Student Governing Board Releases Statements On SJP Banner

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SJP's banner, removed by Barnard.

SJP’s banner, removed by Barnard.

Columbia’s Student Governing Board, which is responsible for serving the needs of religious, political, or activist groups, contacted Bwog earlier today with two official statements regarding the SJP banner issue. Here’s a recap, for your convenience. Find the full statements after the jump:

The first, signed by every member of the executive board except Tess Glassman-Kaufman, SGB’s treasurer, states SGB’s “disappointment at the decision made by Barnard College President Deborah [sic] Spar”  to remove SJP’s banner. SGB feels that DSpar’s decision infringed on SJP’s right to advertise their event, and is concerned that SJP was not consulted before their banner was removed. Additionally, SGB writes that SJP members now feel marginalized and threatened, and feel that they cannot look to the administration for support and protection. SGB feels that the removal of SJP’s banner violated administrative policy, endangers free speech on Barnard’s campus, and prevents other groups from using the Barnard Hall banner space to advertise. They urge the Barnard administration to reconsider its decision to stop hanging banners on Barnard Hall, as well as to reconsider its actions towards SJP.

SGB’s second official statement comes from Tess Glassman-Kaufman, SGB’s Treasurer and the Director of Campus Affairs for LionPAC. Glassman-Kaufman voices a dissenting opinion. Glassman-Kaufman states that:

Placing a politically charged banner on the entrance to Barnard Hall indicates a direct endorsement of a specific political agenda on behalf of the college. Furthermore, the banner threatened the safety of the pro-Israel community on campus by suggesting that Israel has no right to exist as a Jewish State.

She concludes that the banner hung on Barnard Hall alienated a large population of the student body, and she supports its removal.

SGB’s first official statement, signed by all of the Executive Board except Treasurer Tess Glassman-Kaufman:

The mission of the Student Governing Board is to represent and serve the needs of Columbia University student organizations whose concerns are religious, spiritual, political, ideological, activist, humanitarian, or identity-conscious in nature. The SGB is dedicated to the principle of community self-government, and believing that in the final analysis, those students’ needs can best be evoked, defined and articulated by the students themselves. Furthermore, the Executive Board of the Student Governing Board oversees and provides support to its student organizations.

As a Governing Board dedicated to freedom of speech and impartiality, the SGB would like to emphasize every student group’s right to advertise their events and voice their missions on the campuses of all four undergraduate colleges. When these rights are infringed upon, it falls on the Executive Board to support the interests of all its groups and speak out against the injustice.

As a result, SGB would like to issue a statement iterating their disappointment at the decision made by Barnard College President Deborah Spar to remove a banner containing the logo and mission statement of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), an SGB recognized student organization, without any dialogue or consultation with SJP. Despite the outstanding policy iterated by President Spar in her response that “It has been a long-standing tradition to allow any recognized Barnard or Columbia student group to reserve a space and hang a banner promoting their event”, this specific banner was taken down without warning or consideration for the group’s event. President Spar further went on to say that “These Barnard Hall banners have always been student-created and, as such, reflect the diversity of student interests and concerns, but are not meant to convey an endorsement.” Thus, it is quite concerning when a banner that represents the concerns of students on campus is removed without any discussion with the group about the content or the reasoning behind the removal. It is alarming that the administration could act so swiftly in silencing any group and have such executive power over the content that students choose to share on this campus. In addition, as a result of the administration’s actions, this group feels marginalized and threatened on this campus. The group has received threats and feels that they cannot even look to the administration for support and protection.

Barnard College’s decision to remove this locale as a platform upon which students and organizations can express themselves, violates administration policy and further endangers the future of free speech on this campus. We, as the Student Governing Board, urge Barnard to reconsider its decision regarding the utilization of this space for all groups on campus. It is important that all groups have the opportunity to advertise their events on all of the four campuses at Columbia University. By taking away this space, the administration will be limiting the reach of many groups that would utilize this space to advertise to the Barnard community. It would be a shame to see that occur and to have the voices of such varied communities silenced. Thus we urge the Barnard administration to reconsider any decision made regarding this space and to include student groups in the conversation. Any policy regarding this space, especially one that will not allow any group to utilize the space, will affect the student body at large and as such the student body should have an active role in discussion. The administration should not limit the reach of student voices, instead it should help support the sharing of different ideas which is absolutely crucial for the diverse community that Barnard values so highly. Without this space, not only would the Columbia community be losing a space for our communities to share ideas and advertise events, but we would be losing the autonomy to share any thoughts and ideas that we deem fit, no matter how unpopular.

In the end, Columbia is a community and as such we cannot allow our voices or the voices of our peers to be quelled. Each and every group should have the right to share their opinions no matter how controversial or unpopular they may be, it is not for the administrations to decide what is an appropriate opinion or point of view, unless said opinion is advocating violence. Columbia University has long been a forum where students can share their voices and ideas freely; the Student Governing Board would hate to see that change with actions like the removal of this banner.

The Student Governing Board calls upon the Barnard Administration to: first, call for the end of the threats that this group has received as a result of this incident by addressing the topic publicly; second, communicate with student groups before making executive decisions such as this one in the future; third, reconsider the removal of the banner; fourth, to continue to allow this space to be used for advertising purposes by all groups on campus, and fifth, to remember that the voicing of opinions, no matter how singular or strong, is the essence of our culture at this institution.

Fatimatou Diallo, Chair
Mariam Elnozahy, Vice Chair
Aishwarya Raja, Secretary
Sameer Mishra, Representative
Ankita Gore, Representative
Karim Nader, Representative
Priyanka Javlekar, Representative
Doreen Mohammed, Representative
David Morales-Miranda, Representative
Maya V Pandit, Representative

SGB’s second official statement, signed by Treasurer Tess Glassman-Kaufman:

While this statement was passed by majority vote of the Student Governing Board, I would like to express more thoroughly, my dissenting opinion.

As the Student Governing Board, it is our duty to stand for the freedom of speech and the well being of the student body on this campus. I feel that we have failed to do so this week in responding to SJP’s banner placed on Barnard Hall.

Every group deserves the right to expressing their opinion on campus and there are numerous outlets to allow students these opportunities. However, placing a politically charged banner on the entrance to Barnard Hall indicates a direct endorsement of a specific political agenda on behalf of the college. Furthermore, the banner threatened the safety of the pro-Israel community on campus by suggesting that Israel has no right to exist as a Jewish State. Whether intentional or not, this statement alienated a large portion of the student body and as a member of the Student Governing Board, I cannot stand behind this.

I fully support SGB’s request of Barnard administration to call for an end to all threats; our primary concern ought to be assuring that this campus is a safe space that does not threaten students. I agree that all opinions, no matter how singular or strong, should have a voice on campus, which is why I feel so strongly about making this statement. I agree that there should more fluid communication between administration and students, and look forward to Barnard making a clearer policy about its advertising space.

I fully support the removal of the banner, and appreciate the Barnard administration taking the safety of its students seriously, and refusing to be implicated in endorsing a hostile message.

  Tess Glassman-Kaufman, Treasurer

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  1. Blunts in Butler  

    Guess I won't be hanging my 420 banner now. Oh well, I'm just gonna go roll a fat one.

  2. Anonymous  

    I'm curious as to why Tess, the Director of Campus Affairs for LionPAC, did not abstain her vote out of conflict of interest.

    • It's worth noting...

      I think you mean recuse herself.

      If that's what you're asking, it's worth noting that LionPAC played no role in the removal of the banner. That effort was essentially spearheaded by kogen's FB post. This was a question of SJP vs. Barnard, not SJP vs. LionPAC (like when SJP tore down lionpac's flyers and Hillel members on SGB rightly recused themselves)

    • because  

      Everyone at all invested in the debate about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, as so many are, will struggle with a "conflict of interest"in forming an opinion about the SJP's banner. Having the single dissenting opinion "recuse herself," as if only her affiliations are problematic, would certainly not aid in promoting a balanced dialogue about this issue.

      This is especially true as Bwog did not see fit to provide information about the affiliations of other students on the board, although these affiliations are presumably just as relevant as the dissenting student's. Way to go, Bwog.

    • Cuz

      Zionists like conflicts?


  3. Anonymous

    Way to give in to the ZOG (Zionist occupied government) Barnard

  4. Because...  

    they weren't voting on anything.

  5. Anonymous

    Why can't students here recognize the malicious intents of jewish interest groups? Palestine isn't the only nation at risk here, people.

  6. Anonymous

    please give us the full list of all groups that the SGB members are involved in. you told us tess' - which was an odd non sequitur, considering lionpac isnt involved in this incident - what about the rest of them?

  7. hmmm

    the names of the SGB reps though...

  8. Way To Go Tess!

    Someone had to make a stand.

  9. Anonymous

    i'm not really down with the idea that a banner is going the threaten the safety of the pro-israel community.... because a) it's not. and b) not supporting israel annexing palestinian doesn't mean that Jews are all of a sudden going to be unsafe.

    • Anonymous  

      I'm sorry that you aren't "really down with the idea that a banner is going the threaten the safety of the pro-israel community," but I know many individuals who felt that the campus was not a safe-space for them or their views. Ask around - there's a reason DSpar received so many emails.

  10. Anonymous  

    Supportive of (most of) SGB's statement BUT...

    The fact that SGB can't even spell DSpar's name correctly is indicative of the disrespect that Columbia has for Barnard. If you're going to comment on a Barnard campus issue please gain some basic campus literacy. Barnard's President deserves that much respect even if she is a basic Lean In liberal feminist.

    • Anonymous

      i think is probably has something to do with the immaturity of this SGB. this is literally their first act as a board - do they even know each other yet?? i'm really sad to see SGB embarrass itself like this since i believe they're such an important part of the fabric of this school. i don't think they should have made any statement at all (after all, sjp's bullying has no place here), but if they felt they had to, the right move would have been to make one unified statement asserting the importance of student involvement in any decision about the banner space moving forward


    Have you noticed that everyone on the SGB (except Glassman-Kaufman) is a person of color (eg: not white)? Glassman-Kaufman is the only white person. Furthermore, Glassman-Kaufman has a very Jewish last name. Probably because she's Jewish herself?

    Bias all around. I still think the SJP should be able to have their banners too. Can't just let the anti-Palestinians steamroll over the fact that a lot of Palestinians are hurt daily. Have to look at both sides of the issue, so why is DSpar and others intent of hiding the other side of the issue?

    • ...  

      Kind of not sure what you're saying. Are you suggesting that race had to do with each of the board member's decisions? Or that prejudice did? Or that prejudice did, but only for the Jewish board member, because obv other affiliations never produce prejudice?

      Also, as a Barnard Junior, I have not yet seen an overtly partisan political poster on Barnard Hall ever. It may have happened previously, and I missed it. But in general, the posters are advertisements for non-partisan communal events, which Barnard College as an institution actually could, in theory, "endorse" without marginalizing the beliefs of other members of the student body.

  12. here's a more specific question

    why don't you report that vice-chair mariam elnozahy is on the C-SJP facebook group?

    SHE clearly should have recused herself

    • OH NO!

      u deserve Pulitzer for that investigative reporting!future woodward u are! u got an SGB waterg8 on ur handssrsly, SHE Joined a FB group of that nature?! Should we contact the DEAN? I'm concerned. im gonna try n bring dershowitz to this campus in return. i got the big bucks. really, Not sure how im gonna sleep tonight. I'm thinking of either suing facebook or smthg else. im shaking. Seriously how could she join that group? that's so bad!! if only someone knew what type of jam she puts on her toast. also is it whole wheat? or sourdough?

    • LOLOL

      Means NOTHING. President of LionPAC, Aviva Pratzer, is also on the group. why don’t you report that you’re an idiot?

  13. Anonymous

    why didn’t you report that vice-chair mariam elnozahy is in the C-SJP facebook group?

  14. Supporter of Barnard's decision  

    Great comments above! How dare Elnozahy join the facebook pages of other student groups on campus. That obviously means that she is on the board of those student groups and thus deserves mentioning in BWOG's article, just as BWOG mentions Kaufmann's loyalty to LionPAC in her capacity as *Director* of Campus Affairs.

    In fact, how dare Elnozahy or any other elected student official join other student groups on campus in real life? This is an outrage! They should be ashamed of publicly displaying their opinions by way of association. Shall I go further? I must, for how dare they have opinions at all?! Don't they realize how biased they are in allowing their cultures and political persuasions to interfere with what should have been solely rational deliberation? Don't they realize that they must divorce themselves from *all* influence while serving as the purely objective, unbiased school representatives that our modern mentalities childishly expect of them?!

    A proposal! Due to the fact that so many SGB board members don't come from normative white-Christian American backgrounds, we should bar them from voting on anything, especially on, god-forbid, political issues! Obviously, they need to be way more assimilated before they can be capable of thinking clearly.

    • ~Ezra "El Palo" Stynes~

      I have a crush on u

    • ...  

      that's pretty patently clearly not what the comment was suggesting. the commenter wanted to know why only one person's possible "biasing" affiliations were mentioned, out of an entire board who otherwise unanimously voted to stand with SJP on this issue.

      but good job pulling out the straw-man argument that the commenter thought that only non-white non-Christian-Americans (...?) ever suffered issues of bias in a political dialogue ever.

  15. Good job SGB!  

    Whatever you think of the issue, this statement is very fair and shows that SGB will stand behind its groups no matter what. It's disturbing to me that Tess Glassman-Kaufman allowed her personal political opinions to stop her from protecting a group that she represents (with a ridiculous statement about safety, as if SJP even calls for such dangerous activity). She should be ashamed of herself for abandoning a club she serves.

  16. "ethnic name"

    this comment is probably the most racist/xenophobic shit to come out of this whole ordeal. bravo

  17. Census

    If you are pro-palestine like this. if u are zionist, thumb this down..

    just tryna get a picture of things..comment if u're a third way kinda thang..cuz only have 2 thumbs

    • Complexity

      One can be a proud Zionist and pro-palestinian. From an ideological standpoint, in fact, support for the Jewish national statehood and palestinian national statehood statehood are more similar than they are different. The real question is whether, like lionpac, you support national sovereignty, or like C-SJP you hate the very existence of the Jewish state (a very thinly masked reality). In short pro-Israel or anti-Israel.

  18. HELLO?

    More than half the SGB is on the HSO.

  19. Anonymous  

    Fuckin muslim terrorist pieces of shit. GO BACK TO YOUR OWN FUCKING COUNTRIES. 166 Nobel prizes to your piece of shit 6 (half of which went to terrorists). Don't be jealous of the jews because you aren't one. Do something with your fucking life other than shitting on people you want to be.

    Don't be a fucking bitch and whine because you're discriminated against. Heard of the Holocaust? Shut the fuck up and grow a pair. Then do your own work rather than blame those who are better off than you. We got here because we worked hard. You fuckers aren't shit because all you do is bitch.

  20. ANGRY

    I completely disagree with the actions of Glassman-Kaufman.

    Free speech above all else.

    If this was a pro-Israel banner, I feel confident that there would have been no issue raised on her end.

  21. #1fan

    Tess, you go girl! So proud of you for standing up for what you believe in. Thank you for having the courage to voice the opinion of many of us Barnard students.

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