There are few places in the world with nightlife as abundant as in New York City. Unfortunately, all of this fantastic nightlife is far from Barnard's campus. Since Barnard and Columbia make up almost all of Morningside Heights, there are plenty of places to find liquor nearby, but these places just provide the drinks and forget about the ambience. This probably isn't very different than other college towns, but because New York has so much more to offer, students know that the bar scene is lacking. Most of the time students don't really care and enjoy just hanging out with friends over a few drinks near campus, appreciating that they don't have to pay cab fare or the high prices for Manhattan's trendy drinks.
There are plenty of bars to choose from on Broadway, near Barnard, but because there is far less space than there are students, they tend to be crowded no matter when you go. There are no clubs near Barnard at all, which is fine since clubbing is so expensive, anyway. Most people don't mind spending $12 on a cab to get downtown when the club's cover is $30. Basically, there is any sort of entertainment you could ever imagine in New York, but for Barnard students, it's more of a question of money and motivation. You'll probably usually want cheap and convenient, but if you ever feel the need to do something special and go to one of the many clubs or bars downtown, you're sure to have a good time. There are dozens of places just a cab ride and cover charge away.