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  • mariesolis 10:56 pm on October 26, 2014 Permalink | Reply  

    VSA Meeting | October 26, 2014 

    Hope everyone enjoyed their October break. As you’re arriving back on campus, we’re getting set up for this week’s VSA meeting. We’ll be getting started in a minute!

    7:01 p.m.//Call to Order, Attendance
    Absences: Davison
    Proxy: Main, Raymond, Strong

    7:02 p.m.//Consensus Agenda

    a. J Street U (PreOrg) $1175/$1175
    b. Archery (Capital) $1800/$2100
    c. ASA (Capital) $34.99/$34.99
    d. TLC (Speakers) $2800/$3500
    e. Amnesty International (Conference) $230/$230
    f. NSO (Capital) $1600+Cost of Security Tags/$2542.33
    g. Pro-Health (Collaboration) $500/$500
    h. Class of 2015 (Discretionary) $2530.65/$2530.65
    i. VISA (Capital) $918/$1721.25
    j. ViCE (Capital) $700.02/$700.02
    k. Accidentals (Discretionary) $65/$125
    l. Minutes From 10/12/14

    Finance: It’s Archery’s first semester as an org, so they needed to buy equipment. ASA applied a couple of weeks ago and then realized they needed something else. TLC wants to bring in  speaker in collaboration with the Office of Health Education to talk about suicide prevention. Amnesty International is sending two people to the Amnesty International Conference. NSO got their office broken into for the second time this semester, but we’re sick of doing this so they’re talking to security and getting security tags. Class of 2015 needs more money for Halloween because we didn’t pay for serenading. VISA needed money for flags. ViCE needed money for something complicated like cables. The Axies are buying jackets. The J Street app was contentious. They want to bring in a speaker to have a conversation about Zionism and other related things. We typically try to remain apolitical, so we only decide not to fund a speaker if we think they will be offensive or hurtful.

    President: Does anyone object to the consensus agenda. We’ll assume it’s passed then.

    7:05 p.m.//Forum with Marianne Beggeman

    Beggeman: I think most people know the areas my office is responsible for. Reporting to me is athletics, the library, admisissions, capital projects, financial aid. Additionally, I’m responsible for the sustainability interns. We oversee the work that Allister coordinates with the sustainability committee and other odds and ends. I wanted to provide a brief update about the science project. I’ve heard there are a lot of rumors going around about Olmstead. I just thought I’d let you know so you can spread the word about what’s happening with it and squelch the rumors. People are saying Olmstead is condemned and being torn down: That is not true. It’s undergoing a partial renovation, most of which has to do with mechanical, electrical and safety upgrades. A quarter to the third of the spaces are being physically upgraded as well, the classrooms and labs specifically. The biologists moved out over the summer based on their own concerns of fumes and dust from the construction next door. We decided to move them out for the semester. All of the work on Olmstead should be done by this January and everyone will move back in. We’re still talking about how to facilitate that move and what will happen if, for whatever reason, it’s not ready in January.

    2015: Is construction still on schedule?

    Beggeman: Our construction management firm has little concern that they will be done by the time of the move in. The end date for the construction is the middle of December and the rest of the time will be spent prepping the building for everyone to move in. You can still see some plywood in the windows: that’s because there’s been a delay on the glass, but it’ll be delivered in a week or two. You always worry because it’s the wintertime and things happen, but they’re confident they’re going to get the work done.

    2015: Is the goal to have the labs that are in the old bookstore space move back into Olmstead?

    Beggeman: We’re having that conversation now. That’s my goal because we want to start talking about the College Center as a multipurpose space. We’re talking about how much is reasonable. We might move out of the College Center by spring break. No work can happen there until the summertime anyway. It’s a conversation that’s ongoing.

    President: So will there be noticeable structural changes?

    Beggeman: In the basement level especially, all of the neuroscience, psych, bio classes will be there now and there will be new labs for them there. The students who use the EKG equipment, all of that’s moving into the renovated space. The suite on the third floor is being turned into faculty offices. There is significant new work, but only in a small portion of the building.

    Joss: You mentioned the College Center space being turned into an all-campus space. I’m just curious if you have any specific plans?

    Beggeman: There were a number of discussions that Chris Roellke facilitated about how best to use it. Since then I’ve pulled a group together comprised of students and faculty and brainstorm. We’re negotiating a contract with an architect from our art history department. We’re planning on partnering with his firm to start with the first floor and basement level. I can talk more about the initial ideas, but everything will start full force in a week or two.

    Ops: Switching gears, can you talk about the search for the library director and athletics director?

    Beggeman: As you probably know, Kim Culligan is the interim athletic director right now. She has been doing a wonderful job trying to streamline some operational things in the department, increasing transparency, things like that. We’re also in the process of searching for an assistant athletic director for sports and recreation. The idea is that we bring in an assistant to be responsible for intramurals, club sports, and act as a liaison for the VSA. Last year we had a conversation about the long-term plan for club sports. This person will work closely with the students to oversee the VSA club sports. Is it appropriate to leave them with athletics or with VSA oversight? Right now we want to stress the importance of physical education, life fitness, because it can get lost in the shuffle. We would like to elevate those programs and have them be on par with athletics. We’re going to move forward with that search spring semester, but we want to catch up with some housekeeping before we do that. Our library director moved to California and left in August. She had been here for 18 years, so we thought it was an opportune moment to think about that decision. I formed a search committee in the fall semester and one of the first things we’re asking ourselves is ‘What are some things we need to understand between the intersection of libraries and campus?’ before we moved forward with interviewing candidates. One of the questions that often comes up is how libraries intersect with technology. Here, they’re more aligned. One of the things we’re using is a survey from 2012 and we’re using some of that data to see what the community thinks about the library and technology. I’m interested in what you have to say about that.

    Student Life: To speak broadly about campus spaces, I’d like to speak on behalf of the students and encourage you to think of accessibility. I’ve also heard whispers of moving the post office and the mailboxes, but I really love where it is.

    2017: Getting back to the construction: One rumor I’d heard was that after the completion of the new science building, Mudd Chemistry wouldn’t be needed and would be demolished.

    Beggeman: That’s true. That’s anticipated for the spring of 2016.

    2017: What would the space that building occupied be used for?

    Beggeman: We’re talking about long-term landscaping for that area right now. In the spring of 2016 we’re going to relandscape around all of the buildings, including the pathways. The space between will be landscaped by our landscape architects. The plan right now is a storm water management zones and grassy areas and tree planting.

    Ops: Do you also oversee dorm renovations?

    Beggeman: That’s not me so much, but I do get a say in how we spend our capital.

    Ops: I’ve heard a rumor that Raymond is not going to have any renovations. Do you know if that’s true?

    Beggeman: I think everyone understands Raymond is the worst right now. It’s in line with Strong to get bathrooms. They can use a cookie-cutter approach for Lathrop and Strong, but because Raymond has an extra floor they need to draw up new plans. It’s not off the table. I did want to say about the accessibility: We do have some guiding principles for capital projects on campus and they’re posted on the VP for Finance website. You can see that accessibility is one of these principles. For Sanders and New England, I’m proud that the landscaping and everything makes those buildings accessible.

    Student Life: That’s great. I think student complaints have to do with residential renovations. Lathrop got beautiful renovations, but no ramps.

    Beggeman: Some people felt the money couldn’t have gone to that part of the renovation. That was a mistake. But it’s a project that needs to happen sooner rather than later.

    President: Thanks for coming in!

    7:25//Forum with Marie

    Marie: Hi everyone! In case you don’t know why I com e here and type every week it is because I am the editor of the Misc. I want to come here and talk about our production and weekly cycle. Every sunday we have our general body meeting, we call it paper critique at 9 p.m. in the Rose Parlor. THat is when our reporters get their articles. Tuesday we go to production. We start at about 6 p.m. and I don’t leave until about 5:30 a.m. most Tuesdays. That is when most people will finalize their edits. Then we come back in and send our paper in on Wednesday at 3 p.m. And we start over that night with the next cycle. Anybody can write for The Misc. After you write for us three times, you can apply for reporter and you will be workshopped by one of our editors. I also wanted to talk about our interview process. Basically, all reporters are encouraged to meet with their interviewees in person, but also email is what ends up happening in many cases, especially with tight deadlines. Also in terms of in-person interviews, some reporters record their interviews. We strive to make sure that everyone’s voices are represented exactly. We practice after-the-fact quote approval, which means that if you want to see your quotes before the article goes to print, however, in order for them to be accurate, some administrators will change their quotes. We don’t like that, but it happens. Another thing is anonymous sources. We deal with it on a case-by-case basis. If it is for an article of an extremely sensitive nature, we allow it. Any questions about interviewing? Okay, now I want to talk about what articles make it into the paper. We allow interviewees to see their quotes, however nobody outside of the editorial board is allowed to see the content of the paper before it goes to the paper. If it has the potential to be offensive or biased, it is up to the executive and editorial board. At this point, I do want to stress that we do not expressly endorse the opinions in our Opinions section. However, if we get an article that could be potentially hurtful, we do reserve the right to not print it. Anybody can write an opinion, however they are subject to edits. Is there anything else that you are curious about in terms of our process or anything I left out?

    Finance: How do you determine how many copies of the issue you print?

    Marie: Historically, it has been 2000, but recently we have reduced it to 1700 when we noticed many issues lying around. I think the problem with that is the distribution. But we are conscious of the waste and we can change the number every week.

    Pres: What do you do with online content?

    Marie: Last year we struggled with our domain name. We are miscellanynews.org. All of our content appears online. We do have our Far and Away blog and we have Main Circle, which is fashion and pop culture. Then we have our liveblog. I’m interested in live-blogging the big events around campus.

    7:36 p.m.//Exec reports

    Finance: This semester we tried a different way to review fund apps, it’s been working really well. The committee is split into two groups and I and Reuben chair them. It cuts our time in half and it balances my position and allows other voices to be heard. We’ll be doing three organization reviews: Miscellany News, ViCE, WVKR, three of our largest orgs. We’ll be looking through the orgs’ practices, purchases and budgets. We’re going to see where there’s waste or where they could use more money. We’re also working with Financial Aid to make sure we’re not compromising students’ privacy. We have the money to put into this fund. The last fund that’s more complicated is our capital system: We used to buy items and rent them out on a website. Now we buy capital items for orgs and trust them to promote these items themselves. This becomes a problem for theater and music orgs, which become protective of their items because they don’t want other people to use them. We’re working on a process so that it’s not so much that they’re owning their capital items, but that they’re holding onto them.

    Activities: Most of what we’re doing is pre-org centric. We’ve been talking about how it will work since it’s late in the semester. We’re wondering if we should let more pre-orgs apply and then start the process in January. We want to make sure that they’re doing the things we require of them: having meetings, people are going to the meetings and they’re being successful. Apart of helping that is allowing them to apply for funds this year. We don’t exactly know how to organize them, so we’re working on it along the way. They used to be essentially set up to fail because they didn’t have access to funds or reserving spaces. So we’re working on giving them the tools to become a thriving org. It’s important because a lot of people don’t find their place on campus until they find an org they’re interested in. We’re also working on creating new events. By having more orgs people are interested in, there should be more events people are interested in. We can’t keep doing the same things we’ve always done, because the student body is shifting every year.

    7:43 p.m.//Open Discussion

    Student Life: Halloween money updates: The way we’ve decided to do this–the money has been transferred from Chris Roellke’s office to the VSA budget. We think it’s wiser to ask the residential houses to put on programming and give us receipts.

    Finance: Some of your treasurers have issues with being treasurers. We think it would be easier for you to give us receipts and then we will reimburse you.

    Student Life: With apologies to Ferry, Town Students, TAs and THs, we made the decision that the money would be better spent for residential houses. People in THs, TAs and Ferry have access to kitchens that are their own which makes it easier to have a full stomach on Halloween. I’m so sorry. I’m forgetting the SoCos, too–sorry, Socos. We want to make sure that students who don’t drink don’t feel left out. This money is yours to do with as you please. That being said, we crunched the number based on how many students live in each dorm and allotted the money accordingly. I’m sorry to the spaces we didn’t allocate funds to, but they’re spaces with kitchens that belong to students. We made the decision as a committee. That money is from Chris Roellke. The receipt process will be painless. If you need ideas on how to spend the money–I’m a fan of breakfast foods. You can also reach out to orgs who want to fundraise.

    Cushing: So if we can’t make transactions of more than $100 on our Pcard, how does that work?

    Finance: If you ever need to spend more than $100 it can be put on the master VSA Pcard or you can ask me to raise your spending limit.

    2015: Halloween is this weekend. Yay! We’ve talked so much about this but everything we said before: Be safe, get excited. There will be decorations and beer, for those who are 21, at the Villard Room. There will be pizza at 1 a.m. in the Retreat. And if you’re 21 you can get a wrist band for beer on Thursday 12 to 4 p.m. Everything is Vcash only. The tickets are $5 at the door. There are Vcash machines in the front of Main to convert your cash to Vcash.

    Ops: As I’ve mentioned before, I’m the interim chair of the Board of Elections. But this isn’t forever: Filing starts this week. There is a list serv that I send the VSA agenda out on every week. If you or someone you know wants to be added to the list, let me know. So for the audit: We’re sending out requests for proposals from companies and they’re going to get back to us on Monday. At that point will choose one and get on with it.

    TAs: If house presidents could share the Halloween event page so people know how tickets and stuff work, that’d be great.

    Joss: So is cash accepted in advance?

    2015: Yes. As I mentioned the event itself will be Vcash only. Also The Witching Hour: There will be a costume contest, cupcakes, a movie–this isn’t alternate programming. This is fun. So if you the Villard Room isn’t your scene, you can head to the Aula.

    Student Life: You got an email from Carolina about it–but Carry That Weight is happening. Check out the email. Thanks to all of the orgs making that happen.

    7:54 p.m.//Council adjourned.

  • mariesolis 10:59 pm on October 12, 2014 Permalink | Reply  

    VSA Council | October 12, 2014 

    Hey, everyone! Welcome to the last VSA meeting before October Break. We’ll be getting started shortly, so sit tight.

    7:02 p.m.// Call to Order and Attendance
    Proxy: Activities
    Absences: Finance

    7:03 p.m.// Consensus Agenda:

    a. Devils (Discretionary) $2000/$5000
    b. French Club (Social Consciousness) $1200/$1200
    c. Equestrian (Discretionary) $840/$1200
    d. VARC (Discretionary) $175/$175
    e. Outing Club (Discretionary) $500/$500
    f. GAAP (Speakers) $1000/$1000
    g. MEChA (Conference) $750/$1020
    h. NSO (Community) $2500/$2500
    i. Quest Scholars (PreOrg) $0/$200
    j. Wordsmiths (Speakers) $2100/$2100
    k. Class of 2015 (Discretionary) $2000/$2000
    l. VC Sound System (Capital) $20/$20
    m. Aikido Club (Speakers) $0/$350
    n. Minutes From 10/5/14

    All is in favor. The agenda is consented to.

    7:04 p.m.//Forum with Michael Cato, Chief Information Office
    Cato: Good evening, everyone. My name is Michael Cato, I really appreciate the invitation. I don’t like giving speeches so this will hopefully turn more into a conversation. If you have a laptop or phone with you take it out because I’m going to try to pick your brain and see if we can use those things to help. I’ve always been told that the best way to start a conversation is to tell you a bit about myself first. I came to Vassar in September of 2013. I had previously been at the University of Chapel Hill in Charlotte. My most recent institution had almost 27,000 students so coming to this environment has a very different feel. The scale is very different. So I was hoping to be able to talk to staff and students more directly. I love to cook, I love to eat and I used to run marathons. I didn’t have fun in the last one though, so about a year ago I picked up a habit doing CrossFit. There are a few Vassar students I run into there. Here’s the indulgence: I’ve been doing an informal poll in the last few years and I’ve gotten some interesting results. How many wireless, able devices do you have on you right now? If you have at least one, raise your hand. If you’ve got at least two keep your hand up. Three, four? This is the first time I’ve stopped at four. The highest number I’ve ever been told is five. For some reason that particular student had a couple laptops, a couple phones on her at the same time. Think about what that does for us, the people who are responsible for the WiFi. Now we’re discovering that people have more devices and that changes everything. We have to have a sense of how many devices people have on you and how many you use. If you have your laptop, you can go to PollEv.com/mcato to find the poll. If you have your phone, you can text KEYWORD to 37607. Here are a few interesting questions: What technologies at Vassar do you find helpful? For this, text 865580 and your message to 37607 for your answer.
    -Responses include “I guess email,” “Google calendar,” “DMZ Yessssss,” “F’real smoothie machine”-
    What are you finding useful about DMZ? The space, the equipment, the people?

    Cushing: The computers are way faster. If I downloaded those applications to my computer, it wouldn’t be as fast.

    Joss: I think the fact that we have Gmail–a lot of other universities don’t. I think it streamlines things.

    Cato: Have you used Hangouts? Do you use the calendars? Here’s a more informative question: What technologies at Vassar get in the way and how?
    -Responses include “printers, Network Bandwith, START HERE,” “Having to reconnect to student secure every time I open my laptop”-

    Cato: I think the first 15 or so responses were about WiFi. Tell me about that?

    Main: It takes me as many as 20 minutes to connect to the WiFi.

    Davison: Getting connected as a freshman took about three days. It took a really long time.

    Briana Pedroni (At-large): I have a hard time Skyping. There’s a lot of lag, something’s not working.

    Cato: Is it mostly in the residence halls?

    Pedroni: It’s been three different residence halls around campus and it’s poor every time.

    Casey Hancock (At-large): If I move in different spots in Main it’s find moving between routers. But if I close my laptop and move away from Main it gets confused and takes a while to reconnect.

    Cato: I’m going to switch to a couple of graphs. Here’s what we’ve been doing for the last nine or 10 years. The College has two connections to the commercial Internet. You can think of network bandwidth as a pipe: How big the pipe is changes how much information you can put into it at one time. If there are 100 students watching a Netflix show at the same time, you’re all competing for the bandwidth. Right now we’re completely replacing how they’re being connected. The net effect is that we’ll end up with either twice–in July we stepped up to 1000. By the end of spring semester we’ll have doubled where we are right now. When we made that change in July we doubled the network bandwidth each of you get. When it’s not working well, are you contacting the Help Desk? (No) That’s a fair answer, I just want a critique. If you tell us when it’s happening we might be able to start understanding what’s going on. By the end of the semester, we’ll be in a completely different place.

    Student Life: I think one of the problems we have in terms of the Vassar website is that it’s not very useful for students getting info about the College. How to report an assault, how to figure out what those abbreviations are, etc. Most people I know, when they have a question you’ll Google it. But if you Google these Vassar-specific things, they don’t come up. My major request would be a more user-friendly website for students to get more relevant information.

    Cato: So you’re finding it difficult to navigate or find what you’re looking for?

    Hancock: I think web design is changing on campus, so that’s good. But students don’t know where to go. If on the AskBanner side of things, if there was a thing that told you how to navigate resources, I think students would find it easier to find things.

    President: My main problem is when I file tickets to CIS no one ever responds to them. For example, I’ve been trying to change the VSA password since the summer.

    Cato: The system is supposed to send you a number. Have you called us with that number?

    President: No, but I’ve clicked it.

    Cato: It’s less the system, more how we’re using it. If you have that number, it’s much easier for us to track it down. The system is supposed to tell you when we’re doing something about that ticket. But we’ll definitely work on that. I’ve got one more question for you–two more. These are a bit more broad: What should CIS stop doing? I’m always conscious that we might be doing things that aren’t helpful for you at all, or they’re just getting in the way. Does anything need attention?
    -Responses include, “Stop labling everything as IMPORTANT MESSAGE FROM CIS,” “Stop with the phishing emails,” “Provide more support for PC users.”-

    Cato: We had a really bad situation with phishing previously. So we’re trying to help students be conscious because hackers have gotten really good. But fair enough. The last question is the reverse: What should CIS start doing?
    -Responses include, “LET US HOTSPOT,” “Maybe more school-wide forums like this?” “Make it clearer what services CIS provides,” “Vprint printers in academic buildings and the deece.”

    Cato: We will be replacing the number of WiFi networks we have. We’re hoping to reduce them down to three: Student Secure, Faculty-Staff Secure and Guest. We’re going to watch a short clip and then we’ll do questions. One of the things we’re excited about is that all of your questions will be answered at the end of the spring semester and everything will be in place by July. By the time you come next year, it’ll be a very different experience.

    7:29 p.m.//Filling of VP for Activities Position

    Casey Hancock: Last time we decided we were going to fill this by election. Ultimately, two candidates tied with 200 votes per candidate. After we ave a tie, our bylaws say that the tie goes to council with an interview with the candidates and then a vote on council floor. In the past it hasn’t been the best way of doing things because it’s very public. We decided to have the interviews and conversations within our group of people and give you the notes so you feel good about voting on this issue. We invited a number of council members who didn’t know the candidates. Zoey, Calvin–so they could move the discussion long. After a pretty lengthy discussion of 30 to 40 minutes, it was very difficult to come to a conclusion. If you haven’t read the minutes, please do. We weren’t unanimous in our decision, but we recommend Lauren Garcia for this position.

    President: We wanted BoEA to look at this first, but by no means do we have to take their recommendation. We can discuss now and both candidates are here so we can ask them questions. We’ll discuss this and then vote on the candidates. Someone wanted to know why the candidates are here. By the bylaws it says that we have to bring them in and interview them on the council floor, but it’s been incredibly upsetting for everyone involved. So we wanted to bring them in just in case people have additional questions. It’s awkward, it’s not ideal, but I would encourage everyone to keep in mind that this isn’t about people in general, it’s about the position. Since there was an exact tie they are both incredibly qualified for this position.

    Hancock: We should fix that bylaw for the future.

    President: So does anyone have any questions or want to bring up any points?

    Student Life: I personally feel weird voting in the full view of the candidates. I don’t want whoever gets voted in to think that some people didn’t want them here. So I move to suspend the bylaws that say that we have to vote in public view.

    Hancock: You should make it one vote. Suspend the bylaw and move to close the session in one vote.

    Student Life: That’s what I move to do.

    President: Right now we’re going to vote to close the session and then we’ll vote on the candidates. We’ll put a time limit on the session.

    Ferry: Should we have an open session to talk about it first?

    2016: Along the same lines, can we excuse themselves?

    Hancock: This is the issue we always run into. We want to discuss what’s going to happen openly because we want to be transparent. We could close the session, discuss it closed and vote there. But asking questions now openly and then closing it would be a good compromise.

    Student Life: I rescind it.

    Operations: Is there anything else you want to add that you didn’t say in your interview or candidate statement?

    Lauren Garcia: I welcome anyone to ask any questions and I’d be happy to answer them, but we talked for a long time and we both wrote a candidate statement.

    Josh Tempro: Everything I have to say has been said in the process.

    Student Life: I wanted to thank both of you for stepping up. It’s really important and I really appreciate that, on very little notice, you were willing to drop things and put this first. Thank you both.

    President: Jumping off of that, you’re both more than qualified for the position and it’s unfortunate there’s only one position. I know it’s not easy to come into this forum for such a pesky issue, so props to you both.

    Student Life: I’m going to remake the motion I made earlier.

    President: The motion on the table is to go into a closed session and vote. We’re suspending the bylaw. We need a 3/4 majority. It’s 18.

    -All in favor of this motion-
    This motion passes.

    President: We’re going into a closed session. The time limit is 10 minutes.

    7:44 p.m.// Recess.

    8:02 p.m.//End Recess

    President: We came to a decision. Lauren Garcia will be our new VP for Activities. You can come sit up here now!

    8:03 p.m.//Executive Reports

    Ops: The VSA bulletin board will be up in the next few days. It’s in the hallway with the swirly sculpture. I also picked up a project Reuben had been working on: There will be an activities calendar next to that bulletin board for orgs to advertise. In Ops committee we’ve been discussing campus communications, the relationship between reslife and the VSA. We’ve also been talking about the audit. I’m meeting with Drew and Ruby Pierce at 7 tomorrow. We’ll be hashing out the final plan for this external review. We’re going to hash out some details about that, go to committee on Tuesday and exec on Wednesday. The Seven Sisters Conference is going to be at Wellsely this year. I had four people sign up. We can have a few more people also if anyone has any interest. It’ll be November 7 through 9. Our departure schedule will depend on everyone’s personal schedule.

    Joss: Can you be a little more detailed about what it is? What will happen?

    Ops: It varies a lot from year to year. Last year they all came on Friday, we had dinner. Saturday we did some activities to start the day off–

    President: There’s a lot of sharing between schools about how student government functions, what projects we’re working on. It’s like comparing notes. We also talk about collaboration and share things so we can figure out how we can improve.

    Ops: For example, Bryn Mawr has been working on gender neutral bathrooms, so that’s something we can talk to them about. One minor update, the BoEA no longer has a chair, so I’m the interim chair.

    2017: Is there a precedent on how to fill the BoEA chair position?

    Ops: No?

    Academics: We’re working on the new director of the libraries. Right now we’re discussing what the libraries mean to Vassar now and how they could be doing better and how that could relate to a search for a new director. We had a forum a couple weeks ago to gauge what people are looking for. We did that in committee last week and it was fruitful. We’re now going to do a forum with students to see what the campus values about libraries. We’re also going to do it with major committee chairs. Updates on the newsletter: It’s doing well. We’re currently in submission season. The deadline is currently November 10. People have submitted things, but in terms of getting more submissions we’re going to reach out to courses working on the Arts across Discipline initiative. We’re also thrown around ideas to extend it to a year-long project, but have an excerpted part come out this semester and then have a more polished thing come in the spring since “vision” is such an all-encompassing thing. If any of you are having problems with peer advising, tell me and we’ll fix that. We have first-year students talk to their peer advisers over dinner and we want to have peer advisers from different disciplines and majors so everyone should sign up. Sophomores cannot register to be peer advisers. You have to be a junior or a senior.

    Maddy (At-large): How do you submit things to the newsletter?

    Academics: [email protected]. For peer advising you can access the application through the VSA website and I’ll approve you! Peer advisers from last year roll over.

    8:12 p.m.//Halloween Pizza
    Student Life: Basically two really great things happened at the same time: The senior class council got permission to sell pizza outside the Halloween dance. Independently of this, Student Life decided it would be great to bring pizza to dorms on Halloween nights so people have food in their stomach before drinking. Chris Roellke offered us $1000 to do this. We all want the same thing so people have food in their stomachs so there’s less destructive behavior and drunkenness. Options we talked about for spending this money was to buy alternate food for the dorms that’s not pizza. When dorm food happens people don’t eat as much as they would in the Deece because there’s a limited supple, so we want this to happen around 8 p.m. so people are having full dinners. We could also subsidize the pizza outside the Villard Room so people can buy pizza for cheaper, but people pointed out people might already be drunk by this time.

    2018: The money doesn’t technically have to be for pizza, it can be for anything we want to do.

    2015: We talked about seeing if we could talk to the houses about what would be best. In terms of using the money for the event–though I’m sure we would never say no, we did just get some supplementary funding from the VSA to supplement some costs. Dessert would definitely be good. Sandwiches could be cool.

    Jewett: I’m definitely in favor of doing things in the dorms. Pizza is tricky because some people think of it as dinner and might wait for that. If there’s only pizza they might skip dinner for it.

    Activities: I agree because I’m always thinking about pizza. It’s all I think about. At that period of the night I would probably wait. Maybe Nutella dessert pizza–any carbs are good.

    Cushing: Do Campus Activities provide water? One really important thing is to keep hydrated. Sometimes they bring the water containers and that’s better than going to the bathroom. Especially for there to be cups. Water may be even more important than food sometimes.

    2015: Water and food will both be provided at the Villard Room party. I’m not sure where a water location would be.

    THs: In terms of getting food before, we shouldn’t forget about the THs and the TAs because we’re drinking legally and we deserve it too!

    Student Life: One thing we discussed briefly is that it could be pancakes. I don’t know if certain orgs would be interesting in doing this because it’s a huge burden for house team to make pancakes for everyone. Maybe there are orgs that want to fundraise and want to make pancakes in Jewett for two hours and make $100. Breakfast foods. I’m into breakfast late at night.

    2015: Ice cream could be good too.

    President: I believe there are also outside places like EverReady that could cater a brinner.

    Strong: I’m a big proponent of having several places where food is. There are a bunch of people I know who won’t go to the Villard Room but will still be drinking.

    2017: It seems like even with the suggestion of having it in houses–I would caution against making all of the food something you have to pay for. I know I would not pay real money for food because I don’t have real money to throw around. So I think we should be careful about offering thing for a price.

    Student Life: The money from Roellke would go to orgs for making the pancakes. Students wouldn’t have to pay. $1000 isn’t enough to pay for lots of food for lots of people, so this is programming that would have to partly come from house budgets.

    Ops: Is the pizza going to be before the event?

    2015: It’s going to be at 1 a.m. It’s something we thought of as a fundraiser for us and get people food after and to motivate people to get out of the party and start ending their night. This is a post-party thing.

    Town Students: Have you thought about putting up flyers with statistics with EMS numbers or a sign saying “Don’t” with your face or something?

    2018: The freshman class council with health services is doing a poster campaign. On the posters will be data from last year. Basically we’re just trying to clarify the perspectives freshmen have, like “Seniors drink four times a week.” So it’s kind of debunking Vassar myths and making people aware of where they should draw the line with their drinking.

    Kathleen: The preventative flyer initiative–could we send something out about responsible party hosting? I’ve seen a lot of parties get out of hand because the hosts aren’t responsible. I went to the party class, but not every senior has to go to that. So I think everyone should have that information.

    2018: The posters will go out to every student fellow and house presidents.

    Davison: This morning my house team put together a breakfast thing to talk to freshmen about Halloween and drinking. My concern is about sophomores because it’s hard to reach them in the same way and talk to them about responsible drinking and not to break windows and stuff like that. At this point in their Vassar career they’re a little more apathetic about going to events like this, so I’m not sure what effect the poster campaign will have on sophomores. They have their own stuff going on and it’s not easy to reach them.

    2017: I think it would be better accomplished if there wasn’t such a strong prohibition on student fellows being able to drink. I think being able to connect with the freshmen would be more effective than posters.

    TAs: I think having house reps hold talks could be a good way to reach sophomores.

    Student Life: I think what I’m hearing is that we all want to do something, which is cool. My thoughts are just to distribute the money to houses with the understanding that it will be used for programming for food in the evening. It might be used differently in each dorm, but I think we resolved the general issue. Being mindful of 2015 is good, but we all have the same goals. And I hope this has been a productive brainstorming session for how you and your constituents can work together. We’ll work out the logistics later. All of the ideas I hear sound really good and Student Life is happy to help you accomplish them.

    8:30 p.m.//Open Discussion

    Main: Fall Fest happened on Friday. It was a great success. Thanks to everyone who planned it and showed up.

    Cushing: Apart from me speaking for Cushing, but I want to shamelessly talk about–Cares is having a speakout this Tuesday. Please be there. One important thing about the speak out is that it’s before Halloween and it’s important to listen to people’s experiences if we’re talking about sexual assault. And also of course to voice your own experiences. It’s a space for survivors and anyone affected by personal violence. I hope to see you all there. It’s in the Mug from 6 to 8 p.m.

    Ops: I wanted to give a warm welcome to Lauren. Welcome to VSA! It’s going to be a good year.

    President: I want to remind everyone to sign up for the Privilege Campaign if you haven’t. It’s really important with our goals of accessibility and awareness. I know it’s an hour and a half, but everyone should be there. Sign up!

    Ops: I move to adjourn.

    All in favor.

    8:33 p.m.// Council adjourned.


  • mariesolis 11:01 pm on October 5, 2014 Permalink | Reply  

    VSA Council | October 5, 2014 

    Hey, everyone! I hope you all had a great weekend. Sit tight, we’ll be getting started shortly.

    7:02 p.m.//Call to order
    Attendance: President
    Proxy: THs

    7:04 p.m.//Consensus Agenda

    Finance: We decided I’m going to give a short description of each of the items on the fund apps so you all have an understanding of how we’re spending our money. The first one was a capital fund app from The Misc. The $50 is to buy mice, the other money was for a new computer so we can see if CIS can fix it first. The ViCE fund was to buy equipment for film screenings. The cost of the equipment would be paid for after two screenings, so we’re doing that. The CBS app is being postponed until next week. It’s for dresses for the Violets because they have more Violets than last year so they need additional funds to cover those costs. The VPI app was for a cool speaker. The VARC app is also being postponed. They already bought the film, so we can’t reimburse them for those costs. The On Tap funds were for supplemental budgeting because they have more members than last year and need more money to buy costumes and tap shoes. Any questions?

    President: Does anyone object to anything? No. The consensus agenda is approved.

    Consensus Agenda
    a. Miscellany News (Capital) $48/$1197
    b. ViCE (Capital) $2165.03/$2165.03
    c. Council of Black Seniors (Discretionary) $0/$1000
    d. VPI (Speakers) $300/$1200
    e. VARC (Capital) $0/$272.19
    f. On Tap (Capital) $100/$100
    g. On Tap (Discretionary) $225/$225
    h. Minutes From 9/28/14

    7:07 p.m.// Forum with Cappy’s assistants

    Hannah: One of our main jobs is to be a liaison between students and Cappy. We’ve had pretty good attendance with student appointments. We’ll be having those on a biweekly basis.

    Briana: One of the main things Cappy’s concerned about is campus climate. Over the summer you all hopefully got an email about a fund to apply for, as an individual or org–it’s a two-page application and it’s to facilitate dialogue around campus climate. One criticism has been that the administration has been trying to plan these things when students have more knowledge about them. Basically it’s free money to talk about whatever you want. No one has applied so we have so much money. So please go back to your constituents and let them know that this is available. The information about it is also on the website.

    Hannah: There’s a lot of flexibility on that as well: It could be an art show, a debate, things like that. If there could be an email about that to spread the word about that. It’s a great opportunity to talk about these issues.

    Briana: We’ll hold office hours as well to see if there are any students who want to talk to us, especially since we’re meeting with Cappy on a biweekly basis.

    2018: What’s the fund called?

    Hannah: It’s the Dialogue and Engagement across Differences fund. It was emailed to us in July, but we can email class presidents and get the word out.

    2017: Thanks for being here and acquainting us with what you do. Regarding Cappy’s office hours, one concern I’ve heard a lot, is that you have to send an email to one of you describing what you want to talk about. People have expressed concerned that those things will be screened and only certain students will be able to get through to Cappy based on what they want to talk about. Could you just explain what you do with those blurbs and if you think that intimidates or dissuades people from participating in office hours?

    Hannah: It’s more to see what the topic is. If we see there are 20 people who want to talk in the hour time slot, if there are three people who want to talk about campus climate we might put those people together. If it’s too full we may direct them to someone else, depending on what the issue is.

    Briana: It is generally a first-come-first-serve basis. I haven’t ever thought about that concern, but we will bring it up and talk about it.

    Hannah: If you think it would be more effective not to include that, we’ll consider it.

    Main: I was just wondering what way besides direct office hours she’s kind of tuned in to student concerns and campus climate? Does she read the Misc or their live tweets?

    Briana: I think Cappy reads the Misc every week. We’ve only been in this position for a month and we’re still trying to figure out how to make her more accessible. We’ve been in contact with Luz and Judy, from the ALANA and LGBTQ centers, so we can see how we can offer support to those offices. I’m not sure what else Cappy does besides reading the Misc, visiting the Retreat to get money from the ATM…

    Hannah: She’s having 33 meetings with the sophomore class to talk to students.

    Student Life: Student Life also meets with her once a month, so that’s a way that student concerns are brought to her.

    President: I know that in the past it seemed like office hours weren’t as frequent. Is that up to you guys?

    Briana: We have four more throughout the semester, but we’re definitely planning on making them more frequently.

    Hannah: Also if it’s something urgent and the scheduling doesn’t work for you, talk to us and we can figure it out.

    Briana: And if it’s pressing we can help you schedule an appointment with her outside of office hours.

    President: You also talked about having events with Cappy throughout the year. What’s the general mindset behind that idea?

    Briana: We talked about the dichotomy between the students and the administrators and how there’s a thick barrier there. I know you guys last week talked about striving for more openness and accessibility. I think other administrators and Cappy are looking to do that too. We’re not sure yet how to best do that, but we’re working on it. Hannah and I are also both in the Class of 2015 and so when we were freshmen she was traveling a lot because it was Vassar’s 150th anniversary. Now she’s a lot more grounded at Vassar so hopefully that’ll help her be more accessible.

    Student Life: This is going to sound like a silly question, but what does Cappy do on a daily basis?

    Hannah: She’s constantly in meetings, she meets with a lot of different groups.

    Briana: She has a PhD in Economics so she’s invested in those issues constantly. She has a conference with the Seven Sisters that’s coming up. The Board of Trustees are coming soon. She has a lot of alumni relations. I mean, what does the President of the United States do? They do a lot of stuff, you don’t know everything, but you know they’re busy. I mean everyone knows Cappy, they don’t call her Catharine Bond Hill. We know where she lives.

    Casey Hancock (At-large): How did you get involved working for her?

    Hannah: There was an application that got sent out to the Class of 2015. We applied, we got interviewed. And now we’re here.

    Briana: It’s pretty cool, I would encourage you all to do it! It’s our campus job. One of us will be at every VSA meeting taking notes and if you have something you want to talk to us about, you can approach us after the meeting.

    7:22 p.m.// Exec Board reports

    President: We’ve been very busy with our exec board meetings. We’re just waiting to meet with Chris Roellke tomorrow. We meet with all of the senior-level admins at least once a month so if you have something you want us to pass along, email us. We’ll also be reporting back on what we’re working on here. There’s not a ton to report on now, but we’re continuing a lot of projects from last year. There’s some curricular reform stuff that you’ll be hearing about throughout the year. We met with Cappy–there’s a big push this year to talk about how student dialogue can improve on campus. She asked us to encourage people to do that. The senior-level officers are Cappy, Dean Chenette, Dean Roellke, Bob Walton, who we met with on Friday. He’s the VP of Finance. He’ll be back at a future VSA meeting. A lot of the projects come out of his office, like the bookstore. He’s also great because he has a philosophy that everything can be done in less than a year, which is a great mindset to have. He’s great to talk to if you have ideas. Marianne Beggeman also works with Bob and she’s great too if you’re looking for directions to the College. You don’t see her or Bob around that often, but they’re super important. Also I wanted to update everyone on the adjusted timeline for VP for Activities. There was some confusion, so we wanted to clarify somethings. After we approved the timeline, CIS told us that they couldn’t make an election in that time, so it’s getting pushed back two days and then the whole process will be the same. They decided the best way to take care of the two days is to extend the campaigning for two days. The results will be announced Friday instead of Wednesday.

    Chris Brown (at-large): So the debate’s going to be happening before filing closes?

    President: I believe at this point, I’m not sure if filing is closing tonight, but we’ll grab Casey and have him answer that.

    Jewett: He said filing was closing Monday, so I don’t know if he just accidentally left that in the email. But according to the email it’s now closing on Wednesday.

    President: It was purely a technological issue that CIS couldn’t make it happen.

    Casey Hancock: There’s a theoretical question about whether or not you can have a debate while campaigning is still open. We could close filing earlier and then email a correction. Does anyone care, should we change it?

    Joss: Why not just move the debate?

    Casey: Because voting happens as soon as filing closes. Instead of making a gap, we’re moving it back two days because CIS needed us to so now we’re having a debate.

    Finance: Does this functionally change anything?

    Casey: Not really.

    2016: When was the debate before?

    Casey: There wasn’t one. If we did it this weekend we would have been encroaching on Jewish holidays. We don’t necessarily need a debate, but given our last discussion about voting for the right candidate, it seemed like the appropriate thing to do for the Board of Elections.

    Cushing: Can filing just end before the debate? Just for there to be no more discussion on this.

    Casey: The difficulty here is that we’re going to be confusing people more.

    2017: I’m with in preferring to close filing before the debate, but also the email has already been set out and there comes a point when people get so many emails they stop reading. While ideally I’d like to change it, I don’t know how feasible it is.

    Casey: We could just send an underlined statement when we email people about the debate and make it clear that if you’re not at the debate you’ve missed your chance to file, basically. I’m fine with anything.

    President: I think for now we’ll leave it as it is.

    Student Life: My committee has been talking a lot about Title IX. We’re going to conduct a survey and I think ours is going to be a lot better than those of our peer institutions because we have a consent-based survey. That’s a project that’ll be going on for the rest of the year. This isn’t something that came out of committee, but the resumes are in for the new SAVP director at Vassar. I will be in attendance for those interviews next week. The committee itself is working on a project that’s aiming to demystify the reporting process. There’s an infographic out about it, but it’s slightly outdated now because reporting no longer goes through DB Brown’s office. We’re going to try and make a video about it, really any info we can put out there so they know what the process is like and can choose whether or not they want to go through with it and have all of the info so they can make a clear decision going through with it. We’ve made a kind of sub committee that’s going to be focusing on food. I will be assisting and supporting them in whatever way necessary, but they’re going on a crusade to fix campus dining. Gender-neutral bathrooms updates: When Sanders Physics was getting renovated, they didn’t include gender-neutral bathrooms in the plans, but the departments have decided they want them there. It will be the first academic building with multi-stall gender neutral bathrooms. We’re going to have a meeting with staff so they can ask questions and learn about how it works. Gender-neutral bathrooms in the new bookstore will be happening. We’re working on more transparency with the BIRT team. We’re trying to get a public database about bias incidents that would send everyone an email information whenever someone reports an incident. It would link to the website so people aren’t being bombarded with triggering information. Basically it would say what was reported and how it’s being followed up on. Also in BIRT training, the entire BIRT is going to a four-hour identity training on privilege, power and identities. This past week we went to a two-hour conversation on the difference between anti-antisemitism and anti-Zionism. Those are the things admin are doing to be better.

    Town Students: With Aramark, we’re in a contract so we can’t get rid of them. Do you know if for the food sub committee if they’re just trying to improve through Aramark?

    Student Life: Aramark as a company does everything from prisons to Goldman Sachs. They obviously have a sliding scale of what they can provide. There was a campus dining survey done in 2012. To be honest, a lot of what this group is going to do is see how much change is possible while working with Aramark. If the answer is not a lot, that will empower future groups and tell them how to move forward.

    2017: A lot of what we talked about was how to discuss with admin the policies.

    Student Life: Right, so like the policy about not being able to use regular meal swipes on guests.

    Finance: Whatever happened to getting coffee?

    Town Students: For a while they changed the Retreat coffee because it wasn’t fair trade. But then they changed it back. Aramark sucks, they’re a huge corporation, they try to work with you but they don’t.

    Activities: Your sub committee can talk to Bob Walton about what to do together because he wants to have conversation dinners to talk about campus dining. I think that’s the first step.

    President: If you’re interested in this issue, definitely talk to Bob Walton.

    7:43 p.m.//BoE amendment

    Main: It’s the same amendment we had last week. So there you go.

    President: The issue with this last week was that people felt like they needed more time. Does anyone want to speak to the amendment. No? I’ll make the motion to vote on this since we’ve seen this three times.

    Abstentions: Finance, Student Life, Cushing, THs
    In Favor: Main, Jewett, Lathrop, Noyes, 2017, Strong, 2015, Town Students, Activities, Academics, 2018, TAs, Joss, Raymond, Davison

    7:45 p.m.//Open Discussion

    2018: We’ve been talking a lot about sexual harassment. I’d like to ask every house president to talk to their constituents and student fellows to talk about sexual harassment. I feel like a giant presentation isn’t intimate enough for this serious issue. I don’t know if this is true, but I’ve heard there have been five to six EMS cases for the freshmen every week, so I was thinking we could do a poster campaign or something.

    Finance: Student fellows are trained to discuss issues of sexual assault.

    Raymond: We’ve had a lot of issues with that particularly in our house. We’re workshopping the idea of getting in touch with Judy to have a workshop series. I’m going to bring this up again at house team this week so we can get this done in smaller groups. It’s not just freshmen, but it’s freshmen especially.

    2018: I’ve heard Choice is going around, but a lot of freshmen aren’t going to show up to those meetings. So please, everyone, talk to your student fellows so they can meet with their students.

    Susie (At-large, Cares listener, Cares intern): I just wanted to say that it is domestic violence awareness month. Cares usually does study breaks. We’re already reached out to you about hosting study breaks in October. If you have any suggestions about what we can bring to the study breaks and how to make them more information, let us know.

    2015: If you guys do do that, do it soon. Halloween is our biggest EMS night and reporting about sexual assault.

    Finance: Finance committee has been divided into two groups: one does fund apps and one talks about policies on how fund apps are decided. The second group will meet on Tuesday for the first time and they’re going to talk about having a fund with regards to conferences. Some orgs require students to pay their own way and we’re going to work on how to make conferences more accessible. The other one has to do with capital fund apps. We want to create a better capital loan system. We also are going to be investigating orgs that get budgets of over $20k to make sure how they’re spending their money. I think 2018 brought up a really important point. We should be working on preventing it as well as doing better with dealing with it when it does.

    Main: Shoutout to campus about our fall fest. It’ll be on Friday from 5 to 9 p.m. on the quad.

    Davison: My dorm has had a spike in EMS cases. We don’t want to just blame the freshmen class, but we’ve had a lot of issues with public spaces, particularly the bathroom. People just smashed eggs in the bathroom for no good reason I can understand. I’m not sure what you want us to do about EMS calls and sexual assault. I wouldn’t feel comfortable facilitating that conversation.

    2018: The class council was talking about who would talk to the freshmen. We were thinking that we really want it to come from all classes. Because I’m a freshmen, other freshmen might not look up to me and if it came from upperclassmen it might seem like they’re being talked down to. So I think it should come from everywhere. Specifically, house presidents should ask their student fellows to talk to their fellow groups. Also I liked the idea of a poster campaign because we had the alcohol edu course we had to do over the summer, but people aren’t going to act on those things.

    Chris Brown (at-large): House presidents, talk to your HSAs. We meet with Luis Inoa on a weekly basis. One thing we were thinking of is that student fellows host circles with their fellow groups and talk to them about EMS and sexual assault. Talk to your HSAs and house advisers.

    Cushing: We’ve had a lot of incidents as well. A Cushing student fellow is sending group texts to their fellowees every Friday and Saturday to check in on them and remind them of the different resources. I think that’s a way to make it seem less like they’re being looked down upon and more like they’re being cared for. A small reminder from student fellows has worked so far and I think that could work in other houses. I’d like to encourage all house presidents to make sure that there’s not only freshmen attendance, but all classes in attendance for the Cares study breaks.

    Finance: I think that the campus dining situation contributes in a small way to the number of students getting EMSed because of the dining hall hours. If you have dinner at 5:30 and start drinking at 11 or 12, you’re going to have a more empty stomach than eating at 9. At other schools they have food for freshmen on Friday and Saturday nights and we could look into that. I think students would like it, but more importantly they would have something in their stomachs before drinking.

    2015: I think a bigger problem is also the lack of programming on this campus. I lot of activities are held in students’ houses and it revolves around drinking. So let’s stress alternative programming and encourage them to go to events and keep them away from the THs and TAs.

    Joss: I just wanted to point out that the biggest thing the admin banks on is the alcohol edu program. It’s not mandatory, it’s only made to seem mandatory. The only threats you get are emails, but nothing ever happens if you don’t complete it.

    2017: The reactions of people on the Facebook page–the people who do do it don’t take it seriously because of the format. So I’m not even sure how much information is getting to people.

    President: When we meet with Chris Roellke we’ll bring up these concerns.

    Student Life: I’d like to give a shout out to 2016 on the “Where Are All of the Juniors” event. I really want to echo all of the things 2015 said. I know that, with Halloween coming up, a lot of destruction happens to Main. I think the Student Life committee and VSA as a whole should be putting pressure on this. The VSA is structured to reach students and we could very successfully run some kind of campaign. Something like, “This is my house. This is where I live. Please don’t destroy it. Please don’t assault people here.” This weekend that always ends in EMS calls especially for freshmen and sexual assaults as well as physical assaults. I love Halloween, it’s my favorite holiday, but we need to be aware of what’s going on and try to stop it.

    Tyler (at-large, Cares member): We haven’t picked an SAVP coordinator yet. But the acting coordinator is in charge of health education and alcohol edu. They’re going to be stretched really thin, so whatever we can do to help, please let us know.

    Activities: I think what Student Life recommended would be great. Speaking to 2018’s point from earlier–as much as I would hope it would work to tell students to stop drinking, it’s not going to work. EMS or the administration did a survey and they found there were more EMS calls on days when there was no programming. So it’s important to get people out of just the THs and TAs.

    Town Students: This is a random point, but every year the freshmen get a ton of EMS calls and it’s kind of a phase. But I think a good talking point is to convey that the volume of EMS calls takes away resources from the community. It’s catering to the idea that we’re this entitled Vassar entity.

    2015: Vassar employs an ambulance specifically just for the event. We’re taking up hospital beds in Poughkeepsie. It’s a very big problem.

    Activities: Motion to adjourn.

    -This motion passes-

    8:05 p.m.//Council adjourns.

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