SGA gets real on climate change and holding the administration accountable when it comes to these issues.

Welcome back to another week of SGA coverage! As always, last Monday’s meeting began with announcements from many of the representatives.

Emily Ndiokho BC ‘22, VP for Policy, promoted the Barnard College Pass/D/Fail petition, meant to encourage the College to give students an option for Pass/D/Fail grading for one class within their minor or major for the Spring 2021 semester (including a retroactive option for Spring A classes). 

Vivian Todd BC ‘21, University Senator, encouraged students to vote for the 2021 SGA elections. 

Parker Watts, BC ‘22, Representative for Inclusive Initiatives, voiced support for the GWC-UAW strike and shared some of their demands. Specifically, Watts highlighted GWC-UAW’s demand for a healthcare fund of $250,000 including partial coverage of dental premiums as one of the most important demands given the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Avalon Fenster BC ‘24, First-Year Class President, then announced that the second round of virtual roommate matches would soon be sent out. Fenster also noted that a free-to-print Barnard 2024 bullet journal is now available here. The purpose of the bullet journal, according to Fenster, is to help with self-care and manifest your best self. 

Bannon Beall, Representative for Food and Dining told students to fill out, if applicable, or share this form for students observing Ramadan. 

Audrey Pettit BC ‘22, Junior Class President, announced that care packages were being complied for the junior class and would be mailed to everyone. Pettit noted that if any juniors have certain ideas of what they want to see in the care package, they can email direct message the class on Instagram (@barnard2022). Additionally, Pettit promoted the Zoom background challenge that is still ongoing. If any juniors would like a picture of them with a fun Zoom background reposted on Instagram, they can direct message the class Instagram account for a potential repost and chance at winning a $10 VISA gift card. 

Jasmin Torres Piñón BC ‘22, VP for Communications, encouraged students to apply for the Fireside Chat with Provost Bell on April 6. Students can apply here

Solace Mensah-Narh BC ‘21, VP for Equity, voiced support for Watt’s statements.

Flosha Liyana BC ‘21, VP for Campus Life, told students to fill out the Dinner After Dark (DAD) survey that aims to collect feedback on campus issues. It closes this Friday. 

Carmela Casaburi BC ‘23, Representative for Wellness, promoted an event offering inside access to mental health resources on and off-campus, happening on March 25 from 6–8 pm. Students can register here

Norah Hassan BC ‘21, Senior Class President reminded seniors to check out the newsletter sent out next week as there are helpful surveys needed to be filled out. Additionally, Hassan made everyone aware of an upcoming event about finding and renting an apartment in NYC. 

After the announcements, Professor Sandra Goldmark of Professional Practice in Theatre and Director of Campus Sustainability and Climate Action spoke with SGA about climate change at Barnard and steps for action. 

Professor Goldmark began by stating, “climate change is one of the greatest challenges your generation will face.” In order to further emphasize her point, she repeated the statement. 

Professor Goldmark then highlighted the intersection between climate change and other social issues as it disproportionately affects women and POC. She mentioned that part of Barnard’s statement is to “address issues of gender in all complexity” and “meet challenges they encounter.” Professor Goldmark cites climate change as one of these issues and argues that the principles of environmental justice should guide our work. 

She then went on to talk about Barnard College’s progress when it comes to taking sustainable action. While the campus has made headway in obtaining zero net emissions, largely due to wind RECs, they still have a long way to go as wind RECs are not a long-term solution. At the same time, Barnard has expanded its environmental curriculum, offering more sustainability courses. Professor Goldmark also cited the new Environmental Humanities minor, launched by the Consortium of Critical Interdisciplinary Studies, as significant progress. Additionally, the Center of Engaged  Pedagogy (CEP) is working on increasing climate teaching across the curriculum for faculty. She also thanked the SGA representatives for their consistent commitment to sustainable practices. 

Finally, Professor Goldmark emphasized that climate impact needs to be considered in the decision-making at every level of the college. Climate issues affect how we live and make decisions in the world and must become a core value and integral part of our Barnard system. Barnard’s commitment to equity and social justice will never be whole until more action to combat climate change is made. We need a shared system of accountability with the administration and a clear pathway to net-zero emissions. 

During the Q&A section, Watts asked how, as an institution, we can work towards climate justice by doing more than just promoting concepts like “meatless Mondays” or “shorter showers.” Professor Goldmark responded by advocating for individual action but also for creating a wave of actions. At the institutional level, we need to name climate action as a priority and incorporate it into decision-making. 

Next, Mensah-Narh asked how to promote environmental education that is intersectional with issues like racism. Professor Goldmark acknowledged the importance of this intersection and pointed to the workshops being developed by the CEP on creating an environmental justice curriculum. She also noted that her team was working to pull resources together on campus and make them available for students. 

Danielle Hopkins BC ‘21, VP for Finance, asked how we can make environmental groups on campus inclusive for students of all backgrounds. Professor Goldmark shared that the student worker team prioritizes diversity in hiring. She is also trying to partner with Access Barnard and the Office of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion. Furthermore, Professor Goldmark is working hard to compensate student workers if they help out at an event. 

Bex Allen BC ‘21, Representative for Academic Affairs, asked how students can become more involved in climate action. Professor Goldmark suggested that perhaps SGA could pass some sort of resolution promoting action—or even bring it up with Provost Bell in the Fireside Chat. SGA can even go through these processes of working with various offices (like Professor Goldmark did with the CEP) to identify commitments that work and then support offices to create a pathway to achieving those goals. 

After Professor Goldmark’s remarks, Student Government Representative for Sustainable Initiatives Aastha Jain and Rachel Elkis spoke to SGA about potential actions, commitments, and smart targets for combatting climate change. Actions are one-time events such as asking sustainability questions in the DAD survey. A commitment is something to commit to like publishing a resolution demanding recognition of climate change as a core value for Barnard students. A target could involve SGA assigning a time constraint to a commitment and holding themselves accountable. The goal of this presentation was to assure SGA can act as a model for students as a way to promote taking action when it comes to climate change. 

Editor’s Note: Deputy News Editor Bannon Beall, Representative for Food and Dining Services, was not involved in this coverage.

the Diana Center via Bwarchives