News | Administration

Barnard, CU legally bound, but relationship not always certain for students

  • BROADWAY DIVIDE | Even though Barnard and Columbia's legal relationship is clear, many students think the schools still need to work on forming a cohesive undergraduate community.

This story is part of a special issue examining the Barnard-Columbia relationship, 30 years after Columbia College decided to go coed and Barnard decided not to merge with Columbia. Check out the rest of the issue here.

It’s been five years since Barnard College renegotiated its contract with Columbia University.

According to Barnard Chief Operating Officer Gregory Brown, it was an easy negotiation. He called dealing with the Barnard-Columbia contract “one of the more pleasant things we have to do, the financial types.”

“In early years, I was told that a lot of the discussion was about academic quality, but the only thing we talked about was money. I think that speaks to the strength of the relationship,” Brown said. “That’s one of the great parts of how things work with Barnard and Columbia—the agreements are 15-year agreements, and that, again, speaks to the maturity of the relationship.”

Barnard and Columbia have been legally affiliated for more than a century, but according to Brown, the contract has remained fairly static for the last 30 years—ever since Columbia College decided to admit women and Barnard decided not to merge with Columbia. In the most recent renegotiation, administrators adjusted the formula for how much Barnard pays Columbia for women’s sports teams and reached an agreement on the use of online periodicals.

Still, the schools’ relationship, legally and in practice, remains a source of confusion for many students. Legally, it comes down to the contractual agreement, but in practice, many students believe the schools still need to work on forming a cohesive undergraduate community.

Drawing the divide
Officially, Barnard is a women’s college—it only admits female students, and many of its programs and offices are geared specifically toward women. But its close relationship with Columbia has left some wondering if Barnard can really be considered a women-only institution.

“Being a psychology major at Barnard does make me more aware that I am part of a women’s college,” Alexa Hammel, BC ’13, said. “Other majors lend itself to feeling like you are part of a coed school.”

Barnard College Dean Avis Hinkson, BC ’84, believes that the Barnard experience is neither completely coeducational nor completely single-sex. Barnard, she said, is “somewhere in the middle.”

“I think it’s pretty clear that you’re not going to a women’s college that is off in some remote location, nor are you going to a school like Radcliffe, that you look around and think, ‘What women’s college?’” she said.

Barnard President Debora Spar said that while the relationship can be confusing for outsiders who step on to Barnard’s campus and see male students, she believes that at its core, Barnard can be considered a women’s college.

“We truly have the best of all worlds. It is a coed environment in many ways—if you walk into the Diana, or going to classes, it is a coeducational experience,” she said. “But it’s an environment for women, where women are in all of the leadership positions. It’s unique.”

Regardless of the degree to which Barnard is a women’s college, Barnard and Columbia students must interact every day, and those interactions can get complicated. Amelia Keyes, CC ’15, said she saw a “difference in understanding” of the course material between Barnard and Columbia students in an international relations class last semester.

Rachel Ferrari, BC ’13 and vice president of Barnard’s Student Government Association, said that “power dynamics between Barnard and other undergraduate student leaders can be somewhat challenging.”

“At times I question my own power and influence simply because I’m on Barnard’s side of the street,” she said.

“The fact of the matter is that CU’s policies affect us directly,” she added.

Michael Laracuente, CC ’13, questioned the necessity of the “mean, stupid jokes” he has heard about Barnard students.

“I do see [students] sometimes jokingly perpetuating the stereotypes that Barnard girls are dumb,” Laracuente said. “I don’t think that’s true from my experience. I’ve never felt that way with any of my Barnard girl friends.”

From administrators’ perspectives, at least, the relationships from one side of Broadway to the other are strong.

“We have nothing but good relationships with the folks at Columbia,” Spar said. “I have no formal channel of interaction [with Columbia], but there is always an open conversation when we have an interest that concerns both of our campuses.”

The business deal
Barnard—which has a yearly operating budget of about $160 million—currently pays Columbia about $5 million per year for cross-registration privileges, and for the use of resources like libraries.

This is the academic component of the schools’ relationship, which Brown said allows Barnard and Columbia to avoid duplicating some academic resources. For instance, he noted, only Barnard has an urban studies department, and only Columbia has a computer science department.

“There’s a very long history that predates coeducation of what’s called an interoperate relationship, which is basically the business deal,” Brown said. “I think that for both Barnard College and Columbia College in particular, that part of the relationship means that we don’t have redundancy in staffing. We each are doing what we should be doing so that our students have everything.”

“We have a consortium relationship that allows students to exchange courses in both directions,” Hinkson said. “As part of that contractual relationship we have with Columbia, our Barnard degree is also included in the conferring of degrees at Columbia University. But we have our own endowment, board of trustees and president.”

While Barnard currently pays Columbia about $5 million annually for academic resources, the size of the payment goes up every year by the percent that Barnard or Columbia College’s tuition increases, whichever is lower.

“It sounds high in some ways,” Brown said, referring to the $5 million figure. “But in other ways, if you think about if both sides of the street were to offer the number of things that we’re not having to offer because of the deal, our expenses would be higher.”

Spar said that because of the schools’ academic relationship, Barnard students have the best of both worlds.

“The relationship is admittedly a complicated one, a unique one and one that may take a few sentences to explain to the outside community,” she said. “I think it's phenomenal that Barnard students have all of the advantages of a small liberal arts college, and a women’s college, but our students get to participate in the larger university community.”

Another formula determines how much Barnard should pay Columbia each year for female athletics, as Barnard students make up about 13 percent of the athletes on Columbia’s women’s sports teams. Barnard and Columbia also share some housing and dining services, and Barnard pays Columbia for its phone and Internet services.

The Barnard-Columbia contract also governs tenure procedures. Professors who are tenured at Columbia are automatically tenured at Barnard, but professors who are tenured at Barnard must also go through Columbia’s review process before gaining tenure there.

Brown said that Barnard has an “incredible faculty,” which he credited in part to the rigor of the double tenure process.

“Unlike most other liberal arts colleges, their tenure process is not only what a liberal arts tenure process looks like, but it’s also a research university,” Brown said. “So they really do have to keep up their research, their teaching, and their service.”

What next?
The contractual partnership doesn’t determine everything about the schools’ relationship, though, and students work to figure out that relationship on a day-to-day basis.

For some Barnard students, a source of concern is Columbia College students’ use of the term, “the college,” to describe their school. Hinkson recalled being taken aback during her senior year when, in a Barnard class, a female Columbia College student introduced herself as a student in “the college.”

“I very strongly felt that you’re taking a Barnard class, and ‘the college’ here means Barnard,” Hinkson said. “And if that’s not what you mean, then I would hope that you would articulate it.”

Hinkson said that in the last 30 years, significant progress has been made toward bringing the Columbia and Barnard student bodies closer together. But there is always room for improvement, she added.

“In the nature of any relationship, it can always be better, and we have to seek out opportunities to bring the concerns to the table and hopefully identify ways to resolve them,” she said.

Laracuente believes that community-building programming for first-years might break down barriers and eliminate stereotypes.

“Until they actually meet people and they have personal experiences with them, they’re not going to change those ideas,” he said.

Similarly, Ferrari suggested that the New Student Orientation Program be revamped to help students see that the University “is one undergraduate community, and you have smaller communities at your own schools.”

When Hinkson first took offense at the expression, “the college,” it was the first year that Columbia admitted women. For Ferrari and other Barnard students, the use of that term remains a problem, almost thirty years later.

“If someone says ‘the college’ to me, even if they’re a dude, I say, ‘Oh, which one?’” Ferrari said. “If you can recognize that there’s two, three, four colleges, maybe we’d have a little better view of each other.”

Sammy Roth contributed reporting.

jessica.stallone@columbiaspectator.com

Check out the rest of the coeducation special issue here.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated Rachel Ferrari's class year. Spectator regrets the error.

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Anonymous posted on

the last section seems a little bit out-of-place.

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Anonymous posted on

 Barnard and Columbia should just merge.

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Anonymous posted on

They discussed merger for a decade. The Barnard alumni and the board of trustees voted it down.

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Anonymous posted on

That doesn't mean that they shouldn't—just that they haven't. 

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Anonymous posted on

Exactly, Guest.

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Anonymous posted on

Barnard should remain independent and not merge with Columbia. It is a unique institution and should remain that way. 

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Anonymous posted on

If Barnard College is as unique as you claim it is, then it should have no affiliation with Columbia University.

If anyone feels that Barnard, a single-gender admissions college, is unique because it is a teaching-oriented, liberal arts college that is focused on women then there is no reason why Barnard should be affiliated with Columbia, a co-ed, research-oriented, comprehensive university that is focused on diversity (look at their website).

Why take classes at Columbia if you are more comfortable in Barnard's environment? If you think that Barnard is a better choice than Columbia then Barnard shouldn't need Columbia.

Why would Barnard pay 5 to 6 million dollars a year to Columbia so that Barnard students can have access to Columbia's resources if Barnard College is so unique? That money could have been used for scholarships (especially for low-income students), hiring more faculty, upgrading facilities, buying more buildings, creating community programs, etc. In other words, that 5 to 6 million dollars a year could be used to expand Barnard's uniqueness.

It seems that Barnard's "uniqueness" isn't that special without the Columbia affiliation. 

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Anonymous posted on

 There once was a women's liberal arts college in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and it was the coordinate college for Harvard University. It was also one of the Seven Sisters colleges. Radcliffe College conferred joint Harvard-Radcliffe diplomas beginning in 1963 and a formal merger agreement with Harvard was signed in 1977, with full integration with Harvard completed in 1999. Today, Radcliffe's campus functions as a research institute within Harvard, and have for the most part never been heard from again.  the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, and former Radcliffe student housing has been incorporated as residential houses of Harvard College.

R.I.P. Radcliffe College.  Long Live Barnard College. 

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Anonymous posted on

True. Also Brown completely absorbed its sister school across the street Pembrook, and the name was completely removed and never heard from again. Columbia would completely disintegrate Barnard and turn it into labs.

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Anonymous posted on

Princeton and Yale have yet to fully integrate women into their colleges even to this day where they are still second class citizens. LOL.

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Anonymous posted on

Well said "Radcliff Who?". Barnard is an amazing institution that provides opportunities for women unparalleled by any other women's college in the nation.  While the relationship can still be worked on and improved, it definitely should remain an independent college

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Anonymous posted on

What unparalleled opportunities for women does Barnard offer that any other women's college (or any other college, for that matter) can't offer?

Barnard is a liberal arts college offering about 30 or so majors. There are so many liberal arts college in this nation.

Hunter College of the City University of New York offers excellent liberal arts programs at much cheaper tuition rates than Barnard does - and it is also located in Manhattan. Furthermore, the City University of New York offers a highly selective honors program that is quite competitive and prestigious.

Pace University is a comprehensive university that offers more than 100 undergraduate majors, in the liberal arts, performing arts, sciences, business, education, health care, computer science, software engineering and many other professional degrees. The average financial aid package is $17,000 per year and there is an honors program that offers 50 percent tuition discount (before financial aid) a free laptop, preference in registration and dorm assignments as well as trips abroad. Pace has campuses in Manhattan and in Westchester. In Manhattan, Pace offers several dorms including a 17-story dorm and they are building a new 24-story dorm.

The Westchester campus is on a 260-acre campus with a lake and lush hills that offers townhouses. Close to 60 percent of Pace's student population are women. In addition, Pace offers many combined undergraduate and graduate degrees to qualified candiates such as a BBA/MBA, BBA/MS, BS/MS, BS/MPA and so on. They have one of the largest collegiate career services programs in the nation and Pace was recently named a university that will make you rich according to Forbes. Many Pace students have even gone on to study at Columbia, NYU and other prestigious institutions.

Furthermore, more people have heard of Pace than Barnard. Many international students go to Pace for its undergraduate and graduate programs. Barnard may be more selective than Hunter or Pace (except for their respective honors programs) but doesn't offer as much as they do.

I could mention other colleges and universities in the area but you get my point. Without the Columbia affiliation, Barnard could never justify the discrepancy between what it charges in tuition and the resources it offers. 

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Anonymous posted on

If they want to remain independent, that's fine, but Columbia and Barnard should remain as separate institutions, i.e. no cross-registration, no Columbia diploma for Barnard graduate, etc. The affiliation thing is just so stupid. To me, it's either merging or completely separate.

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Anonymous posted on

And think about the situation of Barnard science majors. Seriously, they would be taking virtually all of their major classes at Columbia, with MEN lol. Except for the 9 Ways, how is that reasonably considered a women's college education?

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Anonymous posted on

Oh, and the Columbia diploma thing is trivial - employers know where they went. Having Columbia University in Latin on a piece of paper doesn't change your educational resume.

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Anonymous posted on

Michael Laracuente so is tapping a barnard girl 

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Anonymous posted on

Columbia should just shed Barnard. The negatives far exceed the positives. 
 

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Anonymous posted on

Part of the problem with NSOP is that for Columbia kids, we spend NSOP here on east side of Broadway, never having any sort of interaction with Barnard girls except for the rare "all-class" gathering. Likewise, Barnard girls are (seemingly) locked away on Barnard's campus for the entirety of NSOP. If Barnard is truly considered by the University to be part of the Columbia undergraduate population, then NSOP needs to be integrated. Seriously, either Barnard should be a distinct academic institution, or it needs to be fully assimilated into the wider University mainframe - this inbetween business is confusing and leads to that sort of tension mentioned above.

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Anonymous posted on

It is simply a back door way to a Columbia education.  You can't seriously tell me that you want to go to an all female institution and then go to Barnard.  That's not what it is and that's just a joke,  Those girls just can't get in to Columbia.  It is degrading for women, in general.  It does not advance the cause of women's rights or education.  Get rid of it.

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Anonymous posted on

There are just so many things wrong with this comment. 

First of all, Barnard is not a "back door" to Columbia. If I wanted to attend Columbia, I would have applied there. I didn't. There are women every year who are accepted to both schools and choose BARNARD because the environment, faculty, resources, and overall experience at Barnard make for a better fit than Columbia. Women admitted to Barnard have exceptionally high GPAs, SAT scores, and applications, but that is not the whole picture. Barnard women are smart, intelligent, well-rounded women who grow up to change the world. Whether they reside on the east or west side of Broadway does not diminish the weight of their intelligence or successes.

Not every Barnard student is set on attending a women's college. The unique condition of Barnard - that it is not only in a city as culturally diverse and stimulating as NYC but also exists as part of a larger research university - is precisely the draw for Barnard students. We get the best of both worlds - all the benefits of a women's college (more personal relationships with faculty, a commitment to female leadership, and an awareness of the existing challenges women face in the modern world) without completely losing out on co-educational "real life" experience and access to world-class research facilities.

And finally: REALLY??? Barnard is *degrading* to women? I cannot even take that comment seriously. What is ACTUALLY degrading to women is the persistence of these petty arguments in which CC/SEAS students and their acquaintances degrade, insult, and vilify their Barnard peers based solely on the school they attend. A Barnard education emphasizes the strength of female leaders and creates the expectation that its students will become impressive and accomplished women. That culture is not the emphasis of a CC or SEAS education, nor should it be. There are women who want a college that recognizes the importance of powerful female leaders in a world where women are still not equal and the glass ceiling has only been cracked. The fact that college women are still looking for that experience is precisely why Barnard exists and will continue to exist.

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Anonymous posted on

Barnard is not as competitive as Columbia is because Barnard does not admit men.

I don't care how high the GPAs and SAT scores of the Barnard women are, men with high GPAs and SAT scores will not be admitted to Barnard simply because they are men. This means that in the Barnard admissions process, women do not have to compete with men whereas in Columbia University's admissions process, women do have to compete with men.

You typed that a "Barnard education emphasizes the strength of female leaders..." How? By excluding men from the admissions process?

If a college excluded non-whites from the admissions process, would they be "emphasizing the strength of white leaders?"

You are not a true leader until you can lead in a diverse environment.

Barnard College President stated: "“But it’s an environment for women, where women are in all of the leadership positions. It’s unique.” This is troubling. Does this mean that Barnard does not hire qualified men for leadership positions simply because they are men? This could represent gender discrimination and possible lawsuits.

Who says that men can't train women to be leaders? Who says that women can't train men to be leaders? The only way that people can be leaders is if they are trained by people of the same gender? What outdated rubbish.

And don't give me this history nonsense about how women were excluded from higher education in the past. Past discrimination does not justify current discrimination. Besides, the number of female college graduates has been higher than the number of male college graduates, even in the 1900s. This is because most men were expected to work.

Furthermore, males are more likely to drop out of high school and college. In many colleges, females make up more than 60 percent of all students. 

Columbia University President Bollinger believes in diversity. When he was President of the University of Michigan, he defended their affirmative action policy. How can he continue to associate with a college that does not admit men? Diversity does not mean excluding men.

I believe that Barnard College and Columbia University should merge. If Barnard College doesn't want to merge, that is their right but until they accept men in the admissions process, Columbia University should dissociate itself from Barnard College.

This archaic, sexist affiliation must be terminated.

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Anonymous posted on

BC 2012

You typed: "Barnard women are smart, intelligent, well-rounded women who grow up to change the world. Whether they reside on the east or west side of Broadway does not diminish the weight of their intelligence or successes."

Well, if that's true, then why not have Barnard and Columbia merge? Why doesn't Barnard admit men? If the weight of the women's intelligence or successes is not diminished by where they reside then there is no reason for Barnard to operate as a women's college in the admissions process or to deny males from leadership positions at Barnard.

Besides, the vast majority of intelligent women who become leaders and change the world graduate from co-ed colleges.

Women are not equal? Considering the fact that men have been laid off more than women have in this recession is one fact that contradicts that assertion. When you throw in the fact that men are more likely to be discriminated against in government positions, health care, government services, grants, scholarships, work assistance programs and more - one could easily argue that men are not equal to women.

The glass ceiling has only been cracked according to you? The reality is, the glass ceiling has been turned into a glass pedestal for women - and that pedestal appears to be crushing some of the men who happen to be below it.

And it is unlikely that Barnard College or any other women's college will exist in the next 50 years. Many agree that the Supreme Court will strike it down. In the 1970s the Supreme Court upheld the existence of women's colleges because of what they saw was the past discrimination of women in higher education (which many legal experts claim was misplaced) but things have changed drastically in the last 3 decades and will continue to change in the next 3 decades.

I will bet that if Columbia dissociated itself from Barnard, most women will not care for the women's college experience.

You also typed: "We get the best of both worlds - all the benefits of a women's college (more personal relationships with faculty, a commitment to female leadership, and an awareness of the existing challenges women face in the modern world) without completely losing out on co-educational "real life" experience and access to world-class research facilities."

No student should have access to the world-class research facilities of a university unless that student has been ACCEPTED and ADMITTED by the university.

So not only does Barnard refuse to admit men, but its all-female student body has access to the world class facilities of a co-ed university to which they were not even admitted. You don't see any sexism there?

I would bet that if the students of an all-male college had access to the world class research facilities of a co-ed university, people would be screaming sexism.

People cannot defend their girls' clubs or boys' clubs and claim that these clubs are just as good as the inclusive, diverse, co-ed clubs. If the only way you can accomplish anything is in an environment that excludes others because of who they are, then you have not accomplished as much as you think.

A true accomplishment is one that is achieved in an environment where all are allowed to compete to the best of their abilities, not in an environment that caters to those of a particular group and excludes others because of their race, gender, ethnicity, religion or creed.

I can't believe that there is a college in New York City - one of the most diverse cities in the world - that excludes men from the admissions process.

Even you used the following words: "culturally diverse and stimulating as NYC"

Apparently, you see that NYC's strength is in its diversity and yet you still believe that Barnard College should continue to exclude men? Men are a stitch on the tapestry of diversity too, you know. 

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Anonymous posted on

What about other CU affiliate Teachers College?

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