Updates from March, 2013 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • 10:53 pm on March 31, 2013 Permalink | Reply  

    Live Blogging VSA Council March 31, 2013 

    Good evening everyone, and happy Easter! We’ll be getting started in just a few minutes.

    7:04 | Attendance

    The Class of 2013 is represented by proxy.

    7:04 | Consent Agenda

    1. $931 from Conference to Poder Latino
    2. $125 from Discretionary to Challah
    3. $491 from Speakers, Lectures, and Panels to GAAP
    4. $200 from Preliminary Organizations to VCTV
    5. $260 from Collaboration to ACT OUT!
    6. $260 from Collaboration to ACT OUT!
    7. $700 from Community to Joss
    8. $1175 from Discretionary to HYPE
    9. $2800 from Discretionary to HYPE
    10. $2200 from Discretionary to MICA
    11. $1200 from Discretionary to GAAP
    12. $3200 from Discretionary to Cushing
    13. $1350 from Discretionary to Woodshed
    14. Minutes from 3/24 meeting

    All items are approved.

    7:05 | Forum with Vice President for Finance and Administration Betsy Eismeier and Director of Budget and Planning Bryan Swarthout

    “The College is still working its way out of the effects of the recession,” begins Eismeier.

    Returns from Vassar’s investments account for roughly 1/3 of Vassar’s annual operating budget. Although these took at the peak of the recession, they have more-or-less returned to pre-recession levels. The main trouble, says Eismeier, is that revenue from tuition has not gone up—student families are still suffering from the effects of last decade’s economic downturn—and there are many maintenance projects that Vassar must begin to undertake.

    Moving forward, Eismeier says that the College, at all levels, will begin evaluating its priorities.

    Eismeier says that need-blind admissions is on the table during discussions of budget cuts because it is such a large financial commitment.

    (Class of 2013 President Vincent Marchetta has arrived.)

    Financial aid requirements have been recalculated since the $2000 increase in tuition was announced so that students in need will continue to receive financial support.

    Eismeier says that the College has decided to move forward on the new science building despite financial concerns because the Mudd Chemistry building has been in disrepair for several years, and because interest rates are low, so buying debt is relatively inexpensive.

    When Vassar decided to return to need-blind financial aid last decade, its models anticipated that only roughly 52% of students would be on financial aid. However, these calculations were all made before the recession, and many more students depend on financial aid than was expected.

    Eismeier would like to develop better ways of collaborating with students when making budgetary decisions or discussing the issues that the College expects to face.

    7:40 | Executive Board Report with VP for Activities Doug Greer ’14

    The Activities Committee has been reviewing the new preliminary org certification process for any mistakes.

    Planning for the Fall Leadership Conference has also begun.

    The Vassar Haiti Project will have an Activities Committee liason to help communicate the VHP’s activities. The VHP is both a student organization and a 501(c)3, and, as a result, exists in an unusual financial and legal bubble.

    7:42 | Executive Board Report with VP for Finance Alex Koren ’13

    Annual Budgeting Applications open tomorrow at noon. This year’s application process will have more questions than in the past to create a more effective allocation.

    7:44 | Drug and Alcohol Education Committee Update with Class of 2015 President Alison Ehrlich

    The Drug and Alcohol Education Committee plans on proposing a ban on the sale of alcohol related goods.

    VP for Activities Doug Greer ’14 says that this proposal, if made, will hurt student organization fundraising efforts.

    Josselyn House President Casey Hancock ’15 says that the Committee should be collaborating more with the VSA before making such a proposal.

    Ehrlich adds that the committee has done some research which indicates that such a ban would improve Vassar’s drinking culture.

    7:55 | Chronicle Certification with VP for Activities Doug Greer ’14

    The Chronicle has historically operated under the Moderate Independent Student Alliance (MICA). However, next year, the two groups will separate, so the Chronicle will need to be included in Annual Budgeting or it will be unable to function.

    Greer says that they will be skipping the preliminary org process because preliminary organizations are not allowed to participate in Annual Budgeting.

    The Chronicle is certified.

    8:00 | A Resolution Concerning a Relationship Abuse Charge with Class of 2016 President Max Moran

    The purpose of this resolution is to define relation abuse, and outline the process for making charges of relationship abuse.

    The resolution has been tabled for further review and discussion.

    8:05 | A Resolution Concerning Coursework in Social Awareness with VP for Academic Amanda Zeligs ’13

    Faren Tang ’13 is here to present the resolution as its principle author. This resolution endorses the creation of coursework in each major department that deals with issues of social awareness.

    Tang hopes that, if codified into faculty programs, this would help create a common language for members of the community to discuss issues of social concern.

    Class of 2015 President Alison Ehrlich asks if this would mean an additional course requirement in some departments. Tang is not certain how it would be implemented in each department, and implies that the proposal is meant to be flexible enough to give each department the opportunity to integrate coursework in a tailored way.

    Ehrlich also asks if this would necessitate additional faculty, citing the example that a female Chemistry professor may not be an expert on a course called “Women in Chemistry.” Once again, Tang says that the proposal is meant to be flexible.

    Zeligs hopes that, if this resolution is adopted in Council, it will attract the faculty’s attention and provoke greater discussion.

    Students with double majors or correlates in two areas, one naturally related to social consciousness and the other not, would have to take a social consciousness course in their majors under this proposal.

    Ehrlich says that the requirements under this proposal may put too much stress on each department to find resources to teach social awareness coursework. Tang responds that she wants social consciousness awareness to be a central part of a Vassar education, and not forgettable like the quantitative requirement can be.

    The resolution has been tabled for further discussion.

    8:25 | A Resolution Concerning Training for Athletics Leaders with Class of 2013 President Vincent Marchetta

    The goal of this resolution is to encourage the implementation of a training program for Athletics department student leaders similar to that of the student fellow training program.

    Council adopts the resolution.

    8:30 | Amendments Concerning Joint Committee Composition with VP for Operations Deb Steinberg ’14

    This amendment will update the VSA governance to current practice within the joint committees.

    This amendment is passed.

    8:31 | Amendments Concerning Finance and Annual Budgeting with VP for Finance Alex Koren ’13

    This motion was discussed last week, and will update the annual budgeting process to make it longer and more detailed.

    8:33 | Open Discussion

    There are 55 days until Commencement.

    The START survey has been completed, and will be emailed out by VSA President Jason Rubin ’13 over the next few days. This survey will collect student input on the possibility of a smoking ban.

    Student seminars will begin tomorrow.

    The Student Gift Committee will conduct a second annual dorm challenge to raise money from the student body.

    Council adjourns.

  • 10:51 pm on March 24, 2013 Permalink | Reply  

    Live Blogging VSA Council March 24, 2013 

    Hey everyone! I hope you have all had a good break. We’ll be getting started in about ten minutes.

    7:03 | Attendance

    Raymond House, Lathrop House and the Class of 2016 are represented by proxy. Vice President for Activities Doug Greer ’14 is absent.

    7:04 | Consent Agenda

    1. $450 from Collaboration to MBSA
    2. $4,200 from Discretionary to MEChA
    3. $1,000 from Community to MEChA
    4. $370 from Collaboration to MEChA
    5. $1,930 from Discretionary to CHOICE
    6. $1,000 from Discretionary to PEACE
    7. $774 to Discretionary to 2015
    8. $700 from Community to Joss
    9. Minutes from 3/3 meeting

    Each item is adopted without debate.

    7:04 | Executive Board Report with VP for Student Life Dallas Robinson ’14

    Class of 2013 President Vincent Marchetta is working toward developing a training program for College athletes similar to the Student Fellow training program.

    The Student Life Committee’s collaboration with Spectrana is moving forward.

    A relationship abuse policy is being developed within the administration.

    7:07 | Executive Board Report with VP for Academics Amanda Zeligs ’13

    Student seminar applications open tomorrow. There are eighteen confirmed seminars at this time.

    The Academics Committee is writing a resolution on coursework and social awareness.

    7:09 | An Amendment Concerning Judicial Board Representatives with VP for Operations Deb Steinberg ’14

    The amendment has been amended so that elected representatives cannot sit on the auxiliary Judicial Board boards.

    According to Chair of the Judicial Board Alaric Chinn ’13, members of the Judicial Board feel that this amendment is unnecessary.

    As a reminder, this amendment will create an auxiliary group of students to serve on Judicial Board student conduct hearings when members of the Judicial Board could not be reached to fill the roll. The amendment was written at the suggestion of Dean of Students DB Brown.

    Chinn feels that creating such a group would negatively affect the Judicial Board philosophy, implicitly sending the message that it things will work out, even if members do not participate.

    With only half of the Council voting in favor, this amendment fails.

    7:21 | Annual Budgeting Update with VP for Finance Alex Koren ’13

    The Annual Budgeting process will be different this year. Among other things, it will be longer, and only organizations whose applications are found to be contentious by the Finance Committee will have to meet with the Finance Committee.

    7: 24 | Finance and Annual Budgeting Amendments with VP for Finance Alex Koren ’13

    In the past, the committee in charge of annual budgeting was very large. These amendments make it so that only Finance Committee is involved in the initial process;  so that, in the case of a financial emergency, the VP for Finance may act independently to resolve the problem; the amendments; so that there are “Finance Committee policies” to outline the way Finance Committee operates; and so that special purpose funds without use are eliminated

    7:41 | An Amendment Concerning Joint Committee Composition with VP for Operations Deb Steinberg ’14

    The Campus Community Advisory is not operational, and is being nixed in this amendment. The Campus Investor Responsibility Committee has more members now than is provided for. Several other joint committee provisions of the Constitution do also not reflect current practice, and are being amended.

    7:43 | Open Discussion

    There are 63 days until Commencement.

    Council adjourns.

  • 11:59 pm on March 3, 2013 Permalink | Reply  

    Live Blogging VSA Council March 3, 2013 

    Hey everyone! This is the last meeting until after spring break. Good luck on all of your finals!

    7:01 | Attendance

    Class of 2014 President Dan Shaw is absent.

    7:02 | Consent Agenda

    1. $2,000 from Community to Vassar Prison Initiative
    2. $1,350 from Conference to MEChA
    3. $1,130 from Speakers to Democracy Matters
    4. $2,500 from Discretionary to Founder’s Day
    5. $5,000 from Collaboration to ASA
    6. Minutes from 2/24 meeting

    The items are all adopted without debate.

    7:02 | Forum with Dean of Freshmen Benjamin Lotto

    The Dean begins by discussing Vassar’s collaboration with the Posse Foundation, an organization dedicated to improving veterans’ graduation rates.

    He is outlining a brief history of Vassar’s relationship with the military and America’s various war efforts, starting with World War I. After the Great War, France was so grateful for Vassar’s support efforts that it sent the College a tank. This tank was displayed on campus for roughly twenty years afterward.

    The Posse Foundation was created several decades ago to group veterans together and prepare them for attending college together. It was formed after a student veteran, who was leaving school before graduating, made an offhanded comment that he would have graduated if he had his posse with him.

    The Posse Program is also a networking tool for veterans to find internship and employment opportunities after graduation.

    Last spring, at President Hill’s suggestion, Vassar became a “Posse school,” and eleven members of the Class of 2017 will be military veterans.

    A typical posse is composed of student veterans who are all from the same city, but these eleven are each from different locations across the country.

    Veterans coming to Vassar alone will live in residential houses with the rest of the student body; but it is yet to be decided how veterans with partners or veterans with families will be integrated into the residential system.

    These eleven veterans are in their mid-twenties to mid-thirties.

    7:45 | Executive Board Report with VSA President Jason Rubin ’13

    The Committee on College Life will discuss some of the issues raised during the Westboro Baptist Church protest in March, and has pushed back its vote on the smoking ban until April.

    Rubin reports that it has all but been decided that the bookstore will not move off-campus in the immediate future.

    The College has passed the 2013-2014 budget, with renovations planned in Strong House. Looking forward to the 2014-2015 academic year, however, it is expected that the Trustees will pass budget cuts. The goal would be to decrease Vassar’s spending from the endowment by roughly 1 percent. According to Rubin, the reason for this, in part, is the growth of Vassar’s spending on financial aid since going “need-blind” five years ago. The country’s recovery from the Great Recession has also been slow, and that has had an impact on the growth of Vassar’s endowment. He does not mention the new science building project.

    7:56 | Executive Board Report with VSA VP for Operations Deb Steinberg ’13

    Updates are being made to the governing policies of VSA subcommittees.

    The Admissions Office has launched a new website. The Alumnae/i Office is revamping its reunion program.

    8:01 | START Town-Halls update with Terrace Apartments President Devin Griffin ’13

    Town halls had modest attendance. A student survey was to be emailed to the student body today, but upon learning that CCL moved the decision to April, Griffin decided it would be better to hold off on the survey as well.

    8:06 | Amendment Concerning Judicial Board Representatives

    The amendment, copied below, is meant to create a pool of Judicial Board representatives who may be called upon to assist after their term had ended. It was written at the suggestion of the Dean of Students DB Brown.

    Chair of the Judicial Board Alaric Chinn reports that there is substantial opposition to the amendment among members of the Judicial Board. He says that members of the Board feel that, since there are 17 of them, there should never be a case that fewer than four are available to hear a case.

    Chinn adds that participation has not been a problem this year.

    VP for Finance Alex Koren ’13 says that increasing the pool of available students may weaken participation further due to the psychological “bystander effect.”

    The amendment has been tabled to the Operations committee for review.

    8:27 | Open Discussion

    There are 83 days until graduation.

    Council adjourns


    Vassar Student Association Amendment 27

    An Amendment Concerning the Pool of the Judicial Board

    Principal Author: 2013

    Whereas at the request of the Dean of Students, the VSA recognizes the need for an increase in membership of the Judicial Board to broaden the pool of students able to hear cases and participate on panels.

    Therefore, be it resolved that the VSA Constitution Article IX, Section 1 be revised to read:

    Section 1: Composition

    The Judicial Board shall be composed of:

    A. One chair, elected at large by the VSA.

     B. 16 additional members, 4 from each class, newly elected each year.

    C. A pool of auxiliary members to serve in exigency.

    a. This pool shall consist of any VSA members currently on campus who have been previously elected to, trained for, and served on the Judicial Board for at least one term.

    b. Any member may choose to opt out of this pool upon consultation with the chair.

    c. Individuals may also be removed from this pool at the discretion of the chair

    Enactment: Members elected during the Spring 2012 election cycle for the 2012-13 term of service shall be the first representatives included in the pool of auxiliary members. They will be notified of their extended duties as well as their ability to opt out of auxiliary membership.

    Vassar Student Association Amendment 27 –

    An Amendment Concerning the Pool and Process of the Judicial Board

    Let Article XI, Section 1.A of the VSA Bylaws be revised to read:

    Section 1: Process

    A. The Judicial Board Chair shall choose 4 of the other 16 members, on a rotating basis,

    to hear each case. In the case of an appeal, 4 of the 12 remaining members who have not

    already heard the case shall hear the appeal.

    Let Article X, Section 6.G of the VSA Bylaws be revised to include:

    2. An exception shall be provided for former representatives of the Judicial Board included in the pool of auxiliary members defined in Article IX, Section 1.C of the VSA Constitution, whose membership in the pool shall not be considered an additional term of service.

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