Back in May (I know, we miss summer too) Sian Beilock was announced as the eighth president of Barnard College and  earlier this week SGA met with Beilock in an “oh so new format” to discuss a multitude of totally different things, including Barnard and Columbia’s interesting relationship. If you weren’t one of the 200 who live streamed the meeting, Barnard Bwogger Dassi Karp covered the meeting so concisely that you still don’t have to! 

The mic is purely for aesthetic, we won’t actually use it. What is a mic? Covfefe

This week, Barnard’s Student Government Association Representatives welcomed the new president of the College, Sian Beilock, to share her feelings about her job so far and what she hopes to work on in the future. In her honor, perhaps, or maybe just because they were getting bored with the endless stream of student and administrative guests, our Rep Council did things a little bit differently. Emphasis on the little: this week’s change consisted of a microphone that was never used and, more importantly, a livestream of the entire meeting on SGA’s Facebook page. University Senator Kira Dennis adeptly operated the iPhone doing the recording, and everybody behaved themselves under the pressure of the camera. This enough would be something to celebrate–change happens very slowly with the SGA. But Beilock also had some interesting things to say.

Beilock described the “listening tour” she’s been taking since arriving on campus in July. She’s been speaking to faculty, staff, students, and alumnae to find out what Barnard needs and how to make it better. She said she’s been especially thinking about creating an environment where students can “learn, debate, and be open, in a community that’s free of fear and free of hate.” That’s quite a goal, and a commendable one. To enact this larger vision, she’s been focusing on four main projects.

First is the still-being-built campus behemoth that is the Milstein Teaching and Learning Center (friends, lets please come up with a better name, because to me “TLC” means Say Yes to the Dress ), which she described as “the library of the future.” This means hovercrafts, I assume. Second, she hope’s to continue working with the Task Force for Diversity and Inclusion which formed last year. The Task Force will be working on expanding dialogue and getting input from the Barnard community. Her third goal is working on the connection between Barnard and the rest of Columbia. “As you know, it’s a very heterogeneous relationship,” she said. She means, I think, it is a very confusing connection that does not seem to have clear-cut definitions. Maybe Beilock will be the president to finally define this–but I doubt it.

Either way, she wants to find ways for the College and the University that it is part of to utilize each other’s strengths. So far, she’s specifically looked in to the classes that Barnard students take “across the street” and vice versa, as well as inter-departmental relationships. If you’d like to discuss this, I’ll be somewhere on the walk between Hamilton, Pupin, and Barnard Hall. The last objective Beilock listed is improving student’s abilities to take the next steps in their chosen careers, a commendable task that I think may be too much for Barnard’s Career Development at the moment. But it would be nice to see.

Reflecting her background as a research scientist, Beilock continued with a second list. This one was a list of questions she wants to continue asking herself and the different people she meets with. These wonderfully-worded questions include “what are our areas of eminence?” “how are we not just in the city but of the city?” and “how do we tell the world about the singular place that is Barnard?” Great questions. Hopefully, Beilock is going to help us find some great answers.

Some other things I learned at the meeting:

  • The election for First Year president and Vice President had a 60.9% turnout rate, which is about double the average. Good job, first-years!
  • SGA hopes to shoot a promotional video to encourage students to come to Rep Council meetings. Lol.
  • Rep for Sustainable Initiatives Sylvie Rosen wants to bring composting to campus. This is exciting.
  • Apparently more than 200 students watched the livestream at some point. Only five of those views were me, sitting in the meeting, checking to see if the livestream was working. So that’s really cool!

 Image via Johannes Jansson