This week, SGA Rep Council learned about Title IX, CARES, Community Safety and what it means to be safe on Barnard’s campus. 

Welcome back to SGA coverage! As always, the meeting began with external announcements from each of the representatives. Emily Ndiokho BC ‘22, VP for Policy announced the Barnard Bold Conference, which will take place on the next three Fridays, from 3 to 4 pm EST. Audrey Pettit BC ‘22, Junior Class President shared that everyone who applied to the junior class t-shirt raffle will be receiving a shirt, around mid-February. Carmela Casaburi BC ‘23, Representative for Health Services, asked people to fill out the anonymous mental health survey available in the bio of @barnardwellness on Instagram. Norah Hassan BC ‘21, Senior Class President announced that the Senior Toast will take place on February 18 at 8 pm; additionally, that the senior sweater ordering form has been reopened until Wednesday at midnight. 

Amy Zavadil, Associate Vice President for CARES, and Elizabeth Scott-Francis, Director of Nondiscrimination and Title IX, presented about their work. CARES stands for Community Accountability, Response, and Emergency Services, and it silos CARES Nondiscrimination and Title IX, CARES Preparedness, CARES Community Safety, and the CARES Response Team. 

CARES was developed after the results of SGA’s Fall 2019 Desserts After Dark Survey, which asked students what safety is, and what makes them feel safe on campus. The survey yielded results regarding five different aspects of safety: physical safety, fire and life safety, structural safety, interpersonal safety, and psychosocial safety. Dr. Zavadil explained that in traditional emergency responses there is often a disconnect between which safety is at risk, and which safety is being responded to. This resulted in the birth of CARES. Dr. Zavadil emphasized that this program was developed through input from SGA and other Barnard community members, and will require continuous input to fine-tune it. 

CARES has four departments: CARES Response Team, CARES Community Safety, CARES Preparedness, and CARES Title IX and Nondiscrimination. These departments work together to coordinate emergency responses. 

  • CARES Response Team members respond to calls to both the CARES/non-emergency line and the Community Safety/emergency line and do initial crisis assessment. They can also direct callers for non-emergency needs, such as PCHS, Furman Counseling Center, Residential Life, and Fire Safety. Response Team members will receive training from each of these offices to better understand the nature of callers’ questions. 
  • CARES Community Safety is Public Safety, reimagined. It includes staff such as access attendants, dispatchers, shift supervisors, and community safety officers. They provide 24-hour support of campus security, monitor campus access points, staff security booths, provide information, support fire safety, and patrol campus to identify any potential hazards.
  • CARES Preparedness handles prevention and preparedness education for emergencies such as fires. They conduct staff training and risk mitigation. This emergency management previously fell into the domain of Public Safety.
  • CARES Nondiscrimination and Title IX oversee the College Policy Against Discrimination and Harassment. This department also provides consultations, supplies information about policy and procedure, and conducts training and prevention education. 

Dr. Scott-Francis, Director of Nondiscrimination and Title IX, spoke more about the goals for the office of Nondiscrimination and Title IX: to create an informed community, to establish strategic partnerships and support, and to achieve a prompt and effective resolution.

  • Creating an informed community: Dr. Scott-Francis wants to clarify the process of filing a report, and the possible steps to take after a report is filed. She also plans to meet with community members on Zoom to educate them about what the office does and find creative ways to reach community members who have never been on campus. Additionally, she plans to conduct training and development through existing training programs, such as NSOP.
  • Strategic partnerships and support: Having arrived only three weeks ago, Dr. Scott-Francis stated that she has been struck by the number of individuals and organizations, such as SVR, Well Woman, and Being Barnard that are already doing good work on campus. She plans to nurture existing partnerships while looking for new opportunities that need further development. Furthermore, she will work with her Columbia counterparts to ensure that the two schools’ nondiscrimination policies mesh well together.
  • Prompt and effective resolution: Dr. Scott-Francis noted that there is a lot of attention on the Title IX part of her office, and she plans to raise awareness about nondiscrimination; particularly the options and rights of people under nondiscrimination grievance procedures. She wants to build an informed community that reflects Barnard values. 

Dr. Zavadil and Dr. Scott-Francis finished their presentation with the types of feedback they would like to see from SGA, for example, how they might increase awareness and accessibility to the Office for Nondiscrimination and Title IX in a largely remote environment; how to gather community feedback about CARES, and what questions SGA might have about the roles of various CARES staff members. 

The reps then proceeded to ask questions. Solace Mensah-Narh BC’ 21, VP for Equity, asked how Community Safety will address past incidents of anti-Black violence beyond changing the name from Public Safety. She specifically referenced Barnard Public Safety officers’ assault of Columbia student Alexander McNab in April 2019. Dr. Zavadil responded by explaining Community Safety training, which includes conversations about identity, de-escalation training, and which contextualizes required New York City security training in the setting of Barnard. This year, Community Safety supervisory staff completed four racial justice workshops, which Dr. Zavadil plans to extend to the rest of the department staff. She welcomed any feedback from students on this matter.

Bex Allen BC ‘21, Representative for Academic Affairs, asked how the change from Public Safety to CARES will affect Barnard’s relationship with Columbia Public Safety. Dr. Zavadil responded that the Barnard Public Safety department has always been smaller than that of Columbia, which has access to more safety resources. This is why the departments have partnered to offer evening shuttles, and why Dr. Zavadil recommends that Barnard students sign up for the Columbia alert system, which has wider coverage in New York City. In terms of specific interactions, if Columbia Public Safety is interacting with a Barnard student on Columbia property, Columbia Public Safety will notify Community Safety so the latter can follow up with the student. 

Parker Watts BC ‘22, Representative for Inclusive Initiatives, asked how students can question their perceptions of safety She expanded on this by saying that even when an enforcement agency “does everything right”, there are still concerns about the exploitation of safety precautions, and she wondered how we can use CARES to have students question what is safe. Dr. Zavadil mentioned discussions last year about what it would mean for Barnard to be an open campus. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, Barnard campus is closed, but she noted that she is already thinking about when reopening is possible, and how to make Barnard campus safe and inclusive to all. For example, if CARES receives a call about a “suspicious person”, she wants to understand the context of the call, and question the metrics used for determining “suspicion”. 

Danielle Hopkins BC ‘21, VP for Finance, first expressed hope about a Town Hall later this semester, so that the whole community can give feedback about CARES. She then asked how CARES would ensure that students who do not want to interact with uniformed officers, do not have to do so. Dr. Zavadil acknowledged that this was a tough question. She responded that they have “softened” the Community Safety uniforms to look less like police uniforms. She further added that the main gate booth will be staffed by Community Safety, and that she wants to make sure that this access is a consistently good experience, regardless of who’s entering, or at what time of day: if this is not the case, Dr. Zavadil asked students to let her know about it.

Solace Mensah-Narh BC ‘21 brought up Barnard’s history of incidents of transphobia or anti-Blackness, and asked Dr. Scott-Francis how she plans to improve the classroom experience and Barnard life in general, regarding these two issues. Dr. Scott-Francis responded that her goal for this year is to shore up Barnard’s bias response. She explained that Barnard has a strong anti-discrimination policy regarding unlawful discrimination. However, Barnard falls short when responding to discrimination that doesn’t violate law or Barnard policy, but that doesn’t align with the community values. Dr. Scott-Francis closed the Q&A portion by noting that she has a lot of listening to do.

Barnard Hall via Bwog Archives