This week’s SGA met with Mujeres, furthering the notion that SGA is actually going to achieve stuff this semester and impressing our Barnard Bwogger Dassi Karp who covered the the range of issues presented at the meeting.
Barnard’s Student Government Association is really stepping up its game this semester, bringing in student groups or administrators every week and coming up with actionable items for SGA to pursue. And this week was no different. Leaders and members of Mujeres, Barnard’s cultural support group for Latina students and allies, presented ways that they hope to work with SGA to further their constituency’s needs.
Most of what Mujeres advocated for involved supporting first-generation low-income students, as those are identities that many members of Mujeres also share. First, they spoke about Barnard’s Peer Academic Learning Program (PAL), which works to assist first-generation first-year students with the transition to college with meetings and advising sessions. Mujeres hopes to partner with PAL next year, but first needs to obtain funding to support paying new PALs.
Mujeres members expressed the group’s desire to work more with the Committee on Inclusion and Equity, led by SGA Rep Kashaf Doha. Muejeres would like to co-sponsor events but, again, lack the funding to do so. VP Campus Life Aku Acquaye offered some suggestions about where to apply for funding.
Next, some Mujeres members who are also involved in Columbia’s First-Generation Low-Income Partnership (FLIP) asked about how Barnard is dealing with food insecurity on campus. They explained that the Share Meals app, which allows students to share meal swipes with other students who are experiencing food insecurity, is currently operating for Columbia meal plans but not for Barnard’s. They asked SGA to help speed up the conversation about implementation of this program with Barnard’s administration. They also talked about looking in to starting a food recovery program at Hewitt. “We don’t have the time of the same power that you guys have,” one member explained. SGA President Angela Beam explained that SGA has been in conversation with FLIP, but that Barnard’s meal system is just hard to work with. “Please know that i have been really trying to get back feedback as soon as possible, its just a little slow on the administrative side,” she said.
Mujeres members also offered suggestions for Barnard’s new proposed textbook lending library, including creating a Barnard College Job for a student to organize and run the library, and a designated space in the new TLC when it opens. Rep for Inclusion and Equity Kashaf Doha expressed support in Mujeres offering input. “The librarians are very interested,” she said. Multiple SGA members, including Beam, said that space had already been allocated in the TLC, but that conversations needed to be had about what the new textbook library would look like.
There was a bit of tension when First Year VP Tina Gao questioned how FLIP plans on making sure that the students who use the resources that FLIP provides are actually financially insecure. A Mujeres members also involved in FLIP pushed back against the suggestion that there should be some sort of monitoring. Making the services not anonymous may be embarrassing for people, one explained. Added another, “We run on an honor system… we can’t ask people to show us their parent’s salary or anything like that.”
At the end of the meeting, Rep Council voted to unanimously approve the following statement of support for student activists and their right to protest:
“SGA recognizes and supports the student activists who protested at the recent event featuring noted white supremacist, Tommy Robinson. We have spoken to students involved in the protest and reviewed footage of the event. Regardless of whether or not the students are found to have sufficiently disrupted the event to the point where a violation of the Rules occurred, we believe there is a clear right to protest on campus.
As representatives of Barnard’s student body, we feel compelled to speak out on this issue due to the fact that three Barnard students now face disciplinary action, on account of their participation in the protests. To be clear, we actively support the students going through the disciplinary process and aim to help protect the right of students to organize politically on this campus. As the investigation process moves forward, we are confident the Barnard administration will support its students throughout the process. SGA pledges to function as an ally and resource for the students facing possible punitive measures. We intend to do everything we can to provide support in meaningful and productive ways.
Additionally, we are especially concerned about the application of interim sanctions, which now prevent all of the students currently facing disciplinary action from attending Columbia University College Republicans events. These students were deemed provisionally guilty and had actions taken against them, before the case was properly adjudicated by the University. This is an explicit violation of due process, and once again, undermines students’ right to express disagreement, which we believe– and the University has continually noted– are fundamental to academic freedom and growth.
The aforementioned events do not exist in isolation. What happens at Columbia plays into the national conversation on free speech, in light of the Trump Administration’s blatant efforts to selectively limit speech. Columbia should be setting an example for the nation, not joining the federal government’s pattern of undermining First Amendment rights.
Therefore, we urge Suzanne Goldberg to recognize the context of the protests, and their enormous significance both on and off campus, and adamantly protect the right to protest at Columbia University.”
Here’s what else is happening:
- There was a mouse casually running around in the back of the room during the meeting. What’s with that, Barnard?
- Rep for Student Health Services Valerie Jaharis reminded us that “a lot of issues with health services on campus is people not knowing they exist.” So go educate yourself by looking at the list of resources online.
VP Finance Evie McCorkel and members of Student Workers Solidarity met with COO Goldberg and VP Finance Di Benedetto about SGA’s recent statement of support of Barnard joining the Workers’ Rights Consortium (WRC). Apparently, “it went very well.”
- SGA is doing great with its new projected schedule and live stream, but the meetings are still plagued with calls to speak up. At one point, Beam interrupted herself, saying “we really do need to get microphones, we talked about this.” But who needs microphones when you have mice?