Since Ella Weed first undertook the massive endeavor of helping Annie Nathan Meyer establish a women’s annex to Columbia in the late 1800s, Barnard has seen change both incremental and monumental. Though coming from varying backgrounds and perspectives, each successive Barnard leader has helped shape the realities of women's education, accomplishing incredible things for the college, and molding both Barnard’s legacy and their own. However, a legacy is a complicated beast, and though we’ve taken many steps forward, there are still a number of complex issues that the college must address.
President Sian Beilock comes to Barnard at a perfect yet complicated time: The Cheryl and Philip Milstein Teaching and Learning Center is nearing completion, the college is divesting from companies that deny climate science, alumni are striving to cemen stronger relationships with Barnard, undocumented students are confronting uncertainty with their immigration status, and the contingent faculty union is experiencing its first semester with a new contract. These are things that both Beilock and the student body will have to grapple with in the coming years.
In conceptualizing this scope, I imagined writers engaging with criticism of President Debora Spar’s legacy in an effort to advise Beilock on what she needs to do differently. Spar was often accused of being distant and aloof from the concerns of students and faculty, and I expected this apprehension to carry over in such a big administrative change. In reality, however, what I received were three pieces of measured, but palpable, optimism. Not even a full month into the semester, administrators, alumni, and students already seem excited by what Beilock brings to the college. I cannot attest to the reception her eight predecessors received, but this already speaks volumes about Barnard’s new president.
My hope, then, is that this scope will both serve the students of Barnard and Beilock herself. The writers hold incredible conviction in Beilock’s character and the collaborative spirit she has promised to bring to the office. Each writer also comes with their own set of needs that they hope Beilock will listen to, not just in her first month, but throughout her tenure. Only time will tell what her legacy will be, but for now Beilock seems to be listening. For those who want to be heard, speak out.
Hannah Barbosa Cesnik
Editorial Page Editor