This weeks SGA meeting was rather eventful and it looks like change is actually on the horizon. Whilst the highlight of the evening was the unanimous secret ballot in support of the Grader Workers of Columbia Union, bwogger Dassi Karp also covered the drama of an unplanned visitor, environmental issues and more!
Barnard’s Student Government Association is really stepping up its game. This week’s Rep Council meeting featured student guests, an administrative guest, a vote (!), a resolution, and a minor protest.Though they had a slow start this semester, it looks like SGA is really going to get things done.
Starting with an unplanned visitor. During the meeting’s open floor session, former Barnard adjunct Georgette Fleischer showed up with a poster and a complaint. Fleischer, who was released from Barnard last spring, believes that she was fired due to her involvement and leadership in Barnard’s contingent faculty union. This is Fleischer’s second time visiting an SGA meeting this semester, hoping to appeal to students to support her against the administration. Her current demand is to switch from the union-approved arbitrator she to whom she is currently assigned to move the process along more quickly. I doubt this is the last time she’ll visit open floor.
Next, the vote. SGA President Angela Beam introduced a drafted statement in support of the Graduate Workers of Columbia union. The council voted through a unanimous secret ballot to approve the statement, which was released to the student body last night. I voted that we should all spend less of our collective time watching Angela silently count secret ballots.
The main focus of the evening was working with environmental issues in and outside of Barnard. Led by Representative for Sustainable Initiatives Sylvie Rosen, the Rep Council heard from student leaders of Divest Barnard for a Just Transition and Eco Reps as well as the new Director of Sustainability and Environment, Professor Sandra Goldmark.
Members of Divest spoke first, with one of the most organized presentations I’ve ever seen at an SGA meeting. They spoke about Divest’s history, especially their shift of focus from pushing for environmental divestment (because that’s happening) to general climate justice. They explained that climate justice involves “considering environmentalism through a politically intersectional lens.” They hope to guide the current re-investment process in focusing on social and climate justice, especially in local communities. They hope to “push beyond the Barnard walls” and help the college recognize its place within the Harlem community. To do so, they hope to work with the local Community Board to find out where students can best help out. The group is also working on engaging other students, “in a fun way,” which may include a zine in the near future. I don’t understand what is particularly fun or even informative about zines, but they are so popular here that Barnard’s library is one of the first sources quoted in their Wikipedia page. So maybe they know what they’re talking about.
Following that, a member of Barnard Eco Reps gave a short update on the group’s current projects, which includes improving the Give and Go Green sale and a potential new garden in the Barnard quad. So that’s cool!
Finally, Professor Goldmark spoke about how she sees her new position and her plans for the future. The role of a Director for Sustainability and Environment was created in response to the climate divest movement to help guide the college as it moves to make choices better aligned with ideas of sustainability. One of Goldmark’s first goals is dealing with the trash cans on campus, which are often strangely placed and badly marked, and then teaching students how to properly sort their trash. She also spoke of her larger ideas for the year, organized around the five main goals of addressing consumption, energy usage, the local environment, curricula, and campus culture. That sounds like a huge job, and Goldmark seems aware of its challenges. “I know people don’t come to these endless meetings,” she said of her plan to organize an endless meeting involving students and faculty in sustainability decisions. “But we need to try everything we can.”