VSA Council Meeting Minutes: 29 Sept. 2013

Hi! We are off to a late start tonight, so hang on while everybody settles!

7:04 // Call to Order…President

7:05 // Attendance…Operations
Absent: Davison
Proxy: 2017 (VP for the class of 2017)
At Large Members: The Miscellany News, members of Britomartis, Director of Community Works Tom Ellman, Davison house team members, representative from the Students Class Issue Alliance.

7:09// Consent Agenda

Consent Agenda
Bikes – Discretionary; Capital ($300/$1,000)
NSO – Discretionary ($951.97/$951.97)
HYPE – Conference ($1,600/$1,908)
VISA – Conference ($1,500/$2,151.14)
Devils – Conference ($0/$395)
Fly People – Capital ($165/$165)
Contrast – Speakers ($300/$300)
ViCE student music – Capital ($799/799)
Minutes from 9/22/2013

All are approved.

7:09 // Note from representative from Students Class Issues Alliance
The Class action workshop was very successful yesterday. Roughly 26 people attended.
Thursday in the Aula at 5:00 p.m. (until 6:30) to continue discussion class and class issues on campus.
FINANCE: Thanks for applying using the Social Consciousness fund.

7:11 // Forum with Community Works…Tom Ellman
ELLMAN: Community Works is a philanthropic group that raises funds for local non-profit groups.
I am inviting student participation in this campaign.
Community Works was formed after the Boy Scouts won a court case allowing them to refuse scout masters based on sexuality. Vassar was associated with a group that was connected with the Boy Scouts, and after the decision, Vassar decided to separate itself from this group.
Community Works funds hunger relief, domestic violence and child abuse prevention, local arts, LGBTQ issues, and others important issues.
100% of Community Works goes to the non-profits.
Community Works also helps educate the campus about local non-profits.
Most of the campaign takes place in the fall; while the campaign can take the whole year, but ideally most of the money is raised by 1 January.
I invite each house to do their own event; examples include an auction, dance, raffle, and other events.

2015 REP: What kind of responsibilities would a representative have?
ELLMAN: Most of it would be coordination and help communication between the committee and house teams. There would only be about 3 meetings this year.

PRESIDENT: How do you decide where the money go each year?
ELLMAN: Each year we solicit recommendations from the campus via email. We received between 15-20 nominations. This coming meeting on Friday, and maybe the next, we will decide which groups to support. Last year we chose 10 organizations.
In the past we have raised between $75,000 to $100,000 each year. This means that a lot of good can be done in the local community with this money.

JOSSELYN: When a House Team hosts an event, will the team raise money and select which agency their fundraiser would go to or is it put into a lump sum?
ELLMAN: All of the money raised at an event is put together into one group and then is divided at the end of the campaign.

TOWN STUDENTS: Are there any mechanisms for outreach to the larger community to ask what they would like to fund?
ELLMAN: There isn’t really any way to do that this fall, but we could reconsider that. We don’t communicate with organizations before they have been officially selected in order to prevent them getting their hopes up.

MAIN: Do houses need a representative on the committee to host an event?
ELLMAN: Not all houses need a representative, but a few would be appreciated. I’m not going to turn people away.

JEWETT: How soon do you want us to do the event? Can we do more than one?
ELLMAN: I think that it would be best to have one big event in the fall. A good second choice is a continual form of fundraising. But building momentum towards the goal by the holiday season has worked best.

2014 REP: When I was the Lathrop Treasurer we hosted auctions, but getting the money to the Community Works account was tricky.
ELLMAN: We can figure that would. I am not sure what the transfer of funds is.
FINANCE: I can do a transfer within the college, so just have your treasurers get in touch with me. Note that you cannot donate any of your annual allocation directly to Community Works.

JEWETT: Can we use V-Cash machines within our dorms?
OPERATIONS: I can check on that.

ELLMAN: I would love to follow this up by communicating one or two of you.

7:30 //Executive Board Report
I am ironing out the language around reporting inter-personal violence events. I am working with Elizabeth Schrock and I am thinking of reaching out to Renee Pabst.
I am working on making more gender-neutral bathrooms.
I do need Student Life Committee members to be more committed to the committee. If you are not interested in the projects I am doing, please consider moving to another committee.

Peer advising is going well. We have roughly 80 peer advisors. We are now looking into filling targeted groups of advising.
The newsletter will cover food this semester. We have had enthusiastic responses from many faculty members.
MAIN: You are doing a great job!

7:35// Discussion on How to Fill Davison House President Position…Operations
OPERATIONS: What are by-laws allow us to do is appoint someone or to order a special election.
Anyone is allowed to run, except members of the Class of 2017, because they have not been on campus for more than one semester.

TERRACE APARTMENTS: Can members of 2017 vote?

ALEX MOULTON (at large): On behalf of Davison House team, we would ask the VSA to suspend a by-law and allow the Vice President to assume the role of President. The VP has attended house team training and meetings.

OPERATIONS: First off, we would be suspend one by-law. This vote would require. Suspending the by-law would require a 2/3 majority vote from the VSA.
I cannot recommend that we do that. We have 2 democratic options already instituted, so throwing them out seems problematic. And note that the special processes we have established are both expedited.

2015 REP.: I agree with OPERATIONS, and note that the timeline will still leave Davison with leadership throughout the election /appointment process. I think

2016: I think that the best process is special appointment. By appointing the VP now, we would be setting a precedent that VP would always take over in these situations, which is not something we would always want. I think that your VP is the most qualified candidate, but we don’t want to create the precedent.

KATIE ELIOT: Our second choice was the special appointment; but we do think that time is a major issue here. We also have our fall event coming up soon.

DOUG GREER: I still think that the fact that the Davison House team can visit the Operations committee, but they are not a voting members. I think that this means that they have lost some voice. Many members of the Operations Committee also do not live in Davison.

KHASI: Thank you for all the support from my house team. We have been through a significant change since we lost our president, and we feel like we have a hole in our house team now. The general consensus among the house team, the HSA, and the VSA is that we have to be fair.

RAYMOND: My house has been discussing this all weekend, and we think that we should listen to Davison. Suspending the by-law would make us appear less rigid and more efficient. “I’m fully in support of whatever Davison thinks we should do.”

2014 REP: As Elections co-chair, I think that suspending the by-law would not be a valid course of action because we have two totally valid options. While Raymond has an excellent point, I think that upholding the bylaws were voted in to preserve is more important.
The Board of Elections recommends that a special appointment is done.

JEWETT: We seem to be doing a process more slowly than necessary. I support suspending the by-law because we can turn our focus toward finding a VP.

FINANCE: We need to talk about the issue at hand: suspending the by-law. Either way the Davison House Team is down one member: either a President (with Khasi serving as temporary President) and or a Vice President.

2015: I think that a special appointment is the best option.

2016: I am really comfortable saying that Khasi is going to be appointed, and I know that people are going to be upset with me for saying that. I think that we should reconsider the by-laws existence all together if we are going to consider suspending the by-law.

PRESIDENT: I have to take issue with you. You cannot come into the meeting knowing who you are going to vote for.

OPERATIONS: I agree with PRESIDENT. We need to come in objectively and if you cannot be objective you must abstain from the vote.

PRESIDENT: This is so controversial because everybody wants to do what is right for Davison and VSA.

KATIE ELIOT: We would just love to have some way of expediting the election/appointment of the VP so that we don’t have to go through another meeting.

STRONG: Motion to fill Davison House president by Special Election. (vote can only be special election or no)

NOYES: Were there any other members of house team interested in running?
KHASI: As of 3 days ago, the consensus was that 90% of people did not have time and the rest said that they would be comfortable with Khasi serving as president. None would technically want to run or put in an application.

ACADEMICS: It seems like we are trying not to do what you want, but I want you to know that this is not the case.

CUSHING: I feel like we are having a discussion about morals and ethics instead of what is best for Davison. I would motion to suspend the by-law.

OPERATIONS: That cannot happen until the previous motion is defeated.

STUDENT LIFE: I was under the impression that other people are interested in running for president. For fairness, I do also support the special election.

2014 REP: Just wanted to remind all residential life positions that they cannot apply because it violates their contract.

NOYES: I have also heard similar things to STUDENT LIFE so I think that it is only fair to have a special appointment.

Abstentions: 2017
Against: Jewett, Cushing, Raymond
In favor: All other voting members


PRESIDENT: I am so sorry for the drama was this. I am sorry to 2016 for snapping at you; I am sorry to Davison House team for this long process.

OPERATIONS: I am also sorry for the lack of communication. I encourage you to continue coming to Operations meetings.

ALEX MOULTON: I would hope that in the future there was more communication between Residential Life and VSA. We came in thinking that suspending the by-law would be a very easily passable motion.

2015 REP: I have had experience with the lack of communication issue this has think that sometimes Residential Life presents things as options that aren’t really options in the VSA.

2014 REP: I think that the Residential Life Office was not understanding that this was not an issue for them, but rather a VSA decision.

8:12 // Certification of Britomartis…Activities
We have reviewed the Britomartis application. They had a strong application, they bring a new kind of theatre to Vassar, and the group has a solid group organizations. As a pre-org they have preformed 5 shows.
I motion to certify Britomartis.

FINANCE: I want to stress that this does not immediately give them any funding. They would need to apply the discretionary fund.

Unanimous passage.

8:16 // Decertification of Wholistic…Activities
Wholistic has been inactive for three semesters and has no leadership.
The group used to work with Religious and Spiritual Life.
There are no current members of the group.
Motion to decertify Wholistic.

Unanimous passage.

8:18 // Open Discussion
2014: Time line until graduation: seniors could knit 120 sweaters and a simple scarf before commencement.
The Class of 2014 is responsible for Halloween programming.
I would invite house presidents to talk to their house teams about their concerns for Halloween programming. The Villard Room dance will happen from 10:00 p.m. until 2:00 a.m.

Meet me in Poughkeepsie will happen next Saturday.
Application closes on Tuesday at noon.
Late night at the DC is tonight on the East Side of the DC at 10:00 p.m.

TERRACE APARTMENTS: The Triple AVC (African American Alumnae/i) is hosting an event this Saturday from 3-5 p.m.

LATHROP: Lathrop’s fall event is this Saturday and is a Trash-to-Treasures event. There will be a fashion show from 10:00 to 10:30 p.m. and then there will be a dance party until 2:00 a.m. in UpC.

MAIN: I would like to second 2014 REP’S note about Halloween, because Main has been consistently disrespected.

PRESIDENT: Thank you guys for our discussion earlier. Thank you to those who spoke to their constituents about this issue.
I’m concerned about some of our actions generally. I think we need to remember that we are representatives. This includes how you behave outside of council, if you write an article in the Misc; we are representatives of the entire of school. Generally air on the side of your representative role. Typically when you are expressing an opinion that is not necessarily representative of your constituency, representatives must note that they are speaking outside of their role on VSA. We should never speak on behalf of council and be conscious that not all of the people you represent agree with your opinion.
“We have made it through a month and are still alive and that is great.”
Also know that being a part of committee means that you need to do more than just sit on a committee for one hour. If you don’t like the committee you serve on, please consider changing committees.
Also, thank you for everything that you have done.

JOSSELYN: My question to LATHROP is, how should I prepare students for the event via a study-break? And comment: I want to congratulate the class of 2017 for electing a president. I’m very happy to see more POC on this council.

2016: Congratulations to RAYMOND for hosting their event. Over 200 people attended. I would like to note that there was an issue of hate-speech at the event. A student who was dressed up was mocked by a non-dressed up individual, who was part of group, who called the student “a queer.” I think we need to look into ways of making students speak up against hate speech.

RAYMOND: Motion to adjourn.

Unanimous support.
This motion passes.

The meeting is over! Write to you next week!