VSA Council Meeting Minutes—8 December 2013

Hey, everybody, we’re about to start the final VSA Council meeting of the semester.

7:04 // Call to Order …….President
Attendance ……………Operations
Proxy: CUSHING
Absent: Town Students; ACADEMICS

7:05 // FlyPeople perform for PRESIDENT

7:07 // Consent Agenda
YDS – Prelim……………………………………………………………….($54/$54)
SJP – Prelim………………………………………………….………….($0/$15)
Hip Hop 101 – Community………………………………………..($2,000/$7,000)
Capital to Outing Club ………………………………………………….. $289
Prelim to Generations…………………………………………………….. $70
Social Consc to SEASA……………………………………………….. $598
Capital to Ballroom………………………………………………………… $65
Speakers to VHP…………………………………………………………………$84
Minutes from 12/1/2013

Consent Passes

7:08 // Executive Board Reports …..Student Life

STUDENT LIFE: We’re having our final student life meeting tomorrow. I’ve talked to Judy Jarvis about the gender-neutral bathroom issue. We’re talking about what the sign should look like. I’m showing it to the Dean of Academics and Planning tomorrow. We’re also talking about Title IX with Elizabeth Schrock tomorrow. All College Day has a speaker—Janet Mock. Theme is “Unsilencing Voices.” McGhee ’16 is in charge of that. We also talked about student governance. We’re going to be working with Operations on We also discussed VSA Exec board as work-study, why that didn’t happen. I met with Students’ Class Issue Alliance. I’m trying to attend meetins. I really want to know what’s going on in students’ minds. We’re talking about how students are feeling about this, issues with administration, responses to the Privilege Campaign. I’m reaching out and trying to work with the Centers.

TAs: I saw the gender-neutral bathroom signs over there. Can they do that?

STUDENT LIFE: I think Jarvis did that. It hasn’t happened on the official level yet but we’re putting them up.

TAs: How do you define shared governance?

STUDENT LIFE: That conversation isn’t just with student life. That’s in development. It’s most likely going to be incorporated into the audit.

The time for the workshop will be on Wednesday from 3-5 in the Faculty parlor.

2016: There has been talk about gender-neutral bathrooms all semester, can you talk about the pushback?

PRESIDENT: Faculty support this idea, but they also want single-sex bathrooms. They’re having discussions about which bathrooms will be turned into gender-neutral bathrooms. From what I understood it will be easier to look at buildings being renovated.

STUDENT LIFE: I talked about that with Jarvis. Jarvis felt this should be coming from the administration, and it shouldn’t be put into the faculty’s hands.

TAs: I know there’s an unspoken rule that past 5 o’ clock bathrooms become gender neutral, could we have a sign about that? So you talked about sending proxies, how are you choosing proxies?

STUDENT LIFE: I’m going to look at organizations over break that really pertain to student life. The Centers, RSL, Student Labor Dialogue. I’m going to see which ones it will be realistic for me to go to. If we need to get reps from those orgs on student life, that would be ideal for me. I only have so large a pool to draw from right now. I’m trying to get more student feedback that’s not from the same people.

7:18 // Executive Board Reports…Academics

ACADEMICS: We’re looking to get a hundred copies of the New York Times. I talked to Roellke’s office asking for money. But the hope is to get—Hill’s office is also interested. We’re also looking for people from Development—Alumane/i’s, etc.—to pay for it. The other thing for the textbooks with the Students’ Class Issue Alliance, they’re going to put together a spreadsheet of the number of students who are on financial aid and how many students work minimum-wage jobs. Dean Rock will read that on the faculty meeting on Dec. 11. I want to send this to majors’ committees chairs. With the newsletter we’re doing well. The Misc Design Editor Palak is helping with that. You can read it next semester.

We’re working on a 24-hour student study space for Fridays and Saturdays after the library closes. We’re also looking into archiving student activism on campus. The other thing that came up with the EMS course—it’s a class that there’s a lot of effort and work that goes into it, and there’s a lot of incentive for students to take it. There’s talk to make it 1 credit per semester. CCp will talk to the Registrar and look into how peer institutions handle it.

The last thing is the Winter Soiree is happening.

STUDENT LIFE: I forgot an update. We are trying to get some sort of disorientation manual to give to the freshmen next year. That would be an effort to not completely disband the social consciousness thing, but with the faculty resistance it’s not super real that the moment. This would be a small effort to make some kind of social consciousness awareness apart of orientation.

PRESIDENT: Next we’ll move to election timing amendment.

7:25 // Election Timing Amendment…Operations

2016: If anyone has any questions direct them at Abby.

NOYES: I think this is a nice idea, but I see some issues with this amendment. As a Council one of our goals this year was to be more transparent, but I think in doing so we become less transparent. I think a big part of our election system is the run-off system. While I think it’s important in acknowledging people’s feelings in this, you are running and you are aware you could lose. In positions of leadership there are going to be upsets, and you have to be prepared. Lastly, I think it’s interesting to look at the results of from a public perspective.

2016: I think people might be confused. All it says now is that results will be released until 3 weeks after. It used to be that they weren’t accesible unless you asked for them, but now they’re delayed.

STUDENT LIFE: I guess I would echo the sentiment that when you run for something, you understand that you’re running and you have the chance of not winning. And I appreciate the effort behind this, however, I feels that it steps on our efforts of transparency. I think the student body deserves this information. It detracts from us treating the student body as peers and adults.

DAVISON: When it comes to public shaming, there’s also an event for the elections process when you hear who’s being announced as the winner. You’re already around your running mates. I don’t see how this amendment would not allow people to want to know in a sense, but at the same time it’s kind of like you’re already publicly shamed in a sense.

2015: So I was just looking through the constitution, it says section 11 something.

2016: Section 11, subsection f.

2015: I think we need to reword some of these.

JEWETT: If you’re going to publish them anyway, might as well send them out the same night results are read. Why three weeks?

OPERATIONS: The discussion we had was that three weeks is a reasonable time period where a lot of sensitivity around the election isn’t present.

JEWETT: Wouldn’t that remind them of what happened three weeks? If we don’t want to put them out at all, why are we waiting for a certain amount of time?

2016: When it was written, I was opposed them being released. This amendment has a typo should have said Section 10. When we first wrote the amendment and we wanted to withhold the results…we considered freshmen running. Sometimes they only get 5 votes, meaning that not even their fellow groups voted for them. I don’t see how this is against increasing transparency. I don’t think we need to release the results at all, because it hides some anonymity. I think it’s important to be aware of people’s feelings. Everyone at this table has won an election. Not everyone knows what it’s like to lose, and lose by 5 votes.

OPERATIONS: I like to speak briefly to this amendment. On a persona standpoint, the VSA always talks about increasing transparency. Rarely do we ever discuss increasing kindess and the amount of compassion. This amendment may not increase transparency, but I do think it increases compassion. On an Operational standpoint, we want as many people as possible to run in an election. It’s a good sign of a healthy democracy. If we have a chance of increasing the list of people who run, I think that’s fantastic.

STRONG: I ran for Strong President my freshman year and lost. I know what it’s like to lose, and it’s not fun. I do think the results being available right away allowed me to see that I didn’t lose by that much, which is what led me to apply for secretary and to be here. Being in that room where you announce who won is awkward. I think you bring up a good point of increasing compassion, but I don’t know that this is an area we need to focus on.

STUDENT LIFE: Some people do need that immediate feed back. This isn’t increasing compassion for people who just lost in those couple of days or that three week period. That’s something I think we’re annoying. Also, I think increasing compassion is a really good idea, but I don’t think this is the best way to do it. Some big issues on this campus and things Operations have done before…efforts could be made in other areas.

JOSS: Yes, compassion is nice, but the world is not nice. Life is not fair, if you lose you understand that.

TOWN HOUSES: I think whatever makes people want to run is a good thing.

OPERATIONS: It will be announced at elections when the results will be released. People will be reminded that if they want to see the results sooner than that day, they can send an email.

ACADEMICS: More directed towards the author, was there any sort of feedback you had that prompted this? Were people genuinely upset about this? If you wouldn’t mind telling us about things you’ve heard.

2016: Yeah, so I encouraged this freshman who I knew to run for freshman rep of his house. He ran and got like four votes, which wasn’t enough for his fellow group to have voted for him. He was upset. I understand that this is a hard world, but this was written to protect the people who lose heart.

AT LARGE: I was one of the authors who ran for it and won. The link was posted on our Facebook page, which was unfortunate. That night I had a friend who came in last, and we spent the night trying to hide the fact they came in last. I agree it’s a tough world, but freshmen year is tough and running in elections is tough. If you can do something to make people feel better, I see that as a good thing.

OPERATIONS: I got five emails complaining about how the results were public.

DAVISON: While I am a strong advocate, I think there will always be an impasse.

OPERATIONS: Um, I moved to adopt amendment 28-5.

PRESIDENT: If we don’t approve it that doesn’t mean it can’t come back in different form. Now the motion on the table is to vote on that.

NOYES: For me the bigger concern is only the difference between VP of Operations can release the results from three weeks until the end of the semester. I think it would be better to release the results at a set date.

2015: Second reason, I don’t think they may request to see the election results, to they can see the results.

MOTION TO APPROVE AMENDEMENT:

Motion Fails.

7:51 //Debt Amendment…… Strong & Operations

OPERATIONS: This is an amendement from the Academics committee. The original concern of the amendment was the difference between debt and deficit.

FINANCE: I contributed some language to this amendment and this is not the amendment.

AT LARGE: So I co-wrote this and we sent it to ACADEMICS.

OPERATIONS: I motion to table this amendment.

PRESIDENT: The motion is to table this amendment because no one knows what it says.

I think the problem is different committee saw different versions, so no one knows what it looks like.

2016: Perhaps it would be better to create an omnibus amendment that corrects the debt/deficit issue.

OPERATIONS: I could speak to the idea of a debt vs. a deficit. A deficit is an overdrawing of an account. We can look at orgs that way, but we generally look at orgs who have overdrawn and are spending money that belongs to the VSA. We refer to that as a debt, because we expect them to pay it back to us. And by doing that we take it away from them next year. If want to change the language by putting debt everywhere it says deficit that’s fine, but both pretty much mean the same anyway.

AT LARGE: I can send you the line. This is literally a one line amendment.

PRESIDENT: Has it been shown to all the committees? I’m going to move the rest of this conversation to the end of the agenda. All in favor of tabling this amendment?

We’re going to table this. We’ll just talk about this at our next Council meeting.

7:59 //Pre-Org Application Approvals……. STRONG

PRESIDENT: We’re going to approve them as a block, like a consent agenda. Does anyone have something they would like to remove from this block of pre-orgs.

Abstentions: 2016
MOTION PASSES.

8:01 //Organization Certifications …..SoCos

SOCOs: Archery, VCTV, VassShakers, ComedyNormative…we think they are well-equipped to be full orgs.

Finance: You still have to apply for an annual budget, and Finance will review all those applications.

TAs: So is archery treated as a club or a club sport.

STRONG: Just a club, like frisbee.

OPERATIONS: If we’re trying to move club sports out of something the VSA does, and is something handled by another group, would it be good to do this?

AT LARGE: We feel Archery will not become a huge financial burden in the future, instead it’s more of a frisbee-esque scenario.

2015: From what I understand that discussion has been happening, but we don’t know what’s going to happen with that so it would be unfair for Archery.

STRONG: Archery functions very much like a club. They’ve existed for a long time on this model, so we fit the description of a club.

VOTE ON ARCHERY.
MOTION PASSES.

COMEDY NORMATIVE.
MOTION PASSES.

VASSSHAKERS.
MOTION PASSES.

VCTV.
MOTION PASSES.

8:06 //Conversation about what we would like to accomplish next semester….PRESIDENT

PRESIDENT: Tomorrow we will meet with Senior Administration. Is there anything people want to share with Administration? Anything you want to bring up. We’re going to go around the circle.

RAYMOND: I’ve just heard a lot of concerns about the progress of the new science building. Students want information.

CUSHING PROXY: Basically our constituency would like the conversation to switch to modes of better communicated between general students and administration. People feel they’ve been kept in the dark. They would like clarity and would like to feel that as students…we don’t want to have to attack anyone. I guess we feel there will be less backlash if there is more knowledge. Just the idea of, and really support things Roellke is doing—having the lunches and conversations goes both ways. Students in Cushing didn’t feel comfortable with the avenues that we have. So many further dissemination of the avenues that exist.

DAVISON: Members of my constituencies are asking if there is any way to target questions to the VSA. They were asking if there are channels they could contribute discussion topics.

PRESIDENT: Yeah, email me or any of us.

JOSS: Basically what has been said, so pass.

2014: PASS.

2015: I know individual committees are working on stuff, but this how students perceive things. The current progress of gender-neutral bathrooms, there’s confusion. A request for more counseling services. Mor clarity of the students who withdrew. Making buildings more accesible. Why Women’s Studies, LALS, etc. are not departments.

2017: General confusion involving students and administration.

AT LARGE: More resources for counseling services.

ACADEMICS: Looking to make the campus more affordable for people. There’s more work to be done. Administration needs to recognize that.

STUDENT LIFE: I would love for the administration to not constantly be defending themselves but admit when they are wrong. I will echo counseling services.

OPERATIONS: I would like for senior level administrators to have more office hours for campus.

PRESIDENT: More resources for students—counseling and just recognizing the need to be more receptive to students’ needs.

SOCOs: Faculty needs to be more receptive to our goals. Any project we work on in Academics get turned down by Faculty. When we requested that they publicize their office hours they said no. When we asked for them to publish their book lists two weeks earlier they said no.

JEWETT: More shared governane with administration.

2016: A surprising number of complaints about counseling services. One went to Metcalf and they were told they wouldn’t be able to see them for another two weeks. I think we need to prioritize for what we spend money on and what the students want us to spend money on. The largest problem we have is that we give great financial aid, but then we stop there.

LATHROP: A lot of them feel that moving forward, they would like to encourage the administration to do concrete and more proactive things, not just be reactive.

TAs: I liked to hear about responses to the recent pathways vandalism, and I would like to see the 24-hour space available.

NOYES: Pass.

PRESIDENT: So now we’ll talk about what we’re passionate about accomplishing next semester.

TAs: Newsletter published next semester, and moving Council meetings around.

LATHROP: Disorientation manual.

2016: 24- hour study space. And the Students’ Assistance fund.

JEWETT: More accesible with moving meetings around and 24 hour space.

THs: I think focusing on events that empower students to have better social skills and ones that help students have better mental health.

SOCOS: How we can restructure committees to make them more effective. I want to come up with a concrete plan to show that counseling services are important to us.

FINANCE: I would like to see a smooth annual budgeting process.

PRESIDENT: I would like to see the disorientation process.

STUDENT LIFE: Disorientation manual, resources for Metcalf, getting this gender-neutral bathroom thing done, more resources for students on financial aid on campus, and SCI. I also want to move my office hours around.

ACADEMICS: The newspaper, 24-hour space, cheaper text books.

STRONG: Really committing to helping students where they need to be helped. Making Council more accesible. It’s very intimidating to come to the VSA when you’re not on the VSA. So reducing those stigmas and barriers.

MAIN: Second VSA mug night or VSA Rave. Academic newsletter. Archive of student activism. Making VSA more accesible.

2015: Shared governance, getting feedback faster.

2014: I would like to see progress made with the audit. The current VSA structure.

JOSS: I would like for those students on financial aid to not be poster children. And i guess if VSA were to find a way to get concrete things done instead of nitpicking on the little details.

DAVISON: Inclusion of administration, faculty and student body. More access to resources. 24-hour weekend study area.

CUSHING PROXY: Physically move meetings. Solidifying a students’ Bill of Rights. Gender-neutral bathrooms. Clarity with the audit.

RAYMOND: VSA Rave. VSARC and the audit. Disorientation manual. Everything Academics committee does. Further conversations about social consciousness requirement…

NOYES: To learn how programming works and budgetting works. Maybe an info session. Try supporting each other as a team.

TAs: I think the consisten road block is money, so I wanted to see if we could get a student priority survey.

8:29 // Discussion with Students’ Class Issue Alliance….. Nguyen ’15 and Schwartz ’15

Nguyen: There was a booklet called navigating Vassar issued to current students two years ago. We’re working to update that to include broader resources students can access.

Schwartz: We’ve been working with ACADEMICS in order to move up when the course materials are available for students to potentially help students choose courses if they can afford the material. And to encourage professors to think about whether the newest edition is needed.

NGUYEN: Hopefully we’ll have lists posted soon for the following semester, if administrators are receptive to student input.

SCHWARTZ: Last year VSA Council voted for a Class Issue Center on campus. We’ll be working with Student Life on taking concrete steps.

ACADEMICS: The conversation about the text books wouldn’t have happened if not for them. Everyone should be aware and thankful for this. They’re working hard for the whole campus.

STUDENT LIFE: This org is a Godsend. I get really frustrated when professors assign 5 books and you only read two, and you spend the money when you’re on financial aid. Financial Aid will tell you that you have funds to tap into for books and travel, and they are extremely valuable for students on financial aid.

2016: Has here been any progress on a Class Issue center?

NGUYEN: We worked with Hernandez and talked to Jarvis and López-Burgos to talk about taking necessary steps.

8:36 //Open Discussion…. President

PRESIDENT: I am going to send out an email in response to the recent graffiti on campus. I don’t know anything about this graffiti, but clearly people are upset and concerned, so we talked about it a little bit in Exec. We’re going to send an email to talk about our office hours, and I talked to Roellke about getting a venting session in order with a counselor involved. Another thing Finance brought up is reminding people who feel unsafe, you can call security and ask for a ride around campus. So if anyone has anything else to include?

FERRY: We’re all pretty annoyed about the graffiti on Ferry. It said “Cappytalism is Crisis” which isn’t triggering but it is annoying.

PRESIDENT: Yeah students often forget that they put this stuff on peoples’ houses.

STUDENT LIFE: There are students on this campus who don’t feel conformable with security as an option. in terms of the graffiti, I’m looking past the use of comparing the privileged statement of our situation to Apartheid. This was most likely done in the same spirit as other things that have been done. Students feel they won’t be listened to unless they do something radical. I’ll be available during study week. I’m trying to look past the language used to focus on why students on doing this?

2017: Is this email about taking accountability and responsibility? I’m conflicted about it.

PRESIDENT: A lot of people feel that way. You want to yell at them, but at the same time you understand that people don’t feel heard otherwise. The email will probably acknowledge that.

AT LARGE: I think it would be good if you said you don’t have more information about it.

STRONG: We had a meeting with Luis Inoa, and students expressed that they can’t be heard. I think when we have a student body that will do things that are detrimental to their Vassar education because they feel unheard and frustrated should be noted.

CUSHING PROXY: I think the tone of the email should emphasize resources and support, focus on everyone’s safety.

2014: I have lots of thoughts and feelings. One of the things we need to address is the fact that we have spent the past hour focusing on financial things, and the College is going to have to spend money to remove this graffiti.

JEWETT: Respect of our area and the places that we live in. Yes, they’re saying that we have a problem with this but they didn’t need to put it on the floor. But also, going to ResLife—Inoa is interested in talking to students.

THs: I know other colleges that have a giant graffiti rock or something students can spray paint on.

JOSS: This is a question, is Cappy saying anything. Cappy’s name is being used a lot.

PRESIDENT: I don’t know, I will find out.

2015: On the idea that we need to make it clear that we care about this and the people in this committee, but I hate when we say things like “it’s really unfortunate…”…I think the tone can be more angry. No kids’ gloves.

PRESIDENT: I’ll find a happy balance between swearing as much as I’d like to and saying that your peers are upset about this.

2016: I think there’s a difference between acts of vandalism is cries of help versus acts of vandalism for vandalism’s sake. When I walked past the graffiti this morning, I think that it comparing this culture to apartheid makes me think about how these students are feeling. Apartheid is considered one of the worst things to happen in history, and while this was a privileged statement, we must think about why students feel that they should be making this statement. We need to assess why students feel this way.

JEWETT: If students don’t feel safe with security, campus control can also escort you anywhere.

(points of clarification about where the graffiti was found on campus directed towards The Misc)

8:56 // Open Discussion
2014: 167 plus days until Commencement. This past Friday we announced the all-student gift. It will be a donation to the internship grant fund with the provision that if you are a graduating senior who is taking an unpaid internship, you will be able to apply to this fund. Fundraising will begin in the spring.

MAIN: A forum with Cappy would be interesting.

AT LARGE: For the Activities Fair, it would be great for the VSA to have a table at the event.

FINANCE: Friday 13th is the last day for reimbursements to be submitted. This is a hard deadline.

RAYMOND: My house is having a stress-buster, which is laser-tag in Walker. Please come.

THs: Thank you NOYES and your house team for your great event.

JEWETT: Just want to give a shout-out to SESA for the wonderful dinner.

2017: Tuesday in UPC the freshman class council will be holding an event!

ACADEMICS: Strong came to my subcommittee, and requested a shout-out, so shout-out to STRONG.

STRONG: I didn’t ask for one, you said you would give me one.

MOTION TO ADJOURN: Unanimous approval!
See you in January!