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.