SGA Town Hall: What We Talk About When We Talk About Barnard
Written by Bwog Staff
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 cycle—hollaback 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