budget goes to non-personal expenditures, like gas and electricity bills. Four and a half percent is spend on debt services on loans taken out in the past, for building projects such as Sulzberger Tower and the Diana Center. Goldberg was careful to note that the new Milstein Center (Barnard’s new library, whose wooden-look exterior gives it a decidedly Noah’s Ark vibe) was largely financed by private donations, and does not have more than a two percent impact on the yearly budget.

Goldberg and DiBenedetto also explained that Barnard’s revenue is largely tuition based, with 80% coming from tuition and student fees. Only 7% of revenue comes from the endowment, and a comparable amount comes from private giving. The rest is made up of state and private grants. Compared to its academic peers–such as other ivies and prominent liberal arts colleges, Barnard has a very small endowment.

They also tried to explain how tuition rates are set. Each year, Barnard’s financial team works to try to perdict expenses for the next year. Some expenses are fixed, for example built in salary escalations. They also look into recruitment and retention numbers and student services requirements. They present a report to the Board of Trustees in March, and work to refine the numbers through the spring. “We don’t want to charge any more money than we have to,” Goldberg tried to assure Rep Council (and whoever is listening to the livestream, and you, dear reader). The financial team tries to find places to cut back on expenses wherever possible. “Evie will know what this sounds like,” remarked Goldberg of SGA’s VP Finance Evie McCorkle.

Evie, who can be counted on to ask the hard questions, asked if Goldberg had any predictions for when the endowment will be big enough for a tuition freeze. He did not. He did explain that the College is not doing badly financially, and that the “future of funding is actually very bright.” Other questions from Rep Council members were answered in turn, including explanations from Goldberg that “we’re not making money on meal plans” (who is though? I think someone must be) and “we’re painfully aware that the infrastructure is aging” (looking at you, 600 pipes).

Besides listening dutifully to the financial presentation, Rep Council also voted to form an ad hoc committee about food insecurity. The proposed committee would work to determine the depth and instance of food insecurity and Barnard, come up with recommendations to combat the problem, and create a report of resources and findings. The motion to form the committee passed unanimously. Applications to join will be coming out soon.

  • There are a lot of other SGA Announcements:
    Rep for Academic Affairs Shoshana Edelman is leaving to study abroad next semester. Applications for her position will be out soon.
  • All Rep Council members are now required to make external announcements at meetings, even when they have nothing to say. I can imagine this may cause an interesting problem at some point. For now, it just served to make the announcement portion of the meeting a bit longer.
  •  Evie McCorkle announced the recipients of the fall capital investment fund, which is determined by members of the four school’s class councils. Money was awarded to eleven different groups, including the Columbia Super Smash Bros Club. I might have to go check that one out.
    In the Desserts After Dark survey, many students indicated that they were not aware of the options available to help them if they were food insecure. Rep for Student Health Services Val Jaharis had compiled a nice infographic that explains the options, which you can check out on Facebook.
  • Barnard’s emergency points program is open. If you are food insecure, you can go to Diana 301 and get yourself some points. First come, first serve.

Image via WikiCommons

 

Nov

14

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Let’s be honest, the old ‘is Barnard part of Columbia debate?’ is still fun

Despite the lack of guests at this week’s SGA meeting, Barnard Bwogger Dassi Karp dutifully reports the council’s survey findings which included a disappointment with on-campus employment conditions, the experiences of first generation students and the availability of JJs. 

It’s been a while since Barnard’s Student Government Association has had a Rep Council meeting with no real administrative or student guests. But SGA had business to discuss, and they got right to it. This week, students reported back from a Seven Sisters conference that happened last weekend, and we heard this semester’s Desserts After Dark results. It was a pretty tame meeting, but not too boring.

The Seven Sisters is an association of historically women’s colleges in the Northeast. Of the seven, Barnard is one of six that still exists as an undergraduate institution. These six get together yearly to promote bonding and learning from each other. This year’s conference took place at Mount Holyoke, described by Rep for Seven Sisters Relations Julia Pickel as “very different from Barnard. It’s a rural campus.” Conference-goers attended sessions on topics such as gender identity at women’s colleges, controversial speakers and free speech, alumnae panels, and group brainstorming sessions. First-year class president Sara Morales, who attended the conference, was especially excited to share one of Mount Holyoke’s methods for sharing information about student groups: a “newsflush,” which consists of updates taped to the back of bathroom stalls. “It’s like wow,” Morales enthused. “I felt accomplished every time I went to the bathroom.” Good to know. SGA plans on taking this and other ideas garnered at the conference in to consideration.

More after the jump

Oct

31

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You can take this book out for a whopping two hours if it’s on a reserve list (let’s be honest, 99% of your books are) YAY.

This week’s SGA met with Mujeres, furthering the notion that SGA is actually going to achieve stuff this semester and impressing our Barnard Bwogger Dassi Karp who covered the the range of issues presented at the meeting. 

Barnard’s Student Government Association is really stepping up its game this semester, bringing in student groups or administrators every week and coming up with actionable items for SGA to pursue. And this week was no different. Leaders and members of Mujeres, Barnard’s cultural support group for Latina students and allies, presented ways that they hope to work with SGA to further their constituency’s needs.

Most of what Mujeres advocated for involved supporting first-generation low-income students, as those are identities that many members of Mujeres also share. First, they spoke about Barnard’s Peer Academic Learning Program (PAL), which works to assist first-generation first-year students with the transition to college with meetings and advising sessions. Mujeres hopes to partner with PAL next year, but first needs to obtain funding to support paying new PALs.

More after the jump

Oct

24

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New body who this?

This week’s SGA meeting once again ran smoothly, impressing Barnard Bwogger Dassi Karp who covered last nights events with discussion topics ranging from disability accommodations to halal chicken in Hewitt.

At Barnard’s Student Government Association meeting last night, our indomitable Rep Council continued the trend of recent weeks of inviting good guests, asking smart questions, and actually getting things done. I’m impressed, SGA–everything is just going so smoothly! Is there something you’re not telling us? This week, led by Rep for Student Health Services Val Jaharis, Rep Council welcomed MJ Murphy, Executive Director of Student Health and Wellness Programs; Dr Mary Commerford, Director of Furman Counseling Center; and Carolyn Corbran, Director of the Office of Disability Services.

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Oct

17

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“That’s just the way the cookie crumbles.” Did people ever say that?

This week’s SGA got BOSSY, indicating once again they are really going to try and get things done. Bwogger Dassi Karp covered the the range of issues presented, from lack of diversity within courses to dessert freedom for all. 

At this week’s meeting of the Student Government Association, the members of our fearless Barnard Rep Council showed once again that they are really going to try to get things done. This year’s established pattern of bringing in a student group and asking them about their needs continued in full force, with guests from the leadership of the Barnard Organization of Soul Sisters (BOSS), which supports black women through mentorship programs, meetings, and education and cultural events. Notably, SGA President Angela Beam took some time to review the Council’s progress on addressing the requests from last groups. This is very promising–this might be the semester when SGA really comes through.

At the start of the meeting, SGA voted to pass a motion to write a statement to support the Workers Rights Consortium, per the request of Student-Workers Solidarity last month. They plan on releasing the statement next week.

BOSS presented three issues they hoped SGA would help them address. First, they explained that they were having problems with Public Safety allowing their non-Barnard members in to their meetings, which take place in a lounge in Reid Hall. University Senator Kira Dennis pointed out that there is a form a on the Res Life website that should be filled out by whoever has problems with Public Safety or the desk attendants. I could not find this form in an admittedly non-thorough search of the Barnard website before my 8:40 this morning.

Next, BOSS requested assistance in getting funding to send members to the Black Solidarity Conference at Yale this year. VP Finance Evie McCorkle was, as always, very on top of things, and said she’ll help them figure it out, by applying to funds such as the Joint Council Co-Sponsorship Community (JCCC).

Lastly, BOSS members expressed frustration with courses, specifically in the First Year Writing and Seminar program, who’s readings are lacking diverse representation. The course Legacy of the Mediterranean, which investigates key intellectual moments in the rich literary history that originated in classical Greece and Rome and continues to inspire some of the world’s greatest masterpieces” according to the FYW writing website, was brought as an example. This caused a lot of discussion. Unlike Lit Hum, FYW and FYS classes are offered on a range of topics, many of which do not focus on the canon the same way that Legacy does. But, clarified a BOSS member, “it should not have to be that if I want diversity I have to pick a certain class.” She added, “the only class with a smidge of diversity is The Americas.” The Americas, which does boast about its “multicultural curriculium,” is one of the three options for First Year Writing, as well as one of the many options for seminar, First-Year class president Sara Morales referenced conversation that she had with Director of First-Year Writing, Wendy Schor-Haim. Morales seemed generally pleased and hopeful about the future of the department in terms of diversity, noting that Schor-Haim was very open to suggestions and ways to improve.

The Executive Board announced some new meeting rules this week, as well as reminded us of some Rep Council policies. Notably, esteemed President Angela Beam will give speakers five and ten minute warning to make sure they stay within the time limits allotted to them. Also, direct responses to statements will now be limited to two per statement. This caused some slight confusion, with Junior Class VP Aashna Singh clarifying, “so I have to raise my hand to respond to myself?” (Yes, apparently.) Angela also clarified that the open floor portion of the meetings are open to anyone who wishes to speak, regardless of their connection to Barnard or Columbia. I assume this is because I asked them if former faculty member Georgette Fleischer will be allowed to keep coming. (She can.)

The most important announcement of the night: the Desserts After Dark Survey is open! Fill it out, because, as VP Campus Life Aku Acquaye reminded us, “we have desserts for all dietary restrictions!”

Image via El Pantera

Oct

10

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So much drama

This weeks SGA meeting was rather eventful and it looks like change is actually on the horizon. Whilst the highlight of the evening was the unanimous secret ballot in support of the Grader Workers of Columbia Union, bwogger Dassi Karp also covered the drama of an unplanned visitor, environmental issues and more! 

Barnard’s Student Government Association is really stepping up its game. This week’s Rep Council meeting featured student guests, an administrative guest, a vote (!), a resolution, and a minor protest.Though they had a slow start this semester, it looks like SGA is really going to get things done.

Starting with an unplanned visitor. During the meeting’s open floor session, former Barnard adjunct Georgette Fleischer showed up with a poster and a complaint. Fleischer, who was released from Barnard last spring, believes that she was fired due to her involvement and leadership in Barnard’s contingent faculty union. This is Fleischer’s second time visiting an SGA meeting this semester, hoping to appeal to students to support her against the administration. Her current demand is to switch from the union-approved arbitrator she to whom she is currently assigned to move the process along more quickly. I doubt this is the last time she’ll visit open floor.

Next, the vote. SGA President Angela Beam introduced a drafted statement in support of the Graduate Workers of Columbia union. The council voted through a unanimous secret ballot to approve the statement, which was released to the student body last night. I voted that we should all spend less of our collective time watching Angela silently count secret ballots.

More on SGA

Oct

3

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Back in May (I know, we miss summer too) Sian Beilock was announced as the eighth president of Barnard College and  earlier this week SGA met with Beilock in an “oh so new format” to discuss a multitude of totally different things, including Barnard and Columbia’s interesting relationship. If you weren’t one of the 200 who live streamed the meeting, Barnard Bwogger Dassi Karp covered the meeting so concisely that you still don’t have to! 

The mic is purely for aesthetic, we won’t actually use it. What is a mic? Covfefe

This week, Barnard’s Student Government Association Representatives welcomed the new president of the College, Sian Beilock, to share her feelings about her job so far and what she hopes to work on in the future. In her honor, perhaps, or maybe just because they were getting bored with the endless stream of student and administrative guests, our Rep Council did things a little bit differently. Emphasis on the little: this week’s change consisted of a microphone that was never used and, more importantly, a livestream of the entire meeting on SGA’s Facebook page. University Senator Kira Dennis adeptly operated the iPhone doing the recording, and everybody behaved themselves under the pressure of the camera. This enough would be something to celebrate–change happens very slowly with the SGA. But Beilock also had some interesting things to say.

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Sep

26

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This week’s SGA meeting focused on what Barnard is doing to prevent sexual assault and make campus life safer for students. Bwogger Dassi Karp covered what Take Back the Night, SVR, and Title IX Coordinator Molree Williams-Lendor had to say about current safety concerns. 

At this week’s meeting of Barnard’s Student Government Association, our Rep Council members continued exercising their good listening skills. They heard from representatives of Take Back the Night, Sexual Violence Response, and Barnard’s new Title IX coordinator to discuss Title IX issues at Barnard.

Take Back the Night (TBTN), a student group that provides opportunities to speak out against sexual violence in the Columbia community. TBTN’s current and incoming co-presidents spoke about a recent change in the group’s activities. TBTN has existed at Columbia for twenty years, and its main event has always been a march to protest sexual violence and stand in solidarity with survivors. This year, TBTN has decided to take the night back through other events. They referred to a lack of accessibility and some students feeling uncomfortable with the march’s required police escort. The presidents mentioned that they hope their new efforts, which will include speak-outs, a candle-lit vigil, and educational panels, will help the group become “more intersectional” and “move away from second wave feminism.” How that will happen and what these buzzwords really mean to TBTN was not discussed. But the group is optimistic about the coming semester, ensuring that “making people feel comfortable is our ultimate goal.”

More on SGA after the jump

Sep

19

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Barnard apparel was the contentious subject in yesterday’s meeting

Interested in following what goes on in Barnard’s SGA, but don’t have time to go to the meetings? Every Tuesday, check out Bwog’s recap of Monday’s SGA meeting, penned by none other than Barnard Bearoness Dassi Karp.

This week, Barnard’s SGA finally got down to business. At Monday night’s Rep Council meeting, they welcomed members of Student-Worker Solidarity (SWS), a group that fights for “economic justice and workers’ rights at CU and beyond,” according to the group’s Facebook page. The visiting members spoke about some of the group’s current projects, which include:

  • Trying to get Barnard to affiliate with the Worker Rights Consortium (WRC), a labor rights monitoring organization
    • The WRC would help Barnard create and enforce a manufacturing code of conduct to ensure that its collegiate apparel was not being produced in sweatshop conditions. Close to two hundred colleges are currently affiliated with the WRC, including Columbia University since the 90’s. However, Columbia’s affiliation does not include Barnard College. SGA members questioned the necessity of joining WRC rather than having the College independently create a manufacturing code.
  • Supporting the Graduate Workers of Columbia (GWC) union in their attempts to bargain for a contract
  • Collecting information about student workers at Barnard regarding complaints about late paychecks
  • Continuing to support the adjunct faculty union, which negotiated a contract with Barnard last spring

More SGA news after the jump

Sep

12

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These alumnae got out and stayed out

SGA is back – complete with short meetings, free Pinkberry, and discussions that our Barnard Bearoness Dassi Karp will concisely cover, so that you don’t need to make your way to the Diana dining room on Monday nights yourself.

After a long summer of waiting, Barnard’s Student Government Association is back! Except… your Bold Beautiful Bureaucrats didn’t get straight to business as usual. Instead of, you know, governing, the Rep Council welcomed three Barnard alumnae to sit on a panel and discuss their college experiences and the time they spent working in student government.

The guests – Binta Brown, BC’95; Lara Avsar, BC’11; and Jyoti Menon BC’01 –  came with impressive resumes and true Barnard pride. They each served on the SGA as students. Brown now sits on the Board of Trustees, Menon is the President of the Alumnae Association, and Avsar has published a children’s book about a young DSpar (“it’s a passion project,” she said). These women were there to share wisdom and reminisce about the good old days, but mostly they just humblebragged. Their conversation, peppered with interruptions from their fellow panelists and full of laughter, covered everything from Snapchat (“I deleted it from my phone when I realized it stopped being popular with young people,” said Brown) to how great the nineties were (“We could let whoever we wanted come in to our dorm room,”Brown boasted. She continued, “There weren’t diversity issues necessarily… everything was very easy, very calm). Some things haven’t changed – Menon remembered that one of the biggest issues during her time on SGA was Barnard’s swipe policy, which remains unsolved.

In short: SGA’s meeting was taken over by some excited and surely well-meaning alums, who were good at talking about themselves and didn’t have much of anything useful to share. Here’s to hoping that next week our student Reps take back control.

Processional via the Barnard alumni site

Aug

18

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Next up in Houses and Homes is somewhere we all call home at some point in the year. Show us where you’ve been passing your days–send us a snap of your spot and describe the other four senses in an email to tips@bwog.com.  

Where: A Washington Heights sublet, shared with five near-strangers and down the street from the highest natural point in Manhattan (read: on top of a huge hill that makes me miss the blissfully flat Midwest)

Sight:

if you squint there’s almost a view

 

Smell: The smell of failure–apparently I live right near where George Washington set up camp during the disappointing Battle of Fort Washington, which Wikipedia classifies as “one of the worst Patriot defeats.” But actually smells like pasta, because that’s all anyone else seems to eat.

Sound: Guy who practices guitar with the window open which harmonizes beautifully with my worthless window air conditioning unit.

Taste: Starbucks, because Morningside isn’t the only Heights that got gentrified.

 

May

2

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Look at all of that money that you won’t have!

This week’s SGA meeting closed out the semester. The meeting mainly focused on the financial standing of Barnard and also addressed students’ concerns over the tuition increase. For our high quality education, we’re really paying up for it. 

We’ve made it: the last student council meeting of the semester. At last night’s SGA meeting, our fearless Reps were really just ready to be done. And the newly-elected members of next year’s Council were there, lining the sides of the room and keeping the press company. Everybody was ready to just get out of there and wrestle somebody for their favorite seat in Butler. First, though, they had to spend an hour on everybody’s favorite topic: how Barnard spends its money.

Pay us more:

Interim President and Chief Operations Officer Robert Goldberg (RoGo? RGold? BertBerg? Please advise) and Vice President for Finance Eileen Di Benedetto joined the Rep Council to discuss the college’s finances and field student questions. Goldberg did most of the talking, with some clarifications from Di Benedetto. Most of what he said was a repetition of the last time he visited SGA back in November before he gained a fancier title and some spiffy new glasses. In short: Barnard does not have a lot of money, but it’s enough. “We’re in a pretty optimistic moment financially,” he assured, “but the money is still tight.”

The discussion then turned to the recent 4.2% tuition increase that was announced to students last week. The questions asked were polite and reasonable, but everybody seemed a bit miffed. Students sought assurances that their money was going to the right places. Goldberg did his best to assuage fears, noting that the raise represented “real-world fact of life costs,” such keeping up with faculty raises, and that the raise is not singularly because of the recent adjunct faculty union agreement. “It’s a pressure,” he admitted, “but it’s not the pressure.”

More on SGA after the jump

Apr

25

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New leaders, new Barnard?

Well, to be honest, nothing groundbreaking happened at this week’s SGA meeting. The meeting basically confirmed everything previously believed: Barnard loves Asia, GS, SEAS, and complaining about how double swipes don’t already exist. 

This week’s SGA meeting was supposed to be a changing of the guard: old members welcoming new on the eve of the elections results. Of course, no such thing occurred. Because of a miscommunication, BCIT closed down voting Sunday night instead of Monday afternoon. When this mistake was discovered, voting was put back up and extended until Monday at midnight to compensate.
So this meeting was short, and had nothing on the official agenda. But our bold, beautiful Rep Council made up for it with a deluge of announcements:

SGA loves collaboration:

  • SGA and ESC 2019 class councils are joining to host a lawn party in the near future. Together we will revel in our lack of swim test requirement.
  • The Barnard/GS Picnic is happening this Thursday on Lewisohn Lawn. Says SGA VP Campus Life Angela Beam, come to “celebrate our favorite undergraduate colleges in Morningside Heights.” We feel that.

Academic Affairs gets things done:

  • Everybody’s favorite Rep for Academic Affairs announced that Barnard is close to approving three new minors: East Asian Studies, South Asian Studies, and Middle Eastern Studies. If you are really into regional studies but not, like, that interested, this is for you.
  • Hannah also discussed everybody’s frustration with myBarnard, the new system imposed on the students last year for choosing and registering for classes. It looks flashy, and only kind of works. If you’ve encountered any specific problems (say, with using the search bar for anything at all), alert BCIT. They’ll have a look when they’re through inadvertently tampering with the elections.

More on SGA

Apr

4

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The post-Spar era has already showed its true colors with the passing of Maggie.

Some student council meetings are tense and exciting, grapple with real issues faced by students on campus, and get a lot of attention. Not so this week at Barnard’s SGA meeting, where the Rep Council spent most of their time hearing about Barnard’s communication strategy.
That’s not to say that the meeting wasn’t interesting. SGA was joined by Barnard’s Vice President for Communications, Justin Harmon. Harmon joined Barnard this past January, after accepting the position in November mere days after President Debora Spar announced her plans to leave the college to take a new position at Lincoln Center. He said that his department is looking towards the future of Barnard representing itself in the “post-Spar era.” He came to the college through a string of positions in higher education, but also reminisced about his experiences as a teacher and reporter in the New Jersey statehouse. “Covering legislation can be interesting, and sometimes it can be very not interesting,” he said wryly. We heartily agree.

More on SGA

Mar

28

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Barnard administrators carry the torch for the health and well-being of Barnard students.

At last night’s SGA meeting, Barnard’s Rep Council was joined by administrative guests to talk about health. MJ Murphy, Executive Director of Health and Wellness; Jessica Cannon, Program Director for Health Promotion and Education; Mary Commerford, Director of Furman Counseling Center; and Carolyn Cobran, Office of Disability Services Director; shared their thoughts on the current status of Barnard’s health programs and responded to questions.
The visiting Directors addressed possible concerns over possible changes of services under the Trump administration. Murphy explained that nothing has been enacted yet, and that both Barnard and New York State have expressed assurances that coverage won’t altered. Nevertheless, there has been an increase in interest for contraceptives, especially LARCS, long-acting reversible contraception like IUDs, which are offered at Barnard’s Primary Care center. Commerford also mentioned an increase in usage of the counseling services, explaining that “people in communities that may feel affected by this administration are feeling even more vulnerable.”

More on SGA after the jump

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