Oct

12

SGA: Full-Time Controversy and Co-Sponsored Debts

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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).

  • Similarly, sorority Delta Gamma asked for $325 (total from all councils) to cover the added cost of a last-minute move of an event to Havana Central. Although they eventually voted to fund the co-sponsorship, some reps felt that the University rather than the student councils should compensate DG if Facilities was responsible for the confusion.
  • SGA also considered a co-sponsorship of Ksem, a national organization whose Columbia chapter is not yet officially recognized by the Student Governing Board (SGB), which wanted $2,400 (from all councils) to send some students to a training session. In a nearly unanimous vote, SGA voted not to fund the co-sponsorship.
  • SGB is now also in debt, and also asking for money. The Hamilton Society, a group dedicated to restoring ROTC to campus, dissolved after ROTC was brought back. They were already in debt due to expensive events they had put on, and this debt was assumed by SGB when the Society dissolved. Unfortunately, SGB doesn’t actually have much money on hand, since they give away 98% of their budget to student groups. Like CCSC and ESC, SGA voted to fund SGB.
  • Finally, SGA President Jessica Blank announced that Camila Daniels, SGA’s VP of Finance, would be leaving her SGA position for personal reasons. After celebrating Camila’s accomplishments and commitment, Blank announced that SGA would soon begin accepting applications to fulfill the position.
An imagined tableau of Monday’s meeting via Wikimedia Commons.

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7 Comments

  1. man fuck this shit

    i came to columbia just to party, get my degree, and marry a white woman.

    - asian, cc'12

  2. Kevin Zhai  

    Correction: Bacchanal has been allocated $88,000 by ABC for the year, not $106,000 -- which is the amount they hope to reach after Council co-sponsorships.

  3. COOP  

    eh, at least they stopped going on about barnard cooping

  4. Thea Briggs

    Dean Hinkson's policy is making a short-sighted trade-off. I understand that we need money, but why not wait to bleed me dry? Rip me off now, and I won't donate later in life when I have a real job. This policy does exactly the opposite of what is needed for long-term financial gains - we need to be creating an environment on campus that makes alumnae want to donate, instead of one that makes them resentful of their Alma Mater.

    Implementing the policy without grandfathering in current students is inexcusable. Those affected by this came to Barnard under the pretense that part-time fees were an option. Now Juniors are unable to transfer, so they either had to pay late fees and graduate early, or pay next year for classes they are not taking. The administration needs to stop seeing students as wallets.

    As 1/7 of the students who emailed her about this policy, I am also interested as to why is she incapable of giving me an audience this semester... maybe its because I organized the petition mentioned in this article. The policy-making process is the furthest thing from transparent I can think of, and she won't even have a meeting with one of the customers of the Barnard education... respect-worthy leadership? I think not.

    To sign the petition, please visit
    http://www.change.org/petitions/bursars-office-redact-the-new-full-time-fee-policy

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