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Jess Swanson for Spectator

Nialah Edari, BC ’17 and candidate for class of 2017 president, spoke at Thursday night’s candidate forum.

Elections for next year's Student Government Association—which include races for the council's executive board, an open University Senate seat, class council, and various representative positions—get underway on Tuesday morning. Only two races for next year's executive board are contested, but candidates across the board are focused on face-to-face student outreach, dining hall options, and increasing diversity on campus.

SGA President

Claudia Flores, Julia Qian, and Hannah Rosenwein, all BC '15 and current members of the Representative Council, are running for next year's SGA president. 

Flores, the current representative for student services on SGA's Representative Council, hopes to improve student life as president by improving the accountability of SGA and continuing to increase the number of voices discussing diversity on campus.

“The shy opinions, the quiet ones, they need to be pulled out,” Flores said. “As student leaders, we need to seek those opinions and go and pull them from people.”

Flores also said that sending online forms for feedback—a common practice among SGA members and Barnard administrators—isn't an active enough method to measure student opinion.

“We're going to get the same responses from the same people who always reply,” she said.

Based on her experience as the chair of the Food Advisory Board and active representative, Flores said that she wants to hold the representatives accountable to their committees and their promises and build her policy around student feedback.

Qian, a transfer and international student, wants to promote campus diversity as SGA president. She currently serves as SGA's representative for diversity and hopes to continue the work and discussions that she's started in her current position.  

“I realized that diversity is just a phenomenon. It's not a result, it's not a means to an end, it's a phenomenon,” Qian said, adding that her priority is to create a stronger community based on the diversity already on campus. Qian cited an example of students finding supportive communities in campus clubs.

“One student said being in that club, she was able to let her accent out,” Qian said. “That just hit home. How can I make people feel comfortable to just be themselves? That gave me so much motivation.” 

Qian also hopes to improve how Barnard communicates changes in policies and resources, like the closing of Barnard Print Services and the changes to the guest policy introduced this year. 

Rosenwein has been the class of 2015 council president for the past three years and wants to use the connections she's built with campus administrators, leaders, and other SGA members to help promote SGA policies.

Rosenwein hopes to continue building on her achievements of the past, like the approval of her proposal that Liz's Place open on Sundays.

“It's very important to be proactive,” Rosenwein said. If elected president, Rosenwein hopes to increase the number of healthy options offered at Hewitt Dining Hall, increase physical education options, and keep the Barnard weight room open longer during the week.

Additionally, Rosenwein wants to create an adviser-review website similar to CULPA that would allow students to type in a major or department and find a review of the advisers listed in that academic field.

Rosenwein added that she is also sitting on the curriculum review committee headed by College Provost and Dean of Faculty Linda Bell, which will help inform her ability to make policy changes on the council.

VP for Student Government

Rachel Chung, BC '16, and Sarah Shuster, BC '15, are running for the position of vice president for student government. Both candidates want to improve communication between the council, students, and administrations, but have different approaches on how to achieve that.

Chung hopes to use traditional methods, including class councils and flyers, to reach out to students. She hopes to use her experience from the past two years as vice president for the class of 2016 council and her experience on the SGA's policy committee to help students and councils navigate college procedure. 

“Class council is kind of the bridge between representative council and the rest of the student body,” Chung said. “I kind of want to reach the full potential and really utilize class councils to their fullest.”

Additionally, Chung hopes to create a resource book for students that outlines all of Barnard's procedures and policies clearly. 

“That's where they can go and refer to rather than scurrying all over the Barnard website and trying to find different things. That website can be, at times, confusing,” Chung said. “There are definitely policies that have been falling through the cracks that we can definitely look at, improve on, and expand on.”

Shuster hopes to use her position outside of SGA, including being a resident assistant for Barnard first-years and a member of FemSex, to increase participation from students not currently involved in SGA.

“It's about really feeling that there's an apathy towards SGA in communities where people aren't already involved,” Shuster said. “I really want to bring people in.” 

To accomplish this, she wants to meet more actively with student groups and seek out their opinions on SGA policy.

“I think there should be a conversation between groups who are doing activism on campus and how they'd like to see change in policy, and how that should impact our student services,” Shuster said. “And I definitely see that these things have yet to come together.” 


VP for Communications

Emily Klein, BC '15, is uncontested in her bid to continue her role as vice president for communications. 

When the position was not filled after last year's elections, Klein was appointed to the position at the end of the fall semester. She hopes to continue working on improving the ways in which SGA reaches out to students for events and feedback by taking a more aesthetic approach. 

“People say a picture's worth a thousand words, and especially when you get so many emails a day, to be able to see photos as a form of advertisements,” Klein said. “And I think notification is a valuable tool that SGA is already utilizing and I hope will continue to utilize in the future.”

Klein also wants to continue SGA's use of Google forms to solicit student opinion, citing the high response to SGA's survey about the removal of Students for Justice in Palestine's banner, in addition to traditional methods of feedback from emails and direct conversations with students. 

“SGA does a lot of amazing things and a lot of students don't know the extent of that work,” she said. “So I think communications is so important because that's how we get our message and our work out to the student body, and it's really important that students at Barnard both know how to express to SGA what they want, and what we're doing.”

VP of Finance

Pascale Dugue, BC '16, is running unopposed for vice president of finance. Dugue hopes to use her experience as Class of 2016 Council treasurer to examine how groups and events are funded, and clarify the funding application process. 

“I definitely want them [students] to have that voice and opinion and finance is not to be an issue, so just working with whomever is elected to the exec board to make sure that's available to students and project grants can happen and revitalize parts of our campus,” she said.

Next year, Barnard will also be working to appoint a new chief operating officer to replace Greg Brown, and Dugue wants to release more financial information to students.

Dugue also wants to open up student project applications earlier based on SGA's surplus, so that students can work on their applications during the summer. 

VP for Campus Life

Shivani Vikuntam, BC '16, is running unopposed for the position of vice president for campus life. 

Vikuntam, the current class of 2016 president, hopes to create events that engage a larger proportion of the student body. 

“As VP for campus life, I can take the events I plan and be able to effect the larger student population,” Vikuntam said. 

One of the requirements outlined for vice president for campus life is currently under constitutional review—planning inter-council events. Vikuntam said that she hopes that the proposed change will not be adopted so that the vice president of campus life can make sure Barnard plays a role with cross-college events, like Glass House Rocks and the Tree Lighting Ceremony.

“You need a strong voice in the room, someone who is passionate and someone who understands you need to put your foot down and make sure Barnard's voice is heard,” Vikuntam said.

University Senator

Erin Bryk, BC '17, and Abigail Kim, BC '16, are both running to represent Barnard in the University Senate.

Bryk is the current class of 2017 president, and hopes to use her position as senator to influence University-wide policy changes. 

If elected senator, Bryk wants to join the Presidential Advisory Committee on Sexual Assault and the Senate's Alumni Relations Committee.

“I really want to standardize those policies concerning the adjudication process and access to Barnard's rape crisis center,” Bryk said. “That affects the entire University, not just Barnard.”

If elected to the University Senate, Kim hopes to increase Barnard's access to and knowledge about Columbia's global centers. 

Kim said that as much as one sixth of the class of 2015 studied abroad, and that she wants to provide students more access to information on the University's resources around the world. 

“I want to make sure that Barnard is considered a lot in conversations,” Kim said. “I think in order to do that you need someone who will be a strong advocate for the school. We're not just across the street. Our presence bridges that gap between Broadway. There's such a good relationship there, and that's often underemphasized.”

Voting begins Tuesday at 9 a.m. and will continue until April 21 at noon on Results will be announced on April 21 at 5 p.m.  |  @ColumbiaSpec

Student Government Association SGA Barnard College campus elections
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