This semester, the College is launching Barnard Constellations, a program geared toward fostering community while helping students navigate the College, the University, and New York City. Every incoming student in the Class of 2015 will be a member of a Constellation, based on their first-year room assignments.
Below, the Constellation Leaders answer some questions about the program, with additional insights from Dean Avis Hinkson and First-Year Focus RA Sophia Mossberg.
- What will the new Constellations program bring to Barnard?
Each Constellation corresponds with a floor in the Quad, wrapping all the way around through Hewitt, Reed, Brooks, and Sulzberger. Although you have unity in the hallway where you live, and you have an identity as a class, both are somewhat lacking because the class is so large, and the hallway is so small. The idea is to connect these distinct halls as a greater whole, and create a community that is larger, but still a manageable size, that students can feel a part of.
Constellation Leaders will each plan about five or six programs per semester, at least one of which will be some type of large-scale service project. There will be gatherings on campus, whether with academic emphasis or just getting people together socially, as well as events and excursions out and about in the city. The idea is to help first-year students feel more connected at Barnard and less lost in New York.
- Sevan Gatsby ’12, Constellation Leader
- How will first-year students benefit from the program?
The Constellations are a way of extending the experience you get from Orientation, where there are a lot of planned events and your time is very structured. We’re hoping to make this a community that will continue throughout their college experience, through Facebook groups and blog posts as well as events that help students get to know more people and feel more connected to the school. For students who might have a harder time getting used to Barnard, they’ll know that Constellation events will be happening, and that we’re another resource, a community to be a part of throughout the year.
- Sruthi Swami ’12, Constellation Leader
The Constellations that have been selected are all navigational tools, and we're here to help first-year students navigate the various communities that exist at Barnard. You have your identity within your residence hall and on your floor, but it’s harder to identify with “Class of 2015.” The Constellations are like a step in between those two, where you’re part of something larger. And through various events and outings, we’re hoping to help them engage with more of the Barnard community, with Columbia across the street, with Harlem, and with all the boroughs.
- Colette McIntyre ’12, Constellation Leader
- How will Resident Assistants collaborate with Constellation Leaders?
Constellation programming will supplement RA programming. RAs and Consetllation Leaders will work closely together—in some cases this will mean planning events together, and in other cases we’ll be a resource for CLs, in terms of promoting Constellation-specific programming to our residents and helping to think about the kinds of events that will most appeal to students. For example, since I live with my residents, I'll have a sense of what they need and what they’re excited about, and I can pass this insight along to my floor's Constellation Leader. I’m hoping this will allow me to really support the Constellation program and help make it an integral part of campus life. It’s something I would have loved as a first-year; it’s going to create more opportunities to meet more amazing women and build more friendships.
- Sophia Mossberg ’12, Resident Assistant
- How will the program eventually expand to the rest of the Barnard community?
As the inaugural class, the Class of 2015 will have an opportunity to really shape the identity of the Constellations during the beginning of the semester and throughout the year. In October, plans are being finalized to start involving upperclassmen, and, in the spring, alumnae. The desire is to establish a cross-generational bond and give both students and alumnae another way to connect to the College. In the future, I’m hoping that at Reunion and other events on campus, people will be on the lookout not only for their classmates, but also for members of their Constellations, to share experiences, network, mentor one another, and feel a sense of community.
- Avis Hinkson ’84, Dean of the College
Quick Info on Barnard Constellations: