SGA Candidates Forum is tonight, April 9, at 8 pm on the second floor of Diana! This is your chance to enjoy some free Pinkberry and to inform yourself of all the candidates’ platforms before the election on Wednesday, April 10. Bureau Chief Leena Chen will likely be found in a corner, nursing her cup of pomegranate froyo.
Last night, in the stuffy McIntosh Dining Room, Provost Linda Bell and Vice Provost Saskia Hamilton engaged with SGA in a tense Q&A session. It quickly became clear that there was a disconnect between the administrators, who were eager to discuss their work in creating more Barnard-Columbia pathway degree opportunities and in designing Barnard’s new computer science curriculum and the SGA representatives, who were mainly interested in voicing their concerns about diversity, inclusion, and representation in Barnard classrooms, curriculum, and faculty.
Throughout the meeting, Provost Bell deflected many SGA representatives’ concerns by suggesting that most proposed solutions are out of her control. For example, she claimed that the Provost’s Office also values “Faculty who have diverse views, backgrounds, and teaching methods” (Bell) and she explained that they are ultimately the ones responsible for all faculty hiring decisions. However, she also added that these faculty search procedures are initiated and conducted by individual departments, which seemed to absolve her office of any responsibility in increasing diversity in the faculty.
Toward the end of the meeting, Representatives Tirzah Anderson and Tina Gao demonstrated the need for inclusivity and diversity by bringing up their own personal anecdotes about tenured professors who have used noninclusive, marginalizing, and hateful language in the classroom. Initially, Provost Bell dismissively referred them to various other campus offices, such as Title IX and Ombuds, but many SGA representatives remained dissatisfied that the Provost’s Office was not taking action. Finally, after Representative Solace Mensah-Nahr continued to press her, Provost Bell proposed to hold biweekly open office hours to directly hear from students about their personal experiences in the classroom. This offer was met with unanimous cheers and snaps and, thankfully, the tension was lifted, ending this week’s meeting on a positive note.
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