Bwog is looking for someone to cover SGA! If you’re interested shoot us an email. If not, read on to find out what went down at this week’s meeting. 

SGA is Barnard’s Student Government Association. The elected student representatives make all kinds of decisions, sponsor programs, and spur fights about Israel every other year or so. SGA has open meetings weekly in the Diana Cafe dining room at 8:00 pm on Mondays during the school year. The meeting is also livestreamed to SGA Facebook page, and meeting minutes are generally posted to the website, though this week’s notes aren’t up yet. This week I, Managing Editor Zack Abrams, am stepping in to cover SGA, but if you’re interested in doing a much better job than me, apply to be our SGA Bureau Chief!

Last night at SGA, after introducing themselves, the members of the council gave cursory updates about their work so far in the school year. In response to fears about rumored sign-in policy changes and Bwog’s reporting on Barnard’s lack of emergency alerts for the recent shooting, Campus Affairs Representative Edidiong Emily Ndiokho (BC ’22) assured students that Barnard’s sign-in policy has not changed, Barnard students can go to Barnard dorms other than the ones in which they live without being signed in, and Barnard does have text alerts, which students are automatically opted into.

Multiple SGA representatives emphasized that elections are inbound for several positions, including Junior Class Vice President, Senior Class Vice President, Representative for Information and Technology, and Representative for Inclusion and Equity. Details about attending one of several mandatory information sessions can be found here.

The rest of the SGA meeting was devoted to an overview of Barnard’s finances given by COO Robert Goldberg and Vice President for Finance Eileen Di Benedetto. In the presentation, Goldberg and Benedetto noted that the yearly increase of operational costs to Barnard to 2019-2020 is similar to prior years. They also reinforced that Barnard’s admissions are need-blind, and the rest of the budget is adjusted for how much Barnard spends on financial aid, which varies year-to-year instead of being set outright. Goldberg noted that a survey is being sent out to examine the costs of course materials, namely textbooks and other supplies, in an attempt to make sure that Barnard students choose courses based on interest, not affordability. Finally, Goldberg and Di Benedetto noted that the only restraint on the endowment is the commitment to divest from fossil fuel companies that deny climate science, and that management of Barnard’s assets is outsourced to an outside firm.

The SGA members present then questioned Goldberg and Di Benedetto on a variety of issues. One of which was: why is Barnard so poor? Columbia has almost $11 billion dollars in the bank, while Barnard has a measly $350 million, around 3% of Columbia’s total. Goldberg’s answer: “The basic answer is that there was never a culture of fundraising at the school; I think that’s relatively recent in the last 15-20 years.” Since Barnard wasn’t founded with an endowment and a fundraising mindset, the college hasn’t been able to build up the mind-blowing wealth enjoyed by other large schools. Maybe Barnard students just read too much Peter Singer?

Bold, Beautiful, Back in Session via Bwog Archives