#sgb
Student Governing Board Releases Statements On SJP Banner
SJP's banner, removed by Barnard.

SJP’s banner, removed by Barnard.

Columbia’s Student Governing Board, which is responsible for serving the needs of religious, political, or activist groups, contacted Bwog earlier today with two official statements regarding the SJP banner issue. Here’s a recap, for your convenience. Find the full statements after the jump:

The first, signed by every member of the executive board except Tess Glassman-Kaufman, SGB’s treasurer, states SGB’s “disappointment at the decision made by Barnard College President Deborah [sic] Spar”  to remove SJP’s banner. SGB feels that DSpar’s decision infringed on SJP’s right to advertise their event, and is concerned that SJP was not consulted before their banner was removed. Additionally, SGB writes that SJP members now feel marginalized and threatened, and feel that they cannot look to the administration for support and protection. SGB feels that the removal of SJP’s banner violated administrative policy, endangers free speech on Barnard’s campus, and prevents other groups from using the Barnard Hall banner space to advertise. They urge the Barnard administration to reconsider its decision to stop hanging banners on Barnard Hall, as well as to reconsider its actions towards SJP.

SGB’s second official statement comes from Tess Glassman-Kaufman, SGB’s Treasurer and the Director of Campus Affairs for LionPAC. Glassman-Kaufman voices a dissenting opinion. Glassman-Kaufman states that:

Placing a politically charged banner on the entrance to Barnard Hall indicates a direct endorsement of a specific political agenda on behalf of the college. Furthermore, the banner threatened the safety of the pro-Israel community on campus by suggesting that Israel has no right to exist as a Jewish State.

She concludes that the banner hung on Barnard Hall alienated a large population of the student body, and she supports its removal.
Get the full statements

New SGB Board Announced
think lion think!!

Pensive lion

SGB had its Town Hall last night and announced its 2104-2015 board. For those not in the know, SGB oversees organizations whose focuses are religious, political, spiritual, ideological, humanitarian, and activist. So, basically a lot. In addition, four new groups were recognized: Columbia University buildOn, Columbia Dorm Room Diplomacy (DRD), Columbia Crown&Cross, and Columbia University Educational Studies Program (ESP).

The election results are below:

Chair: Fatimatou Diallo

Vice Chair: Mariam Elnozahy

 Treasurer: Tess Glassman-Kaufman

 Secretary: Aishwarya Raja

 Representatives at Large:

  • Ankita Gore
  • Priyanka Javlekar
  • Sameer Mishra
  • Doreen Mohammed
  • David Morales-Miranda
  • Karim Nader
  • Maya Pandit
Know Your Governing Boards: SGB Edition
the man wears sunglasses

Pretty sure this is what they look like. They meaning “the man.”

Listen up first-years: Columbia’s bureaucracy is like a can of alphabet soup—it’s a jumble of letters that may or may not actually mean anything to you. Bwog found its own can and happened to ladle out “SGB.” Here’s what we tasted:

The Student Governing Board is, naturally, one of the governing boards for student organizations. The SGB covers the wide spectrum of “religious, spiritual, ideological, activist, humanitarian” and identity-conscious groups, according to its Chair, Abdul Hanif. Recall (with your institutional memory) the tumultuous year of 1968 at Columbia—the SGB was created in the aftermath of the protests for students to continue the discussions in a less reactionary fashion. With the revival of CCSC and ESC in the ’80s, it assumed its current role in the “values-explorative” segment of student life. In recent-ish events, the SGB was one of the first to reject Barnard’s flyering policy last fall.

There are over 80 student organizations under the jurisdiction of the SGB, whereas the ABC represents around 150 groups. From Hillel to the Muslim Students Association, and Compass Christian Koinonia to Secular Columbia, these groups display our student body’s diversity and passion. If you’ve ever felt really strongly about something before, there’s probably a group for you within the SGB. Hanif notes that SGB differs from other bodies in that it is self-governing, disciplining its own groups with the belief “that the needs of students are best evoked, defined, and articulated by students themselves.” How ’68. Additionally, the SGB limits its scope to the four undergraduate schools, in contrast to the IGB.

Ponder this as you continue fishing in your soup, and  tell us what your letters arrange into.

Senior Wisdom: Daniel Bonner

Daniel Bonner

Name, Hometown, School: Daniel Bonner; Johannesburg, South Africa and Dallas, Texas, USA; Columbia College

Claim to fame? Gave you $$ as SGB Vice Chair, spent it as Hillel & Yavneh Prez. Founder, BonnerJams90 Inc.

Where are you going? Staying in the city to work, finally explore below 110th street, and see how long I can stay away from College Walk after graduation (1-2 days, tops – see instagram)

Three things you learned at Columbia:

  1. In case you haven’t heard me scream this from the Sundial before: things will never be this good. That’s not meant to be depressing — life will be awesome. But rarely, if ever, will you once again have this amount of time to stay up all night “writing a paper” but really just enjoying one extended life talk with friends; to plan a day of activities and land up running into a friend and spend it instead sitting on Low Steps; to introduce yourself to some random person you’ve always wanted to meet and gain a lifelong friend…you graduate from here with a Columbia degree, which is cool, but also with a more intangible, though much more meaningful group of Columbia friends. Would I take out those loans again for the degree? I think so. But for the friends? No question about it.
  2. Speaking of time – I learned not to waste it at the package center. One great option offered last year – order packages to your friends mailboxes and be grateful when they bring your stuff back. But if it’s Amazon, order your stuff to an amazon locker at Rite Aid. You just walk in, punch in a code, and voila. The stuff always arrives on time. It’s amazing. All good if you ignore everything else in this senior wisdom — but follow this advice. (more…)
SGB Elections: the Power, the Glory
shutterstock_95792629

With great power comes great responsibility

Get excited, guys — following the recent election, SGB has changed its board. Say hello to the new powers that be:

Chair: Abdul Rafay Hanif

Vice-Chair: Preity Nita Ponnaganti

Treasurer: Rajan Gupta

Secretary: Rakhi Agrawal

Representatives at Large: Fatimatou Diallo, Mariam Elnozahy, Tess Glassman-Kaufman, Ankita Gore, Shaynah Jones, Sameer Mishra, Adam Wilson

In addition, four new groups were also recognized. Generation Citizen, Columbia University Family Support Network, Inwood Academic Tutoring, and Student-Worker Solidarity have all joined the ranks of the SGB.

Congrats, guys! Here’s hoping they will use their powers only for good and never for evil.

not spiderman but too bad via Shutterstock

Everyone Wants to Save the Arts Initiative

Tonight, GSSC passed a resolution and SGB issued a statement calling on the administration to “Save the Arts Initiative.” SGA, ESC, and CCSC have already passed similar resolutions (and ABC issued a similar statement), while over 1,200 students and alums have individually signed a similar petition. All of the resolutions, statements, and petitions call on the administration to take the following 5 steps to save the Initiative:

  1. A move out of the School of the Arts to an administrative home that reflects CUArts’ mission of serving all students, faculty, and staff.
  2. Increased funding from the Office of the President, and the restoration of the budget that CUArts prospered under for years.
  3. The appointment, with student input, of a new director whose sole job is Director of the Arts Initiative, who will have their full time to devote to the continued success of the program.
  4. The creation of an advisory committee that institutionalizes the student, faculty, and staff input that was formerly the hallmark of the program.
  5. Reinstatement of the generous subsidy for the Columbia Ballet Collaborative to perform in Miller Theater, which gives them the ability to use the one space on campus they can perform in.

To recap: The Arts Initiative used to be located in the Office of the President, until it was moved into the School of the Arts in 2009. Similarly, it used to have its own director, until director Gregory Mosher director left and was replaced in 2011 by Melissa Smey, who doubles as the director of Miller Theatre. At the time (and since), the administration said that these changes would not hurt the Initiative, but the Initiative has suffered in the last few years. One consequence: the Columbia Ballet Collaborative will soon be unable to afford performing in Miller Theatre.

Now these six student councils and governing boards (which combined represent every student and student group at Columbia and Barnard) are calling on the administration to restore the Initiative as an independent and well-funded program separate from the School of the Arts and Miller Theatre.

Here are the full resolutions passed by the student councils, statements from SGB and ABC, and the press release from Will Hughes, the CCSC VP of Policy who has led the fight to save the Arts Initiative.

ABC ALSO Rejects Barnard’s Flyering Policy
though barnard printing might be pissed when you need color copies

Fire up your printers, it’s flyering time!

ABC has just voted to join SGB in not complying with Barnard Student Life’s new Posting Policy.  This is a big step as ABC represents over 150 student groups.  In their statement (below) they announce that ABC will take full responsibility for any “sanctions” given to ABC groups who do not obtain approval before flyering.  The November issue of The Blue & White Magazine, on campus next week, will feature a full story on Barnard Student Life.

Update: Saketh Kalathur, ABC President, sent an email to ABC group leaders with strong words.

“This policy was implemented by Barnard’s Student Life Office over the summer without the knowledge of ABC … We have been in communication with Barnard’s SGA since then.  However, we have become dismayed at the lack of progress made on the issue…

We hope that by promoting noncompliance, Barnard will realize that this is an important issue for student groups and will work to create a more sensible policy.  It is unacceptable for policies to be implemented that affect student groups without prior feedback from student leaders such as yourselves.”

SGA is having their weekly meeting now. Kalathur and David Fine, SGB Chair, are said to be speaking.  Updates as we get them.

Full ABC statement after the jump

Senior Wisdom: Barry Weinberg

Name, Hometown, School, Major: Barry Weinberg, Indianapolis (a.k.a. “Indy,” “Naptown,” “the land that time forgot”), Columbia College, Political Science-Economics Major, EALAC concentrator

Claim to Fame? That randomly intense guy who was always at CCSC saying “well, see, I was digging through the archives and there used to be…,” the reason CCSC no longer has instant-runoff voting, foot soldier in the war to protect and reform the Core, former Co-President and all-around board member of Everyone Allied Against Homophobia, very former CU Dems Lead Activist, the accidental Chair of the Student Governing Board of Earl Hall, GS’s number one fan, general meeting attendee, that weirdo walking around in the February snow or a September Indian summer in sandals and a green fleece. I also gathered a large group of random people in a room in Kent on Monday nights and called it the “Columbia-Barnard Student Forum.”

Where are you going? For the moment, home to 109th and Amsterdam for a breather. Then, hopefully the New York City Comptroller’s Office or maybe China to work on my Mandarin.

Three things you learned at Columbia:

  1. How you got to where you are can be an immensely useful tool when you’re trying to figure out how to get to where you’re going. Columbia is notoriously bad at keeping written records of the way things work (it’s hard to do that when you run on fiat), so every professor or (even better) professor emeritus can be a goldmine of institutional knowledge. It’s important to find them, meet them, and get to know their stories.
  2. Why you do things is more important than what you do, and usually determines how well you do them. The whole point of the Core Curriculum is to force us to examine and define our own personal values, our sense of justice, and our moral and ethical beliefs in conversation with our peers and professors. If you do things simply to “succeed” you’re implicitly acquiescing to a set of values whose importance you have absorbed unquestioningly from your surrounding social structures. Really challenging yourself to see if those values have both an internal coherence and make sense when put in context with the experiences of your classmates and the writings of the past can save you from having to figure this shit out when you’re 27, 35, 50, or 80 years old and have infinitely more regrets regarding your failure to live a truly meaningful life. If you’re passionate about righting an injustice, fascinated by the potential of a particular field of study, or you just genuinely want to live a good life, you’re far more likely to do those things well than if you simply try to “do well.”
  3. People are incredibly complicated and multifaceted beings, and we are all flawed. Race, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, socio-economic background, and a million other things all help to contribute to each individual’s unique set of lived experiences which can nonetheless have patterns of shared experiences with others. People appreciate being treated with respect and civility that acknowledges our intrinsic value as human beings. Even when people do not treat us with said respect and civility, they are still people deserving of such respect and civility because yet another part of being human is to be flawed, to fail to live up to our moral obligations to others. It is only by the grace of our fellow human beings that when we fail we may ask forgiveness and attempt to learn from our failure.

“Back in my day…” PrezBo skipped convocation, every dean was an “interim Dean,” the class of ’09 and ’10 had great war stories of an engaged and fired-up campus, a High Gay Council made sure First Fridays had pre-games and after-parties and that all three were both worth attending and the gateway to sloppy Saturdays, the Spec was a “vom-rag” while people turned to Bwog for the latest snarky inside scoop on campus politics, the legend that is La Negrita was the haven of those too cheap or unconnected to get fake IDs, the Varsity Show was perhaps less technically virtuosic but provided biting commentary on the Columbia admins sitting in the front row, there was some warehouse art/dance party called Collision that I was on my way to when my RA said “oh, you’ll have plenty of chances to go to that in the future, you should go to this other thing,” Kevin Shollenberger’s hair looked like this, and Frontiers made no sense conceptually (some things never change).

Justify your existence in 30 words or less: I found love in a hopeless place, was ¼ of the Ovaries, and dance like a wild man. I love nachos and green things. I sometimes make people laugh.

Is the War on Fun over? Who won? Any war stories? According to my archival research and (untrained) oral history interviews with alumni, the War on Fun as we know it is a fairly recent phenomenon. While the administrative impulse to make sure that students are having absolutely no dangerous, obscene, debauched, ill-advised, impolitic, spontaneous, or otherwise unsanctioned fun has existed for hundreds of years, they’ve previously been either too lazy or too understanding to act on that impulse with anything more than a half-hearted or token gesture. Then came Manhattanville, the Minutemen, and Ahmadinejad, and suddenly people realized that it would be very hard to raise money for a massive capital expansion while we were constantly being slammed on Fox News or had potentially less-than-flattering media attention. Thus, the rise of the UEM/Public Safety-complex, a renewed effort to control liability, and the general “no-you-can’t-do-that” attitude of admins. To be fair, we’re seeing some moderation recently thanks to Dean Martinez in Community Development and others who genuinely care about our lives as students, but we’re still a far cry even from the general laxity of our so-called “peer and aspirant schools.” That being said, there’s nothing like scoring a well-earned victory by kicking back on a roof with an El Presidente and taking in the skyline or having a four-person band perform in an EC suite during a raucous game of cocktail pong (gays do it so classy).

(more…)

SGB Adds Seven Groups and a New E-Board

Last night was the Student Governing Board’s semesterly town hall, a gathering of the leaders of dozens of student groups to elect a new executive board and decide whether to allow new groups to join SGB. The Student Governing Board (SGB) is an important, if largely unknown, institution at Columbia; created in the aftermath of the 1968 riots, the group represents political, religious, and activist groups.

The biggest story last night was the election of a new executive board. There was some drama: the only candidate for chair ran unopposed, one candidate for treasurer started his speech by announcing he was dropping out to run for a representative slot, and one candidate for vice-chair didn’t show since she’s currently studying abroad in London. She did send a written statement, though, which was convincing enough to get her elected. Congratulations to the new board!

  • Chair: David Fine
  • Vice Chair: Maryam Aziz
  • Secretary: Isaiah New
  • Treasurer: Maliha Tariq
  • Rep: Danielle Arje
  • Rep: Kanak Gupta
  • Rep: Shayna Jones
  • Rep: Mel Meder
  • Rep: David Offit
  • Rep: Nita Ponnaganti
  • Rep: Adam Wilson

After the jump, find out which groups were admitted to SGB and more

Dinner with SGB: New Groups, A Chaplain’s Council, and A Possible Merger

The new "My Groups" network

Last night, in the Faculty House’s fancy Skyline Dining Room, representatives of the 89 activist, political, religious, and identity-explorative student groups represented by the Student Governing Board met came together dinner to induct new groups, create an advisory council for the University Chaplain’s Office, and debate whether or not they should merge with the Activities Board at Columbia, which represents 150 other student groups.

The SGB was created in the aftermath of 1968, as a forum for students to discuss the administration. Comprised of representatives from the four undergraduate schools, it is dedicated to preserving to free speech, and promoting politics, humanitarianism, religion, spirituality, activism, by representing student groups with these affiliations.

First on the evening’s agenda was a presentation from the Columbia’s Office of Civic Action and Engagement, the administrative office that advises SGB. A representative encouraged the groups in attendance to use My Groups, a social network Columbia designed that enables people to check out all the different student groups at Columbia, join different groups, and view a calendar with all student groups’ activities (right now ‘Upcoming Events’ only lists the next 20 SSDP meetings).

After this, representatives from the 10 groups hoping to win SGB recognition were given two minutes to make their case to the audience. The SGB executive board had already voted whether or not to recommend recognition for each group, but that decision could be overturned if 2/3 of SGB groups disagreed with the board. As it turns out, none of the recommendations were overturned.

Read on for the rest of the proceedings

SGA: Full-Time Controversy and Co-Sponsored Debts

Discussion of debt ensued

Tuition drama? Talk of co-sponsorships? Debt? Peter Sterne held his own at Monday night’s action-packed SGA meeting; here’s the rundown.

  • A-Hinks stopped by to answer questions about Barnard’s new full-time enrollment policy. She stressed that Barnard has always expected students to enroll as full-time students for all eight semesters, though they have granted exceptions in the past. Going forward, students will need a compelling reason (e.g. a medical condition) to get an exception. The rationale for the change is largely financial: Barnard students pay about $10,000 less in tuition if they go part-time for a semester. The consensus of the SGA reps and A-Hinks was that 20–50 students (out of a class of 600) go part-time each semester, meaning Barnard is losing out on $400,000 to $1,000,000 of tuition revenue each year. Students can still opt to graduate a semester or year early to avoid paying a full four years of tuition. This doesn’t deprive the college of tuition revenue, said A-Hinks, because Barnard can always admit a new student to take that student’s place.
  • After Dean Hinkson spoke, she faced a multitude of questions from SGA Reps and concerned Barnard students. Most focused on the implementation of the policy, rather than the change itself. Why, many students asked, was the policy being applied to juniors who had already planned their academic careers assuming they would be able to take go part-time for their last semester, in addition to underclassmen? A-Hinks only answered that the policy change had to be implemented in a timely manner, which one might reasonably conclude means that Barnard really needs the full-time tuition revenue as soon as possible. 
  • Hinkson also insisted that the change should not have a major effect on students, since they could always graduate early or change their class schedule. One junior explained to A-Hinks that her major, History, required a two-semester thesis seminar, but she could not afford to enroll full-time for both semesters of senior year. As a result, she’d have to change her major. A-Hinks offered no response, though SGA President Jessica Blank volunteered that Political Science is a great major that only requires a one-semester thesis seminar.
  • In general, the Dean seemed willing to listen to suggestions on how to amend or modify the policy, but had nothing to say to those who simply opposed it. Only seven students had even emailed her about the change, she told SGA, though over 500 people have signed a petition, which she has not yet read, opposing the new policy.
  • SGA considered whether to fund joint co-sponsorships with the other councils (CCSC, ESC, and GSSC) for various clubs. Far and away the biggest ask came from Bacchanal, for a co-sponsorship of $18,000 (from all councils) due to costs associated with moving the location of the Spring concert. Like CCSC, and ESC, SGA voted to table the issue, until they have more time to discuss the myriad of issues surrounding Bacchanal (which was already allocated $88,000 for the year).

Mo money mo problems

Hello New SGB Board!

A board room (not in Earl Hall though.)

A hearty congrats to the new Student Governing Board e-board and reps, elected at this evening’s town hall. These are the guys that will approve funding for your activities that are “religious, spiritual, political, ideological, humanitarian, or activist in nature.”

Chair: Barry Weinberg
Vice-Chair : Daniel Bonner
Treasurer: Alex Pae
Secretary: Chloe Ruan

Representatives:
Danielle Arje
Maryam Aziz
Leah Greenstein
John Morgan
Natalee Rivera
Amirah Sequeira
Michael Spitzer-Rubenstein

Congratulations also to two newly recognized groups: Plateau Engage and 4Local.

Decision making locale via Wikimedia

F@CU Makes It Rain

Wikimedia Commons has its limits, kay?

Today is a big day! F@CU has just released their 2010-2011 allocations for your governing boards. Let’s talk big numbers and little percentages, shall we?

Activities Board: $393,459 granted, 7.4% increase from last year, 4.4% cut from requested allocation, which was $411,568

Club Sports Governing Board: $206,200 granted, 17% increase from last year’s allocation, $213,800 originally requested

Community Impact: $84,765, 23.6% increase from last year’s allocation, $86,440 requested

Inter-Greek Council: $9,680.56 granted, 47% decrease from last year’s allocation, 63% decrease from original request, which was $26,164. This bummer-rama is partly due to Barnard’s relative lack of involvement in Greek life the fact that Barnard students do not pay student life fees to the IGC. Part of F@CU’s reasoning:

Following much deliberation, the committee has decided to allocate a total of $9,680.56 to the Inter-Greek Council for the 2010-2011 academic school year. This represents a 47.0% decrease from the previous year’s allocation and a 63.2% decrease from the original allocation request. The decrease above is very significant and the committee would like to stress that this is not a reflection on the performance of the IGC. The cut is mostly due to the cut in funding from CCSC, ESC, and GSSC proportional to the percentage of Barnard students in the IGC. Given that Barnard students are not paying student life fees toward the IGC (as Barnard has not recognized the IGC and does not participate in its funding), CCSC, ESC and GSSC have decided only to fund their own constituencies and thus reduce IGC’s allocation to reflect that decision. Please refer to SGA’s supplemental letter for more details on their intended $1000 gift to IGC which is not part of F@CU.

Student Governing Board: $208,156 granted, 18% increase from last year’s allocation, $292,014 requested

Take a look at last year’s numbers here (all governing boards got a baseline 15.08% cut for 09-10) and check F@CU’s site for published letters to each governing board explaining the allocations. May you be spared from math until first semester rains Calc II down on you!

SGB Welcomes New Members

The Student Governing Board elected their new governing board last night in that most American of forums, the town hall meeting. Lisa Weber, CC ’11, will serve as chair for the organization, which represents “student organizations whose concerns are religious, spiritual, political, ideological, humanitarian or activist in nature.”  The meeting also determined just which student groups continue to meet those guidelines and warrant support and funding–adios, ACLU@CU. The full announcement, in email form:

Thanks so much to all of you who came to Town Hall a few hours ago!

Congratulations to your new Student Governing Board members:

Chair: Lisa Weber

Vice-Chair: Elissa Verrilli

Treasurer: Rithu Ramachandran

Secretary: Amirah Sequeira

(more…)

More Petitions, Possibly Fewer Problems!

2010: Year of the Petition.

Last week, we told you about yet another possible Study Days solution: an indepedent proposal submitted by faculty suggesting that our Fall Break be eliminated in order to end classes earlier Fall semester. The 50 comments on that post showed that most of you were none-too-pleased about the proposition, and the councils seem to have caught on. Another Study Days petition was born:  Laura Gabriele and Eugenio Suarez, affiliated with ESC and SGB, respectively, started the petition and joined forces with ESC later in the day. If the petition gets 150 signatures, the motion is automatically sent to the University Senate for revision. As of 11:30 PM on Monday night, the group had 309 members, although not all members seemed to be in support of the petition. Some commented “take my fall break,” apparently preferring the extra days of school in November to getting home late for the holidays.

Check out the petition, and let us know what you think in the comments. The councils are listening!