Update: SGA released the following statement in response to SGB’s announcement:

The Executive Board of the Student Government Association of Barnard college respectfully acknowledges the decision of the Executive board of the Student Governing Board’s to move for noncompliance of the College’s new Posting Policy. As the elected representatives for the Barnard student body, and the liaisons between the students and the administration, we want to let concerned students know that we have been reviewing this policy with Student Life since its presentation in September. Through our conversations, Student Life has guaranteed to review the policy with SGA and student representatives from the essential governing boards at the semester’s end. We are committed to representing student opinion in these meetings, and ask the student body for its thoughts on the policy in order to move forward. If you would like to give feedback, please complete the survey created by our VP Student Activities, Sarah Steinmann, located here. Until then, we ask that students reach us with comments at sga@barnard.edu.

At its meeting last night, the Executive Board of SGB voted to not comply with Barnard’s controversial new flyer posting policy. Barnard’s Office of Student Life announced earlier this year that all groups or individuals wishing to post a flyer on Barnard’s campus must obtain approval for a flyer’s content, and then must have each individual flyer officially stamped. SGB Chair David Fine strongly rejected Barnard’s restriction, stating that “I think that the policy was enacted hastily and that it unnecessarily imposes a burden on student speech on campus, and that’s what we find unacceptable.” An SGB Town Hall putting the non-compliance move to a vote is scheduled for December.

SGB’s by-laws, for reference, clarify requirements for the Board to officially deny compliance of a University policy:
  • Non-cooperation of the SGB with a university policy first requires e-board approval.
  • The SGB must also obtain the consent of 2/3 of groups at a Town Hall (emergency if need be) in order to pursue non-cooperation.
  • Non-cooperation is acceptable if the policy in question is in violation of the guiding principles of SGB and OSGA.
  • Non-cooperation must be in the form of peaceful refusal to abide by a University rule.

The policy has been a hot topic of discussion at SGA Rep Council meetings this fall. According to its weekly email, SGA plans to discuss the posting policy at this evening’s meeting, and interested students are invited to attend. Here is SGB’s full statement, which describes the Board’s vote as the “first time in recent memory” that such a decision has been made. No hunger strikes are planned as of yet.

The Executive Board of the Student Governing Board of Columbia University has voted to not comply with Barnard College’s Student Life office’s Posting Policy. This is the first time in recent memory the Executive Board has voted to not comply with a university policy. As of the beginning of this semester, the Barnard administration requires any group who wants to post a flyer on the Barnard campus to first receive approval of a flyer’s content from the Barnard Student Life office. The administration instituted this requirement to prevent the proliferation of non-student related flyers on campus and to actively prevent the occurrence of “bias incidents” in violation of the university’s Community Principles Initiative.

Though the Executive Board thinks these goals admirable, we believe that the administration’s requirement of prior approval fails to properly take into consideration Columbia University’s commitment to freedom of expression as well as the best interests of the Student Governing Board’s groups. We believe that the Barnard administration’s policy intrudes unnecessarily on freedom of thought and expression on Columbia’s campus by adding a burdensome and unnecessary step to posting a flyer at Barnard. With this policy, the Barnard administration also creates significant burden for SGB groups to reach out to Barnard students, who are inherently part of the SGB’s constituency. Administrative screening of student speech prevents an uninhibited, robust, and wide-open market of free expression on Columbia’s campus.

According to our constitution, “The mission of the Student Governing Board (SGB) is to represent and serve the needs of Columbia University student organizations,” whose members include students from all four undergraduate schools and, “whose concerns are religious, spiritual, political, ideological, activist, humanitarian or identity-conscious in nature.” It goes on to state that, “the Student Governing Board is dedicated to the principle of community self-government, and believes that students’ needs are best evoked, defined and articulated by the students themselves.”

Barnard’s administration failed to take into account this basic principle by not consulting with either the Student Governing Board or Barnard’s Student Government Association when crafting this policy over the summer. Since then, they have expressed willingness to include student input in the process, but have refused to make changes to the policy until next semester.

The Executive Board’s decision to not comply with the policy will only come into effect if the SGB’s general body votes in favor of non compliance at our next town hall, currently scheduled in December. We hope that the Barnard administration reconsiders their ill conceived policy before then.



The Executive Board of the SGB