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.