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The Dartmouth
May 19, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

From Morningside Heights to Pine Park Hikes: President Beilock’s Relationship with Two Student Governments

The Student Government Association at Barnard College and Dartmouth Student Government give their two cents on both past and present cooperation with Beilock.

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This article is featured in the 2023 Freshman special issue. 

College President Sian Leah Beilock arrived on campus this summer ready to create “brave spaces” on campus, address sustainability concerns, strengthen relations between the College and the broader Hanover community and improve Hanover’s economic development, according to an article in the Valley News. However, Beilock’s role also necessitates careful collaboration with students in government and leadership. The Dartmouth spoke with members of student government who have worked with Beilock, both at Barnard College and here at Dartmouth to learn more about her leadership style and cooperation with students.

Tiffany Vo, who graduated from Barnard this spring, served as president of Barnard College’s Student Government Association during the 2022-2023 academic year. Vo acted as “the main orchestrator” to connect the 24 representatives on Student Government with “the right administrative [offices] and support them,” Vo said. 

Barnard SGA interacted most directly with Beilock during a fall semester executive meeting, in which SGA met with Beilock and other administrative leaders. At the meeting, SGA outlined their policy agendas, and Beilock provided feedback on their planned initiatives, according to Vo.

“Our ‘big three meeting’ [with Beilock, the Dean of the College and the Provost] was our main interaction with her at the start of the semester,” Vo said. “We would … outline big themes we had in four pillars: accessibility, reestablishing school tradition and spirit, housing and gender inclusivity. Within each pillar we’d have big ideas [in addition to] actionable goals, like who we would want to meet with and what we would most likely be advocating for.” 

In addition, Beilock would attend one of the Barnard SGA’s weekly meetings during the fall semester. 

“We would invite President Beilock to one of our representative council meetings, so we could ask her questions about her role, she would ask us questions, and we would have this back and forth,” Vo said. 

In her role as president, Beilock helped the Barnard SGA connect with administrative officials and advised them on their policy goals.

“She kind of came in … with the bigger picture, knowing what was going on, and gave us feedback in the sense of, ‘You should talk to these people,’” Vo said. “She raised any flags, or gave recommendations or advised us that we were already on track [to meet our goals].” 

One of Beilock’s major projects during her tenure as President of Barnard College was “the centralization of first-generation, low-income resources into Access Barnard,” Vo said. According to Barnard’s website, Access Barnard was established in Fall 2020 as a campus-wide initiative to “enhance the academic experiences, and promote the inclusion and excellence of first-generation, low income and international students.”

“That came from a conversation with [someone] who I believe was an SGA student,” Vo said. “SGA does facilitate a lot of her interactions with students, and the SGA of that time was very focused on [the advancement of] FGLI students. President Beilock really pushed for a physical space for [FGLI students].” 

While Beilock sometimes had to moderate or shoot down some SGA propositions, Vo said this was usually due to external constraints, such as conflicting interests or institutional priorities. 

“[Student Government’s] goals … might be a little outside of the college’s jurisdiction, and she could note … that something would be tough to do,” Vo said. “At the end of the day, she really wants to work with us … but as the President of the College, you juggle so many different interests. She’s this figurehead, and the goals of our SGA might not align with what the institution wants quite yet.” 

Vo’s sentiment towards Beilock was largely positive, and she appreciated the collaborative environment that Beilock fostered.

“She’s always open to hearing what we want …We never had an issue with voicing what the students want,” Vo said. “She has been a champion in taking in and understanding where students are coming from.”

Vo also noted that Beilock’s cognitive science background “is really informative to her approach.”

“She’s very much a person who has to absorb a lot of information. She loves data, and looking at numbers and facts, like any STEM girlboss.” 

According to Dartmouth student body president Jessica Chiriboga ’24 and vice president Kiara Ortiz ’24, Beilock has brought this collaborative, “data-driven” mentality from Barnard to her new position in Hanover. DSG has already begun to discuss their goals with Beilock, Chiriboga and Ortiz said. 

The two met with Beilock on July 26 to introduce her to DSG, explain how the group operates and outline its goals for the upcoming year, according to Ortiz. 

“We were able to share a lot about our priorities, and she was very invested and anchored in evidence,” Ortiz said. “[She] supported … a lot of our ideas [drawing on] the Student Issues Survey … to get data on how students want campus to change and how leaders are able to produce that.” 

Chiriboga also noted Beilock’s “data-driven and empathetic approach to student issues” as displayed in this initial meeting.

“She gave us really great feedback on all our priorities, both on how she can partner and collaborate with us, but also with what information she needed to accomplish those priorities,” Chiriboga said. “We really appreciated how she [emphasized] collaborating with the administration — she took our role as the primary representative of undergraduate students seriously.”

Chiriboga and Ortiz presented a list of recommendations to Beilock, including institutionalizing the “Day of Caring” as a scheduled wellness day each term, reinforcing the Dartmouth Coach voucher program, investing in outdoor wellness opportunities and increasing student involvement with the Board of Trustees.  

“We had an active discussion, so we were able to evolve from those [recommendations] and get feedback and critique,” Ortiz said. For example, when the DSG presented the goal of strengthening town relations, Beilock suggested connecting with the College’s Vice President of Government and Community Relations, Emma Wolfe.

“We just appreciate how proactive she is with making those connections,” Chiriboga said. “[Ortiz] and I are proud of our last year of work … but even so, it’s really nice to have the President [being] mindful and wanting to facilitate that collaboration.” 

Ortiz expressed that with the inauguration of a new president, she is excited to enter a new chapter of collaboration with DSG and senior administration.

“From a personal standpoint, hopefully students feel that they can reach out and go to her office hours, or … share a concern,” Ortiz said. “President Beilock will be a great resource to campus.”

 Beilock’s media team did not respond to requests for comment by time of publication. 

Correction Appended (Sept. 6, 5:10 p.m.): A previous version of this article incorrectly worded Chiriboga’s title. The article has been updated for clarity.