Tag: news

Photo Courtesy of Double Discovery Center

Today, an email was sent out to the Double Discovery Student Volunteers by the executive director of the program to let them know that the Department of Education has ceased their funding of the Upward Bound program for first-generation and low-income students due to a technicality: incorrect spacing in parts of the application.

The full email can be found below:

Dear Double Discovery Student Volunteers:

I am writing with some difficult news regarding Double Discovery Center’s Upward Bound Program, which, as you may know, each year provides supplemental schooling and support to prepare nearly 200 first-generation and low-income college-bound students for success.

We have been notified by the U.S. Department of Education that DDC’s application to continue funding for our Upward Bound program from July 2017 through June 2022 has been deemed ineligible for consideration due to a technicality regarding the line spacing of our charts, tables, figures, and graphs. That means a devastating loss of funding for this important program.

The decision by the Department of Education has been distressing given its direct impact on students and the longevity and proven success of our Upward Bound program. We have received Upward Bound support from the U.S. government for more than 50 years. Unfortunately, DDC is not alone–at least 40 other Upward Bound programs have had their applications denied due to technicalities this year.

Upward Bound is an essential part of DDC and an invaluable service to our community and we are committed to doing all that we can to maintain the program in the future. Columbia College and Columbia University Government and Community Affairs have contacted our senators and congressmen, who are advocating for the program at the highest levels. Key legislative members have asked Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and others within the Department of Education to reconsider our application.

The College has identified contingency funding for the Summer Academy so that we can provide assurances that the summer program will take place regardless of what happens on the legislative front. Our Talent Search grant, which was renewed last year for four years, is not impacted by this current situation.

We remain committed to Double Discovery’s work of providing academic, career, college, and financial aid counseling and support services to low-income and first-generation college-bound youth in our neighboring communities, and we are grateful for your support of and dedication to this work and to Double Discovery students.

I will notify of you of any updates. In the meantime, I wish you the luck on your remaining finals, and encourage you to reach out or stop by our offices if you have any questions or if you want to talk about this difficult news.

Sincerely,

Joseph Ayala

Executive Director

The Roger Lehecka Double Discovery Center at Columbia College

Earlier today, the Barnard community received notice of a phishing attack aimed at university students. The phishing attempt occurs when a hacked university account attempts to share a Google doc with the target. When the target clicks the link to open the document, the hackers gain access to the target’s login information and may install malware to their Google account. Victoria Swann of Barnard User Services offers tips for staying safe and what to do if you’ve been hacked below*:

Dear members of the Barnard community,

There is currently a major phishing attack underway; not just at Barnard, but also Columbia and many other higher ed institutions. It takes the same form as any ordinary notification of a Google Doc being shared with you; and it may come from a person you know, or it may come from an address at “mailinator.com“.

DO NOT respond to that message or click the link in it.  If you did click the link, change your password immediately at password.barnard.edu or contact the BCIT Service Desk for assistance at 212-854-7172.  (Students can also go to 307 Diana for assistance; faculty and staff can go to Milbank 13.)

The link *may* also have given the malware package other access to your Google Account.  Please check the apps linked to your account (My Account -> Sign-in & Security -> Connected apps & sites) and remove any that you do not recognize.  Again, please contact BCIT if you need further assistance.

Google is aware of the issue and is working to alleviate it; and we are working to block additional copies of the attack coming into our domain.

Best Regards,

Victoria Swann
Director, User Services
Barnard College | Columbia University

*The procedure may be different for Columbia students. Contact CUIT for assistance.

Image courtesy of Barnard College

In a final email to the Barnard community, President Spar wished the student body goodbye and gave updates on diversity, divestment, and the contingency faculty union contract. The full email is below:

To All Members of the Barnard Community,

Today, I had the bittersweet task of presiding over my final meeting of the Barnard Board of Trustees. It has been a great honor to work with this deeply committed Board for the past nine years, and to have been part of a community that shares a love for, and devotion to, the cause of women’s education.  Never has this goal been more relevant or more important than it is today.

Since I announced my departure three months ago, I have had the opportunity, yet again, to observe the strength, resilience, and determination of the Barnard community.  Our students have shown a re-energized commitment to engage with the world around them, and to fight for the causes and ideals they hold dear.  Our faculty have been a source of wisdom and expertise, using their scholarship to unpack the complexities of our world, and to nudge it to a better and more generous place.  Across our community of staff and alumnae and parents, Barnard women have made their voices heard.  At Women’s Marches across the country, sporting the iconic pink hats that were the brainchild of Krista Suh, Barnard ’09.  At the Athena Film Festival, celebrating the work of pioneers like Regina Scully and Eve Ensler.  And, on our own campus, digging in to such critical issues as diversity, inclusion, divestment, and adjunct faculty wages.

It’s been a busy year.  At today’s Board meeting, the trustees unanimously approved a path-breaking recommendation from our Task Force to Examine Divestment that will put Barnard at the very forefront of organizations striving to have an impact on climate change and fossil fuel use.  Thanks in large part to student activists from Divest Barnard, and backed by crucial insights from faculty members and trustees, the Task Force proposed — and the Board accepted — a decision to divest Barnard’s endowment from those companies that deny climate change.

Working with outside experts such as the Union of Concerned Scientists, the College will now be able to use its endowment funds both symbolically and responsibly, setting a new standard for investment that seeks to balance the fiduciary need to manage our resources with the moral responsibility to harness science for sustainability. To read more about the Task Force’s work and recommendations, please visit: https://barnard.edu/vision-values/divestment-task-force.

At today’s meeting, the trustees also heard recommendations from the Presidential Task Force on Diversity and Inclusion and approved the College’s first contract with our newly-formed contingent faculty union, BCF-UAW.  Under the terms of the new contract, Barnard’s adjunct faculty will receive salaries and benefits, including health care, which will be among the most generous in the nation.  These provisions, settled over the course of a full year of negotiations, signify our ongoing commitment to all of the faculty who teach our students and serve as role models for them.  Meanwhile, the Board also gave its support to a wide-sweeping roster of measures designed to make our campus as diverse and inclusive as our community desires it to be.

Over the next few months, Interim President Rob Goldberg will put in place several of the Task Force’s most immediate recommendations, including the creation of a campus-wide Diversity Council and an annual report on diversity and inclusion to the Campus Life Committee of the Board of Trustees. Over the next few years, the Board and the Task Force will work with the College’s next president to implement the next tranche of recommendations.  For more on these steps, both interim and longer-term, please visit: https://barnard.edu/news/statement-president-spar-diversity-and-inclusion.

This work caps what has been, for me, a wonderful nine-year term at Barnard.   It has been a joy and a privilege to watch the College become both more diverse and more selective over this time, and to see the successive waves of classes — ever smarter, more curious, and more committed to building lives that matter.  It has been an honor to work with these young women, and to watch them forge their own paths into the future.  It has been thrilling to celebrate each ritual of passage — from move-in day to Commencement — with our students, and deeply moving to watch them support each other, and their Barnard community, during moments of stress or challenge.  I have been touched by so many members of this campus, and am grateful to each and every one of you for helping to make Barnard such a special place.

As I step through the gates of campus this evening, I am heartened to know that Barnard is in such a good and strong place.  Our endowment, for the first time in its history, has topped $300 million.  Our new Foundations curriculum is in place, and exciting.  Our new teaching and learning center — formally announced yesterday as The Milstein Center — is actively under construction, set to provide the next generations of Barnard students and faculty with the intellectual hub they desire and deserve.  And our interim president, Rob Goldberg, is fully primed to work with the Board and the senior staff to lead the College through the next few months, and then on to the service of whomever will be selected as Barnard’s eighth president.

I leave also, though, with a deep gratitude for what the College has given me, and allowed me to become.  It has been a privilege to serve an institution so deeply committed to women, to education, and to the liberal arts. It has been a joy to work with and among people who care so intently about the world they will inherit, and the legacy they leave behind.

As I venture now down Broadway, I will take and cherish all that Barnard has meant to me.  A voice for women.  A commitment to truth.  And a determination, always, to be bold.

Thank you for sharing this amazing place with me.

Sincerely,

Debora Spar

 

 

A few hours ago, President Bollinger sent an email about how the university is handling President Trump’s recent immigration executive order. The full text of his email is below:

Dear fellow members of the Columbia community:

Over the past two weeks, we have been working with several other academic institutions (sixteen, including all Ivy League universities) on an amicus brief that was filed today in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York challenging the Executive Order regarding immigrants from seven designated countries and refugees.  Among other things, the brief asserts that “safety and security concerns can be addressed in a manner that is consistent with the values America has always stood for, including the free flow of ideas and people across borders and the welcoming of immigrants to our universities.”  There will be more to say in the days ahead.  

Sincerely,

Lee C. Bollinger

Last Wednesday, President Bollinger held one of his semesterly Fireside Chats, during which he invites Columbia students to his home and answers any questions they may have. This fireside chat seemed especially heavy with recent events like the student deaths on campus and the now-defunct presidential executive order banning immigrants from seven predominantly Muslim countries. Students also raised questions about Columbia’s Graduate Student Union, the potential to pay tuition based on number of credit hours taken, the lack of space on Columbia’s campus, and the possibility of divesting from fossil fuels.

While President Bollinger answered every question asked of him respectfully and calmly (in some cases cracking jokes and in others, deferring to more specialized administrators), some of his answers didn’t seem to hold any weight. For example, in light of the recent student deaths on campus, he started the chat by saying that he valued mental health and encouraged students to use the resources available to them. Later, when a student asked about the potential to pay per credit hour (to lighten the financial burden for seniors who need a few more credits to complete their degree), President Bollinger responded that it’s the student’s choice to decide the number of credits to take a semester. This response seemed to ignore the fact that a lot of work and stress comes with an heavy course load, and the student might choose a lighter load because it’s what they can handle. He also shifted the conversation to one about Columbia’s financial aid, effectively dismissing the credit hours idea.

When an Iranian GS student shared her hopes to see her son in Iran after 16 years apart, only for them to be dashed after the president’s executive order, President Bollinger wasn’t able to say what would happen to the student’s student visa after her final year at Columbia. “I wanted to make the United States my home, and I have doubt about that happening now,” she said tearfully. Instead, he focused on the now and said that Columbia was offering lawyers pro bono to anyone who needed legal help.

He also outlined the reasons behind the university contesting the recent Graduate Student Union vote, citing past legal cases involving student unions and “a number of behaviors by the union that were inappropriate [that] could have affected the outcome of the election.”

As for campus space, President Bollinger said that the administration wants to keep spaces inclusive and is “looking for venues to have more space where students can get together and support each other.” He also hinted at making John Jay open for more hours, even after JJ’s Place reopens.

Lastly, President Bollinger answered questions about the endowment and fossil fuels. “In general,” he said, “the policies of all universities in the modern era have been that we’re not going to use the endowment as a means of implementing our social choices. . . Research, expanding knowledge, conveying knowledge to the next generation: that’s what we do and we’re trying to get money to support that. That’s the general view, and I think that’s the right policy.” As a counterexample to this statement, he brought up apartheid in South Africa, but said that using the endowment for social change was otherwise “pretty rare.” He said that the policy was being looked over by a committee of students, faculty, and trustees and that we’d see “decisions in the next three to six months.”