This week’s SGA meeting focused on what Barnard is doing to prevent sexual assault and make campus life safer for students. Bwogger Dassi Karp covered what Take Back the Night, SVR, and Title IX Coordinator Molree Williams-Lendor had to say about current safety concerns. 

At this week’s meeting of Barnard’s Student Government Association, our Rep Council members continued exercising their good listening skills. They heard from representatives of Take Back the Night, Sexual Violence Response, and Barnard’s new Title IX coordinator to discuss Title IX issues at Barnard.

Take Back the Night (TBTN), a student group that provides opportunities to speak out against sexual violence in the Columbia community. TBTN’s current and incoming co-presidents spoke about a recent change in the group’s activities. TBTN has existed at Columbia for twenty years, and its main event has always been a march to protest sexual violence and stand in solidarity with survivors. This year, TBTN has decided to take the night back through other events. They referred to a lack of accessibility and some students feeling uncomfortable with the march’s required police escort. The presidents mentioned that they hope their new efforts, which will include speak-outs, a candle-lit vigil, and educational panels, will help the group become “more intersectional” and “move away from second wave feminism.” How that will happen and what these buzzwords really mean to TBTN was not discussed. But the group is optimistic about the coming semester, ensuring that “making people feel comfortable is our ultimate goal.”

Next, SGA heard from Lisa Haileselassie, Assistant Director of CU’s Sexual Violence Response (SVR). SVR provides a range of free and confidential support for students at all of Columbia’s graduate and undergraduate schools, including crisis counseling, emergency room accompaniment, and support during on-campus adjudication. Haileselassie emphasized that SVR provides support that is tailored to the individual student’s needs.

Finally, Barnard’s new Title IX Coordinator, Molree Williams-Lendor, discussed her role on campus. Williams-Lendor began at Barnard just last May, and said that one of her main goals is to make it clear to students what resources are available to them. She emphasized that she is not a confidential resource, as her role at Barnard requires investigating and acting on safety concerns for the students and the community. Not all students who experience forms of sexual violence wish to make an official report, and Williams-Lendor highly recommends that students consult with a confidential resource like SVR before speaking with her, so that they are making an informed decision. She spoke confidently and kindly, and seemed open to student responses, which we expect will serve her well as she begins her first semester at Barnard.


A reminder: Elections for First-Year class president and vice president are open on MyBarnard through Friday. Go and vote! Here’s some of what Bwog heard from some of the candidates at the election forum earlier this week:

  • In her passioned speech, Hannah Katz asked the crowd, “how many of you have left the bookstore feeling broken and robbed?” Nobody raised their hand, probably because they were too broken. Or they were using one of Book Culture’s hipster coloring books and their hands were occupied.
  • Naava Ellenberg empathized with the plight of her fellow first-years, noting that, “some moments are lonely and everybody is just looking for their people.” Snaps for that, Naava.
  • Sara Morales lectured us about “Barnardian democracy,” which apparently should prioritize cheaper laundry. We hear you, Sara.

Other common themes emphasized by the candidates were identity representation, sign-in policy, JJ’s place, and class excursions. If you’re a Barnard first-year, go to the “campus life” tab of MyBarnard to read the candidates’ full platforms and vote until this Friday at noon.


Image via Wikimedia Commons