Bwog’s ever faithful Barnard Bearoness, Raji Ganapathy, watched in (figurative) tears as SGA happenings drew to a close this year. But in a final meeting which seemed to sum up the tropes of this year’s SGA, a guest speaker was heard, questions asked, and resolutions pushed out of SGA’s “normal” meeting.
As classes draw to a close and finals loom ever closer, the shadows lengthen on SGA happenings for this year, and this Barnard Bearoness is surely sad to see them go. This Monday, the 2015-2016 Rep Council gathered for the last time on the second floor of Diana to tie up loose ends from this year. We started with a discussion with guest speaker Frances Sadler (BC ‘72), a Trustee and the Board’s Co-Chair of the Committee for Campus Life. During her time at Barnard, Sadler majored in psychology and was known for her involvement with BOSS. She also was a participant in the newly established Education Program, going on to work as a public school teacher after graduation.
The Board of Trustees’ Committee for Campus Life conducts research regarding campus life concerns, and presents this information to the rest of the Board so that they can make informed decisions. Sadler stressed that the Committee for Campus Life aimed to be open to student input and that she considered it “…really important that students find and use their voice.” The Committee for Campus Life is currently looking to address issues of mental health resources and support on campus.
After presenting an overview of the responsibilities of her position, Sadler responded to several questions raised by SGA members. One issue in particular was clarification on how exactly the Board of Trustees incorporates student input during policy formation. Sadler replied that for her committee, students are often invited to share their opinions. When asked by SGA President Shivani Vikuntam to elaborate on the selection process by which students are invited to attend Committee meetings, Sadler stated that the process was inconsistent, but that she generally reaches out to Dean Hinkson and takes into account her recommendation on whether any particular student groups should be included in the conversation.
Sandler also commented on the need for diversity at Barnard, stating that “every structure of Barnard needs to have diverse representation in order to have a fuller picture and to make good decisions.” When questioned by the Representative for Inclusion and Equity Hannah Seymour regarding the pressure that Barnard places on alumnae to donate to the school and how this may negatively influence students in the Education Program who will likely not turn a significant profit in the early part of their careers, Sandler stated that alumnae were only urged to donate “in their capacity.” She later affirmed, however, that Barnard “is a business and is run like a business,” and so encouraging alumnae donations will remain an integral aspect of the Board’s responsibilities. When Seymour asked about increasing transparency between the Board and students about budgetary issues, Sadler suggested that it might be prudent to create more opportunities for students to see how the college budget and tuition are constructed. Sophomore Class President Aku Acquaye proposed the semesterly release of an email with a detailed breakdown of the tuition and contact information for where students can voice concerns as a possible solution to this problem.
After Sadler’s presentation, SGA moved on to discuss CUE. Barnard chose this year to stop supporting CUE, an intercollegiate introductory program that promotes cross-Broadway bonding and civic engagement. SGA voted in December to support CUE, and during this meeting suggested revisions to a follow-up resolution voicing this support. Proposed revisions included adding further detail on what kind of administrative response was expected for the resolution. Due to time constraints, SGA moved to vote on this resolution during the internal portion of the meeting. A statement regarding recommended actions in response to the concerns voiced by students during the Town Hall meeting held earlier this year to discuss the Barnard-Columbia relationship was also drafted, and would be voted on during the internal portion of the meeting.