Empty...like our lives without SGA reports

Last night’s SGA meeting, the last of the semester, included special guest Joanne Kwong, Barnard’s VP of Communications; a debate over SGA funding of the Activities Board at Columbia; and a heated discussion over appointments to SGA committees. Barnard Boy Peter Sterne reports.

Good Communication: Ms. Kwong explained to the SGA Rep Council that the Barnard Communications Office works hard to shape the school’s image and raise its profile. Among other things, the Communications Office runs Barnard’s website. Some reps complained that the website doesn’t feature as many stories of individual students as it used to, and Ms. Kwong replied that it’s often difficult to find student stories, but that anyone who knew of a Barnard student doing something interesting should email webeditor@barnard.edu. Another rep suggested that instead of sending abrupt e-mails with cryptic subject lines, administrators should communicate with students through video messages.

Know Your ABCs: The president-elect of ABC visited SGA to propose changing the relationship between the two governing boards. Currently, SGA exclusively governs around 30 Barnard student clubs and ABC exclusively governs around 110 student clubs. Another 40 clubs are “dually-recognized” by both ABC and SGA, which means they receive 5/7 of their funding from ABC and 2/7 from Barnard, and can book space at both Columbia and Barnard. Unfortunately, many of the dually-recognized clubs find it difficult to navigate the both ABC’s and SGA’s very different funding and space-request systems. As a result, many of the dually-recognized groups never even touch their Barnard money.

More than that, the distinction between the 40 ABC groups recognized by SGA and the 110 groups not recognized by SGA is apparently arbitrary. Groups are only supposed to be recognized by SGA if they have a certain number of Barnard students, but many groups that meet that requirement aren’t recognized by SGA, and some groups that don’t meet that requirement are recognized by SGA!

ABC proposed having SGA fund ABC as a whole, instead of an arbitrary number of individual ABC groups. This isn’t an unprecedented proposal. SGA already funds the Student Governing Board instead of individual SGB groups. Nonetheless, the proposal alarmed many SGA reps, who feared the possibility that SGA would “lose jurisdiction” over dually-recognized groups. It seems SGA likes having groups individually apply for recognition because it lets them control the groups—for instance, by requiring them to host a certain number of events on Barnard’s campus or reserve a spot on their board for a Barnard student in order to get SGA recognition. In the end, SGA voted to table the proposal until they had more time to discuss it with ABC.

DisAppointments: Emotions were running high after the ABC debate, but things really got heated during the hour or so spent on “appointments,” when SGA voted to fill positions that no one ran for during elections and positions on obscure committees. All the reps read (anonymous) applications for the various positions, heard recommendations from the head of the Appointments Committee, and then voted on who should get the position.

The discussions were full of interruptions, shouting, and pleas for calm. The biggest argument occurred after the Rep Council had agreed only to evaluate applicants on the merits of their applications, not any “extenuating circumstances,” only to go ahead and evaluate the next applicant based on external opinions instead of her application. Eventually, though, order was restored, appointments were approved, and the final SGA meeting of the school year adjourned. The most important appointments were those to SGA Rep Council:

  • Vice President of Junior Class – Colleen Mulvihill, BC ’14
  • Representative for University Programming – Sakina Pasha, BC ’13
  • Representative for Community Development – Winn Periyasamy, BC ’13
  • Representative for Campus Policy – Deborah Robertson, BC ’13
  • Representative for College Relations – Rachel Ferrari, BC ’13

Apocalyptic book via Wikimedia