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-