SGA: Hounding the Truth
Written by Bwog Staff
Last night, excitement buzzed in the air at the rep council prepared to discuss, wait for it, puppies! Bwog sent Diana Center Bureau Chief Maddie Ball to report, who has always wanted her own support direwolf. For support, of course.
This week’s SGA meeting featured two (!) administrative guests, Morgan Murray, Barnard’s Director of Disability Services, as well as Amy Zavadil, Barnard’s Title IX Coordinator and Community Conduct Director. While both guests had enlightening wisdom to impart, the vast majority of the meeting was spent talking about Bwog’s ultimate obsession: puppies.
Well, not puppies specifically. Murray discussed at length Barnard’s new policy regarding the accommodation of support animals. Unlike service animals, which are trained at birth to perform tasks for those with disabilities, Murray notes that support animals are very different. Rather, support animals simply offer emotional assistance. That’s right, that means that your beloved chinchilla at home, or perhaps the family’s semi-feral cat, is potentially bursting with talent as one of Barnard’s newest support animals.
Before you try to ship Socks or Fluffy to Barnard, however, Murray stresses students need a fairly decent reason for a support animal. An example, Murray offers, might be a pronounced case of generalized anxiety disorder, or something comparable. While many students could vouch just attending Columbia University is stressful enough to warrant a support animal (finals PTSD anyone?), Murray says not so fast. A clinician would need to vouch for your pet’s medicinal benefits, so to speak, to Barnard’s Office of Disability Services. Additionally, keeping a pet on campus would be no piece of cake. Several regular check-ins with Murray and other ODS staff would be necessary. Further, students are expected to foot the bill if any damage is done to their dorm thanks to their furry pal.
This new policy, however, still has many unknowns. What if someone on campus is deathly afraid of a certain animal, or what about allergies? Many of these uncertainties come from the fact that there is no real precedent for support animals in colleges, considering the Fair Housing Act is affecting all colleges for the first time equally. In short, this will be an exciting learning experience for Barnard — though hopefully one with an abundance of stress puppies.
Leaping from pets to something a little more serious, the rep council also discussed Zavadil’s role as Barnard’s Title IX Coordinator and Community Conduct Director. Though relatively new, Zavadil plays an important part in working with student services to prevent sexual misconduct on campus. Most of her comments, however, discussed the Responsible Community Action Policy, which promotes alcohol safety. Namely the policy hopes to facilitate students freely seeking aid if their health is in danger due to alcohol, without fear of legal repercussion. Many students, Zavadil notes, are afraid of calling for help for themselves or others if they are in a risky situation, as their fear or academic or legal repercussions are too high. She hopes to educate students that this policy would never lead to expulsion, or anything nearly so serious, but rather simply just a follow up meeting. Safety is always Barnard’s first priority and if anything, Zavadil aims to ensure the Responsible Community Action Policy allays students’ fears.
On another note, the Music Practice Space Initiative is shedding some light on Barnard’s deplorable dearth of music practice space. While most people aren’t troubled by this scarcity of musical space, some students, such as those dual enrolled at the Manhattan School of Music, depend on it to pass their classes. The problem becomes pronounced when you realize that nearly every piano on campus is in terrible shape, or that most practice rooms are inaccessible to ensemble members that do not attend Barnard. While there are some really nice rooms on campus that are spacious, have air circulation, and a piano, such as Sulzberger Parlor, Dean Hinkson that that, “absolutely no” these areas would not be available. Unsurprisingly, SGA is eagerly lending their aid to the Music Practice Space Initiative, hoping to help in any way they can.
In terms of upcoming events, Barnard Night for athletics is coming up! Come support the women’s basketball team this Saturday night at 7pm. While the game is free for students, all donations are going to breast cancer awareness. Better yet, Fairway is matching dollar for dollar all donations received! As if you needed more incentive, the first three hundred people will receive an awesome hot pink Columbia athletics shirt in celebration of Pink Zone. Having seen the shirts, they are wicked cool so make sure to get there early.
Last but not least, look forward to hearing Barnard’s own WBAR as you enjoy your lunches in the Diana Cafe from 11am-3pm. WBAR radio shows are hosted by your classmates, so much sure to listen and hear some deep cuts selected by your peers. Look forward to more SGA news next week!
Adorabs puppies via Wikimedia