This Monday, SGA discussed everything Student Services—from sustainability to aesthetic infographics to meal swipes.

Monday evening saw me scampering from Ferris to the Diana Center like a chilly little rat, trying not to spill watery Ferris coffee all over my coat. It was 7:58 pm and I knew exactly where I was heading: SGA’s open meeting. I dashed Flash-style through moving traffic, narrowly avoiding bikers and careening around buses. It was dramatic (I took the crosswalk). 

But fortunately, SGA was just about settling in as I arrived. Another open meeting lay promisingly on the horizon. New information and productivity awaited us all. 

Read on for some announcements! 

  • Seniors: if you couldn’t get your senior portraits taken this weekend, don’t worry. The photographers will be back in February for anyone who missed the earlier dates. 
  • Also Seniors: There will be volunteer service opportunities for the senior class on December 14. Check your inbox for an email with more information. 
  • Clothing donations for the 116th Initiative open on Wednesday, December 7! Head to Student Leadership Center from 4 to 7 pm to donate old clothing and accessories to the mutual aid Community Closet Pop-Up. 
  • Swipe it Forward will begin Tuesday, December 6! Check the SGA newsletter for more information. 
  • On Thursday, December 8, the Barnard Asian Diaspora is watching Turning Red at 6 pm in Diana Lower Level 104. Snacks and drinks will be included! Come and support the first-ever Barnard-specific group centering all students of the Asian Diaspora. 
  • The Binder Drive Request is due on Saturday, December 10. If you haven’t requested a binder yet and would like one, this is your time. All binders are ordered brand new, and any Barnumbia community member who requests a binder will receive one. 
  • Students for Justice in Palestine has organized events this week as a part of Palestine Awareness Week. You’re encouraged to check them out and participate! 

After announcements, a few members of the larger Student Services committee presented. The student services committee meets once a week and is composed of appointed students dedicated to improving campus services, sustainability, and social initiatives. It works with students and administration to research and develop social campus offerings and sustainable infrastructure. 

The Student Services committee shared some overarching goals they’ve identified and worked towards this semester. 

  • Partnering with the dining halls 
  • Spreading information about accessing work orders 
  • Working on waste disposal, increasing communication about waste sorting 
  • Sustainable menstrual products in all bathrooms, regardless of gender. A bathroom audit has already been completed to support this. 
  • Distributing free sustainable laundry products to dorms
  • Bird stickers for Milstein (protect the birds!!) 
  • Mandatory feedback forms for Furman and PCHS for consistent feedback 
  • Clearing up post-COVID confusion about what Furman and PCHS services are offered to students and where they can be accessed. Potentially hiring more counselors to keep with student need. 

And SGA is already thinking ahead! Here are some of their goals for the spring semester: 

  • Eco containers on the meal plan 
  • Adding sustainable, ethically sourced snacks to campus vending machines
  • Creating a financial-aid focus group 
  • Redesigning Futter Field
    •  (I am FIRED UP about this one. What wonderful things will replace that old sad death-trap tent?? The bar is already so low. ANYTHING will make me literally so excited, so long as it’s not another white tent. Please God no more tents. Let’s make Barnard a minimal-to-zero-tent school! What if we lounged about on a field?) 
  • Addressing and improving student interaction with Workday 

After outlining broad goals and plans for the future, the Student Services committee presented as smaller, more specific groups. 

Quan Ha, the Representative for Health Services explained that there’s a significant divide between the services the administration feels they’re providing and what is felt by the student body. For example, not every student understands the ins and outs of their health insurance policy and what it can do for them. Ha shared one example: students with telehealth therapy appointments can actually book private rooms through Furman so they don’t have to zoom in their dorm room. There are plans in the works to create information one-pagers and zines explaining these policies. Hopefully, disseminating information in an aesthetic, easily accessible way will raise awareness about the resources available to students. 

Nechama Stein, the Representative for Sustainable Initiatives presented next. The main goal this semester has been information-gathering so SGA can share this information with students. The sustainability team has met with administrators and Sandra Goldmark, the Barnard Director of Sustainability and Climate Action. Broad goals include polishing the pathway to zero net emissions and reducing waste in Peets, Diana, and other campus dining halls. 

Next up was Rebecca Cooper, the Representative for Campus Affairs. This semester, they created infographics to spread awareness on social media and in dorms. Keep your eyes peeled for posters around the dorm that include a QR code leading to work order forms! Campus Affairs is also in the process of getting free, sustainable laundry detergent for every Barnard dorm, though they’re still working towards this goal. 

Then, SGA answered some questions. 

  1. (Numbered bullet points, keeping it fresh.) What is the cost-benefit analysis of sustainable snacks? How will you manage prices of sustainable foods that may be more expensive? 

We’ve had some conversations with dining services about this, and we’re committing to coming up with cost-effective solutions so that everyone can enjoy sustainable snacks. We’re hoping to stock the vending machines with snacks of comparable prices. 

  1. How will the Swipe it Forward program work? 

The Barnard Dining newsletter will contain a link to a form that you can fill out to donate your swipes. And starting next Monday, December 12, you can request to use a donated swipe anytime at Hewitt. If you’re using a lot of swipes consistently, you may be encouraged to use an upgraded meal plan next semester. But the main philosophy of the program is that anyone could experience food insecurity and everyone deserves access to food, so swipes are provided without question. You don’t have to explain yourself. 

  1. I’ve noticed that Liz’s Place and Diana are stocking a lot of sugary snacks and fewer healthier options. Since these places are often the only source of food for students, shouldn’t we making sure they have healthier options as well? 

This issue has been brought up! We will also be replacing sustainable, healthier snacks in the dining halls and cafes as well as the vending machines. The Director of Sustainability is collaborating with the dining services and will potentially pilot a perishable vending machine, where students can grab healthy, fresh snacks instead of waiting in super-long lines. 

  1. Sometimes the menus are wrong and the dining halls advertise special events that never end up happening. Is there anything we can do about this? 

These issues all boil down to staffing issues among dining hall staff. There have been some staffing issues in the dining hall community that are being resolved. So that should help make sure that the websites and advertisements are all accurate. 

  1. All first years are required to be on the platinum plan, and most of us don’t use all of our swipes each week. Have you considered having a semester-long Swipe It Forward program for first years to donate their extra swipes? 

We’ve brought this up in the past and the answer is always no. The dining services team and administration don’t want first year students to feel stressed about having enough food. They’re required to be on this meal plan so that they don’t have to worry about dining hall coordination and they can transition smoothly to college. We’ll bring up the idea again in future meetings, but historically it hasn’t been welcomed. 

  1. You talk about Furman/PCHS transparency issues. What are some ideas about distributing this information to the student body in a way that is easily accessible and understandable? 

The Student Services Fair will give students an opportunity to create in-person connections to these groups, so they can meet face-to-face and have questions answered. We’re also working on our infographics and one-pagers so that students have super easy, quick ways to view this information. Specifically for Furman, we’re planning on doing infographics on each new therapists so students can get to know them and learn what group sessions they’re offering. 

  1. How do you plan on centering equity in the student services fair, sustainability programming, and specifically Earth Day programming? 

We’re making an effort to engage in sustainable purchasing models, supporting local Morningside Heights and Harlem businesses. Because the SGA budget covers everything, all products are free and equally accessible to Barnard students. We’re also definitely planning on centering environmental justice in our Earth Day programming. During the Student Services Festival planning, we’ll workshop ideas on how to make this happen. As always, DM us or shoot us an email if you have any suggestions or want to be involved in this process! 

And that wraps up our questions and another packed evening for SGA! Stay tuned for more coverage next week.

Mouse in Mug photoshop via Bwog Staff