VSA Meeting 1.31.2016 

7:02//Call to Order and Attendance

Absent: Activities, Finance (proxy)

Consensus agenda

  1. Capital to EMS (900/900)
  2. Capital to EMS (304.25/304.25)
  3. Social Consciousness to Fem Alliance (1485/1485)
  4. Conference to CBS (954/954)
  5. Collab to ViCE Film (0/3500)
  6. Discretionary to VPI (2000/2000)
  7. Capital to Noyes (0/495.75)
  8. Community to ASA (0/2500)
  9. Discretionary to FWA (600/1000)
  10. Discretionary to Operating (740/740)
  11. Appointment of Kaden Maguire as VP for Finance
  12. Minutes from 11/29

Pres: Capital items for the first two. We gave money to Fem Alliance for a conference. CBS is going to a conference. ViCE Film canceled their event. Noyes wanted their pool tables refurbished, but we don’t do that. ASA was looking for a speaker. FWA we gave money for production cost. Operating got bus money.

Abby: Thanks BOEA. We are excited that Kaden applied. They are fully qualified.

7:05//Forum with Campus Climate Survey Oversight Group

Hannah Matsunaga: We are the majority of the people who designed the What Happens Here survey. Please feel free to step out at any time. We will be doing two public presentations on Monday.

Kelly Grab, Rachel Pereira and David Davis-Van Atta are here.

Davis-Van Atta: I’m going to talk fast because there is a lot of information here. Hannah meant her title as a way of stating What Happens Here. I’ll start with the background of the data. Response rates matter. You can never fully extrapolate from a survey sample to a population. It’s important to know how limited this is. We got good response rates though. A totally of 1171 students completed the survey. Only 48 non-cis-identified respondents. We cannot judge this response rate because we don’t know this data. Our samples were reasonably to very closely representative of Vassar. One of the caveats was with sexual orientation. There is no way for us to know this information. All I have is data from other surveys. We have one validity test. That is where we ask if these data are accurate. The only thing that we have, and it’s not terribly good, is official Title IX reports. Only 18 respondents out of 1171 who responded to this question. The incidents presented here are for non-consensual and unwanted sexual contacts. They must have occurred on Vassar Campus, JYA or any official VC program/event. The analyses are also broken down by type of event.

Davis-Van Atta shows a graph of incidence rate findings. This graph shows both annual rates (2014-2015) and cumulative rates since enrolling.

Davis-Van Atta: We have twelve different ways to look at these incidence rates. We have to be really careful when we interpret this data. Rates are higher for cis-women than for cis-men. Non-cis incidents report higher. We can see that this population is more at risk. This data is important for people who are trying to work on prevention and education. We have to go through these by class years.

Davis-Van Atta shows a graph broken up by class year.

Davis-Van Atta: The story is with the cis-women data. It starts off at a peak during freshman year and declines steadily over four years. We have enough cases to talk with reasonable confidence and we have a pattern. This is a well-established pattern in the literature of this kind of survey. We found it here too. The cumulative rates also have a pattern; it is the opposite. Women’s rates are higher than cis-men. We do a survey on the National College Health Association. This is a more omnibus type of survey. It’s not as specific as ours. It makes sense to compare our survey results with the NCHA survey findings because we ask the same question. This is reliability, not validity. We did not find significant differences in race/ethnic background.There were eight sections on the survey that counted demographics, but I’m only talking about three right now.

Ferry: The percentage of sexual assault against women at Vassar is lower than average. Do you know how low?

Davis-Van Atta: I don’t know. The numbers are very hard to read in order to make a definitive answer. This was never designed to be a quantitative test.

THs: How is this info being presented to the student body, beside email?

Davis-Van Atta: There will be a presentation exactly like tonight tomorrow. It will be presented at least twice as open campus sessions in Rocky. Those presentations will have other people besides me, including Cappy and Chris Roellke. It’s a longer presentation. We will schedule a third if there is interest and demand. There will be a presentation by SARC, SAVP and CARES. There is an executive summary online and a full document. The full report will come out later this month, as soon as I can get it finished and modified.

Lathrop: Do you have autonomy on when the full report will be released?

Davis-Van Atta: There will always be higher ups here. They are totally committed to do this. There has been some Board nervousness. They hadn’t seen it until just yesterday. It’s not my job to send it to them, but it is a major oversight.

Pres: My understanding is that we have to do this every few years?

Davis-Van Atta: Two years. Not this exact survey, but something like it.

2017: is there a plan to try to generate more non-cis data?

Pereira: I have a list of things that I want to discuss with Ramy and that is on there.

Cushing: One of the glaring issues I saw was about how cases seemed to be handled. Is there a movement toward trying to fix these issues?

Grab: The procedures and processes have changed in the four years that the class of 2016 has been here. We have seen a lot of major changes.

~quick five minute break~


President: BOEA first.

Abby: There are a lot of open positions: VP for Activities, 2016 Treasurer, Town Students President, Noyes Treasurer, Strong VP, 2018 VP, Davison Sophomore Rep, Strong Sophomore Rep and Davison Junior Rep. Applications will open right now.

Pres: New York City shuttle starts next week. Some extra spots available. I’m working on other projects, but info TBD.

Operations: New vendors for Tasty Tuesday: Zorona, Janet’s Jerk and a food truck. Restructuring meetings are happening this week. Saturday shuttle is happening. Should be next week.

Student Life: Tampons are happening. Pro-Health is ready for distribution.

2018: It’s hard to find other colleges that have done this. I’m working on finding a company that will provide tampons, pads and menstrual cups. We are looking for good quality products.

Lathrop: Will it be similar to CHOICE for distribution?

StuLife: Yeah, it will be similar, with tabling at the beginning and figuring out how to have it around campus.

Academics: We are working on a proposal to let me sit at Faculty Meetings. We just don’t know a lot about faculty meetings. Student Seminars are soon.

Activities: Pre-org apps are going out.

Finance: Fund levels are on track, but we don’t know what is in Capital.

8:41//Constituent Concerns

Raymond: We have  mice.

Lathrop: We have a mouse.

Raymond: Mouse traps are inhumane. Can we change that?

2016: Could we write a letter to get dorm cats?

Ferry: Can we get an emblem for Ferry?

Abby: Just make one.

8:46//Open Discussion

JD Nichols: After Judy left, there isn’t an interim director, but an interim faculty fellow. No students were consulted in this decision. The faculty fellow is the chair of the Drama department, Denise Walen. She has had several transphobic interactions with students in class. I wrote an open letter to administration in collaboration with Spectrum orgs. The list of org leaders is not quite accurate; there should be one more person on there.

2019: Are the people listed at the end the full org or just individual?

Nichols: It is a mixture of both.

Lathrop: Are you representing any of these orgs?

Nichols: I’m a member of some, but I’m not representing any of them.

Ferry: What do you want us to do?

Nichols: Council has endorsed letters in the past.

Pres: If we decide to endorse it, we get added as a signatory.

SoCos: There’s a difference between what we’ve done in the past. You just want to add our names here.

Academics: Is this the first communication?

Nichols: The nature of previous experiences show that it would not be helpful to speak with Denise Walen in person. This is the first communication calling for action.

Ferry: Can you detail some of the incidences?

Nichols: Two semesters ago, a student in two of her classes gave pronouns and Walen refused to use them. When asked to ask for pronouns, she did at the beginning of class, but then ignored the given pronouns for the rest of the semester.

Noyes: I move to vote.

2017: Can we take the vote by consensus?

Pres: Yes.

All in favor.

Cushing: The new science building is awesome. A quick update on the refugee solidarity initiative. There’s a class for six weeks tomorrow. It has 130 students, six professors and various experts and scholars from away from here.

Matt Kolbert: Thanks for the Coalition Building Training.

Pres: There’s a lot of info out there. It’s coming up in a month!

Jewett: I joined VCLU.

Matsunaga: Tell your constituents to attend the What Happens Here Results session.

Pres: we have to name the space. We will probably do a runoff. We will be doing one-on-ones. I’m interviewing for grad schools next week.