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  • Palak 11:59 pm on February 22, 2015 Permalink | Reply  

    VSA Council 2.22.2015 

    Hello everybody! We are about to get started with this week’s VSA meeting!

    7:02//Call to Order and Attendance

    Absent: none

    7:04//Consensus Agenda

    1. Hype (Collaboration) $1000/$1000
    2. Improv (Collaboration) $0/$500
    3. GAAP (Conference) $500/$3150
    4. Forum For Political Philosophy (Speakers) $700/$950
    5. ASA (Capital) $234.92/$234.92
    6. Minutes From 2/15/15

    Finance: Hype came in and they want to collab so we are covering it. Improv came in and we didn’t give them any money because this event was already funded by the VSA with a different org last semester. WVKR applied for a conference fund because they want to send people to SXSW, that was dubious so we didn’t give them money. ASA bought more kitchen stuff, which they keep telling me is critical, but I have a secret assumption that they are just building a kitchen. PUNX didn’t come in. GAAP wanted to bring in Dark Matter, they came last fall. QCVC brought in this speaker last year.

    Main: VC Soundsystem?

    Finance: They submitted a fund app that didn’t mean anything. We asked them to resubmit the fund app for next week. It’s important that we have good fund apps.

    Joss: Is the forum for political philosophy a pre-org?

    Activities: Yes.

    Finance: We decided to allow pre-orgs to apply for collab and speaker funds. We just want to make sure that we have as many voices as possible.

    Consensus agenda passes.

    7:11//Forum With The CDO

    Stacey Bingham: I’m the director of the CDO. I’ve been here since 2003 and I was appointed as the director in spring 2013. I served as interim director for two years prior to that. What I thought I would do this evening was give you a state of the union of the office and our future plans. One of our big effort areas centers around the notion of student engagement and giving students the opportunity to get involved with the office earlier on. We’ve ramped up our Vassar-specific programming. We have candy. We’ve been pretty successful with getting first year students through the door. Last year we debuted senior week at the CDO. It’s happening again next week. We are really proud of being able to launch a pretty large event for sophomores. It was a collaborative event. We had a lot of people involved over the course of those three days. They were able to have career conversations with mentor experts and gave them workshops. We had an overwhelmingly positive response. Alumni Affairs is just as excited. This represents the type of programming we want to have. We want something for all class years. Next week, we are having Senior Week at the CDO. I have schedules for everyone! It’s essentially six days of concentrated programming to help Seniors and find out where they are. Obviously things have been happening for seniors in the CDO and all year long. You reach a point though where the reality of graduation is looming and we want to help. We will have daily drop-in times. We will also have free professional LinkedIn headshots for all students. Some of the workshops are more practical for career stuff, like how to budget, find an apartment in New York, etc. There’s some good stuff happening. It all culminates with five alumni coming to campus for a panel. It should be good. Last year we engaged almost a third of the senior class, so we hope to see many of you there. It’s also open for students of all class years. Next up for us is to figure out Juniors and their signature programming. We also want to make the best use of our alums. We have been partnering closely with the Office of Alumnae/i Affairs. Funding is really critical. The CDO administers about $150,000-$200,000 in internship grants every year. Over the past six or seven years we have gone from having no money to having a fair amount of money. We are always struggling to have enough money for everyone. I would very much like to see Vassar adopt the Smith model, which is to promise one funded summer to every student over the course of their four years. In addition to that funding, other high priority funds that I see the CDO needing is a discretionary fund for interview attire, travel to interviews and support for graduate school requirements. I feel hopeful that we can get alumnae/i donors for these things. Other priorities are finding ways to increase engagement with faculty. Ben Lotto is eager to help us bridge this gap. For the past years the Film Dept and the CDO have collab’d. In terms of staffing, like many here at Vassar we want to see more support. The post-bac fellow position will be hired again this spring. I wanted to end with student engagement. We want to help students with their events.

    Strong: I’ve had a lot of different people ask me why the internship grant fund ends so early.

    Bingham: The internship grant fund closes when the funds are depleted. We’ve tried a lot of different ways. It becomes increasingly difficult to keep in contact with everyone who applies for the funds. We know that this is tricky because you find out about different internships at different times. We don’t start reviewing the files until mid-March. From there, it is a two-three week waiting period. It’s not that the application closes early, it’s just how the system works right now.

    Academics: You talked about collaboration. I was wondering if you could speak about your office’s work with the Fieldwork office.

    Bingham: I’ll start with the office of fellowships and pre-health advising. We are both a part of the Dean of Studies cluster of offices. There have been discussions about where fieldwork fits into Vassar academics. Eventually, we will come to a place where there is greater transparency between the offices. Many related offices can be co-located, in the future. It would be easier for students to physically navigate the space. I was able to participate in the search for the interim director of fieldwork, and I think that was a good step to help this.

    Maddy: Can graduating seniors apply to the IGF?

    Bingham: Historically it was underclassmen only fund, but one of the stipulations of student gift was that seniors be allowed to apply, so that money is still there for them.

    Ops: I have a question and a comment. I attended a grad school meet here and I want to know how that works. As a junior, I’ve found that Vassar doesn’t have a grad-school going culture, but it’s not really a thing. I’m thinking about going straight to grad school and it’s hard to know.

    StuLife: To add to that, I would love to see study groups around campus. I’m not sure if that would be in your office or outside of it.

    Bingham: Currently that’s not really what we have. It’s a good idea. It’s tough. It’s probably a good idea for faculty advising as well. Of course we handle pre-law and pre-med  stuff, but there are a lot of potential ways we can do this. The question about how grad schools contact us, it does tend to be reactive rather than proactive, and that’s due to our staff size. They get a hold of us. A better model is when alums come back and speak here. Given the luxury of additional resources, that would be the model I want to follow. I will say anecdotally, in my time it seems like the number of students who go directly to grad school is shrinking. We just finished a data collection from the class of 2014 and we can see that there. We know what 85% of the class of 2014 is doing. We’ve been guesstimating the number alums who go on later to go to grad school. But through the student data clearing house, we can have a better idea of those numbers.

    Pres: What is the relationship between your office and the prehealth/fellowships office?

    Bingham: The connection is that we are both talking to students about life beyond Vassar. Some of the opportunities that are administered out of our office are beginning to look like fellowships. We are working on an advising model. We do a lot of referring back and forth.

    Pres: How long is the CDO a resource? In like 30 years, can I still use the CDO?

    Bingham: Absolutely. We work with students who have graduated. About 15% of the people we work with are alums. It tends to be alums who are five years out or less. We work closely with them through skype and phone conversations.

    StuLife: If any programming exists currently or how to use skills that are profitable for non-profits, like grant-writing.

    Bingham: I think there are a lot of opportunities out there for skills based learning. I hear grant writing and excel training. Somebody who was the RSL fellow years ago worked with somebody in the library to bring in a speaker about grant-writing. Or our own in-house grant writers.

    Pres: I know one thing that has been a big focus is on-campus recruiting. Why do we have a lower percentage?

    Bingham: A couple of reasons. On-campus recruiting is when employers come here to conduct interviews. In many ways, liberal arts institutions have struggled with this and Vassar is in the middle. The landscapes have changed. Recruiting budgets have been cut, so they can no longer come here. We have seen an increase in skype and online interviews. On-campus recruiting has definitely been a priority. I want to see an overhaul there and I want to use the alumnae/i network. Places like investment banks. They aren’t places that would come here, but they would send alum interviewers. We have some great relationships but I want to see it grow and do more. Vassar is a member of the selective liberal arts consortium. With the notion that it is sometimes harder to attract people to campus, we will always do a group-based system. Vassar always tops the list.

    TAs: Along similar lines, in terms of grad school fairs. Is the college fair that similar to career fairs?

    Bingham: We actually used to host a large-scale school fair. We had about 70 to 80 schools come here. It’s a lot of time and effort to put on that fair. We found that students did not come. They were paying a fee to come in and meet with students. They would complain that the only schools getting traffic were the law schools. We’ve tried it. Depending on student feedback, if that’s something students would be interested in we can bring it back. But it wasn’t worth it back then.

    7:45//Constituent Concerns

    Main: Card swipes on campus are not working. Because the door was propped open, people who were attending the NSO convention were being very loud in our space.

    2017: When everyone came back from break, in Noyes we had a bunch of signs showing people who were in and out of Noyes who were taking stuff and harassing students. It’s very serious. Second, I had heard from many people inside my constiuency relating to recent events. There needs to be conversations about what House Team can do for students who feel unsafe in their homes.

    SoCos: SoCos can’t get into the laundry room.

    Strong: Related to 2017 and Main, Strong has had concerns recently with the individuals that 2017 is speaking of. It’s thought to be the same individuals. They have been harassing women.

    Pres: Does anyone know if Security is doing anything more with this? I can reach out to them.

    Cushing: We are having a lot of problems in Cushing. Recently with the bathrooms. We are trying to figure out how to handle this. We don’t have toilet paper, the showers don’t work, the drains don’t work. My house advisor says we should send 60 emails to him to get help. I don’t know how to go on with this. Advice?

    Tyler: If there’s anything immediate, B&G has a direct hotline. If that’s something people experience, that’s usually the best line. If it’s a problem beyond that. I don’t know.

    Finance: I live in Main. There is always a period of time where we don’t have hot water. What I’ve done in the past is sent an email to Luis Inoa and then fill out a service request and then I email them once a week until it is fixed. These are standard services.

    Town Students: Someone came up to me at 4 in the morning. He said he didn’t realize how expensive it would be to live off of campus because they changed his financial aid package. There’s also a weird culture of alienating and isolating off-campus students. It would be helpful for there to be more resources for students.

    7:57//Executive Board Reports

    Student Life: Big things only tonight. During all college days we had a forum on gender neutral bathrooms, but three people who were not on the committee who attending. We are wondering how to communicate with students with this. How can the working group get feedback from the students. Our next step is probably the Athletic center. BIRT is trying to figure out how to deal with microaggressions, still working on it. People on the forum on thinking of having small meetings around campus to get student feedback. SAVP as a committee met for the first time. The TitleIX series and the Color of Violence. Also policies of what happens when faculty members are accused of sexual assault. The campus climate survey has been focus-tested. We are taking the changes into account and hopefully it can be administered in early April. We will crunch the data over the summer and it will be presented to the campus in the fall. My committee split up into subcommittees. If anybody wants to talk, go ahead.

    2018: We met with Charlotte and Christine, we are going to collab and do a poster campaign.

    2017: We decided to do a poster campaign that highlights the fact that the SAVP definition of sexual assault was intended for educational purposes and that it is different than the Title IX definition. We are also planning a short video with Charlotte explaining the same thing. Having Charlotte explain it would make it easier to understand and it would put a face to a name. That can be a really intimidating thing to do, report to Charlotte. We want to familiarize the people involved in the process.

    Academics: The search for a library director is going well. We’ve narrowed it down to eight candidates. We will do skype interviews soon. Another library initiative that we are working on is thesis workshops for Juniors. Going off of what Stacey talked about earlier, Academics will be having conversations with fieldwork and experiential learning at Vassar. Student Seminars are still accepting applications! We have received one application.

    Joss; Where is the sign-up for student seminars?

    Academics: Carolina will send it out again. It’s a word doc.

    8:08//Council Updates

    Main: Main is awesome. We did our big event early last semester. We are in cruise control right now. Really food-oriented. Our slightly bigger event this year is a week of love. Dog day.

    2018: Class council is doing pretty well. We are doing envy for Seven Deadly. We want class t-shirt ideas. It has to be yellow.

    Davison: Last week I had the flu. We had some contentious facebook drama in our dorm. An individual was pushing their pro-life group through facebook. We ended up having a large all-dorm meeting. As a house team we decided not to moderate our facebook group. We have our actual big event this spring. Laser tag is coming! I’m not sure what’s happening, my VP is doing it. I’m designing the merch! I don’t know who we are working with.

    Town Students: I think it is really important to not moderate the facebook group, but to have a dialogue instead.

    Davison: There were a lot of Pro-Life posters, they were approved. They were taken down by people who live in the house.

    Student Life: Moderation. Obviously it is your house team’s decision. But I think if a certain member of your house is making people feel uncomfortable, maybe you should censor things.

    8:15//Class Gift Chairs Amendment

    Ops: I had somebody from Alumnae/i  Affairs contact me. Normally the class gift people are chosen by the class councils. Alum affairs came with this issues because it takes six weeks to train people. They asked if these people could be elected.

    2015: You can try, but there’s not a lot of interest. Application is probably better.

    Finance: I was a class gift chair for two years. Class gift isn’t student government, so I don’t think this is appropriate. We don’t have any other control over the student gift. We don’t even determine how they fundraise.

    Ops: OAA specifically wants the constituency to choose them.

    2017: There’s always a chance that various members of council don’t work well together. I don’t know that much how it works. My experience was being told to choose two co-chairs. I sent out an email and it was ignored. Having these positions elected provides more awareness.

    Jewett: I want to echo 2017. Everyone on class council is elected anyway.

    Finance: I agree with them in that it is important. It doesn’t make a difference if they work well together. I think it is important to note that it is difficult to get people to do these things. The problem becomes who are the people we are conducting the elections for? These positions don’t fall under our umbrella.

    2017: To that, last semester ResLife tried to sneak some of our people under their umbrella, so maybe we should be trying to sneak people under our umbrella.

    Finance: To what end?

    2017: Just for representation.

    2015: There’s a certain amount of autonomy, but not a lot.

    Strong: Why are these positions necessary?

    Davison: What are we talking about?

    Joss: This some serious VSA round-table jerking off we are doing.

    Ops: There are questions that would be better answered by OAAD themselves.

    Cushing: I’m feeling very much like a lot of people here are just throwing things without raising their placard. I’ve heard finance speak more than twice. It’s not that big of a deal. We want to discuss things that are big deals. Let’s table it and get more info. Does it have to exist?

    8:31//ResLife Task Force Charter

    Ops: We incorporated a lot of feedback from last week. We added the phrase “at least” per Main’s suggestion and an additional three people. And I move to adopt it.

    Finance: Thanks for your work. It’s a step in the right direction.

    Pres: We have three options. Yes, no or abstain.

    Charter passes unanimously.

    8:34//Open Discussion

    Finance: I want to bring up something important to me. Sorry for not raising my placard. We discuss a lot of things that people thing are or are not boring. I feel particularly passionate about Student Gift. My criticism is out of the interest of preserving this. The thing I want to talk about was the comment on the Faculty policy regarding consensual relationships with students. It will be brought to their committee later this year. I want everyone to know about it so they can publicize it to students. I also think it is important that we know about. I have issues with how this was brought to us. I think the students should have a larger student opinion on this. The reason that there is going to be a change is because there have been issues with what is consent between students and faculty. This is saying that a consenting adult cannot have a sexual relationship with another consenting adult. I think we missed an opportunity to have conversation about this. The policy was written on Dec. 8, but why were we not aware of this until last week?

    Jewett: Jewett is hosting Seven Deadly this Friday.

    Joss: Sorry for being an asshole. Good job, Calvin. Battle of the Bands was last night.

    Davi: Motion to adjourn.

    8:40//Council adjourns.

  • Palak 11:56 pm on February 15, 2015 Permalink | Reply  

    VSA Council 2.15.15 

    Good evening! This week’s meeting is set to be a long one, so settle in for a rollicking good time!

    7:02//Call to Order, Attendance

    Absent: Davison, Finance, Student Life

    Proxy: THs

    7:03//Consensus Agenda

    1. BSU (Speakers) $4500/$5000
    2. Miscellany News (Capital) $1344/$1344
    3. Feminist Alliance (Social Consciousness) $1000/$1000
    4. Davison House (Capital) $432.52/$432.52
    5. Democracy Matters (Speakers) $425/$425
    6. Organizations For Approval
    1. Beauty and the Beats
    2. Body Positive
    3. Committed
    4. Generation
    5. LiNK
    6. YDS
    1. PreOrgs Advancing a Semester:
    1. WOCA
    2. Quizbowl
    3. Chess Club
    4. VAWFA
    5. Mug Enthusiasts
J Street U
    7. Chabbat
    1. Class of 2016 Treasurer – Juan Fernandez
    2. Strong House Treasurer – Julianne Johnson
    3. Minutes From 2/8/15

    Activities: We spent a lot of time assessing the pre-orgs. We are still reviewing other pre-orgs to see if we want to move them up or let them stay at the level they are at. We are still taking applications for new pre-orgs. They are due on Thursday.

    Abby: We are appointing Juan Fernandez for 2016 treasurer and Julianne Johnson for Strong treasurer.

    7:05//Constituent Concerns

    Pres: Any consituent concerns?

    2016: We have to deal with senior housing stuff. There’s no formal organizational tool. I used the one Casey had last year for my class. There’s no formal tool of listing of people who are singles or doubles who are looking.

    7:07//Executive Board Reports

    President: The biggest thing is the Trustees are coming back on Feb. 27 and 28. The main thing is if there is anything particularly you want stressed or focused on, let me know so I can make sure it’s covered. Admin meetings are starting up with Exec. If there is somebody you want to meet, let me know so we can get that taken care of. Last, forums are currently being scheduled this semester. If there is anyone you want to come in this semester, let me know so I can try to get them.

    Town Students: I live with somebody who has done a lot of activist work about the Trustees. I’m curious what their level of awareness is for a lot of issues on campus. They are really involved and implicated in a lot of these issues. We should be able to have some form of conversation because it is not clear exactly what their…there was recently an email thread to remove some admins. They obviously know about this, but they could be thinking something else. I want to gauge their awareness.

    Pres: They are aware of what is happening on campus. I also have a part where I address student  concerns and I try to cover that in the meeting. If you have specific things, let me know and I”ll be sure to let them know.

    Strong: I wanted to request that we get Art from Admissions to come in.

    7:12//Council Updates

    Jewett: I know TA’s will be happy to hear that Jewett merch is coming in this week. We are also in the advanced stages for planning Seven Deadly, which will happen a week from Friday. You should tell your people. We will launch our publicity campaign this week.

    2017: There’s nothing that class council is doing. We met. We are talking. Programming is still in very early stages. Since the beginning of last semester, we have wanted to bring in a speaker. She did the commencement of NYU Law last year. We are loosely keeping in touch with her. There’s a small power struggle as to who will bring her in. We are also working on having a movie screening in April. There will be food and candy. Get excited.

    7:15//Elections Amendment

    Jewett: The amendment is the same as it was last week. Basically what it will do is make Spring Elections the same length as Fall Elections. It shaves three days off. Originally ResLife room draw conflicted, but it’s not an issue anymore.

    2017: You had mentioned that next year will also conflict with room draw.

    Jewett: I didn’t say that.

    Ramy: I might have said that. Luis has told me that ResLife has been trying to make room draw earlier and earlier.

    Pres: it would basically make it the same as Fall Elections. Anyone have more questions? Let’s vote.

    The amendment passes unanimously.

    7:18//Elections Timeline

    Abby: You should have a sheet with the new timeline. Filing will open Tuesday, April 7 at noon. A week later filing would close and then they would have the mandatory meeting. Then campaigning begins. Then voting will begin for a week.

    Pres: We are gonna vote now.

    2017: Before we vote, do we have confirmation that two days will be enough time.

    Ramy: Yes we have confirmation.

    Pres: Let’s vote now.

    The timeline passes unanimously.

    7:22//ResLife Task Force Charter

    Ops: Some key points, the construction includes more students than staff, admin or faculty. Everyone who joins must be here this semester and next semester, for continuity. Other highlights: we aren’t giving it any funding outright. Anything we contribute will be matched by the Dean of the College.

    Pres: How do you apply to be on the committee.

    Ops: Chris Roellke and Carolina will send out a joint email. To join the committee you will contact Luis and myself. It will probably be via application.

    Josh (at-large): Is there any reason why HFIs and Floor Fellows cannot apply?

    They count as house officers.

    Cushing: Which house team members will be on the force?

    Ops: It will be this year’s house team members.

    TAs: There are lots of seniors that were on house team, is there no way for them to join?

    Ops: No.

    Strong: How is this going to work for operations?

    Ops: It means that I’m signed on for next year.

    Finance: Is there anyway we can make this more flexible for seniors to join?

    Ops: I don’t see why not.

    Ferry: This is a small task force, would it be hard to fill it with a variety of students?

    2017: I also think we need to loosen up on the rigidity of the task force.

    Pres: Would it be possible to have seniors this semester and then have new members of house team join next semester?

    Ops: That sounds doable.

    Academics: I’ve been on year-long things, bringing in new people would be a detriment to the task force. Personally I don’t see a problem with not having seniors on it.

    Finance: I’m not sure exactly how this is laid out in our constitution, but I also don’t care. We are creating a structure for a committee that won’t be reviewed for a year. My thought process about student government is that if students want to be involved, they should be able to. I think it should be as open as possible. I don’t see why we can’t make it more open.

    TAs: I can’t speak for everyone but I can imagine that there might be some people who have been invested in reslife in the past. They might have a good stake in how reslife moves forward. It’s been their home for the past four years.

    Pres: Having been on house team for two years, its different every year. I do worry that we will get a limited perspective, but I do worry about the continuity.

    Academics: Well, Luis and Ramy can pick whoever they like and now they know our concerns.

    Ops: Also the way that it is currently written, new members can be added.

    Main: You can clear a lot of these issues up by adding two words: at least.

    Pres: Given the discussion, I think we should wait a week to vote on it. Table it back to Ops to work on the kinks.

    7:33//VSA Executive Board Stipend Amendment

    Josh: Part of it was a discussion that came out of Spring 2013. I remember working with Alyssa. The original doc we wrote was a letter talking to administrators about a stipend. There was a concern about Exec board time commitment. We wanted it to be that all students could have access to these jobs, even if they have work study positions. There has been a long discussion about accessibility of exec board positions.

    Ops: After that initial proposal, last year’s council wrote a letter to Cappy who wrote back saying it was Roellke’s stuff. Hannah brought it up to Roellke who brought it up to senior admin who said that we could get paid if we pay for it ourselves.

    Pres: If an office is paying us, they have power over the VSA.

    2017: The amendment as it is written would give every member of Exec a stipend. It would be equal to the amount allowable under work study. We never came to a decision about whether the only people who should be paid are the ones on work study even though everyone would be doing that work. They would forfeit the stipend if they work a campus job.

    Pres: I also want to add that the proposed change would take place next year.

    Josh: A point of clarification. If they are already on a campus job, they would not receive the stipend. The way the stipend works, is it is an allowance, not a guaranteed payment.

    Finance: What I’m interested to hear from is that this is the third time I have seen this proposal. In my experience and from my memory, not having a program like this limits the pool of potential runners. I’ve been trying to uphold our commitment to diversity. The reason that this is so vague is because we aren’t sure how we are going to work this out. Supporting this, means that you are condoning us to go ahead and find a way to make it work. It’s very complicated. I want to hear whether or not these positions should be paid, what it will do to the structure, etc.

    Cushing: Who is going to pay for this? Will house presidents get paid? We attend a lot of meetings.

    Finance: The avenue that we are most currently exploring is that the money will come from our fund, which is the student activities fee. We are still restructuring stuff. We make more money in a week than what the exec board would get paid in a year. We would transfer the money to somebody in the controllers office or accounting and they will figure out how to pay  exec.

    Strong: Why do you think that people who are already on work study and are willing to do other jobs and do exec board need to give up the stipend?

    2017: Because this is being done so that people can run and find the time to fully execute their duties. The purpose is not to make sure exec gets paid, it’s so that people who join exec can do it without the extra job.

    Strong: As somebody who has both, I would not do that.

    Jewett: Can you petition to have more than one work study job?

    Josh: It’s not recommended.

    Pres: You could, if you are on Exec and want to keep you job, you can reject the stipend for Exec.

    SoCos: I’ve worked two work study jobs. It’s not that hard to figure out.

    Ops: In our present structure, it would cost us $1300-1400 to pay all of exec. It’s nothing to the whole fund. Pomona College actually uses their student activities fee to pay student government. And for Cushing’s question, this is a foot in the door to paying HPs.

    Ferry: I don’t know if it needs to be on this particularly amendment, but we need to know what to do if somebody leaves int he middle of the year.

    Joss: We can’t assume that we can offer a stipend and fix diversity.

    Finance: I want to thank you for that comment. We have been making small adjustments to things to make council more open and council more accessible. We have made more progress, I believe. I do think that this is one of the million, trillion things that we have to do to make our student government more accessible.

    7:52//Open Discussion

    Joss: Battle of the Bands! This Saturday in the Susan Stein Theater. Nine groups will be playing. Check out our facebook event. It’s gonna be rad and sick.

    Finance: I did want to explain what the $6000 for finance. BSU is bringing in Stephanie Covington Armstrong. It’s a joint event. The Misc needed to buy a new computer. Fem Alliance is going to start it’s second non-annual conference on campus. They also did a great job fundraising. Davison, in a triumph of sheer will, has been trying to get bike racks. We paid for locks. Sustainability paid for the bike racks. Democracy Matters is having a panel, or it already happened. It might be on Thursday. CIRC will be meeting for the first time this semester, tomorrow. We will discuss the divestment proposal. They can contact me about the proposal. I sent out an email before council about open positions on Finance. I’m going to be giving a, spurred by Josh, I’ve decided to compile the info from my presentation last year to send it to the Misc. Last semester we did an audit of three orgs and the results will be sent out later this week.

    Academics: You can apply for student seminars. Applications will go out tonight.

    2016: I have another bone to pick with reslife. I was interested in seeing the way the current timeline, you know now if you got into a 4-person draw. I wonder if they can coordinate with suite draw. Maybe people can combine. That is impossible, they said that to me. I found that ridiculous.

    Jewett: I was going to ask Joss if we need to reserve tix.

    Joss: No.

    Ops: I’m gonna be student life. All-College Days is happening. The VSA helped fund it and staff it. Go to it.

    Academics: Also for Student Life, the title ix survey, student life will meet tomorrow at 8 p.m. at the VSA. You get pizza and vcash.

    Ops: A project that I’m working on this semester, student leaders don’t feel appreciated. I’m working on planning an award ceremony. And I move to adjourn.

  • Palak 12:02 am on February 9, 2015 Permalink | Reply  

    VSA Council 2.8.15 

    Hi everyone! We will be getting started shortly with this week’s VSA meeting.

    7:03//Call to Order


    Absent: Main

    //Consensus Agenda

    1. Barefoot Monkeys (Capital) $1250.50/$1250.50
    2. VPI (Speakers) $2060/$2060
    3. Filmmakers (Speakers) $200/$200
    4. (Conference) $957.70/$957.7
    5. Jewett 2017 Rep – Ryan Farley
    6. Strong Vice President – Mary Talbot
    7. Committee on College Life 2015 Rep – Tyler Fultz
    8. Minutes From 2/1/15

    Finance: Finance had it’s first meeting since we’ve been back. The Barefoot Monkeys requested money for equipment and toys. They can’t submit anymore fund apps this semeester. VPI is doing a Greenhaven Reunion. Squirm didn’t show up. Filmmakers is going to screen “Wild Canaries” and they want to bring the production team. VARC is going to attend the 14th annual animal conference. Those are all of the fund apps.

    Jewett: This morning we interviewed two candidates for our rep. We felt that Ryan Farley was a good candidate. There was only one strong applicant. And Tyler was the only applicant.

    7:07//Forum with Luis Inoa

    Luis: this is my 10th year here. I love this place. I’m responsible for all things to do with your residential life here. I work with a variety of offices in the dean of students office, Baldwin, Security, etc. Responsible for the House Fellow program. It was created in the 50s after a survey was sent out. We recieved some funding. Soon after that, the student fellow program came to be, but that was not under reslife, that was under the Dean of Freshman. It was soon after I came here that it came under ResLife. The notion of House Team came to be after my coming here. I’ve helped to change, but not change, I’ve helped it to evolve.

    2016: I don’t want to bring up a sore subject, but my class was greatly affected by the housing crisis. Can you talk to that?

    Luis: The easiest thing is that more people went abroad in the Fall than in the Spring. It has never been this vast before. There was a kind of naive sense that everything will work out. Fall semester had other things happening campus. We needed to wait to send out info in order to make sure our info was accurate. Oftentimes we send out incomplete info, so we wanted to prevent that this year. If I had to to it over again, I would have written a different email to those returning. And we are still working on consolidations to have spaces for the Juniors.

    Finance: Exec this past week met with the person from SJP consulting about the new security position. I asked him about security patrols in other colleges, which happens all over the country, but particularly uncommon in Liberal Arts colleges. We generally only have student patrols. Can you explain why this is a system we have opted to have?

    Luis: That was something that was in place when I got here. We used to have the White Angels in all of the houses. If they didn’t know you, then you couldn’t get into the house. They were responsible for you. I imagine it is now an evolution of that system. Checking to make sure the students are secure is also checking to make sure the rules are being met. I don’t know if this remains a priority though. If we moved in that direction, I could see having a conversation with security as to whether or not we need that.

    Town Students: Maybe we need to put another system in place. I think there are tradeoffs to both sides.

    Jewett: I have heard that reslife is forming a ad hoc committee for alternative reslife systems.

    Luis: I’m working with Ramy and Dean Roellke. I’ve put together a proposal that Ramy is going to bring to you guys. we are looking at the role of student fellows and house team. Look at the house fellow program and its effectiveness. What does student-to-student accountability look like. Does the student structure have to change ? Very much like our shared governance model, I want to make everyone come together and have conversations.

    StuLife: Can you speak a little bit to what is going on with the house advisors?

    Luis: 2008, we had the economic crisis. Some positions were lost. I thought it would be worthwhile to look into alternative ideas. One of the commitments that Cappy made was to add an FTE. We are working on getting five full-time residents back in ResLife. I don’t have any definitive answers. I now I go to a conference to recruit for House Advisors at the end of March. But I anticipate that we will have five house advisors.

    President: There has been a lot of talk of the dynamics of house team. What are the new things being done in ResLife?

    Luis: I think one of the most significant ones was the Behavior Agreement. I think that will go a long way for anybody that will be on House Team for the conversations of those on House Team. I’m not saying it’s not worth talking about, but the conversations will go down. Beyond that, we have to think about what training will look like for the officers. I think Presidents lead with a decent understanding of their role. That’s in the works right now. I think it’s a good conversation to be having with y’all. Y’all change, but I’ll be here. I’m a vehicle to provide continuity.

    President: You brought up the Behavior Agreement. Has there been any conversation about the relationship between VSA and ResLife?

    Luis: I think meeting more regularly would be helpful. We need to have conversations about room draw and elections.

    President: How can we create better overall understanding?

    Luis: It sounds cheesy, the butterfly flaps its wings and creates a tornado or earthquake or whatever. A number of years ago we eliminated a committee on VSA that used to meet with me bi-weekly. I know you have a tremendous amount of committees and commitments, but maybe there needs to be something there that works with me.

    Strong: My house last semester experienced a lot of hardships about the fire alarms. It brought up a lot of insecurities. I guess what they are looking for is if something like that were to happen again with the burning down of a building, what will happen to us?

    Luis: Great question. On our end, when we are at a more typical capacity, we have enough room for everyone. We would have to see if we would be in partnership with the Days Inn to put students out there. I imagine it would have to be a partnership with local hotels. Cots in Walker is not ideal. After that it is a conversation with the Dean of Studies about how students can get their work done. Raymond had some roof leaks. It’s happening. Luckily we had enough space. If it happened for a significant number, it would be a crisis.

    Ops: Can you talk about the future of house renovations?

    Luis: Pre-2008, for folks that live in Davi, we would shut down the whole building. Post-2008, we renovate Lathrop and Strong over the summers. Given the number of commitments that the college has, it just isn’t realistic.

    Jewett: It felt like a lot of different info was being disseminated.

    Luis: I think the flow of info from committee meetings to constituents, there are translations. We need to make sure people tell everyone exactly what is being said.

    2017: Do you know if there is any long-term plan to fix Noyes’s front door?

    Luis: Looking into it. That is working with CIS or Buildings and Grounds. It depends on what exactly is wrong. I have to work with both of those departments. Related to Noyes, I am looking into…Noyes actually has its own endowment. We are looking to reimagine the space.

    2017: My second question is related. Is there any plans for a deep clean Noyes? It is always open.

    Luis: Yes, discusssed. We won’t be able to give it the time it needs though. Depending on the residents that are leaving, we may have the opportunity to address that building during Spring Break. On my end, it is working with folks from Reunion and saying I need to give Noyes a break. It’s beyond a deep clean.

    Josh: I know Terry was the front person for summer programming. What is your office looking for the summer? And what does your office do for heat advisory in the summer?

    Luis: We will continue…feedback has been positive. The more guidance and leadership that the house advisor. The heat advisory. We don’t have A/Cs in the rooms. We make spaces available for the students. Not for folks to sleep in, but to hang out as long as they can. Noyes has great kitchenettes, but the windows in the common areas don’t work well with a/c units.

    Tyler: One of the questions, as a member of CARES. Do respite rooms still exist for students on campus?

    Luis: Respite rooms are meant to be temporary. For the most part, since most students are in singles, it works out. If you are talking about a space for somebody you are working with to have for a night, yes we have space. If you are asking if we have space to move, we have one or two rooms that we are holding off on. As we consolidate, we will open up more rooms for that reason.

    Town Students: I’m wondering if there has been any feedback from the surrounding community about noise complaints.

    Luis: It’s been good. But also snowy and cold. But maybe we should get together after Spring Break to talk about this.

    7:45//Executive Board Reports

    Finance: Hi all. I’m going to go through the fund levels. Beginning with our discretionary fund. We spent $25000 last semester. We don’t know how much money is in there. We have not spent a lot of it, though. Collab fund: $3000. Capital: starts with $50000 and has rollover and we have spent $28000, which is more than half, but less than what was actually there. Capital fund is never spent down, because we just don’t spend that much money every year. Something that has not been spent is the $6000 for the new Mug speakers. That was done through a weird process. We also gave $10000 to the Shiva because their endowment has run out. The Speakers fund has $50000, we spent $17000. Conference, we spent $7000 of $12000. We can also transfer money between these funds. Let me give you my interpretation. It’s not good to not spend money. We don’t want to save our money, this is the money the students gave to us this year and we are supposed to use it. If we don’t use it then we ripped off the student body. Finance committee has been working really hard to encourage people to apply for fund apps. We will have a spring treasurer training next week. We have money and resources. We need to use it. We have been carrying over a surplus for years. I think that it is inappropriate to continue to take the money from the students and not use it. Maybe we need to cut the student activities fee or send the money somewhere else. There will be a CIRC meeting next Tuesday. They will be discussing the divestment proposal before the Board meeting. Our endowment is dividing up and we can’t touch that money, and we can’t tell managers what to invest in. We have a small stake that we can invest and we can choose not to invest in fossil fuels. Finance underwent restructuring this year. I felt that the VP for Finance was too powerful. If Finance is under the thumb of the VP for Finance, one person is in control of everything. We created a co-chair but he stepped down, it was Rueban Moncada. The second was the Finance Director, who was Casey Hancock, who left. We also have open positions.

    Cushing: My treasurer told me that not all of the spendings from last semester have been processed yet? When will that be done?

    Finance: All of the numbers that I have are coming from Finance committee. They are the most up-to-date. We don’t do any administrative work on this. Accounting and various other departments do the work. If you know how much money you have, you can keep spending within that budget without waiting for the Dashboard to update.

    TAs: I get the budget emails every week.

    Finance: I don’t know how to stop them.

    TAs: Can the presidents view the account?

    Finance: Yes, we can make an account for them online.

    *Pause while VSA distributes free pizza amongst themselves*

    Operations:I don’t really have much. We brainstormed some ideas. I’ve been in touch with Butch. We’ve been in contact like once a week and he’s still researching. I’m working on a Tasty Tuesday survey with potential revamping of TT. We have a lot of interested restaurants. We are also working on fixing the shuttles.

    Davison: What time do you meet?

    Ops: Tuesdays 2-4 across from the office.

    Finance: Finance has the money power. The money we spend has a tangible effect on the campus. We have a historically low number of VSA members on the committee. We mee on 3:15 on Wednesday.

    8:05//Constituent Concerns

    2018: I’ve heard a lot of mixed stories about students that need to be taken to and from the hospital. Is there a set operation about who is supposed to do that?

    Sarah: EMS cannot transfer to the hospital because they don’t have an ambulance, but they can call one for you. I don’t think it actually costs if you go in the ambulance, that is just hospital bills. I don’t know the policy if EMS is not on call. Also calling 911.

    2015: Ambulances do charge you to go to the hospital.

    Finance: I thought we talked about this. Those aren’t standard services offered by security. I think a conversation needs to be had though.

    StuLife: The conversation Exec had was about getting from the train station. That’s not a service security offers though. It depends on who you talk to. What are our specific expectations for security.

    Davison: I want to know how intrusive the fire inspections will be.

    Ramy: When ResLife enters, they can’t go into any drawers.

    Tyler: They just go through and look at everything. THe fire inspector looks to see if fire safety is okay in the room.

    2017: If there is no office that does transport people to and from the hospital, can we as the VSA look into doing that?

    TH: I had an experience. I called an administrator and what they told me was that they had a voucher for the cab. Vassar paid for it.

    2018: That’s an inconsistent experience. Who knows when stuff works? Can we put this all in one place?

    TAs: About the fire stuff tomorrow, in the TAs and overall if there are open bottles is that a fire thing?

    Tyler: I believe so. You should take that down.

    8:14//Amendment on Elections BOEA

    Jewett: I wrote this. The primary purpose of this amendment is that reslife scheduled room draw during a time where we couldn’t do it. Basically it makes spring elections the same length as fall elections. It just shortens them by three days. A week of filing and a week of campaigning is pretty ample time.

    Ops: If we pass this and the elections are shorter, does BOEA have a plan to aggressively advertise?

    Jewett: We haven’t talked about it, but we can.

    2018: Can you apply to be a student fellow and do you know before spring elections?

    Jewett: I’m pretty sure stufel stuff will come out before or during filing periods.

    Pres: This would not set the time of spring elections.

    Jewett: Yes.

    Pres: We will vote on this next week.

    8:17//Open Discussion

    2014: On Thursday there will be an event. A screening of “Dear White People.” The screening will be at 4 p.m. at the Martel Theater. There will be a panel afterward with Mia Mask and Kiese Laymon. Panel starts at 6. Tickets are through the info desk.

    SoCo: I couldn’t get into the CAAD Collaboratorium.

    Academics: It’s not a permanent installation. People can apply to use it. Some people are using it as a rehearsal space. It’s not a permanent display. If it was, then it would say something.

    Joss: Motion to adjourn.

    8:21//Council adjourns.

  • Palak 12:04 am on February 2, 2015 Permalink | Reply  

    VSA 2.1.15 Meeting 

    Welcome back everyone!

    //7:05 ……Consensus Agenda

    1. Consensus Agenda Minutes From 12/7/14

    Everyone approves.

    //7:05…..Welcome back

    President: After everything that happened last semester we have decided to start this meeting by opening it up to everyone to talk about concerns from last semester and goals for this semester.

    Student Life: I think this is something we should work on more this semester which is exploring what it means to have an open campus. We need to figure out what an open campus means.

    Finance: I have two things. The first thing is sort of related to Hannah’s thoughts. I have a friend who is a member of the Poughkeepsie community. He used to be able to use the gym, but after they renovated it he no longer has access to it, which makes sense because we paid for it. But Vassar is a part of the Poughkeepsie community. This is something we should discuss together about what it means to have an open campus. We need to see if we want this place for everyone. the second thing is from earlier this year about the endowment. It is available and accessible to everyone who wants it. You can take it to any econ major to explain it.

    Student Life: Tagging onto that last update. The question of open campus within certain hours…how can we look to events that have happened in the past like racial profiling or homohop. Many people who do not attend Vassar went to that event. A lot of predatory behavior occurred. Community members go to the concerts in Skinner all of the time.

    Josh: There’s no consistency with the annual reports. The fiscal year ends on July 1st and we still don’t have those reports.

    Finance: Because of the cutbacks, they are still working on that and we don’t publish everything, but I will contact Steven about it.

    //7:12 ….Student Life Update

    STudent Life: I’ve been working really hard on a campus climate survey. It’s legally required and a part of Title IX. It’s done and crafted. It’s better than all of the other campus climate surveys I’ve seen. Now we are going to focus test it. We want to have volunteers from the VSA to just read it through. We are looking for a diverse group of people. We are looking for feedback. It’s done and pretty comprehensive. It’s probably going to be super triggering for people. It’s anonymous. We spent a really long time on what questions we should not ask. The date that the focus group will look at the survey is not tomorrow but the following Monday (February 9) in the evening sometime. There’s a possibility of pizza. It’s being run out of SAVP. Any volunteers? Please email me.

    Ops: A clarifying question. Just in terms of data collection My concern is that if you are doing opt-in data groups, how are you going to collect data?

    StuLife: We aren’t actually going to have you take the survey, just read it. Just asking people to ask us why we chose words or question everything on it. No data will actually be collected until we send out the online survey.

    Cushing: I have two questions. One, who was in the consortium and is there a reason there were no students?

    StuLife: We crafted this survey over the course of the last semester. Renee wanted to keep the group small. The consortium was HEADS, hosted at Wesleyan. It was Wesleyan, Bryn Mawr, Tufts…a bunch of colleges across the Northeast. There was another consortium. But we also looked to other surveys. Why there were no students involved, well when I was elected I think it was expected that I would put in work in this area. I think there were ways that we could have put in work to add more students, but it was a weekly thing for the past semester.

    Cushing: Are the results going to be published? Why are we doing this? Other than mandatory, how will this be useful?

    StuLife: I think it is going to be a really valuable tool. One it will show if there are populations on campus that have higher rates of sexual assault. If you have data, then it would justify more targeted and mandatory outreach. If maybe 50% of the people say that they practice bystander intervention, then it says we are doing good, but we can do better. I’m pretty sure it’s public, I don’t see why it wouldn’t be. It will definitely be used by the administration.

    Strong: Could you send out a quick email reminder to see if we want to do this?

    Stulife: Yeah I can do this.

    Finance: Who is interpreting this data?

    Stulife: Probably the Director of Institutional Research, David. He’s the data guy. He’s more than qualified.

    Pres: Do we have anything in place to deal with triggering?

    StuLife: We have things in the survey where you can leave it at any time. You also do not have to take the survey. We will explain it when the survey goes out. It’s an online thing so people can take it in a more private setting.


    Activities: This next month will be full of prelim. orgs. This next week we are going to move some of the level three pre-orgs to org status. We will send out fill-out forms for orgs for next semester. And we will have a pre-org fair in March so people can learn about them.


    Academics: Our former director of Fieldwork retired at the end of last semester. We have an interim director, Professor Nick DeLeeuw from the psychology department. we are trying to rethink fieldwork and experiential learning and he will be instrumental in that. We are still searching for a library director. We started reviewing applicants today, we have 35 applications. Hopefully we will have a new director by the end of the semester. The syllabus archive is coming together. Academics will be working on the majors fair and student seminars, both in April.

    //7:30…Council Updates

    Pres: we are going to start doing Council Updates. Similar to Exec Board reports, we will have two or three people go per week. You can talk about events and what is going on in your constituency. I think there is a lack of sharing. Quick, five minutes tops. Last year, we would do constituent concerns, similar to Council Updates, but specific to constituent concerns. We had a lot of good stuff coming out of that.

    //7:33…Open Discussion

    Finance: I thought that the block party in Main was a good idea. I think it makes people feel welcome. Cathy, the finance intern has left. She is being replaced by Josh Tempero this semester. You may remember him from last semester. Next, the reshuffling of staff in the administration has now affected us. It will take at minimum three weeks to get checks. I’m really trying to get the word out about this. You will not get your money within a week. For all of you doing spring events, you need to have your paperwork in three weeks in advance. There’s no wiggle room here. The last thing I want to say is that I have been thinking a lot about public service. Casey is not returning this semester because he is pursuing his own ventures this semester. I don’t know how much you guys use the dashboard, but he built it. I think he did a great service to our community.

    Ops: Quick updates. The Board of Elections and Appointments are doing a few appointments for Class of 2016 Treasurers, Jewett Sophomore Rep, Strong VP, and CCl senior rep. Abby Johnson and I have been planning the spring elections timeline, that will be presented next week. And finally, the report from the external review will be here in a month. Butch said it’s not ready.

    Joss: We don’t have a Junior Rep.

    Jewett: If you are in an org and want to run a floor for Seven Deadly, that is on Feb. 27.

    StuLife: Part of what I feel the VSA’s duty is to still the rage of the student body. I am looking forward to working with all of you because I know you care deeply about this place. On using the specific knowledge we have….something ought to be done and there are quite a few somethings we as the VSA can help with. I encourage all of you to do research. We owe it to our constituents what our rules are here and know which admins do what. And then use that information to help our constituents because Vassar is an organizational labyrinth. I also think something else that is sorely needed on this campus is a politic of love. We need to take care of each other. What if we all cared for each other? We are student leaders. We should model ourselves.

    Cushing: I wanted to ask. First, Emily Platt wrote a thing for Boilerplate. It’s informative. Send it to your people. Should we talk to our constituency? I don’t know if we should. Maybe it should come from the SAVP coordinator or Student Life. I know my house team is very confused and don’t know what to say.

    StuLife: I think the question of confusion is normal. There are lots of definitions. I think consent is normally understood as active, sober yes. We should teach that still. But it’s confusing. Encourage students to read the handbook if they want to know the school’s literal definition.

    Jewett: Just to respond, I agree. I just think that most people on campus use. Charlotte said that it’s not clear that it is not the college policy.

    StuLife: You want me to go to the SAVP office to ask for a more nuanced consent talk. And maybe a little about Title IX.

    Jewett: Yeah, I think it needs to be clarified.

    2018: If we continue to do what we did. I think it needs to be publicized a little more.

    2017: Would it help if VSA worked together with SAVP to construct a very easy to understand script? Like have Charlotte explain it in a video on their webpage. I think that would be a lot easier to communicate the nuances of the language with.

    StuLife: Noted, that is something we can do. I’m rethinking this because of what 2018 said. I think I’m confused about the idea of students being confused as to what sexual assault is. I think students on this campus know what assault is. I think definitely making policies and definitions clearer is always a good thing, but I don’t buy that the student body is that confused. I think it is very clear what it looks like.

    Finance: maybe this is wrong but there are weird societal and institutional constructs that exist. People have weird experiences that are confusing. I don’t think everything is clear. It is upsetting and confusing and I think that it needs a lot of work. I think we all just need to brainstorm ideas into educating the student body.

    Cushing: The reason why I brought this up is that my student fellows have been asking us how to talk to their fellowees about this. Another thing is that when we had a house meeting about it, one of the questions I got was really? we have to say it? I think we can help the students.

    2017: I guess I also wanted to speak about the confusion. I don’t think that people that are worried are worried that students don’t know what sexual assault is, they will decide to report it with a misunderstanding. When they undertake that traumatic process, they realize they are working under a stricter definition.

    Joss: I wanted to go back to StuLife’s point about pushing this. I think the issue is more about the pretenses upon which people will report these things under. The posters seem to lead people on. We need to educate them.

    StuLife: Question for the broader group: do we think an emphasis on Title IX reporting should be a shift in campus dialogue? The posters are SAVP. That’s for survivor support and affirmation to encourage people to reach out to CARES and get support. It’s a separate entity. I hear everything and am going to move forward on this process. I don’t want to change the way in which survivors are supported emotionally. I think having a broad and ideal definition coming out of this.

    Pres: I just wanted to say that you can change committees. You have to remain on two, but you can switch it up.

    StuLife: At-large members can join too!

    Davison: Motion to adjourn.

    //8:04 …Council Adjourns

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