We love Barnard! Thank you SGA

Today’s Tuesday, so that means another recap of the weekly Rep Council meeting of Barnard’s Student Government Association. Wait, you must be asking yourself, do those really happen every week? How could they possibly have enough to talk about? Great question. The answer is that they really don’t. Instead, SGA has been keeping with their tactic of bringing in student, faculty, and administrative guests to share information that may have better been conveyed in an email. Intrigued? Read on for Barnard Bureau Chief Dassi Karp’s summary of what went down last night.

All speakers spoke well, questions were asked intelligently, and the meeting basically ended on time, so I’d count it as a win.

Sonam Singh, adjunct lecturer in English and bargaining unit chair for the contingent faculty union. spoke first, to further elaborate on a current grievance the union has brought to the administration. He briefly summarized the situation during the open floor section of the meeting last week. The union, which formed about three years ago, successfully negotiated a contract last year. “Our campaign was a big success,” Singh said, explaining that the negotiated minimum pay for part-time faculty is among the highest in the country. “We’re incredibly proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish,” he said. “We’re setting a national standard and that’s amazing.” But his success doesn’t mean that all is well. The union has filed a grievance with the college about stipends for First-Year Seminar instructors. Previously, every instructor was given the same stipend, no matter their rank. This year, union members are no longer given the stipend, while tenured and tenure-track instructors still are. This “seems clearly discriminatory” in the view of the union. The college has responded that since this stipend is not specifically included in the negotiated contract, they are not required to provide it. “We think the answer is absurd and unfair,” said Singh. The matter will be taken to outside arbitration, which will be a long and expensive process.

First-Year Vice President Lea Herzfeld asked Singh where the college is supposed to find money to pay for the stipends. Singh admitted that he didn’t know, but that he was suspicious of the administration’s recurring claim that Barnard is “poor but plucky” (for recent examples of that claim being made, see these recent SGA meetings). When the union was negotiating the contract, he said, Barnard made similar claims. Once they threatened a strike, money seemed to appear, and “Barnard hasn’t fallen in the meantime.” Singh and an accompanying representative of Barnard Student Workers Solidarity encouraged SGA members and all students to sign the petition currently circulating in support of the union’s grievance.

Next, SGA heard from Maleni Palacios-Delgado BC ’20, Sarah Morales BC ’21, and Ornella Pedrozo BC ’21 who leaders in Mujeres, a student group that provides cultural support, leadership development, and community for Latinx students on campus; as well a Alicia Simba, BC ’19, president of the Barnard Organization of Soul Sisters (BOSS). Both groups want SGA’s support in advocating for and securing more permanent space for cultural and identity groups on campus. They seemed optimistic. “In my four years, I saw an entire building come out of the ground,” said Simba. “If we can get a 3-D printer and an entire Center for Engaged Pedagogy, we can get space for these students as well.” For more discussion about student space, check out the Town Hall today at 6 pm. For more about the Center on Engaged Pedagogy, you’re going to have to wait, because Barnard has yet to find someone to run the center or really specify its purpose. Nobody is surprised.

Photo via Barnard