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.