VSA Council 4.19.2015

7:10//Call to Order and Attendance

Absent: Jewett (proxy), Town Students, SoCos (proxy)

7::10//Consensus Agenda

  1. TAs (Discretionary) $180/$180
  2. HYPE (Speakers) $1350/$4185.42
  3. SoCos (Discretionary) $200/$200
  4. Hunger Action (Capital) $62.22/$62.22
  5. Hunger Action (Capital) $36.71/$36.71
  6. Vassar Haiti Project (Social Consciousness) $135/$135
  7. ASA (Social Consciousness) $200/$100
  8. Pianists (PreOrg) $50/$50
  9. Strong House (Discretionary) $200/$200
  10. CBS (Speakers) $1000/$3500
  11. VARC (Discretionary) $350/$350
  12. VC Punx (Collaboration) $400/$400
  13. Minutes From 4/12/15

Finance: TAs requested funding for CPR training. HYPE was going to bring in a dance instructor, but that fell through so they have a backup. SoCos is also doing CPR training. Hunger Action bought beverage coolers. We tabled the Shiva. They want us to buy them a new genie. VHP is showing a film. Strong is painting a mural in their basement. The Pianist is putting on a concert. CBS is bringing a speaker. VARC will be doing a vegan tasting. PUNX wants to do a spring fling with two bands.

7:12//Forum With Art Rodriguez

Art Rodriguez: I’m the dean of admission and financial aid. I started this past August. Before here I was at Pomona and before that was at Carlton, where I also graduated. I’m originally from CA.

Finance: I heard a rumor that the admissions rate went up this year.

Rodriguez: That is true. I looked at our early decision data. When we looked at this info, I dropped down the amount we admitted early decision. As a result of that, we had to raise the regular decision rate. It went up two points. With early, we had about 45% of each class being ED, and I felt that was a little much. I think the numbers should be a little more even. We will monitor these numbers accordingly.

StuLife: I wanted to ask you about the MeCHA petition. It affects your office. Right now, undocumented students are seen as international students. That impacts their financial aid. Give us an overview of the petition and a look at the future.

Rodriguez: I think, originally, when the College decided to make this change, the early concern was the impact that it would have on financial aid. We still need to meet the demands of financial aid. That has been an ongoing discussion. I moved the process this year. I worked with staff members to consider them outside of the international pool. I want to see them as US students, not international. It’s all about cost, though. We have to fulfill stuff on their part to help, and that’s difficult to figure out. The petition asked us to move undocumented students to the domestic pool, and we are doing that. It also asked for Cappy to write a letter in support of DREAMers. We will continue to work with MeCHA to help provide support to these students. They might need support to move through their immigration status and they might need funding to help. The College isn’t geared to do that, but we will look to local resources to see who can provide pro bono support. Then we will do an inventory of the resources in the area. We are still new to the process. I think that we are moving forward in a positive way. We did receive some funding from the Cooke Foundation, so that might help. That is a one-time prize, though. It will cover four years of expenses. I think we are moving in the right direction.

2017: I believe the education department wrote a letter about SAT/ACT optional admissions. I was wondering what discussions may have occurred.

Rodriguez: I haven’t had any discussions right now. We have to finalize what the changes are before we make our own plans. I haven’t had any conversations about making Vassar test optional. I think it is about information we gain from the admissions and advising process. I think that is an important step to consider. My take on testing is that it is one point of reference to help us gauge what students grades might be in the process, but I’m more willing to push them aside and look at other aspects. We also see a self-selecting group that apply to Vassar. Testing isn’t going to be the determing point. Grades are more important.

Finance: Have there been any conversations for moving to need-blind for international students?

Rodriguez: There have been conversations, and there are hopes, but we just can’t afford that as a college right now. We are already being challenged to meet the demand with the money we have. I think every college wants to have a consistent policy across the board. The college is already committed to financial aid.

Josh: I’m curious about budgets. How do we compare with spending our budget in regards to financial aid?

Rodriguez: I don’t have the hard figures in front of me. Essentially, we have doubled our financial aid in the past five years. Next year, our budget is a little over 60 million. Most of our growth in the annual budget is through financial aid. I think our annual budget is 160 million, and I think 60 million is for financial aid. It depends on the schools for how we compare. Larger endowments and larger draws, but they only have so much set aside. We can’t fully control actual costs. We set aside so much money for each class and we hope to remain within that budget, otherwise we have to adjust across the board.

Strong: There’s been some discontent within my constiuency about the number of women and men on campus.

Rodriguez: We do have a skew in terms of gender. 68% are female. The college is interested in having some balance within the enrolling class. That means we have to deny more women than men. We see about 55-57% are female. This basically means that for every space we have in a class, there’s more competition for female applicants. I think there are variety of reasons for why they would have that balance. I think some of it comes from the students, but also higher up. I haven’t had those conversations. We don’t want to skew too far in one direction. I’ve never seen any information to suggest that would be the case, but school’s do see a challenge in keeping a balance. I haven’t seen anything, nothing has come across my desk recently.

2016: We’ve talked about what would happen if you go over the allocation. What happens if you go under?

Rodriguez: It will alter who we are allowed to take into Vassar. Waitlist is not need-blind. It is need aware.

Presidents: Did we have a lower application this year?

Rodriguez: We saw about 200 fewer than last year. It’s not a huge drop, but it is a difference. We look at the information. We had a drop in Questbridge students. Most colleges want to have more applicants. It is helpful to see a growth in the variety of students.

Josh: Can you elaborate on the yield? Also, where is our student population now?

Rodriguez: When it comes to our yield, I’ll pull early decision out of that number. Our regular decision yield has actually been dropping. Four years ago, the yield was closer to 28%, and now we are hovering about 25%. That’s a concern for me. Basically, one out of four admitted and choosing to enroll. We want to raise that up to 28ish %. We are working on how we reach out to students. The website was revamped. The admit packet was redesigned. We are reaching out to students through departments and faculties. You probably saw students writing post cards to admitted students. Is that enough? It’s hard to know. We want to spread out across the country so people don’t have to come here. We want to make a stronger sale and pitch to why they should choose Vassar. In the end, students have to find that Vassar is the right place for them. We are thinking about how we select students. How do they fit in here?

Finance: You mentioned that the regular decision rate went up.

Rodriguez: I think it is 1635. I think it is 22 or 24%.

Finance: Do you think the higher acceptance rate has an affect on the yield?

Rodriguez: Yes.

Finance: Do you think it will drop below 20%?

Rodriguez: Our hope is that it doesn’t.

Finance: Do you have a number of admitted students who were taken from the waitlist, from last year?

Rodriguez: I believe it was 55 students.

Finance: Do you think that number will go up?

Rodriguez: It depends on where we land on May 1.

7:48//Constituent Concerns

Pres: Anything?

7:49//Executive Board Reports

Finance: The annual budget app closes tonight at midnight. If you haven’t done it yet, you should. Finance will be meeting all of this week so we can have a draft of the budget by next Sunday. Then we will vote on the following Sunday. Talk about it with your house teams before we finalize the budget. Let me know of your questions. The way we are doing the applications is that each org was broken up into a group and each group will have readers on Finance Committee. They will make proposals to the committee as a whole. The last day to submit fund apps will be the 26 of April. An email has been sent out. I’ll send another email this week. The last day to submit an application is the 26. You need to submit for money by then. A lot of house treasurers have asked for what to do with their budget. Film screenings are popular. Don’t waste your money.

President: Voting is happening tomorrow. If you are not running for a position next year, you have to table to help with elections. If you sign up, show up.

Abby: Thanks for the help! I want to remind you that you may feel uncomfortable, but you have to do it.

Pres: We have two meetings left. Spring trustee meeting is in May. If you want something brought up, let me know. Convocation is May 6. I have not written my speech yet. Zoe will be accepting a large banner.

Davi: Where is the tabling?

Abby: I will send an email. And you can get a VSA computer.

7:55//Council Updates

Ferry: We do our own thing. We had a PUNX concert. We will have do it in the dark.

Cushing: I’m sick. May 1 we are planning an outdoor movie event. We will show Spirited Away in the CDF quad. And a huge screen. We had an all-campus event last semester and we didn’t want to do that. Changing this from a house event to an all-campus event is really simple. We are collabing with ViCE Film. Maybe?

SoCos: I have updates from Ann. Ann is planning a series of surprise study-breaks. Ann is cute. Bagels for founders day. There will be a potluck in May. CPR training. Do it. That’s all.

8:00//Traditions Amendment

Ops: Max and I met with the Traditions Committee, kind of. We are trying to formalize the future of the committee with this amendment. If this passes next week, then it will have two co-chairs of staggered years. There will be a treasurer and a budget! Freshman rep as well. They will handle various events.

Strong:Why is the treasurer appointed not elected?

Ops: Max can explain this.

Finance: It came about from discussions from last year and we took the founder’s day model. We liked the way that works. There was accountability. We never discussed having an election.

Abby: In terms of an appointment, traditions committee should not be appointing it’s own members, BOEA should do that. Finance did their own stuff. There’s a body that already does this, so think about it.

SoCos: A freshman rep is elected. That’s one elected rep in the committee. Maybe it would be prudent to strike nightlights if we just stole somebody’s thesis from a few years ago.

Joss: I do think it is intellectual property.

Pres: This year, Founder’s Day co-chairs are the same as Traditions co-chairs.

Ops: From talking to Adit, there are four co-chairs who split up their stuff. We are ceding control to Traditions though.

Pres: Two years is a long time to commit.

SoCos: Have you considered a policy doc with Traditions?

Josh: How are you defining Traditions?

8:08//Open Discussion

THs: Thanks to 2015 for 50 Nights! It was a great night. The buses are all in tact.

StuLife: Super exciting event tomorrow night. In the Jade parlor at 8 p.m., StuLife and break the silence are encouraging people to take our survey. We’ve had over 800 responses so far! Tell everyone! Men, please take our survey. This is important. Big fucking deal.

Joss: We are selling Merch.

SoCos: I have concerns about the referendum. I haven’t seen anything sent out about the language. That is a major lapse in the process. There’s no information. Send that info to your constituents immediately. It’s important.

Abby: When you log on to vote tomorrow, the info page has the referendum info. I can send info tomorrow as well.

Cushing: I don’t want to have a political statement coming from me. When exec comes to talk about stuff, it should be neutral.

StuLife: I think the public debate about it went well. I do want to caution us to not go too far down the rabbit hole of neutrality. I feel strongly about this.

Ops: Everyone on council has had the recommended language for two weeks. We can send it out tonight.

Finance: I think we shouldn’t misrepresent the issue. We have very consciously discussed how we send out emails and we took a more hands-on approach.

Davi: Motion to adjourn!