This week, SGA met with CARES to discuss student safety and engagement and hosted the housing town hall on Wednesday.

In a shocking display of journalistic inconsistency, there was no SGA coverage on Wednesday. The campus reverberated with the loss. What has the SGA been up to? Students and faculty wondered alike. But the answer: SGA has had an incredibly busy week! And as such, I’m honored to present to you the first double-feature SGA coverage in campus history! Electric! On Monday, SGA hosted its typical open meeting and on Wednesday Night, SGA hosted their semesterly town hall. I attended both, and as such am prepared to present the summarized version of not ONE, but TWO SGA events. Some things are just better in pairs! Like oreos and SGA event coverage! 

Monday night kicked off with a slate of announcements! For the first years–keep your eye out for the First Year Class Council Application, which should be dropping this week. And for the juniors–the date of the first Junior Class event is December 1st! The Binder Drive has officially kicked off as a part of SGA’s involvement in Trans Awareness Week at Barnard––a link to the personal interest form can be found in your Barnard email accounts. 

The Desserts After Dark Survey is also live until November 22nd. It is an amazing opportunity for students to provide feedback to the SGA, who can use this information in their policies and plans for the future. SGA encourages everyone to fill out the survey if they haven’t already. Personalized survey links can be found in everyone’s Barnard email account. Upon completion of the survey, free desserts will be available in the Diana Lobby on November 18, 21, and 22 from 11-5. Because the sun now sets freakishly late, you can fill out the survey, head to Diana anytime after 4 pm, and eat a dessert in the pitch-black. The DAD survey dessert could be a small, yet significant way you battle the impending seasonal doom. 

Monday evening saw discussions with the CARES team, with presentations and discussions with Amy Zavadil, the Associate Vice President for Cares, and Elizabeth Scott Francis, the Director of Non-Discrimination and Title IX. They gave a comprehensive presentation on the direction of the CARES team, how CARES interacts with the student body, and their vision for future cooperation with the SGA. 

The SGA outlined their questions for the CARES team. The SGA hoped to address issues of students wishing to feel more autonomous and independent, consistency of guest policy integration, and google sign-in form issues. Specific points of interest were raised surrounding commuter students, who often live outside the VIA boundaries and may feel unsafe traveling home at night, especially as the sun sets earlier and earlier in the winter months. SGA expressed a desire to collaborate with the CARES team. Nancy Zavadil explained that the VIA service is contracted through Columbia University and based on the Columbia University footprint. Barnard doesn’t have a huge influence on the infrastructure, given that they buy into the system as a service that Columbia provides. SGA is planning on working with the Columbia student government to see if there’s anything the groups can do together about expanding VIA access and generally making transportation more accessible for commuter students. 

The CARES team ended their presentation expressing the desire to work with students! They hope that Barnard will continue to grow even more committed to student safety under new leadership, and encourage everyone to reach out with concerns or ideas. 

As Monday evening ended, Wednesday loomed on the horizon. Every semester, SGA hosts a town hall, usually with a specific theme, where students can come and meet representatives and speak about their experiences. This year is no exception, and at 6:30 pm on Wednesday, November 16th SGA hosted their town hall on housing. Students joined small tables, enjoyed a lovely catered dinner, and discussed their personal experience with facilities, housing, and residential life. The night began with a presentation on the role of facilities in student experience. 

Facilities breaks their services into chunks of time: daily, weekly, monthly, annually, and special projects. Daily work consists of cleaning residential and academic spaces, weekly work centers around extermination, monthly work includes repairs of special equipment and general inspection, and annual work includes moving in/out, deep cleaning, and general repairs. Special projects include emergency and special repairs and specific weather responses. Overall, facilities partners with CARES for emergency responses, after-hours housing orders, and campus safety and events. Students expressed appreciation for the work that facilities does and frustration that sometimes work orders are left unanswered for weeks at a time. Occasionally, students said, facility fixes feel temporary or ineffective. It was noted that in residence halls, anyone can put a work order in for communal spaces, which can sometimes lead to conclusion. SGA made a note to discuss communal work order consistency in their next meeting. 

Residential life also presented! Jeff Manning, the Interim Director of Residential Life spoke to the connection he hopes Residential Life and Housing can make with students. He explained that because of Barnard’s guaranteed housing policies and limited space, housing is not always available for all students, but they always seek to meet the needs of as many students as possible. He encouraged students to fill out the winter break housing form on the housing portal. It is due Friday at 4 pm. He also encouraged residents of Plimpton and 600 to fill out the host form if they would like to host a student over winter break! 

The evening ended with a delicious shortbread bar and feelings of appreciation for the residential life and housing departments. Overall, the town hall facilitated connection between students and SGA representatives as they discussed issues near and dear to the Barnard community! 

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