Dean Hinkson Responds to Student Protests

By Sarah Lipkis

With all due apologies, Barnard will be
taking your money, now.

In response to student outrage, Dean Avis Hinkson agreed to speak at the Student Government Association (SGA) meeting on Monday October 10, 2011 about the new tuition policy. Her goals were to better explain the new policy and listen to concerns and suggestions from students. The meeting was mostly filled with juniors on whom this policy has an immediate effect.

Dean Hinkson began by apologizing for the tone of the email- it was not her intention to have the email come off as crassly as the student body has perceived it. She then explained the full-time enrollment policy, including the fact that being a part-time student was a practice rather than a policy. Generally, to obtain part-time student status, a student needs to get permission from the class dean. Until recently, permission has been granted fairly regularly, which has led many to believe it was official policy. Now, it will become much harder, almost impossible, to get the permission needed to be a part-time student. Hinkson emphasized this point by stating that upon admission to the college the expectation is that students are full-time for four years, insisting that this helps to foster a community and that the Barnard budget is planned based on the assumption that students will be paying for eight semesters of full-time enrollment. If a student decides to graduate early, another student is admitted to take her place, which is not possible if a student decides to be part-time. Before turning the floor over to student questions and statements, Hinkson also addressed the fact that the policy will not affect current seniors or students who are planning on graduating a semester or more early.

The concerns raised by students at the meeting included the timing of the policy announcement (after program filing), the effect the policy has on juniors who planned to become part-time their senior year, and incorporation of student suggestions into the policy. Hinkson responded by stating that she was willing to listen to student suggestions and take them under advisement. She also acknowledged that the timing for the announcement could have been better but class deans and advisors are available to help students plan accordingly. Different departments are discussing how to deal with students wanting to graduate early, but being closed out of senior seminars. Hinkson concluded by assuring students that even though the policy will take effect, there are still a lot of decisions that need to be made, and she would love for student input on how to best handle these obstacles.

Before the meeting ended, some students did bring up the idea of fostering a Barnard community. One student mentioned that she felt that there was a constant financial obligation in order to be part of the community because as a student she was expected to pay for various community-based events. A second student then asked the room “ if you were a part-time student but paying full-time tuition prices would you feel a greater sense of community?” The audience answered with a unanimous “no.”

According to SGA representative Rachel Ferrari, the issue will continue to be discussed, especially in regards to exceptions for the junior class. Ferrari was also adamant that future policy changes should be heavily discussed with SGA before being announced to the student body in order to ensure student suggestions are heard and to prevent further discontent with the administration.

Sarah Lipkis is a junior at Barnard and Photography Editor for The Nine Ways of Knowing.

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