Bold, Bibliographic, Barnard.
Their Motto is in Greek!: I swear every single college I’ve seen has a Latin motto. Heck, Barnard even has a Latin name—Barnardi Collegium. But their motto, “Hepomene toi logismoi” (Following the Way of Reason) is in Greek! Such a nice subversion of the classical expectations!
Taking No Victims: The History section begins with “for its first 229 years Columbia College of Columbia University admitted only men for undergraduate study.” For ease of calculations, that’s the fall of 1983. It’s a part of Columbia’s history that is seldom discussed and, of course, one of the things that prompted the creation of Barnard in the first place. Notably, Columbia’s SEAS began accepting women in 1943.
The ‘Women Syllabus’: Frederick Augustus Porter Barnard, 10th President of Columbia, repeatedly advocated for equality of education privileges. The Board of trustees rejected this. However, in 1883 the Board decided to create a syllabus for women. To receive a degree, women would have to pass tests based on the syllabus but could not attend any Columbia classes. The first woman received their degree in 1887, two years before Barnard’s founding.
Early Barnard: A single rented Brownstone. Entrance to the college required a study of Greek. Because of this, the first-class only had 14 women in the school of arts while 22 women were placed in the science school which lacked a Greek requirement.
“Current Events” is Born at Barnard: Jessica Finch, while a teacher at Barnard, is said to have coined the term “current events.” Like, for everyone.
The Zine Collection: Barnard has a special effort in collecting zines authored by women and non-binary individuals. Specifically, they seek to document third-wave feminism and Riot Grrrl culture. The library has over 4,000 zines!
Barnard Greek Games: So I’d see the statue when walking in from the main gates, but I never knew what it referred to. From 1903-1968, graduating classes at Barnard competed against one another in skills like poetic recitations, dance, and chariot and torch racing. Before 1968, men were barred from spectating. From what I can find, it was last held in 2011.
Other Activities (Meal edition): A midnight breakfast to start finals week. And a Big Sub—a 700+ feet long sub sandwich) eaten during the Fall Semester.
Girlbossery: Just a fun quote I found. Professor Franz Boas, the “Father of American Anthropology” “reportedly found Barnard students superior to their male Columbia counterparts.”
Motivations Behind Preserved Independence: During the 1970s, Columbia University was experiencing financial difficulties which increased desires to merge with Barnard. Barnard denied this. They didn’t want to shoulder that burden. This was amidst other pressures as other Seven Sisters closely affiliated with Ivy League institutes like Radcliffe (with Harvard) or Pembroke (with Brown). Eventually, instead of a Harvard-Radcliffe merger, Columbia announced an independent admission of women. In return, Barnard gained greater control over deciding tenure for Barnard professors (as previously the board was majority Columbia faculty).
Some Terms Of the Columbia-Barnard Intersection: Barnard pays Columbia around five million for the sharing of resources.
1960s Dress Code: Grayson Kirk, 14th President of Columbia University, complained to the Barnard president about Barnard students wearing inappropriate clothing: pants and Bermuda shorts. Barnard forced their student council to write a dress code where students could only wear shirts that were no shorter than two inches above the knees and non-tight pants. A Barnard student would have to cover themselves with a long coat if they were wearing shorts or pants to enter Columbia’s campus.
Cracking Down on Cohabitation: In 1968, Barnard almost expelled a student because she was interviewed about living with her boyfriend. Despite the student giving a pseudonym, Barnard still found the student’s true identity and placed them before a hearing. 300 students protested this, claiming to have done the same The committee “compromised” by not expelling her but denying her use of the cafeteria and blocking her from participating in school activities.
Cool Alumnae: Zora Neale Hurston, Martha Stewart, Joan Rivers, Actress Kelly McCreary (Maggie on Grey’s Anatomy), Ann Brashares (Author of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants).
Barnard Greek Games via Wikimedia Commons
Barnard’s Wikipedia Page via Barnard’s Wikipedia Page