VSA Council Meeting—9 Feb. 2014

Hey, everyone, we should be starting in a few minutes. Sit back and enjoy the live blog.

7:04 // Call to order…. President

Attendance….. Operations

Proxies: 2016, TAs.
Absences: Noyes.

Consent Agenda

a.Generation (Pre Org).………………………………………………………………..($200/$30)
b. NSO (Community)……….…………………………………………………..($4500/$5650)
c. Habitat (Discretionary)………………………………………………..($1855.32/$1855.32)
d. Miscellany (Discretionary)..……………………….……………………………($0/$2000)
e. Fly People (Discretionary)…………………………………………………….($451/$811)
f. Conference to MEChA ……………………………………………………………….$350
g. Collaboration to Islamic Society ……………………………………………………..$125
h. Christian Fellowship (Capital)..…………………………………………………….…$499
i. All College Day (Discretionary)…………………………………..$2000

All consent to the Consent Agenda.

7:06 // Forum with Stacy Bingham, Director of the Career Development Office

BINGHAM: I am the director of the CDO since last may. I’ve held a variety of positions before that. This is a hot time for CDOs at liberal arts campuses: peer institutions are grappling with similar problems, some are further ahead or behind, and Vassar is in the middle in terms of issues. The director search took 2 years, which is unusual, due to Chris Roellke and others wanting to think about life after Vassar and what that means for CDO. We had an external review a year ago, my charge is thinking about their suggestions and what’s best for Vassar and strategic planning.

PRESIDENT: Could you tell us about more of your resources?

BINGHAM: There are the traditional resources you’d expect—the bread and butter is one-on-one meetings with students, both scheduled (30 or 60 min) or drop in with counselor or post bac. We try to get to the heart of what’s on the student’s mind. It’s hard with a limited staff and lots of students; we try to create an event for many students at once like ob search panels, internships; we try to have employer info sessions, on and off campus recruiting. We pair up with the Development Office of Alumnae/i Affairs. One priority is increased collaboration with the alum office to bring opportunities for students to connect; we’re not specialists in the CDO but knowing Vassar there is someone before you who has done something similar who could help you, so we want to try to make those connections easier to make. We administer funded internship programs, most awards come from the IGF to pursue low and unpaid internships, and there’s the Tannenbaum and other smaller awards. We asked to delegate more funds to students, but one of the challenges lies in staffing. Limited funds take away from other opportunities, and we feel the effects of lack of staff. I was pleased that student gift contributed to IGF.

TOWN STUDENTS: Could you explain the things that external audit advocated for? What are targets?

BINGHAM: We looked at the physical space—our office looked similar to 20 years ago until last year. Students had to enter into environment that didn’t portray an environment you wanted, didn’t show what it means to be professional and it was not a great space for employers, it was shabby, doesn’t lend itself to a physical layout that’s conducive for other stuff. It’s now bisected by major thoroughfare; we have offices that deal with similar things in similar locations like field work; wanted emphasis on additional staffing, responded with post bac position; We wanted a new website—Im really happy to report that the website is going well. We should have a new one in a year; overall nothing surprising but there is value in someone outside saying what we needed, now we decide what pieces are relevant.

FINANCE: Could you speak about on-campus recruiting at liberal arts college campuses? Some think it doesn’t happen.

BINGHAM: Over the past few years an average 20 employers recruiting on campus. This is low and we would like to improve but the environment is changing. Employers prefer skyping and interviews especially with non-profit because it’s a smaller budget for travel; We gave a survey to seniors: What employers would you like to see? What grad schools? We want to know who students want to see on campus, talking with alumnae/i to ramp things up. Schools like Vassar, like Smith, have even smaller student populations but have larger on campus recruiting opportunities. We want to find a way to get Vassar students more exposure by collaborating with some liberal arts colleges in hub locations like DC of San Francisco.

PRESIDENT: Any plans with collaborating with the fellowship office and field work?

BINGHAM: There’s some opportunities to collaborate because we report to the Dean of Studies. Things have been improving since moving to dean of studies office 3 years ago, that relationship has strengthened. It’s more challenging with Field Work because they report to Dean of Faculty—it’s harder to think about ways to intersect, but we’re happy to collaborate more; it’s a matter of having regular interaction.

PRESIDENT: I’m interested in learning about resources on campus for resources for low-income students.

BINGHAM: We are thinking about it too, evaluating programs and thinking about different pockets of students. The IGF is important for an increasingly diverse student body. We want to see the playing field leveled for summer internships, it’s not enough. Smith offers every opportunity and that would be amazing to offer, talking about it with colleagues in Financial Aid. We take care of financial aid during financial year but earning money over the summer is difficult; there used to be Class Issues alliance, I talked to them about resources, pockets of funding could be helpful, like the small discretionary fund to buy clothes for interviews. We would love to have another to pay for internship travel or get waivers for grad admissions tests. Having more money at our disposal would be helpful; students need just a little bit more, there are other ways, for past 2 years we the have done program with TRANSITIONS students. They get early face time on their orientation schedule, some positive feedback. Putting faces with names is crucial. Students aren’t coming with family connections, we need to reach out to students in an empowering way for students who don’t have parent in career they’re considering is helpful.

2014: You mentioned programs for seniors, but could you give overview?

BINGHAM: Based on results of senior surveys we created Senior Week at CDO-week of programming tailored to seniors. There’s a lunch and they can learn on planning for grad school, thinking about location that’s not New York City to live. Vassar alum will give budgeting workshop, how to rent an apartment in NYC. One will host the “lunch and learns” walk-in for seniors all week, we’ll Linked in photo booth, capped with student-alumnae/i event.

JEWETT: How many recruitment companies are science/engineering based?

BINGHAM: Very few though many like science and engineering students, that could change as sciences grow here, we could look to expand it. The NYC consortium day had high amounts of finance and education and environment and non profit; engineering is harder because we have small handful of students; many other liberal arts schools with larger engineer programs can feed Vassar students there through liberal arts Career Network.

STRONG: You talked about financial aid students, have you thought about getting the word out to them?

BINGHAM: It used to be a small amount of money which is why we haven’t advertised as broadly because we couldn’t meet demand, we’re identifying donor priorities, if we can have more discretionary funds we can promote more widely.

STRONG: Now it’s a referral system?


STUDENT LIFE: When class issues alliance published their navigating Vassar pamphlet did you see a rise?

BINGHAM: We did not.

STUDENT LIFE: You mentioned resources, does that include discretionary fund for students to travel to interview.

BINGHAM: Not currently, other schools have it. It’s on my wish list.

OPERATIONS: There are lots of students who never go to CDO because they don’t see what they’ll get out of it, what is office doing to reach out to students not engaging?

BINGHAM: Through residential programming, doing lots of different programs with Res Life and campus groups, faculty initiated and student initiated, good year this year with different programs, great example of how post bac can help with time as a student and time in office. It’s not permanent funding, we got $100,000 for grant. We can use some to extend the position and look at meeting students that way. The Tannenbaum allows you to plant ambassadors for office. Students are friends with CDO because they’re there often. First point of contact is usually the website so if we can make it appealing and updated we will help change perception of the office. It takes time to change attitudes and perceptions, but word of mouth is best.

AT LARGE: Two questions—ow has social media liked LinkedIn helped and was VC Squared part of the office?

BINGHAM: LinkedIn is becoming huge place for career networking. We promote it because it’s great for alumnae/i research and cross-referencing it with our alumnnae/i directory. That had potential to be great resource for alumnae/i connecting, about 50% seniors have LinkedIn accounts. We encourage students to use free version and have an account, put resume on it, get good headshot form programming. There’s a new feature that allows you to look at alums—break down alumnae/i at Vassar based on industry and company and who they are; VC Squared was initiative from 2 alums who were entrepreneurs to enable future students to teach basics, but it fizzled because alums fizzled and got sidetracked with other projects. It’s on back burner now but we see other alumni groups forming—VCBC alums in NYC, industry through Vassar Club NY, next step is how to draw students into it, these group have events that are appropriate other times more for other alums.

SOCOs: I read about recent grad alumnae/i resources, what are they?

BINGHAM: The motto is “Vassar for a lifetime.” We will always help you, we work with alums, 15% make up people we help, most work for them is phone, skype or email, anything from career counseling for those who didn’t have a job set up beforehand, those thinking abou grad or law school, all the same students for current students are for alums.

JEWETT: Is the LinkedIn photo shoot just for seniors?

BINGHAM: No, everything for senior week is available for all students, everyone can take advantage of it.

7:40 //Exec Board Reports… Student Life

STUDENT LIFE: Gender neutral bathrooms—we have had meetings and almost gotten through phase 1 (identity existing bathrooms that are gendered and getting neutral signs to be consistent). Bob Walton has ordered the signs to work with B&G to get sign design approved; hopefully within the next month we can see these signs on campus. Interest for temporary signs we can ask for. Phase 2—not likely to be completed, identify where we need to do structural renovations, moves forward with hope that each building renovation blueprints include gender neutral bathrooms.

AT LARGE: what will the sign look like?

STUDENT LIFE: I’ve been in communication with Judy Jarvis and communicating with Administration, we want to steer clear gendered icons that have been prevalent. They defeat the purpose, and other signs seem cartoonish, we have encouraged including terminology with braille and wheelchair where applicable, in houses, academic buildings. The gender neutral bathroom forum is Feb 19, Wed., in Rocky 300 to answer any questions—why school has decided on it. It’s from 5:30-6:30.

JEWETT: Can you send blurb out about forum?

STUDENT LIFE: Yes, should be going out from LGBTQ to mail and email, will be on official calendar. I talked last week about SAVP process flow chart out for students to see, if house reps can get them from my office sometime before end of the week would be best, put up on house bulletin boards and laundry rooms of apartment houses. I’ve been talking to Elizabeth Schrock about Title IX process SAVP student subcommittee. Also looking into the travel home fund with regards to accesible resources, looking for updates, going through CDO right now.

7:45 // Academics

ACADEMICS: New York Times collects data on how many papers used, 86% usage first week, continually picked up throughout semester. I’m interested in continuing funding past this semester. We’ve discussed an idea for 24-hour space that it’s not open Fridays or Saturdays—problem, talked to head librarian so it will be open, will take two weeks so don’t advertise right now. Newsletter will go out, 100-150 copies; students’ applications have been sent out, and they get 2 weeks to do apps. Send emails with application. The majors fair is 1-4 p.m., from March 30 to April 5, in the Villard Room. More details to follow. We’re collecting student feedback on student capstone project, class of 2019 or 2020 will be affected.

7:50 // Approval of Pre-Orgs.

ACTIVITIES 22 applications. We finalized decisions and the 12 in front of you are those we’re comfortable supporting.
PRESIDENTS: Any concerns? We can remove and talk about them if there are.


FINANCE: To get funding you must submit form 3 weeks before event.

TAs: Is there a limit on preorgs?
Fin: 100 dollars the first semester.

7:54 // Organization Debt Amendment….

ACTIVITES: Current bylaws state 2 semesters without debt certified. The amendment says they need to face disciplinary action.


RAYMOND: We talked about it in Operations Committee. Elections eligibility and questions—this amendment makes any person in Reslife positions cannot be in VSA elected position accept joint-committee positions, reason was because we feel we should be opening up positions to people on campus. Bring up next week to vote.

7:58 // Appointment of Jewett VP and 2016 Secretary

OPERATIONS: There is one app for Jewett VP and we decided not to recommend anyone appointed to that position. Seven Deadly Sins is on Feb 22 and if we are unable to appoint someone, function of VP is diminished. There’s nothing wrong with the applicant but we felt that he wouldn’t be excited to work on event planning. So we’re closing the position and it will stay open for the rest of the year.

As for 1016 secretary: 2 applications, we interviewed both. The first app is who we are reccomendeding, Taylor. she skyped in and had excitement about the position and has experience with VSA. She’s excited to do stuff other than note taking, and a great sense of balance.


8:00 // Conversation about VSA Audit…. OPERATIONS

OPERATIONS: Toward beginning of year the idea was one thing and was meant to be simple, now it’s complicated in that it involves many offices and people. The enthusiasm from council members is great, outside council is not so great. Between special elections and losing people involved in project it has been difficult to get on track. We want to talk about it here where there is passion, what ideas you have and ideas for a timeframe.

TOWN STUDENTS: Given the fact that the audit is a big project, do you think it would be good to do internal auditing, like canvasing Tasty Tuesday, smaller and more active projects? Working out relationships between students and VSA.

TAs: What direction was Operations looking at last semester because it grew.

OPERATIONS: The initial committee was entirely council past or current, goal to look at diversity on campus and it wasn’t the perfect body for that goal. Started to make progress in building up committee of different people with former VP of Student Life. We found a professor who can audit and do research, but the sudden change with VP so a lot of conversations with the auditor halted. The professor sensed we weren’t enthusiastic because we didn’t know what was going on, now we’re trying to rebuild.

TH’s: I’m worried about institutional memory, is there timeline so that decisions are carried out so concerns now adressed next year?

OPERATIONS: I agree, it’s very important, we want to have clear idea of what we want and an idea we can move forward with.

JOSS: A lot of money is going into it, so what now?

OPERATIONS: We have the Dean of College’s money pledged, but no money spent now. We would have asked for covering half of cost $15,000 combined, but money pledged was not real so we don’t have any money. VSA money will go to other stuff, when we ask for money later the Dean of College will hopefully give us money.

LATHROP: You talked to an external auditor, and it fell through, where is that going now? Someone else?Seems like a large component.

OPERATIONS: Right now trying to figure it out, if you all are interested in the next step, he was scared to work with students who weren’t organized. talk with him and rework relationship, if not then look at other options, like the field of research for professors.

LATHROP: Is it things that professors do a lot?

OPERATIONS: Looking here for professors, it needs to happen. Value with external auditor is looking at new situation, internal auditor has familiar perspective.

JEWETT: I’m in favor of TOWN STUDENT’S comment about doing more internal things, if we consider external audit, since its student money can we ask them, ask all of campus if we want to see VSA audited, start by doing stuff within ourselves before going out.

OPERATIONS: Came from campus climate demands which was that VSA have external audit to look at it, meant to be a response to that, though we can never get too much student input, should do some things ourselves.

DAVISON: Ideas for restructuring VSA? Or is it just external? How can we make VSARC as a body?

OPERATIONS: Have STUDENT LIFE and OPERATIONS meeting and inviting additional people, would be building off point to create structurally sound committee, organize oneself isn’t hard but need to get interest

STUDENT LIFE: Figure out how to maintain this with overturn from elections, how to guarantee this will happen next year. So, to formulate in minds, can we say ideal things we hope for?

TOWN STUDENTS: It’s important to consider not what we want but provide avenues for students, like restructuring how this is or not being heard, would be ideal way see what they want changed.

2015: If you bring in external person we have data but then students don’t feel opinions voiced, should commit again to getting student voices.

TH’s: We should have campus-wide forum to get representation to get what they want out of it.

RAYMOND: In October or November, when people wrote things about what they wanted to see from the audit what were results?

OPERATIONS: VSA is racist was the most popular response, done at the beginning of the year so maybe that’s changed. We can go through them, find a different way to reach out, didn’t get functional answers, lots showed misunderstanding of what VSA does which is a problem.

PRESIDENT: Someone mentioned that during elections when we reach out, we should use that as a source for feedback, times when we communicate with students, people don’t respond to my emails.

JEWETT: At the ending of preregistration can we add that since everyone will be using it, it would be ideal.

ACADEMICS: We can ask faculty, but Ask Banner technology is ancient so we can’t change it.

OPERATIONS: We can put it on annual budgeting application, all org leaders required to fill it out, gets large audience.

TH’s: A way to get admins to help us and foster dialogue with students, students read their emails.

OP: Talk about sending out an email.

DAVISON: Restructuring means involving people who feel marginalized, reach out to cultural orgs or set of people who feel not represented.

8:17 // Open Discussion

STUDENT LIFE: Update—met with Cappy and asked about making VSA exec positions work study, and she didn’t turn it down if we could have student written endorsement of why exec board members are different from VICE or the Misc to submit we might have a chance, she might be interested.

DAVISON: Can we take comparative approach to reslife positions?

STUDENT LIFE: I can talk to reslife, big thing is budgeting, HSA is eligible for work study, there are so many student fellows it’s a budgeting issue. We’re interested in reevaluating reslife structure, could be cause for many open positions, it’s a big time commitment to not get paid.

PRESIDENT: I talked about food served at late night at the Deece. It’s a 3 weekend trial period, order hot food thing, trying to solicit student feedback, if it goes well we will implement it.

JEWETT: Will small side DC be open at that time?

PRESIDENT: Yes, we are just adding food, I’ll send email.

2014: 100 nights this Saturday, food and cocktails and fancy stuff at the Alumnae/i House from 8-10, and 11-2 is the campus party. Facebook events have gone out; council member, senior class council letter to Dean Dunbar about alleviating travel costs.

Stephanie George ’14 at large: Idea to make commencement affordable, Luis Inoa seems excited about it, if you want to sign it and endorse it that would be great.

2014: Sign and pass it to endorse idea.

2015: Class council, for Valentine’s Day you can send someone a Crush soda, cutest thing ever, you should do this. For $1 you can send anonymously and $2 someone finds out, $2 it’s anon. proceeds go to Grace House, a domestic violence center.

RAYMOND: President and OPERATIONS, 7 Sisters type thing, is there one planned for spring conference?

PRESIDENT: No, because all schools can’t afford to go, communicate about different projects. 3 committees about things that will go on, 7 sisters, activities and outreach to create alumnae/i network, let me know if interested.

RAYMOND: Student Bill of Rights had meeting Saturday, disappointing turnout, especially disappointed with lack of council because people didn’t come, would like people to come this weekend sat 2 UpC.

JEWETT: ACTIVITIES, when is activities fair?

ACTIVITIES: This sat 11-2, Villard Room, posters will go up, organizations and pre orgs will be there.

ACTIVITIES: Thanks to Strong for pushing amendment brought up today.

MAIN: Question: Activites, how many pre-orgs are tabling?

ACTIVITES: All have, 7 of existing are requested slots.

STUDENT LIFE: Vassar Devils are doing Valentine grams, can send for $5, tabling in Retreat.

JEWETT: Motion to adjourn.