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  • Chris Gonzalez 11:07 pm on March 30, 2014 Permalink | Reply  

    VSA Council Meeting—March 30, 2014 

    Happy Sunday, everyone! Let’s get started.

    7:04 // Attendance… OPERATIONS
    PROXIES: 2017; Absences: Town Students

    7:06 // Consent Agenda… PRESIDENT

    a. Founder’s Day(Disc).……………………….………………………………….($2500/$2500)
    b. HEL (Collab)(Collab)..…………………….……………………………….………………($0/
    $800)
    c. Amnesty (Disc)…………..………………………….……….………………….($600/$700)
    d. Vassar Shakers(Disc)..……………..…………….………….….……….………($200/$200)
    e. P.E.A.C.E. (Disc)………………………………………………………….………($850/$850)
    f. Minutes from 3/23/14

    PRESIDENT: Item B is removed from the Consent Agenda.

    Everything else is consented to.

    7:07 // Forum with Marianne Begemann and Bob Walton

    BEGEMANN: I’m the dean of strategic planning and academic resources, and I’m here to tell you about a permanent home for multi-disciplinary programs when they moved out of New England. I can give you an update on the science building as well. Let me start at the beginning from when decision was made to renovate New England a few years ago, we engaged with a local architect to design it, met with administration and students to assess and accomodate needs of multi-disciplinary programs. At the end of that process programming study was complete, Old Laundry Building would be a good temp fit for multi-disciplinary programs, was it a good fit shape wise? Would it be a good academic building for years to come? With Bob we entered an architectural competition, we sent out invoices to 5 architect firms, those firms will provide conceptual design for multi-disciplinary building and how they could be accommodated on the new building. We have a programming committee and subset of directors, by the fall our work should be completely wrapped up.

    RAYMOND: Thanks for coming, can you talk about the science facilities?

    BEGEMANN: We are on track right now, as you know: Sanders Physics and Mudd are undergoing reservation and cog sci and comp sci will move in over the summer. Olmsted will be a complete construction site this summer, so people can’t occupy it while that is going on, it’s offline, not available for URSI or other research programs. In the fall that work will be completed, the classroom side will still be under renovation until January 2015; we’re creating new spaces for psych and neuroscience. The bridge building will be completed Fall 2015, chem and others will move in during that semester and will be ready for use in January 2016.

    MAIN: Can you tell us about conversations about the new student space in terms of the bookstore moving and what the former bookstore will be?

    BEGEMANN: It’s a little early to tell what that space will be. Jason Rubin ’13 undertook a survey and focus groups last year to get a sense of what kind of student space students were looking for, now we’re building on that study and also looking more holistically to see what the College Center means for faculty, administration and students to get a sense of how the space can serve their many needs; the students are key to that programming. By the end of the semester we should have a better idea of what we will need.

    OPERATIONS: The classrooms on the left side of Olmsted are directly above animal facilities so what does that mean for research that’s going on and the animals?

    BEGEMANN: Early on we worked with Julie Williams, Director of Animal Facilities, her opinion was that moving animals was more harmful than leaving them; we decided to keep the animals in Olmsted and we have contingency plans to move them to Blodgett if they are under stress. Some of the birds have been relocated to Blodgett.

    STRONG: Could you talk about if we’re on track with the project overall?

    BEGEMANN: Our original plan was to open in Fall 2015, because some of the early work involving excavation was delayed and we got behind and rather than doing double shifts to spend more money we decided it made more sense to open a semester later; there’s a chance even with accelerating we would have opened later.

    FINANCE: I have a question for Bob. Could you talk about the Juliet expansion?

    WALTON: The project started after I got here. When I looked at the bookstore I thought it wasn’t a great space overall, our contract with Barnes and Noble had expired and we talked about whether to stay the same or do something different. We looked at a 5-year extension with Barnes and Noble, they gave a disappointing proposal so I said that and at that point we decided to go another way. We joined national association of college stores—NAC is based in Ohio and it’s 3,000 different stores that work as cooperative so that you have purchasing power of a large chain; we also wanted to look at another location, so we decided that we should take advantage of the property of Juliet that we own. The problem of doing a Barnes and Noble bookstore there would have been expensive, with the cooperative it would be cheaper. Also Burger FI, they are a new style of food purveyor, 3 locations in Dutchess County, we will each have our own store and dividers in between them, they provide food and we provide everything else. We won’t sell trade books because the Three Arts is a few doors down, we’re going to focus on textbooks and other things you would find in a store; also we will sell NY items and Hudson Valley or regional items that would be of interest to the community. We hired a local architectural firm as well as construction company who have already begun. On August 1 we will start designing the interior, it will have all things stores have and also in the spirit of Juliet as a theater, it will have some bling in it. it will be very much not Barnes and Noble,a small performance space, bookable platform with audio-visual sound mixing and ability to hold Vassar a capella or speaker. The hours will be longer than current bookstore, into the evening, when students are actually awake. And we will use unionized staff and move them off campus.

    STUDENT LIFE: Could you update Council on where we are in terms of gender neutral bathrooms?

    WALTON: I think the signs are here, all of the bathrooms that are single-use that we have identified we have designated as gender neutral bathrooms. The biggest hurdle we have is code requirements, which requires certain amount for men and women; the plan is to always have at least one gender neutral bathroom. For example, in the Juliet building we have to have one men’s room and one women’s room, but once the building is in our possession, what we put on those signs is up to us.

    2015: I was discussing the new bookstore space and my class council was interested in having a chain style frozen yogurt, so is there a way we could include that?

    WALTON: You should check the website for Burger FI, they do sell Italian creams and shakes and smoothies.

    AT LARGE_JOSHUA SHERMAN ’16: How is the management orientation going to be with the new space? Will there be integration with work study? There are students interested in entrepreneurship, is there potential there?

    WALTON: There is some flexibility with being an independent bookstore, we can do whatever we want within union codes, a store manager will work for Vassar, that person will report to the director of budget and enterprise services so we will have control over what goes on in the store.

    NOYES: Currently the bookstore is located in a centralized location that gets a lot of traffic, how will moving it change that? Also, with the location being close to MyMarket, how will that affect the relationship and revenue with MyMarket?

    WALTON: It won’t be a central location, that’s one of the questions answered through experience, for Admissions tours, we will set up small kiosk to do basic Vassar things. I think that if we can make the store more than what we have downstairs and if it can be combined with food and services it will be more of a destination and social location than just a functional location. Now to answer your question about MyMarket, one thing we’re doing is not to sell things other stores do, so we won’t sell toothbrushes because MyMarket does, the more competition among stores the better success for the stores, they will get more business by us being there. And, yes, you will all have to walk farther but it will also break up the monotony of not having many places to go, especially if it’s a cool store as opposed to a boring one.

    NOYES: What about parking?

    WALTON: Well I can tell you that they have more parking than we have here. We’re also going to start seeing more traffic from the community. One thing you could do is Google the store of Davison College; it’s in a similar location, at the edge of campus, and has been pretty successful.

    SoCos: Has there been discussion of having a dining bucks option with Burger FI?

    WALTON: I’m not avoiding your question, I’m trying to figure out how to answer. All the businesses over there will be on a VCard system, whether there’s going to be a food option will be discussed with Dean Roellke along with the dining plan in general. It might not start that way, but how can we change the dining plan? Maybe have flex dollars to be spent with other providers. Burger FI is interested as is Julie’s Cafe, but we can’t undermine the financial plan we have at ACDC.

    RAYMOND: What is happening to Mudd Chemistry? Are there plans for other academic building updates?

    BEGEMANN: Mudd will be deconstructed after chem moves out in spring of 2016. For other long-term projects, there is a building audit being undertaken that will enable us to have a sweep of data about buildings on campus to assess needs of those buildings. It’s hard to promise which one comes next—I imagine Blodgett will be at the top of the list, there will be some empty space there. There are some issues with Chicago Hall and having some languages in Sanders Classroom, we have to get a strategic plan on the table.

    TAs: Thank you both for coming. Can you explain the overall plan for trees on campus?

    WALTON: There were some early two incidents that created questions about trees: a lot of brush clearing and changes in Noyes Circle which was the result of too much enthusiasm on the part of Grounds under new management. We’ve turned back dials on that to talk to the Campus Master Plan; the other was taking several trees down to create the science building. We talked to environmental science and interested faculty and realized we need to do long-term planning for the campus landscape. Right now the plan is to go through the Campus Master Plan committee before taking away or adding trees. Then we have proposals such as yours. We have new capital project to be a little more inclusive to let other constituencies know what’s coming up.

    BEGEMANN: Vassar has applied for through sustainability committee and Alistair Hall has been accepted for Tree Campus USA. It’s a nice publicity thing and enables us to get connections with Arbor Day commission; we went through the Town to get a site plan, counted how many trees were put in. We’re putting in more than we’re taking out. Trees we’re taking out are an invasive maple species not native to this area, so we’re putting in native species that will have longevity, by the President’s House there are many removed, but that was not a mistake. We are putting in more than we’re taking out. It takes time but we will get there.

    JOSS: When you said the new store would be economically friendly, but “not cheap”—what does that mean?

    WALTON: The store has to pay for itself, so to fund this project we borrowed money like a business would and we will repay that through the earnings of the stores. You as students have concerns about textbook prices, Barnes and Noble as such want to have continuity across the country. It’s all controlled by their computer systems. What we’re going to do through NAC we recognize that you want to buy textbooks online, we’re going to have textbooks in store closer to online prices, so if we see you can buy a chem book online for $70 we can sell it in the store at about that price and you won’t have to pay for shipping; we’re going to try to offer more books as rentals and be flexible with prices, we’re not going to gouge people on other items like Chapstick—you can buy Chapstick for cheaper at MyMarket. The goal is to run the store but be sensitive to price and be flexible. It’s one of the advantages of being an independent store. We also want to have cooler stuff: I went to an exhibit in Dallas and there’s a lot of cool stuff that stores sell and we don’t carry. For example a messenger bag made out of recycled bottles—we want to have more interesting things on this campus.

    ACADEMICS: How is the new store coming to follow up on stuff the old store has?

    WALTON: The advantage of being an independent store is that you can pick your partners. We’re partnering with firm in Utah to create a book rental system, we can use the same buyback program Barnes and Noble does. During this transition, Barnes and Noble will still have control over buyback, and it will likely be harsher this spring. We want to encourage faculty to adopt books earlier in the year, you shouldn’t see a big change because we can use same providers Barnes and Noble does.

    SHERMAN: It sounds like you’re trying to do something more cooperative, how will that work with local businesses. For example, English students don’t need textbooks and you mention price gouging, but local stores price gouge, too. You mention Chapstick, but I’ve gone into MyMarket, and sometimes I can’t buy anything on a work-study job.

    WALTON: The primary goal of the store is to provide goods and services at a reasonable price, probably more expensive than a discount store. One of the things I’ve talked to the Board of Trustees about is that if the store in unviable and doesn’t break even then we would not run the store and would look at textbook services.

    SHERMAN: What are you doing to be more aware about prices to make sure that tenants are sensitive of students on a work-study budget?

    WALTON: We’re going to try to be sensitive, and with that said it’s a fair question that deserves a fair answer. The businesses in the area are swimming against the current. To make money, you own a small store with lots of purchasing power; we’re going to find the balance between a variety of services you need but also be financially viable. It won’t be as cheap as discounter but not like it was downstairs.

    SHERMAN: So I’m asking for something more specifically, like are you going to walk into MyMarket and take note of the prices in comparison to a student’s budget?

    WALTON: No, we’re not.

    PRESIDENT: Actually, we’re going to have to move on, because another group is coming. But hopefully you can continue this discussion in the future.

    7:52 // Hip Hop 101 Fund Application Appeal

    HIPHOP101 PRESIDENT: We’re here to talk about 101 to get extra funds. Hip Hop 101 was founded 11 years ago as a means of merging Vassar and the Poughkeepsie community; we host two annual concerts—4 pillars and throwback jam are always successful. Currently we have about 11,000 in budget but would have had 13,000 if not for the previous administration. We want to have best event possible and also ensure that Hip-Hop 101 won’t go into the red zone. In the past we’re consistently been in the red for the past 2 years and have had already 2,500 to 6,000 each year. Hip Hop 101 budget isn’t meant to finance everything, it relies on extra funds. Hip Hop 101 is not in a position to have this money on hand. The biggest problem was doing annual budgeting, withdrew from the process was that hop Hop 101 received 2,000 grant with the understanding that we wouldn’t have to reapply for this funding. One of the acts of 4 pillars was overpaid and the artist didn’t perform for the allotted time, we were left in less than prime position for Throwback. This administration for HipHop 101 is new; previously, they acted on a secretive basis with little precipitation from members. We had to learn this on our own and we desire to change the infrastructure by being more open and reaching out to artist. With more notoriety so more people could enjoy it and have more involved campus. We believe it could change the perceptions of exec board. This is the first time that an artist quit his set prematurely, and the negotiations and conditions were not honored. By not understanding where our funds went we have put ourselves in less than favorable position. Unfortunately no artist that would fit this bill of speaking to the community would accept our offers, there will always be people breakdancing, always be people wearing cool outfits—it’s Hip Hop. Upon realizing that we didn’t have the money we thought we did, because of mistakes that we’ve made we’ve learned and desire to outdo previous administrations and we want to create a proper budgeting outline; we’re working on the assumption we have 23,000 we have, would only spend 5,000 on headliner, and the total cost of event would be 8000 and Throwback would be less than 15,000. We would end on the green. We’ve faced the reality that artists don’t always follow the rules, so we won’t give them any compensation. You’re thinking this org has come here many times and they have thrown it away, so having this fund is crucial. You all know TC, Deece chef guy, he has connections that lets us get at these artists for a lower price. If we suddenly dropped out of these negotiations, it would reflect badly on us. We understand there’s a max amount of funds and we will make sure to work within these limits, but we need 3,000 limit to spend for the event. And this would allow us to always end in the green, and never in the red.

    PRESIDENT: This is wonderful. I’m going to call on people to speak now.

    FINANCE: Thank you for coming in. When Finance met in December we talked about the fall event spending was increased without consequence to the spring event. We recognized that 2,000 deficit from last year was not their fault, so that covered that prior deficit. Hip Hop 101 allocation was increased from year before, so there was more money to begin with. After break we met again and the committee decided to discuss changes, this past week the sticking point was the idea that we set guideline in December and there wasn’t an attempt to stick with it,

    HIP HOP 101: We were suposed to give VICE 2000, they were to give us 2000, in the end it didn’t make sense.

    FINANCE: The committee decided not unanimously to stick with our decision and we don’t want to reward an org for mismanaging funds. I’ve been working with Nick to discuss the future of Hipe Hop 101, I still stand by recommendation.

    STUDENT LIFE: I understand THE significance of this event and I admire your passion, my concern is the precedent it sets for large organization to come in with deficit expecting special treatment, and it’s different than it is for smaller orgs.

    HIP HOP 101: This isn’t a way to set precedents so that we won’t end in the red in the future so this doesn’t happen again. I’ve spent a long time to make sure that same mistakes won’t be made again so that HIP HOP 101 won’t have to point out all the mistakes we made.

    STUDENT LIFE: I respect that but I’m hung up on old administration not training you, but that happens almost every year. I’m going to support this but I hope that that is carried through in the future.

    HIP HOP 101: Because previous administration were very involved seniors they let other things slip so HIP HOP 101 suffered. Most of my free time goes to this, I put in a lot of manpower.

    STUDENT LIFE: How can you ensure that dedication in the future?

    HIP HOP 101: We are dealing with management every year and if previous leaders don’t prepare us for that we will make mistakes. We did make some mistakes, we almost signed with a company that siad they signed Ja Rule but it turned out to be scam. Thanks to Domi, we didn’t go through with that.

    FINANCE: This is the first year of Hip Hop 101 has a SARC office.

    STUDENT LIFE: Is there no way to get a cheaper artist to address the lack of funds this year?

    HIP HOP 101: There is but there is no way to get someone who can address issues of this community, especially NY issues, since artists have already made bookings for this time.

    2016: TO address some of the concerns, it was less a problem that your budget was in the red because you can’t be held accountable for that, that’s a problem within the VSA with holding future students accountable for mistakes of past. It’s more of a problem that you spent more for 4 Pillars, if the org wants to expand their funding they must apply for a fund app. We lost 4000 that went to 4 Pillars. The new budget for next year is great but problem is that this was submitted last year and it wasn’t stuck to; what needs to happen is that 5 years down the line how do you make sure that happens and budget is stuck to?

    HIPHOP101: That all comes down to training future officers, so that we work closely with them for day one.

    2016: I support this allocation and also the consequences for not sticking to this budget. i don’t think that since you didn’t have a SARC rep, that needs to be taken into consideration.

    HIPHOP101: Year after year, Hip Hop 101 never has the funds to do what we want, so we always come to the VSA.

    2016: That’s the problem with every org, we ened to establish guidelines for all orgs with greater budgets.

    TA: Who makes up the general body and how can people get involved, and what do you do to fundraise?

    HIP HOP 101 MEMBER: I got interested in freshman year with activities fair and went to 4 pillars and Throwback and was so impressed that I wanted to be an active member, that’s how it was advertised to me by attending this event.

    OTHER MEMBER: I found out over summer before freshman year and googled Vassar hip hop.

    PRESIDENT: Can any of you speak to fundraising?

    HH101 PRESIDENT: fundraising wise we’ve tried several things, but we’ve been cutting it to close to do it. We threw concert for martial arts place a while ago, and we tried to get involved last year but they had everything taken care of, it’s been 2 years since we did that.

    PRESIDENT: No, how does your org raise money for itself?

    HH101 PRESIDENT: When we have an excess of money we make t shirts; we sell wristbands and mix tapes to make extra funds, we used to do rap-a-grams, but I wasn’t here for that.

    2015: There is no limit to filing for 5000 funds, applying for event: by expanding one you get put in position that makes it more difficult for spring event, my recommendation is to see checks next year like talking to us, talking to SARC and talking to Activities committee, to vote I think we should vote on 0 or 5000.

    PRESIDENT: Just out of respect for this group’s time, we don’t have to talk about the checks thing. We should be talking about it, but not right now.

    OPERATIONS: My understanding is that when ViCE went into debt they were censured and paid back over time, they took a small sacrifice for a while. I would recommend doing the same thing, not a 5000 allocation but a 5000 loan to put on event and figure out over next 3 years how you will program to pay off 5000 that allows for flexibility and also taking in the consequences.

    HH101 PRESIDENT: Because 101 doesn’t have the resources ViCE has it feels like we are compensating for what we don’t have.

    OPERATIONS: Financial reality, there is a limited amount of money. Your program is amazing but we have rules about deficits. I think that as an org you should have institutional memory so that this doesn’t happen again, this should be a fair punishment.

    HH101: We just want to have the best outcome possible. I understand where your idea about punishment comes from even if I don’t agree with it. But I would accept the punishment.

    STRONG: Have you looked at some precautions to ensure this won’t happen again?

    HH101: We would have to settle for a headliner that wouldn’t fit the bill, it would have to be a new artist and one who isn’t very popular who people wouldn’t recognize. It’s such a huge draw usually.

    STRONG: Has there been any talk about fundraising?

    HH101: We’ve spent all our time making the best possible event.

    JEWETT: I motion to give Hip Hop 101 5000 to vote.

    SOCOS: Is that 5000 additional?

    JEWETT: I motion to pass what Hip Hop 101 needs?

    HIPHOP101: If we have loans that’s fine.

    NOYES: Can we motion to vote on 5000, 3000 or 0?

    OPERATIONS: If we’re talking about an allocation now when do we talk about censure if that will happen?

    PRESIDENT: I recommend that we talk about this with ACTIVITIES.

    FINANCE: I don’t think it’s appropriate to vote on 5000, they’ve presented a way to work on this wit 3000.

    2015: I don’t like the censure issue because it was more serious with ViCE.

    PRESIDENT: Motion to vote on 5000, 3000, 0.

    Abstentions: 2017, JOSS, DAVISON.
    Favor 5000: Jewett Ta 20167 2015 TH’s
    Favor 3000: Cushing, RAYMOND, MAIN, SOCO, ACTIVITIES, OPERATIONS, STUDENT LIFE, ACADEMICS, NOYES, 2014, LATHROP
    STRONG, FINANCE: 0

    8:32 // 10 minute meeting for Finance to meet with HEL.

    8:51// VSA commences after break

    Finance: I would like to allocate $800 for HEL. They are planning the first comedy collaboration for groups across the country.

    This motion is unanimously passed.

    Reports:

    OPERATIONS: Elections are happening. As people in positions people will come to you with questions. You should tell them the truth. Try to get people to run, especially people you think would do well, and especially women and minorities who often don’t run unless asked. Many of you will be running, so this is what’s appropriate: don’t discourage other people from running against you. We want to have fair elections. Extra important: Be healthy. Be safe. For everyone running for positions…don;t let it destroy your life. This is just student government. It’ll be okay.

    CONSITUENT CONCERNS 8:53

    TA’S: I want to say great job on Saturday, and it was a great event.

    2015: Please mention frozen yogurt in future reports.

    NOYES: In ACDC there were signs saying UpC would be open every day of the week after spring break. Deece workers confirmed this, though it was closed on Monday and Tuesday. Why close it on days in the beginning of the week when students have the most work?

    RAYMOND: It’s closed Sunday and Monday because there aren’t enough student workers to help them.

    2016: People keep coming to me asking about UpC. Is there anyone we can go to to advocate for student wages? Some students work until 3am and are still getting paid minimum wage.

    PRESIDENT: That’s an issue to take up with Student Employment.

    2016: Someone emailed me and said they really like the new couches in the Villard Room. Thank you to the person who made that possible.

    DAVISON: Davisonians want to know what’s going on with Late Night at the Deece?

    PRESIDENT: I submitted a page-long summary of the comments I’ve received that will be incorporated into the Aramark contract. [Late Night] won’t happen again this semester because it was just a trial. Look out for it next semester. Student workers will be better prepared next time.

    RAYMOND: Raymond has been added to the list of dorms with broken card swipes. On the Chicago side of Raymond people swipe and it just doesn’t read cards.

    8:59//STUDENT BILL OF RIGHTS

    OPERATIONS: Cushing rep and other students at-large have been working on the Student Bill of Rights. For this conversation, rather than going through line-by-line, we want to talk about what we can see happen with this. If anybody wants, I’ve spent four hours researching student bills of rights across the country and in Europe and I have some information. Some of the discussion we had in Ops is whether these were rights we could guarantee people or if they were kind of mostly things we would have to ask administration for and advocate for that we couldn’t guarantee. We can’t have a bill of rights if we have no recourse for upholding these rights. Another part of the discussion was maybe calling them about priorities rights–how are these different from our guiding principles? The idea is that this would be adopted as its own governing document. We can’t be in violation of our governing documents and we would have to rename this to something else and add a preamble. Other than that I support this document and find it important.

    TA’S: Can you speak to the tone a little? It reads more as student demands. Ambiguity can be both powerful and problematic.

    OPERATIONS: One of the things that was discussed in terms of it coming off as demands-if we went to an administrator and saId, ‘this is whaT we believe student rights should be,’ there was a concern that we should keep our demands reasonable or else they might laugh at us. In terms of the vagueness, we talked about making it entirely more vague. It wouldn’t have much efficacy if it were vague though it would be general and could be used a lot. Another idea was to get rid of the ambiguity and call them what they are–demands.

    JEWETT: ‘The right to control personal information…’ Is that saying that I can keep to myself what I want or if there’s a certain kind of investigation going on…what is it speaking to? Who is the judge mentioned in 8B.

    CUSHING: First of all, 6B, the student who wrote that was thinking that the privacy would be in regards to health information, though we already have that choice. 8B was a student who emailed me and was concerned about having a proceeding with an administrator as a judge and then having an appeal with the same judge.

    2016: I appreciate all of the hard work from the people who created this. When I look at this I see two very different things: A set of ideals and a set of ideas. I think we need to separate the document. I think a bunch of the stuff in this is a lot of great ideas we should be advocating to the administration. If people feel passionately about these ideas ans should become their own separate thing-a letter, a conversation with an administrator. If we’re going to integrate a bill of rights in our governing documents it needs to be stuff we can guarantee. If people feel they aren’t being heard, we need to reconsider our structure and why they feel that way. There’s a lot of stuff in here that we cant self-enforce. We can advocate for it, but a lot of these things don’t belong in our specific government, but we can still make our voices heard about problems when they are an issue.

    STUDENT LIFE: Thank you for your patience with this. I’m just a little uncomfortable with 8A and B. In terms of disciplinary proceedings, it’s open ended to a point where it could be a problem for personal violence hearing. You have certain choices available to you already about student panels, the wording here needs to be specified.

    SOCO’S: We had a similar discussion unfolding. I am seconding a lot of what 2016 said. A lot of the things in here are a lot of great priorities but since we can’t enforce this document I don’t think it can be called the Bill of Rights. It goes back to when we were talking about finding new ways to change our system. It would be a better use of time to talk about the things that made people put these things on the list and address them here.

    CUSHING: What was the idea in mind in starting to write this?

    OPERATIONS: There’s a ton of American legislation in which we’re guaranteed a lot of rights that the College doesn’t necessarily enforce unless they’re forced to, via Supreme Court cases, etc. North Carolina just passed a law that said students have a right to an attorney in all student conduct proceedings. If that was the case in New York, a state with more lenient laws regarding this, they would uphold that statute.

    PRESIDENT: Pres: It was similar to this idea of priorities. These are things we think all students should have. In having it as a list, it makes people realize that the VSA will listen to me if I go to them with one of these problems because I have this right. We want to help people secure these rights if they feel like they don’t have them.

    OPERATIONS: I had imagined we would say, ‘all students have the right to come to council and express their opinions and be respected and heard.’ That’s what the discussion sounded like at the time. I was kind of thinking that there are rights we have as students, priorities we have as student leaders, and the rights we as student leaders actually provide.

    STRONG: I think I’m agreeing with 2016 and other people who have voiced about making this more of a priority than a bill of rights. There are things that even Vassar cannot guarantee. There are times when Vassar must legally share information when certain things occur, for example. Making false guarantees makes people feel like we don’t have their backs. I think this should be more of a guiding ideal of what we hope to achieve.

    TA’S: I would like to clarify that these are rights insofar as they don’t infringe on other people’s rights. I’m also curious about the respect part in number five. I’m under the belief that respect is something that is granted not earned.

    STUDENT LIFE: It looks like that’s more a call for respect as not disrespecting me for being Puerto Rican, for example. It’s more about the respect among people for who they are as individuals.

    2015: I don’t get the hang-up on the idea of what we can guarantee or not guarantee. It seems like an unnecessary restriction. The goal was to codify things that we want to think about on the regular. The idea is that we have a list of things that every single year we want to be thought about and continue to work on. We can call it “Expected Rights” or “Expectations.” Whatever you want to call it, I definitely think that in term of respect of the work Ruby and this group of people have done, we need to recognize that it’s something that we haven’t yet done. We have five weeks left.

    PRESIDENT: I think the hang-up was that we want to be held accountable for things we believe students should have and we didn’t know how to phrase that.

    OPERATIONS: I think guarantee is the wrong word. We can never guarantee any right. Though I have the right to life, they can’t guarantee no one will murder me.

    JEWETT: There are things here that we’re asking of faculty and administration that should go in its own separate document. We can’t guarantee that professors are going to give us accurate course information.

    ROYAL: If we wanted to have one list of things we couldn’t guarantee but could endorse. The conversation was basically that the things we really care about is kind of what we’ve been fighting for all year, like getting the syllabi posted and the textbooks list put up earlier. We could have given up what we really wanted to get it approved but that would have missed the point.

    DAVISON: is this a conversation about what we’re going to call this or where we’re going to put it? It’s already been brought up that this is drafted by students who express that this is something they want and need so we should probably decide about what this conversation is about.

    OPERATIONS: It’s a conversation about both. We want to be supportive of this document. In doing that we have to decide what our abilities are to publicize this and accept it.

    I am going to make a motion that we table this to Operations Committee with the intention of changing the name potentially to express that they are expectations, or something of that nature, and then bring it back next week for a vote.

    JOSS: I think that we’re getting in a big fuss about the name being Student Bill of Rights. I’m agreeing with the fact that it should be aimed toward faculty and administration. It was written by students, and yes, we are the student association and we are supposed to represent the students, but it should definitely be an issue for the administration and not what we can and cannot govern. I don’t think this is an issue of what we as VSA can promise.

    SOCOS: There was a very low turnout. Though there were students involved, it was a group of three to five students who participated [in the drafting of this document], though I don’t want to minimize those voices who were there.

    OPERATIONS: You should all show this to your constituencies, and let them see it to make sure that it is what the students want.

    CUSHING: I also had some emails. 16 people reached out and five from the VSA.

    PRESIDENT: Tabling is the right solution; however, I think that people are leaning toward that it’s about our priorities but also about sending it to administration and faculty. We might want to think about how to reframe it.

    2016: I think that what is here is something that Ruby and Co. did was something that we wanted to be doing all year: talking to people and seeing what they want. Now we have a list of what they want. To think that we can just pass this list and just magically get what we want. Cappy could tell us tomorrow that they aren;t going to do anything on this list. It’s what we’re supposed to be doing, this is our job. And Ruby did it. Passing it might be another semantical thing to do that only we read. If we recognize that these things are important we need to advocate for them ourselves. Make meetings with administrators, do research. I think that there’s more to be done and this is the first step. It sucks that we have five weeks left, but if this stuff is important to you, do something about it.

    PRESIDENT: So this should be an internal policies document that guides us.

    2016: Maybe this is something that if any of the people who get on VSA next year, bring this to council. Start immediately and [incorporate it into the guiding principles].

    RAYMOND: If people are so concerned about whether students really want this, they have an election coming up; we can do a referendum and see if students want this.

    PRESIDENT: Go to Ops if you want to be a part of this conversation. It could be something we put into our guiding principles for next year. It sounds like sending this to people who we are advocating to is a way to advocate for these things. It’s an incredible list and there are so many things on this list that have guided me over the years and I’m glad it’s all here.

    9:28//Work Study Exec Positions Letter Student Life

    STUDENT LIFE: If there’s anything in the letter that you think should not be there, if you think there’s something that should be there, let’s have a conversation about that. I met with Eve Dunbar before break and we were talking about what should or shouldn’t go in the letter and she said that since the student activity fee takes away membership from students who rely on work study, they have an institutional right to participate in student government. We don’t want to open up a can of worms where every single position on campus becomes eligible for work study. It’s not the end-all for opening up the executive board to students, but it is specific for our VSA executive board.

    NOYES: I think fundamentally it’s a good idea. I’ve spoken to people for Noyes House Team who are work study and are concerned about having enough time to run for a position on House Team. I’m concerned about paying people for a job that other people are doing as well. If one person is spending 11 hours doing something and another person is also spending 11 hours doing something but not getting paid for it, I don’t think that’s a good thing.

    STUDENT LIFE: This is not making work positions jobs, it’s minimizing the conflict between work study and running for exec positions. If someone not on work study has a problem with someone getting paid for a job they’re doing, that’s their specific concern.

    RAYMOND: I think this is a really great letter. Great job, Student Life and Josh.

    STUDENT LIFE: We have a meeting with Cappy on Tuesday and would like to get her signature on it then.

    2016: I think that maybe I’m not understanding this properly. For work study positions on campus, were there not enough work study students to fill the work study positions, non-work study students could then apply for those positions and get paid for them. I think this is a good first step, but I think it makes the assumption that only students who are on work study need their campus jobs in order to support themselves which we know isn’t true, given the amount of middle-class families who can’t apply for financial aid. We need to take a look at all of these positions and why certain students are running for them and see if financial obligation is one of them-who this helps and who still needs to be helped.

    STRONG: HSAs are paid through student employment but the rest of House Team is not, and this has not affected our relationship. Being in these positions is a privilege that is not currently accessible to all.

    JOSS: I just wanted to quickly remind that if you all want to make this more inclusive to minorities and women, then opening this work study opportunity up would be a real plus. As a poor student on this campus and being house president and balancing a work study job and academics it’s very hard to do. The VSA has been historically white and rich.

    2016: I wasn’t trying to say that I don’t think this is important. I just wanted to make sure that if we do pass this our accessibility issues on VSA aren’t over. It makes it more accessible, but not completely accessible.

    STUDENT LIFE: At the end of the day, it’s still Vassar.

    9:40// New Board of Elections Amendment

    2015: I added an amendment about a board of elections appointment. We accidentally made it so that the VP for Operations is never allowed to run for anything ever again. It was definitely not the intent at the time, so this amendment seeks to rectify that and clear up what the role of VP for Operations is supposed to do in regards to elections. I’m going to move to suspend the bylaw that says we must wait for two weeks so that we can vote on this now.

    9:42//Motion to suspend bylaw is unanimously passed.

    9:43//Vote for new amendment is unanimously passed.

    9:43//Open discussion

    PRESIDENT: If you didn’t take the bill of rights to your constituents, now would be a good time to do so. Try to get some feedback.

    2014: I woke up this morning and got brunch at the Big Tomato. It took about 57 minutes. If I were to keep having the same meal at the Big Tomato until graduation, I could have 1,402 brunches with an extra .1 brunch.
    50 Nights is coming up on Saturday, April 5 at The Chance.
    There is a candidates’ meeting which is mandatory for all who are considering running this year. It is in Sander’s Classroom on April 5, at 8 pm.

    2014: Your ticket to the student-faculty basketball game is your contribution to the student gift. It’s usually $3.

    LATHROP: Latrhop’s art market i this Saturday at 12pm. There are 25 to 30 vendors at this point.

    NOYES: Noyes is having Noyes Circle Soirée with free food and a place to eat the food. Rossi’s, Twisted Soul and Bacio’s will be there. There will be plenty of food for all who come. The rain location will be in the Aula from 4 to 6 p.m.

    ACADEMICS: The majors’ fair is Sunday 1 to 3pm. CDO, CIS, the JYA center will be there–all of the academic offices of our campus.

    SOCO’S: We are encouraging organizations to clean out their closet April 12, from 1-4 location TBD, we will be selling old merch. If you are an org leader we will be contacting you.

    JEWETT: VCTV is having their premiere on Friday at 7. It will be the first premiere of the Hype music video.

    STUDENT LIFE: Congrats to the class of 2018. Focus weekend will be in two weeks. Email me with any corrections about the amendment, or if you want to have a conversation, let me know.

    ACADEMICS: If any of you have friends who want to take the new CEQs. We are looking for a certain type of student to take these CEQs.

    9:50//Council adjourns

    9 Programming Amendment Activities & Raymond (10 min)

     
  • Chris Gonzalez 11:06 pm on March 23, 2014 Permalink | Reply  

    VSA Council Meeting—23 March 2014 

    Hey everyone, welcome back from break! Let’s get started.

    7:04 // Call to Order
    Attendance ……………PRESIDENT

    Absences: Cushing, Joss, Operations.

    7:05 // Consent Agenda
    MBSA (Social Conciousness)$2000/$2300
    WOCA (Pre-Org)$100/$100
    Fernando Braga (Discretionary)$0/$350
    CSA (Conference)$800/$2300
    Run Vassar (Discretionary)$0/$1100
    Pro Health (Conference)$980/$980
    Savor (Pre-Org)$100/$100
    Vastards (A Capella Recording)$750/$750
    Christian Fellowship (Conference)$800/$800
    VARC (Conference)$600/$1090
    Archery (Discretionary)$300/$300
    Night Owls (Discretionary)$350/$350
    CSA (Discretionary)$5000/$5200

    Consent Agenda Passes.

    7:06 // Forum with Luis Inoa

    PRESIDENT: Three weeks ago we brought up a lot of concerns about Reslife, so Luis is here to talk about those things.

    INOA: I’m the Director of ResLife and Assistant Dean of Students, and I’ve been here for nine years. I’m trying to approach this summer as if I’m coming in new, trying to think through the Department and our relationship with students. House Team: Contextually, and historically, the term ‘house team’ hasn’t always been a part of Vassar vernacular. Training: student fellows and advisors were trained first and then presidents later. Training, I think, developed through the lens of what is it that a student fellow/advisor needs. And what are the transferable skills. Talking about next year is important because we havent figured out what to do with officers. I’ve encouraged the VSA not to think about house team in the same way they think about other orgs. I think each year we haven’t done the kind of work around office training that we needed to; I think we do good things about the global issues—fire safety, identity, etc. And with QPR, if you’re seen as a leader in your house there’s a chance a student in your house will come to you.

    2016: Hi, thank you for coming. I’m just curious about our specific structure for student fellows as compared to other schools. I know other schools, their student fellows are more punitive positions or they’re seniors or upperclassmen? Can you speak to why we have this system and what are it’s benefits?

    INOA: When the RA system developed around the country, Vassar didn’t follow. I’m not sure if that was due to the all-women structure, not sure about the rational, I haven’t encouraged this because we don’t want one person responsible for the students. We want the community to be responsible. We recently adopted language around responsibility and consciousness: House Team members need to develop a sense of ‘little a’ authority. For a student smoking in their room, if nobody approaches, students assume that it’s okay to behave this way; we’re struggling because we need Vassar students to start stepping up and say this is why we don’t have RA system, all our students should be empowered to act when students don’t behave this way; RA system makes the officer system redundant. I like that we have this Venn diagram community development with HFI and social development. The Floor Fellow program has also been worth it for students who have reached out. We’re working on some things.

    MAIN: Hi, can you talk a little bit about the selection process for student fellows and student advisors?

    INOA: They just wrapped up interviews; I feel like I should have a more ready response. The first word that comes to mind when thinking about student fellows is snowflakes. Yes, we need some extroverts. Yes, we need some introverts. Yes, we need students involved with a variety of things. Student fellows: I’m looking for someone who likes Vassar with the capacity to love Vassar, that can be critical. When I got here house advisors had to be student fellows first. Now we incorporate house officers, the same things apply, you have to like working because they put in so many hours—it’s an individual that can be an effective role model. In nine years I haven’t had a student advisor documented so they don’t bring that kind of drama and I appreciate it.

    STRONG: I wanted to ask about the relationships between house officers and the rest of house team. Sometimes it can become a little like West Side Story.

    INOA: I think that house teams that are successful are the ones that continue to check in with each other about those expectations. A few years ago student fellows were concerned about the amount of work they were putting into programming. It should not be an expectation—that’s where the friction is coming from.

    STRONG: Can we clarify what those expectations are?

    INOA: Yes, maybe sitting down with the board of house presidents and start being very clear with student fellows.

    STRONG: Houses expect different stuff with student fellows so they might be seeing their friends in other houses doing other stuff.

    INOA: It’s tough because some houses just operate year to year on what Student Fellows do. They need to have those conversations about do you agree to this kind of commitment. This would be helpful; we need to be mindful of house traditions and house culture. Maybe the board of house presidents with student advisors and HFI’s. The class reps were formed after the VSA decided they could be a resource for upperclassmen.

    STRONG: Great, I have some ideas.

    INOA: Yea, we can work something out.

    STRONG: We’ll call you.

    STUDENT LIFE: Since RAs at other schools are paid, can you explain why a student fellow position is not paid?

    INOA: To think about the scope of RAs, they are doing personal social development and security, though that is not to provide a reason for why student fellows aren’t being compensated. This question came up a few years ago and I surveyed current and past SF’s and they weren’t comfortable getting paid because they were worried there might be higher expectations, like they would do more authoritative things. When the student fellow program started in the ’70s, it started with student fellows getting $250 a semester. It was about half of room and board. It’s something the College could look at. Five years ago student fellows said $1000 would be most because the positions feels closer to being volunteer than not. It’s worth another look 5 years later especially in light of the school going need bind.

    STUDENT LIFE: I saw some things about rooms changes happening and people getting roommates they weren’t told about—how does communication with students through Res life?

    INOA: We were trying to work before room freeze over break; we allowed decisions but not having students move during midterms, because the move wasn’t happening. They heard they got approved before they were supposed to and where they were going; we have to think about that for next year. Right now, in general communication we’re working on a new website. I would encourage anyone here to sit down and see what would be useful. There’s a lot of info but it’s not easy to navigate it. We’ve switched systems to Residence, which has been a bit of a headache. The transition has meant that we haven’t quite known how things are going to be played out until later, so communication between us and students hasn’t been that great.

    2015: I’ve known in past that house advisors think they should tell house president how to vote. I think it should be more about advice, but the president should have autonomy. Also, relating to 4- and 5- person draw, 15-min time slots for each group but have no draw numbers, how will this actually work?

    INOA: This is part of that new system because it produces its own numbers. We use what system gave us for example first person who draws is 43, we could look at the entire list—can we look at that.

    2015: That would be nice to have an idea of where we are in the time slot.

    INOA: The idea is to look at where the time slot is and figure out where you would fit.

    RAYMOND: I wanted to say that I really like having a floor fellow—do you think the program will be expanding and what changes could be made to other house teams?

    INOA: This will be the third year, and with the way the budget gets approved I would need to look at budget needed by this November. We’re currently based on the Haverford model: they have “customs people” like student fellows and the team freshmen introduced to are a collection of people, such as multicultural educator. If we implement this we would have key conversations around identity. We’re not sure if this should be the floor fellow to encourage upperclassmen to join in and share perspective; we’re thinking about a multicultural awareness ambassador to lead conversations we seem to avoid in residential spaces. I’m looking at restorative justice circles and conferences as a way of dealing with microagressions on campus. We have failed in some of those cases, we have failed some of our students who have come to us and said they were hurt by the language used on campus. We don’t have a system in place to say where our role is; we would like to implement that as a resource next year. We’re definitely thinking about some things.

    TAs: I remember during winter break we were given a survey about our student fellows. Who sees that and what actions come from it?

    INOA: It goes to the house advisor who should bring it up to house team during winter training. It provides perspectives on alcohol policy and such are shared. Student fellows also get feedback: how they are available to students, and every year feedback is positive. House teams get a chance to give feedback on house advisors. I work to encourage them to do the things they’re doing and also areas where students have concerns.

    STRONG: The topic of roommate and housemate training came up. And I remember being thrown into this situation in the early stages. Stuff gets written down and people aren’t always comfortable with it. We do a lot of emergency and important kinds of training, but there isn’t a focus on the realistic small issues that then become big issues that lead to room changes.

    INOA: What would encourage a roommate to revisit a conversation that they had earlier? Is it about this first roommate conversations or is about a series of roommate conversations that are needed to develop a working, living relationship. Culturally our students don’t revisit those until they become problematic. If we could do this early they might be better when they’re seniors, when cleanliness is not just limited to the room but the bathroom and kitchen. We’ve had more apartment changes than room changes. We sent out things to think about when picking housemates; I think of apartment spaces as cooperative spaces and the students would be more receptive to that if they did it, too. We need to be better beyond roommate-to-roommate scenarios. How do we move beyond that so students are ready when they move into the apartment areas?

    MAIN: Last week before spring break it was Eating Diorder Awareness week and the Health Office had awareness programming, and only one student fellow showed up. Could there be more encouragement by Res Life to attend these events. The week of training is condensed and not refreshed upon.

    INOA: The position right now is to talk about leadership curriculum that is more sustained. That’s for house team and professionals. It’s about taking advantage of opportunities the College has, and I’m working with Rene Pabst about better incorporating peer educators with house team.

    MAIN: Going back to the student fellow/office divide. I think we could talk with Finance and Student Life and Activities, as House Team priority should be on house itself. Some conversations could be had to even things out.

    ACTIVITIES: It’s not mandatory, it’s more about traditions passing down. Houses are run differently than orgs, it’s not mandatory.

    PRESIDENT: We could talk about setting better standards for houses to focus on different things each year.

    SoCos: One of the residents of SoCOs was concerned about protocol for B&G entering houses—would it be possible to email when everyone is doing that, let people know that ahead of time?

    INOA: Sometimes students read emails and sometimes they don’t, but we could be upfront about that. We are a liaison for B&G to communicate to students so if they don’t give us the information there will be an issue. We are communicating that we have to know so that students can know. We will take issues back to B&G; sometimes we don’t spell it out for students to understand such as over spring break.

    NOYES: Is there a reason why students who live in housing have to leave at 9 a.m. the day after classes end?

    INOA: I think every now and then we think we can extend it; if we say 12, they will leave at 5. So we say 9 to allow some extra time for stragglers. For a campus who prides itself on students who make making good decisions. Extending the time might be bad: what would a weekend look like without having to worry about Monday classes? That’s the reason we shut down on Saturdays. There is a concern that in staying open we become the spring break destination. We can work on adding a few more hours.

    PRESIDENT: I know some students’ parents have to drive 5 or 6 hours overnight to pick up their student and they have to leave in the middle of the night, so a few more hours would be helpful.

    NOYES: Regarding demographic of student fellows has there been research into students accepted? Would that be worthwhile?

    INOA: I don’t have a strong sense of it; I think these things balance themselves out. There are probably more white females who make up student fellows. The committee on inclusion and excellence looked to see if students of color weren’t taking up these responsibilities: they might be taking on other responsibilities. It feels like we could do better on the student fellow end. We’ve never gone to the Centers to talk about the house team experience.

    2016: Do you feel certain students don’t apply to be student fellows because they might not be able to handle the position along with a work-study position?

    INOA: I don’t know. If I had to make an assumption, probably. I will tell you this: The reason we have a bit more access now with the student advisors, is because they are paid positions. There’s concern a little bit about burnout now, but six years ago they were ready to revolt. I know that’s part of the experience of house presidents, and I imagine that’s part of the experience with student fellows. Really the crux of that position is that one-on-one relationship with freshmen.

    2016: If you could just explain under what conditions will someone enter your room?

    INOA: You fill out a work request, you’re giving someone permission to enter your room. During a fire alarm, when the houses close. One of the things happening, we have a growing number of students who won’t tolerate folks who are trying to be Scarface, you know a drug dealer on campus. We get word that someone is stealing drugs, someone is entering your room. If there’s a reason to believe that a safety or health violation happening behind closed doors, someone can enter. If it sounds like there’s a party, someone will knock on your door?

    2016: Is there a protocol for that? Are they supposed to knock or can they just enter?

    INOA: I believe it’s in the handbook, but that would be a common courtesy. It’s also expected the student open the door at some point. There’s a room entry policy in the handbook.

    8:02 // Activities Report

    ACTIVITIES: All preorgs are in good standing: pre orgs reps update us every week, activities committee has been talking to orgs we had questions for, we will have end of semester pre org review in coming weeks. We’ve been collecting constitutions. We hope to have them before annual budgeting, so April 1. The storage space project is good and almost done; we cleaned out the Vassarion office. Orgs who would be sharing spaces have been contacted; we’ve been working with the ROC to do coordinating. We still have yearbooks if you want any, orders are on Wednesday, 6:30-9:30 p.m. House presidents, let me know if you have books in your houses. The Leadership Conference Committee will be starting, we hope to have more org leaders. Traditions Committee is still being figured out. Terry Quinn and I had been talking about expectations for houses and programming. That blurb will be sent out.

    JEWETT: How much are the yearbooks?

    ACTIVITIES: Last year is 15, 2009-2010 are 10, and everything else is 5.

    DAVISON: Some people have asked when is next time for students to apply to be student orgs?

    ACTIVITIES: That would be next round.

    2017: Helicon and Squirm share a space, how regulated are the spaces with org leadership notified?

    ACTIVITIES: Anything that has to do with houses go to the ROC, otherwise talk to campus activities. We notified orgs that had spaces. Almost all of them knew where spaces were, I get notifications about fire and safety.

    TAs: Are wireless VCash machines still a thing?

    FINANCE: I can look into it. I heard they did the system update needed over break.

    2016: I heard they did not. Also, the money we make from selling these yearbooks goes where?

    ACTIVITIES: It goes to the budget.

    8:10 // Finance Report

    FINANCE: Annual budgeting applications are out, tell your friends?

    TOWN HOUSES: For annual budgeting do you need to meet with people?

    FINANCE: You will be approached and a conversation will happen. We’re making an offer to some orgs.

    8:11 // Constituent Concerns

    2016: Lots of administrators say they feel this works. When an student is EMS’d students have to pay for ambulance and this may be a disincentive. Healthcare should pay for it, and the ambulance not covered by Vassar insurance. We need to change this, students may not ever call EMS if this is the case. When the life of a student is in danger this in unacceptable; students should not feel as though they are putting financial strain on themselves.

    PRESIDENT: I’ll reach out and see what we can do about it.

    DAVISON: At the last meeting I mentioned Davison’s backdoor is having issues, and it hasn’t been addressed.

    ACTIVITIES: If any other houses have concerns with faulty locks they should see me. I can email Annabelle. I send out lots of emails so we have a relationship built.

    TAs: Can you explain the structure of the preorgs because it’s very confusing.

    ACTIVITIES: There are different levels based on semester they started.

    2015: A lot of orgs that get accepted at first level fizzle out before they reach the next step; the number of orgs we used to have has decreased. The preorgs cycle out and so the total will be manageable.

    SOCOs: It’s important to keep in mind that at other schools all you need is a signed petition, we have a strict policy already so it would only be more discouraging to make it stricter.

    TOWN HOUSE PROXY: Usually when orgs fizzle out they’re not taking anything from us, so we can’t necessarily add another org, we aren’t gaining money back.

    PRESIDENT: This is the trial period for preorgs, so there isn’t an assumption that you’ll automatically become an org. This is to provide you with resources to see if it will work out, it’s much more about spaces and organizing and getting VSA support.

    2015: The conversations Activities has about these orgs is very detailed because we think about this a lot.

    8:18 // Student Life Amendment

    MOTION PASSES UNANIMOUSLY.

    8:19 // Open Discussion

    2014: 62 days, 13 hours, 39 minutes, and 15 seconds. And there isn’t a speaker yet. In approximately 12 days until 50 nights. There will be emails, there will be advertisements. Seniors please check your email and do that survey. I know it’s annoying, but the more people that do the survey, the more money the senior class gets, which is cool.

    PRESIDENT: I’ve been at Trustee meetings where they actually use that data to make decisions.

    STRONG: Do you know when we will have a speaker?

    2014: No one has told me anything. I’m sure the Misc finds out before anyone else.

    RAYMOND: Student bill of rights is a thing; Cushing will bring it to council next week.

    LATHROP: An art/ student products weekend, anyone interested in selling goods email [email protected]. It’s on April 5.

    STUDENT LIFE: So we talked a little before break about updates on the paid VSA thing. Then I realized the last time it didn’t pass is because it was sent out before break. If anyone would like to see that letter, I’m sending it to all your emails anyway.

    ACADEMICS: I need one friend from each of you for the CEQs.

    2017: Freshmen 15 is April 30. Just tell your constituents.

    2015: What’s the free item?

    2017: We haven’t figured that out year. Oh, wait, free shirts.

    DAVISON: Main’s event is on Friday.

    MAIN: Classy Hollywood is Friday in the Villard Room.

    2016: Thank you Student Life for writing the letter, and I just want us to make sure we’re thinking about positions and whether they are equitable.

    PRESIDENT: Elections filing starts this week, BOE will send email, April 27 will be the last meeting. About the discussion about Palestine/Israel, Cappy and Cheanette are open to having another meeting. They do not want to close it off. Motion to adjourn.

    8:30 // Meeting Adjourns.

     
  • Chris Gonzalez 12:00 am on March 3, 2014 Permalink | Reply  

    VSA Council Meeting—2 March 2014 

    All right, everyone, get pumped for the final VSA Council meeting. Sports Editor tried playing “Timber” by Ke$ha to get the crowd riled up.

    7:00 //
    1 Call to Order
    2 Attendance ……………PRESIDENT

    OPERATIONS is running late. Proxies: Raymond, 2017, THs; Absences: 2016, Cushing, Ferry, Town Students.

    7:03 // Consent Agenda
    a. Chess Club (Pre Org).…………….………………………………..($98.29/$98.29)
    b. ViCE/SoundSystem (Capital)..………………………($1260/$1260;$240/$240)
    c. Fem Alliance (Discretionary)…………..………………………….…………($1200/$1800)
    d. Improv (Speakers)……………………………………….……………($400/$4000)
    e. Slow Food (Conference)………………………………………………….….…($495/$495)
    f. Britomartis (Discretionary)……………………………………………………………….$520
    g. Minutes from 2/23/14

    FINANCE: Adds 1500 to Vassar Prison Initiative.

    CONSENT AGENDA PASSES.

    7:04 // Forum with Eve Dunbar, Acting Dean of the College

    DUNBAR: I’m here because I was asked by the VSA exec board. This charts process notes from last December’s group dialogue, this was a dialogue chaired by Counseling Services and VSA was part of planning. It came on the heels of a campus climate meltdown—that’s probably the best way to describe it—students were feeling confused and concerned about safety on campus, processing bias and hate speech. We decided to hold the forum to process feelings; the document came at the end (about 70-80 students, administration and faculty), everybody was given the option to put down on a card some concerns we had and we broke those into categories and bulleted point of each concern. I’ve taken this to Dean of College area to go over it, I’ve asked Deans and directors to go over it to see if they’ve addressed these and see if they can address some in a low or no cost way, which ones need long term strategic attention.

    PRESIDENT: We wanted to address this here so that we could voice their concerns and if they want to take action on these things, if you see anything important please add if it’s missing you can bring it to an administrator.

    DUNBAR: I went through and highlighted what’s important—change resources: gender neutral bathrooms is in progress, restorative adjustment model to address bias incident response, small intermittent conversations with administration and Campus Life and Diversity office used to hold dinner. Ed Pittman plans to bring those back and encourage thinking about how we can “construct ourselves from within bounds of law.” CIE is addressing this.

    MAIN: Under section “etc” it says change Vassar culture, what does that mean?

    DUNBAR: I didn’t write it so it came from someone that reflects desire among many to change campus culture.

    PRESIDENT: I noticed changing Metcalf funding, I was wondering if you could speak to where it is.

    DUNBAR: In terms of progress made this year we were able to secure permanent lines in counseling services so there will be 5 permanent starting in fall. I have put in request for a post doc position, but I don’t know how that will fare. I think there is some progress being made.

    TA’s: What are your goals for this semester?

    DUNBAR: To keep the wheels on the bus. I am interested in supporting the bystander intervention training, working with SAVP—working with Elizabeth Shrock—to bring the bystander training; hopefully that will happen late April/ early May. I’m really hoping to solidify that on campus. I am invested in campus-climate issues and creating spaces for dialogue—this Friday I will be holding small focus group luncheon, and in April I will have general call to student body to have another lunch meeting with me to see what people are thinking about Vassar.

    2015: In the past you’ve worked in the Dean of Faculty office and in coming to the Dean of College position do you have anything you see that might be interested or advice for us? Now that you’re overseeing so many people?

    DUNBAR: In the six to eight weeks that I’ve been in this position something that was a revelation for me—after being in the house fellow position, I know that student lives are richer than the classroom. I see that they have lives in the dorm. Going to Dean of College I saw a wide range of experiences students have, from interpersonal to institutional is clear now, relationships to one another—difficulties and greatness.

    ACADEMICS: I have a question about the social justice requirement, what would you like to see what do you think it will look like?

    DUNBAR: It depends on when you ask me, when I was co-chair of CIE, 3 years ago we were given a proposal that entailed specific courses all students would take called “social justice” and that did not seem like the right model. I don’t think a single course taught by one or two faculty would be effective. If one were to imagine social justice requirement I would want it to be diverse so that students have choice of classes to take; they would all be different that would allow students to pick and choose. The data from the Registrar suggests 90 percent of students take something that would fill social justice requirement. I’m not sure we aren’t addressing that, what we need is a new way to talk about what work students are doing, a different way to acknowledge that great majority of students at Vassar are invested in this. My ideal is that we develop a discourse—this might mean something from people looking in to talk about it; it would have to go through faculty, requirement isn’t up to the students, again because vast majority are meeting it we need to think in ways that aren’t based in the curriculum, more social.

    SoCos: I wanted to talk about the Metcalf funding. I’m hesitant to hire more counselors when data was what we had at the current moment, I’ve had strangers tell me that Metcalf needs more resources, and people are upset that we didn’t act. I’ve seen few things VSA has done that all students can get behind, how can we make it a priority?

    DUNBAR: I think the VSA has made it clear that it supports this, I think that you can keep being vocal about it and I will keep trying to push this, I’m going to say that this is something I’m invested in, there are a variety of priorities the institution is invested in.

    PRESIDENT: I do want to thank you for the work you’ve been doing. I know that to get something new, we have to give something else up.

    TOWN HOUSES PROXY: I’m curious to know if there are any conversations between Metcalf and administration in context of communication with student body. From the Reslife perspective the way student leaders are trained Metcalf becomes the last advice given. This serves as catchall that feels like a beuqacratic channel rather than long term resources; my biggest concern is how do you understand the role of Metcalf? It seems like what Vassar is as a space is the main question, and how does it relate to the College.

    DUNBAR: I think that question is a little leading, so why don’t you tell me where you’re leading me, so that I can answer it.

    TOWN HOUSES PROXY: Where do you see Metcalf as a space?

    DUNBAR: Wendy could answer better than I: from what I can tell the way counseling services work as a resource for students in distress, on campus to get the care they need at that moment, that’s probably the primary use. I’m not sure it is meant to be sole site of counseling for any individual. One might need to find long term counseling if they have the resources. I see it as a site where you can process when you’re most distressed with the hope of moving to a person who can give you weekly or more frequent care. We’re not a full-service counseling center—not sure if many institutions have that.

    TOWN HOUSES PROXY: What then is the goal of funding resources into Metcalf?

    PRESIDENT: From my experience I find that it is an initial attempt to get through a rough patch, sometimes you need long-term counseling, other times you need to figure out what resources are available, in recognizing it is a short-term solution many students are unable to get appointment for 2 weeks. Over 50 percent of students use Metclaf; if student has to wait and it is an emergency this is not doing the function it should.

    JEWETT: Where it mentions students reporting to other students how they feel, what does that mean?

    DUNBAR: This was all anonymous, this was one I highlighted, it seems like this restorative justice model for dealing with microagressions. It sounds like SSN, can’t tell if people want to report their peers if they feel there has been a microagression and want to report it anonymously, the vagueness of it.

    JEWETT: It seems like it would be another form of SayAnything.

    DUNBAR: My sense is that I hope it’s not like an official SayAnything and that it does address microagressions in a more systematic way. I may be wrong because I wasn’t the writer.

    STUDENT LIFE: Seems like a SayAnything that requires a sort of accountability, the site doesn’t do enough.

    2017 PROXY: There’s an entire column for orientation. I just wanted to know what the administration feels like would be a good orientation considering many people think there needs to be more and balanced with the fact that it is optional.

    DUNBAR: The two categories that confound me: orientation and mandatory; there’s a lot of desire in this group to make things mandatory yet there’s a desire in this institution to not have mandatory things. Orientation in susceptible to change. I don’t know that you can ever get orientation right, I think the First-Year Program group is open to feedback; you need people who are flexible to assess what worked from year to year. A lot of it comes from Campus Life and Diversity. Hearing what the students want and need is spring orientation, hearing that and responding to it. I don’t know how you create a mandatory orientation without saying it is mandatory; I don’t know how you penalize people who don’t do it. I’m interested in what students think about making students come to these things what is a suitable penalties.

    2015: Penalty wise it is supposed to be a community so maybe you should have a lower draw number so you have less of a choice if you engage less in house issues.

    AT LARGE: Is there a penalty in place for not completing Alcohol Edu? Maybe make it the same penalty if it exists, giving people another option in case people want to stay at home over the break.

    PRESIDENT: Motivations for doing something is a friendlier way to look at it, having more fun parts would be effective. I just watched an episode of Parks and Rec, you laugh but I learn a lot from that show…I think bringing youth together might be cool—getting freshman together would be helpful, like a focus group. I’m a proponent of chocolate fountains wherever someone is at any given time, but I understand that’s not feasible.

    STUDENT LIFE: Orientation Committee has one last meeting, only thing changed was giving more time for lunch. I would encourage more than just reps there to push it a little; they are more likely to listen if it’s coming from more people, it would help earlier in the year, they have asked VSA to plan fun events. so it could be a good way to introduce more social component when only times to be social are when people are falling asleep.

    TOWN HOUSES PROXY: After going through orientation thrice, it seems like the only thing that drives orientation is the novelty of space, because you don’t know anyone, so you try to find something. My main concern is to rethink the ResLife model and house team section on this chart—have there been conversations about any proposed changes, do you have a sense of current ResLife situation?

    DUNBAR: I would love to know which parts—what it is that’s broken—that students are displeased with?

    TOWN HOUSES PROXY: I think there’s a strong relation between physical appearance with the space and what happens in interior, the relation to students’ understanding of space relates to underfunding of B&G and their ability to respond to damages, if there’s already broken things you don’t have to respect the interior. The physical space initiates your understanding of your relationship to the house and your relationship to the students. Each house has its own culture and some of those ideas begin with space, though that’s not necessarily problematic.

    AT LARGE: It would be interesting to have a discussion of how to share personal space with someone. As someone who switched roommates, it was hard to talk to someone when my roommate didn’t want to. More realistically what does compromise look like. Some things don’t come up until they come up especially when you come from different backgrounds.

    DUNBAR: So training of student fellows or new students?

    AT LARGE: Perhaps more involved with the roommate contract.

    PRESIDENT: Lots of issues come up with senior housing, so some sort of that repeated before senior housing, like a panel of other students presenting successful ways they have navigated delegating chores and having house meetings. Something that shows good examples of people before you. Some popele talk to friends others, don’t know what to expect.

    JOSS: In terms of ResLife, it would be beneficial if ResLife was more responsive and respective of people’s genders in terms of who people can room with.

    AT LARGE—JOSHUA SHERMAN ’15: There’s no system of mutual communication, it’s one way communication. If I have concerns and I want to talk to ResLife and it’s put into structure. There’s no ticket system where I’m responded to in an orderly fashion, there’s no way for me to track my issues, no sense of me talking to human beings, whether it’s personal or housing. I also have some issues of honesty with ResLife—this hasn’t been clear, if there was more honesty in terms of resources or budgets it would be better. Honestly about why certain things aren’t done.

    2015: After this semester, where is you future?

    DUNBAR:The future lies in my past, I’m going back to Associate Dean of Faculty. I love teaching and my own research, so I always tell people that the worst thing that could happen to me as a tenured professor is that I have to go back to the English Department and teach the classes I love, read the books I love and write about it. And I’m happy with that.

    FINANCE: There’s been pressure from Campus Activities to have house teams do programming, house team does double duties. I think the strong part of Vassar is that programming is student led. We don’t need to rely on house teams.

    PRESIDENT: Student orgs have missions to do these events and houses might not want to do that, so in some ways it’s like houses are taking away their agency.

    FINANCE: There is value in letting house team focus on the dorm.

    7:53 // Regular Reports and Constituent Concerns

    SCIA: We’re hoping to foster dialogue around class issues to accommodate diversity of socioeconomic backgrounds. We’re hoping to make textbooks and course materials more accessible, our proposed solutions surround getting course material to students earlier and we’re hoping that faculty can develop an internal policy so that students can find cheaper options, the info isn’t as public as it could be, and this puts students in a bind, so that they feel an obligation to buy course materials, whether materials are required or optional, if you’ll actually need the textbooks, if you need the edition listed, we saw progress in our meetings with the Acting Dean of Faculty.

    ACADEMICS: The point of the letter is just to say that the student body supports this, not just for small selection of students, sense of accountability with faculty.

    PRESIDENT: We meet with all these people on a regular basis and have talked about it, but seeing it in writing will have benefits, we haven’t been ignoring this.

    FINANCE: Can I motion to approve this letter.

    MOTION PASSES.

    7:57 // Student Life Reports

    STUDENT LIFE: The Gender Neutral Bathroom Forum was on Wednesday. The turnout was acceptable but would have been nice to see faculty and staff; students gave helpful feedback, and we’re going to be regrouping to talk about student input. Tomorrow as a small group we’re working on getting student exec positions paid. The proposal was pushed before but then died over the summer. It’s now circulating as widely as possible. Cappy requested to write the letter, what makes it different from heads of other orgs.

    TAs: What are the barriers keeping us from implementing gender neutral bathrooms?

    STUDENT LIFE: There are issues with putting it in every building—some needed to be renovated. There are issues over whether you have to take out urinals, under building codes. Students aren’t worried about using a urinal, but we have to keep in mind that this pushback is coming from staff and faculty who aren’t used to this, because of a lack of education, which we’re working on. So we’re explaining why it’s a basic need and why we need to have option for everybody. We’re not taking gender bathrooms away.

    JEWETT: Is there going to be a decision made before this year in regard to exec positions getting paid?

    STUDENT LIFE: I’m trying to push it through this week, ideally it would be pushed through before filing but we can’t help that.

    NOYES: Does this apply only to student on work-study jobs?

    STUDENT LIFE: The intent is not to make exec positions paid, but to make students who would otherwise be spending hours working. It’s not a conflict of interest because I can’t do my job when I have commitment elsewhere; making it work-study eligible so that people working have the choice to be paid, and it will be a choice.

    PRESIDENT: And some people may choose to keep their work-study jobs. For example, I would keep working at the art museum, it’s my happy place.

    STUDENT LIFE: I sit on SAVP committee, student committee is video project to make reporting process more transparent. The filming/production phase gives people the chance to see more about what they would enter into in reporting process, there is room on subcommittee. 2016 reached out to me on a budget project, and a security investigation project. We’re trying to address racial profiling incidents and figure out what the issues are. We encourage students to go on security website to report problems. Lastly, I’ve been talking to centers about better representing them.

    8:08 // Academics Reports

    ACADEMICS: We’re done with most interviews for student seminars, people are teaching interesting things. CEQ’s course evaluations are new, there’s a new design/pilot. We’re looking for a focus groups to take SCE, a new way to evaluate courses and professors. Finally we have a timeline for the 24-hour room. It will be open always after spring break, and a newsletter will happen.

    8:10 // Constituents Reports (as a concept)

    PRESIDENT: I got emails from feedback for Late Night at the Deece. It’s been overwhelmingly positive. There have been some concerns from student employers about being understaffed, and hopefully that will be remedied in future. This weekend was the Board of Trustees weekend: I stressed that we want more Metcalf counselors and we talked about bookstore moving; they approved the budget and will be moving bookstore into juliet. They’re breaking ground monday. We talked about how we assess learning and online learning in the future.

    JEWETT: I saw something about B&G clearing paths, is there a way to talk to someone about that? Workers are going out of their way, why are they being penalized?

    PRESIDENT: There are some Union issues with regard to what they can and cannot do. I can bring in Bob Walton to adress these issues in the future.

    DAVISON: Last week during the blackout, Davison was vandalized. Somebody was writing their name, or alias, on the Quad-side entrance. We reported it to security. It’s still there, nothing’s changed. Also, early this semester, one of my student fellows was followed into Davision by two men she said were not from Vassar. There’s an issue with our back door, it doesn’t lock properly. We reported it again, and nothing changed at all. I don’t know if it’s an issue with B&G or the ROC, but this has been the second time this year where my house doesn’t feel comfortable. We have tried to get in contact with so many people.

    STUDENT LIFE: I’m sensing this more overwhelming sentiment. I’m a little troubled by the fact that the College doesn’t see students as a priority. With the snow: nothing for pathways, and things like that.

    PRESIDENT: I think it sounds like a ROC issue. Typically the secretary is supposed to be the liaison between the ROC and the House. Perhaps you can put pressure on the team or the advisor to contact the Roc.

    AT LARGE: There are multiple things in my room that are’t functioning like they should. I put the ticket through. Generally there are a lot of things the ROC is not getting to.

    MAIN: Something that my house wants to know about more—what’s going on with the student space. Small side at the Deece is now Late Night, and we’re confused about what the purpose of Late Night at the Deece?

    PRESIDENT: The purpose was a response to the student space reports. Students wanted a space they could go that wasn’t just a dance party space, but somewhere they could hang out and have food option. There’s a committee meeting to address these concerns. I think there’s a whole team of people looking at what are student needs, and how we can delegate them around campus.

    SoCos: There have been 5 candidates for the 2 new Metcalf permanent positions.

    TOWN HOUSES PROXY: B&G is understaffed, so I do want us to be careful about expressing these concerns while being aware of this problem. For example, there are only 2 painters that are required to cover the entire campus.

    STUDENT LIFE: I’m talking about from an administration level. I’m not demonizing B&G.

    PRESIDENT: Thank you for sharing, if there are additional things, feel free to email me.

    8:24 // Joint Committee Reps Amendment

    2014: This amendment tightens up how many people we need on those committees in respect to ours, and builds a little more oversight on those joint committees.

    PRESIDENT: Just, I think one of my concerns is that I think even though the reporting changes. That doesn’t necessarily make it a priority for the VPs. I think there needs to be more language in our policies for each of our committees to address the problems within the committees. For instance, a couple of these are going to relate to the Student Life committee, so maybe Student Life should create policies. Another concern was if there are too many people sitting on the committee, maybe it would be beneficial to say “serve as” instead of “sit on.”

    OPERATIONS: It’s talk about at the discretion primarily for the purpose of it’s more than a policy. It’s part of their job description, and people should be aware of that.

    PRESIDENT: I’m worried about the VP perspective.

    OPERATION: I agree. This has to be followed up with policy changes. It fixes a different problem.

    NOYES, TAs abstain. AMENDEMENT PASSES.

    8:30 // Board of Elections and Appointments Amendment

    OPERATIONS: There’s a disconnect between the people who should be in charge of elections and appointments and the process going on in Operations. This remedies that by taking the Board of Elections and making it more independent. It would have elected members which would be a good way of keeping a distance between having VSA people picking our own. The biggest concern brought up last week was the idea of rank ordering candidates. That language has been rewritten. The policy will be that the BoE presents their recommendations at the Council meeting. It will be a Consent Agenda item, but not on the finance consent agenda. BoE will provide an explanation for why. Copies of the application will still be made available with the Council Agenda; this will be at the discretion for the VP of Operations. The follow-up process: if the VSA Council consents, we decided.

    TAs: Can you explain who serves on this Council, and can you explain the role of VP of operations?

    OPERATIONS: The VP serves a supervisory role. A second Co -hair elected member at large will be responsible for this committee, and 2 members from each class will sit on it. 2 members of VSA Council will sit and rotate based on type of appointment.

    2015: The reason it was supposed to be a senior on Council, because a senior can’t run for another position. But typically VP of Operations runs for another position. I think that needs to be revisited before we can vote on it.

    OPERATIONS: That has been addressed. It is typically written that if you have a conflict of interest, you will not be allowed to run in that election. It will be a fairly large committee, and policies will be laid out.

    2015: It will also diminish the number of people responding to candidate statements online.

    PRESIDENT: I like that this is consented to rather than voting. Our official documents don’t say that Finance agenda is on the consent agenda, those are on our special meeting rules.

    OPERATIONS: I think we would still have a clear enough policy. So, I motion to amend the amendment concerning the BoE appointments, to strike section 14, subpoint B, subsections 1-50.

    PRESIDENT: It wouldn’t get rid of it, it would just be moving it to special meeting rules.

    2015: Can we table it until after Spring break?

    OPERATIONS: Because it involved electing 7 new people, publicity is a major problem. I would like to see us do it earlier rather than later. If there are small changes we can amend on the floor, I don’t see why we can’t get this done now.

    MOTION PASSES.

    8:40 // Vacancies Amendment

    2017 PROXY: Basically it’s laying out the procedure we already fallow but technically weren’t allowed to.

    STRONG: I move to call this to question.

    MOTION PASSES.

    8:41 // STUDENT LIFE Amendment

    STUDENT LIFE: This amendment seeks to making the position less vague by including an obligation to represent Campus Life and Diversity and all related centers, and all issues of campus climate.

    FINANCE: I wanted to suspend the bylaws.

    OPERATION: I don’t want to set the precedent of suspending bylaws.

    TOWN HOUSES PROXY: My question refers to section 2, part b, could you speak to how it typically acts as a resource?

    STUDENT LIFE: We have to battle house advisors for attention, not a common part of job description but not something that would add or take anything away.

    JEWETT REQUESTS SOME CLARITY TO THE RECENT EVENTS.

    PRESIDENT: FINANCE requested that we suspend the bylaw saying we wait a week.

    DAVISON: We talked about restructuring the representation issue. I don’t know how much of an issue that could be, or is, or would be, that’s just something.

    STUDENT LIFE: I agree. We can’t stop anybody from getting the position. I agree that there are certain people who can represent these Centers better than people.

    PRESIDENT: I think we’re going to have to trust that somebody running for this position is committed to these issues. And when we say represent we don’t mean somebody who is physically diverse and special.

    STUDENT LIFE: I just want to make it clear that if you aren’t socially conscious, you shouldn’t be running for this job.

    SOCOS: Purpose is to make people aware if we don’t vote now will it be before filing ends?

    OPERATIONS: It would happen before filing begins.

    NOYES: This should be better advertised.

    OPERATIONS: This is the job of the position, so when we publicize the position it will be there.

    PRESIDENT: Motion on table is to suspend the bylaw so we can vote on it today.

    SIMPLE MAJORITY FAILS. MOTION FAILS. WILL BE VOTED ON AFTER BREAK.

    8:51 // OPEN DISCUSSION

    2014: Three weeks to prior to filing, we have to release a publicity plan. President will send out blurbs and all campus emails in dorm campaigning events to tell people about positions debate among exec board email at beginning and middle of voting period Wednesday April 9 UpC.

    STUDENT LIFE: The set up is good, but the space isn’t working well.

    2017 proxy: We could make the presenter more comfortable letting them sit at tables.

    ROYAL: It wouldn’t be the best idea to have a meeting in a dorm, students might not want to have VSA there on a Sunday night.

    STRONG: If you have comments take them to your committees. A subcommittee of activities met to talk about incident several weeks ago, we want to encourage SJP to continue as a pre-org.

    2015: Vassar has really bad rumor issues.

    TH PROXY: With respect to larger discussion about Metcalf we should have conversations with Reslife to talk to student leaders about how students are being deferred. This depends on the nature of the issue and how the space is contextualized.

    9:00//meeting adjourned

     
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