VSA Council | September 28, 2014

Hey, everyone! Happy Sunday! We’ll be getting started in just a minute.

7:01//Call to Order
Attendance: Ops
Absent: Town Students

7:02 p.m.//Consensus Agenda

a. ViCE Special Events (Discretionary) $1200/$5000
b. VC Sound System (Capital) $510/$510
c. Islamic Society (Discretionary) $375/$375
d. Class of 2016 (Discretionary) $0/$500.33
e. Improv (Discretionary) $121/$121
f. Ultimate Frisbee (Capital) $685/$685
g. Asian Students’ Alliance (Speakers) $1000/$2000
h. Asian Students’ Alliance (Capital) $371.71/$371.71
i. Minutes From 9/21/14

The consensus agenda passes.

Joss: Ultimate Frisbee was denied funds last week and got them this week. Why is that? Just wondering.

Finance: The first time was for dinner once a week and we said no; the second time was a capital purchase for frisbees and other frisbee materials such as a water cooler, speakers and a tent. Typically those are standard for team-based orgs because it’s boring to practice with no music, but the speakers were expensive. 

7:04 p.m.//Executive Reports

Finance: Our finance levels are exactly where they should be right now. The members of the executive board who were available chose the at-large members of the finance board. We’re really excited for all of the students who are participating and we’ve already heard back from some of them, accepting the position. We’ll announce who those people are next week. Finance committee will start meeting Wednesday at 3:30 with this group of people.

Activities: We met for the second time this Thursday. We reviewed 29 pre-org apps. We decided to approve some, denied others and we’ll be meeting with the rest of the applicants this Thursday or next Thursday. That being said, I’ve decided to resign from my position. I’ve been debating this over the past week or so and I think it’s what’s best for me right now. It wasn’t an easy decision, but it has to be done. I’ll still come to council meetings until a new Activities person is trained.  For those of you who are staying, this is a rewarding experience.

Cushing: I just wanted to say that you’re amazing and thanks for doing this as a senior. I’m so glad you’re going to keep being my SARC intern.

7:08 p.m.//Board of Elections

Casey Hancock: The Board of Elections met today to talk about what we recommend for Activities: We came to the decision that we would like to do an election with a ten-day timeline. We talked about the logistics and feasibility of doing this, especially considering that we’ve been working with CIS every week this year. We recommend that we open filing and campaigning Monday at noon. The following Monday at noon filing and campaigning will close and voting will begin. We’ll announce who’s elected on Wednesday. We’re looking at a week turnaround for this position.

Activities: So I trust the BoE, and because I resigned it doesn’t matter anymore, but I don’t feel comfortable handing off this position to someone who has really good campaigning skills.

Casey: Ultimately we decided that we really want to see someone good coming into this position, the disenfranchising of people that would happen if we did an appointment position outweighed the negatives of campaigning.

2017: I would say tat all of us are here because we campaigned and won he election.

Student Life: Did BoE talk about the perceived separation from exec and rest of council since we filled others with appointment?

Casey: We discussed it as in because it’s an exec position, previous appointments for exec have been really controversial whereas previous elections have been met with scrutiny, but are generally better received. So we did have that discussion.

Finance: I have a lot of respect for BoE and I want to preface my statement with that because Casey knows exactly what he’s doing. I want to disagree with this decision because what it comes down to is I think we need someone in this role immediately and pick up where Reuben left off because we need to get a move on things. We did this in May and had a lot of time to prepare for these exec positions. If someone won an election, it would require a lot of training to catch them up. Our positions are very administrative and there’s a lot of stuff that needs to get done immediately. For example, I’m the person who’s going to be dealing with who’s on what listservs. These tasks need to be filled by someone who knows what they’re doing. Furthering that, I don’t think in my personal opinion, that the student body is going to feel disenfranchised because they didn’t pick their VP for Student Activities. I don’t think they’ll care. I think we just need to fill the role. There will be very little voter turn out, and people who aren’t involved with VSA probably won’t even realize that anything’s different. This conversation shouldn’t be about elections versus appointment ethics because we’re getting caught up in our own things.

Cushing: How did we fill the Student Activities position last year?

President: Both of the positions were filled by appointment, though that was later in the year.

Casey: Having an appointment the first time was because there was a certain level of controversy surrounding the issue that exec wanted to deal with among themselves by appointment. Last year, an emergency meeting was called and we discussed it and in that situation we decided an election was most appropriate.

Joss: I’m just curious if anyone else thinks that an appointment would be preferable over an election. Or do we think we’re going to get a candidate is competent enough?

2017: I understand the points Max raised and the real work that needs to be done immediately, but I don’t see how we can have conversations and have our mission be for more openness, accessibility and everything if we don’t have conversations about ethics. If we don’t talk about how our ethics affects these things, we’re not letting our actions reflect our mission of accessibility.

Jewett: The difference between an appointment and an election is three days. I know last  year with the Davison president there was a lot of controversy about an appointment. I just think elections are perceived much better in general/

Davison: In response to that, I understand why elections increase access for members at-large, but for this position I personally feel more comfortable putting this as an appointment because in my mind I don’t see an exec board position being representative of the student body. For this position, I don’t feel like people don’t look to the VP for Activities to represent their constituents in the same way a house or class president does.

Activities: I resigned for this reason. I need to get out of here. I don’t want to sit here for four more weeks and train someone. I think there are more advantages to filling this by appointment.

Jewett: We had a lot of pros and cons for an appointment. One of the pros is that more people tend to apply when it’s an appointment. With that said, the BoE is now ten people. It’s a small group choosing a very important position.

Ops: I’m definitely in favor of an election. Also specifically it’s my job to train new council members. I think exec can fill in anything in the interim and I personally will do that if no one else wants to. I also think it’s ridiculous to have this conversation since the amendment that we’re about to vote on is to give BoE full autonomy.

Casey: I was going to say that our appointments timeline was slightly modified. Applications would open at midnight tonight, get appointed Saturday and then approved by council next Sunday. To make it more level, we would allow anyone to come and observe the questions and determine some of them without allowing strong opinions to override BoE.

Finance: I would like to remind everyone that an election process doesn’t mean that the person who’s being elected doesn’t mean that we’re not disenfranchising students. The VSA has been remarkably undiverse historically. We can’t say that one is better than the other. The three day difference doesn’t concern me at all, the problem is who is going to be put in that position. These are complex positions. If I were to leave tomorrow, there would be some issues with how we do the financing. It wouldn’t just be about who’s in the role, it’s about the logistics of it. I’m putting in 10 hours a week. We need to think about if this actually matters to everyone else. I don’t think people care. I think it’s self-important to have an election every three weeks on council. When we fill this position no one’s going to know if it was by elections of appointment because two-thirds of the student body doesn’t vote.

2015: I think it’s important that we recognize that we’re changing the part of our board that the student body sees the most. We just need to come to an agreement about what we can do to keep this thing going. We don’t want to have someone in here who can’t be trained, doesn’t know how to work.

Bethan (at-large): I’m somewhat alarmed to hear that you think we don’t care how these positions are filled. We do care, and that’s been shown by different arguments about house presidents. The consequence of the exec board–they represent us in  real way with administration and VSA council. If a person has to go to Activities for help planning an event or something, it’s hard to do that if you don’t know who they are. Having an election is a better way to get to know them a little bit and you might not know unless you have kept up with the Misc and VSA meetings. And I know it’s a lot of work for council especially exec board, it does set a not good standard among students. The concept that we don’t care is really false.

2015: If we do an election, can we make the point that it’s very public what this job entails, speaking as someone who had no knowledge coming onto the VSA.

Casey: The first set of emails would very directly explain that, at this point, we need someone who can come into the year, on the ground running. And we’ll try to describe what that means.

Finance: Does a certain percent of the student body need to vote in order for an election to count?

Casey: Good question. I’ll look into that.

Jewett: I agree with what Bethan said. Regardless of whether or not people care, the student body is accountable if there’s an election.

Maddy (at-large): I’m looking at the Misc’s Twitter feed right now and everyone’s replying and saying they should do an election. Six people have replied, three are on The Misc. People are paying attention to this, which they never do.

Casey: In an election, someone will have to receive more than 50 percent of the outgoing voters.

President: It sounds like we’re going to have at least six voters. I think it’s important that people feel they have a voice in this. One, the exec board does represent the student body. And two, we need to figure out a way that guarantees someone is ready to go. We need to make sure we aren’t going to be stuck on bureaucracy.

Strong: I think it’s important to consider not only what BoE has said, that’s very important, but also I think why we’re discussing this so much is because we’re looking at is as not just what’s best for the student body, but what’s best fr us. We’re here to represent the student body and what’s best for them has to come first.

Activities: These are all good points. I care about this position so much and I don’t feel comfortable handing the position over to someone who doesn’t know anything about Activities. I approve all of the events on campus and I don’t feel comfortable allowing someone to come in who doesn’t know what they’re doing. There’s a lot that this job entails and it needs someone who has some kind of background and experience.

Cushing: I wanted to ask at-large members to participate as much as you can. It’s going to affect the whole student body.

TAs: The fact that we have at-large members here who have expressed very real questions about what this process entails, and the lack of respect that we’ve given them, is a little saddening. Especially as a council that prides itself on its accessible and open means.

Adam (at-large): I would support the Board of Elections and Appointments on this issue. I think the student body should decide. I think the chair of BoE has done a wonderful job, especially since he resigned last week. That deference should be given to him because he had to do this. I support him.

2016: Former experience is part of the job and you learn that on the job. They will have to learn and be trained and learn as they go. Maybe that’s part of it. Hopefully there will be someone who has experience with orgs and is passionate about them. I think it’s possible. It’s important that they’re representative of the student body.

Raymond: Similar to that, I understand that the idea of an appointment makes it feel like you have control over who’s coming into the position. But as someone who was appointed to my post, I don’t think an appointment guarantees someone who knows what they’re doing more so than an election. As far as learning on the job, I got thrown into this. Serenading was the first thing that happened to me, my house event is this week; I got thrown into it. It’s perfectly feasible to do this with an election,

Ops: I move to accept the BoE’s recommendation and fill this by special election according to the specified timeline.

Finance: I think everyone’s brought up very good points. But I think that there are some things that are specific to this situation. Exec board is very different from other council positions. The difference between an appointment and an election is that the process starts in April for elected positions. You get extensive training and preparation. All the positions on exec board act is most time consuming and that’s something that needs attention. While people can fill this role in May, I think it’s different to fill this position in October. I think people are far more concerned with having the most qualified people rather than the one who was chosen by the most people. The people who elected our executive board were the people who are on campus and engaged last semester. These positions are mostly filled by rising juniors. Those people are abroad and the people who will vote now are freshmen and sophomores and aren’t as educated on the issues.

Joss: You aren’t allowed to vote while you’re abroad?

Casey: Our bylaws say that the senior class is essentially a proxy for the incoming freshmen. They have to vote with the consciousness that they’re representing the freshmen. Freshmen will not be eligible to run in this election.

Joss: In regards to the popularity contest comment: I think exec is very different. I think that it’s a big distinction between an exec position and freshman rep. When you have freshmen who have only been here for three weeks, it is a popularity contest. I’d like to echo that an appointment doesn’t guarantee a great candidate.

2016: I also am very much in support of an election because we deliberated a lot during Ops meetings about the role of the BoE. Why do we have it if we’re not going to trust their decision? The election has worked in the past. Like Luke said, they’ll have to be trained regardless and people are willing to fill those responsibilities. I don’t understand what people mean when they say they want someone who has experience. We’re not going to find someone who’s already been VP for Activities. Like 2015 said, the role very much outlines the duties. That’ll make it seem more serious and random people who just want to do it to do it won’t run.

Student Life: The structure of appointments is such that it finds the most competent person. I would feel like my back were covered more if this were an appointment. But if a student body wants an election, we have to be responsive to that and I’m going to be responsive to that no matter my personal feelings are on that.

Cushing: This is directed at Activities and Finance. What do we mean when we say someone who’s been on Activities, who has experience with Activities? Do we have someone in mind who’s fit for this position or is this just an expression?

Activities: So there are people on Activities committee, who know about orgs and VSA in general. Some people have strong ties to the Campus Activities office. It’s knowing the orgs we have and these aren’t things we can gauge with an election.

Finance: If I were hit by a bus tonight, there are probably four people on campus who could fill this role and it wouldn’t make any difference. Those people are Casey, Carolina, Reuben and Ramy. Anyone else, it would probably take a few weeks to figure it out. Org leadership is elected the previous year and they are in he roles they’re going to fill.

Activities: It would take probably two weeks to talk about why we approve some pre-orgs, what pre-orgs are. It’s very time-sensitive.

Brianna (at-large): What I’m hearing in the arguments about an appointment versus an election is very self-centered. I don’t mean this in an offensive way: I don’t care that your job is going to be harder for a week and a half. If it benefits 2400 students for the next six to eight months, you can deal with it for a week and a half. You signed up for that when you ran for this position. As a member at-large, it seems elitist that you’re thinking about what it would mean for you. You’re supposed to represent the students and appointments just don’t do that.

Finance: Could you elaborate on why you don’t think appointments represent students?

Brianna: I don’t think it does so as much. We could go all polisci and talk about what’s good about democracy, but we don’t have time for that. More people are going to have their voices heard by an election rather than an appointment. We’re putting our faith in the people on this board who we elected and I would just really appreciate an election.

Academics: This discussion has been a really heartening thing because I felt like a lot of the people in this room don’t care. This is the most we’ve ever heard at-large members talk about anything. Thank you for caring.

Activities: The point of VP for Activities is that these relationships are developed over time. When you’re in the role, training takes care of some things, but developing relationships happen when you’re in the position.

Ops: I think people are making the same points over and over again. I’m going to make a second motion which will force us to vote.

President: I don’t have a vote in this, but I would encourage us to look at this as a group. But we’re not an ordinary group. At the end of the day, I don’t care if my job is harder for a month, it’s what’s best for campus. Please think about what perspective you’re voting from. The options on the table: The classic absention, in favor of an election, or no election.

Absentions: Activities, Student Life, Academics, 2018, Davison
All in favor of an election: Town Students, 2016, TAs, Raymond, Lathrop, 2017, 2015, Jewett, Main, Operations, Joss, Cushing, Noyes, Ferry
Opposed: Finance, THs

This motion passes.

7:56//BoE amendment

Ops: This amendment makes it so that we grant BoE the same process as Finance does for fund apps but for the BoE’s recommendation.

Absentions: Student Life, Academics, Finance, 2015, Davison, Joss
In favor: Cushing, Town Students, 2016, TAs, Raymond, Lathrop, 2017, 2018, Strong, Ferry, Noyes, Jewett, Ops,

Casey: Know

Logan: I would feel more comfortable, the reason why I abstained, is because I’m not in the right head space to make a decision on this. Maybe we should table this, think about what happened tonight, and come back next week clear-headed. Motion to table it.

Ops: I’m going to point out that Ops has spent three weeks on this amendment. I know it’s hard to divorce everything that happened tonight from this amendment…

Presidents: Let’s table this for a week. Any abstentions?

No abstentions.
All except for 2016, TAs, SoCos, Jewett, Ops

8:01 p.m.//Open discussion

Cushing: When there are a lot of absentions–can we please make it clear to everyone what the process is when there are eight abstentions.

Main: Reuben, I love you, you’re my best friend.

2016: I wanted to say that I’ll miss Reuben. 2016 is having their first event. It’s for juniors, it’s called “Where are all the juniors?” We’re getting together everyone who’s on campus and unifying the class that’s here with music and food. It’s Saturday from 11 to 2. Mark your calendars!

Ops: I wanted to echo Logan’s earlier sentiment. I’m glad people care, I’m glad people have feelings about it. In the future, I don’t think we should have to make that type of decision a minute after finding out about it. We send out the agenda so people can talk to their constituents and get feedback, so let’s not have that happen again.

Joss: I love you Reuben. Thanks to all of the at-large members who come and tweet and liveblog, especially those who tweet from their own accounts. It gives us a good alternative perspective.

Reuben: I just wanted to thank you all for an exhilarating final hour.

Finance: Welcome, Rebecca the 2018 president. I think my goal for council this year is to have more of a community feel than we’ve had in the past. When I was in your role my freshman year, I ended the year not knowing everyone on council’s name. I hope that won’t be your experience and I want everyone to make it a goal. I hope we can all support each other, despite different opinions. People don’t see how much work Reuben does. The reason I’m okay with this happening on an emotional level, is because Reuben has done most of what has to be done with the semester. He’s put up with a lot of shit from me as well. I really appreciate him sticking with it. The biggest problem I see with the VSA has to do with the elections and appointments process. I urge everyone to be open-minded with the idea that someone who’s elected to this position doesn’t mean they’re more representative. The perfect example is that this position has been held my a white man for the past few years.

Bethan (at-large): We got an email last night from a member of the administration about someone with a firearm on campus and I hope someone could speak to if anyone knows anything about this. We were informed more than two hours after this person was reported. I wondered why there is such a huge time difference because I felt uncomfortable knowing that someone was potentially carrying a weapon on our campus on Saturday night.

Town Students: I’m not familiar with that process. In the past, it often takes a while for the police report to come out and say what happened. They don’t want to send out a report like that and alarm students if it’s unnecessary. There are a lot of steps. It shouldn’t take that long. I don’t know how we can address that, but that is one of the reasons. It takes a while to confirm facts.

President: We’re meeting with Cappy tomorrow and Chris Roellke later this week as well as Chenette if you have academic concerns. I was personally concerned and concerned from the perspective of my position.

Brianna (at-large): I’m Cappy’s assistant this year. I’ll be here every other week and her other assistant will be here every week and we’re going to be giving notes to Cappy. I see her once a week, and Hannah sees her once a week, so let me know if there’s ever anything you want me to bring to her.

2015: I want to echo Max in saying that I’m not sure how I got here, but I’m glad I’m here.

Activities: I realized that, based on the timeline, I’ll be here next week so it’s not my last meeting. This is directed toard Rebecca and house presidents: Sometimes this sucks, but I promise this experience will be worth it. Last year I was the most anti-house president, and I still made it here. We’re dropping like flies, but I promise you this is a great experience. With that, I move to adjourn.

All in favor: All, except for President.