On Tuesday evening, Barnard SGA posted a petition written by former Nightline staff members alleging discriminatory incidents in the workplace. SGA posted their own statement alongside the petition denouncing the alleged events. Nightline has responded to the allegations.

On Wednesday evening, Barnard SGA released two posts on Instagram consisting of a petition against Nightline Peer Listening detailing multiple discriminatory incidents and calls for “transformative and restorative justice.”  Nightline, the anonymous call service for peer-to-peer late-night listening and support, is composed of student staff members from all four undergraduate schools who are trained to speak with students who call the service. The statements in the captions of the posts indicate that the allegations were originally brought to the SGA Representative Council on February 26 by former Nightline staff members who are said to have experienced discrimination at the hands of current Nightline staff members. The petition was written by the former staff members and introduced to SGA on March 3. 

In the preface to the petition, SGA wrote, “We believe that unaddressed racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, and xenophobia have contributed to a culture of harm in Nightline’s workplace,” and continued by stating they believe that the “inadequate” response from Nightline’s leaders “further contributed to an oppressive environment that makes this discrimination seem ‘normal,’ forcing staff of color into the difficult position of leaving.”

The petition itself is divided into three sections: “Immediate Action,” “Transparency,” and “Accountability.” The respective sections detail the alleged discriminatory events and outline the demands of former staff members. The first section of the petition, “Immediate Action,” includes a list of demands for Nightline to “inform/give confirmation” that the former staff members—referred to in the petition as “J” and “Student A” departed from their roles due to discrimination from other staff members. It also calls for three staff members, who are listed as “Staff Member 1,” “Staff Member 2,” and “Staff Member 3,” respectively, to be removed from their roles at Nightline and “have no opportunity to return” due to multiple claims of discriminatory behavior. A final individual listed as “Staff Member 4” is also accused of discriminatory behavior.

Some of the claims in the petition include alleged incidents in which Staff Member 1 said and joked about “homophobic and racist slurs” and played a “slur game” in the Nightline office while other staff members were present. Staff Member 1 is also accused of “repeated intimidation” against another staff member “on the basis of their pronouns” to “‘assert dominance,’” and other actions such as “mocking callers, trainees, other staff members, and previous trainees”; “belittling and insulting the languages and cultural contexts of callers and staff members;” and “enacting and encouraging a culture of bullying through exclusions, malicious gossip, and abuse of power” amongst other forms of discrimination. 

The individual referred to as Staff Member 2 is accused of incidents such as “making a joke about reparations in relation to a Black staff member” and allegedly mocking callers, staff, and trainees. The staff member is also accused of bullying with the same language used to describe Staff Member 1’s behavior. Another Nightline member, Staff Member 3, is claimed to have committed “xenophobic and racist microaggressions toward people of color.” Another staffer, referred to as “Staff Member 4” has allegedly “openly admitted to a [Nightline] director that they discriminated against an English as a second language (ESL) student, and that this discrimination impacted their decision-making and teaching.” The petition calls for this individual to be at least temporarily removed from calls. 

The petition also calls for Nightline to acknowledge their communications about the war in Gaza, claiming that the directors were being “political” and “biased” by making the subject of a previous email sent on an unknown date “Ongoing Tragedy in Israel” without acknowledging Palestinian people. The creators of the petition attached a statement that they demanded be sent following this previous email.

The second section of the petition, titled “Transparency,” demands that students impacted by the alleged events at Nightline have the “right to tell their story in any capacity or request that staff be informed of the discrimination and harm they faced.” It also demands that Nightline administrators release a public apology to the student community for allegedly permitting the described incidents to occur.

The final section of the petition calls for accountability by Nightline’s leaders, suggesting that the “accountability policy must be improved in accordance with the models of restorative and transformative justice.” The petition’s authors call for several amendments to Nightline’s constitution and propose several courses of action in response to discriminatory behavior from staff members. 

The authors listed March 8, five days after the presentation of the petition, as the due date for a response from Nightline and noted that the absence of a response will be considered a rejection of the petition.” The petition was signed by several organizations, including Barnard Organization of Soul & Solidarity (BOSS), Barnard Mujeres E-Board, Columbia University Black Students’ Organization E-Board (BSO), Columbia University Liga Filipina E-Board, Columbia University Asian American Alliance (AAA) E-Board, and Barnard SGA. 

According to the statement in the caption of the posts, the former staff members requested that Nightline leaders inform current staff of the discriminatory incidents listed in the petition, but the leaders refused. SGA claims that Nightline leaders went further to respond to the petition by “misrepresent[ing] the intentions and claims of their former staff members to the administration.” SGA voted to make the petition public on March 4, one day after it was brought forth by the former staff members.

SGA continued their statement by writing that their decisions were “driven by [their] fundamental responsibility to represent the student body,” adding that they “believe addressing these allegations and advocating for positive change within Nightline is crucial.” They also shared that they have begun discussions with University administrators to investigate the allegations in the petition. 

In the final part of their statement, they emphasized that Nightline is “critical” for students on campus and “serv[es] as a vital student resource.” Further, they stated that their intention is “not to dismantle the organization but rather ensure it fulfills its mission as a safe and dependable space” for students. They state that their aim in publicizing the petition is to “push for positive reforms… ultimately creating a better environment for both current and future staff members and the student body they serve.” 

Bwog contacted Nightline for a statement regarding the above allegations. On Thursday, Nightline’s directors responded via email with a statement on behalf of the organization. They affirmed in an attached note that the statement was crafted with “extensive input of our staff” to “[represent] the diverse thoughts and opinions that our organization members have.”

In the statement, the Nightline directors wrote that they “take the concerns that were brought up in the petition very seriously and have addressed them to the best of our ability.” They also affirmed the allegations of discrimination by writing that they “are truly heartbroken that any staff members experienced discrimination within our organization.” They further emphasized the “utmost importance” of “foster[ing] a safe and supportive environment for all staff and all callers” and claimed that they “have zero-tolerance for any forms of discrimination.”

They continued their statement by pointing to measures they claim to have taken within Nightline before they were presented with the petition, including the removal of staff members, a training held with Multicultural Affairs on “microaggression intervention training,” and amendments to the organization’s constitution. Nightline’s directors also indicated that they are “continuing to make internal changes to our organization to ensure that Nightline is best equipped to promote staff safety and serve our diverse student body.” They claimed to have “directed” the writers of the petition to “appropriate resources” and filed reports with Title IX to “investigate the discrimination that has occurred,” further stating that they are “committed to addressing” the investigation’s results.

Lastly, they wrote that they “will not be making any statements regarding current events, as suggested in the petition” in order to “support the mental health” of community members but also stated that “they understand… neutrality can be alienating to many.” They continued by emphasizing that they believe that the members of the Barnard and Columbia community’s mental health “requires [their] neutral stance.” 

They completed their statement by attaching an email dated Friday, March 8 at 2:49 pm they sent to the former Nightline staff members who wrote the petition. This email can be found in its entirety below. 


The email sent by Nightline directors to the former staff members who wrote and presented the petition:

Fri, Mar 8, 2:49 PM


We appreciate you coming to the staff meeting and sharing your experiences and the petition. We also appreciate how passionate you both are about making Nightline a more inclusive and safe place. After hearing both of your experiences detailed in the petition, our advisors spoke with the Title IX office and they will be investigating this. We hope that from here on out they will be able to handle the situation in a way that we as directors were not qualified to. We encourage you both to be in contact with the Title IX office with further concerns. As a peer-to-peer listening

service, we will continue to try our best to be a source of support for both our callers and

listeners. Additionally, we will continue to make constitutional changes to prevent future harm

from occurring and to have a better structure in place for responding to it. We are extremely

saddened by what has happened and we hope that Title IX is able to help you all in ways that we could not.


Jordan, Diya, and Simon

Image via Bwarchives