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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

Mar

21

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Prayer services are usually held in Earl Hall. Students have advocated for Earl Hall to be available during breaks.

This week, Barnard’s SGA continued on its group outreach mission. At last night’s Rep Council meeting, SGA welcomed representatives from the Columbia Muslim Students Organization (MSA) to discuss their goals, concerns, and what SGA can do for them.

Turns out, they can’t do much. MSA president Faizan Kothari and senior advisor Fatima Koli explained to the Rep Council that one of the main issues currently facing the community they represent on campus is a lack of permanent prayer space. Space in Earl Hall is generally provided during the semester for prayer services, but is not available during school breaks. This causes a major inconvenience for Muslim students, staff, and neighbors in Morningside Heights and nearby Harlem who wish to convene on campus during breaks and have nowhere to go.

More on SGA after the jump

Mar

7

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Zora Neale Hurston was a true boss.

Once again, SGA revealed its capacity to get things done. Despite starting late and running long, members at this week’s Rep Council meeting heard from two student groups, voted on election guidelines and endowment proposals, and–our favorite–discussed the most recent Desserts After Dark results.

First, members of the Black, Latinx, and Indigenous Constituencies under the Activities Board at Columbia (ABC) requested SGA support in their recent effort to split up under three different representatives on ABC. As three distinct communities, the presenters felt that being lumped together minimizes their representative’s efficacy at supporting and advocating for their needs. At a recent ABC meeting, the board declined to vote on the matter. In its current organization, each ABC representative represents a wide range of groups in a cultural, identity, or topical category, such as Pre-Professional, East Asian, and the wide-ranging Special Interest. Each of these categories contain many different kinds of groups with overlapping interested. SGA decided to save discussion on support of this division for a later time.

Next, SGA welcomed student group Barnard Organization of Soul Sisters (BOSS). BOSS is an organization of black female leaders who work to empower and support black women on campus. The group requested more active SGA support, as well as help to encourage members of minority groups to get involved in student government. SGA members readily agreed that this was a necessary step to pursue. BOSS members also spoke about encouraging instructors to include more people of color in their lectures. “In every single discipline, it is possible,” pointed out one BOSS member, who then suggested professors turn to Google if they need more ideas. BOSS also presented ideas for new initiatives, such as racial sensitivity training during NSOP, and hiring more professors of color.

More on SGA after the jump

Feb

28

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Barnard often displaces international students and others travelling long distances because of their strict housing policies.

There’s always something that needs to be fixed at Barnard, and once again our fearless SGA is trying to get things done. At this week’s blessedly brief Rep Council meeting, the Student Government Association discussed what can be done about winter housing.

Unlike at Columbia Housing, where dorms are open throughout winter break for whichever students may want to stay there, Barnard dorms close their doors the day after finals. Limited housing is available in Plimpton, Barnard’s isolated dorm on 120th and Amsterdam, for select student athletes, essential student workers, and students with other undefined extenuating circumstances. Students with unsafe family situations, international students, and others for whom going home over break is not a viable solution have expressed frustration with the application and acceptance process for winter housing. Additionally, students have voiced concerns over the winter housing fee, which is $400, and the requirement that students must be in good academic standing to qualify.

More on winter housing after the jump

Feb

21

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Let’s stop food insecurity together.

This week’s SGA meeting focused on food insecurity and plans to make Barnard students healthier. Changes to Barnard’s rule on “double-swiping” and the introduction of the Share Meals app have been proposed. 

This week, SGA finally took a break from it’s endless line of administrative guests and strike frenzy to focus on….nothing much. Barnard’s Rep Council had one thing on their agenda tonight, which was hearing a proposal about approval of implementing and supporting the Share Meals app at Columbia. The app, which was first created at NYU by Jon Chin, provides students who are experiencing food insecurity and students with extra meal swipes a way to connect.

More on the SGA meeting after the jump

Feb

14

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Union members are planning to strike as a way to achieve their goals.

This week, Barnard’s SGA Rep Council meeting stayed topical and to the point, with discussions about the likely BCF-UAW strike, a presentation of the council’s mid-year financial report, and speeches by candidates for the Representative for Sustainable Initiatives.

The SGA began by welcoming student guests, four members of Student-Worker Solidarity, a labor solidarity group. Barnard’s contingent faculty union, which has been bargaining with the administration for close to a year, have set a strike date of February 21. Barring significant concessions by the administration in the next week, the union plans on striking on that date. The union members, which make about half of Barnard’s total faculty, will suspend their classes during the strike. Non-union faculty, such as tenured and tenure-track professors, will be encouraged to hold their classes off-campus in a show of solidarity.

SGA members questioned the student guests about how they think the strike will affect students, and how the SGA should respond. To demonstrate how they are representative of the student body, the SWS members showed the SGA a petition they circulated in support of the union, which contains about 600 signatures. About half of these signatures came from other Columbia undergraduates who take classes at Barnard and not Barnard students themselves.

More on SGA after the jump

Feb

7

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Barnard College faculty and students are demanding change for the wellbeing of the college community.

Barnard College faculty and students are demanding change for the well-being of the college community.

This week’s SGA meeting focused on negotiations between the faculty union and administration with the strike deadline fast-approaching. Promotion of student health and the creation of new programs have been proposed with an emphasis on using preexisting resources that Columbia is currently underutilizing. 

At last night’s SGA Rep Council meeting, our Barnard student leaders showed us what commitment looks like, with close to two hours of guests, discussions, debates, and projector malfunctions. Though last week’s meeting was disbanded before it began because not enough members showed up to reach a voting quorum, there was nothing stopping these Barnard bosses from pushing through their agenda.

SGA began with a presentation and discussion with members of the BCF-UAW bargaining committee. Georgette Fleischer and Sonam Singh of the English department; Siobhan Burke, Dance; and Maida Rosenstein, president of the UAW 2110 which represents the contingent faculty union sat down to discuss their current negotiations with Barnard’s administration and their plans for the future. The union set a strike deadline of February 21st, and a strike will happen if they cannot reach an agreement before that date. Currently, the union and the administration are far from agreements about wages. The visiting faculty noted that their current proposal, has gone down more than fifty percent from their original ask last spring.

“We’ve moved from equity, but we’re not going to move from livability,” said Singh. “The numbers that the administration are offering are poverty.”

More on SGA after the jump

Jan

24

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Nasty faculty will fight back.

Nasty faculty will fight back.

Provost Linda Bell and Associate Provost Patricia Denison joined SGA last night to discuss Barnard’s most recent negotiations with the Barnard Contingent Faculty Union and to field student questions regarding the College’s proposals. Bell spoke frankly and openly to the Rep Council and the forty-some students assembled in support of the BCF-UAW.

Bell began by summarizing the administration’s stance in the negotiations, as had been enumerated in an email sent out to Barnard’s student body earlier in the day. The BCF-UAW has announced a strike deadline of February 21st. If the union and Barnard’s administration cannot reach an agreement by that date, union members will go on strike, potentially leaving many students without instructors. Negotiations have been held over the past twelve months, with each side presenting proposals regarding regarding job security, wages, healthcare, and appointment policy for Barnard’s contingent faculty.

Bell emphasized that while she wishes the meetings between the administration and the union would have been more fruitful, she believes that progress has and will continue to be made, and that they remain well within the average timeframe for these kinds of negotiations. She also expressed a tentative positive in the strike deadline, saying that it could bring the two sides together. “I fundamentally believe that no one wants a strike,” she said, echoing the sentiment expressed by the BCF-UAW’s official statement. But she also warned that a strike would be unwise, as it would damage in the College in ways that could seriously impact both its daily functioning and its future management.

More on SGA after the jump

Dec

13

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Jolyne Caruso-Fitzgerald hangs out with another president.

Jolyne Caruso-Fitzgerald hangs out with another president.

This week’s SGA meeting welcomed yet another Barnard administrator to remind SGA just how little they know about how colleges get run. Chair of the Board of Trustees Jolyne Caruso-Fitzgerald sat down with Barnard’s Rep Council to discuss President Spar’s interim replacement, as well as how the search committee will go about finding someone permanent.

Caruso-Fitzgerald, who graduated Barnard with the class of ‘81 before finding success on Wall Street and opening her own investment banking firm, emphasized how much she and the rest of the trustees truly love Barnard and hope only for its success. The Board meets for regular sessions four times a year to discuss and vote on how to best govern the college.

The Board of Trustees picked Barnard’s current Chief Operating Officer Robert Goldberg to stand as interim president of the College once DSpar leaves and until a new president is selected and hired. Caruso-Fitzgerald explained that Goldberg was selected after very serious consideration and a determination that he is the best one for the interim position. The Board unanimously voted in support of his appointment, and pledges to work to ensure a seamless transition. While he is serving as president, the staff that currently serves under Goldberg will take on additional responsibilities.When members of the Rep Council presented student concerns that Goldberg is a man, and therefore not a good choice to represent Barnard, Caruso-Fitzgerald responded that the trustees “really tried to go for the best person, regardless of gender, regardless of anything.” This seems to be a good move, considering that Spar is leaving in the midst of several major projects at Barnard, including the new library building and union negotiations. Barnard just need someone to make sure nothing falls apart.

Caruso-Fitzgerald also discussed the goals and makeup of the search committee. The committee members, as detailed in an email sent out earlier this week, have been chosen from all of the relevant constituencies within Barnard: faculty, staff students, and trustees. The committee is dedicated to making sure all viewpoints are taken into account. To this effect, they will host open forums next semester for students to share their hopes and concerns, and have already opened a suggestion page on the Barnard website. “Barnard is unique,” Caruso-Fitzgerald said, reflecting on the difficulties facing the committee. But she’s hopeful that a new president will be instated by this coming semester. “We’re going to get the next president, period.”

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