kanye shrug

Where was the SGA meeting yesterday? What’s an ombudsperson? A’s to all these q’s and more in this week’s SGA report.

For the first time in a while, SGA had lots of substantive and contentious debate. Well, maybe not SUPER contentious, but better than usual. SGA Correspondent Raji Ganapathy reports on the resolutions and suggestions made by SGA yesterday. 

This week SGA clustered around a different square table than usual, on the first floor of Elliott Hall, for some kickass student government action. And kick ass it did! From passing a suggestion to the administration on the location of Orgo Night to discussing the hiring policy for TAs with gender-based misconduct violations, SGA had a busy night.

We got the ball rolling with an update from the Honor Board regarding revisions to the Honor Code, which has not been changed since its conception in 1912. Emma Hede-Brierley and Sarah Krosnick, co-chairs of the Honor Board, summarized the main change to the policy, which is an added affirmation of virtuous usage of electronics in the classroom. Barnard’s Rep to the University Senate Sarah Katz then took the stage, presenting an update on the Senate’s current initiatives. Based on the results of the Quality of Life survey administered earlier this year, the Senate’s Student Affairs Committee has enacted projects including the Morningside Space Initiative, which advocates for the creation of a student lounge on campus in response to recent criticisms of Columbia’s stress culture. There is also an initiative to increase the transparency of course evaluations, especially with regards to Title IX violations.

Following Katz’s presentation, Abby Porter, CCSC’s newly elected VP Policy for the 2016-2017 year, proposed a policy denouncing the hiring of Barnard TAs with a record of gender-based misconduct. Barnard’s current policy does not place any restrictions on the hiring of TAs or RAs with gender-based misconduct violations; the process for hiring TAs in particular is highly informal, with almost no background checks conducted. Porter framed the proposal as a blanket statement for all Barnard departments, but with enough mutability to be implemented differently in these departments. SGA voted in favor of endorsing the policy, although some members voiced concerns about the privacy rights of applicants.

SGA then voted on a proposal by VP Policy Michelle Depardieu to create an ombudsperson, which is a neutral resource (not affiliated with the administration) for students who need help with the mediation or resolution of a conflict. The 2016 Desserts After Dark survey results indicate that 40% of the student body was in favor of the creation of an ombudsperson, with 36% unsure and 24% opposed. SGA voted in favor of the proposal, with President Shivani Vaikuntam affirming that SGA would “be a part of the conversation” in forming the ombudsperson office.

Also in relation to the Desserts After Dark survey, SGA voted on a recommendation for the administration to allow CUMB to perform Orgo Night in front of Barnard Hall. The survey results stated that 34% of students supported CUMB entering the Barnard campus, while 30% voted against and 36% had no preference.

In other external updates:

  • Voting for SGA begins Monday, April 19th on myBarnard. While there, be sure to vote on the amendments to the SGA constitution.
  • The Seven Habits of the Seven Sisters Conference will be this Wednesday from 8-9:30PM in the McIntosh Dining Room. Alumnae from all Seven Sisters colleges will be giving short TED Talk-like speeches. Sign up via the Google Form on the Facebook event.
  • SGA Day is this Wednesday, 4/20, from 11AM-4PM. There will be free Ben & Jerry’s!