VSA Council 10.4.15

7:04//Call to Order and Attendance

Everyone is here!

7:05//Consensus Agenda

    1. Fund Allocations 
    2. Appointment of Steven Huynh to 2017 BOEA Rep
    3. Appointment of Seamus Taylor to 2017 BOEA Rep
    4. Appointment of Abby Johnson to BOEA Chair
    5. Approval of New Pre-Orgs:
      1. Pre-Vet Club
      2. Vassar College Majors
      3. Vassar Toastmasters
      4. Jewish Voice for Peace
      5. The Clove
    6. Certification of J Street U
    7. Minutes from 9/27/15

7:08//Forum with Safety and Security

Arlene Sabo: I have thirty years in law enforcement. When this job came up, I thought they wrote this job for me. I started August 17. I hit the ground running. There’ve been a lot of things to address. Six burglaries. Few trespasses. I know about the laws for campus security. Burglary alerts have to go out by law. The trespasses don’t have to go out, but I think they should. The other problem I’m dealing with is the faculty residents on College Ave. They are very upset about the noise from the apartments occupied by Vassar students. One of those buildings has already been ticketed by town police. What we talked about in the meetings is that I don’t want to respond after the fact. It always happens. I want to do some prevention stuff. What that entails is working with some student leaders. The officers responding to legitimate complaints. There was the trespass last night by some non-students. The officers are being accosted for responding and investigating. I don’t know how to stop the burglaries and keep the noise down if the officers don’t respond to the complaints. The officers were screamed at by intoxicated college students. They were just doing their job. How do we come to a consensus for what is appropriate for responses?

Ops: Before we get into the forum, let’s talk guidelines. We have four discussion topics.

Jesse: Why do we have more burglaries this year?

Sabo: I don’t know about the causes. It’s hard to say for sure.

At-large: Regarding the alerts after the burglaries, is there a specific amount of time that you wait before you send out an emailed alert, or do you try to get those out as soon as possible?

Sabo: First you have to confirm the facts. That takes a while. Then they have to get in touch with me. We try to get them out as soon as possible. Once I went through a couple with the administration, but the last few I just sent out on my own. That’s another policy that we are writing. Later on in the year we can come report back to you. I’d like to have a student government rep, do we have that?

StuLife: That’s me.

THs: We’ve had a lot of issues. One of the things I’ve advocated for is changing the culture in our housing. There have been a lot of concerns and worries about next steps. We are concerned about increased police presence on campus. We have dorm patrols, but nothing for senior housing. We should do a neighborhood watch. I have a lot of support for that right now. We need a system to organize that though.

Sabo: We had residents doing a neighborhood watch in an area mixed with college students and residents. One night it was an off-duty police officer and he was assaulted. We have to think about the liabilities of this.

SoCos: We have a student EMS team. They are immediate first-responders. Read up on the White Angels.

THs: That’s why I want a trained system.

Sabo: I like these ideas. I heard what you said.

Cushing: I had a question about follow-up alerts. Is there an end-of-the-semester followup? Do we find out if people are caught?

Sabo: We have a crime log. It goes to the student newspaper. It’s public information.

Strong: I think the lack of surveillance is concerning. It’s an open campus. We don’t have a way to track who comes into buildings. At least in the lobby.

Sabo: Let’s fix this.

SoCo: How will you approach implementation? What are your thoughts about access to dorms? What are your feelings about the card access and the system?

Sabo: I’m not sure about the first question. We are still doing meetings right now with ResLife. Any surveillance is impossible to always monitor. There’s never an eye always watching them, with all of the cameras. Once you get a report, then you pull up the nearest camera. More often it is used as an investigative tool after the fact. I guess you have to decide. My thought is at like 11 or midnight latest, it should change to residents only.

Noyes: Privacy is a huge issue.

Sabo: We will do our best to hear all voices and see what the majority wants. Sometimes we do take quicker action, though.

Cushing: When you talk to people, please talk to the students. We can organize forums for you. You can help them before things get out of hand. You can have them only outside of dorms. I think 24/7 card access.

2018: Safety is our number one concern.

Ferry: Some concerns. I think there should be written rules in place about the tapes.A lot of weird stuff happens here. We should have set rules about how and when these videos are released and available.

Main: Privacy checks. You can email one of two people who have access to these tapes. They can send snippets of clips.

Ferry: I’m confused about safety and security. Do they go off campus? What’s the response protocol? Do you always say yes?

THs: Girls generally get picked up immediately. Guys are questioned.

Sabo: We need to think about how we are deploying the resources and how we can be effective.

Joss: We’ve talked about how security is spread thin. They just can’t be everywhere.

Sabo: There’s a lot of stuff going on with staffing. It’s complex. I can’t make changes immediately. I want them to be thoughtful and meaningful.

SoCos: Thanks for coming in, by the way. You come from a university police department and Vassar is not that. I don’t think we should have that here. Some students aren’t comfortable with a high police presence.

THs: We are really underlit. We can take a night walk.

8:13//Reports

Activities: Still reviewing pre-orgs. After break we are reviewing more preorgs to level up. We are gonna clean out closet space. 

Joss: We have resistance with orgs.

THs: We need to have set rules for each subdivision saying you have a vote once you’ve attended a certain amount of meetings.

Pres: Base rule is that you have to attend three meetings.

Cushing: Follow up on dinner recommendations.

Ops: We are on track to have a macro-structure. Also, come to these meetings.

Finance: After Oct Break there will be more treasurer trainings. We will start special projects. Fund levels are still low. 

8:20//Seven Sisters Conference Update

Pres: Who wants to go to the Seven Sisters Conference?

8:22//Constituent Concerns

Raymond: I want to formally complain about the heat.

TS: Somebody told me it goes on after Oct. Break.

Ferry: People are sick. They need warmth.

Ops: Old campus.

Noyes: People have been harassing or bothering the people who live on the first floor of Noyes. Please stop.

8:24//Living Conditions in the Dorms

Cushing: Update. Things have been done. We will have a B&G forum on Friday. Say good morning to everyone!

8:28//Open Discussion

Ferry: Worker appreciation day.

Jon: They do exist.

Ferry: Let’s just do like one day though.

THs: It’s beyond saying thank you.

StuLife: I’ve been in talks with Sam Speers about putting together a vigil for the lives lost at the Oregon school. Is this something the VSA would want to co-sponsor? It would be on Thursday, early evening. He hasn’t gotten me details yet.

Pres: Let’s vote? Yes, no, abstain.

Finance: There’s a workshop for a white affinity space in the ALANA center. Can we do something to talk about this? It’s excluding people of color?

StuLife: I was approached about this a while ago. I should’ve brought it up. They did this last year in a three-part series. They went well last year. Very intensive. I have heavy reservations about it.

Finance: It’s in Rocky, actually. But my concern is with a white-affinity space.

StuLife: Again, apologies. Diane approached me about this. Last year, the VSA helped fund this last year. I’ll bring this to the table. What do we think about this? What should be relay to them? They will go on.

Pres: We funded it last year instead of the ALANA center.

StuLife: It’s a seven part series and you have to go to all of them if you sign up. It is labeled as a white-affinity space in that it is tailored toward teaching white people about their privilege and power.

Jesse: I get the point of it, but I don’t like that it excludes people of color. How can we address this situation?

StuLife: To respond to Jesse, thank you. I’ll bring that to Diane. I don’t have an answer because I’m not running it. To Anish, I hear you and it is frustrating. People of color have to talk about race every day of our lives. This is a direct way of putting it in the face of white people.

2019: I agree with everyone. My question is if it is really helpful at all? How beneficial is it if you’re choosing to sign up? It’s only white people.

Pres: We talked about more identity programming for first-year students. We also need spaces where people can start talking about it.

SoCos: ResLife task force. We chartered with ResLife about how we want to see it structured. Only three people showed up on Friday. Come on down. We want to improve ResLife structure.

Jesse: On Wednesday I was warned about the weather. Vassar is not good about warning students about the weather.

Ferry: I worked with FEMA for two years.

Cushing: We have an event in November. Sex positivity.

Pres: Food Truck Friday will come next semester maybe?

SoCo: I like this space.

Derek: I had troubles getting into this building.

Jesse: Also had troubles getting in.

Jon: Several outlets don’t work here.

Derek: Communication about where meetings are being held?

Emily Platt: Are people sending out emails? Also, facebook?

Derek: Yes.