VSA Council Minute Meetings- 20 October 2013

Hi guys! Welcome back!

7:01 // Call to Order…PRESIDENT
(as we wait for Operations to get ready, PRESIDENT recounts how she pierced her own ear over break)
7:03// Attendance…OPERATIONS
Proxy: Representative for 2016
Absent: none
7:06// Consent Agenda…Council
a. Minutes from 10/6/13

Consent Agenda approved.

7:07// Forum with Julian Williams, Director of Equal Opportunity & Affirmative Action
WILLIAMS: I also work as the Title IX Officer.
I have been working at Vassar for 9 years.
I investigate issues of sexual harassment and discrimination, when the issue is not between two students. I supervise the way that the administration investigation
I also serve a tool when the administration is looking into the recruitment of faculty in terms of people of color and women.
We have a large amount of resource including Elizabeth Schrock and CARES.
Both are private forms of reporting and they remain confidential. Using these services do not automatically trigger an investigation by the administration.
We always people to reach out to law enforcement; we don’t make the decision for the student, but we encourage students to do so. I believe that currently not enough people to utilize local law enforcement.
After an investigation is conducted regarding sexual assault or Title IX issues, a trial is conducted to determine the veracity of the claim; typically, if a member is found guilty, these issues result in suspensions or expulsion.
We are in many ways ahead of the curve in terms of handling issues of sexual assault and discrimination.
My office investigates discrimination or sexual harassment between a student and faculty member. We want to let students know that this is a serious issue and that the college treats these issues very seriously. I also encourage student to talk with me regarding discrimination or sexual assault.

MAIN: We discussed issues of racial discrimination with Dean Roellke. He encouraged students to report issues. What are your feelings?
WILLIAMS: The college could follow up without necessarily opening an investigation. If a student receives a complaint based on racial profiling from a security officer, for example, my office would investigate the situation. If, however, the report came from a student and were directed toward a student my office would not be investigating the case.
However my office is also attempting to make sure that resources encouraging acceptance and personal development are available to students.

AT LARGE: Can you talk about the support component more?
WILLIAMS: I think that I must remain visible on campus and that way students will know that I can be a resource for them. Support can also come through making sure that the information regarding reporting, both to my office and other parts of the administration, is widely distributed. Also, my office is in Metcalf on the first floor.

OPERATIONS: How common is it that students follow up with local law enforcement? How have students experiences been with local law enforcement?
WILLIAMS: Not many people do report this to local law enforcement. Part of this is that law enforcement can appear somewhat cold. Our standard of evidence at the college is quite different from that of a local prosecutor; the college looks at the perponderance of evidence (50% or more likelihood), whereas local prosecutors only want to bring up criminal cases if the accused is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

FINANCE: The Supreme Court is about to hear a case about affirmative action; can you tell us more about the case’s implications?
WILLIAMS: When the Supreme Court ruled in 2004 that race could be used as part of the admissions process, many states proposed ballot initiatives challenging this ruling. Many states ruled that race should no longer be used in the admissions process. I think that they will uphold these ballot initiatives.
This should not directly affect us because I think that these rulings will be state-specific. Moreover, Vassar has its own strong commitment to diversity.

PRESIDENT: What does ‘investigate’ mean?
WILLIAMS: You talk to both the accuser and the accused. You also talk with witnesses, individuals who have knowledge of these people, you read many documents (text messages and emails). The investigations take a various amount of time.
In terms of student to student Title IX issues our target timeline is 60 days.
For student-faculty issues, we also attempt to make a decision within 60 days.

WILLIAMS: I look periodically with Elizabeth Schrock, Title IX investigators, and others so that we understand our goals. One of these long-term goals is to make this campus more equitable. We want to think of ways, be it changes in policy, events, etc., that will help people feel more equitable.

PRESIDENT: What else can we do as student leaders to help?
WILLIAMS: When we look specifically at reporting around issues of gender; most of victims are women and most of the accused are men. We have to spend more time talking to men about these issues; we talk to women quite often about ways of avoiding dangerous situations. We should spend more time engaging with men on issues of appropriate behavior, self-confidence, and empathy. For the most part our students get it, but we cannot let this stop us from thinking critically about our own role in these issues.

7:35// Executive Board Reports
PRESIDENT: The Board of Trustees met in the beginning of October Break and I served as the student witness to the meeting.
They were still discussing student space; there is now a subcommittee looking into the use of the Juliet cafe space.
The Seven Sisters conference is in two weeks (November 1-3). We have 60 people coming from the 5 remaining sisters. We have a day of activities planned on Saturday. We have not always had the best relationship with the Seven Sisters, as many don’t agree we should be part of the Seven Sisters, so this is an important step in our relationship.

2015: Can you talk about how much the Board of Trustees is actually interested in student events?
PRESIDENT: There are some committees that we are invited to and others that we are not. They did ask us to discuss the campus climate. They are very receptive to our notes, and said that they will be looking into ways

TERRACE APARTMENTS: What are the themes of the Seven Sisters program?
PRESIDENT: We are focused on collaboration and analyzing the topic in 4 steps.
1. Inter-collegiate collaboration
-analysis of the various student groups and their relationships
2. Intra-collegiate collaboration
-two colleges plan an event around one similarity
3. Seven Sisters collaboration
-brainstorming our shared values
4. Analyze communities or centers on campus that student government can collaborate with more broadly.

Open positions that we will fill in the coming week:
Jewett Secretary and Vice President
Davison Vice President
Founders Day Co-chairs
These applications closed at noon and will be reviewed by OPERATIONS committee this week.
We are looking at having a corum for appointment-related operations committee meetings, much like Finance does. Our minimum would be 7 representatives. We think that having only a small group to discuss applications is not adequate in terms of deciding student representation.
VSARC is moving forward will be a joint project between STUDENT LIFE and OPERATIONS committees.

JEWETT: When are operations meetings?
OPERATIONS: 5:00 p.m. on Mondays. But we do not interview students at this time; we send out a When-is-good to decide candidate meeting times.

MAIN: When does VSARC meet?
OPERATIONS: Thursdays at 9:00 p.m. in Faculty Commons. This time will change and we will publish the new time when we have made a decision.

SOUTH COMMONS: Is this open to the student body?
OPERATIONS: Yes all students are welcome.

SOUTH COMMONS: Right now preliminary organizations cannot use the name “Vassar” in their titles. This is a problem because many students already do and others that would like to use Vassar in their organization’s name would need to change their name following the preliminary status period.

Vassar Student Association Amendment 28 – __
An Amendment Concerning the Use of “Vassar” In Preliminary Organization’s Names
Principal Authors: South Commons, Ben Morse ‘14

SECTION 1: Article VIII, Section 4, Subsection A of the Bylaws shall include an additional sub-point:

4. Use “Vassar” in its official name

SECTION 2: Article VIII, Section 4, Subsection B, Sub-Point 1 of the Bylaws shall be struck:

B. A Preliminary Organization cannot:
1. Use “Vassar” in its official name.

ENACTMENT: As is prescribed in Article XI of the VSA Constitution, this amendment shall be enacted by a two-thirds vote of the VSA Council. All relevant numbers shall be changed accordingly.




7:55// Open Discussion…Council

2014: Halloweekend is this weekend and we will be tabling in the College Center with tickets for the dance. Tickets will also be sold at the door.

ACADEMICS: November 5 the Peer Advising event will take place, most likely in the Aula. Brewer House cup points are at stake (100 points). Food will also be provided.

SOUTH COMMONS: There are 3 picnic tables in South Commons now so please come visit them while there is still nice weather.

MAIN: Halloweekend is this weekend. Please avoid damaging my house.




One hour! That was pretty brief! I’ll write you again next week!