On a campus once praised as a “peaceful retreat” from the noisy city, Lehman lawn lies severed in half, encroached upon by a construction wall and orange cones. In Mac’s absence, the site of our former student center rests instead in the throes of Nexus construction. Well, so much for peaceful quiet, and so much for student space. Wherever are we Barnard ladies to go for our community?
For those of us who live in the quad, the mandatory full meal plan at Hewitt ensures that we will see fellow students at all times of day, whether at breakfast, lunch, dinner, or Late Night. Indeed, Hewitt is so crowded and small that it’s nearly impossible not to run into at least twenty friends at a single meal. Much of Barnard’s community lives outside the quad, however, thus free of its oppressive meal plan. At set meal prices, Hewitt isn’t too practical for frequent use. While it may be worthwhile socially for the occasional lunch, it just doesn’t cut it for a daily sense of fellowship.
Java City provides an admittedly better option for students without a meal plan, selling drinks and café food individually. The couches, tables and chairs provide some space for studying and seeing friends, but it is unfortunately cramped and limited. Even if the space itself serves us well, it is far from central on our campus, lying hidden beyond a windy path and blocked off by the construction wall.
Barnard clearly has student space issues, and perhaps the issue doesn’t even end there. One of the main reasons we all came to Barnard was for the intimate community within the big city. I must say, the typical Barnard student persona on campus surprised me when I arrived. Though we are all bright, enthusiastic women, somehow the norm for general interaction seems defined more by aloof seriousness than by friendly smiles. Out in the city streets, we’ve all learned to ignore the scalpers and beggars that shout at us from all sides, and it seems that we’ve internalized this defense mechanism. By now, I know a lot of Barnard students, and we are indeed a warm, personable group of individuals. But therein lies the issue: as individuals, we are friendly, as a community, we tend to be cold and cut-off from each other. In this time of displacement, when Barnard has no student center to bring us together, we simply cannot afford these hardened exteriors. It is time to uncover the warmth in every strong, beautiful, and brilliant Barnard woman and forge the community we came here for. Not only do we owe it t ourselves, we owe it to each other.