Barnard Bans Decoration on Dorm Doors, Imposes New Policies Restricting On-Campus Protests

The administration’s latest policies elicit student frustration.

Photography by Samantha Candelo-Ortegon

Following months of on-campus protests and unrest between students and administrators, Barnard last week imposed two new policies on students. The first restricts demonstrations on campus; the second bans decorations on residence hall suite and dorm room doors.

“They are causing more chaos,” one Barnard student told The Barnard Bulletin. 

“Barnard admires itself for being a school that promotes civil discourse, discussion, speaking your mind,” another student said. “They are doing the exact opposite of what they are preaching. I find that very hypocritical.”

The February 20th “Policy for Safe Campus Demonstrations,” released by Executive Vice President for Strategy and Chief Administrative Officer Kelli Murray, limits demonstrations to Futter Field, Barnard’s central grassy area. The protests are only to be held 2:00-6:00 PM, Monday through Friday, for Barnard/Columbia ID holders only. The Policy also requires those seeking to protest to “submit an Intent to Demonstrate” to Barnard Events Management two business days before the intended demonstration; this “Intent” also applies to counter-protests, although with a different time frame. 

A clause, entitled “Noise Amplification,” bans megaphones, bullhorns, pots, pans, and instruments from protests to “ensure that registered Demonstrations do not interfere with normal College activities.”

Those who do not abide by Barnard’s new system will undergo “Student Conduct proceedings.” 

The policy writes that Barnard, a private institution, is “not subject to the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution,” but ensures that the protest restrictions “are not intended to interfere with anyone’s right to express themselves or be heard.”  

One Barnard student says the new policy “takes away the whole point of student demonstrations, because they are supposed to be going against authority. You are not supposed to have to talk to the people you are demonstrating against before you actually protest.”

Only three days later, on February 23rd, Leslie Grinage, Vice President for Campus Life and Student Experience and Dean of the College, emailed Barnard students about an addendum to the school’s Residential Life and Housing Student Guide. Under Section IV’s Health and Safety Policies, Barnard now bans decorations “used or displayed outside of a student’s room or suite”

Barnard students must remove any decorations on dorm or suite doors by February 28th at noon. According to Grinage’s email, “the College will remove any remaining items starting Thursday, February 29.” The email states that door decorations may have “the unintended effect of isolating those who have different views and beliefs.”

A Barnard student tells the Bulletin that they think that the administration wants to “ultimately protect students.” But, the method, the student says, is “the wrong way.”

“I don’t know what the perfect solution is, but I know right now is not appropriate,” says the student. “By limiting us, they are making it unsafe and unbalanced between different groups.”

“The school needs to make sure they are actually listening to their students and not just listening to donors and other people of high power who might be saying something different,” another Barnard student says. “The college is meant for the students. It is meant for students to learn, and to grow, and to be able to speak their thoughts freely.”

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