VSA Council 9.13.15

7:02//Call to Order and Attendance

Absent/Proxy: 2016, 2019 (proxy), Ferry, Raymond (Proxy), Town Students, SoCos

7:08//Consensus agenda

  1. $2,250 to QCVC
  2. Fem Alliance ($100/$1100)
  3. Hip Hop 101 ($0/$2100)
  4. QCVC ($500/$700)
  5. Minutes from 9/6/15

Finance: QCVC has changed their event, so we reallocated their cost. FemAlliance is going to a conference. HipHop is going to conference.

Cushing: Why only $100 for Fem Alliance?

Finance: Their budget went down since the fund app went in.

7:09//Forum with Transitions Co-Coordinators

Luis Inoa: The program is now in it’s 6th year. Created and imagined by alums and students as a fuller pre-matriculation program. They presented that to CIE six years ago. In an effort to assist the program, we took their 6-week model and created a 3 day pilot. We’ve done that for a while, expanding the program every year. We invite about 130 students, but they have to be low-income. They have to have no-to-little parent contribution. This year we got 56 students who attended the event. It’s now six days. We have co-coordinators. We have transitions interns as well. They spend time together and they have small, almost mock classes. We think about what kinds of classes we offer. There are also a series of social activities for the students to get to know each other. It sets the tone for the rest of their experience. We have conversations about campus life here. We make sure the interns are not duplicating the efforts of student fellows. It is an institutionalized program now. We receive funding every year for it. It’s a matriculation to graduation program. We try to be there for all four years for them.

Tyler Fultz: We try to keep this as much of a family as possible. We bring in more students who don’t always attend the pre-orientation session.

Diane Eshelman: We also have a monthly brunch for all Transitions students.

2017: I know you mentioned the conception of the program was initially 6 weeks. Are you planning to expand further?

Inoa: I don’t know. I want to put energy into helping students while they are here. I don’t know if we spent a lot of time or energy to six weeks. Maybe a full week eventually. It allows for some time to relax and breathe. Now that we have two classes that have graduated, we want to get support from those alums as well.

Lathrop: Are other staff going to be involved in the future? Additionally, there’s nobody dedicated only to transitions? What about turnover and who can take care of the program?

Fultz: First, B is involved in the program, but not as a co-coordinator. That’s voluntary on her part. As far as a dedicated person? We want that to happen, but it’s down the line for sure.

Inoa: CIE met with Cappy last year. They requested a post-bacc. Given some of the changes that did happen. There is something about having somebody with administrative capacity be center to the program.

Pres: Have there been any trends you’ve noticed in Transitions students?

Inoa: That’s interesting. If I were to do a pre-arrival major survey, many of them would start in the sciences and STEM field. That comes from pressure of wanting to get a job after Vassar. That changes once they get here. There’s an interesting pipe from the Transitions women to the rugby team? And for a while it was to the Barefoot Monkeys. I have noticed that there are students that connect really strongly and it’s neat to see those friendships carry forward.

Fultz: Studies can be done on campus about this stuff. The CDO does these all of the time.

Cushing: How can you get most students to attend the pre-orientation program? Are there any complaints or concerns from students?

Inoa: It’s a little like admissions. I don’t know what we would do if everyone came. The budget isn’t built for that. What can we as an institution do for all students, first-gen, low-income? I think what we do there, a lot of students would benefit. That’s part of that brainstorming. We have that list. We continue to invite them. Do I invite some people who don’t attend those to come to meet me.

Fultz: Because of the institutionalization of the program over years, there are places on campus that being a Transitions student can work as capital. It’s hard to know. It’s a conversation every year. We work really hard to create a different type of space in the program. Once pre-orientation ends, there’s a lot of culture shock. It takes a lot of education and outreach. We also have graduating seniors write letters to incoming freshman.

Eshelman: We also are working on a transitions blog or website. I want faculty to contribute.

Pres: What’s your ideal for Transitions and how can the VSA help support students?

Inoa: I’m trying to figure out how to help students understand what they signed up for. We want more admin support. It’s in thinking about that totality of the experience. It’s monthly brunches, workshops, guaranteed paid internships your junior year. You receive support for your GRE, MCAT, LSAT your senior. You are given to the program.

Fultz: The class gift a few years ago was to open up the IGF to seniors. Things that the VSA could do. I would love to see creative fund opportunities. One of the grants that a lot of finance focus is the Tannenbaum.

Eshelman: I want to see our increasing cohort continue to increase. We need more human resources though. A lot of Ivy Leagues are doing similar programs. We want more money to send students to these conferences.

Inoa: We just really need the support of the VSA for any changes we make in the future.

Eshelman: There’s a website called I’mFirst.org. It lists colleges and universities that are low-income friendly. We are not currently on that, but we are trying to get there.

Davison: As a house president, what can I do to help?

Fultz: I think a lot of where these tensions play out is in residential spaces. I think a lot of it is just being intentional with these conversations. It comes from little microaggressions. We need to have intentional discussions in house teams about how to support these students.

Eshelman: Tell your residents to lock their doors.

Inoa: One of the things I posed to house advisors is to take a look at parlor spaces and MPRs and can they say welcome in a different way?

Derek (at-large): Is there anything the students can do to be more open, welcome and aware?

Inoa: Pick your head up. Make eye contact. Say good morning. It’s small things. Not specific to transitions students, all students need to do that. Be mindful though.

8:08//New Meeting Procedures

Ops: we are changing our meeting procedures. New discussion procedure. We want to have people introduce the motion first, one person for it, one against, then vote. We can change it if it doesn’t work out.

8:10//VCLU Appeal to Suspend Bylaws

Pietro Garaci: We are here because we heard that our budget is frozen and that we are suspended. We are here to propose a motion to suspend a bylaw about the one-week appeal period.

Pieter Block: No follow-up was ever recorded. We came to this conclusion after a meeting our our exec boards. We want to have an open process here.

Cushing: Does the VSA have records of the decision being translated to VCLU?

Pres: No, we could not find it.

Jesse: What’s the process?

Pres: It would go to a Judicial board.

Jonathon: If there are no records, then what can Jud Board do that VSA can’t?

Pieter: We believe the board will side with the VSA, but we want to see due process. We promise to fully abide by the courts here.

2017: I remember discussing this at the final meeting of the year prior.

Pres: Yes, there are minutes. But nothing was communicated to VCLU.

Pieter: There’s no doubt about the sanctions, we just want the process to go through on the record.

Jesse: I feel very strongly in favor of this motion. Let’s put away all personal feelings. We don’t have any evidence that we let them know about the sanctions. They should have the right to go to the judicial board.

Finance: I do think it is important that the previous goal to help VSA aide VCLU do future program. It would be beneficial to them.

Town Students: Is there any other group this could affect?

Pres: I think the motion is specific for VCLU.

Abstain: 2016, Ferry, Joss, Lathrop, Town Students, Student Life, Ops

No: Noyes, SoCos

Pres; We need 2/3 to pass it, but we do not have that so the motion fails.

8:20//Reports

Activities: Next week we will be doing Pre-orgs. Everyone should come to activities committee. Somebody from the wounded warrior project is looking for volunteers.

2016: What type of event is it?

Activities: I think it’s like a fair. You’d be working events.

Finance: We had our first treasurer training session last week. Applications for finance committee will go out tonight. Funds are available. Three new funds were created last week. We have a new Finance co-chair, Neena. Every org should apply for a pcard.

Cushing: Any estimate on pcards?

Finance: Still mid-October.

President: Serenading is next Sunday. Food will be served starting at 6:40. Voting to have our meeting is at 7:30 next week. Motion passes. Exec can only meet on Fridays until October break. Agendas will have to come out on Fridays, until October Break. Motion passes. I was cc’d on a long email chain about a lot of off-campus noise. Not from people who live off campus, but from drunk freshman looking for parties. Email VSA emails, not personal ones. Sophomore and Junior reps need to be on one VSA committee. The Campus Life Resource group is looking for students to join. It’s an open committee. Orgs can publicize their events on the VSA facebook page. Go to your committee meetings. Campus dining is going through restructuring. Starting this Friday there will be open forums for people to attend. Antony contacted me reminded me about making MetroNorth tickets free or subsidized. I also need help with food truck Friday.

Ops: We have finally worked out a VSA restructuring group. It will be well publicized and there will be food. Open to anybody in the Vassar community.

8:36//Constituent Concerns

Strong: Marist has a program that gets discount Broadway tickets. We should do that.

Noyes: Freshman do not want to go to Serenading. Joss has seconded this feeling. This is a general point of view. They don’t understand what the point is and don’t want to take time away from their families that might be here. Is it appropriate or possible to respectfully bow out?

Joss: RIght now I’m in the process of going to all of the fellow groups in my house to get info. I would not pass down a dictate about whether or not we go without that feedback. Fundamentally, it is their experience. If they reach a near consensus to not participate, can we not?

2018: The fact that they pushed this to be on families weekend is unfair.

2017: Skirting the topic of hazing, parents are allowed to show up? It’s embarrassing. Every student does not need to go if they don’t want to attend.

Cushing: My house team wasn’t excited about it because of the timing. If all house teams are not feeling excited, then what is our role?

Joss: I don’t know if this is a solution, but not every freshman in my house is going to say no. What if we bit the bullet, but just had the freshman who want to participate in one place.

2017: Is there a different way for seniors to interact with your house?

Noyes: Maybe we should table it and have a BHP meeting. My objection is not logistical, but philosophical.

Cushing: Living conditions in residential houses. This past week we had bees, cockroaches, wasps, pests that are a health risk. I think it is incompetent of this college to not provide us safe spaces to live in. We will write up a resolution.

2017: There is one exterminator.

2018: Our house advisor mentioned the idea of putting picnic tables somewhere for a few houses.

Pres: Reslife doesn’t pay to renovate the dorms. I’ve mentioned that the mice are coming from their old home (where the new science building is).

2016: It costs $21 mil to renovate Davi.

Abby: Our houses are not accessible.

Jesse: It’s not legal to have buildings that are not accessible to people that are differently abled.

TA: There’s not enough parking for the TAs. The TA house fellow has not responded to my emails. What can I do?

Pres: Email up the line.

2018: Student Fellows want to know about student fellow funds.

2017: It’s through reimbursement.

Cushing: Talk to Christina.

Joss: I would like to inquire about how House Presidents don’t get compensated for our time.

Main: Safety on campus. Not great. How do we make people feel more safe.

2017: More needs to happen on the weekends so people don’t just get drunk.

Pres: VSA gave money last year. Is that institutionalized?

Finance: No idea.

2016: it was to me, from Activities.

Jesse: Will people  go to these events?

2017: Yes they would. Even just 30 people is good enough.

Pres: ViCE should be doing stuff. They are Vassar College Entertainment.

Finance: ViCE Film should be doing this, but they also have a discretionary fund. Reach out to them.

Pres: We should have ViCE here when we talk about them.

2018: I’m interested in 2017’s comment about people having shame of not drinking on the weekends. I think there are a bunch of events, but it’s later in the night that need programming.

2017: It’s clear there are a lot of events going on on campus.

Jesse: As a freshman who does not drink, it can be quite difficult to socialize. It can be difficult late at night that doesn’t involve drinking. Something has to change about how we perceive alcohol.

Strong: A late night Friday shuttle would be nice.

Town Students: Can we bring ViCE in here?

Jonathon: speaking of off-campus, I think it’s important how we frame this.

2017: There is a $2 movie theater. After the mall.

9:12//Open Discussion

Finance: Thanks for coming in on Friday.

Jesse: VCLU’s discussion. Why did people say no or abstain? We set up the college for a lawsuit.

2016: I abstained because I was the one who made a majority of the decision last year.

Jonathon: The reason it failed was because of an administrative thing. It requires a certain number. It would be a more productive discussion to talk about procedure than shame people for abstaining.

Pres: Exec is meeting with Cappy and Chris Roellke this week.

Main: How do people feel about the space?

Noyes: I like Kenyon.

Ops: We can move around.

Lathrop: I prefer Kenyon.

2018: I think we already have trouble getting people to attend. Main is better located.