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.