SGA Town Hall: What We Talk About When We Talk About Barnard

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There’s never a dull moment in the Diana Event Oval! Part-time SGA Bureau Chief/full-time proud Barnard woman Hannah Goldstein gives us the latest on the noteworthy political happenings out on the west side of B-way. Also, free food!

College is all about soul-searching. Strange but true: there’s actually an entire institution whose sole function it is to enforce regular (specifically, once-decennial) self-assessment cycles that are evaluated by external administrators on a scale from “pass” to “needs improvement.” Each process, which Bwog will henceforth refer to as a cyclehollaback TyraB!—is called reaccreditation. It just so happens that Barnard is on the eve of our latest cycle (we know, like periods!), and last night’s meeting offered an occasion for input from students regarding what makes Barnard a cool place to go to college and what, you know, needs improvement.

In front of a large, elementary school-style notepad, Dean Hilary Link, Associate Provost and Dean for International Programs, introduced the discussion alongside her colleague, Biology professor Paul Hertz, who illustrated the proper tree/forest format for airing grievances. (Example: “If you don’t like the lasagna that you are being served tonight, you should think big and criticize all the food that Aramark is serving!”) In a moment of mind-boggling meta-ness, Dean Link even noted that the idea for the impressive Diana Center project itself came up in the last re-accreditation meeting circa 2000.

Discussions started out at the group level. In a gesture that sort of reminded Bwog of this game, each table had its own theme card. (Bwog’s was “Community and Identity.”) All students also received a draft of recommendations the administration had already put forward, the document that is ultimately to be revised with student input taken into consideration. One idea was for a Barnard-only pre-orientation program for new students to establish their Barnard identities independently of Columbia right off the bat. A number of NSOPpers voiced discord, citing that NSOP already accounts for Barnard-only programming with this end in mind. Also, to no one’s surprise, it turned out that to a school where a number of students seem to feel very alienated, the Vshow Build-a-Bear gag wasn’t really that funny. SGA and DSpar have, in fact, been floating this idea of having special Yale-type “houses” to create more intimate sub-communities—or, more straightforwardly, just enacting a big sister/little sister program à la Wellesley. Another hot topic was—everyone’s favorite—the Barnard-Columbia relationship! (Commenters, don’t be dicks.) The prevailing general sentiment was of strong pride at being a Barnard student and of exasperation at Columbians and even the occasional Barnard peers who undermine this sense of Barnard pride that is independent of the larger university. Options were weighed to correct this problem, with a number of students emphasizing increased women’s leadership training.

After the group discussions, Dean Link opened up the floor to general comments, with two microphones to make things extra-official. Here the conversation centered mostly on community programming. Intriguing ideas included a special campus-long wall just for flyering, a first-year Women’s Studies requirement, and weekly open teas with an individual faculty member. These were subsequently written down on the oversized notepad, and Bwog was relieved to see that Dean Link has normal handwriting and not the handwriting of a second-grade teacher.

The event was obviously inconclusive (though interesting nonetheless). Among fun networking events with the new dean and decisions on the sorority thing, students should expect to hear updates from the administration later this school year.

Image via Wikimedia Commons

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  1. barnard  

    quit leachin', quit leachin' barnard. thats all i gotsta say.

  2. senior  

    barnard students should not be exasperated at columbians for undermining their sense of pride but at those barnard girls who refuse to acknowledge that they are barnard students and pretend to go to columbia proper.

    this is perpetuated by barnard girls who will not even write barnard in their 'education info' on facebook, instead just writing columbia (one of the girls who i know does this was a former vp of sga!).

    at the end of the day, the problem is not of lack of community but the poorly defined relationshop between barnard and columbia.

    • hey  

      i mean, you're really getting hung up over education info on a facebook page? i really think you should chill.

    • I go to Barnard  

      and I have to agree. Barnard girls are shamed into denying they go there. The stigma is definitely on both sides but it's hard when you're made to feel lesser or that you don't belong somewhere. It's no one's fault, that's the point. It's about pride and learning to accept that the Barnard-Columbia relationship doesn't make sense but we love it anyway.

    • Columbian

      Thank you for saying this.

    • BC senior

      We can't identify our educational institution as Barnard on facebook (the option doesn't exist), so if we're on facebook we're forced to say we go to Columbia. Get your information right before you start throwing insults.

      • senior

        you can start by learning to read properly. the original post is not referring to the columbia network but the 'educational info' portion of your profile. neither was the OP an insult but a fact. do you deny it occurs?

  3. STAB ME

    if I see ANOTHER ONE of these froshers' whiny comments! No one gives a shit, stop being so god damn hung over over our degrees...good luck if it's the only good thing going for you...

  4. You know what??

    I treat Barnard girls with respect, cuz I love them all. Each and everyone of them. numbers please?


    I just wanted to say I LOVE Barnard.

  6. Anonymous  

    ... and apparently no part of the conversation addressed diversity.

  7. yes  

    I agree, I don't feel enough diversity on campus
    And the sense of community, but we can't blame either B or C on this too much, we're in new york anyway

  8. Harmony Hunter  

    can't we all just find Harmony together?

  9. Just a thought  

    I hope no one takes this the the wrong way, as I love Barnard and really want to see it succeed and improve as an institution. That said, I've observed one particular "problem" that might be contributing to a lack of community, a lack of Barnard pride, and to it's degradation. A sizable number of Barnard students that I have met pegged Columbia as their first choice school, and 'settled' on Barnard after not gaining admittance to Columbia. I'm not saying all Barnard girls have this issue; I know there are plenty who chose Barnard for its own merits and just saw Columbia as an added bonus. But although many of the girls I have met claim to genuinely love Barnard, I've still heard them use the term that they 'settled' for Barnard because of it's relation to Columbia. I really think that girls who are thinking about going to Barnard because they were refused admission to Columbia should be encouraged to look elsewhere. I am sure it's possible to be rejected at Columbia and then fall in love with Barnard in its own right. Still, I bet it's just as easy to fool yourself into thinking that you're choosing Barnard for its own merits but in reality you just can't give up the dream of going to Columbia. I think that sort of thinking is dangerous, and undermines Barnard as it's own unique academic institution.

    It's sort of like...having your eye set on one guy, and then settling for his brother. You get to be friends with the guy, you might get to hang out and see him often, but it's not the same.

    If what you had your heart set on was the Columbia University undergraduate experience, you shouldn't settle for Barnard and it's Columbia association. It's probably not a good fit, so look elsewhere, pick a school for its own merit, and be happy. Don't go to a school where you're forced to confront the "What if I'd gotten in to Columbia?" dilemma nearly every day. Because as much as some might want them to be, the Columbia and Barnard experiences are not at all the same.

  10. Anonymous  

    oh my god. All of you shut the fuck up.

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