VSA Council Meeting: April 20, 2014

Welcome to VSA council! Chris Gonzalez is officially an outgoing Editor-in-Chief, which means that I, Marie Solis, will be taking over from here on out. Let’s get started!

Absences: 2017, Ferry, THs
Proxies: Cushing

7:01//Consent Agenda:

a. Christian Fellowship (Conference)…………………………………………………….($2800/$2800)
b. Chronicle (Capital) ($3199.98 /$1599.99)
c. CSA (Discretionary) $250
d. Charmaine Branch (Discretionary) $400

Consented to.

7:02//Forum with ViCe

Tillan: Most of us were here when Vice was known as the org that spends a ridiculous amount of money. This year we’ve been more mindful of our spending. Another one of our goals is to be a lot more open and be seen more on campus and speak more with different orgs and I think we’ve built a lot of partnerships that way, especially with the VSA. However, in terms of things I wish I’d worked on more–perhaps being more intentional with events. That is, making them physically and emotionally possible. As entertaining as our acts are, I became aware of how problematic some of them might have been. Next year that will be our main concern.

Jewett: Yesterday’s concert was amazing. It was very wonderful.

Main: What’s the most difficult thing about being the director of ViCE?

Tillan Mbindyo: What I think to be important in terms of events is that other chairs don’t necessarily agree. I’ve never been a person about numbers, but I’m more interested in how people feel about a particular event.

2015: Do you have a favorite show that ViCE did?

Tillan: Solange! It was nice to have Vassar be mainstream for a day.

7:06// President: We’re reviewing applications for the Dean search committee. Hopefully it will get wrapped up by summer. In the upcoming week’s convocation–it’s in  week and a half. It’s when the freshman become sophomores, the sophomores become juniors, the juniors become seniors and the senior become alums.


Raymond: In student life we wanted to have the admin give us a written promise that there would be gender neutral bathrooms included in all new buildings.

7:08//Traditions co-chair amendment

Activities: Traditions committee was presented to committee way back when about having a performance committee that would oversee Vassar’s larger events. We came up with an amendment that would create co-chairs similar to the structure of Founder’s Day that would have subcommittees and things like that.

SoCos: We are just going to have co-chairs oversee subcommittees so they could all work separately. We wrote out an amendment following the same format as Founder’s Day.

President: How would we transition into the Traditions committee?

Activities: I envisioned us having the new VP for Activities and council select by application the co-chairs like what we do for Founder’s Day so those co-chairs could take applications for serenading and we’d go chronologically by event. In the fall, the co-chairs would work on Meet Me in Poughkeepsie followed by Halloween and so on.

SoCos: The idea behind this is having accountability from groups beyond Senior Class Council/

Strong: Logistically I was wondering if the appointment would fall under Board of Elections.

Activities: It would potentially be by Board of Elections.

Strong: Serenading and Meet Me in Poughkeepsie happen almost immediately. When would those chairs get chosen?

Activities: Probably by the end of the year so that they had some time to plan it.

TAs: Did you talk about the potential of having Tasty Tuesdays have their own chair?

Activities: We’re going to see how this plays out: If the co-chairs have a bunch of time on their hands, maybe they will undertake that.

Ops: In terms of how we’re going to appoint them, we can add that as a clause.

2014: I’m concerned about the planning of these events, like Halloween. How are you going to recruit people to help out with that?

Activities: Almost identical to Founder’s Day.

Raymond: In Operations Committee we talked about how in the first year it would have to go through collaboration with the senior class since we couldn’t budget it since the budget deadline passed.

Activities: One of the Founder’s Day committees is Activities Committee. It could be that Senior Class Council reaches out to the Daisies and see how involved they want to be in these events.

SoCos: Right now Senior Class Council does almost everything related to Halloween. Even if the only thing the Senior Class Council was responsible for was the event itself that would still be a huge relief from what they’ve had to do this year.

President: We’re opening up appointments today. Could we group this together with those appointments?

Ops: I don’t recommend pushing this through today because there are still problems with it. If we pass it next week, there’s still two weeks to handle it.

President: It seems like a lot of the questions we have are kinks that could be worked out with those people who are appointed. A lot more people sign up for appointments than elections because they are less scary. That might help get a lot more people interested.

-Tabled until next week-

7:17//Second viewing of Campaigning Funds Amendment
The motion passes unanimously.

2014: You all have a list of the open positions for the agenda with the timeline for the Board of Elections. The positions that will be filled by special election will be 2015 Secretary, President and Vice President as well as Town Students, SoCos, and secretary of Main. What happened with the SoCo president is that no president was declared a winner because they didn’t reach the quota and there was a tie with a write-in. According to VSA bylaws, we’re required to bring those people into VSA council to have them duke it out and then vote on them. We’re voting to suspend those bylaws and move it to an appointment position determined by the Board of Elections and Appointments.

President: All of the write-ins were for the same person.

SoCos: That person showed interest although filing had passed. They campaigned for a write-in.

President: We’re running on the assumption that it was a tie–I’m more comfortable treating it as a tie since two people expressed clear interest.

2014: In order to do that we must suspend Article 10 section 10 C1.

SoCos: C1 says that those people must come to council and present their platforms. Another clause says they are eligible for an appointment.

President: What we’re doing here is recognizing that it’s really awkward to have people come in to council under the circumstances of a tie. We’re voting on it here to send it to the Board of Elections.

Ops: If we’re doing this right now it’s still not according to bylaws completely. We must suspend another bylaw because technically an old Board of Elections would be doing the appointment.

President: If we decide this is an appropriate procedure, we’ll suspend all appropriate bylaws to do that.

2016: So the person who didn’t file and did file can both run? Shouldn’t we just open up the position since one of them didn’t file?

2015: I think in terms of the Main position: because it was  a tie between two particular people it seems like a good idea to have a closed appointment. In the SoCos case it’s the difference between an election and an appointment. I think a lot of people will have to be removed from the appointment procedure due to conflicts of interest with the people who know the candidates. Since there were six nos, it might make more sense to do an election

Raymond: I am kind of in favor of a special election because it’s a council position.

President: Is everyone okay for doing a special election for the other elections? The issue is only for the SoCo President. (Yes). Can we vote on settling those issues now so we can direct our conversation? Let’s vote on those timelines as-is and handle SoCos as a part of separate conversation?

All in favor in this timeline?
-This motion passes-

2014: Condensed filing opens tonight at midnight for 2015 President, Vice President and Secretary as well as President of Town Students.

Josh Sherman (at-large): We had lots of discussion about that–It seems that opening it up and letting anyone file would remove lots of what-if scenarios.

Ops: Basically the issue is that we shouldn’t do a second election because as weird as it sounds it’s a very undemocratic thing to do. We run an election under very specific rules where in they file, run and are elected. There is a write-in option and must get at least 50% of the student body to vote for them. For a second election you’re depending on a different subset of the constituency is going to vote. Therefore you’re disenfranchising anyone who voted in the first election. If the second election has a smaller turnout you automatically have a less democratic process. If you have more people voting the second time–it’s basically probabilistic. A second vote would be no more fair than the first election. My recommendation is that this be done by special appointment. Anyone who has a conflict of interest has the responsibility to abstain.

2015: I find voting theory is one thing to consider. Also just knowing the amount of different conflicting interests–it just might be the easiest to give the decision back to the people since there’s changed information. Knowing there’s a tie, it might be easiest to do an election.

President: If we’re allowing both of these people to run or more people to run that means people will be voting differently than they would before. Just for the sake of making this quicker: Your choices are about whether or not this should be open to two people or anyone?

2016: I think it might be unfair to open it up to everyone because people who didn’t win in the last election could use this as an opportunity to run for a different position. I don’t think it would be fair to have an election opened up to everyone.

Ops: There’s a complex problem which is that technically only one candidate showed up on the ballot which is what makes this more complex.

President: Also we should consider if we should privilege the person who filed on time over the person who didn’t file on time?

Ops: Does the failure to know the rules excuse you from following the rules, is the question I guess.

President: I think we’re limiting the pool of people who could be running by keeping only these two people in mind.

Just two people running: 2015, Tas, THs, Noyes, Ops, Jewett, Davison, 2017, Ferry, Town Students, 2014
Completely open: Lathrop, Main Strong SoCos, Activities, Academics, Cushing, Raymond, Joss
Abstentions: 2016

2016: I don’t really understand why we allow write-in candidates to begin with. We have all of these procedures and a fair campaign process. I don’t understand why we should allow write-in candidates to begin with.

President: That’s a great question that we won’t answer this year. The motion passed to have only two people running.

VP for Finance: Why isn’t there a ‘no option’ when there’s more than one candidate?

Ops: If we’re going to have two candidates than Max’s [2016’s] question is completely relevant. If a write-in candidate is a write-in candidate that should be used as information that informs how you vote. Is it necessarily a good process? A better process would be to do an appointment and have anyone who has a conflict of interest not participate in the decision.

Jewett: If a lot of people voted for the write-in candidate that means a lot of people were considering them. I think it shouldn’t be us students to appoint them because only two people have a conflict of interest.

2014: Often when an appointment is being made the relevant constituencies are invited to participate in the appointment process. We would invite people from the SoCo board to come in and the elected people from Main House.

Special election: Raymond, 2015, Lathrop, TAs, THs, Student Life, Jewett, Davison, 2017, Cushing

Appointment: Ops, Finance, Main, Strong, SoCos, 2016, Noyes, Activities, Academics, Ferry, Town Students, 2014

-This will be an appointment position-

2014: To accommodate what could go wrong, we would suggest that we not do full 48 hours of voting and do 24 instead, from Saturday noon to Sunday at noon.

2015: The people who are elected that day will be released at 4:30 in the afternoon. It might be best to let them know that there will be a meeting that happens afterward.

Lathrop: Doesn’t any appointment still have to be approved by council?

President: Technically it’s like the consent agenda. It’s a formality and we’ll let them know about that.

All in favor of the changed timeline that would make the voting period 24 hours and not 48?
All in favor: All except for 2016.

7:43//Gender neutral bathrooms resolution

Student Life: We had this resolution so that council would be committed to this. Separately, the Gender neutral bathroom committee is still working with administration. I don’t want to do another letter to administration because they’re already working toward those goals and I don’t want to make the administration feel like we’re putting unnecessary added pressure.

SoCos: I sent this Ramy [Raymond] because it sounded like more of a letter.

Student Life: We haven’t sent a letter to them, but we know that they are working with administration already. Let’s postpone it a week and vote on the resolution next week.

2014: There are 34 days 14 hours and 14 seconds until 2014 graduation. We have still not heard back about how much money we owe the bus company after the nonsense that was 50 Nights. How that’s going to affect Senior Week events is TBD.

Royal: I really like all of you guys–you guys are the reason I ran [for VSA council] in the first place and I’m so glad to be able to sit on this council with you guys. It made me realize there isn’t one type of person who’s on the VSA and I feel like we’ve gotten a lot done even though we haven’t gotten everything done.

Jewett: Do you remember that time Jewett had that thing and the power went out? Jewett’s doing it again. I’m DJing. Tell all of your constituencies. [7 Deadly Sins part II]

Activities: Pre org applications are due today!

Student Life: Could I please meet with my committee after this? There’s a possibility we might postpone the munchies study break. We could just postpone it a week.

2015: I have a meeting with TQ this upcoming week about how we’re going to organize bell ringing and you will all be getting an email soon. Get excited!

Noyes: The Noyes Soiree is postponed.

TAs: We’re hosting Professor Diane Kelly. It’s at 4 p.m. in Blodgett. She gave a Ted Talk, you can look her up. The Sustainability Committee is doing an all-campus project for Earth Day. On Wednesday they’re doing bird house painting for the space behind Baldwin and it’s part of my senior project that I’m working on.

President: Next council is our last council meeting. We’ll be doing a dinner beforehand with the incoming council and we’ll do one-on-one sit-downs with your successors. Also we will have our council and during that time people can make sentimental speeches if you’d like. It’s typically something that seniors do, but you’re all welcome. We’ll do the budget, we’ll go over the appointments and then new council will have their first meeting. Everyone will cry–it’ll be like Rent all over again. Committees are meeting this week. Thanks everyone for coming today. You’re all special.

Activities: Great job to Cushing for your event on Friday.

Student Life: I’ll send out an email about whether or not the Munchies study break is still happening tomorrow. On Wednesday the Title IX forum will be happening from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. in the Jade Parlor. We’re looking for feedback about how Vassar handles these procedures.

2016: CIRC had their first meeting of the semester the other day. They will reach out to the VSA next year. Luis Inoa sent out a survey about Vassar’s counseling services. I’d encourage everyone to tell their constituencies to take the survey since we’ve talked about the problems with Metcalf all year.

2014: Seniors. Do the goddamn senior survey. We have 40 people left until we get $2500 from Cappy and 30 of those people have started the survey and not completed it. Just do it. We’ll get money.

7:55//-Meeting adjourned-