Barnard’s weekly Student Government Association meeting happened last night, amidst much debate regarding the housing crisis and meeting transparency. Our congressional correspondent Renée Kraiem writes.
Last night Rep Council converged upon the Mehlor Parlor of Barnard’s Elliott Hall, an ironically apt meeting room for the evening’s main event, a
discussion forum for airing complaints about Barnard’s current housing crisis.
Though it was initially hard to tell whether the crowded feeling of the Parlor was the result of the Parlor itself (did we mention this meeting was in a parlor?), the presence of a significant (10ish) students in attendance, or the combination of the two, altered the change in the meeting’s tone significantly from the get-go, it was (if we do say so ourselves) also the first presentation of the meeting that set it off as the most official (and efficient!) in recent SGA memory.
As the first item on the agenda, Bwog and Spec’s Sarah Darville informed Rep Council of their new official policy that the publications would not honor requests to keep Representatives’ statements “off the record,” with the exception under very specific circumstances. Among the brief dialogue that followed, Rep Council revealed a positive attitude toward shifting its attitude toward Monday night meetings into one of public communication, rather than internal discussion.
The 10ish non-SGA-affiliated students attending the meeting, to their credit, seemed, in fact, inspired by this declaration, and as so was born the evening’s heated laundry list of questions and comments regarding the crisis. Most notable were the presentations made by two sophomore transfer students, and returning student Hannah Goldstein, both of whom stressed the lack of transparency regarding administrative decisions, their offense (definitely taken, in this case) and frustration regarding the attitude of administrators in responding to such decisions, and their dissapointment regarding the disadvantage that, they say, the administration has put them in during crucial times in their college experience, during which the administration should be supporting them. Though Housing Advisory Board co-chair Jen Fearon, BC ’13, Representative for Student Services Leah Rothstein, BC ’13, and Representative for Community Development Winn Periyasamy, also BC ’13, put forth a valiant effort to take statmenets like a champ and, most in the case of Fearson, dish them right back as such, as Representative for College Relations Rachel Ferrari admitted, they were stuck in an unfortunate position of having to defend and negotiate between both the interests of the students and those of Residential Life. Though SGA, too, did their part to agree with the concerns of students and nudge the discussion in the direction of producing productive suggestions for the future, it was Ayelet Pearl, Junior Representative to the Board of Trustees, who put it most succinctly, concluding: “we made it work, but it’s not how it should be. It’s not how it’s set up.”
SGA used the remainder of their meeting to clear up a series of events, both past and present, and both unfortunate and exciting. President JungHee Hyun took the (tense and relatively rocked with PTSD) helm of the meeting by clarifying, on the record, that Barnard Student Life’s recent (controversial) updates to its posting policy were never run by SGA in full; most specifically, explained Hyun, SGA was not consulted about the most controversial aspect of the policy, the new requirement for each individual flyer posted on campus by campus groups to be approved and stamped by student life.
To conclude the meeting on an anticipatory note (marked by notable efficiency, ladies), Junior Class President Aliza Hassine promoted the planned town hall, organized by inter-council members and advisors, to discuss candidly and productively the current student views on the relationship between Barnard and Columbia. So, if you’re willing to take that one on, stay tuned in mid-October. If you just want to vent out some frustration, though, and want to give our comment section a disco nap, you can always head to Lehman Lawn and light it on fire.
Brooklyn hall via Wikimedia Commons