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  • Palak 11:58 pm on November 30, 2014 Permalink | Reply  

    VSA Council November 30, 2014 

    Hey everyone! My name is Palak Patel and I’m the incoming Editor-in-Chief for The Miscellany News. We are getting ready to liveblog the VSA meeting tonight, so sit tight and get ready for some fun!

    7:02 // Call to order, Attendance

    Proxy: Cushing

    Absent: Finance, Town Students, Student Life

    7:03//Consensus Agenda

    1. Matt Kolbert for 2017 BOEA Rep
    2. Minutes From 11/23/14

    Operations: Chair of the BOEA was vacated.

    Pres: Anyone object to the consensus agenda? No.

    Operations: So as you all know, the external review is happening this week. Not much else is going on in the operational realm. Gabby Miller will no longer be the Ferry Rep for the Spring. And the 2015 Judicial Board rep position is open.

    Activities: I don’t have too many updates. If you know anyone in orgs, we are reviewing them right now. Make sure they fill out the forms. Congrats to Palak. We are having casino night Dec. 13. Come to that!

    Joss: Do house teams have to fill out forms?

    Activities: No.

    Joss: Motion to adjourn?

    Pres: No, we have open discussion. I have a few things. So first, I want to acknowledge that there has been a number of stuff going on on campus. The mental health petition has been going around, we have forwarded that to Cappy. However we don’t feel that the council floor is the optimal place to discuss these issues. We encourage people to come to the committee meetings or to exec members. Secondly, on a similar note, Hannah cannot be here tonight because of travel plans, but we have a written statement.  (Paraphrased): “I think I speak for the entire VSA council when I say that we were enraged by the decision to not indict Darren Wilson. I’m sorry that I am not in council tonight to deliver this. In addition to the weight of this decision, we are also dealing with the newly released Margolis Healy results, the Gawker article written by faculty member Kiese Laymon and the Boilerplate article written by sophomore Anthony Choquette. Friends, do not feel disheartened by the conversations happening in council. We are supporting our community by keeping the orgs people love running. This is not to say that I think we are doing is enough or that our job is done. We cannot depend on the council floor to get things done. To any campus activists: let us know what you need. We want to work with you. It’s not a lofty group of policy making bureaucracy, but a group of your peers. It is an honor to stand both with and behind you.”

    Cushing: Cushing is having it’s event in the Villard room on Dec 5. Please come!

    2015: Senior class is also having an event!

    7:12//Council Adjourns

  • mariesolis 11:59 pm on November 23, 2014 Permalink | Reply  

    VSA Council | November 23, 2104 

    Hey, everyone! Hope you all had a great weekend. First things first: I’m officially outgoing Editor-in-Chief. On Wednesday we elected Palak Patel as our new EiC for Spring 2015. However, I will continue liveblogging for the duration of the semester. Also, this week the VSA meeting will be recorded for the external review. Sit tight, we’ll be getting started soon!

    7:03 p.m.//Call to order, attendance
    Absences: Town Students

    7:04 p.m. Consensus Agenda
    a. Vassar Greens (Discretionary) $500/$420
    b. VCTV (Capital) $700 + cost of security tags/$700
    c. Crafts Not Bombs (PreOrg) $100/$200
    d. Unbound (Discretionary) $270/$270
    e. ASA (Discretionary) $500/$1000
    f. Minutes From 11/16/14

    Finance: The Greens are collaborating on some event they want to do with Cushing. They have enough money, but the cost of musicians went up so they needed additional funding.

    Cushing: The event name is “Affecting change through art.” It’s going to be less of an activist event, but it will be an art space open to everyone in the Villard Room. It’s going to be about reclaiming the Villard Room as a space where we can express ourselves. There will be a ton of food and it’s right before ViCE’s party. We’re still looking for submissions.

    Finance: VCTV had a capital request. They want to buy some new items for their club on top of an almost $3,000 fund app that was approved in the spring. We also found out that they don’t have a storage space, which isn’t thrilling to hear. We’re going to collaborate with Activities committee to figure out how to secure these expensive items. Crafts Not Bombs wants to craft and sell their crafts on Etsy and then donate the money to anti-drone causes. Unbound needed money to make their play better. The last one was for ASA. Every year they go to a conference that they’ve always had to pay for out of their budget, but this year it’s more expensive because they don’t have an ASA grad to stay with, so we gave them money so they can have a place to stay.

    2017: About Crafts Not Bombs–When we voted them in as a pre-org it was clearly stated that they weren’t going to have a political affiliation.

    Activities: Well they can do anything they want with the funds they raise.  They’ll be selling some crafts and giving some away.

    7:09 p.m.//Forum with Ariel Nereson, Disciplinary Arts Coordinator

    Nereson: I’m working with the College’s Mellon Foundation grant. The grant has four arms. This year we’ve been working with faculty to design courses that specifically include creative arts disciplines. We’re trying to provide for students who are interested in this disciplinary work. We’re also looking to invite artists to campus to do residencies. If you have an idea of a guest artist you’d like to bring to campus, speak up and advocate that to the faculty and see if they can grease the wheels for you. We also have pedagogy workshops for faculty and–this is a new pilot program we’re starting this summer–similar to URSI and Ford, will fill the gap in the summer research programming for students who are interested in arts research. Right now is a great time to insert your vision into what you’d like that programming to look like. Also the trailer outside of the College Center is called the collaboratory. It will move throughout the campus and be in different locations throughout the year. It has a space heater so it will be used during the winter. We’re accepting proposals for that now, if you’re interested in showing and creating work in that space. They’re due December 1. The more we can invite people outside of the arts to be creative beings, the more holistic the campus will be for everyone. I welcome any input you have to help shape what we do with the grant. You can find my email on the website. My office is in the Old Laundry Building, 208a and 209. We have an amazing blog as well. You can follow us on Twitter at Vassar Creative. We do tons of informational stuff. For Cushing’s project–Affecting Change through Art–we can help publicize your event. So we’re also here to support houses and orgs in terms of finances and time and energy. I welcome any requests for help, participation, feedback. Let me know if you need that support for your own projects.

    Main: Can you talk about how guest artists for residencies go through faculty? Is there a way students can directly request artists? Because that would be chill.

    Nereson: There were a lot of decisions that went through deciding to do that mainly through faculty. Some of that had to do with the fact that they tend to be more successful when they’re involved curricularly. These kinds of residencies tend to be most effective with curricular engagement. That said, I think the majority of the faculty here is interested in hearing what you have to say. If you want to co-propose alongside someone, that’d be lovely. If you have an idea you can also bring that directly to me and I can then reach out to faculty members. It’s more for infrastructure purposes and making sure that process goes as smoothly as possible.

    7:17 p.m.//Forum with the Sustainability Committee

    Rep: We’re trying to build on years past. First and foremost, we have a new website. We’re hoping for more publicity this year. Most people do know we exist, but with the new website–it’s linked to the main Vassar page now–we have a big up this year. We’re working with the master planning and get in those negotiations and come up with a list of things we want to see in the plans for the next ten years. We’re working on that list–we have a preliminary one, but we’re going to be opening it up for feedback. We’re comprised of student interns, me and a bunch of administrative and faculty reps, plus Allistar Hall. Buildings and Grounds and all of the people who never made it to meetings last year are more present this year, so they really have increased their participation. We have an RCF fund that’s for short term and long term projects that anyone can propose. A drama professor just submitted one. In the theater to work they have to use the floodlights that suck up a ton of energy, so they placed a proposal for energy-efficient lighting. One thing we really want to do is push the fact that we have the fund that literally anyone can submit to. It’s an easy and accessible application. We’re also looking at creating two new bike racks on campus. They’re cool because they’re a bike-repair rack. One of the interns has a wrench, tire pump. We’re looking at having it by the College Center and the TH area. We’ve also improved within CIRC vegan proposals. Any events the committee puts on will be vegan, except for the farmers market. Since that’s a big event we decided to make an exception for that. So we’re officially vegan. We’re in the process of setting up a green office plan. We’re thinking about electricity with lights, computers and energy with commuting. If you reach a certain total, the department will be able to put a certificate of sustainability on their website.

    7:24 p.m.//Executive reports

    President: Things have been running smoothly. We’re meeting with Cappy and Dean Chenette tomorrow, so if you have anything you want me to bring up, let me know.

    Strong: I have something I’d like you to talk to Cappy about. Strong’s ongoing structural problems have returned. I’m curious how much they know about it. I’d be more than happy to reach out to them and give them more information than they’d ever want. We’ve had fire alarms going off every night, we haven’t had hot water for a week. Some of the heating doesn’t work. This has been going on all semester.

    Academics: First off, the peer advising dinner happened. Thanks to everyone who came. Hundreds came, I’d say. Next, the syllabus archive is still happening. It was brought up in CCP. The faculty in that committee were receptive to it, but worried about intellectual property rights and things like that. So I talked to the library and they were interested in putting it in the informational repository. Now we just need to get it endorsed by the faculty. In terms of hiring a library director, we’re working on writing a job description. The newsletter has had difficulty making it out this semester, so we’re going to channel our efforts to getting out a full spring edition.

    Ops: We modified the [Res Life] amendment. We modified point F under section one, so now the VSA will have to approve contracts by a simple majority vote. In the contract itself, Luis Inoa edited part of it to say that it will depend on the context of the sanction with regards to alcohol and drugs. Before Res Life had the ability to remove someone based on one offense. He also took out some gendered language.

    Main: The only thing I have to say is thinking about the precedent it sets with administrative offices with what they can do.

    Joss: How many votes do we need to pass it?

    Ops: 2/3, which is 16.

    Davison: No one’s allowed to change their votes, right? Because we did that once.

    President: Nope. No one can back out.

    Student Life: Just think about the implication of everyone abstaining and this not passing. We’ve had a series of conversations about what the future looks like given this amendment. If this is not passed, the implications are that house teams will effectively be split into two categories: Student fellows and house officers. Even if you have a lot of mixed feelings about this amendment, abstentions count as nos.

    Ops: We need a 2/3 majority of the council. We need 16 votes. A yes would mean that, given talking to your constituents, there’s a consensus in favor of this change. A no would mean there’s opposition to this.

    Student Life: If we vote yes, the amendment goes to us and the house officer behavioral agreement will be signed by house officers for next year. This will give them some kind of room privilege, or maintain the room privilege they have and put some responsibility on them. We know how the HSAs feel, we know how BHP feels and their respective houses feel.

    Ops: We would also have to have a second vote to approve the agreement.

    Joss: We’ve talked this death, but I just wanted to ask anyone who’s considering voting no on this could say what their reason is.

    2017: I was planning on abstaining: I recognize that everyone on house team who I’ve talked to is in favor of this. But as someone who has never been on a house team, I wasn’t going to vote no. But also I’m uncomfortable with the precedent it sets, so I decided to abstain because I don’t feel comfortable enough to vote yes. If there’s an issue that students have noticed and the administration has noticed, the way this happened, roughly, is that we said we wanted a year toward working on his, but Res Life said we needed to work with their schedule. They’re going to get very much of what they want if the vote goes the way it seems to be going. It seems to indicate that the admin can lay down a very harsh timeline, set up an ultimatum and get what they want. I also don’t like holding officers to the student fellow requirements because I personally feel some of them are counterproductive. But I do recognize I’m in the minority on that.

    Main: 2017 hit most of my points. It sets a precedent for how you get what you want from students.

    Cushing: We know this isn’t fair. I was so angry about this for weeks, all of us were. But we really need to think about house teams. That’s what this amendment is about. It will set a precedent, but it already exists and I don’t think this will enforce the precedent. I don’t think it’s worth dividing up house teams. We saw Dorml Formal happen and all of the house worked so hard on it. It’s a Vassar tradition to have these house teams put on things for this whole campus. And splitting it is going to affect freshmen too and what house teams are doing for you. I want everyone here to think about how it affects house teams and that’s why I want everyone to vote yes.

    Strong: I think something we need to not forget in this situation is that this issue was brought up from students who were on house team. Res Life didn’t bring this up.

    Student Life: Maybe I’m preaching to the choir, but I think it’s important that we as a student government remember that if we’re not doing things that are helping the students, we’re not doing anything. While I understand the points that have been made about precedents and relationships with administrative bodies, at the end of the day we have to help the students on this campus.

    Joss: Motion to vote?

    In Favor: Jewett, Lathrop, Noyes, TAs, Strong, Finance, Activities, Student Life, 2016, 2015, THs, Ferry, Raymond, Cushing, Davison
    Abstentions: 2017
    Opposed: Main

    -This motion passes-

    President: All in the favor of the contract?

    -This motion passes-

    7:44 p.m.//Changes to VSA constitution

    Ops: We added in Cushing and Jewett’s edits. Nothing else has really changed.

    Student Life: There was a section regarding Vassar Chronicle’s ability to publish things about the VSA. The EiC submitted a statement that says, “What are you people doing with your time?” I thought it was important to share. He also submitted some comments to 2017.

    2017: He was under the assumption that this was the only thing involved in this particular amendment. I explained the process and he withdrew the statement.

    Finance: I didn’t realize this before, but the adjustments Ops made to section 3 article 3 section 6 about Finance Committee–the problem with section a is that it removes quorum, but there should be something about quorum because we can’t have two people at our meeting.

    Ops: Motion to amend. Amendment 29.9 section c should say “at least seven members.”

    2017: Could we just revert to the original language?

    President: Well that amendment had to change, because it originally said that it needed a certain amount of VSA council members.

    SoCos: Or you could take out council.

    Ops: The idea is that the quorum should be seven members.

    Casey Hancock (at-large): If there’s something that’s grammatically or factually incorrect, we don’t have to vote on it. It can just be brought to Ops’ attention and they’ll change it.

    President: We’ll vote now.

    All in favor: All.

    -This motion passes-

    7:50 p.m.//Open Discussion

    Finance: There’s an exciting new change to the VSA dashboard thanks to Casey Hancock. Everyone can thank him for saving people a million hours of work. Before he built the dashboard, everything had to be done through paper. You can now take pictures of receipts for reimbursement and now we can know that you’re not lying. It also means that people will be keeping track of their receipts and it’ll be well organized. We’ve completed the WVKR review and we’re wrapping up The Misc’s review. We’ll have a report and we’ll ask them to come to council. The majority of houses have still not brought me receipts from Halloween.

    Cushing: The Cushing House event is December 5.

    Ops: Council will be split into two groups: house presidents and everyone else. We’ll each have half hour interviews for the external reviews. As I said last time, the forum is December 3 in the Villard Room. There’ll be pizza.

    Casey: I just noticed that at the moment, based on something the VSA is focused on seems like the conversations you’re having are focused on yourselves. In the future, something I wish I could’ve done better myself is focus on students.

    Jewett: Thanks to everyone who came to Dormal Formal!

    Student Life: Shoutout to everyone on Jewett for Dormal Formal. I wanted to let everyone know that I’ve seen the petition regarding more Metcalf counselors and I’m going to be having meetings about it. I see it, I hear you, I will try to provide updates as they come.

    -Meeting adjourned-

  • mariesolis 12:02 am on November 17, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: master planning, Residential Life, Vassar,   

    VSA Council | November 16, 2014 

    Hey, everyone! This will be my last week liveblogging as your Editor-in-Chief. This week we will be conducting our Exec Board interviews and we’ll be voting in a new EiC. On a different note, there are no tables in the CCMPR today, so give us some time to adjust! We’ll be getting started shortly.

    7:03 p.m.//Call to Order and Attendance
    Proxy: Ferry, SoCos

    7:04 p.m.// Consensus Agenda
    a. VSA Operating (Discretionary) $3554/$3554
    b. Outing Club (Conference) $0/$750
    c. Miscellany News (Capital) $309.90/$309.90
    d. Vassar Haiti Project (Capital) $1190/$1190
    e. UNICEF (Collaboration) $0/$50
    f. Contrast (Collaboration) $190.50/$190.50
    g. Challah (Capital) $67.95/$67.95
    h. Act Out (Conference) $2055/$2500
    i. Crafts Not Bombs (Discretionary) Tabled
    j. Minutes From 11/9/14

    President: VSA Operating applied for money for the external review. Outing Club didn’t get any money because the people who want to do it are seniors and we want everyone who’s going out into the wilderness are properly trained to do so. The Misc applied for money for heaters and rugs. Their office is kind of horrible right now, no offense to The Misc. VHP wanted money for bins to transport their art around because it’s annoying to carry them back and forth individually. UNICEF did get the $50, it’s for a lunch they’re hosting where they eat the amount of food you get if you had to survive off the amount of aid you get from the UN. Contrast wanted to collaborate with Focus. Challah needed money for baking supplies, forks and knives. Act Out applied with Fem Alliance and Transmission to go to a big LGBTQ conference in Denver. Crafts Not Bombs applied for money to make crafts…not bombs. They didn’t get the money because they need to provide us with an itemized list.

    7:07 p.m.//Forum with Community Works

    Community Works: About ten years ago, Vassar withdrew from the United Way because they were associated with the Boyscouts of America who were against members of the LGBTQ community. Each year we raise money through payroll reductions with employees and events with students and we distribute it to 10 or 11 agencies. I’m here today to invite you all to consider whether you would like to organize some kind of event to raise money for Community Works. You might want to join with other houses to do it, but it’s a great way to contribute to the community. We have hunger, homelessness, domestic violence in our community. In the City of Poughkeepsie School District over 85 percent of the students come from family below the poverty line. Fortunately, there are a lot of people in our community trying to solve this: Brian Ridell. Tree Arrington who works on empowering youth. There are also some Vassar alumnae/i who help undocumented workers in New York State. This year we’re supporting the John Flowers Family Partnership, Dutchess County SPCA, Dutchess Outreach, The Family Partnership Center, Glisten, Grace Smith House, The REAL Skills Network and Sustainable Hudson Valley. These were chosen from a larger number that were solicited from the Vassar community. It was hard to decide who to fund, but we try to alternate each year to cover all of them eventually. I want to ask you to think about how you can contribute: A party with a cover fee, for example. A raffle. The most important thing is that I and other members of the community are willing to help you with this process. We’re willing to step in and help you as much as we can. We can arrange for you to collect money for this event using VCash.

    President: You mentioned VCash. Is that a new thing?

    Community Works: I probably shouldn’t promise it. I talked to Jeff Kosmacher about it. But if we had a number of student voices who said that they could use this, it would help push it through.

    Finance: Do you think you could give a couple examples of what houses have done in the past? A lot of house presidents haven’t been on house team before.

    Jewett: We played a game of assassins. We’ve already done that again this year, so we’ll already be donating some money.

    Joss: We do an auction in the first semester and we combine it with dorm dinners. We also have students submit something to be raffled off–sometimes they’re abstract.

    Briana (at-large): Cushing did an ice cream bar in the spring and we bought it with our house money and we ended up making way more than we spent on the ice cream. Hundreds of students came to it.

    Community Works: The spring can be a great time too, because we operate on academic years.

    SoCos: One of the things that’s extremely popular is auctioning off a North Lot parking space. That alone went for $200. You can work with Security to do this.

    Cushing: We had the caramel apple sale and made a lot of money from that. It’s really easy to go and buy things in bulk and sell them. We made a lot of money, so we can donate some of it to Community Works.

    Community Works: Thank you for suggesting that people share what they’ve done in the past. One last thing is that if you want to know more about our agencies, you can go to Vassar’s homepage and type in Community Works. There are links there to all of these orgs and it’s really inspiring to read about all of them. Thanks for listening and good luck with the rest of your semester.

    7:18 p.m.//Forum with CIRC

    Adam: We’re in charge of divestment policies, proxy holding–we see what kind of use we can get out of the proxy-holding system. It remains to be seen exactly how we’ll do that, but that’s where we stand. We’ve only had one meeting so far, but we’re thinking about creating an institutional legacy. We’re thinking about how to negotiate divestment within CIRC and reach out to other students who are concerned about guidelines. Some students have said that guidelines for CIRC are too restrictive, but some people are for it. When should we divest? When shouldn’t we divest? We’re looking at other schools right now for a template. We’re having a meeting on Tuesday, so we may have more to say after that. We welcome any kind of feedback.

    President: I know a lot of the actual divestment comes out of the Board of Trustees. Do you just make recommendations?

    Adam: Essentially we’re an advisory board. We can say, “As representatives of the student body…” But also we are the only two student representatives. There are faculty representatives, two alums. We’re only one-fourth of the voting membership. We do hope that people take our recommendations into consideration when it goes to the Trustees.

    SoCos: If a guideline document is produced, would that be made public?

    Adam: It remains to be seen. I guess yes. In our previous conversations, we’ve talked about it being something we want to put forth for opinion, at least in VSA. I would like to get more student feedback on it then not. I don’t think it will be controversial.

    Finance: A lot of the calls for divestment we’ve gotten in the past have been impossible to implement. For example, one called for us to divest in the next five years. But people didn’t know that because they weren’t given that information and CIRC is pretty closed-off. We need to give students the tools to make informed proposals. There was an article in Boilerplate about it that talked more about this.

    Adam: We really are taking a much more practical approach. If we should receive a proposal from a group–which we will, probably on Tuesday–we want to make sure that we’re taking those seriously and working with the groups, depending on how feasible they are.

    Student Life: How transparent do you think the endowment is?

    Finance: Because the school is a 501 (c)(3) organization, we have to release certain information. However, that information isn’t that understandable for people who don’t understand endowment and investment. The names of individual holdings and comingled funds aren’t very accessible.

    Strong: How is it accessible if it’s not understandable to the majority of students?

    Finance: Well it’s available. It’s not locked into some vault. A student has to seek out how to understand it. You have pages and pages online. We can’t expect the school to dedicate a ton of resources to making it understandable, especially since most students don’t really want it.

    Adam: As a representative, I will try to make it more accessible for you. In the process of going over this stuff, I think that’s a valid concern and it’s something that I will work on and if anyone wants to meet with me, we can go over it together.

    President: It sounds like people want to know, so if you have ways to explain the info, that’d be ideal.

    TAs: I heard a rumor that CIRC or some other body is pushing toward there being more comingled funds as a means of perhaps making it harder for students to try and divest from something. Have you talked about that?

    Adam: The push for comingled funds is a rumor. Where did you hear it from?

    TAs: VTC–the Vassar Transparency Coalition.

    Adam: That’s always an option. You can move divestment holdings into comingled funds, but that has not been something we’ve been talking about within CIRC seriously.

    7:30 p.m.//Forum with Masterplanning

    Masterplanning student rep: We had our meeting last week and we talked about how the campus is in a transitional phase right now. We’re trying to get a feeling for the efficiency of the College. We’re trying to get data so we can think about what priorities the school really needs to focus on. We’ve talked about this year’s class gift, which is going to be an outdoor seating space for hanging out or studying. The masterplanning committee has given us the go-ahead for that. Next, they’ll be designing signs because Vassar is going smoke-free in 2015. That will be implemented in the future. We talked about parking: how to make it more efficient and better for students and faculty as well as not have a campus full of parking spaces. Trash: We’re trying to figure out how to deal with the trash issue. In the mornings, there’s an excess of trash bags everywhere. We talked about installing dumpsters in those areas, but we were kind of split on how to deal with it. More speed bumps, especially around the THs and the nursery area.

    2015: Class gift is costing half a million dollars so it’s not happening. The new plan the committee is working on is making the library courtyard a better study space for students and making solar-powered tables with outlets.

    Ferry: How do you decide what the student gift is going to be?

    Student rep: There was a proposal and everyone was for it.

    Finance: It’s a collaboration between the senior class and the Development Office.

    Student Life: To what degree are you working with the people who are redesigning the College Center?

    Student rep: It’s a little complicated. We’re not directly involved, but we will be meeting with those people to talk about it.

    7:36 p.m.//Exec Board reports

    Activities: We’ve been setting up pre-orgs and we’ve also asked representatives from the established pre-orgs to come to our Activities meetings. Some may be approved for orgs next semester. We’re also working on assessment forms for organizations. All of our Activities members are going to five meetings of different orgs on campus to make sure that they’re working as they should be and if they’re having problems we can address them. We also talked about doing a pre-org fair next semester since they usually get pushed aside in the regular Activities Fair. We’re also talking to Campus Activities about doing a casino night.

    Finance: All of our fund levels are on track, which is good. We’re dipping in a little more with our Discretionary Fund, but it might be because in the last few weeks we’ve had very large allocations from there. The Discretionary Fund is a little complicated because we never know how much will be in it until January because it works on a semesterly basis. But I’m predicting 99 percent of students will come back in January, so it should be about the same. The WVKR audit might even be done. If not, it’ll be done by the end of next week. We’ll also be kicking up The Misc audit this week and ViCE’s next semester. The people conducting these audits will produce a one-page document to evaluate what they do and how they’re spending money. Our capital loan system is being worked on by Maddy. We’re still working on the students’ assistants fund project. We’re trying to create a fund for students who can’t afford to participate in certain activities on campus. It’s unfair, so we’re working to redistribute our funds to fix that. We also are trying to target weekends where things aren’t going on so we can program on those weekends. Campus Activities has a much larger understanding of how programming works across the board and they’ll help us put events up. The majority of you have still not given me receipts from Halloween and I need those to transfer the money into your accounts. Please send your treasures to my office hours. Thanks for organizing that.

    7:42 p.m.//BIRT letter

    Student Life: If you checked your email on Friday, you may have noticed that Ed Pittman sent out an email summary of the bias incidents that have been reported to BIRT so far. I think this is fantastic. I still don’t think it’s enough because there’s no guarantee that an email like that will ever be sent out again. The language of tat email was written before Halloween and he asked Cappy and Roellke if he could send it out and they said they were uncomfortable with it. While the tone of the letter says, “We need something,” we still need to put pressure on the administration to create something lasting. It’s not sustainable to put this all on one administrator who has other things to do. In many ways I’m preaching to the choir, but we need to go over this if this is something we want to move forward with. BIRT as a body cannot actually do anything. Individual members can do things–Kim Squillance, Luis Inoa–but BIRT as an entity has no power. That’s something that has frustrated not just me, but the other members of the committee as well. This would be a responsible step so that we can hold administration accountable for responding for incidents of bias.

    Ops: My committee reviewed this letter and we thought it was awesome. If we have a letter, the motion on the table is to endorse or not endorse. We just need a simple majority.

    Finance: I know it’s very easy to look at it and say, “Something the VSA is doing.” But everyone should be aware of the time and stress Hannah has put into this. The final product is very good and it’s very important to her. It can be extremely difficult to work with administrators so I think she deserves a lot of credit.

    All in favor: All.

    -This motion passes-

    7:47 p.m.//VSA-ResLife Amendment

    Ops: We’re going to follow our special meeting rules that say you can only speak twice. Think carefully about what you’re going to say. At-large members will go right to the top of the speakers list. The first thing we’re looking at an amendment regarding the VSA’s relationship with Residential Life. We wrote up that house officers will abide by the rules of Residential Life in the section about house teams. We added another point under the bylaws stating that if they win they have to abide by them. If they lose they don’t have to, obviously. Luis Inoa also submitted a proposal to us that details why this is happening now. Another supplement is a document the HSA’s wrote. The last thing is the proposed agreement Luis Inoa drew up for us. Those should be all of the documents.

    Student Life: I want to give people time to read all of the documents because that might clear up any questions because any questions even happen.

    President: So we’ll take a minute to read through everything.

    Student Life: We met with the HSAs, Freshman Class Council and dorm house presidents. Rami and I met with different groups and I want to commend them all for the respect they showed in those rooms. I know this has made a lot of people feel angry and disempowered, but despite all of that we had productive conversations. The HSAs letter  is attached so you can see how they feel. They’re very pro-amendment. Next, we met with the Freshman Class Council. We’re assuming that those people will be interested in house team in the future. They, with the exception of one or two members, were for the amendment. They didn’t get to see the amendment itself, but we explained the philosophy behind it. Finally, we met with the house presidents and I want to give them a huge shout out because we asked them to speak from two perspectives: for themselves and for their house and house teams at-large. I have a huge amount of respect for those who expressed the opinions of their house that were different from their own. The consensus that came from that was that, with the exception of a few houses, everyone was in favor of the amendment. Other concerns I want to acknowledge: “Fuck ResLife, fuck this ultimatum.” This was handled very poorly and ResLife sprung this on everyone with short notice and the timeline was very strict. Having to make a decision before Thanksgiving was unfair and tying room privileges to all of this is coercive. I think this is an intentionally crafted amendment we’ve talked about a lot. I really appreciate all of you.

    Academics: I’m in agreement with what’s going on here. I was a house president last year and the largest point of stress was the whole three B’s conversation and taxed me more than many things in my life have taxed me. The current proposed contract does use gendered language, just to move on with that in mind.

    Student Life: I think we can also expect another amendment like this in the future. If we believe in treating house officers like we treat student fellows–student fellows get $200 in VCash. Some kind of shift that acknowledges what other house officers do would be good.

    SoCos: Since elections happened in the spring, I wanted to know why the expectations and responsibilities continue up until the end of the school year even though there will be new house officers in place by that time. They will be under contract after spring convocation.

    Ops: Typically house teams don’t flip over completely. But I can ask Luis Inoa about that.

    TAs: Personally speaking, I see no reason why any student leader should be…I fully support what’s being said here about house officers being expected to live to the same standards as Res Life people. That should be a given.

    Adam (at-large): Speaking as someone who was a house officer for two years, I support this. There’s no reason why house officers shouldn’t be held to the same standards. If these rules were in place my freshman year, it would have been very different. People need to be responsible with their leadership. I abided by these rules without the contract.

    Cushing: Firstly, I want to talk about the term “three Bs.” The last one is incredibly derogatory and not okay to use. I don’t like using that term and because it’s an acronym now we like using it but we shouldn’t. Secondly, I want to talk about how much stress house presidents went through. It’s not all about us, but a lot of it is. Thanks to the HSAs for being here and writing this. I know that it’s been hard for all of us, but when voting for this I want you all to think about how much this will affect house teams next year if we don’t vote for this amendment. Dividing it up won’t be nice. Please think about houses and house teams.

    President: As someone on a house team for two years, this was very much the culture in Strong. We fell in line with what this amendment specified. And I appreciated having that vibe and being able to look up to leaders. This is crucial.

    Davison: If an officer talked to a student about drug use is that a violation of the contract? Or is it only engaging in drug use? Just to use that as an example.

    Student Life: You can’t engage. You can discuss.

    Joss: House teams are a great concept for a freshman. To come in and look up to what at least seems like a group of pals getting along. The current house team structure is very beneficial to first-year students and I’d hate to see that go.

    Sophie (at-large): There is one specification. You cannot sext or engage in talk that is explicit in an interpersonal sense, I consider that a sexual relationship. Please don’t sext the freshmen.

    Student Life: What’s on the table is all three Bs, even though Luis Inoa only mentioned the first two [booze, blaze].

    Ops: If a consensual relationship does develop, that’s fine so long as it’s disclosed.

    Joss: I don’t think following these expectations is that much to ask for.

    Cushing: Anders, who is the Cushing and Noyes house adviser, named this relationship thing as “amorous relationships.” It’s a vague term and I don’t know how to approach it, but that’s what it is. Sexting falls within that.

    Hannah (at-large): We as the HSAs have been getting updated on the language of the agreement. It’s not set in stone. We would appreciate your feedback so we can pass it on to ResLife.

    2018: Section 2F–if we word it that way it almost sounds like there’s no expectation or the future. Maybe we should word that more specifically.

    2017: I think it was a little bit in bad taste for ResLife to try to do everything and not allow us to examine student fellows’ requirements. The only way they thought there could be equality between house officers and student fellows was to bring the same standards to house officers.

    Finance: I think we need to discuss what’s an appropriate expectation for a volunteer position and how they should be compensated. These are packaged as leadership roles when they’re necessary and the school would have to employ people if we didn’t run for them. Oftentimes, hiring security is expensive, so we’re going to let students volunteer for these positions. Thank you all for all that you do.

    Hannah (at-large): We’ve been talking about HSAs being the first responders for HSAs. So if something happens you would talk to your HSA and depending on severity it would go to your house adviser. ResLife is aware of student leaders not being recognized for what they do. We remind them every week. Thank you all. You’re all amazing.

    President: So since we’re seeing this for the first time we have to wait a week to vote on it.

    8:18 p.m.//Constitution amendment

    Ops: Many members of my committee met yesterday to write up some amendments to bring our constitution and bylaws inline with the current practice. We wrote the amendments by article. In article 7 we condensed everything because there were points about separating the Freshman Class Council from the other class councils. We just made it briefer. We added that a two-thirds majority is required to change bylaws. It’s been practiced but not clarified. We also clarified some of the VP positions. We added that Academics is a liaison to other offices. We struck that the VP for Activities is a liaison to the community because that was in reference to Meet Me in Poughkeepsie, which is under the Traditions Committee now. The President can now be the sole person who excuses absences, not the entire council. We edited the Finance section since they went under some changes this year.

    Finance: Why did you strike the required attendance?

    Ops: Each committee has internal attendance policy. We also eliminated some areas about disciplinary action because it exists all in one place. We fixed things about the BoEA that they should have had the power to do but were left to council. We made it so that pre-orbs can apply to other non-pre-org funds.

    Finance: We should make those funds more specific.

    Ops: We tried to make the language of the conference fund clearer, but we need to talk about it more. We added the Seven Sisters reps to the committee section.

    Jewett: The amendments that Cushing and I wrote are not here. Article 8 is all about orgs. We didn’t change it a ton, but some things about pre-orgs.

    Cushing: It said that pre-orgs couldn’t reserve spaces. But we changed it because now they can.

    Finance: Can you talk about why you detracted The Chronicle from this amendment?

    Ops: Because The Chronicle is not a news source, I believe.

    Finance: I’m curious because we added it in over the last two years because someone from The Chronicle was upset they weren’t included.

    Ops: We added some clarifying language about orgs having to renew their status after three semesters. We specified what pre-orgs can and can’t do. They can reserve spaces, they can use VCash machines. They added a point about how exceptions can be made to pre-orgs with a budget number. Each pre-org must have a contact person who’s not necessarily the president. We made it so that pre-orgs are approved via consensus, which we do. If pre-orgs incur debt, their certification may be revoked. We took out some gendered language. We changed some “mays” to “musts.” There’s no audit committee, so we took that out wherever it appeared.

    2016: Why did you take out where it says that the president of the previous freshman class should serve as a proxy until the new one is elected?

    Ops: Because that never happens and it functionally never serves a purpose. At the moment pre-orgs can only have a budget number at the discretion of Activities and Finance.

    8:31 p.m.//Open Discussion

    Jewett: We’ll be having Dormal Formal. There’ll be DJs Steak and Cake. 10 to 12 in the Rose Parlor.

    Ops: Now that the audit has officially been funded, I just wanted to give everyone an update. The student government review company is coming on December 3 and 4. He’s going to be interviewing students—at least everyone on council—but they won’t all be solo interviews. He’s also going to be interviewing various student leaders and student groups. The Misc, ViCE. We’ll be talking about that more on Tuesday. He’ll also be meeting with all of the deans and there will be a lot of interviews. We’ll be having a student forum on December 3 at 6:30 p.m. in the Villard Room. Operations Committee is spending the next three weeks on this. Thanks in advance to everyone.

    Student Life: A series of shout outs to all of the people who put in a lot of time for things that we talked about today. I expected today to be terrible, but it was fine. I appreciate you all. There’s a fantastic poetry event happening this Saturday at 8:30 in Sanders. It’s hosted by the Asian Students Alliance and Wordsmiths. There will also be a workshop that follows that you can RSVP for. If you want to befriend him, it’s going to be fantastic. There will be a cool opening act as well and that’s a surprise.

    2018: I wanted to encourage everyone to come to ergathon in the College Center. I’ll be doing in from 1 to 2 on Friday.

    -Council adjourned-

  • mariesolis 12:05 am on November 10, 2014 Permalink | Reply  

    VSA Council | November 9, 2014 

    I hope everyone had a nice weekend! We’re getting started a little late tonight, so bear with us.

    7:04 p.m.//Call to Order

    7:05 p.m.// Consensus Agenda

    a. Vassar Bikes (Capital) $892.50/$892.50
    b. Council of Black Seniors (Discretionary) $500/$1000
    c. GAAP (Conference) $1113.06/$1113.06
    d. Devils (Conference) Tabled
    e. Devils (Speakers) $360 plus extra costs for additional groups/$360
    f. Philaletheis (Speakers) $1000 minus additional contributions/$1000
    g. WVKR (Capital) $2438/$2438
    h. Strong (Collaboration) $240/$180
    i. NSO (Speakers) $3000/$3000
    j. 2018 (Discretionary) $400/$397.80
    k. Matthew’s Minstrels (A Cappella Recoding) $2000/$2000
    l. Abby Johnson for BOEA Co-chair
    m. Minutes From 10/26/14

    n. PreOrgs for approval:
    a. Vassar Model Congress
    b. The Pianists
    c. Kiva
    d. Vassar Mycology Club
    e. Crafts Not Bombs
    f. Traditional Korean Folk Music
    g. unFramed
    h. Novel Noshings
    i. Vassar World Affairs Council
    j. Vassar College Tech Conglomerate
    k. When Geisha Meets Pina
    l. UJIMA: A Groove Society
    m. Women in Science At Vassar
    n. Native American Students Alliance
    o. Our Club
    p. Brewer Investments Group
    q. Casual Improv

    Jewett: Abby Johnson is one of the 2017 reps on BoEA. She’s been on BoEA all year basically and has co-managed a lot of things Casey did this year. She gave a really great interview and she has a lot of great ideas. She’s very excited to take on the position.

    Activities: We finally finished approving pre-orgs. This is the list of the one’s we’ve approved. Some of them have stipulations. Kiva is a microloan organization where they fundraise and make money to give to in-need communities. Mycology club was approved with the stipulation that they not make beer. Crafts not Bombs was approved on the stipulation that they depoliticize their org. unFramed is an art org. Novel Noshings is a book club. College Tech Conglomerate is for the drama departments. When Geisha Meets Pina is an org within the ALANA center. The Native American Students Alliance was approved with the stipulation that they had to organize themselves in a better way than they have in the past. Our Club is for alternative programming, essentially. Things you can do on the weekends that don’t involve alcohol. Casual Improv is an improv group you don’t need to audition for.

    2017: Why was it required that Crafts Not Bombs depoliticize?

    Activities: In terms of finding people who wanted to do crafts and wanted to talk about specific topics, like drones and stuff like that, would decrease the amount of people who might want to join. We also already have a lot of political orgs on campus, so we didn’t want to make another political org as well. They wanted to just do a craft org but thought they needed to put a spin on it so people would want to join it, but people will want to do crafts.

    7:12 p.m.//Forum with Art Lidsky on Campus Strategic Planning

    Lidsky: We’re working on how much space we have and how we’re using the space. There are currently 116 legal parking spaces on this campus, in case anyone wants to know. What I wanted to do was get a sense from you all about those things that are interesting or important to you as students because you live on and interact with this campus differently than the faculty does. I’m looking for issues and concerns that should be included in this process. We are a small firm in Boston that does campus planning. We’ve worked with about 450 campuses worldwide, so we’re familiar with this scale. We’re not interested in hearing about the plumbing, or the heat. We’re looking for broad spectrum ideas about things. Is this building, for example, a good building for the center of campus. When the biology students move out of there, where should they go? We have a mixed bag on this campus, architecturally–you have a beautiful library right next to a cheap lasagna building. I think the Admissions building is in the completely wrong place. I don’t know where it should go, but it’s wrong.

    2015: I’m really concerned about student spaces. It’s really important for this plan to include a selective student space. I don’t know that that is necessarily the best spot for it–where the labs are now. We need a space that’s like the second floor of the dining hall, but something that’s more accessible. We’re concerned with having places where students can go at night without having to go to a party.

    Lidsky: ACDC is a terrible space. I’m surprised you’re using it. Should this building be the center of campus? Should the student space be here?

    2015: It wouldn’t be a bad thing. But what if you put Admissions down there and gave the Admissions building to students? We need different spaces and we need spaces that are accessible to those with disabilities. Obviously you have a broader perspective of what is possible, but we’re very interested in finding places for students.

    Lidsky: This particular building doesn’t function very well for students. Especially the bookstore being at the Juliet. But there are also administrative spaces here where they shouldn’t be.

    2015: And that’s a huge problem when we’re talking about event planning. We really only have the Villard Room and it’s next to the nicest places on campus. When we had our campus party last weekend we needed to make sure that the antique furniture didn’t get ruined.

    Maddy (Social Media Editor): I posted your question on Twitter and people responded that they wanted more accessible doors to buildings on campus.

    Davison: I was just wondering if you could elaborate on what master planning actually is? What does a master plan look like?

    Lidsky: There should be a sense of direction as to where the college wants to be over the next 15 years. It’s both physical changes and policy changes. It might be that the institution might want to change the way they’re scheduling classrooms, or it wants to think about collaborative spaces across campus. It is a 15-year time period, but none of us can think about what’s going to happen tomorrow. Campus planning is the road map for how to get there though and you change it along the way. It’s a physical map of a vision statement.

    Town Students: In Main Building in the College Center there’s the Kiosk and it’s dumb because the line blocks the door and intersects with the post office line. At busy times it’s a really hard place to walk through because it’s silly because everyone needs to walk through there.

    Main: Addressing a mid-level issue: The College Center in general isn’t very well used. The second floor is only really used for meetings that don’t happen frequently. The second floor is a dead space and the first floor is super crowded.

    Lidsky: What would you put in this building?

    Main: Maybe spread out where things are more, especially with the Kiosk and post office.

    Strong: I’ve spoken with a lot of my constituents about this and we’ve talked about how the kinds of spaces that are available in dorms are very variable when you’re talking about study rooms that have tables and chairs and a microwave or meeting spaces. And things like that can make it hard to interact with the people you live with.

    Lidsky: My understanding is that all the dorms used to have dining spaces and those spaces were changed to multipurpose and study spaces.

    2017: Noyes, where I live, is the dorm that stays open for students all summer. It has more kitchens than the others, but they are in disrepair. Over the summer when they’re the only places students can get food, things are frequently broken. That’s a space where kitchens are very important and neglected.

    Ops: I live in the South Commons and there are no paths to get there. We’re very isolated.

    South Commons: There’s a road you commonly take to get to the South Commons and there’s no light. It’s completely dark.

    Tyler Fultz (at-large): As it stands with the construction, there’s no way to get to campus except for walking along a dirt path or walking on Raymond Avenue. There’s no accessible way for someone who needs an accessible path.

    Ferry: For orgs that don’t have a specific affiliation with a center on campus, it’s harder to find good work spaces. Especially since there are some orgs that frequent the parlors, it eliminates spaces for other orgs. My group currently meets in the Jade Parlor and I know that certain groups can meet in dorms, but that fluctuates depending on where their members are living, so there’s no good center-of-campus spaces. I don’t know if there’s necessarily that much room in these buildings for that, but if there were other spaces in the area that’d be great.

    President: We have a lot of theater orgs that have a big general budget, but not spaces.

    Cushing: First, to comment on what Town Students said before: I think having a Starbucks on campus is really important, but the placement of it isn’t a good space. The line gets so long and you can’t really enter the college center. If it’s Tasty Tuesday it’s even worse. I think the space below the College Center could be used to have a cafe. There’s so much space there. The Retreat is not enough. It’s always crowded and it’s not enough.

    Lidsky: My understanding is that there’s the ACDC, the Retreat, the Kiosk and another cafe that’s on the third floor of the ACDC. Are those the only dining spaces on campus?

    All, in unison: Yes.

    Lathrop: There are no places to get food after midnight. BurgerFi is super expensive.

    2015: A lot of our late-night food is student staffed. It’s students taking time out of their days and it’s always closed during finals.

    Cushing: For off-campus places, you need to pay with your own money. You’ve already paid for a meal plan and you don’t want to spend more money. The kitchen hing: In my house the kitchen is absolutely disgusting. There’s a big mass in the oven and we don’t know what it is and we can’t scrape it off. We’ve tried. A lot of the people in my house love to cook and still go there and we try to clean it. Cushing has a lot of problems with not being clean in general, but that’s a maintenance issue. Cushing House in general is being renovated and the only thing they’re doing is painting the bathrooms. They keep painting them over and over again. It looks clean, but it’s not clean. We haven’t been renovated since we’ve been built, which is in 1927.

    Tyler: I, like Maddy, asked on Twitter if anyone had any questions. Someone wanted to know about the future locations of the multidisciplinary departments.

    Lidsky: Some people have come in and have done some thinking about that. There hasn’t been a decision about it yet. There were some very clever concepts that came out of that though.

    2015: Is it possible to put an emphasis on a technology update for this campus?

    Lidsky: Is the campus entirely wireless?

    Jewett: Yes, but bad.

    2015: The technology in the classroom varies.

    2016: For the first two months in computer science we couldn’t do labs.

    Student Life: How closely are you working with the team of people who are redesigning the College Center?

    Lidsky: As far as I know, there’s no one else doing that.

    Student: Maybe that’s under you and you haven’t heard about that.

    Lidsky: Whatever new construction happens will come out of this process, so our master plan will dictate how the College Center gets redesigned.

    Student Life: All of these concerns are super important and I would be very frustrated if they were happening in two separate, but simultaneous service. Other things: Food. Students like food and they think the food here is bad. Accessibility is another thing people are passionate and upset about. Carolina once had to help carry a man upstairs to see his daughter’s room. Another concern is a space for student bands to practice. If you’re a student band and don’t have a relationship with the music department, you don’t have a space to practice. That means a lot of people are practicing their instruments in their rooms, which leads to other problems as our walls are very thin.

    Davison: People frequently use the Davison kitchen because it’s nice and was recently renovated. So I would recommend renovation rather than gutting. Our basement is actually really nice, but there’s not a good use of the space. The only space people use is the pool table. There’s a lot of room, it’s all well lit, but no one’s really doing anything with it.

    Lidsky: When I think of other campuses I’ve seen small group collaborative spaces throughout the buildings. Fitness centers. What works on this campus?

    Davison: Honestly, I think it would be possible to put an eating option in the dorm which would change the campus dynamic as a whole.

    Lidsky: If there was a cafe down there would other people be able to access it?

    Davison: Yes. It might create a riff because my dorm would have all of the facilities.

    Lidsky: Are all of the dorms elevator accessible?

    All: No.

    Student Life: The basements in most of the dorms are really scary, but if they weren’t scary they would be amazing spaces.

    Lidsky: Let’s talk about scary. Are there any places you’re scared walking through?

    Bethan (Contributing editor): The South Commons, also the TA path. There’s also a section where you have to walk either on the street or in the forest. I know personally that there are people who have hid in those bushes to scare people. There are blue lights if you get across the bridge and up the hill, but it’s not near where there are no lights.

    Raymond: There’s been talk about changing the computer clusters. Every dorm has a little room with one computer and a printer and they talked about killing all of the computers and moving the printer to the MPR. But I need to stress that there are students who don’t have access to personal laptops or if something happens to your laptop, it’s really important to have that communal computer.

    2017: Dorm basements are badly lit. Getting back to the College Center: The thing that everyone’s getting at is, not counting the res areas of Main, there’s no part of the building where you can be comfortable and be in a group. There are rooms like this that are great spaces that are always locked if there’s no event happening. There’s the Retreat, but you almost feel guilty taking a table if you’re not eating. The only place where you can find a couch with a friend is the Rose Parlor, which is antique furniture. It’s dimly lit, you feel a little too regal. There’s some other furniture shoved into the second floor, but I’ve never used them because it feels weird to be sitting in a dark corner in a hallway.

    President: If anyone has any other questions, email [email protected]

    Lidsky: I’ll be back in February as well with updates.

    7:46 p.m.//Forum with CIE, George Beyer and Susie Martinez

    Martinez: I’m Susie, one of the CIE reps. It stands for the Committee for Inclusion and Excellence.

    Beyer: It started on the 10th of October, so we’ve gotten a late start. We’ve only had two meetings. The first one wasn’t super productive, but we were figuring out what shape it will take and what our goals are. It’s not an official committee and it doesn’t have substantitive power, but we can make recommendations. So we talked about how we should move forward and if we should. Last year the recommendations weren’t taken and moved forward with. So it’s an important thing to keep in mind that when you hear about CIE we only have the ability to make recommendations.

    Martinez: We had our second meeting last week and we talked about some of the recommendations we made in the annual report we gave Cappy. One of them was about the Transitions Program and legitimizing it within the College and making sure it gets the proper funding. It’s in its fifth year and the first cohort has already graduated. This subcommittee is working on supporting the pre-orientation program and highlighting what Transitions has contributed to the Vassar community in analyzing data about current Transitions students. One of the goals of this subcommittee is thinking about how students will be transitioning out of Vassar because being a low-income first-generation college student presents some obstacles. We made the recommendation to have faculty members attend workshops over the summer to talk about how to better address issues of race, class and gender in the classroom. We’re assessing the needs of faculty and making this training seem more appealing, specifically looking in-depth at inclusion. Some faculty members on CIE said that it felt awkward not to have the language to meet a student halfway, whether it be an advisee or just a student. So they’re also looking at the pre-major advising process and considering additional features to what the summer workshop would look like. The third subcommittee is for financial aid and transfer students. We’re talking about how to include transfer students in the community. The rate of transfer students, especially from community colleges is about 11 or 12 a year. Not all of them are able to attend the new student orientation that happens. That involves us looking at how financial aid is distributed, what kind of programming transfer students need to adjust to Vassar life, especially if they’re a junior coming in and only has two years left on campus. A lot of that is about gathering data of current transfer students and highlighting the important of Vassar’s need-blind policy. These subcommittees were pre-existing so they carried over from last year. The final subcommittee is the gender and sexuality subcommittee and its purpose is to work on talking about these things on campus and connecting with the centers on campus–the campus life center, the LGBTQ center–and considering different strategies to addressing these issues.

    Beyer: CIE is a committee of roughly 20 people. So it’s a lot of people who can’t meet regularly, so it’s not feasible to talk about all of these things on a biweekly basis. The work gets divvied up into subcommittees. This year we’re looking at three more subcommittee. They’re unnamed, but they have loose named. The first one would be an assessment of the mission statement subcommittee. Four years ago there was a diversity mission statement. Three years ago it was combined with the original mission statement and within the last two years it has vanished. It’s not clear what happened to this statement and we’re looking at what led to this being omitted. We’re also looking at, if you Google diversity at Vassar you’ll get a lot of statements from Admissions which doesn’t tell you that much really. A second subcommittee would be the international students subcommittee. We have a new director of admissions this year and he wants to look at how international students are adjusting to Vassar. They want to look at the amount of students from Asian countries, their English proficiency. Some professors have concerns that their language skills aren’t what they say in their booklet. It’s questionable, but that’s what professors are saying. The last one–in the past five years there has been an expansion in the diversity of Vassar. It’s gotten significantly more diverse than it was five years ago so they want to see what the experience has been. They want to see how much good diversity has done for the College.

    2017: I was wondering roughly how many administrators vs. faculty vs. students are on CIE.

    Beyer: It’s hard to say because there hasn’t been any one meeting. There are at least three students. There’s a lot of faculty.

    President: You mentioned thinking about diversity: The more important question is not about what diversity is doing for the College, but how we’re supporting those students. Do you know if the committee is looking at those issues too?

    Beyer: I believe it is. They go hand-in-hand. I can ask for more specifics.

    President: And I want to make sure we’re not just tooting our own horn, but that we’re actually doing something.

    Martinez: There is a little bit of overlap in terms of who’s sitting on them and what they’re trying to address.

    Ops: Since CIE just makes recommendations, what’s the relationship with the Committee on College Life?

    Beyer: They make recommendations straight to Dean Chenette and Cappy.

    8:00 p.m.//Forum with CAT

    Beyer: It’s Computer and Academic Technologies. CAT has been pretty productive. We met pretty early in September. Traditionally CAT would only meet in November to address grant apps. Every year we have about $10,000 to distribute to faculty for introducing tech into the classrooms. Some professors have interactive pictures of cathedrals where you can zoom in and have panorama views and things like that. A lot of things get brought in as a trial, so we’re entering that part of the year. One app that spawned from CAT was an app wherein a professor wants to review papers from a number of different classes and address the degree to which plagiarism is a problem on campus. Many professors have complained that we don’t have a system to check for this. My understanding is that those services aren’t widely used at our peer institutions. Another big thing that’s being addressed is this notion of distracted learning. It’s the notion that surrounding ourselves with technology has distracted ourselves and hindered us from learning a text. Some professors are disappointed with the frequency of computer use in the classrooms. A lot of professors are wondering whether it’s a good thing to ban laptops in the classroom. There will be an entire weekend where we’ll have a conference to discuss this issue.

    Town Students: With computers in the classroom–are you looking at it as a campus-wide issue? It seems to me that it’s so different professor-to-professor, course-to-course. It has been for me that every professor has their own policy and that’s legitimate.

    Beyer: The overwhelming opinion was that there shouldn’t be a campus-wide policy. It just depends so much on the context of the class. I wouldn’t expect a campus-wide ban.

    8:06 p.m.//Forum with Food Committee

    Food committee rep: I talked to Sarah King who was the committee chair last year. We started a WordPress blog students can contribute to. We also have bi-weekly Food Committee emails. My personal goals are working on the worker-student dynamic. A lot of students feel like they don’t know who’s making their food. We’re trying to break down that wall. I interviewed one staff member, TC, to get to know him better. You can read about him. We’re also trying to implement the idea of kitchen tours. We’re trying to get more people to take them, but there’s not a lot of interest. Those are happening. You can contact me, I get eight to 10 students together and you can take a kitchen tour of 30 minutes. This week or some time next week there will be a monitor that shows a plate with all the food groups to give students an idea of how much of it should be taken up with protein, a vegetable, a starch and things like that. The last thing is sustainability: We’re looking at UpC and getting compostable cups. We also implemented stirfry station demonstrations. Every Tuesday there will be a chef there making a stirfry and will give you a recipe card. A lot of my friends still don’t know how to utilize that station. We’re also trying to get something in the freshman orientation about food. There are people contacting us now still saying that they have allergies and can’t eat anything in the ACDC. It’s hard because the orientation week is always so set and packed that there’s no room for a food-related event.

    Student Life: Has there been any conversations about better labeled food?

    FC rep: Yes. We’ve talked to Aramark and that’s a big issue we’ve talked at at every meeting. It’s not something the College can control, it’s the company, but we’re working to address that.

    Jewett: I think the stirfry demonstrations are a very good idea, but there’s already a long line during dinner time. Have you talked about getting more stations or something?

    FC rep: We’ve talked about getting more utensils and more ingredients. But if you want to expand it, I can bring that up.

    Activities: There used to be a website that would have the menu for the night.

    FC rep: We’re working on that. It’s still under construction and the company is working on updating that. But we’re addressing it.

    Main: Has there been any discussion with admin about Aramark?

    FC rep: We don’t have a lot of say in the contracts. We do get a little leeway with locally sourced foods. But the prices and stuff aren’t something we can control. We’re also talking about different PR campaigns for the Deece.

    Lathrop: Have you been talking about composting at all?

    FC rep: In the past, ACDC has composted everything. The little butter packets they have aren’t compostable and they get thrown in with the compost which contaminates it and then the entire thing gets thrown out. It’s hard to get people put all of their things in the right bin. It’s a PR thing at this point.

    Lathrop: Can you talk a little more about people taking our compost?

    FC rep: I don’t know that much. But there are people on the Sustainability Committee who can answer your questions.

    2016: A couple years ago they did expand the stirfry station. I was wondering why they took that away.

    FC rep: I didn’t know about that, but I’ll talk to Laura about if we can go back to that.

    2016: For the butter thing, maybe you could just have a chunk of butter instead of individual packets.

    8:17 p.m.// Exec reports

    Ops: This Saturday, we’re having the constitution-thon in which we’ll be gathering in the VSA office for several hours to update the constitution. We need it to be up-to-date because the external review is happening. Chris Roellke is paying for half of it and I’m submitting a fund app to Finance this week for the other half. This reviewer would be coming on the 3rd and 4th. He’s going to interview some people, but there’s flexibility on what we want him to do. I’m getting ready to think about Tasty Tuesday for next semester because a lot of vendors have reached out to me.

    Bethan (contributing editor): What has facilitated the change from “audit” to “external review?”

    Ops: The audit usually makes it sound like they’re looking at money, whereas when departments do this it’s called an external review. There’s no real difference.

    Student Life: There were 11 calls and four hospitalizations on Halloween, which is the same as last year. But there were no dorm damages. We want to do a survey about interpersonal violence, stalking and sexual assault. But we don’t want it to take an hour because that would be really terrible. Rebecca has been going full force with our food subcommittee. We’ve talked about laptops for students on financial aid. There are no written rules and Financial Aid doesn’t know what we’re talking about. BIRT, assuming they finished the letter, there will be a letter submitted to the VSA because they have been trying to create a system for people to see how many people are reporting. It would be a database–we just need a login system where we can see how many instances of sexual assault have been reported, but it’s been stalled at every turn. In the past, there has been an initiative for VSA to be a work study position to make it accessible. I’m talking about Chris Roellke about it. He said [paraphrased], “It seems to us that the VSA wants to compensate these positions for the accessibility reasons you mentioned…However, it would not be appropriate for the College to fund this. If the VSA wants to fund that within, that’s fine.” This wasn’t what we’re asking for. We want it to be a work study position.

    Ops: Point of clarification: As Hannah said, there would be a lot more things in writing with regards to the HSA and Res Life situation. Because of the timeline we need to have a doc in council next Sunday and we’ll be talking more about this. As I mentioned, we went to Wellesley this weekend for the Seven Sisters Conference. We talked about what the coalition is and how to improve it. A lot of the schools just want to be in communication with each other, because we work on a lot of the same issue. We’re going to go through the break-out sessions.

    Ferry: I went to the finance break out session. We have approximately $250,000 more than the next sister school for activities. We seem to be functioning better than every one of them. Smith stopped giving orgs budgets because people weren’t asking for it. People were fascinated with how we’re doing it.

    Lathrop: The interesting thing between us and the other Seven Sisters is that we have designated senior housing. A lot of their seniors just live in dorms.

    Davison: We had to explain that our dorms are mostly filled with freshmen and sophomores with a smattering of juniors. That was very different from all other schools. I think they have a lot of different residence halls. We talked about where the centers of campus are in relation to nightlife.

    Lathrop: We talked to people who held positions comparable to house presidents and they have systems similar to house teams.

    Jewett: Something that was a frustration to me during the conference was that there was a lot of comparing structures versus analyzing them. We didn’t really get a chance to do that because of all the background discussion.

    Strong: Raymond and I ended up staying in  room with the Wellesley girls which gave us a different experience on the first night. She was a house president in her house. While that position was extremely different, it was interesting to hear that most of their house teams don’t get nearly as much money as we do or put on as much programming. We’ve been talking about the issues we’re facing with the three Bs. For some institutions it was a given because they aren’t elected by their student bodies but appointed by student life.

    Raymond: They also don’t have a relationship with their student government body. They have a council like BHP, but they just have one head that represents them in the student government.

    Cushing: Not being elected was just for Wellesley, but another thing was that other houses needed to have fundraisers to have programming of any kind.

    2018: I didn’t get much out of the conference, but I did realize that our programming is much better than other schools. People have to budget very carefully for their orgs or just don’t have enough money. Or for events, people don’t just show up to most of them. Most of our events get pretty good attendance I feel.

    2017: I went to the student rep group. It was largely a prelude to the actual Seven Sisters meeting which happened an hour later. We started off the discussion with talking about how to represent our schools and how to work together. The conversation quickly turned to forms of social justice and working with schools. We talked about how we’re moving in the same direction, but with different strategies. So we talked about how we can advocate for policy changes collaboratively. Some Seven Sisters have gone SAT/ACT optional, so we felt like there should be more communication between institutions. We talked about how to move past community discussions that are optional in attendance, like for bias incidents. Smith has formed a committee with students and admins that meet once a week to try to move past those issues. They brought in an anthropologist to put together a report about how race and gender and sexuality affects the atmosphere. They also talked about more diversity training for faculty and staff. We then went on to talk about a social justice requirement. Everyone seemed very in favor of making some sort of roughly uniform requirement across the Seven Sisters institutions. There was also a discussion about how to be trans-inclusive in admissions  policies. I don’t know exactly what stage Bryn Mawr and Mount Holyoke are at with that, but there’s something in writing that something’s going to happen.

    Ops: I went to the president and vice president’s group. I got to talk to the other student body presidents at their schools. What I talked about with them was tangible things we do that work well. Wellesley has a fund-a-thon thing to fund small projects that’ll produce something tangible. It’s kind of like a fund auction. In general, people were fascinated by our structure. They loved that we have five VPs. They all had a president, vice president, secretary, treasurer structure. I’m essentially a vice president and a secretary. I have a few ideas, but I’m going to email them and follow up.

    Strong: A small point: While I found the experience valuable, I also wonder if it would not be valuable to find another resource in which we’re interacting with schools that are also co-ed.

    Joss: I wonder if 2017 could expand on a forum they were in about trans students.

    2017: Recently Mount Holyoke and Mills changed their policies and began admitting trans women. There’s a lot of discussion and there are several levels they have to work through for a trans-women-inclusive admissions system. The first of which is to identify what exactly it is they’re pushing for. Mills’ policy is that trans gender women can apply. Trans men–I’m not sure if they can apply or if it is that if they identify as male after attending they can stay. Female-designated at birth non-binary people can attend. The discussion seemed limited because they were having this conversation without the voices of trans women. The students are having a hard time agreeing what exactly they want to see happen. The next level is convincing the administration and the board of trustees. It’s a conversation that is extremely unlikely to go well, so there’s a lot of work to do there. What needs to happen is forums with trans women and not just the people who have been admitted to the College because that’s exclusionary of crucial voices.

    Ops: We talked about the Seven Sisters coalition and if we belong there. We’re not having some of these problems because we’re coed. While there are issues that we have mutual interest in, but I’m not sure if we belong there. I’m not sure if our presence at the conference diminished conversations about empowering women.

    8:47 p.m.//Open Discussion

    Academics: I just ordered a lot of La Cabanita for our peer advising dinner in UpC. Tomorrow is also the submission deadline for the fall preview of the newsletter. All submissions to [email protected]. The multidisciplinary programs are underrepresented in peer advising. Right now we have roughly high 20s, low 30s of programs represented. It’s the majority. More than last year.

    8:49 p.m.//Council adjourned.


  • mariesolis 12:04 am on November 3, 2014 Permalink | Reply  

    VSA Council | November 1, 2014 

    We hope everyone had a happy and healthy Halloween! Let’s get started.

    7:03 p.m.//Call to Order and Attendance
    All present.

    7:04 p.m.// Consensus Agenda
    a. SJP (Collaboration) $400/$393.75
    b. Vassar Chess Club (Capital) $199.75/$199.75
    c. LiNK (Speakers) $200 less contributions from other orgs/$200/
    d. Hip Hop 101 (Budget Approval) Approved
    e. QCVC (Collaboration) $900/$1000
    f. VISA (Collaboration) $417/$592
    g. Act Out (Conference) Tabled
    h. Hype (Discretionary) $500.64/$500.64
    i. Minutes From 10/26/14

    Finance: The first was an SJP fund app–they’ve requested $393.75, but we gave them $400 because that made more sense to us. Vassar Chess Club needed chess boards and chess pieces. LiNK needs a speaker and has reached out to different organizations for collaboration. Presumably they’ll get funding from other sources. Hip Hop 101 submitted a budget for Four Pillars. Whenever you want to have an event with a budget of more than $1000, you have to submit a fund app to Finance, so they did that. The VISA collab is with the outing club to take international students and their families on a hike. Hype needed to buy clothing for a performance they’re putting on. The QCVC app was for a music performance.

    -All consent to the consensus agenda-

    7:08 p.m.//Exec reports

    Academics: Academics is hosting an event! Every year since last year Academics has a peer advising dinner during pre-registration so that first and second-year students can talk to upperclassmen about majors and classes. It will be Monday, Nov. 10 at 6:30 p.m. in UpC. If you’re a peer adviser, I’ll be emailing you soon. If you want to be one, reach out to me. At the beginning of the year I mentioned that one of Academics’ goals this year is to think about how much information we give students about courses. Right now we just have the one paragraph: In order to allay that we’re creating a syllabus archive. We’re also working with a student outside of Academics, which is exciting. Students and professors can submit all of their past syllabi and we’ll put them online. Lastly, the newsletter: We’ve decided to make it a year-long affair. We’re going to have a preview come out in the fall and it will be much more rough around the edges. We’re going to try to get a lot more submissions for the print. Also as a reminder: If you want to be in the fall preview, please submit your things to me by Nov. 10.

    President: Not much has been happening in my realm, but there is stuff. I met with the trustees a few weeks ago which was fun. Meryl Streep has resigned as a trustee. She had too many movies to come for another year, which was sad. In more important news, they’re looking a lot at Vassar postgrad and looking at how to enhance CDO options and mentorship and how to support our graduates. They’re also really excited about the disciplinary arts thing. They bought a trailer to do dance performances and art and maybe graffiti. But that’ll be exciting. They’re also talking a lot about financial aid and the story in the New York Times about Vassar being accessible. We also talked about how to make Vassar accessible once the students are here, because Vassar is great at getting students to campus, but not so great at supporting them while they’re here. Next up, Cappy’s fund for dialogues on campus–it’s not being heavily used right now. I’m going to send out another email about it in a few days, but if you or someone you know have ideas, you should submit them. Another big thing in the admin circle is the conversation around campus planning. Someone will be coming to council next week who’s looking at campus master planning. He’ll be looking at grounds and buildings as well as how to use resources and space more effectively. The Seven Sisters Conference is next weekend. Ramy is going and a few other people will be going with him.

    7:13 p.m.//BoEA

    Ops: For Safety and Security council we interviewed six candidates. We ended up deciding on Anveshi Guha and Abi Kohn. They organized the forum that happened last year with Don Marsala and Cappy and all of them. That’s the whole reason this council now exists, so that was a strong reason why we nominated them. It’s a six-member council. The chair is Julian Williams and there are three other faculty and admin and two student reps. The other student we chose is Abi Kohn. She’s a sophomore and she had a lot of great ideas for creating dialogue among students, faculty and admin. For 2016 VP we nominate Kathryn Marshall. She had a thorough resume and gave a great interview. She has a lot of experience for the position.

    2015: Why wasn’t Brian chosen for the position?

    Ops: He didn’t really understand what the function of this committee was going to be. We asked all of them about racial profiling specifically and he didn’t have a lot of ideas about it and didn’t understand how it interacted with the aim of this committee. Not to single him out though–this was a problem with other candidates as well.

    President: Does anyone object to this consensus agenda?

    -This consensus agenda passes-

    7:18 p.m.//Open Discussion

    Finance: I have two announcements: First is that Noah Meyer, who is a ’96 Vassar grad, is coming to campus this Tuesday to give a talk about her career. It’s sponsored by PoliSci, Econ, CDO and some others I’m forgetting. She is a director at Goldman Sachs and she runs one of their programs called 10,000 women and it’s the largest program in the world working toward empowering women. It gives women capital to start their own businesses. She’s probably one of the most prominent Vassar grads alive right now. It’s also cooperated by the Clinton Foundation. You should tell all of your friends and constituents to come. It’s in Rocky 200, Tuesday at 6 p.m. Another announcement I have is that I’m concerned by the state of security on campus. Mostly because people don’t understand their role. I think it’s an issue that we have Security posted outside people’s room rather than patrolling. From what I’ve heard from people’s confrontations with Security, it’s concerning. I think the student body should be informed about what their rights are and what Security is allowed to do: Whether Security is allowed to come into your room unannounced, things like that.

    At-large: As an addendum, students can actually request Security guards to be posted outside of their rooms if they feel unsafe. I’m not sure if that’s what you’re referring to.

    Finance: For some context, there was a security guard posted outside my room, unsolicited. I wasn’t under the impression they were allowed to do it.

    Main: Two quick shout outs: One to Zoey and the senior class. Shout out to Security and B&G. We had zero damage to Main House.

    Ops: I just wanted to say that anyone who’s going to the Seven Sister Conference should please stay a few minutes after council.

    Student Life: Once again, thanks to 2015 and Senior Class Council for the event. As you notice, there’s a large stack of posters in front of me. Unfortunately, Julian Williams’ name is spelled wrong on the old posters. These are new ones that have his name spelled correctly. If you would like to, and I hope you would all like to, please replace the wrong ones. His name is spelled Julian William on the old one, but all of the other information is the same. This is what Student Life committee has been up to more or less.

    Cushing: Thank you for the great posters. Two things: One, Cushing is having an event on December 5. It’s going to be an open art space. Any art submissions are welcome. Please tell your people to submit art to anyone on Cushing House Team. We want to get them going so that we can have as much art as possible. The second thing: Two of my student fellows are really concerned about how there weren’t enough EMS members on Halloween. They tried calling EMS and it took them a long time to get there. One of the fellowees they were taking care of didn’t want the whole EMS thing and the whole crew, so one of the student fellows went to the CRC desk and asked if there was any one EMS member who could take care of the student. They couldn’t find anyone so they sent one security guard and the student pretended he was fine so the security guard left.

    Student Life: That being said, I think we owe EMS a huge thank you. These are our peers and they sacrifice their time, energy, weekends and night time keeping us safe. I understand why there aren’t lines of people trying to join EMS.

    At-large: Do any of you have stats for how many EMS calls happened during Halloween?

    2015: I don’t have the stats, but it was a normal EMS night.

    Finance: To respond to what Essie and Hannah said: Yes, it’s a volunteer student org. But it’s a necessary service and if there weren’t these students doing this, it would be a service the College would have to fulfill. It seems like the school is really dropping the ball on this. If there’s one weekend a year a student has to wait 20 minutes to be responded to, it’s something we have to address. It’s an extremely dangerous situation. Even if the student’s life wasn’t in danger, that’s an extremely scary situation for everyone to go through.

    Ferry: From what I heard, they tried a completely new system. So if it wasn’t working out, they want that feedback.

    2017: I know that during Ops Kelly  indicated they would want a response to the question of contacts for house officers.

    Student Life: It’s looking like a mix of student fellows and house officers. It’s looking like the logical next step is reaching out to house team members beyond BHP. I also like the idea of asking previous members of house team or attempting a delay so that we can get feedback once people have been on house team for a full year. The opinions of someone in late October, early November are very different from those who have been on house team for a whole year.

    Ops: In terms of the delay, I’m personally in favor of reaching out to Res Life and asking them for time so we can actually discuss this.

    Student Life: There was more or less an ultimatum that came out of student concerns that was brought to Res Life. They told VSA that either house office positions wouldn’t get any contracts but would not have room privileges, or house officers would be intentionally scattered and they would sign a contract about the three Bs. This came out of members on house team who were frustrated with house teams and the same conversations that happen every year.

    Finance: Were we involved in how these choices were formulated?

    Student Life: Individual student fellows were complaining to house advisers. While the ultimatum was informed by our conversation, a lot of the push behind this is coming from the house adviser side. Mainly it’s a lot of student fellow disappointment. I think Res Life would be receptive to us asking to push the ultimatum off for another year. But the concept that house teams didn’t exist nine years ago–Res Life is still trying to see if house teams work. We’ve had conversations about the contracts in Ops and Student Life.

    Ops: The way that Res Life is framing this is as not a contract, but a set of expectations. Res Life would be enforcing them, but there’s no punishment for violating them.

    Finance: Would Res Life have the authority to unseat members?

    At-large (Chris Brown): Speaking as an HSA–we’ve been talking about this a lot. I’m not the best person to answer some of these questions, but it wouldn’t be a contract but a set of behavioral agreements. They wouldn’t have any authority to fire. Right now there are no job expectations. In this new proposal that’s hovering, Res Life wouldn’t have the authority to say, ‘You broke the three Bs, you’re fired.’ It’s supposed to be more of an educational experience, whereas right now there’s a lot of dissonance among student fellows and house officers.

    Student Life: Would this mean that Res Life could fire people who are VSA officers? I’m envisioning a way that that’s not the case. I don’t know that the penalties would have to be as harsh, but I think the idea behind a set of expectations is that it would stop a sharp divide that happens within the house team structure and make it more emotionally healthy experience for everyone involved.

    Finance: All of this is a little vague and it doesn’t make me feel comfortable voting on it any time soon. I think the only situation in which a member of house team should be unseated is under the College’s judiciary board. That is, that there was a violation of the College’s expectations. We don’t have rules for other orgs. I don’t think it’s a special case for house teams, but it makes me uncomfortable that Res Life would have the authority to fire someone.

    At-large (Chris Brown): I think they would definitely be receptive to that idea. I really understand the concerns. Right now there’s a lot of in-the-norm stuff that House Fellows do. As members of house team, they don’t need to help with the programming side and it’s just put in their contract in very vague terms that they should support house team. It’s kind of a norm that student fellows help and are on committees even though they might not be contractually obligated to.

    Student Life: We’re not trying to take a vote right now. We’re saying that this is an issue that was brought to Student Life and Ops. No consensus was reached. We’re going to speak more with Res Life and reach out to house teams. The only thing we’re considering is to push back the decision. BHP–your opinion of house team in October is very different from your opinion of it in May. If we have this system that is burning people out and makes them not like this place, then we need to see how it’s working and if there are ways we can make it work better. There’s no huge decision right now, but there will be an intentional analysis of a system that involved many of our students. We’re going to reach out to those students.

    Activities: On a completely different note, I got a lot of feedback about the events on Halloweekend. A lot of them really enjoyed the programming. Great job to anyone who had events this weekend and keeping your constituents safe. Thank you for coming to the carnival! Take a cupcake if there are any left.

    -Council adjourned-

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