Candidates took positions on a range of issues, from COVID policies to inclusive language implementation. 

On Monday night, SGA candidates gathered virtually to pitch their platforms and answer questions. Voting opened this Tuesday at noon, and will close next Wednesday, September 29th, at 12:00 P.M. Voting is available through a unique link sent to each student’s email.

Hilda Gitchell BC ‘23 opened the forum by encouraging all candidates to listen to each other’s ideas and ask tough questions. The candidates took her comments seriously, frequently supporting their peers’ and opponents’ policies. The issues of dining hall lines, planning events amidst COVID, effective means of communication, and gender-inclusive language were recurring themes across candidates’ platforms.

Representative for Arts and Culture 

Vivian Todd BC ’23 acted as a proxy for Anique Edwards BC ’24, who couldn’t attend the meeting. Anique is a first-generation femme of color who plans to create affinity-based artistic exhibitions for artists with particular identities. She hopes to connect the Barnard community with the surrounding neighborhood through organizing trips to nearby art exhibits, and uplifting artists local to the neighborhood. She also plans to advocate for greater recognition of religious holidays.  

Representative for Sustainable Initiatives

Candidate Delaney Michaelson BC ’24 emphasized the importance of interdisciplinary collective action in the fight against the climate crisis. Delaney spoke of their past efforts in food waste recovery and composting at Barnard, and proposed events such as an adoptive plant initiative, a sustainability center, and clothing swaps.

Representative for Campus Affairs

Audrey Pettit BC ’22 acted as a proxy for candidate Rebecca Hirsch BC ’24, who couldn’t attend the meeting. The Representative for Campus Affairs facilitates communication between different campus departments. Hirsch emphasized clarity and transparency, especially relating to hiring policies, COVID policies, name changes, and accessibility. 

Senior Class Vice President

Candidate Chloe Capetanos BC ’22 acknowledged the urgency felt among her classmates to embrace their final year of college. She plans to hold a TEDx event to platform her peers’ unique experiences, as well as support in financial literacy and post-graduate life. She cited her experience as a transfer student and previous involvement in SGA. 

First-Year Class Vice President

Candidate Grace Welte BC ’25 highlighted her experience with her high school’s student government association. She promised to continue to build community and forge connections amongst the freshman class, even in the midst of the pandemic. She emphasized her class’s excitement at being on campus for the first time.

Vice Presidents of Finance

Candidates Eugenia Baek BC ’23 and Kennedy Yeager BC ’22 both brought up their identities as first-generation students. Eugenia emphasized equity and transparency, reminding us that a budget is a reflection of our values. They promised to uplift underfunded organizations and act as an advocate for students that are not aware of the funding available, before reminding students to “put a check next to Baek.” Kennedy highlighted her experience on the SGA Seven Sisters Committee and class treasurer, where she worked with the VP of Finance. She connected the role to her academic focus in economics and education, emphasizing her passion and technical background for socially responsible investing and higher education policies such as financial aid. 

Vice President of Communications

Candidate Layne Donovan BC ’23 proposed creating a centralized website linking to both SGA and college-wide communications. She also plans to revamp SGA’s social media presence. Tiffany Vo BC ’23 wants to increase the accessibility of SGA meetings by utilizing the time set aside for student questions, recording meetings, and publishing summaries. Both candidates pointed to their love of Canva. Audrey Pettit asked candidates about their ideas for town hall topics. Layne mentioned the testing discrepancies between schools, as well as student experiences with Furman Counseling and Primary Care, especially uplifting queer students’ experiences. Tiffany agreed and added COVID safety concerns in the dining hall.

Senior Representative to the Board of Trustees

Candidate Alicia Benis BC ’22 hopes to act as a liaison between students and a seemingly unreachable Board by collecting extensive student input. She highlighted her experience servicing on the Committee on Inclusion Initiatives. Julia Hyman wants to use her experience as a transfer student to advocate for transfer student issues, such as housing, to create true change at the highest level of the school. Audrey Pettit asked if the candidates had topics they were interested in presenting to the Board. Alicia planned to present on student access to funds needed to survive, especially during the pandemic. She also brought up investing in socially responsible causes. Julia agreed and called for the Board to address housing, especially relating to transfer students and the larger first-year class. She also mentioned using gender-inclusive language in advertising the college. Kennedy Yeager asked the candidates how they would incorporate feedback from the senior class. Alicia pointed out that SGA surveys sometimes go unnoticed, and proposed interactive events and social media use to garner feedback. Julia agreed on the importance of social media, and emphasized the importance of demystifying the Board. She proposed collaborating with the VP of Communications to create a town hall on the issue.

Representative for Health Services 

Candidate Shivi Dua BC ’24 introduced herself as someone who enjoys nature walks and exploring both campus and the city. She connected the role to her interest in science, and empathized with struggling to reach out for help. Emily Lan BC ’24 views the position as being both an advocate for student wellbeing and strengthening communication with Barnard health services. They shared their self-advocacy work in the healthcare system as a woman of color in the healthcare system before being diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome. As such, Emily proposed a self-advocacy workshop for women navigating the healthcare system. They spoke to their familiarity with both Furman, Primary Health Services, and the Student Health Advisory Committee, and advocated for increased awareness of what services are offered. Finally, they proposed a long-term therapy model with Furman. Parker Watts BC ’22 asked the candidates to speak about accessibility and affordability of healthcare. Shivi proposed an app to schedule appointments, and pointed out Furman’s no-cost model. Emily proposed creating infographics, an email system to book appointments, and long-term therapy. Mariame Sissoko BC ’24 asked how the candidates would hold healthcare services accountable for their hostility towards trans and non-binary students. Shivi proposed forming identity-based cohorts for counseling meetings. Emily emphasized the importance of hearing trans and non-binary student voices. 

Representative for Information and Technology

Candidate Izzy Lapidus BC ’24 connected the position to her academic interests in computer science and education, as well as her work in increasing inclusivity in technology. She envisions her position as being the go-to person for any tech-related issue students might encounter on campus. She wants to further Barnard’s STEM presence, citing her communication with the Barnard computer science department and President Beilock. Eliza Marie Tagle BC ’24 emphasized accessibility of virtual classes during the pandemic, such as recording lectures. She prioritized keeping up to date with COVID data. She stressed collaboration between her position in the student body in order to resolve technological issues.

Representative for Student Development

Candidates Ava Benavente BC ‘24, Melody Chen BC ‘23, and Jayon Park BC ’24 found new friendship amid the competition, bonding over their transfer student experience. Ava stressed facilitating conversation and her role as a listener. A transfer and commuter student, she promised to advocate for the international student community as well. Melody, having grown up in New Zealand and Taiwan, empathized with the cultural and emotional struggles of being an international student. She proposed mentorship programs and peer panels to build community. Jayon, also an international transfer student, empathized with the logistical challenges international students face. She proposed food-centered events and career opportunity panels. All candidates spoke to the difficulty of understanding what resources Barnard has to offer while a transfer or international student, and agreed on having a centralized source of information for such communities. 

Sophomore Class Vice President

Candidate Catherine Conlin BC ’24 brought up the centrality of event planning to the Vice President position, proposing a market for students to showcase and sell artwork, bracelet making for stress-relief, and class trips to the other boroughs. She also mentioned long dining hall lines and sustainability as priorities. Dahlia Low BC ’24 made a singular campaign promise of silliness. As someone serious about being silly, they relayed her attempt to bring a bouncy castle to their high school. Parker Watts asked what COVID safety looked like to the candidates. Catherine emphasized individual accountability and making it possible for students to stay home while sick. Dahlia shared their experience with a lack of accountability surrounding a professor who didn’t take COVID seriously. Emily Lan pointed to the disjointedness of the sophomore class and asked what the candidates plans for community-building. Catherine emphasized planning events that students wanted to attend,  and creating affinity groups for student identities and experiences such as being at home or abroad in the past year. Dahlia spoke to events feeling forced, and emphasized a focus on fun and community. Avalon Fenster asked what equity and inclusivity meant to the candidates. Catherine spoke to financial inclusivity, and proposed a Facebook page to pass down textbooks. She also proposed affinity groups for members to hold events and be able to pose questions for SGA to bring to the administration. Dahlia emphasized the importance of administration and the SGA listening to students. 

First-Year Class President

Candidate Lee Johnson BC ’25 emphasized inclusion, safety, and support. She pushed to create a community for marginalized students, calling on Barnard to use gender-neutral language in its programming and outreach. She also proposed that Barnard require all university students have a negative COVID test within 7 days to access campus. She emphasized the power of Barnard’s mutual aid fund, drawing on her experience doing community outreach in Seattle. Nazira Davroni BC ’25 spoke to her experience as an international from Uzbekistan. She highlighted the struggles that first-generation and international students face beginning college, leading her to found the initiative First to College. She criticized the lack of financial support that the college provides to students. Summer Jones BC ’25 promised to restore 3 pillars of student life: academics, community, and mental health. She advocated for marginalized voices outside of the Barnard community. As such, she proposed that Barnard meal plans to extend to local, BIPOC-owned restaurants. She also prioritized mental health, advocating for an excused absence for a mental health day. Sarina Malik BC ’25 spoke of how inclusive the surfing community in LA was, and how they wanted to recreate that inclusivity. They proposed a class of 2025 website to post lecture recordings and express student needs. They also brought up community events such as candy graham distributions. Safiya O’Brien BC ’25 expressed excitement at planning events such as block parties, karaoke night, and an end-of-year celebration. She planned to use  Instagram, email, and a class website to communicate with students. Her website would include a forum to facilitate conversation amongst students and input schedules to find study-buddies. She planned to partner with the first-year class president of Columbia College and local organizations within the community. She also planned to compile a video compilation of the class. Sanjana Tarigopula BC ’25 emphasized the multi-faceted nature of Barnard students. She focused on dining hall reform, amplifying Barnard mutual aid and the Barnard community closet, and creating a laundry supply repository for students in need. She highlighted her leadership experience founding the social enterprises Divyang and The Lendist. Lisbeth Tineo BC ’25 highlighted her high school student government experience and passion for advocating and listening to all students, especially of marginalized identities. She emphasized mental health, proposing greater support for class registration, such as partnering first-years with upperclassmen for support. 

Parker Watts asked the candidates what COVID safety looks like in the context of planning events. Lee pointed out the disproportionate impacts that COVID has had on different identities, and proposed outdoor and small indoor in-person events. Nazira emphasized student accountability and supporting students who stay home while sick.  She also returned to the issue of crowded dining hall lines. Summer emphasized consistent contact tracing, reporting to delay times in emails about exposure. She proposed outdoor heaters and, in opposition to the other candidates, continuing virtual events. Sarina proposed an app for food ordering to limit dining hall lines, as well as consistent outdoor events. Safiya agreed that outdoor, in-person events are preferable, and discouraged unsafe behavior. Sanjana agreed with the candidates and proposed more flexible dining options. Lisbeth emphasized administration transparency related to COVID data. She also pointed to flexibility as the key to planning events. 

Grace Welte BC ‘25 asked the students to speak about being a leader. Lee pointed to her social justice work and perspective that comes from not always leading. Nazira emphasized both action and listening. Summer furthered the importance of listening and acknowledging what one doesn’t know. Sarina pointed to their organizational and event-planning experience leading clubs in her high school. Safiya remembered planning a sexual harm walkout in high school. She emphasized the role of leaders in reaching out to and uplifting others. Sanjana pointed to her work leading social enterprises while prioritizing emotional intelligence. Lisbeth expressed the importance of bravery in speaking out about issues and advocating to the administration. 

Avalon Fenster asked how the candidates would respond to hearing about how the administration had harmed a group of students. All candidates stated they would begin with speaking directly to the students involved. Lee, Summer, Safiya, and Lisbeth brought up the power of widespread student support to pressure administration. Safiya, Sanjana, and Lisbeth emphasized not speaking over the students involved. Similarly, Nazira emphasized ensuring students feel comfortable approaching SGA. Lee and Nazira highlighted the importance of long-term solutions. Sarina proposed administrations implement policies through test runs that provide feedback from students

All the candidates demonstrated incredible commitment to the Barnard community. Bwog wishes the candidates the best of luck in the election, and hopes to see more work from them soon.

Photo via Bwog Archives.