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