Barnard often displaces international students and others travelling long distances because of their strict housing policies.

There’s always something that needs to be fixed at Barnard, and once again our fearless SGA is trying to get things done. At this week’s blessedly brief Rep Council meeting, the Student Government Association discussed what can be done about winter housing.

Unlike at Columbia Housing, where dorms are open throughout winter break for whichever students may want to stay there, Barnard dorms close their doors the day after finals. Limited housing is available in Plimpton, Barnard’s isolated dorm on 120th and Amsterdam, for select student athletes, essential student workers, and students with other undefined extenuating circumstances. Students with unsafe family situations, international students, and others for whom going home over break is not a viable solution have expressed frustration with the application and acceptance process for winter housing. Additionally, students have voiced concerns over the winter housing fee, which is $400, and the requirement that students must be in good academic standing to qualify.

“A lot of students are scared off by the process,” said Rep for Information and Technology Joanne Kim. SGA heard student testimonials regarding difficulties with the winter housing process. Many of the testimonials pointed to a lack of transparency: the administration has not set forth a clear guidelines regarding who will and may qualify for winter housing. This is despite an SGA statement released last year urging the administration to make the process more straightforward and more accommodating. Barnard did adjust its housing policy this year to allow for students to return to campus earlier, but did not address issues regarding housing for the duration of the break.

SGA members discussed possible solutions, including involving Furman Counseling Center or the Ombuds office in the housing application process. “We need to write something strongly worded and not complacent,” said Rep for Student Health Services Rachel Miga.

In other SGA news:

  • SGA welcomed the new Rep for Sustainable Initiatives Zhuoxuan Tian. Says Zhuoxuan, “I’m fired up and ready to go!”
  • SGA is having a Wellness Fair tomorrow, February 29. Health resources! Self-care activities! Stressbusters! Raffle! What could be better?

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