This week’s SGA meeting closed out the semester. The meeting mainly focused on the financial standing of Barnard and also addressed students’ concerns over the tuition increase. For our high quality education, we’re really paying up for it.
We’ve made it: the last student council meeting of the semester. At last night’s SGA meeting, our fearless Reps were really just ready to be done. And the newly-elected members of next year’s Council were there, lining the sides of the room and keeping the press company. Everybody was ready to just get out of there and wrestle somebody for their favorite seat in Butler. First, though, they had to spend an hour on everybody’s favorite topic: how Barnard spends its money.
Pay us more:
Interim President and Chief Operations Officer Robert Goldberg (RoGo? RGold? BertBerg? Please advise) and Vice President for Finance Eileen Di Benedetto joined the Rep Council to discuss the college’s finances and field student questions. Goldberg did most of the talking, with some clarifications from Di Benedetto. Most of what he said was a repetition of the last time he visited SGA back in November before he gained a fancier title and some spiffy new glasses. In short: Barnard does not have a lot of money, but it’s enough. “We’re in a pretty optimistic moment financially,” he assured, “but the money is still tight.”
The discussion then turned to the recent 4.2% tuition increase that was announced to students last week. The questions asked were polite and reasonable, but everybody seemed a bit miffed. Students sought assurances that their money was going to the right places. Goldberg did his best to assuage fears, noting that the raise represented “real-world fact of life costs,” such keeping up with faculty raises, and that the raise is not singularly because of the recent adjunct faculty union agreement. “It’s a pressure,” he admitted, “but it’s not the pressure.”
But SGA was not convinced. In response to worries that Barnard was misprioritizing its funds with the construction of the library, Goldberg was adamant: “the building does not implicate the budget. It just doesn’t.” He soon clarified that it does, but in a very minimal way. Most of the funding for the new building comes from donations raised in the ongoing Bold Standard campaign. SGA’s VP of Finance Evie McCorkle, sharp as always, pointed out that perhaps donors could have given the same money for other causes, such as financial aid. Goldberg responded that the building is “an investment in the future of the college.”
We heard at Sunday night’s CCSC meeting that SGA purportedly spent upwards of $2,000 to buy jackets for Rep Council members. VP Campus Life and President-Elect Angela Beam confirmed that this money was spent on jackets, but pushed back against the characterization of this move as “unethical.” This purchase was allowed under SGA’s spending guidelines, which sets aside 20% of its budget for “swag.” But, she agreed, “it was obviously a massive oversight.” Spending guidelines will be revisited and reformed for the next year. The student councils should not have to be policing each other’s spending, and I hope that the ridiculous Student Activities fee gets put to a more worthwhile use.
And that’s it for the year! There’s a budget, students don’t really have a say in it, and we’ll all just keep paying as much as we can. There will be a new library, eventually, and we’ll all still prefer to get our procrastination done in the godless depths of 209. But, hey – at least some of us have some nice new jackets to save our seats. SGA will keep bringing in administrative guests, and Evie will keep asking them questions. And I’ll be here, letting you know how it goes, just in case anything exciting ever happens. Until then, Rep for Health Services Rachel Miga wants us to remember to sleep, eat, and drink enough water over the next couple weeks, because “you can’t study if your body is dying.” Let’s go test that out, shall we?
Image via Flickr