You know it’s an interesting SGA meeting when Deborah Spar says, “This is the point in the conversation where I usually have to turn to my lawyer.” Not to worry, though, Barnard’s favorite celebrity is legally in the clear. Her lawyer comment came in response to a question about the line between students and the administration—specifically, at what point does the administration decide to make a statement on controversial issues such as Orgo Night? Spar’s point is that there’s no clear answer. The longer the Rep Council discussed Orgo Night, the more the Council realized that the issue is more complicated than anyone could have known.
Orgo Night was not on the official agenda for the evening, but came up organically (sorry, bad pun) while the Rep Council discussed events from this past academic year. After hearing someone say that they’d be interested in seeing what happens to Orgo Night, Spar jumped in and asked the Rep Council their thoughts on Orgo Night as a whole. Did she know that she was opening Pandora’s box? She must have had an inkling, but it seems that the Barnard administration is increasingly looking to students to guide the school’s responses to on- and off-campus issues. Although Spar admitted that the administration will likely remain reactive as opposed to proactive, she did say that receiving emails from students is typically what triggered school-wide responses from her office throughout the academic year. Spar wants to encourage students to continue to reach out to her office (and SGA) so that the administration can take its cues directly from students.
As for Orgo Night in particular, it looks like the Barnard administration will remain silent on the issue for now. Spar pointed out that if the Rep Councils have already authorized and funded a student organization such as CUMB, it would take a very extreme situation for the administration to jump in and reverse the Rep Councils’ decisions. Hence the earlier comment about DSpar referring to her lawyer. Spar did say that, “at risk of sounding like a schoolmarm,” she believes that it would be a “good experience” for SGA to grapple with its own response to Orgo Night. Spar also said that SGA’s response would be useful for the administration, but what the adminstration would do with such information remains unclear.
It looks like SGA will in fact have to grapple with Orgo Night, because by the end of last night’s Rep Council meeting there was no clear consensus on the event. Many members seemed torn on the subject, unable to decide of the event was a fun study break that brings the community together, or an offensive performance that alienates members of the Barnard/Columbia community. Several people mentioned that we have yet to see what the marching band has in store for the community this semester and, if the posters are any indication, that there’s a chance that the band is trying to change its own culture. However, VP of SGA Sarah Shuster pointed out that one semester of progress does not mean that the Barnard community is comfortable with Orgo Night or CUMB’s history.
Monday’s SGA meeting was also the last of the semester, and of course the Rep Council knows how to go out with a bang. At this point I would like to invite you to play “Sunrise Sunset” at the bottom of this article to get the full nostalgic effect. It was an end of an era, and the Barnard Bearoness was not immune to the emotions circulating throughout the room. The evening was also marked by a series of accomplishments by the Barnard Bearoness, including:
- 1. Julia Qian hugged me.
- 2. I sat less than 5 feet from DSpar.
- 3. SGA offered Bwog and Spec some Pinkberry and we felt very loved.
Now that’s how you end a semester.