VSA Council Meeting Minutes—26 January 2014

Hey everyone, hope you all had a good first week of classes. We should be getting started shortly.

7: 01 // Call to Order
Attendance ……………Operations

Proxies: Ferry, Jewett.
Everyone else present.

7:03 // Consent Agenda
a. Democracy Matters – Conference ($800/$800)
b. VARC – Discretionary ($0/$125.25)
c. South Commons – Discretionary ($160.15/$160.15)

Everyone Consents.


ACTIVITIES: There will be a refresher for programmers and treasurers next weekend. There will be more information. The Activities Fair for the spring is taking place on the 15th from 11 to 2. This is for the preliminary orgs and new orgs to table. We’re still working on the storage space project. The theme of Founder’s Day is dinosaurs. We’ll be having a meeting this Wed. Rocky 200, at 7pm. My self and members in this room, we’ve been working on this unofficial committee called the Traditions Committee. We’ve been looking at the large campus events—Halloween, Serenading, etc.—and the goal of this committee is to look and find a place for these campus events. We’re trying to figure out what where to go with this committee, and we’re trying to come up with a person who could over see this committee.

MAIN: Sorry, can you repeat the specific goal in terms of these traditions?

ACTIVITIES: It takes a lot to put on these events…

2014: Remember at Serenading when Senior Class was planning it, and no one was talking to anyone about it, and it became a mess.

ACTIVITIES: Hopefully there will be a similar model to the Founder’s Day committees.

The unofficial name is the Vassar Traditions Committee, but not all of these events are specific tradition.

PRESIDENT: Other schools have a traditions commmittee, but that might not fit so well with what we hope the committee will do at Vassar. If you want to help, maybe you can pick a new name.

7:10 // Finance Reports

Finance: We’re a little ahead on the speaker fund, but we’re looking good. We’re moving the fund app deadline to 5pm on Sundays. This gives me a chance to meet with folks a couple of days ahead of time. Fund Apps need to be submitted 14 days before the finance committee meeting during which they will be reviewed. From the point where we will review it on Wed. your event needs to be at least 14 days away.

If you are interested in paying someone, just giving them cash or a check is harder to do than it used to be. Finally we have 3 new wireless VCash machines that Campus Activities has put in place. But in order for them to work wirelessly, we need to shut down the entire campus wifi for it to work. So they won’t be wireless yet.

TAs: Can you remind us what the funds were out of?

FINANCE: Discretionary, out of 50,000. Speakers out of 50,000. Collaboration out of 12. Community out of 12 or 15. Social Conscientious 10.

PRESIDENT: Next we’re going to turn to Student Life for a conversation about spring orientation.

STUDENT LIFE: It was rather successful. It happened on Monday and Tuesday. It consisted of two main speakers—Jay Smoothe and Jay Mace III. We discussed issues of identity and held film screenings. It was successful; there was a good turn-out from freshmen, but there’s room to grow.

RAYMOND: Any plans to make it mandatory in the future?

STUDENT LIFE: I think the plan is to make it mandatory in the future. It’s still a pilot program, but I know most students want it to be mandatory?

MAIN: Do we know how out peer institutions compare in terms of having spring orientations for freshmen?

STUDENT LIFE: Not that I know of.

STRONG: I heard it was very tiring, so maybe it could be spread out.

CUSHING: The complaint some of my freshmen had was that it was a bit repetitive.

7:19 // Dean of Studies Search Committee…

PRESIDENT: Joanne Long will be finishing her term as dean of studies this semester. We received a lot of emails about Ben Lotto

ACTIVITIES: There were 7 members of faculty and student. We started with emails to faculty for nominations or self-nominations as well as student nominations. Some declines noms. And it ended with 3 candidates.


2016: I just want to ask if the student members on the community felt they were being listened to, if their voices were being heard.

STUDENT LIFE: I think that the faculty were receptive to our feedback. There were a lot of conversations in terms of what faculty look for and things about academia, and we were able to give a lot of insight from the student perspective. I felt that the break down of 4 faculty and 3 students is deliberate.

MAIN: Can you tell us about some of the feedback you received?

PRESIDENT: Some were concerned about there only being 3 students on the team. It felt to a lot of students I heard from that it wasn’t transparent. I mean this is a person who is a representative for the faculty, a person who students go to to talk to the faculty. They are a resource for us, but they are not representing us the same way I represent the student body. If students are concerned about their voices being heard, we should talk about that.

2015: It was necessarily process-related concerns. There are a number of students who have very strong feelings against that person.

ACADEMICS: There’s not as much student interaction with the Dean of Studies as with the Dean of Freshmen. If you’re a senior, for example, you don’t go to the Dean of Studies, you talk to the Assistant Dean of Studies. I just think it’s worth noting.

2015: I think it’s just work noting that people don’t like him. The other thing was the voting process wasn’t clear.

STUDENT LIFE: The breakdown was that there were 4 votes in favor and 3 votes not in favor. I would say that if any of you would like to speak to us in our committees or outside of Council, I’d be willing to open up. There was a lot of student feedback and it was voiced passionately. We passed it on directly to President Hill.

JOSSELYN: It’s a recommendation, so is Ben Lotto the Dean or not?


JOSSELYN: OK, I also feel that because he is, what can we do?

STUDENT LIFE: There was a chance to go to external search if the internal search found no viable candidates. Hill decided not to and took the recommendation of the committee. I think we should also add that Joanne Long did not opt to go for the position again. It’s 5 years. So this appointment has the potential to remain.

TAs: I know that the candidate needs to come from a department that won’t experience a drain by the loss.

PRESIDENT: It privileges some departments over others.

OPERATIONS: We wanted to talk about the process and not the person. Talking about how the process can be better is great. The thing about the process was that the decision to go to an external search was not made.

ACADEMICS: The reasoning is that if an external search was held, and another person came into the position. Our Dean of Studies office works differently than at other schools, so it would be more of a process for that person to learn how the offices under the Dean of Studies works. It’s not my explanation, but it is an explanation.

PRESIDENT: I will be sitting on a search committee later in this semester from a position. So moving forward, we’re looking at this as a chance to make changes for the future. If you get feedback from constituents about experiences that were or weren’t good, send them to me. Ben Lotto will come in later to have productive discussion.

7:34 //…..Open Discussion

2014: There are 118 days until graduation. 100 Nights is coming up on Feb. 15. There will be wine, cheese and dancing.

MAIN: Can we get an update on the VSA Audit?

OPERATIONS: There’s a 1 year timeline. We’re talking about bringing in an expert to do some of the data gathering and an analyses. That’s a more time-consuming process. We should do it right rather than doing it quickly.

2016: I got a lot of emails over break from students about the textbook lists and how they couldn’t get a list so they had to get books from the bookstores. We talked to the CCP about posting the syllabi being posted and we were shot down. It was frustrating went someone sent me a link to an online course catalogue from another school that had the syllabus from the last few years. I don’t see what the big deal is concerning having your book lists or a syllabus posted 2 weeks before classes. You should know what you’re teaching.

2015: Card office changed policies. Anytime you print a card it’s 25 dollars, but we’re not sure if that the actual policy. It would be nice to know what these changes are if there are any.

PRESIDENT: We are going to ask Acting Dean Dunbar if she has a consolidated list of things that changed that we can send out.

So you know last semester we started Late Night at the Deece, and we’re working on getting food down there. We talked to Aramark and they’re into the idea. The trial period would be a couple of days a week, because we don’t have enough staff. The trial period would be from Thursday though Saturday, 10pm to 2am to fill a void on campus. But we need 2 to 3 students to start a task force. If you have any interest come talk to me.

JEWETT: What time does it open now?

PRESIDENT: 10. It’s always open at that time, this would just be a time when food would be available because they have to reset the kitchen. I was hoping it would start in the beginning of Feb. but the trial should start before spring break.

2016: What does the Food Committee have to say about this, and what do they do?

OPERATION: Well the committee is elected. Sarah King ’16 is the chair. They meet every week with Maureen King, and read over the comment cards. They make those suggestions to Maureen and she works with them to make them happen.

JOSSELYN: I was wondering when this task force meets.

PRESIDENT: It would meet like once, hopefully next week.

AT LARGE: I don’t know much about late night at the Deece, so what does it offer that’s different than the Retreat or UpC?

PRESIDENT: It’s just another space. UpC is now an event space so there might be noise going on there. And you could use the Retreat, but it’s a different space. The idea started because we wanted to serve food. Originally it was going to be the Retreat, but there’s limited storage space. So this is phase II of Late night at the Deece.

STUDENT LIFE: Tomorrow is there’s the committee meeting in the LGBTQ Center. I was sitting on the SAVP Committee on Friday. One of the things that came up was finding students to sit on the student subcommittee of the SAVP. If House Presidents could reach out to their students and see if they’re interesting. It would give students an opportunity to have conversations about personal violence with students. It would give students a little more perspective on more complicated questions. For example, we got a report on every resource utilized and that information is usually available.But we’re still defining the subcommittee as far as defining what we, as a body, will do.

DAVISON: So this is a call to students to structure and sit on the committee?


RAYMOND: What does the overarching committee do?

STUDENT LIFE: They plan and review events. Dealt with Title IX. Accurately report what happens in government.

Anyone is welcome to express interest in this committee.

JOSSELYN: When do they meet?

STUDENT LIFE: The interested parties would decide that.

ACADEMICS: CCP believes that 75% of the professors already send out their booklists. I think it’s a problem here and there, but it’s not a universal problem. On to happier things, starting tomorrow we will have a New York Times subscription. They will be available in the Retreat by the Mug and by the Kiosk.

OPERATIONS: A lot of schools require their professors to upload their material on Moodle 2 weeks early.

ACADEMICS: A lot of faculty don’t use Moodle and they don’t want to use Moodle, and they don’t know what books are available.

PRESIDENT: Reality is a lot of faculty don’t have their syllabus 2 weeks early.

SOUTH COMMONS: Professors will put books on the list and students will buy them and then say never mind, you don’t need them.

2017: I thought the Audit started.

OPERATIONS: It has started. We’ve talked about it with students at large, etc. it’s just a bit more complicated. We’ve been in negotiations with auditors..

PRESIDENT: Ed Pittman will be coming in to talk in a forum about All-College Day.

VARC PRESIDENT: I wanted to invite everyone to Ferry House this weekend, from 7-9 for a vegan wine and cheese party. There will be nonalcoholic wine.

CUSHING: I really would like for the focus of our Council to fix that we don’t feel like we have a voice. One thing we could think about is forming a student bill of rights. I would love for it to be something the VSA to create.

STUDENT LIFE: It’s something a join-operational committee could work on.

PRESIDENT: Or anyone who’s interested could join together.

2016: I was going to suggest we could do it during a Council dinner. I think we should all sit down and do it.

RAYMOND: 2 questions, do we have a dinner on the horizon?


RAYMOND: Does Exec board have their office hours up?

PRESIDENT: No, we’re working on it. They should be in by Wednesday, and then I’ll send them to everyone.

STUDENT LIFE: This is something I would say in my update, but this is more time sensitive. There will be a forum with Judy Jarvis and other students, for students and faculty to explain why we are moving in the direction of gender-neutral bathrooms. It will be on Feb. 19 in CCMPR or Villard from 5:30-6:40.

JOSSELYN: Joss will be having a battle of the bands in the Shiva on the Feb. 7.

OPERATIONS: Motion to adjourn.