At Wednesday’s first-year forum, SGA’s first-year elections saw the number of candidates decline to an unprecedented low.
Leah Herzfeld, BC ’22, ran uncontested for first-year class vice president, and there were only two candidates for first-year class president: Grace D’Haiti, BC ’22, and Audrey Pettit, BC ’22. Last year, six candidates ran for president, and five ran for vice president.
Similar issues of uncontested races pervaded elections for Columbia undergraduate student councils last year. At last year’s debate, many candidates appeared onstage alone, and in some cases, no candidate showed up at all.
First-year SGA candidates appeared to shift their focus from typically addressed issues of identity, such as problems faced by low-income and undocumented students, to more recent student concerns about free laundry and high temperatures in Barnard residence halls.
Pettit highlighted the progress SGA has already made with regards to free laundry and emphasized the importance of subsidizing the laundry fees of first-generation and low-income students, thereby complementing previous SGA initiatives, which last year yielded 200 free laundry cards that were distributed among students. Pettit also suggested that Barnard supply fans for students in the first weeks of school to help protect students from the heat, which caused the hospitalization of multiple students last week.
D’Haiti suggested working closely with the administration to find a feasible solution for the heat conditions in the first year dorms. She also proposed creating a fundraiser to help international students fly home for holidays.
Herzfeld discussed planning more events to include both international and commuter students. When asked to specify what type of events, she was unable to elaborate, instead saying that she wanted to continue soliciting student opinions about the type of programming to hold.
First-year students can elect their class president and vice president by voting online on myBarnard between 9 a.m. on Thursday and closes at 12 p.m. the following Friday.