VSA Council 4.5.15

The meeting is in CC204 today!

7:07//Call to Order and Attendance

Absent: SoCos, THs (proxy), Finance

7:08//Consensus Agenda

  1. CHOICE (Speakers) $2339/$2339
  2. CHOICE (Discretionary) $2000/$3000
  3. QCVC (Speakers) $2000/$2000
  4. LiNK (PreOrg) $150/$150
  5. Vassar Alliance of Women in Foreign Affairs (PreOrg) $90/$90
  6. VHP (Capital) Partial Allocation (amount not specified in FC notes)/$614.41
  7. ASA (Speakers) $4250/$4500
  8. Miscellany News (Capital) $907.74/$907.74
  9. VC Punx (Capital) $149.99/$149.99
  10. VC Punx (Capital) $99.01/$99.01
  11. VJU (Discretionary) $2250/$2250
  12. ASU (Conference) $1200/$1500
  13. Barefoot Monkeys (Discretionary) $3000/$3000
  14. Transferring $5000 From the Discretionary Fund into the Conference Fund
  15. Executive Board Member Removal From MBSA
  16. Disbanding of JUMPS
  17. Minutes From 4/29/15

Davison: What do the Barefoot Monkeys need money for?

Strong: For an event.

2017: What about VHP and HEL? How much money are they getting?

Strong: The reason why is that they were asking was for stuff that was too high-tech. People in admin don’t even have that stuff. They will get what they need.

Activities: Why did you only give them $2000 instead of $3000?

Strong: We wanted them to go til the end of the year first.

Activities: There’s an org that spent a lot of money on alcohol. You can’t do that. You can’t buy flowers. They spent money inappropriately. They must be reprimanded and removed. You should be able to be in orgs, but you should not hold leadership positions when you don’t follow the rules. For disbanding JUMPS, we are doing pre-org and org reviews now. I emailed JUMPS and asked them about themselves and they said they don’t want to be an org anymore.

2017: Is there a reason the treasurer was singled out?

Activities: Not all members of the org went to the dinner.

Pres: We occasionally transfer funds. We are doing that now. We have more conferences than expected, so we are transferring from one internal fund to another so we can continue to support conferences.

7:15//Forum With Jon Chenette, Dean of the Faculty

Chenette: I’m Jon Chenette, Dean of the Faculty. I’m responsible for hiring, reviewing and supporting the faculty. And I do studies of the curriculum. I oversee certain parts of the curriculum. Everyone sort of reports to me. About three years ago I began talking about the curriculum and the fact that we haven’t really talked about the curriculum in thirty years. Our curriculum has not changed much for almost forty years. I’ve heard a lot of questions about whether students should be able to pursue triple or double majors or multiple correlates or whether there should be a required capstone project across the board. I find that seniors identify themselves by their thesis at this part of the year. This came up about whether this should be an experience Vassar students should all have. The question about distribution requirements. Some people think there should be a social consciousness requirement or that our quantitative requirement is too broad or that our language requirement isn’t clear enough. These were the sorts of questions being raised. The faculty asked for two of the three proposals to be brought up. There was a request about distribution and a capstone project. Along the way, the concerns about double majors and credentialing came up. Some concerns about the amount of work students are taking. I’ve seen somebody take up to 8 credits in a semester. All of those conversations led to the third proposal of an adjustment in the student course load per semester. The IME could be more than just a long paper. It can be collaborative and different. A key part of that is giving faculty credit in their teaching loads for this intensive mentoring. They already do for students who do theses, but by making this a requirement, it will expand. We want to make sure they have the time and the support. The third one is adjustment in student course-load. Currently, students can take up to 5 without special permission. This would lower that limit to 4 1/2 units.

Town Students: For the IME, would each professor be required to participate in that? And would that be new professors?

Chenette: The assumption is that all faculty would be involved. And that all departments would provide that support.

Town Students: Would there be more 1/2 credits offered?

Chenette: That is a point that has come up. Obviously a lot of what happens right now is fieldwork or music lessons or theater and drama. Some language courses are 1 1/2 units. Every semester there are a few six-week courses. These would need to grow.

Joss: I’m curious if you could speak on behalf CCP about the redistribution were pursued ahead of social consciousness requirements?

Chenette: That could be build in to the new requirements. The problem is defining what a social consciousness requirement is. There was a panel about social justice in the Vassar curriculum. We aren’t quite at the place we need to be to have a concrete idea. It’s the same with the QA requirement. It’s not really clear what it is intended to accomplish and what it is accomplishing. One of the characteristics of the IME is dealing with diversity. In order to do a successful IME, students would “seriously engage diverse perspectives.” It could mean anything. That’s a topic that needs more focus and discussion.

Josh: I’m seeing a pattern of trust emerging. Like the trust of students about classes and workloads and balancing everything. Do you trust the student body?

Chenette: I’d like you to rephrase your question.

Josh: Does the committee that is proposing this trust the student body?

Chenette: My own view would be that the IME heightens the trust in students. It is about students taking ownership about something they are passionate about. With collaboration and partnership, it is putting a great deal of trust in the students to create something. It will help bridge what they have done as undergrads and what they want to do in life. The distribution could take a number of different forms. Our current distribution requirement is that you must take a quarter of your units outside of your major division. This new one is just nine units outside of your division. What it is doing is managing those nine units better than the current 8 1/2. This would try to shake out the division experiences a little more carefully. I believe the conversations will still happen and still be important. How will you fill these requirements. This may not pass. If I were a gambling person, that might be where I put my money. Change is difficult. Part of the value of this is simply asking the questions we haven’t for a long time. There are so many different forms this could take. We are talking about some amendments in the CCP meetings.

George: I’m a biochem major. I represent that committee. The biggest concern for us is the cap at 4 1/2 credits. It’s not in line with our peer institutions. When you are talking about applying to grad schools, it is assumed that you would have taken a difficult course load. This prevents students from engaging?

Chenette: Our 4 1/2 would convert to about 18 credit hours. There are federal guidelines for how many hours a particular course can be. It turns out that a Vassar course should equate to 10 1/2 hours of work a week, minimum. A 5 unit courseload would require 52 1/2 hours, in and out of class. Our average student on the NSOSE, ┬ásays that the average student spends about 10 1/2 hours. That federal guideline should not concern Vassar, but it does help us define ourselves. I’m going to have to look at Cornell and Dartmouth and Amherst. I know Williams and I know the institution I came from. What do you think matters more: the number of courses or the depth of engagement?

Bethan: You mentioned the drop in the maximum. Would there be a simultaneous reduction in the minimum? Do you believe this will cause a reduction in the number of double majors?

Chenette: the minimum stays the same. I think that would be harder for double majors as well.

Bethan: Do you think the committee thinks it is ideal to reduce that number? If so, why?

Chenette: I don’t think the committee thinks that reducing the number of double majors is important. I think triple majors are overextending. At least it should not be a driver of your decision. Any limit we impose would not necessarily change what you would take. You can still take the courses and get the credential. We didn’t impose a two-credential limit. I think most faculty feel that it doesn’t matter how many credentials you are getting, as long as you are getting a certain depth. As long as you are getting your depth.

Matthew: I’m on the Art Majors committee. Will profs teach fewer courses due to the IME?

Chenette: What will be needed is some increase in faculty and the decrease in unit allowments. Some departments will need to think seriously about how they structure other courses. Would other departments benefit from changing their structures? Yeah, it’s a combination though. Thinking about models like Art 105 are also helpful.

Tyler: If the change goes forward, would it be for the Class of 2019?

Chenette: It would be for 2020.

Tyler: Along those lines, one of the big reasons we were drawn to Vassar was because of the open curriculum. I was wondering with the proposed changes, how would CCP work with admissions to adjust how that is advertised.

Chenette: I don’t think we should make any change that won’t improve the Vassar education. I think that one is particularly sellable from an admissions point of view. I think the distribution is a little more challenging. It still has flexibility, though. That is trying to hold on to something of the open curriculum.

2015: I sent the proposal out to the senior class. The first proposal was mostly negative responses. The IME was more an interest. People wanted distribution of this information as early as possible. The concern with the first one was mostly that a lot of other instiutitons with these requirements have more classes. There was concern that there wouldn’t be enough options. There was a concern with finding classes people were interested in. If this was something that passed, would publication be passed on to our peer institutions and grad schools to explain why we do this? One of the suggestions was that there could be more knowledge of other departments and faculty members. I think the big concern I got was that this kind of goes against what Vassar means.

Chenette: Are you saying that the current requirement doesn’t feel like a box?

Bethan: If there are people who don’t know about this, who should they reach out to? Is it you or other individuals?

Chenette: Any member of the CCP, including two student members, including Sam and Logan. I’m happy to receive feedback and pass it on to the next faculty meeting.

Jillian: I’m a music major. I know that the drama dept has fewer faculty members than the number of students. I know that part of the proposal takes the weight off of certain departments to move students away from certain departments.

Chenette: I think it depends on the students and how they respond and how it will all look. One way of looking at it is that if students must take two or three courses in each of the four divisions, it will be a little harder to take more courses in non-major areas. It could have an effect if non-drama majors are taking a lot of drama courses.

Jillian: I guess I don’t have a solid, technical statement to make. What would you say about students who want to have more expertise in a specific division?

Chenette: Currently, students can take their 8 1/2 units all in one division. What this requirement would do is make it so that as long as you have these units in the other divisions, you would still have your units spread out. One of the amendments that we have ready is lowering the requirement to 2 units for each division.

2016: I just wanted to express concern about how well the new proposal would be advertised? A lot of advisors still don’t know what the requirements are. It should be really advertised.

Raymond: I also got a number of responses from constituents. They stressed that why they came to Vassar was the open curriculum. I think we’ve heard a lot of the information from your point of view. Can you give us a short, synthesized response as to how this would help the students?

Chenette: Many people feel that requiring this breadth over the first few years would help people make a decision as to what they do want to major in earlier on. Requiring this level of breadth earlier is that students would find something they were really interested in or passionate about earlier on.

2017: I got several responses back. The IME proposal was generally neutral to good for reactions. I got a lot of negative feedback on proposals one and three. There’s a lot of emphasis as to the open curriculum and the desire to not have to go through a lot of general ed courses and focus on what they are passionate about. I know a lot of people were justifiably scared to do an entire year outside of their primary interest. They felt that both proposals would make it harder for students in the major divisions to specialize at the level they feel they should be. One worry I personally had was about a hypothetical student who was bad at math. They do fine in one class but can’t handle the second one. They would’ve basically lost that credit because they couldn’t use it. I have worries about that.

Cush: I have two things. I know that a lot of seniors that have NROs left or more flexibility in their course selection take a lot of courses outside of their major in their senior year. The requirements for the majors can be very strict and don’t often offer them every year. It’s really hard to work with that. What I’m suggesting is that this goes on til senior year. The other thing is that I’m an international students and I don’t have a language requirement. One thing that is really important is that it is four our of five. That comfort is not available to us.

2018: I wanted to emphasize that Vassar prides itself in the free curriculum. I know already that I wouldn’t be able to do everything I wanted to do if this change occurs. It seems like you are trying to require more breadth but not giving us the chance to do that. It’s not really as free as it seems. I think you should look at more peer institutions as well.

Strong: I’ll keep it brief. There was a lot of negativity about one and three. It puts certain schools at a disadvantage from people who don’t have AP classes or IB classes. It is a concern that there are other things that play into that besides what you study at Vassar. It’s about where you come from as well. You said some of your colleagues believe we will gain more breadth. I did that for my first three semesters. I had no idea what I wanted to do.

8:18//Constituent Concerns

2016: My constituents are really unhappy with Baldwin. They are very understaffed on weekends. My council wants to see about creating a student committee.

TS: I hear what you are saying and agree. But I also want to give Baldwin some support. I think they get a lot of shit. I want to stress that although it is their job to take care of students, if students have long-term issues, though Baldwin is supposed to help, it should also be on the students to take care of themselves.

Josh: Baldwin used to be bigger than it is.

2017: I wanted to add on to that. Baldwin is staffed entirely staffed by nurses, who cannot provide the same amount of care as doctors. They can’t prescribe medicine.

Activities: They do have nurses available on the weekend. You can call. You can also just go to Vassar Brothers. I had one of the women call me on Saturday to check in. They do a better job of referring you on the weekends.

2016: One of my constituents was complaining that they were underqualified because they couldn’t figure out that she had the flu.

Davi: I went there and they told me I didn’t have the flu but my mom said I did.

2018: That happened to me too.

Tyler: I wanted to shout-out to Zoe about reslife. It was decided that seniors can’t sign in guests through senior week.

2015: I do have a lot of meetings. What happened was that Luis Inoa put this meeting off for a while. He then emailed me to tell me about his decision soon. Then he emailed his class. We never actually had this meeting. He was supposed to consult us and he didn’t.

2016: I don’t want to bring it back to Baldwin, but they charge ridiculous prices.

TS: That’s not Baldwin, that’s the health insurance.

2016: I also want to recognize the Food Committee.

Davison: Our entire house gets trashed. People just post in facebook. If you have rowdy friends who come to my dorm, please tell them to stop. We are trying to do our best, but its hard.

8:30//Executive Board Reports

Operations: We are giving out a pillow pet. A ladybug. Filing opens on Tuesday! Butch’s report is finally here. Food truck Friday is May 1. The student leadership awards is being reconfigured.

Bethan: Can you tell us when the official report will come out?

Ops: In talking to Butch, we sent him an email about getting this report soon. He said he would give us a draft on Friday. The reason we are getting a draft is that he is still waiting on survey responses. No official date though. Schedule! Filing opens on Tuesday at noon. On Wednesday there will be a candidates meeting. Abby wants members of VSA to be there. There will be food. 5:30 in CCMPR. Filing closes a week later and then there will be a mandatory meeting. The Exec debate will be Sunday at 5 p.m. at Taylor 203. BOE will also send out an email.

Student Life: We are working on an SAVP video. The Vassar A to Z project recognizes that people come to Vassar with different backgrounds. In terms of committees, I’m sure most of you have seen MeCHA’s letter. We are sorting through that. It is a well-done proposal. Privilege Campaign is up. The campus climate survey is up! Spread the word!

8:41//Referendum Amendment

Operations: This is what we saw last week. It hasn’t changed. It makes it so that the majority of those voting make the change. I move to adopt this amendment.

Amendment passes unanimously.

8:42//Referendum Language

Operations: Ops committee worked on updating the language to make it a lot clearer.

2017: Most of the stuff was in the other one. We just made it a little clearer. It would be like any campus job. It would be time spent specific to the position. Sitting in council or chairing a committee won’t count. If anyone reports any impropriety, the Jud Board has jurisdiction.

Ops: We have to approve this language. We will also have a supplemental fact sheet with this and it will all be sent out closer to the election.

Josh: Has Jud Board ever fined people?

Ops: Right now, Jud Board does very little with VSA things. I don’t know if they have ever fined people before. While they can investigate a claim. We are voting on this now.

Jewett: Do we need to suspend a bylaw?

Ops: No.

2017: Can amendments that have been approved via referendum be amended by VSA?

Ops: Yeah. It’s sketchy to change something dramatically, but we can clarify for sure.

TS opposes. Passes to go to referendum.

8:47//Open Discussion

Academics: Majors fair is this Wednesday from 3:30 to 5:30 in the Villard Room. I’ll send out a blurb for you to send out. If you didn’t know, the schedule of classes is coming out tomorrow.

Tyler: I brought up last week about CARES hosting sexual assault awareness weeks. We have published all of our events on our social media. Follow Sexual Assault Awareness Month on Facebook. we will have an open mic and art show in the Aula. We are collabing with SAVP to bring Stacy-Ann Chin. We are doing a speak-out in the faculty parlor, but it can also be a space for art.

Activities: Say you are me for senior week. Can I go on booze cruise?

2015: In terms of ticketing, the idea right now is to have it online. Seniors will buy for seniors first. I think you can get tickets to most things. They will still sign in people for orgs.

Ops: If you have not sent me a description, do it by Tuesday. Shout-out to Raymond and Strong for their event.