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  • mariesolis 12:02 am on December 8, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: CCL, Security, sexual assault, student handbook, Title IX,   

    VSA Council | December 7, 2014 

    Hey, everyone! Marie here, outgoing Editor-in-Chief, liveblogging the final VSA meeting of the semester! We’ll be getting started shortly.

    7:02 p.m.//Call to Order, Attendance
    Proxy: Noyes, SoCos

    7:03 p.m.//Judicial Board appointment

    Jewett: We interviewed six people. All of them were pretty qualified. We decided to go with Leah Brown. She had done her research and had some concrete ideas she would like to implement moving forward, so we are recommending here.

    7:04 p.m.//Consensus Agenda
    a. Generation (PreOrg) $200/$200
    b. VCLU (Speakers) Tabled/$5000
    c. SJP (PreOrg) $90/$200
    d. VARC (Capital) $119.85/$119.85
    e. UNICEF (Speakers) $3000/$3000
    f. ViCE Film (Social Consciousness) $4000/$8000
    g. Shiva Theater (Capital) Tabled/$7800
    h. Minutes From 11/30/14

    7:04 p.m.//CCL forum

    Casey Hancock: Our purview of the past has been to make policy changes to the college regulations. In the past we’ve discussed things such as the keg ban, the transition to a smoke and tobacco-free campus and issues of that kind. We’re comprised of six students and about six faculty members. The six students include class reps, the three of us and one who isn’t here, as well as Hannah and the BHP co-chair, Drew. We’ve had three meetings; we usually meet monthly. During the first meeting we discussed the situation with off-campus parties as well as the security audit. We also discussed moving the student handbook online. The November meeting we looked at the draft video surveillance policy that has to do with under what circumstances security would use video surveillance. We talked about places that have card-swipe access or places that have hazardous materials or information. We then spent 45 minutes going through the Title IX presentation and talked about specific changes that are new this year. Worth noting: Julian [Williams] did think we’re ahead of the curve nationally. We can do better, but policy-wise we’re not behind. We also met with the committee in charge of the smoking ban. They gave us a timeline and told what their plans are.

    Other CCL rep: They already have a plan in place for faculty and staff if they violate the ban, but they don’t know what they’ll do about students.

    Hancock: You can possess tobacco, but you can’t consume it. Faculty housing is a smoke-exempt zone. Then we had a looser discussion about what the role of the committee was.

    Other CCL rep: Chris Roellke was not at this meeting.

    Hancock: It was also under-attended by high-level administrators. We also talked about, for example, Res Life should pass things through this committee or another committee for shared governance. Basically the attendance agenda for the rest of the year has to do with safety and security. I haven’t seen a lot of regulations in that study. One of the members in our committee is the head of the Safety and Security committee whose purview is so broad that it’s impossible for them to be effective. I think that’s where CCL might come in to help out.

    Main: I thought it was interesting that there was a lack of administrative attendance and input. This committee has the potential to effect change on campus, but it’s not doing anything right now. We should push it that way.

    Other CCL rep: It might be that the meetings were scheduled without any of the administrators’ input. So that might be a reason for the low attendance.

    President: You mentioned the changes in sexual assault policy. Specifically incapacitation. What are those changes?

    Hancock: My freshman year, it was sort of marketed as incapacitation being about someone not being able to give consent under any circumstances under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Now the policy determines the question of reasonability. There wasn’t a lot of comparison to the past, so I’m not sure.

    Cushing: Doesn’t consent have to be sober?

    Hancock: That’s not what the Vassar policy is and that’s not a legal standard. But that’s what our policy is saying now. I don’t think this was well-covered in orientation.

    Cushing: So the policy is that consent doesn’t have to be sober?

    Hancock: On the books, it says that they know how, what, when, where and why they’re doing what they’re doing then they can give consent. People have sex all the time drunk and would consider it consensual.

    Cushing: I think consensual sex is whatever the person deems it is consensual. You can have consensual sex while you’re drunk if you think you want to have sex while drunk.

    Hancock: Our policy as it was before made it so that by our standards, even if two people consented to sex but we’re drunk they would have both committed sexual assault.

    2018: How did they come up with this and make it a solid thing when it was so vague?

    Hancock: I can look up what it says exactly, if you give me a couple seconds.

    Other CCL rep: We did discuss at our most recent meeting that CCL should push for more education to get the campus to understand that this is what the policy really is. None of us knew that and I don’t think the faculty knew either.

    Hancock: The admin. who consistently shows up has been through sexual assault training and interpersonal violence training.

    Other CCL rep: It’s changed since Casey has been here and it needs to be put out there as information.

    Hancock: We talked about a lot of things we could be doing at the last meeting. Here’s what the policy says [paraphrased]: “Incapacitation is when someone cannot make reasonable decisions and cannot give consent. Someone may be incapacitated by alcohol, drug use or disability…When alcohol or other drugs are being used the person is considered incapacitated if they cannot recall the circumstances of the situation. I.e. the who, what, when, where, why or how.”

    Finance: When did the policy change?

    Hancock: I assume it was over the summer. Since Julian came–previously the other person we had in that position wasn’t amazing at their job. Julian is sort of an expert in this field and his work before dealt specifically with this kind of law in higher education institution.

    Finance: Given that none of us knew that this policy was changed…it doesn’t seem there was a lot of student input in this policy change. What’s the process for changing something in the student handbook? Since we’re not involved, I assumed CCL was the group responsible for this.

    Hancock: We recommend changes to Cappy. Sometimes it’s respected and sometimes it never hits our committee. Technically, Cappy can change whatever she wants. Historically, if there’s a change in state law there will be a change.

    Student Life: A lot of our college policies, especially related to Title IX, are designed so we will not get sued. Any policy that says “the presence of alcohol means sexual assault” would make for some kind of lawsuit. Especially considering Vassar is currently being sued by someone who was expelled for assault. I think remembering the legal context is important. Julian has a law degree.

    SoCos: I’m flabbergasted right now. Frankly, Julian made this change to make our policies worse. There is definitely a space for figuring out how to address that. It sounds like CCL wants to send out an email and make this policy clear. Is there a method by which CCL can make a push for this to change to when it was a better policy? I don’t feel good about us just letting it sit there and then making sure people know it.

    Hancock: We could put it back on the agenda and discuss it. To be honest, we’re not a representative group. It might be more effective for VSA to write a letter, resolution and make a recommendation for how the College should move forward. I don’t think the group of people CCL has can effect that change and I don’t think we would be able to represent everyone correctly.

    President: When was this discussed?

    Hancock: November.

    Cushing: Does this mean that if policy changes happen that no one’s going to know about them?

    Other CCL rep: We didn’t come to a conclusion about that, just that we need to publicize them.

    Hancock: One of the admins. talked about how when they go through orientations–they have to go through and read things and take a test on it like alcohol edu and that was talked about a way of making sure students know about these policy changes.

    Cushing: You said this would be a case-by-case process. Will this be a victim-centered approach like people claim? Is there a statement about that?

    Other CCL rep: I don’t remember that ever being mentioned.

    Cushing: We can’t let this go because I don’t feel comfortable doing that. I can be the point person for talking about this on VSA.

    Finance: As horrified as I am by the current policy, I don’t feel qualified to speak on this matter because I’m not a sexual assault advocate or lawyer. What does concern me is that it seems to be a unilateral move by the admins. who are supposed to be working in our best interest. I feel like I don’t have to know everything about sexual assault because I trust that there is a process that functions. We’re supposed to be student leaders but none of us even knew about this policy change. It was my experience as house president that people would ask me questions unrelated to what I do on VSA because people do look to us as leaders on this campus. But now I don’t feel comfortable talking about a lot of these policies, not just because I’m not qualified to talk about them but because I don’t even know about them. This represents a major change in our sexual assault policy and it’s December and none of us knew about it. There’s a problem with how CCL was viewed: I was always under the assumption that even though Cappy and the President’s Office all had final say, that things were run by us. Given all of the atrocious stuff that’s happened this semester, the institution is to blame. I feel powerless to combat that without being treated like a student leader or at least someone who is trusted with that information. I admire Essie’s comment that this is not something we should let go.

    Raymond: Orientation has already been planned, so that’s not a space where that can happen.

    Joss: First off, thanks for coming in and dealing with delivering this administrative news. The policy became effective the beginning of this school year?

    Hancock: The only thing I can say is that every year at the beginning of the year I check the links between our website and the admin. website. I can check the last time they updated it, but they don’t have a date on this one. At the beginning of the year we talked about how these changes didn’t make it into this year’s print copy.

    Finance: So the copy that was given to students has all of the incorrect information?

    Hancock: Yes.

    President: It was also presented to us that changes had been made but that Julian was going to oversee everything. But there was no mention of changing the standards of what would constitute incapacitation. It was presented as being purely procedural.

    Joss: Do the people that make out the changes and the people who dish out the punishments know that freshmen are being presented with the wrong information?

    Hancock: I would venture to guess no. I think when Julian makes these changes he assumes that the College is going to recognize these things and represent them properly. But the person who oversees Res Life hasn’t shown up at all this year. The governance of the College specifies: Dean of the College, Dean of Students, Chris Roellke’s intern, Class reps, a faculty rep, the VP for Student Life, Assistant Dean of the College for Campus Life and Diversity. There are 13 people.

    Finance: Is there published attendance?

    Hancock: It’s a closed committee. You could email and ask about it. There’s a faculty person, Jane Parker who hasn’t been coming. DB Brown hasn’t been coming at all.

    President: We’ll be meeting with Chris Roellke tomorrow, so we’ll talk to him about this. I’ll be sure to update you all on that. Unfortunately, this is our last VSA meeting of the year, but I’ll send out an email letting everyone know what comes out of this conversation. This is a huge change and people need to know about it and we need to do something about it.

    7:36 p.m.// Forum with ViCE

    Maya: I’m Maya and I’m the director of Vice.

    Jason: I’m Jason and I’m the assistance director.

    Maya: ViCE has done a lot this semester–at least one event per week. We did Student Music’s Halloween Showcase. We had students show up and do imitations of their favorite artists in the Shiva. For film we did a screening of Chef that was really great. No-ViCE and ViCE jazz have had a couple great shows this semester and they had their last one last night which was really successful. We did fall fest on the library lawn, which was fun.

    Jason: ViCE music had serenading, which was underattended.

    Hancock: That was mostly because of the weather and location change.

    Maya: Looking to the future, we’re thinking about making the serenade concert smaller.

    Hancock: There’s a lot of stuff coming next semester. We don’t want to say names of specific change, but we have a big speaker coming in February.

    Maya: We also have a big screening coming.

    Hancock: There will be a screening and very large speaker. Since we decided not to have a big fall concert, they’re instead using their funds to have a large spring concert which will be in collaboration with Chris Roellke to have an art thing during the day. We’re already trying to lock down a few artists for that. That’ll be really exciting.

    President: A lot of the focus for ViCE in the past has been on music and concerts. I know there’s been talk of moving it to general campus events.

    Maya: The other chair of special events is Sarah King and she wants to make the silent disco happen. We’re possibly going to have that at the end of the semester. Those events are more expensive so we can’t do as much, but we’re trying to do a lot of other little things. We also tried to get Instagram dogs–we tried to get Marnie, but her fee is $1500, so we couldn’t do that. But we’re going to try to bring dogs.

    Hancock: There are certain acts that bring a lot of people, but those costs have been rising. There’s a balancing act that we’ve been doing all year long, finance-wise.

    Ops: My favorite ViCE special event last year was the hypnotist, so if you could bring that back, that’d be great.

    Maya: Yeah, we’ve been talking about that. Thanks for your input. Another thing we’d like the VSA’s input on is on the bigger acts we bring. The people who usually join the general body of ViCE are really into music so they’ll talk to a DJ who probably no one’s ever heard of. We’re trying to decide whether we want to do polling or focus groups, but it would be helpful in the future if you could be representatives of the campus to get that input. Last year was cool.

    7:44 p.m.//Exec Reports

    Student Life: There’s a lot happening in campus climate, but there’s a lot happening there and maybe an update isn’t the right format to talk about those things. So, Charlotte is our new SAVP coordinator. She has enough of a background in data analysis that transitioning into the campus climate survey has gone smoothly. It’s pretty much done and so we’ve been working with that and trying to make that version of the survey better than our peer institutions while still being able to compare the data. One, we have to check, legally, what questions we can and can’t ask about perpetration. The survey is supposed to be anonymous, but if they College has a certain amount of information about sexual assault they are legally required to investigate. So if someone reveals a lot of information about themselves and says they have perpetrated sexual assault, they’ll have to look into it. We have to figure out what those implications are. We’re also going to craft questions about stalking and domestic violence. That might take a little longer as the peer institutions we’re working with aren’t asking these questions on their surveys. We’re hoping to get hype around this survey to get good data and get a feel for what’s happening on this campus. We’re going to start reaching out to student groups after we come back from break. Second, is anyone here van-certified and here tomorrow between 12 and 2 p.m.? The VSA is renting two vans to help the BSU go to another protest. I can only drive one of them, so we’re looking for another driver. Third, there’s a letter from DB Brown that contained an apology and stated change of policy in response to the Boilerplate article. Basically DB Brown who is not part of the Title IX process–so he’s not legally allowed to know the details of the situation–is allowed to know about whether or not a no-contact order has been filed. However, he was going to send an apology to us in writing about his inappropriate and triggering behavior. He wants to make it so that if someone is in the process of a Title IX investigation they will never have to go see him. There’s no reason someone really should. When you’re in the process of an investigation all of your interactions with admins. are colored by that. We’re going to disseminate the letter when we get it. Most students don’t totally understand the structure of the College, so most people don’t understand that DB has nothing to do with Title IX. It looks defensive if he says that, so it’s going to come from us. I’m on the CIE subcommittee for faculty training. We’re going to meet in the coming weeks. Our intention is to refine the faculty training recommendation put forward by CIE last year. We’re also talking about the mental health petition. It is the recommendation of the Student Life committee that these four things should happen: 1. We secure the post-doc position for another year 2. We hire another full time staff member 3. We get more hours for someone who can prescribe drugs 4. Vassar College insure another practitioner, because right now we only have one. Next thing: A lot of the campus climate conversations haven’t been held through the committee structure. Lastly, what we as the VSA can do: We care about our constituents and I’ve been thinking about how we can better serve those populations. The best thing we can do know is provide people with resources and information, specifically about the structure of the College. In one of my classes my professor let me go up to the board and explain the administrative structure. That can be really helpful because knowing that Bob Walton is the person to talk to about the early buyout incentive, or Roellke is DB’s boss, Julian Williams’ work is informed by the legal obligations of Title IX. He kind of works for the law more than he works for us. Sharing that information–why isn’t the College disseminating that info is what people ask, but I’m beginning to think that’s one of the best things we can do to get involved with activism on campus. We can use what we know from VSA to help people effect change. We can explain how everything works. We should be making a better effort to go out into the community and empower the people we’re supposed to be representing.

    2015: I definitely agree about our role in disseminating info. In order to do that, we need to make sure the info we’re disseminating is correct. I would like guidance in terms of disseminating.

    Student Life: It sounds super boring, but reading parts of the handbook–the information in the handbook is pretty much everything you need to know. The version online is correct. Often we talk about activism on campus and pretend it’s not people we’re in classes with and friends with, so even if it’s just you as a person helping someone out who’s not specifically your constituent, that’s helpful.

    Finance: I’m going to go through the consensus agenda. Generation asked for $200 so they could buy materials for crafts. VSU requested $5000 to bring in a Vassar alum who’s a speech writer for the second Bush administration. We asked to table it because they had no cosponsors. SJP asked for $200–pre-orgs are entitled to operating budgets. We gave them $90 because it’s December. VARC requested $119.85 for heated water bowls for feral cats. Unicef requested $3000 to bring in a speaker who speaks on sex-trafficking. ViCE’s fund app was approves: They requested $8000 that I thought was too much and I think they are underestimating the amount of money they can get from Chris and Cappy’s office. We gave them $4000. Shiva wants to buy equipment. Because Finance meets on Wednesdays we had to have everyone submit their fund apps before Thanksgiving for up to next semester. So I made it so that you can still submit fund apps and we’ll have a meeting this Wednesday too. It’s what’s best for the students. I’ll email everything out as a consensus agenda. We conducted three audits this semester, all of them should be completed. What will come out of those audits is a one-page report of the orgs that were audited. The idea is that we spend a lot of money on these orgs, so everyone should be very aware of how these orgs operate and what they spend money on. We’ll conduct three more next semester. I’m not sure which ones we’ll audit, Hip Hop 101 will be one of them. This semester we did The Misc, WVKR and ViCE. I will continue to approve reimbursement and direct-pay requests sporadically. If you have stuff you haven’t been reimbursed for, you need to do it before the end of this week. This semester the new structure of Finance committee really worked. We’re going to continue it next semester. If you’re a VSA council member you can still join. CIRC is meeting on Tuesday to discuss divestment proposals.

    President: I just want to encourage everyone to use our resources on campus: CARES, TLC, Metcalf. This week has been really heated on campus. It’s a tough time in general but all of this can be triggering.

    Ops: I had a Google hangout with the Seven Sisters’ student governments today. I think it would be good if the administration held a space for healing on campus. Eve Dunbar was there and it was really good because it gave people a chance to talk about their feelings and it helped admins. make an action plan for the spring. The VSA is going to try to provide resources to orgs: Like renting vans for BSU and things like that. Other schools suggested we outlined a memorandum for admin or we can provide support for other students who are already working on these issues. One thing Bryn Mawr does after their meetings is hold a hot topic forum and they bring in students to facilitate discussion. People here have talked about how we don’t discuss big issues on the council floor and that might be a way for us to combat that. Another thing: Other schools already have diversity training for administration, faculty and students and that might bolster our case for that. Bryn Mawr has a position for a diversity assistant. We could look into that. People here have been pushing for our orientations to be focused on social justice and identity. Right now at Smith their entire orientation is social justice themed. We like to copy our peer institutions, so we can look into that too.

    Student Life: Our committee isn’t meeting for the rest of the year, but I wonder how we can use our positions to support people for the rest of the semester. I’m curious about what you all think that should look like.

    President: I also want to say that I’ve been meeting throughout the last week with numerous administrators, alums, trustees, faculty to talk about these issues and solutions. There are clear recommendations and plans coming out of the administration. That list should be coming out soon. When I do get it I’ll let you all know. There are some short-term actions that can be implemented immediately. Coming back from break, the goal is for this campus to look different and for students to see change while we look at long-term action. If any of you have ideas, please come to me as I speak to them almost every day. They’re looking for clear solutions and idea. A lot of people don’t know what to do, but there will be concrete things coming in the future.

    TAs: If any of us wants to support different action, rallies, things like that, we should acknowledge that we on this council have privilege others don’t have. I can only speak for myself but don’t forget that when we enter a space and you’re invited into that space, recognize that even if it helps for you to step up, also remember to step back.

    Finance: I think that what we need to be doing as a student government right now is re-establishing our lines of communication with the powers that be at this institution because we are failing to disseminate information. This school has a lot of “sometimes” procedures. Sometimes things go to the VSA, but not always. Sometimes things go to CCL, but not always. Students need to know how decisions are being made. But I think we really dropped the ball this semester because we’re only realizing now the shit has hit the fan and we’re really not able to hold people responsible for these issues because we don’t understand the College’s structures well enough to help. While a lot of that is the admins.’ fault, we need to stop focusing on things that don’t matter and aren’t important to students at this school. For example, that our sexual assault policies have changes over the summer and our student handbook has the wrong info. A lot of the stuff we do is just gravy. Maybe doing resolution amending isn’t as important as our sexual assault policies. We need to acknowledge the limited of information we have in this room. Every person on this campus is represented by someone in this room, but I don’t think we’re doing enough to represent them. Exec needs to bring up in every meeting from now on that our lines of communication are failing and we need to establish who are in these committees, who’s not showing up. We also need to make an apology: I’m horrified at our level of misrepresentation. I think that we’ve done students an injustice and we need to do everything to rectify that, but I think we need to apologize.

    Student Life: Do people think a BIRT forum would be productive? One problem with BIRT is that things only go to them if they’re reported. We can ask them to talk about things, but it’s being tossed around as a solution to a lot of things that are happening. The people that are on it are probably the best people on campus to work on those issues. But it was heartbreaking to me to be at a forum to have a student ask who they’re supposed to talk to about this shit and they didn’t know BIRT was that body. Are we giving students false hope in BIRT, though? BIRT can act as a mediator and communicate and isn’t a punitive body. But maybe a forum with them would be too hostile. I feel like any forums with admin. right now have the potential to get unproductive really fast, so I’m wondering if this is something worth pursuing.

    Strong: I think it’s something that we need, but this isn’t the best time. Everyone’s going into finals, it’s a tense time. But it could be very beneficial at the beginning of next semester.

    TAs: Reaching out to different groups to see what they think and if this is what they want could be good.

    Student Life: It wouldn’t be a VSA thing, it would be a BIRT thing.

    Maddy (at-large): I disagree with Strong–this could be very stressful for people. Going into finals with all of this on their mind, it might be nice for people to get this information and it could relieve some stress.

    Joss: Admin. can’t just expect us to forget about it. Throw a bunch of papers at us and then just deal with it.

    Activities: I agree that we should do it this semester because the people who it’s affecting most so need this. It should cross over with next semester: Maybe have a forum now and then next semester make a quick how-to sheet for BIRT. It could be maybe given out at the beginning of next semester. We need to show them that after break we’re not forgetting that these things are happening.

    President: The administration is willing to do these things. There was an email set out by Ed Pittman about a space of healing. Admins. will not be in attendance for that because they want it to be a space to heal. I will bring this idea to them.

    2018: Maybe we need a place that has a how-to for everything, where it’s one screen and it can say like “what happened?” and they just click through. There are so many active ways to disseminate info, but there are so many different places. We should have one page that’s just like, “how-to anything,” that would be helpful for students.

    Student Life: I think that’s dope. Each committee should collect all of that info and we could probably put it up before spring break. When we talk about the College I think we do an active disservice to dialogue when we say “the Administration.” If we are in a position where we can name names–this office or this person is doing this–by framing things as “the Administration wants to” we gloss over the people who are administrators at Vassar who have good politics and are working to make progress. We give students a bad model for dialogue when we say everything is “the Administration.” People don’t have anything against Wendy, the director of Metcalf. When people say “The Administration doesn’t want more Metcalf counselors” that’s wrong because Wendy does.

    2017: I think we need to be careful in assuming that the frustration is that students don’t understand the structure. It could be that they understand the structure fine and see that it’s not working. I do think conversations with certain administrators in a forum with BIRT would be valuable. But we should also keep in mind that a forum and telling people more about the structure may not solve the frustration.

    2015: We really need to start recognizing our own role in this. Because we’re representatives we have a different role than angry students. We need to stop talking about the admin. as the system because we are the system. We played a role in this this semester. We need to address that moving forward we need to talk about the way we disseminate info to the student body. When people go to forums, most of the people who attend are the people who are already interested in the issue and probably know the info. The recent campus climate issues are really upsetting because I don’t believe that anyone on this campus is intentionally trying to hurt anyone on this campus. But I strongly believe these are issues we’re all facing from a relatively more homogenous standpoint than in the country. Nobody wants to see sexual assault on campus. When we address these issues we need to try to work to try to solve these problems, recognize the holes in the system and actually take action.

    Cushing: Hannah, thank you for your comment about the administration. I’ve talked to people who aren’t considered the administration: Luis, for example. A lot of them are hurt because we refer to the Administration as a whole. They expressed that they are trying so hard, but they aren’t getting any response. One really important thing is that I spoke to a lot of my professors: The faculty is not being respected at this college and it’s important to recognize that. The WMST department, for example, is willing to hold a talk about gender politics and sexual assault and then talk to the administration about these issues and be a bridge between the students and the Administration. They want to fill this gap because although the senior administrators don’t talk to us, they do respect that the faculty is getting angry as well. We should appreciate the fact that they’re actually open to talking about these issues and not use them as a resource, but bridge the gap through them. We talk about taking action a lot, which I appreciate; however, I still do not know what this action is. We need forums, but this is all conversation and we’ve been having conversations for such a long time. They don’t lead to anything. Right now we’re brainstorming for ways to take action, but there’s still nothing. These are small steps and all we can do, but it’s not leading together in my mind.

    President: I think Essie brings up good points. Every person in this room was elected to be a leader for their constituency and every person in this room should be feel responsible for doing something. As far as I know–and I hold myself and everyone responsible–if you’re not concretely doing anything and not contributing to the solution don’t say other people aren’t doing anything. You can reach out to admins and take action yourself. Saying something needs to be done and not doing anything yourselves in inherently hypocritical. It’s easy to point out where other people are fucking up, but I think we all need to stop pointing fingers. We have a level of privilege to be here. I don’t think any person in this room likes what’s going on on campus. Your job is not just to plan a dorm event this semester.

    Bethan (at-large): I think it might be an important thing to talk to student groups and student leaders and admins. whose job it is to be trained in these issues before you take these actions. While you have a great sense of what the VSA can do, some of the best thing I see is talking to students first rather than taking a top-down approach. I just want to make sure that whatever actions you’re taking isn’t just one thing in one committee, talking to one tokenized person to get to these solutions. In my experience in past years, it happens quite often. Oftentimes the VSA falls all over themselves and try to take a bunch of action in a week without talking to students about whether that action is healthy or productive. The actions should be well considered and well timed. It’s also about the quality of the action. We have seen poor quality things happening from student leadership.

    President: By “take action” I meant thinking critically about ways to support students more. I think a big part too is supporting students who are doing meaningful action.

    Academics: In all of this I have yet to see any concrete things: The only concrete things I’ve seen is the letter from SART in The Misc that listed concrete actions to take. We’re meeting with Chris tomorrow and we could bring him a list of things we can do. I want to re-open the conversation about a social consciousness requirement. I’m going to advocate for proposals to encourage faculty to start asking people’s pronouns. Maybe we can use this space here right now to come up with ideas.

    Main: One of my high school teachers is a sexual education teacher and it would be great if we brought him back. Hearing things about orientation this year, I think it would be good.

    2017: Whenever there are decisions that Cappy and Chris are making that affect sexual assault victims, if we could set up some way so that we cut out of the middleman and facilitate them talking directly to students that’s not in a forum where people are just yelling back and forth.

    2018: We’re talking about communication to the Administration better: No matter what type of situation it is–whether it’s the VSA as a whole asking them something or students crying at them at the Villard Room–they’re not listening, or at least not in an effective way. I’d like them to hear us and do something about it. I’d like to see money be spent in better ways. There’s so much money floating around and we’re asking for Metcalf counselors. I just see $200 going to an org for something and that could be going to Metcalf. I don’t understand how the money works, but I think it could be spent much better.

    Lathrop: I support what Academics said about a social consciousness requirement.

    Finance: I think we lost our seat at the table. I don’t know when that happened, but it did. And now all of these decisions are being made and there’s no student input. We have the structure that certain administrators, if not the entire Administration, refuses to work with. We’re supposed to be the students’ representatives, but there’s obviously a big miscommunication. Concretely, I’d like to see that when there are concrete changes that are going to be made that they ask us whether they’re a good idea. It’s really scary to me–I think there are a lot of people that understand the structure of the school and are frustrated by it, but there are other people who don’t understand the structure and that has scary implications for things like sexual assault. That affects the way people act in a terrifying way. The way we conceive of sexual assault doesn’t align with the rules. Especially since when I question whether something I’m doing is in violation of the rules I pick up the student handbook, which we just found out is wrong. I think that not publicizing changes to the student handbook is a stupid thing to do and it puts students in danger.

    Activities: Problematic language from faculty–if a professor says something inappropriate, who do you talk to? I’d like to make those channels more clear.

    President: I think in the short-term, there needs to be clear explanation for why the sexual assault policy has changed. I also think we need to address issues of language in classes, specifically the pronouns at the beginning of the semester. We need to advocate more effectively. Our seat at the table has been lost and there hasn’t been effective expressing of what’s happened. That needs to change.

    Ops: Something that’s been on my mind since the Margolis Healy forum on Tuesday: The amount of pain for students of color on this campus–if some of us get hurt, we all hurt. This room is not diverse, we do not represent the student body. A lot of my issue has been grappling with how to deal with this as a student leader and personally. I think one thing I would like to see is that somehow our student orientation needs to teach how to treat students properly. There needs to be a tectonic shift on this campus.

    Student Life: The gender-neutral bathroom committee is still happening. Driving students to and from protests on the VSA dime. Sitting on the faculty committee and advocating for faculty training. And promoting a culture of kindness on campus. It’s one thing to quote political theorists, but I’m getting really sick of the way we treat everyone on campus. People say the VSA isn’t doing their job, but this is the only forum where you can shame your peer for saying you’re not doing enough to fix racism, which is messed up. Not that we can’t do more, but at the end of the day this is an extracurricular activity we do. We’re all full-time students.

    Cara: My friend says it’s frustrating for students who are trying to talk to faculty members–they want to make sure faculty isn’t overriding the work students have been doing all year. They can help the situation but there needs to be a more coordinated effort and meeting between those activist groups.

    TAs: At the beginning of the semester, Student Life reached out to identity-based orgs about maintaining a clear and constant line of communication with those orgs. Reaching out to students is, if not the number-one priority, it should be. I don’t want to call anyone out, but this isn’t just an extracurricular thing, but it’s a student voice filtered through us. One action is the Vassar Transparency Coalition will be pushing just for transparency in the school’s investments, but from my view many of the issues of race, gender, interpersonal violence, they center around things not being clear.

    Jewett: As leaders we often don’t know what the deal is–we need to gain a better understanding of how everything works and be better leaders.

    Joss: We need to put pressure on administrators–better housing for trans* students, more sensitivity training, a dissemination of BIRT’s functioning.

    Activities: A lot of themes that have been expressed is a lack of people of color on our council. There’s an ALANA council that meets every other week. I know being in a leadership circle that that conversations we have, if I’m not there, people don’t know what’s going on on council or with administration. There are a lot of policies that identity orgs aren’t aware of.

    2018: Personally at the beginning of the year I wanted to go to the ALANA center, but I didn’t want to make people uncomfortable because it might not be appropriate for me to be in that space. How do you propose I reach out to them?

    Activities: The question is whether they’re comfortable having you in spaces they need to make safe for themselves. We do need allies especially in times of crises…but if you ask and show a genuine interest and have worked to understand and know your space of privilege and don’t take the lead in these spaces, you’re generally welcome there. As long as you care.

    2015: A lot of the advice I’ve gotten about that is that it’s about being there but not about controlling the situation in any way. You need to understand your privilege and have done your research so people aren’t trying to catch you up. If you have valuable information to offer, do so without redirecting the conversation.

    Cushing: I do remember some talk about BIRT, but is it possible to create a database where we don’t breach confidentiality, but we talk about how BIRT has been responding historically? Giving examples for how to go through the process can be more comprehensive. There are a lot of things happening on Facebook that no one else other than the students actually see. We love writing things down online, but instead of going to a forum, using the Internet is very helpful because there are a lot of voices being expressed there. Another thing is where the College’s endowment is being spent–making that info more accessible to students rather than just making it for students who understand Finance. That’s a lot of money. We have a lot of money as the VSA and if the response is not coming from the senior administration we can allocate some of our budget to those things. Accessibility: I don’t know how much money it is to make one building accessible, but maybe we can give money to things like that. I’m willing to give money from our budgets. Another thing is a clear definition of consent. In CARES we think that it is informed consent, which means sober and verbal and all of that. We didn’t know that there was another definition coming from somewhere else. One definition of consent to be emailed to the student body is something we really need.

    2017: This is getting back to orientation: One thing that would be great for us to push for–which I had a brief conversation about with DB Brown–is that we’re using a lot of words that we assume people know what we mean. There’s no vocabulary 101 seminar for words like “racism” or “privilege.” Because there’s not that, I think that leads to people hearing those words a lot without understanding the definition and then they tune out of the conversation. During my orientation it became apparent that when we talked about privilege, no two people had the same idea about what it meant. I think that would get students on the same page a lot earlier.

    Ferry: This is for Academics: I think it needs to be clear what you can do when you’re in a classroom setting and your professor is disenfranchising students. What do you do when you have a sociology professor who can throw out the word “black privilege?” If you can’t get them fired you need to find a way to make sure students aren’t taking these same classes again. Professors need to know who in their own departments don’t know their subject matter. Students shouldn’t have to fight for their own identity.

    Bethan (at-large): The other thing that maybe students don’t like hearing is that, while there are a huge amount of students who are upset, a lot of the issues we have are issues between students. I like the concept of doing things as orientation, but as a senior I vaguely remember what orientation is like, but there needs to be things done all four years. Gender pronouns is something that students mess up too. While we need to hold upper-level administrators responsible, you as student leaders should also be looking to encourage students to respect other students. The administration is mishandling what students are doing to each other.

    President: For the library incident from last year, we all talk about Security but no one talks about the fact that it was a student who called Security.

    TAs: Shout out to all the poets who were at the Wordsmiths poetry slam the other day. And a big shout out to the people who made it to the team.

    Main: Big props to Cushing the Greens for their art event.

    9:12 p.m.//Council adjourned

  • mariesolis 11:59 pm on November 23, 2014 Permalink | Reply  

    VSA Council | November 23, 2104 

    Hey, everyone! Hope you all had a great weekend. First things first: I’m officially outgoing Editor-in-Chief. On Wednesday we elected Palak Patel as our new EiC for Spring 2015. However, I will continue liveblogging for the duration of the semester. Also, this week the VSA meeting will be recorded for the external review. Sit tight, we’ll be getting started soon!

    7:03 p.m.//Call to order, attendance
    Absences: Town Students

    7:04 p.m. Consensus Agenda
    a. Vassar Greens (Discretionary) $500/$420
    b. VCTV (Capital) $700 + cost of security tags/$700
    c. Crafts Not Bombs (PreOrg) $100/$200
    d. Unbound (Discretionary) $270/$270
    e. ASA (Discretionary) $500/$1000
    f. Minutes From 11/16/14

    Finance: The Greens are collaborating on some event they want to do with Cushing. They have enough money, but the cost of musicians went up so they needed additional funding.

    Cushing: The event name is “Affecting change through art.” It’s going to be less of an activist event, but it will be an art space open to everyone in the Villard Room. It’s going to be about reclaiming the Villard Room as a space where we can express ourselves. There will be a ton of food and it’s right before ViCE’s party. We’re still looking for submissions.

    Finance: VCTV had a capital request. They want to buy some new items for their club on top of an almost $3,000 fund app that was approved in the spring. We also found out that they don’t have a storage space, which isn’t thrilling to hear. We’re going to collaborate with Activities committee to figure out how to secure these expensive items. Crafts Not Bombs wants to craft and sell their crafts on Etsy and then donate the money to anti-drone causes. Unbound needed money to make their play better. The last one was for ASA. Every year they go to a conference that they’ve always had to pay for out of their budget, but this year it’s more expensive because they don’t have an ASA grad to stay with, so we gave them money so they can have a place to stay.

    2017: About Crafts Not Bombs–When we voted them in as a pre-org it was clearly stated that they weren’t going to have a political affiliation.

    Activities: Well they can do anything they want with the funds they raise.  They’ll be selling some crafts and giving some away.

    7:09 p.m.//Forum with Ariel Nereson, Disciplinary Arts Coordinator

    Nereson: I’m working with the College’s Mellon Foundation grant. The grant has four arms. This year we’ve been working with faculty to design courses that specifically include creative arts disciplines. We’re trying to provide for students who are interested in this disciplinary work. We’re also looking to invite artists to campus to do residencies. If you have an idea of a guest artist you’d like to bring to campus, speak up and advocate that to the faculty and see if they can grease the wheels for you. We also have pedagogy workshops for faculty and–this is a new pilot program we’re starting this summer–similar to URSI and Ford, will fill the gap in the summer research programming for students who are interested in arts research. Right now is a great time to insert your vision into what you’d like that programming to look like. Also the trailer outside of the College Center is called the collaboratory. It will move throughout the campus and be in different locations throughout the year. It has a space heater so it will be used during the winter. We’re accepting proposals for that now, if you’re interested in showing and creating work in that space. They’re due December 1. The more we can invite people outside of the arts to be creative beings, the more holistic the campus will be for everyone. I welcome any input you have to help shape what we do with the grant. You can find my email on the website. My office is in the Old Laundry Building, 208a and 209. We have an amazing blog as well. You can follow us on Twitter at Vassar Creative. We do tons of informational stuff. For Cushing’s project–Affecting Change through Art–we can help publicize your event. So we’re also here to support houses and orgs in terms of finances and time and energy. I welcome any requests for help, participation, feedback. Let me know if you need that support for your own projects.

    Main: Can you talk about how guest artists for residencies go through faculty? Is there a way students can directly request artists? Because that would be chill.

    Nereson: There were a lot of decisions that went through deciding to do that mainly through faculty. Some of that had to do with the fact that they tend to be more successful when they’re involved curricularly. These kinds of residencies tend to be most effective with curricular engagement. That said, I think the majority of the faculty here is interested in hearing what you have to say. If you want to co-propose alongside someone, that’d be lovely. If you have an idea you can also bring that directly to me and I can then reach out to faculty members. It’s more for infrastructure purposes and making sure that process goes as smoothly as possible.

    7:17 p.m.//Forum with the Sustainability Committee

    Rep: We’re trying to build on years past. First and foremost, we have a new website. We’re hoping for more publicity this year. Most people do know we exist, but with the new website–it’s linked to the main Vassar page now–we have a big up this year. We’re working with the master planning and get in those negotiations and come up with a list of things we want to see in the plans for the next ten years. We’re working on that list–we have a preliminary one, but we’re going to be opening it up for feedback. We’re comprised of student interns, me and a bunch of administrative and faculty reps, plus Allistar Hall. Buildings and Grounds and all of the people who never made it to meetings last year are more present this year, so they really have increased their participation. We have an RCF fund that’s for short term and long term projects that anyone can propose. A drama professor just submitted one. In the theater to work they have to use the floodlights that suck up a ton of energy, so they placed a proposal for energy-efficient lighting. One thing we really want to do is push the fact that we have the fund that literally anyone can submit to. It’s an easy and accessible application. We’re also looking at creating two new bike racks on campus. They’re cool because they’re a bike-repair rack. One of the interns has a wrench, tire pump. We’re looking at having it by the College Center and the TH area. We’ve also improved within CIRC vegan proposals. Any events the committee puts on will be vegan, except for the farmers market. Since that’s a big event we decided to make an exception for that. So we’re officially vegan. We’re in the process of setting up a green office plan. We’re thinking about electricity with lights, computers and energy with commuting. If you reach a certain total, the department will be able to put a certificate of sustainability on their website.

    7:24 p.m.//Executive reports

    President: Things have been running smoothly. We’re meeting with Cappy and Dean Chenette tomorrow, so if you have anything you want me to bring up, let me know.

    Strong: I have something I’d like you to talk to Cappy about. Strong’s ongoing structural problems have returned. I’m curious how much they know about it. I’d be more than happy to reach out to them and give them more information than they’d ever want. We’ve had fire alarms going off every night, we haven’t had hot water for a week. Some of the heating doesn’t work. This has been going on all semester.

    Academics: First off, the peer advising dinner happened. Thanks to everyone who came. Hundreds came, I’d say. Next, the syllabus archive is still happening. It was brought up in CCP. The faculty in that committee were receptive to it, but worried about intellectual property rights and things like that. So I talked to the library and they were interested in putting it in the informational repository. Now we just need to get it endorsed by the faculty. In terms of hiring a library director, we’re working on writing a job description. The newsletter has had difficulty making it out this semester, so we’re going to channel our efforts to getting out a full spring edition.

    Ops: We modified the [Res Life] amendment. We modified point F under section one, so now the VSA will have to approve contracts by a simple majority vote. In the contract itself, Luis Inoa edited part of it to say that it will depend on the context of the sanction with regards to alcohol and drugs. Before Res Life had the ability to remove someone based on one offense. He also took out some gendered language.

    Main: The only thing I have to say is thinking about the precedent it sets with administrative offices with what they can do.

    Joss: How many votes do we need to pass it?

    Ops: 2/3, which is 16.

    Davison: No one’s allowed to change their votes, right? Because we did that once.

    President: Nope. No one can back out.

    Student Life: Just think about the implication of everyone abstaining and this not passing. We’ve had a series of conversations about what the future looks like given this amendment. If this is not passed, the implications are that house teams will effectively be split into two categories: Student fellows and house officers. Even if you have a lot of mixed feelings about this amendment, abstentions count as nos.

    Ops: We need a 2/3 majority of the council. We need 16 votes. A yes would mean that, given talking to your constituents, there’s a consensus in favor of this change. A no would mean there’s opposition to this.

    Student Life: If we vote yes, the amendment goes to us and the house officer behavioral agreement will be signed by house officers for next year. This will give them some kind of room privilege, or maintain the room privilege they have and put some responsibility on them. We know how the HSAs feel, we know how BHP feels and their respective houses feel.

    Ops: We would also have to have a second vote to approve the agreement.

    Joss: We’ve talked this death, but I just wanted to ask anyone who’s considering voting no on this could say what their reason is.

    2017: I was planning on abstaining: I recognize that everyone on house team who I’ve talked to is in favor of this. But as someone who has never been on a house team, I wasn’t going to vote no. But also I’m uncomfortable with the precedent it sets, so I decided to abstain because I don’t feel comfortable enough to vote yes. If there’s an issue that students have noticed and the administration has noticed, the way this happened, roughly, is that we said we wanted a year toward working on his, but Res Life said we needed to work with their schedule. They’re going to get very much of what they want if the vote goes the way it seems to be going. It seems to indicate that the admin can lay down a very harsh timeline, set up an ultimatum and get what they want. I also don’t like holding officers to the student fellow requirements because I personally feel some of them are counterproductive. But I do recognize I’m in the minority on that.

    Main: 2017 hit most of my points. It sets a precedent for how you get what you want from students.

    Cushing: We know this isn’t fair. I was so angry about this for weeks, all of us were. But we really need to think about house teams. That’s what this amendment is about. It will set a precedent, but it already exists and I don’t think this will enforce the precedent. I don’t think it’s worth dividing up house teams. We saw Dorml Formal happen and all of the house worked so hard on it. It’s a Vassar tradition to have these house teams put on things for this whole campus. And splitting it is going to affect freshmen too and what house teams are doing for you. I want everyone here to think about how it affects house teams and that’s why I want everyone to vote yes.

    Strong: I think something we need to not forget in this situation is that this issue was brought up from students who were on house team. Res Life didn’t bring this up.

    Student Life: Maybe I’m preaching to the choir, but I think it’s important that we as a student government remember that if we’re not doing things that are helping the students, we’re not doing anything. While I understand the points that have been made about precedents and relationships with administrative bodies, at the end of the day we have to help the students on this campus.

    Joss: Motion to vote?

    In Favor: Jewett, Lathrop, Noyes, TAs, Strong, Finance, Activities, Student Life, 2016, 2015, THs, Ferry, Raymond, Cushing, Davison
    Abstentions: 2017
    Opposed: Main

    -This motion passes-

    President: All in the favor of the contract?

    -This motion passes-

    7:44 p.m.//Changes to VSA constitution

    Ops: We added in Cushing and Jewett’s edits. Nothing else has really changed.

    Student Life: There was a section regarding Vassar Chronicle’s ability to publish things about the VSA. The EiC submitted a statement that says, “What are you people doing with your time?” I thought it was important to share. He also submitted some comments to 2017.

    2017: He was under the assumption that this was the only thing involved in this particular amendment. I explained the process and he withdrew the statement.

    Finance: I didn’t realize this before, but the adjustments Ops made to section 3 article 3 section 6 about Finance Committee–the problem with section a is that it removes quorum, but there should be something about quorum because we can’t have two people at our meeting.

    Ops: Motion to amend. Amendment 29.9 section c should say “at least seven members.”

    2017: Could we just revert to the original language?

    President: Well that amendment had to change, because it originally said that it needed a certain amount of VSA council members.

    SoCos: Or you could take out council.

    Ops: The idea is that the quorum should be seven members.

    Casey Hancock (at-large): If there’s something that’s grammatically or factually incorrect, we don’t have to vote on it. It can just be brought to Ops’ attention and they’ll change it.

    President: We’ll vote now.

    All in favor: All.

    -This motion passes-

    7:50 p.m.//Open Discussion

    Finance: There’s an exciting new change to the VSA dashboard thanks to Casey Hancock. Everyone can thank him for saving people a million hours of work. Before he built the dashboard, everything had to be done through paper. You can now take pictures of receipts for reimbursement and now we can know that you’re not lying. It also means that people will be keeping track of their receipts and it’ll be well organized. We’ve completed the WVKR review and we’re wrapping up The Misc’s review. We’ll have a report and we’ll ask them to come to council. The majority of houses have still not brought me receipts from Halloween.

    Cushing: The Cushing House event is December 5.

    Ops: Council will be split into two groups: house presidents and everyone else. We’ll each have half hour interviews for the external reviews. As I said last time, the forum is December 3 in the Villard Room. There’ll be pizza.

    Casey: I just noticed that at the moment, based on something the VSA is focused on seems like the conversations you’re having are focused on yourselves. In the future, something I wish I could’ve done better myself is focus on students.

    Jewett: Thanks to everyone who came to Dormal Formal!

    Student Life: Shoutout to everyone on Jewett for Dormal Formal. I wanted to let everyone know that I’ve seen the petition regarding more Metcalf counselors and I’m going to be having meetings about it. I see it, I hear you, I will try to provide updates as they come.

    -Meeting adjourned-

  • mariesolis 12:02 am on November 17, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: master planning, Residential Life, Vassar,   

    VSA Council | November 16, 2014 

    Hey, everyone! This will be my last week liveblogging as your Editor-in-Chief. This week we will be conducting our Exec Board interviews and we’ll be voting in a new EiC. On a different note, there are no tables in the CCMPR today, so give us some time to adjust! We’ll be getting started shortly.

    7:03 p.m.//Call to Order and Attendance
    Proxy: Ferry, SoCos

    7:04 p.m.// Consensus Agenda
    a. VSA Operating (Discretionary) $3554/$3554
    b. Outing Club (Conference) $0/$750
    c. Miscellany News (Capital) $309.90/$309.90
    d. Vassar Haiti Project (Capital) $1190/$1190
    e. UNICEF (Collaboration) $0/$50
    f. Contrast (Collaboration) $190.50/$190.50
    g. Challah (Capital) $67.95/$67.95
    h. Act Out (Conference) $2055/$2500
    i. Crafts Not Bombs (Discretionary) Tabled
    j. Minutes From 11/9/14

    President: VSA Operating applied for money for the external review. Outing Club didn’t get any money because the people who want to do it are seniors and we want everyone who’s going out into the wilderness are properly trained to do so. The Misc applied for money for heaters and rugs. Their office is kind of horrible right now, no offense to The Misc. VHP wanted money for bins to transport their art around because it’s annoying to carry them back and forth individually. UNICEF did get the $50, it’s for a lunch they’re hosting where they eat the amount of food you get if you had to survive off the amount of aid you get from the UN. Contrast wanted to collaborate with Focus. Challah needed money for baking supplies, forks and knives. Act Out applied with Fem Alliance and Transmission to go to a big LGBTQ conference in Denver. Crafts Not Bombs applied for money to make crafts…not bombs. They didn’t get the money because they need to provide us with an itemized list.

    7:07 p.m.//Forum with Community Works

    Community Works: About ten years ago, Vassar withdrew from the United Way because they were associated with the Boyscouts of America who were against members of the LGBTQ community. Each year we raise money through payroll reductions with employees and events with students and we distribute it to 10 or 11 agencies. I’m here today to invite you all to consider whether you would like to organize some kind of event to raise money for Community Works. You might want to join with other houses to do it, but it’s a great way to contribute to the community. We have hunger, homelessness, domestic violence in our community. In the City of Poughkeepsie School District over 85 percent of the students come from family below the poverty line. Fortunately, there are a lot of people in our community trying to solve this: Brian Ridell. Tree Arrington who works on empowering youth. There are also some Vassar alumnae/i who help undocumented workers in New York State. This year we’re supporting the John Flowers Family Partnership, Dutchess County SPCA, Dutchess Outreach, The Family Partnership Center, Glisten, Grace Smith House, The REAL Skills Network and Sustainable Hudson Valley. These were chosen from a larger number that were solicited from the Vassar community. It was hard to decide who to fund, but we try to alternate each year to cover all of them eventually. I want to ask you to think about how you can contribute: A party with a cover fee, for example. A raffle. The most important thing is that I and other members of the community are willing to help you with this process. We’re willing to step in and help you as much as we can. We can arrange for you to collect money for this event using VCash.

    President: You mentioned VCash. Is that a new thing?

    Community Works: I probably shouldn’t promise it. I talked to Jeff Kosmacher about it. But if we had a number of student voices who said that they could use this, it would help push it through.

    Finance: Do you think you could give a couple examples of what houses have done in the past? A lot of house presidents haven’t been on house team before.

    Jewett: We played a game of assassins. We’ve already done that again this year, so we’ll already be donating some money.

    Joss: We do an auction in the first semester and we combine it with dorm dinners. We also have students submit something to be raffled off–sometimes they’re abstract.

    Briana (at-large): Cushing did an ice cream bar in the spring and we bought it with our house money and we ended up making way more than we spent on the ice cream. Hundreds of students came to it.

    Community Works: The spring can be a great time too, because we operate on academic years.

    SoCos: One of the things that’s extremely popular is auctioning off a North Lot parking space. That alone went for $200. You can work with Security to do this.

    Cushing: We had the caramel apple sale and made a lot of money from that. It’s really easy to go and buy things in bulk and sell them. We made a lot of money, so we can donate some of it to Community Works.

    Community Works: Thank you for suggesting that people share what they’ve done in the past. One last thing is that if you want to know more about our agencies, you can go to Vassar’s homepage and type in Community Works. There are links there to all of these orgs and it’s really inspiring to read about all of them. Thanks for listening and good luck with the rest of your semester.

    7:18 p.m.//Forum with CIRC

    Adam: We’re in charge of divestment policies, proxy holding–we see what kind of use we can get out of the proxy-holding system. It remains to be seen exactly how we’ll do that, but that’s where we stand. We’ve only had one meeting so far, but we’re thinking about creating an institutional legacy. We’re thinking about how to negotiate divestment within CIRC and reach out to other students who are concerned about guidelines. Some students have said that guidelines for CIRC are too restrictive, but some people are for it. When should we divest? When shouldn’t we divest? We’re looking at other schools right now for a template. We’re having a meeting on Tuesday, so we may have more to say after that. We welcome any kind of feedback.

    President: I know a lot of the actual divestment comes out of the Board of Trustees. Do you just make recommendations?

    Adam: Essentially we’re an advisory board. We can say, “As representatives of the student body…” But also we are the only two student representatives. There are faculty representatives, two alums. We’re only one-fourth of the voting membership. We do hope that people take our recommendations into consideration when it goes to the Trustees.

    SoCos: If a guideline document is produced, would that be made public?

    Adam: It remains to be seen. I guess yes. In our previous conversations, we’ve talked about it being something we want to put forth for opinion, at least in VSA. I would like to get more student feedback on it then not. I don’t think it will be controversial.

    Finance: A lot of the calls for divestment we’ve gotten in the past have been impossible to implement. For example, one called for us to divest in the next five years. But people didn’t know that because they weren’t given that information and CIRC is pretty closed-off. We need to give students the tools to make informed proposals. There was an article in Boilerplate about it that talked more about this.

    Adam: We really are taking a much more practical approach. If we should receive a proposal from a group–which we will, probably on Tuesday–we want to make sure that we’re taking those seriously and working with the groups, depending on how feasible they are.

    Student Life: How transparent do you think the endowment is?

    Finance: Because the school is a 501 (c)(3) organization, we have to release certain information. However, that information isn’t that understandable for people who don’t understand endowment and investment. The names of individual holdings and comingled funds aren’t very accessible.

    Strong: How is it accessible if it’s not understandable to the majority of students?

    Finance: Well it’s available. It’s not locked into some vault. A student has to seek out how to understand it. You have pages and pages online. We can’t expect the school to dedicate a ton of resources to making it understandable, especially since most students don’t really want it.

    Adam: As a representative, I will try to make it more accessible for you. In the process of going over this stuff, I think that’s a valid concern and it’s something that I will work on and if anyone wants to meet with me, we can go over it together.

    President: It sounds like people want to know, so if you have ways to explain the info, that’d be ideal.

    TAs: I heard a rumor that CIRC or some other body is pushing toward there being more comingled funds as a means of perhaps making it harder for students to try and divest from something. Have you talked about that?

    Adam: The push for comingled funds is a rumor. Where did you hear it from?

    TAs: VTC–the Vassar Transparency Coalition.

    Adam: That’s always an option. You can move divestment holdings into comingled funds, but that has not been something we’ve been talking about within CIRC seriously.

    7:30 p.m.//Forum with Masterplanning

    Masterplanning student rep: We had our meeting last week and we talked about how the campus is in a transitional phase right now. We’re trying to get a feeling for the efficiency of the College. We’re trying to get data so we can think about what priorities the school really needs to focus on. We’ve talked about this year’s class gift, which is going to be an outdoor seating space for hanging out or studying. The masterplanning committee has given us the go-ahead for that. Next, they’ll be designing signs because Vassar is going smoke-free in 2015. That will be implemented in the future. We talked about parking: how to make it more efficient and better for students and faculty as well as not have a campus full of parking spaces. Trash: We’re trying to figure out how to deal with the trash issue. In the mornings, there’s an excess of trash bags everywhere. We talked about installing dumpsters in those areas, but we were kind of split on how to deal with it. More speed bumps, especially around the THs and the nursery area.

    2015: Class gift is costing half a million dollars so it’s not happening. The new plan the committee is working on is making the library courtyard a better study space for students and making solar-powered tables with outlets.

    Ferry: How do you decide what the student gift is going to be?

    Student rep: There was a proposal and everyone was for it.

    Finance: It’s a collaboration between the senior class and the Development Office.

    Student Life: To what degree are you working with the people who are redesigning the College Center?

    Student rep: It’s a little complicated. We’re not directly involved, but we will be meeting with those people to talk about it.

    7:36 p.m.//Exec Board reports

    Activities: We’ve been setting up pre-orgs and we’ve also asked representatives from the established pre-orgs to come to our Activities meetings. Some may be approved for orgs next semester. We’re also working on assessment forms for organizations. All of our Activities members are going to five meetings of different orgs on campus to make sure that they’re working as they should be and if they’re having problems we can address them. We also talked about doing a pre-org fair next semester since they usually get pushed aside in the regular Activities Fair. We’re also talking to Campus Activities about doing a casino night.

    Finance: All of our fund levels are on track, which is good. We’re dipping in a little more with our Discretionary Fund, but it might be because in the last few weeks we’ve had very large allocations from there. The Discretionary Fund is a little complicated because we never know how much will be in it until January because it works on a semesterly basis. But I’m predicting 99 percent of students will come back in January, so it should be about the same. The WVKR audit might even be done. If not, it’ll be done by the end of next week. We’ll also be kicking up The Misc audit this week and ViCE’s next semester. The people conducting these audits will produce a one-page document to evaluate what they do and how they’re spending money. Our capital loan system is being worked on by Maddy. We’re still working on the students’ assistants fund project. We’re trying to create a fund for students who can’t afford to participate in certain activities on campus. It’s unfair, so we’re working to redistribute our funds to fix that. We also are trying to target weekends where things aren’t going on so we can program on those weekends. Campus Activities has a much larger understanding of how programming works across the board and they’ll help us put events up. The majority of you have still not given me receipts from Halloween and I need those to transfer the money into your accounts. Please send your treasures to my office hours. Thanks for organizing that.

    7:42 p.m.//BIRT letter

    Student Life: If you checked your email on Friday, you may have noticed that Ed Pittman sent out an email summary of the bias incidents that have been reported to BIRT so far. I think this is fantastic. I still don’t think it’s enough because there’s no guarantee that an email like that will ever be sent out again. The language of tat email was written before Halloween and he asked Cappy and Roellke if he could send it out and they said they were uncomfortable with it. While the tone of the letter says, “We need something,” we still need to put pressure on the administration to create something lasting. It’s not sustainable to put this all on one administrator who has other things to do. In many ways I’m preaching to the choir, but we need to go over this if this is something we want to move forward with. BIRT as a body cannot actually do anything. Individual members can do things–Kim Squillance, Luis Inoa–but BIRT as an entity has no power. That’s something that has frustrated not just me, but the other members of the committee as well. This would be a responsible step so that we can hold administration accountable for responding for incidents of bias.

    Ops: My committee reviewed this letter and we thought it was awesome. If we have a letter, the motion on the table is to endorse or not endorse. We just need a simple majority.

    Finance: I know it’s very easy to look at it and say, “Something the VSA is doing.” But everyone should be aware of the time and stress Hannah has put into this. The final product is very good and it’s very important to her. It can be extremely difficult to work with administrators so I think she deserves a lot of credit.

    All in favor: All.

    -This motion passes-

    7:47 p.m.//VSA-ResLife Amendment

    Ops: We’re going to follow our special meeting rules that say you can only speak twice. Think carefully about what you’re going to say. At-large members will go right to the top of the speakers list. The first thing we’re looking at an amendment regarding the VSA’s relationship with Residential Life. We wrote up that house officers will abide by the rules of Residential Life in the section about house teams. We added another point under the bylaws stating that if they win they have to abide by them. If they lose they don’t have to, obviously. Luis Inoa also submitted a proposal to us that details why this is happening now. Another supplement is a document the HSA’s wrote. The last thing is the proposed agreement Luis Inoa drew up for us. Those should be all of the documents.

    Student Life: I want to give people time to read all of the documents because that might clear up any questions because any questions even happen.

    President: So we’ll take a minute to read through everything.

    Student Life: We met with the HSAs, Freshman Class Council and dorm house presidents. Rami and I met with different groups and I want to commend them all for the respect they showed in those rooms. I know this has made a lot of people feel angry and disempowered, but despite all of that we had productive conversations. The HSAs letter  is attached so you can see how they feel. They’re very pro-amendment. Next, we met with the Freshman Class Council. We’re assuming that those people will be interested in house team in the future. They, with the exception of one or two members, were for the amendment. They didn’t get to see the amendment itself, but we explained the philosophy behind it. Finally, we met with the house presidents and I want to give them a huge shout out because we asked them to speak from two perspectives: for themselves and for their house and house teams at-large. I have a huge amount of respect for those who expressed the opinions of their house that were different from their own. The consensus that came from that was that, with the exception of a few houses, everyone was in favor of the amendment. Other concerns I want to acknowledge: “Fuck ResLife, fuck this ultimatum.” This was handled very poorly and ResLife sprung this on everyone with short notice and the timeline was very strict. Having to make a decision before Thanksgiving was unfair and tying room privileges to all of this is coercive. I think this is an intentionally crafted amendment we’ve talked about a lot. I really appreciate all of you.

    Academics: I’m in agreement with what’s going on here. I was a house president last year and the largest point of stress was the whole three B’s conversation and taxed me more than many things in my life have taxed me. The current proposed contract does use gendered language, just to move on with that in mind.

    Student Life: I think we can also expect another amendment like this in the future. If we believe in treating house officers like we treat student fellows–student fellows get $200 in VCash. Some kind of shift that acknowledges what other house officers do would be good.

    SoCos: Since elections happened in the spring, I wanted to know why the expectations and responsibilities continue up until the end of the school year even though there will be new house officers in place by that time. They will be under contract after spring convocation.

    Ops: Typically house teams don’t flip over completely. But I can ask Luis Inoa about that.

    TAs: Personally speaking, I see no reason why any student leader should be…I fully support what’s being said here about house officers being expected to live to the same standards as Res Life people. That should be a given.

    Adam (at-large): Speaking as someone who was a house officer for two years, I support this. There’s no reason why house officers shouldn’t be held to the same standards. If these rules were in place my freshman year, it would have been very different. People need to be responsible with their leadership. I abided by these rules without the contract.

    Cushing: Firstly, I want to talk about the term “three Bs.” The last one is incredibly derogatory and not okay to use. I don’t like using that term and because it’s an acronym now we like using it but we shouldn’t. Secondly, I want to talk about how much stress house presidents went through. It’s not all about us, but a lot of it is. Thanks to the HSAs for being here and writing this. I know that it’s been hard for all of us, but when voting for this I want you all to think about how much this will affect house teams next year if we don’t vote for this amendment. Dividing it up won’t be nice. Please think about houses and house teams.

    President: As someone on a house team for two years, this was very much the culture in Strong. We fell in line with what this amendment specified. And I appreciated having that vibe and being able to look up to leaders. This is crucial.

    Davison: If an officer talked to a student about drug use is that a violation of the contract? Or is it only engaging in drug use? Just to use that as an example.

    Student Life: You can’t engage. You can discuss.

    Joss: House teams are a great concept for a freshman. To come in and look up to what at least seems like a group of pals getting along. The current house team structure is very beneficial to first-year students and I’d hate to see that go.

    Sophie (at-large): There is one specification. You cannot sext or engage in talk that is explicit in an interpersonal sense, I consider that a sexual relationship. Please don’t sext the freshmen.

    Student Life: What’s on the table is all three Bs, even though Luis Inoa only mentioned the first two [booze, blaze].

    Ops: If a consensual relationship does develop, that’s fine so long as it’s disclosed.

    Joss: I don’t think following these expectations is that much to ask for.

    Cushing: Anders, who is the Cushing and Noyes house adviser, named this relationship thing as “amorous relationships.” It’s a vague term and I don’t know how to approach it, but that’s what it is. Sexting falls within that.

    Hannah (at-large): We as the HSAs have been getting updated on the language of the agreement. It’s not set in stone. We would appreciate your feedback so we can pass it on to ResLife.

    2018: Section 2F–if we word it that way it almost sounds like there’s no expectation or the future. Maybe we should word that more specifically.

    2017: I think it was a little bit in bad taste for ResLife to try to do everything and not allow us to examine student fellows’ requirements. The only way they thought there could be equality between house officers and student fellows was to bring the same standards to house officers.

    Finance: I think we need to discuss what’s an appropriate expectation for a volunteer position and how they should be compensated. These are packaged as leadership roles when they’re necessary and the school would have to employ people if we didn’t run for them. Oftentimes, hiring security is expensive, so we’re going to let students volunteer for these positions. Thank you all for all that you do.

    Hannah (at-large): We’ve been talking about HSAs being the first responders for HSAs. So if something happens you would talk to your HSA and depending on severity it would go to your house adviser. ResLife is aware of student leaders not being recognized for what they do. We remind them every week. Thank you all. You’re all amazing.

    President: So since we’re seeing this for the first time we have to wait a week to vote on it.

    8:18 p.m.//Constitution amendment

    Ops: Many members of my committee met yesterday to write up some amendments to bring our constitution and bylaws inline with the current practice. We wrote the amendments by article. In article 7 we condensed everything because there were points about separating the Freshman Class Council from the other class councils. We just made it briefer. We added that a two-thirds majority is required to change bylaws. It’s been practiced but not clarified. We also clarified some of the VP positions. We added that Academics is a liaison to other offices. We struck that the VP for Activities is a liaison to the community because that was in reference to Meet Me in Poughkeepsie, which is under the Traditions Committee now. The President can now be the sole person who excuses absences, not the entire council. We edited the Finance section since they went under some changes this year.

    Finance: Why did you strike the required attendance?

    Ops: Each committee has internal attendance policy. We also eliminated some areas about disciplinary action because it exists all in one place. We fixed things about the BoEA that they should have had the power to do but were left to council. We made it so that pre-orbs can apply to other non-pre-org funds.

    Finance: We should make those funds more specific.

    Ops: We tried to make the language of the conference fund clearer, but we need to talk about it more. We added the Seven Sisters reps to the committee section.

    Jewett: The amendments that Cushing and I wrote are not here. Article 8 is all about orgs. We didn’t change it a ton, but some things about pre-orgs.

    Cushing: It said that pre-orgs couldn’t reserve spaces. But we changed it because now they can.

    Finance: Can you talk about why you detracted The Chronicle from this amendment?

    Ops: Because The Chronicle is not a news source, I believe.

    Finance: I’m curious because we added it in over the last two years because someone from The Chronicle was upset they weren’t included.

    Ops: We added some clarifying language about orgs having to renew their status after three semesters. We specified what pre-orgs can and can’t do. They can reserve spaces, they can use VCash machines. They added a point about how exceptions can be made to pre-orgs with a budget number. Each pre-org must have a contact person who’s not necessarily the president. We made it so that pre-orgs are approved via consensus, which we do. If pre-orgs incur debt, their certification may be revoked. We took out some gendered language. We changed some “mays” to “musts.” There’s no audit committee, so we took that out wherever it appeared.

    2016: Why did you take out where it says that the president of the previous freshman class should serve as a proxy until the new one is elected?

    Ops: Because that never happens and it functionally never serves a purpose. At the moment pre-orgs can only have a budget number at the discretion of Activities and Finance.

    8:31 p.m.//Open Discussion

    Jewett: We’ll be having Dormal Formal. There’ll be DJs Steak and Cake. 10 to 12 in the Rose Parlor.

    Ops: Now that the audit has officially been funded, I just wanted to give everyone an update. The student government review company is coming on December 3 and 4. He’s going to be interviewing students—at least everyone on council—but they won’t all be solo interviews. He’s also going to be interviewing various student leaders and student groups. The Misc, ViCE. We’ll be talking about that more on Tuesday. He’ll also be meeting with all of the deans and there will be a lot of interviews. We’ll be having a student forum on December 3 at 6:30 p.m. in the Villard Room. Operations Committee is spending the next three weeks on this. Thanks in advance to everyone.

    Student Life: A series of shout outs to all of the people who put in a lot of time for things that we talked about today. I expected today to be terrible, but it was fine. I appreciate you all. There’s a fantastic poetry event happening this Saturday at 8:30 in Sanders. It’s hosted by the Asian Students Alliance and Wordsmiths. There will also be a workshop that follows that you can RSVP for. If you want to befriend him, it’s going to be fantastic. There will be a cool opening act as well and that’s a surprise.

    2018: I wanted to encourage everyone to come to ergathon in the College Center. I’ll be doing in from 1 to 2 on Friday.

    -Council adjourned-

  • mariesolis 12:05 am on November 10, 2014 Permalink | Reply  

    VSA Council | November 9, 2014 

    I hope everyone had a nice weekend! We’re getting started a little late tonight, so bear with us.

    7:04 p.m.//Call to Order

    7:05 p.m.// Consensus Agenda

    a. Vassar Bikes (Capital) $892.50/$892.50
    b. Council of Black Seniors (Discretionary) $500/$1000
    c. GAAP (Conference) $1113.06/$1113.06
    d. Devils (Conference) Tabled
    e. Devils (Speakers) $360 plus extra costs for additional groups/$360
    f. Philaletheis (Speakers) $1000 minus additional contributions/$1000
    g. WVKR (Capital) $2438/$2438
    h. Strong (Collaboration) $240/$180
    i. NSO (Speakers) $3000/$3000
    j. 2018 (Discretionary) $400/$397.80
    k. Matthew’s Minstrels (A Cappella Recoding) $2000/$2000
    l. Abby Johnson for BOEA Co-chair
    m. Minutes From 10/26/14

    n. PreOrgs for approval:
    a. Vassar Model Congress
    b. The Pianists
    c. Kiva
    d. Vassar Mycology Club
    e. Crafts Not Bombs
    f. Traditional Korean Folk Music
    g. unFramed
    h. Novel Noshings
    i. Vassar World Affairs Council
    j. Vassar College Tech Conglomerate
    k. When Geisha Meets Pina
    l. UJIMA: A Groove Society
    m. Women in Science At Vassar
    n. Native American Students Alliance
    o. Our Club
    p. Brewer Investments Group
    q. Casual Improv

    Jewett: Abby Johnson is one of the 2017 reps on BoEA. She’s been on BoEA all year basically and has co-managed a lot of things Casey did this year. She gave a really great interview and she has a lot of great ideas. She’s very excited to take on the position.

    Activities: We finally finished approving pre-orgs. This is the list of the one’s we’ve approved. Some of them have stipulations. Kiva is a microloan organization where they fundraise and make money to give to in-need communities. Mycology club was approved with the stipulation that they not make beer. Crafts not Bombs was approved on the stipulation that they depoliticize their org. unFramed is an art org. Novel Noshings is a book club. College Tech Conglomerate is for the drama departments. When Geisha Meets Pina is an org within the ALANA center. The Native American Students Alliance was approved with the stipulation that they had to organize themselves in a better way than they have in the past. Our Club is for alternative programming, essentially. Things you can do on the weekends that don’t involve alcohol. Casual Improv is an improv group you don’t need to audition for.

    2017: Why was it required that Crafts Not Bombs depoliticize?

    Activities: In terms of finding people who wanted to do crafts and wanted to talk about specific topics, like drones and stuff like that, would decrease the amount of people who might want to join. We also already have a lot of political orgs on campus, so we didn’t want to make another political org as well. They wanted to just do a craft org but thought they needed to put a spin on it so people would want to join it, but people will want to do crafts.

    7:12 p.m.//Forum with Art Lidsky on Campus Strategic Planning

    Lidsky: We’re working on how much space we have and how we’re using the space. There are currently 116 legal parking spaces on this campus, in case anyone wants to know. What I wanted to do was get a sense from you all about those things that are interesting or important to you as students because you live on and interact with this campus differently than the faculty does. I’m looking for issues and concerns that should be included in this process. We are a small firm in Boston that does campus planning. We’ve worked with about 450 campuses worldwide, so we’re familiar with this scale. We’re not interested in hearing about the plumbing, or the heat. We’re looking for broad spectrum ideas about things. Is this building, for example, a good building for the center of campus. When the biology students move out of there, where should they go? We have a mixed bag on this campus, architecturally–you have a beautiful library right next to a cheap lasagna building. I think the Admissions building is in the completely wrong place. I don’t know where it should go, but it’s wrong.

    2015: I’m really concerned about student spaces. It’s really important for this plan to include a selective student space. I don’t know that that is necessarily the best spot for it–where the labs are now. We need a space that’s like the second floor of the dining hall, but something that’s more accessible. We’re concerned with having places where students can go at night without having to go to a party.

    Lidsky: ACDC is a terrible space. I’m surprised you’re using it. Should this building be the center of campus? Should the student space be here?

    2015: It wouldn’t be a bad thing. But what if you put Admissions down there and gave the Admissions building to students? We need different spaces and we need spaces that are accessible to those with disabilities. Obviously you have a broader perspective of what is possible, but we’re very interested in finding places for students.

    Lidsky: This particular building doesn’t function very well for students. Especially the bookstore being at the Juliet. But there are also administrative spaces here where they shouldn’t be.

    2015: And that’s a huge problem when we’re talking about event planning. We really only have the Villard Room and it’s next to the nicest places on campus. When we had our campus party last weekend we needed to make sure that the antique furniture didn’t get ruined.

    Maddy (Social Media Editor): I posted your question on Twitter and people responded that they wanted more accessible doors to buildings on campus.

    Davison: I was just wondering if you could elaborate on what master planning actually is? What does a master plan look like?

    Lidsky: There should be a sense of direction as to where the college wants to be over the next 15 years. It’s both physical changes and policy changes. It might be that the institution might want to change the way they’re scheduling classrooms, or it wants to think about collaborative spaces across campus. It is a 15-year time period, but none of us can think about what’s going to happen tomorrow. Campus planning is the road map for how to get there though and you change it along the way. It’s a physical map of a vision statement.

    Town Students: In Main Building in the College Center there’s the Kiosk and it’s dumb because the line blocks the door and intersects with the post office line. At busy times it’s a really hard place to walk through because it’s silly because everyone needs to walk through there.

    Main: Addressing a mid-level issue: The College Center in general isn’t very well used. The second floor is only really used for meetings that don’t happen frequently. The second floor is a dead space and the first floor is super crowded.

    Lidsky: What would you put in this building?

    Main: Maybe spread out where things are more, especially with the Kiosk and post office.

    Strong: I’ve spoken with a lot of my constituents about this and we’ve talked about how the kinds of spaces that are available in dorms are very variable when you’re talking about study rooms that have tables and chairs and a microwave or meeting spaces. And things like that can make it hard to interact with the people you live with.

    Lidsky: My understanding is that all the dorms used to have dining spaces and those spaces were changed to multipurpose and study spaces.

    2017: Noyes, where I live, is the dorm that stays open for students all summer. It has more kitchens than the others, but they are in disrepair. Over the summer when they’re the only places students can get food, things are frequently broken. That’s a space where kitchens are very important and neglected.

    Ops: I live in the South Commons and there are no paths to get there. We’re very isolated.

    South Commons: There’s a road you commonly take to get to the South Commons and there’s no light. It’s completely dark.

    Tyler Fultz (at-large): As it stands with the construction, there’s no way to get to campus except for walking along a dirt path or walking on Raymond Avenue. There’s no accessible way for someone who needs an accessible path.

    Ferry: For orgs that don’t have a specific affiliation with a center on campus, it’s harder to find good work spaces. Especially since there are some orgs that frequent the parlors, it eliminates spaces for other orgs. My group currently meets in the Jade Parlor and I know that certain groups can meet in dorms, but that fluctuates depending on where their members are living, so there’s no good center-of-campus spaces. I don’t know if there’s necessarily that much room in these buildings for that, but if there were other spaces in the area that’d be great.

    President: We have a lot of theater orgs that have a big general budget, but not spaces.

    Cushing: First, to comment on what Town Students said before: I think having a Starbucks on campus is really important, but the placement of it isn’t a good space. The line gets so long and you can’t really enter the college center. If it’s Tasty Tuesday it’s even worse. I think the space below the College Center could be used to have a cafe. There’s so much space there. The Retreat is not enough. It’s always crowded and it’s not enough.

    Lidsky: My understanding is that there’s the ACDC, the Retreat, the Kiosk and another cafe that’s on the third floor of the ACDC. Are those the only dining spaces on campus?

    All, in unison: Yes.

    Lathrop: There are no places to get food after midnight. BurgerFi is super expensive.

    2015: A lot of our late-night food is student staffed. It’s students taking time out of their days and it’s always closed during finals.

    Cushing: For off-campus places, you need to pay with your own money. You’ve already paid for a meal plan and you don’t want to spend more money. The kitchen hing: In my house the kitchen is absolutely disgusting. There’s a big mass in the oven and we don’t know what it is and we can’t scrape it off. We’ve tried. A lot of the people in my house love to cook and still go there and we try to clean it. Cushing has a lot of problems with not being clean in general, but that’s a maintenance issue. Cushing House in general is being renovated and the only thing they’re doing is painting the bathrooms. They keep painting them over and over again. It looks clean, but it’s not clean. We haven’t been renovated since we’ve been built, which is in 1927.

    Tyler: I, like Maddy, asked on Twitter if anyone had any questions. Someone wanted to know about the future locations of the multidisciplinary departments.

    Lidsky: Some people have come in and have done some thinking about that. There hasn’t been a decision about it yet. There were some very clever concepts that came out of that though.

    2015: Is it possible to put an emphasis on a technology update for this campus?

    Lidsky: Is the campus entirely wireless?

    Jewett: Yes, but bad.

    2015: The technology in the classroom varies.

    2016: For the first two months in computer science we couldn’t do labs.

    Student Life: How closely are you working with the team of people who are redesigning the College Center?

    Lidsky: As far as I know, there’s no one else doing that.

    Student: Maybe that’s under you and you haven’t heard about that.

    Lidsky: Whatever new construction happens will come out of this process, so our master plan will dictate how the College Center gets redesigned.

    Student Life: All of these concerns are super important and I would be very frustrated if they were happening in two separate, but simultaneous service. Other things: Food. Students like food and they think the food here is bad. Accessibility is another thing people are passionate and upset about. Carolina once had to help carry a man upstairs to see his daughter’s room. Another concern is a space for student bands to practice. If you’re a student band and don’t have a relationship with the music department, you don’t have a space to practice. That means a lot of people are practicing their instruments in their rooms, which leads to other problems as our walls are very thin.

    Davison: People frequently use the Davison kitchen because it’s nice and was recently renovated. So I would recommend renovation rather than gutting. Our basement is actually really nice, but there’s not a good use of the space. The only space people use is the pool table. There’s a lot of room, it’s all well lit, but no one’s really doing anything with it.

    Lidsky: When I think of other campuses I’ve seen small group collaborative spaces throughout the buildings. Fitness centers. What works on this campus?

    Davison: Honestly, I think it would be possible to put an eating option in the dorm which would change the campus dynamic as a whole.

    Lidsky: If there was a cafe down there would other people be able to access it?

    Davison: Yes. It might create a riff because my dorm would have all of the facilities.

    Lidsky: Are all of the dorms elevator accessible?

    All: No.

    Student Life: The basements in most of the dorms are really scary, but if they weren’t scary they would be amazing spaces.

    Lidsky: Let’s talk about scary. Are there any places you’re scared walking through?

    Bethan (Contributing editor): The South Commons, also the TA path. There’s also a section where you have to walk either on the street or in the forest. I know personally that there are people who have hid in those bushes to scare people. There are blue lights if you get across the bridge and up the hill, but it’s not near where there are no lights.

    Raymond: There’s been talk about changing the computer clusters. Every dorm has a little room with one computer and a printer and they talked about killing all of the computers and moving the printer to the MPR. But I need to stress that there are students who don’t have access to personal laptops or if something happens to your laptop, it’s really important to have that communal computer.

    2017: Dorm basements are badly lit. Getting back to the College Center: The thing that everyone’s getting at is, not counting the res areas of Main, there’s no part of the building where you can be comfortable and be in a group. There are rooms like this that are great spaces that are always locked if there’s no event happening. There’s the Retreat, but you almost feel guilty taking a table if you’re not eating. The only place where you can find a couch with a friend is the Rose Parlor, which is antique furniture. It’s dimly lit, you feel a little too regal. There’s some other furniture shoved into the second floor, but I’ve never used them because it feels weird to be sitting in a dark corner in a hallway.

    President: If anyone has any other questions, email [email protected]

    Lidsky: I’ll be back in February as well with updates.

    7:46 p.m.//Forum with CIE, George Beyer and Susie Martinez

    Martinez: I’m Susie, one of the CIE reps. It stands for the Committee for Inclusion and Excellence.

    Beyer: It started on the 10th of October, so we’ve gotten a late start. We’ve only had two meetings. The first one wasn’t super productive, but we were figuring out what shape it will take and what our goals are. It’s not an official committee and it doesn’t have substantitive power, but we can make recommendations. So we talked about how we should move forward and if we should. Last year the recommendations weren’t taken and moved forward with. So it’s an important thing to keep in mind that when you hear about CIE we only have the ability to make recommendations.

    Martinez: We had our second meeting last week and we talked about some of the recommendations we made in the annual report we gave Cappy. One of them was about the Transitions Program and legitimizing it within the College and making sure it gets the proper funding. It’s in its fifth year and the first cohort has already graduated. This subcommittee is working on supporting the pre-orientation program and highlighting what Transitions has contributed to the Vassar community in analyzing data about current Transitions students. One of the goals of this subcommittee is thinking about how students will be transitioning out of Vassar because being a low-income first-generation college student presents some obstacles. We made the recommendation to have faculty members attend workshops over the summer to talk about how to better address issues of race, class and gender in the classroom. We’re assessing the needs of faculty and making this training seem more appealing, specifically looking in-depth at inclusion. Some faculty members on CIE said that it felt awkward not to have the language to meet a student halfway, whether it be an advisee or just a student. So they’re also looking at the pre-major advising process and considering additional features to what the summer workshop would look like. The third subcommittee is for financial aid and transfer students. We’re talking about how to include transfer students in the community. The rate of transfer students, especially from community colleges is about 11 or 12 a year. Not all of them are able to attend the new student orientation that happens. That involves us looking at how financial aid is distributed, what kind of programming transfer students need to adjust to Vassar life, especially if they’re a junior coming in and only has two years left on campus. A lot of that is about gathering data of current transfer students and highlighting the important of Vassar’s need-blind policy. These subcommittees were pre-existing so they carried over from last year. The final subcommittee is the gender and sexuality subcommittee and its purpose is to work on talking about these things on campus and connecting with the centers on campus–the campus life center, the LGBTQ center–and considering different strategies to addressing these issues.

    Beyer: CIE is a committee of roughly 20 people. So it’s a lot of people who can’t meet regularly, so it’s not feasible to talk about all of these things on a biweekly basis. The work gets divvied up into subcommittees. This year we’re looking at three more subcommittee. They’re unnamed, but they have loose named. The first one would be an assessment of the mission statement subcommittee. Four years ago there was a diversity mission statement. Three years ago it was combined with the original mission statement and within the last two years it has vanished. It’s not clear what happened to this statement and we’re looking at what led to this being omitted. We’re also looking at, if you Google diversity at Vassar you’ll get a lot of statements from Admissions which doesn’t tell you that much really. A second subcommittee would be the international students subcommittee. We have a new director of admissions this year and he wants to look at how international students are adjusting to Vassar. They want to look at the amount of students from Asian countries, their English proficiency. Some professors have concerns that their language skills aren’t what they say in their booklet. It’s questionable, but that’s what professors are saying. The last one–in the past five years there has been an expansion in the diversity of Vassar. It’s gotten significantly more diverse than it was five years ago so they want to see what the experience has been. They want to see how much good diversity has done for the College.

    2017: I was wondering roughly how many administrators vs. faculty vs. students are on CIE.

    Beyer: It’s hard to say because there hasn’t been any one meeting. There are at least three students. There’s a lot of faculty.

    President: You mentioned thinking about diversity: The more important question is not about what diversity is doing for the College, but how we’re supporting those students. Do you know if the committee is looking at those issues too?

    Beyer: I believe it is. They go hand-in-hand. I can ask for more specifics.

    President: And I want to make sure we’re not just tooting our own horn, but that we’re actually doing something.

    Martinez: There is a little bit of overlap in terms of who’s sitting on them and what they’re trying to address.

    Ops: Since CIE just makes recommendations, what’s the relationship with the Committee on College Life?

    Beyer: They make recommendations straight to Dean Chenette and Cappy.

    8:00 p.m.//Forum with CAT

    Beyer: It’s Computer and Academic Technologies. CAT has been pretty productive. We met pretty early in September. Traditionally CAT would only meet in November to address grant apps. Every year we have about $10,000 to distribute to faculty for introducing tech into the classrooms. Some professors have interactive pictures of cathedrals where you can zoom in and have panorama views and things like that. A lot of things get brought in as a trial, so we’re entering that part of the year. One app that spawned from CAT was an app wherein a professor wants to review papers from a number of different classes and address the degree to which plagiarism is a problem on campus. Many professors have complained that we don’t have a system to check for this. My understanding is that those services aren’t widely used at our peer institutions. Another big thing that’s being addressed is this notion of distracted learning. It’s the notion that surrounding ourselves with technology has distracted ourselves and hindered us from learning a text. Some professors are disappointed with the frequency of computer use in the classrooms. A lot of professors are wondering whether it’s a good thing to ban laptops in the classroom. There will be an entire weekend where we’ll have a conference to discuss this issue.

    Town Students: With computers in the classroom–are you looking at it as a campus-wide issue? It seems to me that it’s so different professor-to-professor, course-to-course. It has been for me that every professor has their own policy and that’s legitimate.

    Beyer: The overwhelming opinion was that there shouldn’t be a campus-wide policy. It just depends so much on the context of the class. I wouldn’t expect a campus-wide ban.

    8:06 p.m.//Forum with Food Committee

    Food committee rep: I talked to Sarah King who was the committee chair last year. We started a WordPress blog students can contribute to. We also have bi-weekly Food Committee emails. My personal goals are working on the worker-student dynamic. A lot of students feel like they don’t know who’s making their food. We’re trying to break down that wall. I interviewed one staff member, TC, to get to know him better. You can read about him. We’re also trying to implement the idea of kitchen tours. We’re trying to get more people to take them, but there’s not a lot of interest. Those are happening. You can contact me, I get eight to 10 students together and you can take a kitchen tour of 30 minutes. This week or some time next week there will be a monitor that shows a plate with all the food groups to give students an idea of how much of it should be taken up with protein, a vegetable, a starch and things like that. The last thing is sustainability: We’re looking at UpC and getting compostable cups. We also implemented stirfry station demonstrations. Every Tuesday there will be a chef there making a stirfry and will give you a recipe card. A lot of my friends still don’t know how to utilize that station. We’re also trying to get something in the freshman orientation about food. There are people contacting us now still saying that they have allergies and can’t eat anything in the ACDC. It’s hard because the orientation week is always so set and packed that there’s no room for a food-related event.

    Student Life: Has there been any conversations about better labeled food?

    FC rep: Yes. We’ve talked to Aramark and that’s a big issue we’ve talked at at every meeting. It’s not something the College can control, it’s the company, but we’re working to address that.

    Jewett: I think the stirfry demonstrations are a very good idea, but there’s already a long line during dinner time. Have you talked about getting more stations or something?

    FC rep: We’ve talked about getting more utensils and more ingredients. But if you want to expand it, I can bring that up.

    Activities: There used to be a website that would have the menu for the night.

    FC rep: We’re working on that. It’s still under construction and the company is working on updating that. But we’re addressing it.

    Main: Has there been any discussion with admin about Aramark?

    FC rep: We don’t have a lot of say in the contracts. We do get a little leeway with locally sourced foods. But the prices and stuff aren’t something we can control. We’re also talking about different PR campaigns for the Deece.

    Lathrop: Have you been talking about composting at all?

    FC rep: In the past, ACDC has composted everything. The little butter packets they have aren’t compostable and they get thrown in with the compost which contaminates it and then the entire thing gets thrown out. It’s hard to get people put all of their things in the right bin. It’s a PR thing at this point.

    Lathrop: Can you talk a little more about people taking our compost?

    FC rep: I don’t know that much. But there are people on the Sustainability Committee who can answer your questions.

    2016: A couple years ago they did expand the stirfry station. I was wondering why they took that away.

    FC rep: I didn’t know about that, but I’ll talk to Laura about if we can go back to that.

    2016: For the butter thing, maybe you could just have a chunk of butter instead of individual packets.

    8:17 p.m.// Exec reports

    Ops: This Saturday, we’re having the constitution-thon in which we’ll be gathering in the VSA office for several hours to update the constitution. We need it to be up-to-date because the external review is happening. Chris Roellke is paying for half of it and I’m submitting a fund app to Finance this week for the other half. This reviewer would be coming on the 3rd and 4th. He’s going to interview some people, but there’s flexibility on what we want him to do. I’m getting ready to think about Tasty Tuesday for next semester because a lot of vendors have reached out to me.

    Bethan (contributing editor): What has facilitated the change from “audit” to “external review?”

    Ops: The audit usually makes it sound like they’re looking at money, whereas when departments do this it’s called an external review. There’s no real difference.

    Student Life: There were 11 calls and four hospitalizations on Halloween, which is the same as last year. But there were no dorm damages. We want to do a survey about interpersonal violence, stalking and sexual assault. But we don’t want it to take an hour because that would be really terrible. Rebecca has been going full force with our food subcommittee. We’ve talked about laptops for students on financial aid. There are no written rules and Financial Aid doesn’t know what we’re talking about. BIRT, assuming they finished the letter, there will be a letter submitted to the VSA because they have been trying to create a system for people to see how many people are reporting. It would be a database–we just need a login system where we can see how many instances of sexual assault have been reported, but it’s been stalled at every turn. In the past, there has been an initiative for VSA to be a work study position to make it accessible. I’m talking about Chris Roellke about it. He said [paraphrased], “It seems to us that the VSA wants to compensate these positions for the accessibility reasons you mentioned…However, it would not be appropriate for the College to fund this. If the VSA wants to fund that within, that’s fine.” This wasn’t what we’re asking for. We want it to be a work study position.

    Ops: Point of clarification: As Hannah said, there would be a lot more things in writing with regards to the HSA and Res Life situation. Because of the timeline we need to have a doc in council next Sunday and we’ll be talking more about this. As I mentioned, we went to Wellesley this weekend for the Seven Sisters Conference. We talked about what the coalition is and how to improve it. A lot of the schools just want to be in communication with each other, because we work on a lot of the same issue. We’re going to go through the break-out sessions.

    Ferry: I went to the finance break out session. We have approximately $250,000 more than the next sister school for activities. We seem to be functioning better than every one of them. Smith stopped giving orgs budgets because people weren’t asking for it. People were fascinated with how we’re doing it.

    Lathrop: The interesting thing between us and the other Seven Sisters is that we have designated senior housing. A lot of their seniors just live in dorms.

    Davison: We had to explain that our dorms are mostly filled with freshmen and sophomores with a smattering of juniors. That was very different from all other schools. I think they have a lot of different residence halls. We talked about where the centers of campus are in relation to nightlife.

    Lathrop: We talked to people who held positions comparable to house presidents and they have systems similar to house teams.

    Jewett: Something that was a frustration to me during the conference was that there was a lot of comparing structures versus analyzing them. We didn’t really get a chance to do that because of all the background discussion.

    Strong: Raymond and I ended up staying in  room with the Wellesley girls which gave us a different experience on the first night. She was a house president in her house. While that position was extremely different, it was interesting to hear that most of their house teams don’t get nearly as much money as we do or put on as much programming. We’ve been talking about the issues we’re facing with the three Bs. For some institutions it was a given because they aren’t elected by their student bodies but appointed by student life.

    Raymond: They also don’t have a relationship with their student government body. They have a council like BHP, but they just have one head that represents them in the student government.

    Cushing: Not being elected was just for Wellesley, but another thing was that other houses needed to have fundraisers to have programming of any kind.

    2018: I didn’t get much out of the conference, but I did realize that our programming is much better than other schools. People have to budget very carefully for their orgs or just don’t have enough money. Or for events, people don’t just show up to most of them. Most of our events get pretty good attendance I feel.

    2017: I went to the student rep group. It was largely a prelude to the actual Seven Sisters meeting which happened an hour later. We started off the discussion with talking about how to represent our schools and how to work together. The conversation quickly turned to forms of social justice and working with schools. We talked about how we’re moving in the same direction, but with different strategies. So we talked about how we can advocate for policy changes collaboratively. Some Seven Sisters have gone SAT/ACT optional, so we felt like there should be more communication between institutions. We talked about how to move past community discussions that are optional in attendance, like for bias incidents. Smith has formed a committee with students and admins that meet once a week to try to move past those issues. They brought in an anthropologist to put together a report about how race and gender and sexuality affects the atmosphere. They also talked about more diversity training for faculty and staff. We then went on to talk about a social justice requirement. Everyone seemed very in favor of making some sort of roughly uniform requirement across the Seven Sisters institutions. There was also a discussion about how to be trans-inclusive in admissions  policies. I don’t know exactly what stage Bryn Mawr and Mount Holyoke are at with that, but there’s something in writing that something’s going to happen.

    Ops: I went to the president and vice president’s group. I got to talk to the other student body presidents at their schools. What I talked about with them was tangible things we do that work well. Wellesley has a fund-a-thon thing to fund small projects that’ll produce something tangible. It’s kind of like a fund auction. In general, people were fascinated by our structure. They loved that we have five VPs. They all had a president, vice president, secretary, treasurer structure. I’m essentially a vice president and a secretary. I have a few ideas, but I’m going to email them and follow up.

    Strong: A small point: While I found the experience valuable, I also wonder if it would not be valuable to find another resource in which we’re interacting with schools that are also co-ed.

    Joss: I wonder if 2017 could expand on a forum they were in about trans students.

    2017: Recently Mount Holyoke and Mills changed their policies and began admitting trans women. There’s a lot of discussion and there are several levels they have to work through for a trans-women-inclusive admissions system. The first of which is to identify what exactly it is they’re pushing for. Mills’ policy is that trans gender women can apply. Trans men–I’m not sure if they can apply or if it is that if they identify as male after attending they can stay. Female-designated at birth non-binary people can attend. The discussion seemed limited because they were having this conversation without the voices of trans women. The students are having a hard time agreeing what exactly they want to see happen. The next level is convincing the administration and the board of trustees. It’s a conversation that is extremely unlikely to go well, so there’s a lot of work to do there. What needs to happen is forums with trans women and not just the people who have been admitted to the College because that’s exclusionary of crucial voices.

    Ops: We talked about the Seven Sisters coalition and if we belong there. We’re not having some of these problems because we’re coed. While there are issues that we have mutual interest in, but I’m not sure if we belong there. I’m not sure if our presence at the conference diminished conversations about empowering women.

    8:47 p.m.//Open Discussion

    Academics: I just ordered a lot of La Cabanita for our peer advising dinner in UpC. Tomorrow is also the submission deadline for the fall preview of the newsletter. All submissions to [email protected]. The multidisciplinary programs are underrepresented in peer advising. Right now we have roughly high 20s, low 30s of programs represented. It’s the majority. More than last year.

    8:49 p.m.//Council adjourned.


  • mariesolis 12:04 am on November 3, 2014 Permalink | Reply  

    VSA Council | November 1, 2014 

    We hope everyone had a happy and healthy Halloween! Let’s get started.

    7:03 p.m.//Call to Order and Attendance
    All present.

    7:04 p.m.// Consensus Agenda
    a. SJP (Collaboration) $400/$393.75
    b. Vassar Chess Club (Capital) $199.75/$199.75
    c. LiNK (Speakers) $200 less contributions from other orgs/$200/
    d. Hip Hop 101 (Budget Approval) Approved
    e. QCVC (Collaboration) $900/$1000
    f. VISA (Collaboration) $417/$592
    g. Act Out (Conference) Tabled
    h. Hype (Discretionary) $500.64/$500.64
    i. Minutes From 10/26/14

    Finance: The first was an SJP fund app–they’ve requested $393.75, but we gave them $400 because that made more sense to us. Vassar Chess Club needed chess boards and chess pieces. LiNK needs a speaker and has reached out to different organizations for collaboration. Presumably they’ll get funding from other sources. Hip Hop 101 submitted a budget for Four Pillars. Whenever you want to have an event with a budget of more than $1000, you have to submit a fund app to Finance, so they did that. The VISA collab is with the outing club to take international students and their families on a hike. Hype needed to buy clothing for a performance they’re putting on. The QCVC app was for a music performance.

    -All consent to the consensus agenda-

    7:08 p.m.//Exec reports

    Academics: Academics is hosting an event! Every year since last year Academics has a peer advising dinner during pre-registration so that first and second-year students can talk to upperclassmen about majors and classes. It will be Monday, Nov. 10 at 6:30 p.m. in UpC. If you’re a peer adviser, I’ll be emailing you soon. If you want to be one, reach out to me. At the beginning of the year I mentioned that one of Academics’ goals this year is to think about how much information we give students about courses. Right now we just have the one paragraph: In order to allay that we’re creating a syllabus archive. We’re also working with a student outside of Academics, which is exciting. Students and professors can submit all of their past syllabi and we’ll put them online. Lastly, the newsletter: We’ve decided to make it a year-long affair. We’re going to have a preview come out in the fall and it will be much more rough around the edges. We’re going to try to get a lot more submissions for the print. Also as a reminder: If you want to be in the fall preview, please submit your things to me by Nov. 10.

    President: Not much has been happening in my realm, but there is stuff. I met with the trustees a few weeks ago which was fun. Meryl Streep has resigned as a trustee. She had too many movies to come for another year, which was sad. In more important news, they’re looking a lot at Vassar postgrad and looking at how to enhance CDO options and mentorship and how to support our graduates. They’re also really excited about the disciplinary arts thing. They bought a trailer to do dance performances and art and maybe graffiti. But that’ll be exciting. They’re also talking a lot about financial aid and the story in the New York Times about Vassar being accessible. We also talked about how to make Vassar accessible once the students are here, because Vassar is great at getting students to campus, but not so great at supporting them while they’re here. Next up, Cappy’s fund for dialogues on campus–it’s not being heavily used right now. I’m going to send out another email about it in a few days, but if you or someone you know have ideas, you should submit them. Another big thing in the admin circle is the conversation around campus planning. Someone will be coming to council next week who’s looking at campus master planning. He’ll be looking at grounds and buildings as well as how to use resources and space more effectively. The Seven Sisters Conference is next weekend. Ramy is going and a few other people will be going with him.

    7:13 p.m.//BoEA

    Ops: For Safety and Security council we interviewed six candidates. We ended up deciding on Anveshi Guha and Abi Kohn. They organized the forum that happened last year with Don Marsala and Cappy and all of them. That’s the whole reason this council now exists, so that was a strong reason why we nominated them. It’s a six-member council. The chair is Julian Williams and there are three other faculty and admin and two student reps. The other student we chose is Abi Kohn. She’s a sophomore and she had a lot of great ideas for creating dialogue among students, faculty and admin. For 2016 VP we nominate Kathryn Marshall. She had a thorough resume and gave a great interview. She has a lot of experience for the position.

    2015: Why wasn’t Brian chosen for the position?

    Ops: He didn’t really understand what the function of this committee was going to be. We asked all of them about racial profiling specifically and he didn’t have a lot of ideas about it and didn’t understand how it interacted with the aim of this committee. Not to single him out though–this was a problem with other candidates as well.

    President: Does anyone object to this consensus agenda?

    -This consensus agenda passes-

    7:18 p.m.//Open Discussion

    Finance: I have two announcements: First is that Noah Meyer, who is a ’96 Vassar grad, is coming to campus this Tuesday to give a talk about her career. It’s sponsored by PoliSci, Econ, CDO and some others I’m forgetting. She is a director at Goldman Sachs and she runs one of their programs called 10,000 women and it’s the largest program in the world working toward empowering women. It gives women capital to start their own businesses. She’s probably one of the most prominent Vassar grads alive right now. It’s also cooperated by the Clinton Foundation. You should tell all of your friends and constituents to come. It’s in Rocky 200, Tuesday at 6 p.m. Another announcement I have is that I’m concerned by the state of security on campus. Mostly because people don’t understand their role. I think it’s an issue that we have Security posted outside people’s room rather than patrolling. From what I’ve heard from people’s confrontations with Security, it’s concerning. I think the student body should be informed about what their rights are and what Security is allowed to do: Whether Security is allowed to come into your room unannounced, things like that.

    At-large: As an addendum, students can actually request Security guards to be posted outside of their rooms if they feel unsafe. I’m not sure if that’s what you’re referring to.

    Finance: For some context, there was a security guard posted outside my room, unsolicited. I wasn’t under the impression they were allowed to do it.

    Main: Two quick shout outs: One to Zoey and the senior class. Shout out to Security and B&G. We had zero damage to Main House.

    Ops: I just wanted to say that anyone who’s going to the Seven Sister Conference should please stay a few minutes after council.

    Student Life: Once again, thanks to 2015 and Senior Class Council for the event. As you notice, there’s a large stack of posters in front of me. Unfortunately, Julian Williams’ name is spelled wrong on the old posters. These are new ones that have his name spelled correctly. If you would like to, and I hope you would all like to, please replace the wrong ones. His name is spelled Julian William on the old one, but all of the other information is the same. This is what Student Life committee has been up to more or less.

    Cushing: Thank you for the great posters. Two things: One, Cushing is having an event on December 5. It’s going to be an open art space. Any art submissions are welcome. Please tell your people to submit art to anyone on Cushing House Team. We want to get them going so that we can have as much art as possible. The second thing: Two of my student fellows are really concerned about how there weren’t enough EMS members on Halloween. They tried calling EMS and it took them a long time to get there. One of the fellowees they were taking care of didn’t want the whole EMS thing and the whole crew, so one of the student fellows went to the CRC desk and asked if there was any one EMS member who could take care of the student. They couldn’t find anyone so they sent one security guard and the student pretended he was fine so the security guard left.

    Student Life: That being said, I think we owe EMS a huge thank you. These are our peers and they sacrifice their time, energy, weekends and night time keeping us safe. I understand why there aren’t lines of people trying to join EMS.

    At-large: Do any of you have stats for how many EMS calls happened during Halloween?

    2015: I don’t have the stats, but it was a normal EMS night.

    Finance: To respond to what Essie and Hannah said: Yes, it’s a volunteer student org. But it’s a necessary service and if there weren’t these students doing this, it would be a service the College would have to fulfill. It seems like the school is really dropping the ball on this. If there’s one weekend a year a student has to wait 20 minutes to be responded to, it’s something we have to address. It’s an extremely dangerous situation. Even if the student’s life wasn’t in danger, that’s an extremely scary situation for everyone to go through.

    Ferry: From what I heard, they tried a completely new system. So if it wasn’t working out, they want that feedback.

    2017: I know that during Ops Kelly  indicated they would want a response to the question of contacts for house officers.

    Student Life: It’s looking like a mix of student fellows and house officers. It’s looking like the logical next step is reaching out to house team members beyond BHP. I also like the idea of asking previous members of house team or attempting a delay so that we can get feedback once people have been on house team for a full year. The opinions of someone in late October, early November are very different from those who have been on house team for a whole year.

    Ops: In terms of the delay, I’m personally in favor of reaching out to Res Life and asking them for time so we can actually discuss this.

    Student Life: There was more or less an ultimatum that came out of student concerns that was brought to Res Life. They told VSA that either house office positions wouldn’t get any contracts but would not have room privileges, or house officers would be intentionally scattered and they would sign a contract about the three Bs. This came out of members on house team who were frustrated with house teams and the same conversations that happen every year.

    Finance: Were we involved in how these choices were formulated?

    Student Life: Individual student fellows were complaining to house advisers. While the ultimatum was informed by our conversation, a lot of the push behind this is coming from the house adviser side. Mainly it’s a lot of student fellow disappointment. I think Res Life would be receptive to us asking to push the ultimatum off for another year. But the concept that house teams didn’t exist nine years ago–Res Life is still trying to see if house teams work. We’ve had conversations about the contracts in Ops and Student Life.

    Ops: The way that Res Life is framing this is as not a contract, but a set of expectations. Res Life would be enforcing them, but there’s no punishment for violating them.

    Finance: Would Res Life have the authority to unseat members?

    At-large (Chris Brown): Speaking as an HSA–we’ve been talking about this a lot. I’m not the best person to answer some of these questions, but it wouldn’t be a contract but a set of behavioral agreements. They wouldn’t have any authority to fire. Right now there are no job expectations. In this new proposal that’s hovering, Res Life wouldn’t have the authority to say, ‘You broke the three Bs, you’re fired.’ It’s supposed to be more of an educational experience, whereas right now there’s a lot of dissonance among student fellows and house officers.

    Student Life: Would this mean that Res Life could fire people who are VSA officers? I’m envisioning a way that that’s not the case. I don’t know that the penalties would have to be as harsh, but I think the idea behind a set of expectations is that it would stop a sharp divide that happens within the house team structure and make it more emotionally healthy experience for everyone involved.

    Finance: All of this is a little vague and it doesn’t make me feel comfortable voting on it any time soon. I think the only situation in which a member of house team should be unseated is under the College’s judiciary board. That is, that there was a violation of the College’s expectations. We don’t have rules for other orgs. I don’t think it’s a special case for house teams, but it makes me uncomfortable that Res Life would have the authority to fire someone.

    At-large (Chris Brown): I think they would definitely be receptive to that idea. I really understand the concerns. Right now there’s a lot of in-the-norm stuff that House Fellows do. As members of house team, they don’t need to help with the programming side and it’s just put in their contract in very vague terms that they should support house team. It’s kind of a norm that student fellows help and are on committees even though they might not be contractually obligated to.

    Student Life: We’re not trying to take a vote right now. We’re saying that this is an issue that was brought to Student Life and Ops. No consensus was reached. We’re going to speak more with Res Life and reach out to house teams. The only thing we’re considering is to push back the decision. BHP–your opinion of house team in October is very different from your opinion of it in May. If we have this system that is burning people out and makes them not like this place, then we need to see how it’s working and if there are ways we can make it work better. There’s no huge decision right now, but there will be an intentional analysis of a system that involved many of our students. We’re going to reach out to those students.

    Activities: On a completely different note, I got a lot of feedback about the events on Halloweekend. A lot of them really enjoyed the programming. Great job to anyone who had events this weekend and keeping your constituents safe. Thank you for coming to the carnival! Take a cupcake if there are any left.

    -Council adjourned-

  • mariesolis 10:56 pm on October 26, 2014 Permalink | Reply  

    VSA Meeting | October 26, 2014 

    Hope everyone enjoyed their October break. As you’re arriving back on campus, we’re getting set up for this week’s VSA meeting. We’ll be getting started in a minute!

    7:01 p.m.//Call to Order, Attendance
    Absences: Davison
    Proxy: Main, Raymond, Strong

    7:02 p.m.//Consensus Agenda

    a. J Street U (PreOrg) $1175/$1175
    b. Archery (Capital) $1800/$2100
    c. ASA (Capital) $34.99/$34.99
    d. TLC (Speakers) $2800/$3500
    e. Amnesty International (Conference) $230/$230
    f. NSO (Capital) $1600+Cost of Security Tags/$2542.33
    g. Pro-Health (Collaboration) $500/$500
    h. Class of 2015 (Discretionary) $2530.65/$2530.65
    i. VISA (Capital) $918/$1721.25
    j. ViCE (Capital) $700.02/$700.02
    k. Accidentals (Discretionary) $65/$125
    l. Minutes From 10/12/14

    Finance: It’s Archery’s first semester as an org, so they needed to buy equipment. ASA applied a couple of weeks ago and then realized they needed something else. TLC wants to bring in  speaker in collaboration with the Office of Health Education to talk about suicide prevention. Amnesty International is sending two people to the Amnesty International Conference. NSO got their office broken into for the second time this semester, but we’re sick of doing this so they’re talking to security and getting security tags. Class of 2015 needs more money for Halloween because we didn’t pay for serenading. VISA needed money for flags. ViCE needed money for something complicated like cables. The Axies are buying jackets. The J Street app was contentious. They want to bring in a speaker to have a conversation about Zionism and other related things. We typically try to remain apolitical, so we only decide not to fund a speaker if we think they will be offensive or hurtful.

    President: Does anyone object to the consensus agenda. We’ll assume it’s passed then.

    7:05 p.m.//Forum with Marianne Beggeman

    Beggeman: I think most people know the areas my office is responsible for. Reporting to me is athletics, the library, admisissions, capital projects, financial aid. Additionally, I’m responsible for the sustainability interns. We oversee the work that Allister coordinates with the sustainability committee and other odds and ends. I wanted to provide a brief update about the science project. I’ve heard there are a lot of rumors going around about Olmstead. I just thought I’d let you know so you can spread the word about what’s happening with it and squelch the rumors. People are saying Olmstead is condemned and being torn down: That is not true. It’s undergoing a partial renovation, most of which has to do with mechanical, electrical and safety upgrades. A quarter to the third of the spaces are being physically upgraded as well, the classrooms and labs specifically. The biologists moved out over the summer based on their own concerns of fumes and dust from the construction next door. We decided to move them out for the semester. All of the work on Olmstead should be done by this January and everyone will move back in. We’re still talking about how to facilitate that move and what will happen if, for whatever reason, it’s not ready in January.

    2015: Is construction still on schedule?

    Beggeman: Our construction management firm has little concern that they will be done by the time of the move in. The end date for the construction is the middle of December and the rest of the time will be spent prepping the building for everyone to move in. You can still see some plywood in the windows: that’s because there’s been a delay on the glass, but it’ll be delivered in a week or two. You always worry because it’s the wintertime and things happen, but they’re confident they’re going to get the work done.

    2015: Is the goal to have the labs that are in the old bookstore space move back into Olmstead?

    Beggeman: We’re having that conversation now. That’s my goal because we want to start talking about the College Center as a multipurpose space. We’re talking about how much is reasonable. We might move out of the College Center by spring break. No work can happen there until the summertime anyway. It’s a conversation that’s ongoing.

    President: So will there be noticeable structural changes?

    Beggeman: In the basement level especially, all of the neuroscience, psych, bio classes will be there now and there will be new labs for them there. The students who use the EKG equipment, all of that’s moving into the renovated space. The suite on the third floor is being turned into faculty offices. There is significant new work, but only in a small portion of the building.

    Joss: You mentioned the College Center space being turned into an all-campus space. I’m just curious if you have any specific plans?

    Beggeman: There were a number of discussions that Chris Roellke facilitated about how best to use it. Since then I’ve pulled a group together comprised of students and faculty and brainstorm. We’re negotiating a contract with an architect from our art history department. We’re planning on partnering with his firm to start with the first floor and basement level. I can talk more about the initial ideas, but everything will start full force in a week or two.

    Ops: Switching gears, can you talk about the search for the library director and athletics director?

    Beggeman: As you probably know, Kim Culligan is the interim athletic director right now. She has been doing a wonderful job trying to streamline some operational things in the department, increasing transparency, things like that. We’re also in the process of searching for an assistant athletic director for sports and recreation. The idea is that we bring in an assistant to be responsible for intramurals, club sports, and act as a liaison for the VSA. Last year we had a conversation about the long-term plan for club sports. This person will work closely with the students to oversee the VSA club sports. Is it appropriate to leave them with athletics or with VSA oversight? Right now we want to stress the importance of physical education, life fitness, because it can get lost in the shuffle. We would like to elevate those programs and have them be on par with athletics. We’re going to move forward with that search spring semester, but we want to catch up with some housekeeping before we do that. Our library director moved to California and left in August. She had been here for 18 years, so we thought it was an opportune moment to think about that decision. I formed a search committee in the fall semester and one of the first things we’re asking ourselves is ‘What are some things we need to understand between the intersection of libraries and campus?’ before we moved forward with interviewing candidates. One of the questions that often comes up is how libraries intersect with technology. Here, they’re more aligned. One of the things we’re using is a survey from 2012 and we’re using some of that data to see what the community thinks about the library and technology. I’m interested in what you have to say about that.

    Student Life: To speak broadly about campus spaces, I’d like to speak on behalf of the students and encourage you to think of accessibility. I’ve also heard whispers of moving the post office and the mailboxes, but I really love where it is.

    2017: Getting back to the construction: One rumor I’d heard was that after the completion of the new science building, Mudd Chemistry wouldn’t be needed and would be demolished.

    Beggeman: That’s true. That’s anticipated for the spring of 2016.

    2017: What would the space that building occupied be used for?

    Beggeman: We’re talking about long-term landscaping for that area right now. In the spring of 2016 we’re going to relandscape around all of the buildings, including the pathways. The space between will be landscaped by our landscape architects. The plan right now is a storm water management zones and grassy areas and tree planting.

    Ops: Do you also oversee dorm renovations?

    Beggeman: That’s not me so much, but I do get a say in how we spend our capital.

    Ops: I’ve heard a rumor that Raymond is not going to have any renovations. Do you know if that’s true?

    Beggeman: I think everyone understands Raymond is the worst right now. It’s in line with Strong to get bathrooms. They can use a cookie-cutter approach for Lathrop and Strong, but because Raymond has an extra floor they need to draw up new plans. It’s not off the table. I did want to say about the accessibility: We do have some guiding principles for capital projects on campus and they’re posted on the VP for Finance website. You can see that accessibility is one of these principles. For Sanders and New England, I’m proud that the landscaping and everything makes those buildings accessible.

    Student Life: That’s great. I think student complaints have to do with residential renovations. Lathrop got beautiful renovations, but no ramps.

    Beggeman: Some people felt the money couldn’t have gone to that part of the renovation. That was a mistake. But it’s a project that needs to happen sooner rather than later.

    President: Thanks for coming in!

    7:25//Forum with Marie

    Marie: Hi everyone! In case you don’t know why I com e here and type every week it is because I am the editor of the Misc. I want to come here and talk about our production and weekly cycle. Every sunday we have our general body meeting, we call it paper critique at 9 p.m. in the Rose Parlor. THat is when our reporters get their articles. Tuesday we go to production. We start at about 6 p.m. and I don’t leave until about 5:30 a.m. most Tuesdays. That is when most people will finalize their edits. Then we come back in and send our paper in on Wednesday at 3 p.m. And we start over that night with the next cycle. Anybody can write for The Misc. After you write for us three times, you can apply for reporter and you will be workshopped by one of our editors. I also wanted to talk about our interview process. Basically, all reporters are encouraged to meet with their interviewees in person, but also email is what ends up happening in many cases, especially with tight deadlines. Also in terms of in-person interviews, some reporters record their interviews. We strive to make sure that everyone’s voices are represented exactly. We practice after-the-fact quote approval, which means that if you want to see your quotes before the article goes to print, however, in order for them to be accurate, some administrators will change their quotes. We don’t like that, but it happens. Another thing is anonymous sources. We deal with it on a case-by-case basis. If it is for an article of an extremely sensitive nature, we allow it. Any questions about interviewing? Okay, now I want to talk about what articles make it into the paper. We allow interviewees to see their quotes, however nobody outside of the editorial board is allowed to see the content of the paper before it goes to the paper. If it has the potential to be offensive or biased, it is up to the executive and editorial board. At this point, I do want to stress that we do not expressly endorse the opinions in our Opinions section. However, if we get an article that could be potentially hurtful, we do reserve the right to not print it. Anybody can write an opinion, however they are subject to edits. Is there anything else that you are curious about in terms of our process or anything I left out?

    Finance: How do you determine how many copies of the issue you print?

    Marie: Historically, it has been 2000, but recently we have reduced it to 1700 when we noticed many issues lying around. I think the problem with that is the distribution. But we are conscious of the waste and we can change the number every week.

    Pres: What do you do with online content?

    Marie: Last year we struggled with our domain name. We are miscellanynews.org. All of our content appears online. We do have our Far and Away blog and we have Main Circle, which is fashion and pop culture. Then we have our liveblog. I’m interested in live-blogging the big events around campus.

    7:36 p.m.//Exec reports

    Finance: This semester we tried a different way to review fund apps, it’s been working really well. The committee is split into two groups and I and Reuben chair them. It cuts our time in half and it balances my position and allows other voices to be heard. We’ll be doing three organization reviews: Miscellany News, ViCE, WVKR, three of our largest orgs. We’ll be looking through the orgs’ practices, purchases and budgets. We’re going to see where there’s waste or where they could use more money. We’re also working with Financial Aid to make sure we’re not compromising students’ privacy. We have the money to put into this fund. The last fund that’s more complicated is our capital system: We used to buy items and rent them out on a website. Now we buy capital items for orgs and trust them to promote these items themselves. This becomes a problem for theater and music orgs, which become protective of their items because they don’t want other people to use them. We’re working on a process so that it’s not so much that they’re owning their capital items, but that they’re holding onto them.

    Activities: Most of what we’re doing is pre-org centric. We’ve been talking about how it will work since it’s late in the semester. We’re wondering if we should let more pre-orgs apply and then start the process in January. We want to make sure that they’re doing the things we require of them: having meetings, people are going to the meetings and they’re being successful. Apart of helping that is allowing them to apply for funds this year. We don’t exactly know how to organize them, so we’re working on it along the way. They used to be essentially set up to fail because they didn’t have access to funds or reserving spaces. So we’re working on giving them the tools to become a thriving org. It’s important because a lot of people don’t find their place on campus until they find an org they’re interested in. We’re also working on creating new events. By having more orgs people are interested in, there should be more events people are interested in. We can’t keep doing the same things we’ve always done, because the student body is shifting every year.

    7:43 p.m.//Open Discussion

    Student Life: Halloween money updates: The way we’ve decided to do this–the money has been transferred from Chris Roellke’s office to the VSA budget. We think it’s wiser to ask the residential houses to put on programming and give us receipts.

    Finance: Some of your treasurers have issues with being treasurers. We think it would be easier for you to give us receipts and then we will reimburse you.

    Student Life: With apologies to Ferry, Town Students, TAs and THs, we made the decision that the money would be better spent for residential houses. People in THs, TAs and Ferry have access to kitchens that are their own which makes it easier to have a full stomach on Halloween. I’m so sorry. I’m forgetting the SoCos, too–sorry, Socos. We want to make sure that students who don’t drink don’t feel left out. This money is yours to do with as you please. That being said, we crunched the number based on how many students live in each dorm and allotted the money accordingly. I’m sorry to the spaces we didn’t allocate funds to, but they’re spaces with kitchens that belong to students. We made the decision as a committee. That money is from Chris Roellke. The receipt process will be painless. If you need ideas on how to spend the money–I’m a fan of breakfast foods. You can also reach out to orgs who want to fundraise.

    Cushing: So if we can’t make transactions of more than $100 on our Pcard, how does that work?

    Finance: If you ever need to spend more than $100 it can be put on the master VSA Pcard or you can ask me to raise your spending limit.

    2015: Halloween is this weekend. Yay! We’ve talked so much about this but everything we said before: Be safe, get excited. There will be decorations and beer, for those who are 21, at the Villard Room. There will be pizza at 1 a.m. in the Retreat. And if you’re 21 you can get a wrist band for beer on Thursday 12 to 4 p.m. Everything is Vcash only. The tickets are $5 at the door. There are Vcash machines in the front of Main to convert your cash to Vcash.

    Ops: As I’ve mentioned before, I’m the interim chair of the Board of Elections. But this isn’t forever: Filing starts this week. There is a list serv that I send the VSA agenda out on every week. If you or someone you know wants to be added to the list, let me know. So for the audit: We’re sending out requests for proposals from companies and they’re going to get back to us on Monday. At that point will choose one and get on with it.

    TAs: If house presidents could share the Halloween event page so people know how tickets and stuff work, that’d be great.

    Joss: So is cash accepted in advance?

    2015: Yes. As I mentioned the event itself will be Vcash only. Also The Witching Hour: There will be a costume contest, cupcakes, a movie–this isn’t alternate programming. This is fun. So if you the Villard Room isn’t your scene, you can head to the Aula.

    Student Life: You got an email from Carolina about it–but Carry That Weight is happening. Check out the email. Thanks to all of the orgs making that happen.

    7:54 p.m.//Council adjourned.

  • mariesolis 10:59 pm on October 12, 2014 Permalink | Reply  

    VSA Council | October 12, 2014 

    Hey, everyone! Welcome to the last VSA meeting before October Break. We’ll be getting started shortly, so sit tight.

    7:02 p.m.// Call to Order and Attendance
    Proxy: Activities
    Absences: Finance

    7:03 p.m.// Consensus Agenda:

    a. Devils (Discretionary) $2000/$5000
    b. French Club (Social Consciousness) $1200/$1200
    c. Equestrian (Discretionary) $840/$1200
    d. VARC (Discretionary) $175/$175
    e. Outing Club (Discretionary) $500/$500
    f. GAAP (Speakers) $1000/$1000
    g. MEChA (Conference) $750/$1020
    h. NSO (Community) $2500/$2500
    i. Quest Scholars (PreOrg) $0/$200
    j. Wordsmiths (Speakers) $2100/$2100
    k. Class of 2015 (Discretionary) $2000/$2000
    l. VC Sound System (Capital) $20/$20
    m. Aikido Club (Speakers) $0/$350
    n. Minutes From 10/5/14

    All is in favor. The agenda is consented to.

    7:04 p.m.//Forum with Michael Cato, Chief Information Office
    Cato: Good evening, everyone. My name is Michael Cato, I really appreciate the invitation. I don’t like giving speeches so this will hopefully turn more into a conversation. If you have a laptop or phone with you take it out because I’m going to try to pick your brain and see if we can use those things to help. I’ve always been told that the best way to start a conversation is to tell you a bit about myself first. I came to Vassar in September of 2013. I had previously been at the University of Chapel Hill in Charlotte. My most recent institution had almost 27,000 students so coming to this environment has a very different feel. The scale is very different. So I was hoping to be able to talk to staff and students more directly. I love to cook, I love to eat and I used to run marathons. I didn’t have fun in the last one though, so about a year ago I picked up a habit doing CrossFit. There are a few Vassar students I run into there. Here’s the indulgence: I’ve been doing an informal poll in the last few years and I’ve gotten some interesting results. How many wireless, able devices do you have on you right now? If you have at least one, raise your hand. If you’ve got at least two keep your hand up. Three, four? This is the first time I’ve stopped at four. The highest number I’ve ever been told is five. For some reason that particular student had a couple laptops, a couple phones on her at the same time. Think about what that does for us, the people who are responsible for the WiFi. Now we’re discovering that people have more devices and that changes everything. We have to have a sense of how many devices people have on you and how many you use. If you have your laptop, you can go to PollEv.com/mcato to find the poll. If you have your phone, you can text KEYWORD to 37607. Here are a few interesting questions: What technologies at Vassar do you find helpful? For this, text 865580 and your message to 37607 for your answer.
    -Responses include “I guess email,” “Google calendar,” “DMZ Yessssss,” “F’real smoothie machine”-
    What are you finding useful about DMZ? The space, the equipment, the people?

    Cushing: The computers are way faster. If I downloaded those applications to my computer, it wouldn’t be as fast.

    Joss: I think the fact that we have Gmail–a lot of other universities don’t. I think it streamlines things.

    Cato: Have you used Hangouts? Do you use the calendars? Here’s a more informative question: What technologies at Vassar get in the way and how?
    -Responses include “printers, Network Bandwith, START HERE,” “Having to reconnect to student secure every time I open my laptop”-

    Cato: I think the first 15 or so responses were about WiFi. Tell me about that?

    Main: It takes me as many as 20 minutes to connect to the WiFi.

    Davison: Getting connected as a freshman took about three days. It took a really long time.

    Briana Pedroni (At-large): I have a hard time Skyping. There’s a lot of lag, something’s not working.

    Cato: Is it mostly in the residence halls?

    Pedroni: It’s been three different residence halls around campus and it’s poor every time.

    Casey Hancock (At-large): If I move in different spots in Main it’s find moving between routers. But if I close my laptop and move away from Main it gets confused and takes a while to reconnect.

    Cato: I’m going to switch to a couple of graphs. Here’s what we’ve been doing for the last nine or 10 years. The College has two connections to the commercial Internet. You can think of network bandwidth as a pipe: How big the pipe is changes how much information you can put into it at one time. If there are 100 students watching a Netflix show at the same time, you’re all competing for the bandwidth. Right now we’re completely replacing how they’re being connected. The net effect is that we’ll end up with either twice–in July we stepped up to 1000. By the end of spring semester we’ll have doubled where we are right now. When we made that change in July we doubled the network bandwidth each of you get. When it’s not working well, are you contacting the Help Desk? (No) That’s a fair answer, I just want a critique. If you tell us when it’s happening we might be able to start understanding what’s going on. By the end of the semester, we’ll be in a completely different place.

    Student Life: I think one of the problems we have in terms of the Vassar website is that it’s not very useful for students getting info about the College. How to report an assault, how to figure out what those abbreviations are, etc. Most people I know, when they have a question you’ll Google it. But if you Google these Vassar-specific things, they don’t come up. My major request would be a more user-friendly website for students to get more relevant information.

    Cato: So you’re finding it difficult to navigate or find what you’re looking for?

    Hancock: I think web design is changing on campus, so that’s good. But students don’t know where to go. If on the AskBanner side of things, if there was a thing that told you how to navigate resources, I think students would find it easier to find things.

    President: My main problem is when I file tickets to CIS no one ever responds to them. For example, I’ve been trying to change the VSA password since the summer.

    Cato: The system is supposed to send you a number. Have you called us with that number?

    President: No, but I’ve clicked it.

    Cato: It’s less the system, more how we’re using it. If you have that number, it’s much easier for us to track it down. The system is supposed to tell you when we’re doing something about that ticket. But we’ll definitely work on that. I’ve got one more question for you–two more. These are a bit more broad: What should CIS stop doing? I’m always conscious that we might be doing things that aren’t helpful for you at all, or they’re just getting in the way. Does anything need attention?
    -Responses include, “Stop labling everything as IMPORTANT MESSAGE FROM CIS,” “Stop with the phishing emails,” “Provide more support for PC users.”-

    Cato: We had a really bad situation with phishing previously. So we’re trying to help students be conscious because hackers have gotten really good. But fair enough. The last question is the reverse: What should CIS start doing?
    -Responses include, “LET US HOTSPOT,” “Maybe more school-wide forums like this?” “Make it clearer what services CIS provides,” “Vprint printers in academic buildings and the deece.”

    Cato: We will be replacing the number of WiFi networks we have. We’re hoping to reduce them down to three: Student Secure, Faculty-Staff Secure and Guest. We’re going to watch a short clip and then we’ll do questions. One of the things we’re excited about is that all of your questions will be answered at the end of the spring semester and everything will be in place by July. By the time you come next year, it’ll be a very different experience.

    7:29 p.m.//Filling of VP for Activities Position

    Casey Hancock: Last time we decided we were going to fill this by election. Ultimately, two candidates tied with 200 votes per candidate. After we ave a tie, our bylaws say that the tie goes to council with an interview with the candidates and then a vote on council floor. In the past it hasn’t been the best way of doing things because it’s very public. We decided to have the interviews and conversations within our group of people and give you the notes so you feel good about voting on this issue. We invited a number of council members who didn’t know the candidates. Zoey, Calvin–so they could move the discussion long. After a pretty lengthy discussion of 30 to 40 minutes, it was very difficult to come to a conclusion. If you haven’t read the minutes, please do. We weren’t unanimous in our decision, but we recommend Lauren Garcia for this position.

    President: We wanted BoEA to look at this first, but by no means do we have to take their recommendation. We can discuss now and both candidates are here so we can ask them questions. We’ll discuss this and then vote on the candidates. Someone wanted to know why the candidates are here. By the bylaws it says that we have to bring them in and interview them on the council floor, but it’s been incredibly upsetting for everyone involved. So we wanted to bring them in just in case people have additional questions. It’s awkward, it’s not ideal, but I would encourage everyone to keep in mind that this isn’t about people in general, it’s about the position. Since there was an exact tie they are both incredibly qualified for this position.

    Hancock: We should fix that bylaw for the future.

    President: So does anyone have any questions or want to bring up any points?

    Student Life: I personally feel weird voting in the full view of the candidates. I don’t want whoever gets voted in to think that some people didn’t want them here. So I move to suspend the bylaws that say that we have to vote in public view.

    Hancock: You should make it one vote. Suspend the bylaw and move to close the session in one vote.

    Student Life: That’s what I move to do.

    President: Right now we’re going to vote to close the session and then we’ll vote on the candidates. We’ll put a time limit on the session.

    Ferry: Should we have an open session to talk about it first?

    2016: Along the same lines, can we excuse themselves?

    Hancock: This is the issue we always run into. We want to discuss what’s going to happen openly because we want to be transparent. We could close the session, discuss it closed and vote there. But asking questions now openly and then closing it would be a good compromise.

    Student Life: I rescind it.

    Operations: Is there anything else you want to add that you didn’t say in your interview or candidate statement?

    Lauren Garcia: I welcome anyone to ask any questions and I’d be happy to answer them, but we talked for a long time and we both wrote a candidate statement.

    Josh Tempro: Everything I have to say has been said in the process.

    Student Life: I wanted to thank both of you for stepping up. It’s really important and I really appreciate that, on very little notice, you were willing to drop things and put this first. Thank you both.

    President: Jumping off of that, you’re both more than qualified for the position and it’s unfortunate there’s only one position. I know it’s not easy to come into this forum for such a pesky issue, so props to you both.

    Student Life: I’m going to remake the motion I made earlier.

    President: The motion on the table is to go into a closed session and vote. We’re suspending the bylaw. We need a 3/4 majority. It’s 18.

    -All in favor of this motion-
    This motion passes.

    President: We’re going into a closed session. The time limit is 10 minutes.

    7:44 p.m.// Recess.

    8:02 p.m.//End Recess

    President: We came to a decision. Lauren Garcia will be our new VP for Activities. You can come sit up here now!

    8:03 p.m.//Executive Reports

    Ops: The VSA bulletin board will be up in the next few days. It’s in the hallway with the swirly sculpture. I also picked up a project Reuben had been working on: There will be an activities calendar next to that bulletin board for orgs to advertise. In Ops committee we’ve been discussing campus communications, the relationship between reslife and the VSA. We’ve also been talking about the audit. I’m meeting with Drew and Ruby Pierce at 7 tomorrow. We’ll be hashing out the final plan for this external review. We’re going to hash out some details about that, go to committee on Tuesday and exec on Wednesday. The Seven Sisters Conference is going to be at Wellsely this year. I had four people sign up. We can have a few more people also if anyone has any interest. It’ll be November 7 through 9. Our departure schedule will depend on everyone’s personal schedule.

    Joss: Can you be a little more detailed about what it is? What will happen?

    Ops: It varies a lot from year to year. Last year they all came on Friday, we had dinner. Saturday we did some activities to start the day off–

    President: There’s a lot of sharing between schools about how student government functions, what projects we’re working on. It’s like comparing notes. We also talk about collaboration and share things so we can figure out how we can improve.

    Ops: For example, Bryn Mawr has been working on gender neutral bathrooms, so that’s something we can talk to them about. One minor update, the BoEA no longer has a chair, so I’m the interim chair.

    2017: Is there a precedent on how to fill the BoEA chair position?

    Ops: No?

    Academics: We’re working on the new director of the libraries. Right now we’re discussing what the libraries mean to Vassar now and how they could be doing better and how that could relate to a search for a new director. We had a forum a couple weeks ago to gauge what people are looking for. We did that in committee last week and it was fruitful. We’re now going to do a forum with students to see what the campus values about libraries. We’re also going to do it with major committee chairs. Updates on the newsletter: It’s doing well. We’re currently in submission season. The deadline is currently November 10. People have submitted things, but in terms of getting more submissions we’re going to reach out to courses working on the Arts across Discipline initiative. We’re also thrown around ideas to extend it to a year-long project, but have an excerpted part come out this semester and then have a more polished thing come in the spring since “vision” is such an all-encompassing thing. If any of you are having problems with peer advising, tell me and we’ll fix that. We have first-year students talk to their peer advisers over dinner and we want to have peer advisers from different disciplines and majors so everyone should sign up. Sophomores cannot register to be peer advisers. You have to be a junior or a senior.

    Maddy (At-large): How do you submit things to the newsletter?

    Academics: [email protected]. For peer advising you can access the application through the VSA website and I’ll approve you! Peer advisers from last year roll over.

    8:12 p.m.//Halloween Pizza
    Student Life: Basically two really great things happened at the same time: The senior class council got permission to sell pizza outside the Halloween dance. Independently of this, Student Life decided it would be great to bring pizza to dorms on Halloween nights so people have food in their stomach before drinking. Chris Roellke offered us $1000 to do this. We all want the same thing so people have food in their stomachs so there’s less destructive behavior and drunkenness. Options we talked about for spending this money was to buy alternate food for the dorms that’s not pizza. When dorm food happens people don’t eat as much as they would in the Deece because there’s a limited supple, so we want this to happen around 8 p.m. so people are having full dinners. We could also subsidize the pizza outside the Villard Room so people can buy pizza for cheaper, but people pointed out people might already be drunk by this time.

    2018: The money doesn’t technically have to be for pizza, it can be for anything we want to do.

    2015: We talked about seeing if we could talk to the houses about what would be best. In terms of using the money for the event–though I’m sure we would never say no, we did just get some supplementary funding from the VSA to supplement some costs. Dessert would definitely be good. Sandwiches could be cool.

    Jewett: I’m definitely in favor of doing things in the dorms. Pizza is tricky because some people think of it as dinner and might wait for that. If there’s only pizza they might skip dinner for it.

    Activities: I agree because I’m always thinking about pizza. It’s all I think about. At that period of the night I would probably wait. Maybe Nutella dessert pizza–any carbs are good.

    Cushing: Do Campus Activities provide water? One really important thing is to keep hydrated. Sometimes they bring the water containers and that’s better than going to the bathroom. Especially for there to be cups. Water may be even more important than food sometimes.

    2015: Water and food will both be provided at the Villard Room party. I’m not sure where a water location would be.

    THs: In terms of getting food before, we shouldn’t forget about the THs and the TAs because we’re drinking legally and we deserve it too!

    Student Life: One thing we discussed briefly is that it could be pancakes. I don’t know if certain orgs would be interesting in doing this because it’s a huge burden for house team to make pancakes for everyone. Maybe there are orgs that want to fundraise and want to make pancakes in Jewett for two hours and make $100. Breakfast foods. I’m into breakfast late at night.

    2015: Ice cream could be good too.

    President: I believe there are also outside places like EverReady that could cater a brinner.

    Strong: I’m a big proponent of having several places where food is. There are a bunch of people I know who won’t go to the Villard Room but will still be drinking.

    2017: It seems like even with the suggestion of having it in houses–I would caution against making all of the food something you have to pay for. I know I would not pay real money for food because I don’t have real money to throw around. So I think we should be careful about offering thing for a price.

    Student Life: The money from Roellke would go to orgs for making the pancakes. Students wouldn’t have to pay. $1000 isn’t enough to pay for lots of food for lots of people, so this is programming that would have to partly come from house budgets.

    Ops: Is the pizza going to be before the event?

    2015: It’s going to be at 1 a.m. It’s something we thought of as a fundraiser for us and get people food after and to motivate people to get out of the party and start ending their night. This is a post-party thing.

    Town Students: Have you thought about putting up flyers with statistics with EMS numbers or a sign saying “Don’t” with your face or something?

    2018: The freshman class council with health services is doing a poster campaign. On the posters will be data from last year. Basically we’re just trying to clarify the perspectives freshmen have, like “Seniors drink four times a week.” So it’s kind of debunking Vassar myths and making people aware of where they should draw the line with their drinking.

    Kathleen: The preventative flyer initiative–could we send something out about responsible party hosting? I’ve seen a lot of parties get out of hand because the hosts aren’t responsible. I went to the party class, but not every senior has to go to that. So I think everyone should have that information.

    2018: The posters will go out to every student fellow and house presidents.

    Davison: This morning my house team put together a breakfast thing to talk to freshmen about Halloween and drinking. My concern is about sophomores because it’s hard to reach them in the same way and talk to them about responsible drinking and not to break windows and stuff like that. At this point in their Vassar career they’re a little more apathetic about going to events like this, so I’m not sure what effect the poster campaign will have on sophomores. They have their own stuff going on and it’s not easy to reach them.

    2017: I think it would be better accomplished if there wasn’t such a strong prohibition on student fellows being able to drink. I think being able to connect with the freshmen would be more effective than posters.

    TAs: I think having house reps hold talks could be a good way to reach sophomores.

    Student Life: I think what I’m hearing is that we all want to do something, which is cool. My thoughts are just to distribute the money to houses with the understanding that it will be used for programming for food in the evening. It might be used differently in each dorm, but I think we resolved the general issue. Being mindful of 2015 is good, but we all have the same goals. And I hope this has been a productive brainstorming session for how you and your constituents can work together. We’ll work out the logistics later. All of the ideas I hear sound really good and Student Life is happy to help you accomplish them.

    8:30 p.m.//Open Discussion

    Main: Fall Fest happened on Friday. It was a great success. Thanks to everyone who planned it and showed up.

    Cushing: Apart from me speaking for Cushing, but I want to shamelessly talk about–Cares is having a speakout this Tuesday. Please be there. One important thing about the speak out is that it’s before Halloween and it’s important to listen to people’s experiences if we’re talking about sexual assault. And also of course to voice your own experiences. It’s a space for survivors and anyone affected by personal violence. I hope to see you all there. It’s in the Mug from 6 to 8 p.m.

    Ops: I wanted to give a warm welcome to Lauren. Welcome to VSA! It’s going to be a good year.

    President: I want to remind everyone to sign up for the Privilege Campaign if you haven’t. It’s really important with our goals of accessibility and awareness. I know it’s an hour and a half, but everyone should be there. Sign up!

    Ops: I move to adjourn.

    All in favor.

    8:33 p.m.// Council adjourned.


  • mariesolis 11:01 pm on October 5, 2014 Permalink | Reply  

    VSA Council | October 5, 2014 

    Hey, everyone! I hope you all had a great weekend. Sit tight, we’ll be getting started shortly.

    7:02 p.m.//Call to order
    Attendance: President
    Proxy: THs

    7:04 p.m.//Consensus Agenda

    Finance: We decided I’m going to give a short description of each of the items on the fund apps so you all have an understanding of how we’re spending our money. The first one was a capital fund app from The Misc. The $50 is to buy mice, the other money was for a new computer so we can see if CIS can fix it first. The ViCE fund was to buy equipment for film screenings. The cost of the equipment would be paid for after two screenings, so we’re doing that. The CBS app is being postponed until next week. It’s for dresses for the Violets because they have more Violets than last year so they need additional funds to cover those costs. The VPI app was for a cool speaker. The VARC app is also being postponed. They already bought the film, so we can’t reimburse them for those costs. The On Tap funds were for supplemental budgeting because they have more members than last year and need more money to buy costumes and tap shoes. Any questions?

    President: Does anyone object to anything? No. The consensus agenda is approved.

    Consensus Agenda
    a. Miscellany News (Capital) $48/$1197
    b. ViCE (Capital) $2165.03/$2165.03
    c. Council of Black Seniors (Discretionary) $0/$1000
    d. VPI (Speakers) $300/$1200
    e. VARC (Capital) $0/$272.19
    f. On Tap (Capital) $100/$100
    g. On Tap (Discretionary) $225/$225
    h. Minutes From 9/28/14

    7:07 p.m.// Forum with Cappy’s assistants

    Hannah: One of our main jobs is to be a liaison between students and Cappy. We’ve had pretty good attendance with student appointments. We’ll be having those on a biweekly basis.

    Briana: One of the main things Cappy’s concerned about is campus climate. Over the summer you all hopefully got an email about a fund to apply for, as an individual or org–it’s a two-page application and it’s to facilitate dialogue around campus climate. One criticism has been that the administration has been trying to plan these things when students have more knowledge about them. Basically it’s free money to talk about whatever you want. No one has applied so we have so much money. So please go back to your constituents and let them know that this is available. The information about it is also on the website.

    Hannah: There’s a lot of flexibility on that as well: It could be an art show, a debate, things like that. If there could be an email about that to spread the word about that. It’s a great opportunity to talk about these issues.

    Briana: We’ll hold office hours as well to see if there are any students who want to talk to us, especially since we’re meeting with Cappy on a biweekly basis.

    2018: What’s the fund called?

    Hannah: It’s the Dialogue and Engagement across Differences fund. It was emailed to us in July, but we can email class presidents and get the word out.

    2017: Thanks for being here and acquainting us with what you do. Regarding Cappy’s office hours, one concern I’ve heard a lot, is that you have to send an email to one of you describing what you want to talk about. People have expressed concerned that those things will be screened and only certain students will be able to get through to Cappy based on what they want to talk about. Could you just explain what you do with those blurbs and if you think that intimidates or dissuades people from participating in office hours?

    Hannah: It’s more to see what the topic is. If we see there are 20 people who want to talk in the hour time slot, if there are three people who want to talk about campus climate we might put those people together. If it’s too full we may direct them to someone else, depending on what the issue is.

    Briana: It is generally a first-come-first-serve basis. I haven’t ever thought about that concern, but we will bring it up and talk about it.

    Hannah: If you think it would be more effective not to include that, we’ll consider it.

    Main: I was just wondering what way besides direct office hours she’s kind of tuned in to student concerns and campus climate? Does she read the Misc or their live tweets?

    Briana: I think Cappy reads the Misc every week. We’ve only been in this position for a month and we’re still trying to figure out how to make her more accessible. We’ve been in contact with Luz and Judy, from the ALANA and LGBTQ centers, so we can see how we can offer support to those offices. I’m not sure what else Cappy does besides reading the Misc, visiting the Retreat to get money from the ATM…

    Hannah: She’s having 33 meetings with the sophomore class to talk to students.

    Student Life: Student Life also meets with her once a month, so that’s a way that student concerns are brought to her.

    President: I know that in the past it seemed like office hours weren’t as frequent. Is that up to you guys?

    Briana: We have four more throughout the semester, but we’re definitely planning on making them more frequently.

    Hannah: Also if it’s something urgent and the scheduling doesn’t work for you, talk to us and we can figure it out.

    Briana: And if it’s pressing we can help you schedule an appointment with her outside of office hours.

    President: You also talked about having events with Cappy throughout the year. What’s the general mindset behind that idea?

    Briana: We talked about the dichotomy between the students and the administrators and how there’s a thick barrier there. I know you guys last week talked about striving for more openness and accessibility. I think other administrators and Cappy are looking to do that too. We’re not sure yet how to best do that, but we’re working on it. Hannah and I are also both in the Class of 2015 and so when we were freshmen she was traveling a lot because it was Vassar’s 150th anniversary. Now she’s a lot more grounded at Vassar so hopefully that’ll help her be more accessible.

    Student Life: This is going to sound like a silly question, but what does Cappy do on a daily basis?

    Hannah: She’s constantly in meetings, she meets with a lot of different groups.

    Briana: She has a PhD in Economics so she’s invested in those issues constantly. She has a conference with the Seven Sisters that’s coming up. The Board of Trustees are coming soon. She has a lot of alumni relations. I mean, what does the President of the United States do? They do a lot of stuff, you don’t know everything, but you know they’re busy. I mean everyone knows Cappy, they don’t call her Catharine Bond Hill. We know where she lives.

    Casey Hancock (At-large): How did you get involved working for her?

    Hannah: There was an application that got sent out to the Class of 2015. We applied, we got interviewed. And now we’re here.

    Briana: It’s pretty cool, I would encourage you all to do it! It’s our campus job. One of us will be at every VSA meeting taking notes and if you have something you want to talk to us about, you can approach us after the meeting.

    7:22 p.m.// Exec Board reports

    President: We’ve been very busy with our exec board meetings. We’re just waiting to meet with Chris Roellke tomorrow. We meet with all of the senior-level admins at least once a month so if you have something you want us to pass along, email us. We’ll also be reporting back on what we’re working on here. There’s not a ton to report on now, but we’re continuing a lot of projects from last year. There’s some curricular reform stuff that you’ll be hearing about throughout the year. We met with Cappy–there’s a big push this year to talk about how student dialogue can improve on campus. She asked us to encourage people to do that. The senior-level officers are Cappy, Dean Chenette, Dean Roellke, Bob Walton, who we met with on Friday. He’s the VP of Finance. He’ll be back at a future VSA meeting. A lot of the projects come out of his office, like the bookstore. He’s also great because he has a philosophy that everything can be done in less than a year, which is a great mindset to have. He’s great to talk to if you have ideas. Marianne Beggeman also works with Bob and she’s great too if you’re looking for directions to the College. You don’t see her or Bob around that often, but they’re super important. Also I wanted to update everyone on the adjusted timeline for VP for Activities. There was some confusion, so we wanted to clarify somethings. After we approved the timeline, CIS told us that they couldn’t make an election in that time, so it’s getting pushed back two days and then the whole process will be the same. They decided the best way to take care of the two days is to extend the campaigning for two days. The results will be announced Friday instead of Wednesday.

    Chris Brown (at-large): So the debate’s going to be happening before filing closes?

    President: I believe at this point, I’m not sure if filing is closing tonight, but we’ll grab Casey and have him answer that.

    Jewett: He said filing was closing Monday, so I don’t know if he just accidentally left that in the email. But according to the email it’s now closing on Wednesday.

    President: It was purely a technological issue that CIS couldn’t make it happen.

    Casey Hancock: There’s a theoretical question about whether or not you can have a debate while campaigning is still open. We could close filing earlier and then email a correction. Does anyone care, should we change it?

    Joss: Why not just move the debate?

    Casey: Because voting happens as soon as filing closes. Instead of making a gap, we’re moving it back two days because CIS needed us to so now we’re having a debate.

    Finance: Does this functionally change anything?

    Casey: Not really.

    2016: When was the debate before?

    Casey: There wasn’t one. If we did it this weekend we would have been encroaching on Jewish holidays. We don’t necessarily need a debate, but given our last discussion about voting for the right candidate, it seemed like the appropriate thing to do for the Board of Elections.

    Cushing: Can filing just end before the debate? Just for there to be no more discussion on this.

    Casey: The difficulty here is that we’re going to be confusing people more.

    2017: I’m with in preferring to close filing before the debate, but also the email has already been set out and there comes a point when people get so many emails they stop reading. While ideally I’d like to change it, I don’t know how feasible it is.

    Casey: We could just send an underlined statement when we email people about the debate and make it clear that if you’re not at the debate you’ve missed your chance to file, basically. I’m fine with anything.

    President: I think for now we’ll leave it as it is.

    Student Life: My committee has been talking a lot about Title IX. We’re going to conduct a survey and I think ours is going to be a lot better than those of our peer institutions because we have a consent-based survey. That’s a project that’ll be going on for the rest of the year. This isn’t something that came out of committee, but the resumes are in for the new SAVP director at Vassar. I will be in attendance for those interviews next week. The committee itself is working on a project that’s aiming to demystify the reporting process. There’s an infographic out about it, but it’s slightly outdated now because reporting no longer goes through DB Brown’s office. We’re going to try and make a video about it, really any info we can put out there so they know what the process is like and can choose whether or not they want to go through with it and have all of the info so they can make a clear decision going through with it. We’ve made a kind of sub committee that’s going to be focusing on food. I will be assisting and supporting them in whatever way necessary, but they’re going on a crusade to fix campus dining. Gender-neutral bathrooms updates: When Sanders Physics was getting renovated, they didn’t include gender-neutral bathrooms in the plans, but the departments have decided they want them there. It will be the first academic building with multi-stall gender neutral bathrooms. We’re going to have a meeting with staff so they can ask questions and learn about how it works. Gender-neutral bathrooms in the new bookstore will be happening. We’re working on more transparency with the BIRT team. We’re trying to get a public database about bias incidents that would send everyone an email information whenever someone reports an incident. It would link to the website so people aren’t being bombarded with triggering information. Basically it would say what was reported and how it’s being followed up on. Also in BIRT training, the entire BIRT is going to a four-hour identity training on privilege, power and identities. This past week we went to a two-hour conversation on the difference between anti-antisemitism and anti-Zionism. Those are the things admin are doing to be better.

    Town Students: With Aramark, we’re in a contract so we can’t get rid of them. Do you know if for the food sub committee if they’re just trying to improve through Aramark?

    Student Life: Aramark as a company does everything from prisons to Goldman Sachs. They obviously have a sliding scale of what they can provide. There was a campus dining survey done in 2012. To be honest, a lot of what this group is going to do is see how much change is possible while working with Aramark. If the answer is not a lot, that will empower future groups and tell them how to move forward.

    2017: A lot of what we talked about was how to discuss with admin the policies.

    Student Life: Right, so like the policy about not being able to use regular meal swipes on guests.

    Finance: Whatever happened to getting coffee?

    Town Students: For a while they changed the Retreat coffee because it wasn’t fair trade. But then they changed it back. Aramark sucks, they’re a huge corporation, they try to work with you but they don’t.

    Activities: Your sub committee can talk to Bob Walton about what to do together because he wants to have conversation dinners to talk about campus dining. I think that’s the first step.

    President: If you’re interested in this issue, definitely talk to Bob Walton.

    7:43 p.m.//BoE amendment

    Main: It’s the same amendment we had last week. So there you go.

    President: The issue with this last week was that people felt like they needed more time. Does anyone want to speak to the amendment. No? I’ll make the motion to vote on this since we’ve seen this three times.

    Abstentions: Finance, Student Life, Cushing, THs
    In Favor: Main, Jewett, Lathrop, Noyes, 2017, Strong, 2015, Town Students, Activities, Academics, 2018, TAs, Joss, Raymond, Davison

    7:45 p.m.//Open Discussion

    2018: We’ve been talking a lot about sexual harassment. I’d like to ask every house president to talk to their constituents and student fellows to talk about sexual harassment. I feel like a giant presentation isn’t intimate enough for this serious issue. I don’t know if this is true, but I’ve heard there have been five to six EMS cases for the freshmen every week, so I was thinking we could do a poster campaign or something.

    Finance: Student fellows are trained to discuss issues of sexual assault.

    Raymond: We’ve had a lot of issues with that particularly in our house. We’re workshopping the idea of getting in touch with Judy to have a workshop series. I’m going to bring this up again at house team this week so we can get this done in smaller groups. It’s not just freshmen, but it’s freshmen especially.

    2018: I’ve heard Choice is going around, but a lot of freshmen aren’t going to show up to those meetings. So please, everyone, talk to your student fellows so they can meet with their students.

    Susie (At-large, Cares listener, Cares intern): I just wanted to say that it is domestic violence awareness month. Cares usually does study breaks. We’re already reached out to you about hosting study breaks in October. If you have any suggestions about what we can bring to the study breaks and how to make them more information, let us know.

    2015: If you guys do do that, do it soon. Halloween is our biggest EMS night and reporting about sexual assault.

    Finance: Finance committee has been divided into two groups: one does fund apps and one talks about policies on how fund apps are decided. The second group will meet on Tuesday for the first time and they’re going to talk about having a fund with regards to conferences. Some orgs require students to pay their own way and we’re going to work on how to make conferences more accessible. The other one has to do with capital fund apps. We want to create a better capital loan system. We also are going to be investigating orgs that get budgets of over $20k to make sure how they’re spending their money. I think 2018 brought up a really important point. We should be working on preventing it as well as doing better with dealing with it when it does.

    Main: Shoutout to campus about our fall fest. It’ll be on Friday from 5 to 9 p.m. on the quad.

    Davison: My dorm has had a spike in EMS cases. We don’t want to just blame the freshmen class, but we’ve had a lot of issues with public spaces, particularly the bathroom. People just smashed eggs in the bathroom for no good reason I can understand. I’m not sure what you want us to do about EMS calls and sexual assault. I wouldn’t feel comfortable facilitating that conversation.

    2018: The class council was talking about who would talk to the freshmen. We were thinking that we really want it to come from all classes. Because I’m a freshmen, other freshmen might not look up to me and if it came from upperclassmen it might seem like they’re being talked down to. So I think it should come from everywhere. Specifically, house presidents should ask their student fellows to talk to their fellow groups. Also I liked the idea of a poster campaign because we had the alcohol edu course we had to do over the summer, but people aren’t going to act on those things.

    Chris Brown (at-large): House presidents, talk to your HSAs. We meet with Luis Inoa on a weekly basis. One thing we were thinking of is that student fellows host circles with their fellow groups and talk to them about EMS and sexual assault. Talk to your HSAs and house advisers.

    Cushing: We’ve had a lot of incidents as well. A Cushing student fellow is sending group texts to their fellowees every Friday and Saturday to check in on them and remind them of the different resources. I think that’s a way to make it seem less like they’re being looked down upon and more like they’re being cared for. A small reminder from student fellows has worked so far and I think that could work in other houses. I’d like to encourage all house presidents to make sure that there’s not only freshmen attendance, but all classes in attendance for the Cares study breaks.

    Finance: I think that the campus dining situation contributes in a small way to the number of students getting EMSed because of the dining hall hours. If you have dinner at 5:30 and start drinking at 11 or 12, you’re going to have a more empty stomach than eating at 9. At other schools they have food for freshmen on Friday and Saturday nights and we could look into that. I think students would like it, but more importantly they would have something in their stomachs before drinking.

    2015: I think a bigger problem is also the lack of programming on this campus. I lot of activities are held in students’ houses and it revolves around drinking. So let’s stress alternative programming and encourage them to go to events and keep them away from the THs and TAs.

    Joss: I just wanted to point out that the biggest thing the admin banks on is the alcohol edu program. It’s not mandatory, it’s only made to seem mandatory. The only threats you get are emails, but nothing ever happens if you don’t complete it.

    2017: The reactions of people on the Facebook page–the people who do do it don’t take it seriously because of the format. So I’m not even sure how much information is getting to people.

    President: When we meet with Chris Roellke we’ll bring up these concerns.

    Student Life: I’d like to give a shout out to 2016 on the “Where Are All of the Juniors” event. I really want to echo all of the things 2015 said. I know that, with Halloween coming up, a lot of destruction happens to Main. I think the Student Life committee and VSA as a whole should be putting pressure on this. The VSA is structured to reach students and we could very successfully run some kind of campaign. Something like, “This is my house. This is where I live. Please don’t destroy it. Please don’t assault people here.” This weekend that always ends in EMS calls especially for freshmen and sexual assaults as well as physical assaults. I love Halloween, it’s my favorite holiday, but we need to be aware of what’s going on and try to stop it.

    Tyler (at-large, Cares member): We haven’t picked an SAVP coordinator yet. But the acting coordinator is in charge of health education and alcohol edu. They’re going to be stretched really thin, so whatever we can do to help, please let us know.

    Activities: I think what Student Life recommended would be great. Speaking to 2018’s point from earlier–as much as I would hope it would work to tell students to stop drinking, it’s not going to work. EMS or the administration did a survey and they found there were more EMS calls on days when there was no programming. So it’s important to get people out of just the THs and TAs.

    Town Students: This is a random point, but every year the freshmen get a ton of EMS calls and it’s kind of a phase. But I think a good talking point is to convey that the volume of EMS calls takes away resources from the community. It’s catering to the idea that we’re this entitled Vassar entity.

    2015: Vassar employs an ambulance specifically just for the event. We’re taking up hospital beds in Poughkeepsie. It’s a very big problem.

    Activities: Motion to adjourn.

    -This motion passes-

    8:05 p.m.//Council adjourns.

  • mariesolis 10:57 pm on September 28, 2014 Permalink | Reply  

    VSA Council | September 28, 2014 

    Hey, everyone! Happy Sunday! We’ll be getting started in just a minute.

    7:01//Call to Order
    Attendance: Ops
    Absent: Town Students

    7:02 p.m.//Consensus Agenda

    a. ViCE Special Events (Discretionary) $1200/$5000
    b. VC Sound System (Capital) $510/$510
    c. Islamic Society (Discretionary) $375/$375
    d. Class of 2016 (Discretionary) $0/$500.33
    e. Improv (Discretionary) $121/$121
    f. Ultimate Frisbee (Capital) $685/$685
    g. Asian Students’ Alliance (Speakers) $1000/$2000
    h. Asian Students’ Alliance (Capital) $371.71/$371.71
    i. Minutes From 9/21/14

    The consensus agenda passes.

    Joss: Ultimate Frisbee was denied funds last week and got them this week. Why is that? Just wondering.

    Finance: The first time was for dinner once a week and we said no; the second time was a capital purchase for frisbees and other frisbee materials such as a water cooler, speakers and a tent. Typically those are standard for team-based orgs because it’s boring to practice with no music, but the speakers were expensive. 

    7:04 p.m.//Executive Reports

    Finance: Our finance levels are exactly where they should be right now. The members of the executive board who were available chose the at-large members of the finance board. We’re really excited for all of the students who are participating and we’ve already heard back from some of them, accepting the position. We’ll announce who those people are next week. Finance committee will start meeting Wednesday at 3:30 with this group of people.

    Activities: We met for the second time this Thursday. We reviewed 29 pre-org apps. We decided to approve some, denied others and we’ll be meeting with the rest of the applicants this Thursday or next Thursday. That being said, I’ve decided to resign from my position. I’ve been debating this over the past week or so and I think it’s what’s best for me right now. It wasn’t an easy decision, but it has to be done. I’ll still come to council meetings until a new Activities person is trained.  For those of you who are staying, this is a rewarding experience.

    Cushing: I just wanted to say that you’re amazing and thanks for doing this as a senior. I’m so glad you’re going to keep being my SARC intern.

    7:08 p.m.//Board of Elections

    Casey Hancock: The Board of Elections met today to talk about what we recommend for Activities: We came to the decision that we would like to do an election with a ten-day timeline. We talked about the logistics and feasibility of doing this, especially considering that we’ve been working with CIS every week this year. We recommend that we open filing and campaigning Monday at noon. The following Monday at noon filing and campaigning will close and voting will begin. We’ll announce who’s elected on Wednesday. We’re looking at a week turnaround for this position.

    Activities: So I trust the BoE, and because I resigned it doesn’t matter anymore, but I don’t feel comfortable handing off this position to someone who has really good campaigning skills.

    Casey: Ultimately we decided that we really want to see someone good coming into this position, the disenfranchising of people that would happen if we did an appointment position outweighed the negatives of campaigning.

    2017: I would say tat all of us are here because we campaigned and won he election.

    Student Life: Did BoE talk about the perceived separation from exec and rest of council since we filled others with appointment?

    Casey: We discussed it as in because it’s an exec position, previous appointments for exec have been really controversial whereas previous elections have been met with scrutiny, but are generally better received. So we did have that discussion.

    Finance: I have a lot of respect for BoE and I want to preface my statement with that because Casey knows exactly what he’s doing. I want to disagree with this decision because what it comes down to is I think we need someone in this role immediately and pick up where Reuben left off because we need to get a move on things. We did this in May and had a lot of time to prepare for these exec positions. If someone won an election, it would require a lot of training to catch them up. Our positions are very administrative and there’s a lot of stuff that needs to get done immediately. For example, I’m the person who’s going to be dealing with who’s on what listservs. These tasks need to be filled by someone who knows what they’re doing. Furthering that, I don’t think in my personal opinion, that the student body is going to feel disenfranchised because they didn’t pick their VP for Student Activities. I don’t think they’ll care. I think we just need to fill the role. There will be very little voter turn out, and people who aren’t involved with VSA probably won’t even realize that anything’s different. This conversation shouldn’t be about elections versus appointment ethics because we’re getting caught up in our own things.

    Cushing: How did we fill the Student Activities position last year?

    President: Both of the positions were filled by appointment, though that was later in the year.

    Casey: Having an appointment the first time was because there was a certain level of controversy surrounding the issue that exec wanted to deal with among themselves by appointment. Last year, an emergency meeting was called and we discussed it and in that situation we decided an election was most appropriate.

    Joss: I’m just curious if anyone else thinks that an appointment would be preferable over an election. Or do we think we’re going to get a candidate is competent enough?

    2017: I understand the points Max raised and the real work that needs to be done immediately, but I don’t see how we can have conversations and have our mission be for more openness, accessibility and everything if we don’t have conversations about ethics. If we don’t talk about how our ethics affects these things, we’re not letting our actions reflect our mission of accessibility.

    Jewett: The difference between an appointment and an election is three days. I know last  year with the Davison president there was a lot of controversy about an appointment. I just think elections are perceived much better in general/

    Davison: In response to that, I understand why elections increase access for members at-large, but for this position I personally feel more comfortable putting this as an appointment because in my mind I don’t see an exec board position being representative of the student body. For this position, I don’t feel like people don’t look to the VP for Activities to represent their constituents in the same way a house or class president does.

    Activities: I resigned for this reason. I need to get out of here. I don’t want to sit here for four more weeks and train someone. I think there are more advantages to filling this by appointment.

    Jewett: We had a lot of pros and cons for an appointment. One of the pros is that more people tend to apply when it’s an appointment. With that said, the BoE is now ten people. It’s a small group choosing a very important position.

    Ops: I’m definitely in favor of an election. Also specifically it’s my job to train new council members. I think exec can fill in anything in the interim and I personally will do that if no one else wants to. I also think it’s ridiculous to have this conversation since the amendment that we’re about to vote on is to give BoE full autonomy.

    Casey: I was going to say that our appointments timeline was slightly modified. Applications would open at midnight tonight, get appointed Saturday and then approved by council next Sunday. To make it more level, we would allow anyone to come and observe the questions and determine some of them without allowing strong opinions to override BoE.

    Finance: I would like to remind everyone that an election process doesn’t mean that the person who’s being elected doesn’t mean that we’re not disenfranchising students. The VSA has been remarkably undiverse historically. We can’t say that one is better than the other. The three day difference doesn’t concern me at all, the problem is who is going to be put in that position. These are complex positions. If I were to leave tomorrow, there would be some issues with how we do the financing. It wouldn’t just be about who’s in the role, it’s about the logistics of it. I’m putting in 10 hours a week. We need to think about if this actually matters to everyone else. I don’t think people care. I think it’s self-important to have an election every three weeks on council. When we fill this position no one’s going to know if it was by elections of appointment because two-thirds of the student body doesn’t vote.

    2015: I think it’s important that we recognize that we’re changing the part of our board that the student body sees the most. We just need to come to an agreement about what we can do to keep this thing going. We don’t want to have someone in here who can’t be trained, doesn’t know how to work.

    Bethan (at-large): I’m somewhat alarmed to hear that you think we don’t care how these positions are filled. We do care, and that’s been shown by different arguments about house presidents. The consequence of the exec board–they represent us in  real way with administration and VSA council. If a person has to go to Activities for help planning an event or something, it’s hard to do that if you don’t know who they are. Having an election is a better way to get to know them a little bit and you might not know unless you have kept up with the Misc and VSA meetings. And I know it’s a lot of work for council especially exec board, it does set a not good standard among students. The concept that we don’t care is really false.

    2015: If we do an election, can we make the point that it’s very public what this job entails, speaking as someone who had no knowledge coming onto the VSA.

    Casey: The first set of emails would very directly explain that, at this point, we need someone who can come into the year, on the ground running. And we’ll try to describe what that means.

    Finance: Does a certain percent of the student body need to vote in order for an election to count?

    Casey: Good question. I’ll look into that.

    Jewett: I agree with what Bethan said. Regardless of whether or not people care, the student body is accountable if there’s an election.

    Maddy (at-large): I’m looking at the Misc’s Twitter feed right now and everyone’s replying and saying they should do an election. Six people have replied, three are on The Misc. People are paying attention to this, which they never do.

    Casey: In an election, someone will have to receive more than 50 percent of the outgoing voters.

    President: It sounds like we’re going to have at least six voters. I think it’s important that people feel they have a voice in this. One, the exec board does represent the student body. And two, we need to figure out a way that guarantees someone is ready to go. We need to make sure we aren’t going to be stuck on bureaucracy.

    Strong: I think it’s important to consider not only what BoE has said, that’s very important, but also I think why we’re discussing this so much is because we’re looking at is as not just what’s best for the student body, but what’s best fr us. We’re here to represent the student body and what’s best for them has to come first.

    Activities: These are all good points. I care about this position so much and I don’t feel comfortable handing the position over to someone who doesn’t know anything about Activities. I approve all of the events on campus and I don’t feel comfortable allowing someone to come in who doesn’t know what they’re doing. There’s a lot that this job entails and it needs someone who has some kind of background and experience.

    Cushing: I wanted to ask at-large members to participate as much as you can. It’s going to affect the whole student body.

    TAs: The fact that we have at-large members here who have expressed very real questions about what this process entails, and the lack of respect that we’ve given them, is a little saddening. Especially as a council that prides itself on its accessible and open means.

    Adam (at-large): I would support the Board of Elections and Appointments on this issue. I think the student body should decide. I think the chair of BoE has done a wonderful job, especially since he resigned last week. That deference should be given to him because he had to do this. I support him.

    2016: Former experience is part of the job and you learn that on the job. They will have to learn and be trained and learn as they go. Maybe that’s part of it. Hopefully there will be someone who has experience with orgs and is passionate about them. I think it’s possible. It’s important that they’re representative of the student body.

    Raymond: Similar to that, I understand that the idea of an appointment makes it feel like you have control over who’s coming into the position. But as someone who was appointed to my post, I don’t think an appointment guarantees someone who knows what they’re doing more so than an election. As far as learning on the job, I got thrown into this. Serenading was the first thing that happened to me, my house event is this week; I got thrown into it. It’s perfectly feasible to do this with an election,

    Ops: I move to accept the BoE’s recommendation and fill this by special election according to the specified timeline.

    Finance: I think everyone’s brought up very good points. But I think that there are some things that are specific to this situation. Exec board is very different from other council positions. The difference between an appointment and an election is that the process starts in April for elected positions. You get extensive training and preparation. All the positions on exec board act is most time consuming and that’s something that needs attention. While people can fill this role in May, I think it’s different to fill this position in October. I think people are far more concerned with having the most qualified people rather than the one who was chosen by the most people. The people who elected our executive board were the people who are on campus and engaged last semester. These positions are mostly filled by rising juniors. Those people are abroad and the people who will vote now are freshmen and sophomores and aren’t as educated on the issues.

    Joss: You aren’t allowed to vote while you’re abroad?

    Casey: Our bylaws say that the senior class is essentially a proxy for the incoming freshmen. They have to vote with the consciousness that they’re representing the freshmen. Freshmen will not be eligible to run in this election.

    Joss: In regards to the popularity contest comment: I think exec is very different. I think that it’s a big distinction between an exec position and freshman rep. When you have freshmen who have only been here for three weeks, it is a popularity contest. I’d like to echo that an appointment doesn’t guarantee a great candidate.

    2016: I also am very much in support of an election because we deliberated a lot during Ops meetings about the role of the BoE. Why do we have it if we’re not going to trust their decision? The election has worked in the past. Like Luke said, they’ll have to be trained regardless and people are willing to fill those responsibilities. I don’t understand what people mean when they say they want someone who has experience. We’re not going to find someone who’s already been VP for Activities. Like 2015 said, the role very much outlines the duties. That’ll make it seem more serious and random people who just want to do it to do it won’t run.

    Student Life: The structure of appointments is such that it finds the most competent person. I would feel like my back were covered more if this were an appointment. But if a student body wants an election, we have to be responsive to that and I’m going to be responsive to that no matter my personal feelings are on that.

    Cushing: This is directed at Activities and Finance. What do we mean when we say someone who’s been on Activities, who has experience with Activities? Do we have someone in mind who’s fit for this position or is this just an expression?

    Activities: So there are people on Activities committee, who know about orgs and VSA in general. Some people have strong ties to the Campus Activities office. It’s knowing the orgs we have and these aren’t things we can gauge with an election.

    Finance: If I were hit by a bus tonight, there are probably four people on campus who could fill this role and it wouldn’t make any difference. Those people are Casey, Carolina, Reuben and Ramy. Anyone else, it would probably take a few weeks to figure it out. Org leadership is elected the previous year and they are in he roles they’re going to fill.

    Activities: It would take probably two weeks to talk about why we approve some pre-orgs, what pre-orgs are. It’s very time-sensitive.

    Brianna (at-large): What I’m hearing in the arguments about an appointment versus an election is very self-centered. I don’t mean this in an offensive way: I don’t care that your job is going to be harder for a week and a half. If it benefits 2400 students for the next six to eight months, you can deal with it for a week and a half. You signed up for that when you ran for this position. As a member at-large, it seems elitist that you’re thinking about what it would mean for you. You’re supposed to represent the students and appointments just don’t do that.

    Finance: Could you elaborate on why you don’t think appointments represent students?

    Brianna: I don’t think it does so as much. We could go all polisci and talk about what’s good about democracy, but we don’t have time for that. More people are going to have their voices heard by an election rather than an appointment. We’re putting our faith in the people on this board who we elected and I would just really appreciate an election.

    Academics: This discussion has been a really heartening thing because I felt like a lot of the people in this room don’t care. This is the most we’ve ever heard at-large members talk about anything. Thank you for caring.

    Activities: The point of VP for Activities is that these relationships are developed over time. When you’re in the role, training takes care of some things, but developing relationships happen when you’re in the position.

    Ops: I think people are making the same points over and over again. I’m going to make a second motion which will force us to vote.

    President: I don’t have a vote in this, but I would encourage us to look at this as a group. But we’re not an ordinary group. At the end of the day, I don’t care if my job is harder for a month, it’s what’s best for campus. Please think about what perspective you’re voting from. The options on the table: The classic absention, in favor of an election, or no election.

    Absentions: Activities, Student Life, Academics, 2018, Davison
    All in favor of an election: Town Students, 2016, TAs, Raymond, Lathrop, 2017, 2015, Jewett, Main, Operations, Joss, Cushing, Noyes, Ferry
    Opposed: Finance, THs

    This motion passes.

    7:56//BoE amendment

    Ops: This amendment makes it so that we grant BoE the same process as Finance does for fund apps but for the BoE’s recommendation.

    Absentions: Student Life, Academics, Finance, 2015, Davison, Joss
    In favor: Cushing, Town Students, 2016, TAs, Raymond, Lathrop, 2017, 2018, Strong, Ferry, Noyes, Jewett, Ops,

    Casey: Know

    Logan: I would feel more comfortable, the reason why I abstained, is because I’m not in the right head space to make a decision on this. Maybe we should table this, think about what happened tonight, and come back next week clear-headed. Motion to table it.

    Ops: I’m going to point out that Ops has spent three weeks on this amendment. I know it’s hard to divorce everything that happened tonight from this amendment…

    Presidents: Let’s table this for a week. Any abstentions?

    No abstentions.
    All except for 2016, TAs, SoCos, Jewett, Ops

    8:01 p.m.//Open discussion

    Cushing: When there are a lot of absentions–can we please make it clear to everyone what the process is when there are eight abstentions.

    Main: Reuben, I love you, you’re my best friend.

    2016: I wanted to say that I’ll miss Reuben. 2016 is having their first event. It’s for juniors, it’s called “Where are all the juniors?” We’re getting together everyone who’s on campus and unifying the class that’s here with music and food. It’s Saturday from 11 to 2. Mark your calendars!

    Ops: I wanted to echo Logan’s earlier sentiment. I’m glad people care, I’m glad people have feelings about it. In the future, I don’t think we should have to make that type of decision a minute after finding out about it. We send out the agenda so people can talk to their constituents and get feedback, so let’s not have that happen again.

    Joss: I love you Reuben. Thanks to all of the at-large members who come and tweet and liveblog, especially those who tweet from their own accounts. It gives us a good alternative perspective.

    Reuben: I just wanted to thank you all for an exhilarating final hour.

    Finance: Welcome, Rebecca the 2018 president. I think my goal for council this year is to have more of a community feel than we’ve had in the past. When I was in your role my freshman year, I ended the year not knowing everyone on council’s name. I hope that won’t be your experience and I want everyone to make it a goal. I hope we can all support each other, despite different opinions. People don’t see how much work Reuben does. The reason I’m okay with this happening on an emotional level, is because Reuben has done most of what has to be done with the semester. He’s put up with a lot of shit from me as well. I really appreciate him sticking with it. The biggest problem I see with the VSA has to do with the elections and appointments process. I urge everyone to be open-minded with the idea that someone who’s elected to this position doesn’t mean they’re more representative. The perfect example is that this position has been held my a white man for the past few years.

    Bethan (at-large): We got an email last night from a member of the administration about someone with a firearm on campus and I hope someone could speak to if anyone knows anything about this. We were informed more than two hours after this person was reported. I wondered why there is such a huge time difference because I felt uncomfortable knowing that someone was potentially carrying a weapon on our campus on Saturday night.

    Town Students: I’m not familiar with that process. In the past, it often takes a while for the police report to come out and say what happened. They don’t want to send out a report like that and alarm students if it’s unnecessary. There are a lot of steps. It shouldn’t take that long. I don’t know how we can address that, but that is one of the reasons. It takes a while to confirm facts.

    President: We’re meeting with Cappy tomorrow and Chris Roellke later this week as well as Chenette if you have academic concerns. I was personally concerned and concerned from the perspective of my position.

    Brianna (at-large): I’m Cappy’s assistant this year. I’ll be here every other week and her other assistant will be here every week and we’re going to be giving notes to Cappy. I see her once a week, and Hannah sees her once a week, so let me know if there’s ever anything you want me to bring to her.

    2015: I want to echo Max in saying that I’m not sure how I got here, but I’m glad I’m here.

    Activities: I realized that, based on the timeline, I’ll be here next week so it’s not my last meeting. This is directed toard Rebecca and house presidents: Sometimes this sucks, but I promise this experience will be worth it. Last year I was the most anti-house president, and I still made it here. We’re dropping like flies, but I promise you this is a great experience. With that, I move to adjourn.

    All in favor: All, except for President.

  • mariesolis 11:01 pm on September 21, 2014 Permalink | Reply  

    VSA Council | September 21, 2014 

    Hey, everyone! It’s that time again. The VSA council meeting will be starting shortly. This week we’re in the CCMPR, so come by!

    7:03 p.m.// Call to order, attendance
    Absences: Davison, Student Life, SoCos
    Proxy: Noyes

    7:04 p.m.//Consensus agenda

    Consensus Agenda

    a. Ultimate Frisbee (Discretionary) $0/$1500
    b. Caribbean Students’ Alliance (CSA) (Discretionary) $2000/$2000
    c. HYPE (Discretionary) $600/$600
    d. Idlewild Theater Ensemble (Collaboration) $500/$800
    e. College Democrats (Discretionary) $50/$75
    f. Cushing House (Collaboration) $100/$500
    g. VARC (Speakers) $5699/$5699
    h. Islamic Society (Discretionary) $225/$225
    i. UNICEF (Conference) $0/$500
    j. Future Waitstaff of America (Capital) $4100/$4100
    k. Minutes From 9/14/14

    7:05 p.m.//ViCE forum with Maya and Casey

    Maya: Last week we had our ViCE welcome back week. Last Wednesday we had an open mic night and then on Thursday we had a jazz show in the Mug which was super popular. On Friday we had a film screening and on Saturday we had the serenading concert.

    Main: In the past years a lot of the well known events have been shut down by the administration, like ABC, Homohop, the Shiva Rave. How do you plan on counteracting that?

    Casey: That was apparently banned by Cappy. There have been attempts to bring it back, but it’s difficult because of the history. It included not a lot of clothing and a lot of cocaine. Similar ideas with the Shiva Rave.

    Maya: For the Shiva Rave they had to scale down because of the number of EMS calls.

    Activities: A lot of the events have been canceled because students don’t know how to behave themselves.

    Academics: Can you describe your general vision for this year?

    Maya: My biggest thing is to increase our visibility. We’re trying to do that mainly through our website. We’d like to do a lot of polls, which is what I’m into, so that we can get a feel for what students are into.

    2015: What is your plan for Halloween if you have any plans?

    Maya: What exactly would you like from us? Like talent, or just a DJ? If you’re talking about bringing in talent, we could definitely talk about that.

    7:14 p.m.//Forum with Chair of Judicial Board Gagandeep Anan

    Operations: could you just talk about the process for what the judicial board does?

    Gagandeep: There’s the student conduct panel which is the lower side of the violations. These are mainly unauthorized parties, fire safety violations. On the student panel there are three students and no faculty. It’s a very informal process. We sit down with the students and decide if they’re responsible or not, look at that student’s history and then determine the violations. Then it could go to the next level college regulation which is two students and a member of faculty. That’s more serious: drunk driving, selling drugs, things like that. Then there’s the academic panel. We’ve had a different training every year. We met with Rich Horowitz and Kelly Grab, we met with security, Jim Kelly from fire safety, Julian Williams from Title IX, Renee Pabst came in. We role-played cases to get us up to speed on how to do things.

    Main: Can you go more in-depth about the issues with campus security?

    Gagandeep: What we got out of training is that the security officers don’t really have a lot of reason to misrepresent things, but the students do have a lot of reason to do that. We have to use our own discretion and judgment. The standard of guilty or not guilty or responsible or not responsible means the chance has to be greater than 50 percent. It can be difficult to make that decision.

    Gagandeep: No students will sit on anything having to do with sexual violence anymore. Other panels have different combinations of students and faculty, depending on what the students want. DB never sees anything by himself, he never makes a decision on anything. The student conduct panel is its own house administrator. They can see cases that are low-level, but Rich Horowitz gets to decide what goes to those panels versus what he gets to deal with on his own. We get more interesting cases.

    2015: Would you be responsible for an event that isn’t necessarily on campus? Where’s the line?

    Gagandeep: We’ve had students that have broken rules on other campuses while visiting another school and those cases have come to us. But otherwise it gets dicey, so I wouldn’t want to say either way.

    Strong: What’s the confidentiality rules?

    Gagandeep: You basically shut your mouth as soon as you leave the room. You’re not allowed to share anything.

    7:19 p.m.//Executive Board reports

    Academics: The director of the library retired, so currently there is a search going on for a new library director. I do sit on that search committee, so I’ll be involved in that process. We don’t expect to have a new director until February. Apparently the director of a library at a liberal arts college is a really hot position, so a lot of people want it. They do want student input once we have a solidified group of candidates, so there will be focus groups and things that some of you may sit on. In terms of my internal committee, we’ve decided on a theme for the news letter. The theme is vision, which is the same theme for the arts across disciplines initiative this year. We got a Mellon grant for arts across disciplines and each year they’ll have a theme based on the five senses. Vision is their theme this year, so we’re going to pair with them and get each other publicity. In terms of a timeline, it will come out this semester. We’re hoping to start soliciting submissions at the start of October. Look out for an email!

    President: Things have been going well. Administrator meetings are starting this week for exec. Coming up, this past week there were a lot of meetings with Healey. There was a student forum with mediocre attendance, though the reason for that was because of the time. They met with a bunch of student groups as well as exec, so we were able to give them a lot of feedback and contact Chris Roellke with other feedback we had. They’re really interested in making substantive, easy-to-observe changes. Hopefully that will rectify the problems within security.

    Ops: One thing they told us is that they will be preparing a comprehensive report that they will produce within 45 days. They said that students should keep on administration about those reports and if we don’t hear anything by October, we should be very proactive about it.

    7:23 p.m.//Safety and Security Advisory Council Filling

    Ops: Operations committee is recommending that this position be filled by appointment by the BoE and that the VP for Student Life sits in on the appointment process. Applications will be accepted starting at midnight and they’ll present to council this coming Sunday. They’re accepting two students of any years. I move to fill this position by appointment.

    Abstentions: Cushing, Noyes, Joss
    All in Favor: All except those abstaining

    Finance: Would the people that abstained like to talk about why?

    Cushing: I abstained because I feel like elections could benefit it more and because it’s going to be a student life-related thing, I thought elections could make it more fair. It’s not that appointments won’t be fair. But I also didn’t want to vote no because Operations made the decision and I stand behind Ops’ decision.

    Joss: This is just so integral in campus climate issues. So I’m worried about how appointments are advertised, especially with the security forum that wasn’t well-attended. There wasn’t a lot of advertisement for it.

    Casey Hancock: That’s something the BoE has talked about. The BoE themselves have talked about emails and postering. I definitely agree with that sentiment.

    7:27 p.m.//Board of Elections proposal

    Ops: Operations committee spent the last two weeks talking about the Board of Elections and Appointments. We split into groups and each group drafted a proposal for changes they wanted to see and then we came to a consensus about the changes we wanted to see. It wasn’t unanimous but we did come to a majority. We recommend that the BoE have more autonomy in making their decisions, especially since they were elected for that job. Section two makes it official that we will be doing appointments through consensus. Since this is an amendment, we’ll vote on it next week, but we can talk about it now. Basically some people felt that we needed to have a check on the BoE like if they decide one thing and council feels a different way. But the majority of the committee believed that since we elect these officials for this purpose we should trust them with this responsibility.

    Finance: I think this is very good and depoliticizes the process and allows for the BoE to be more objective. I don’t think the BoE should have to consult with Operations. I think if there’s going to be a break, there should be a break and they should have total independence.

    Operations: So it’s in the bylaws that I have to consult with them.

    Finance: Regardless of whether or not it’s new, I don’t think it should be in there.

    President: If no one else has anything to say, we’ll see this next week!

    7:31 p.m.//BoE appointments

    Casey: We have three appointments today. Last week we discussed the 2017 judicial board rep: Three applied, two showed up for their appointments, one didn’t and then didn’t reply after we emailed him twice. We’re recommending William Tseng. He has a good standing of fairness and a lack of bias. He knows how to approach each case as a case-by-case basis. The next position is the Strong Treasurer position. We received two applications, one app was withdrawn. We did a phone interview with the other candidate today. We’re nominating Mary Talbot. She was on house team last year, she’s a junior. She has great organizational skills. The reason she didn’t apply before is because she knew that someone else was applying, but didn’t know they could only be here for half a semester. The next position is the Town Students Treasurer; we’re nominating Amy Cao. She very convincingly and uniquely described her desire to integrate the Poughkeepsie community and campus. She knows how to fundraise from doing phone-a-thon.

    2017: Just out of curiosity–I’m not personally invested in this because I don’t believe we should have these at all–but is there a reason why William’s application isn’t here?

    Casey: You should have it from last week.

    President: We’ll do this by consensus.

    This motion passes. All appointed.

    7:35 p.m.//Open Discussion

    Casey: Tomorrow is the freshman debate. Everyone should go!

    Finance: We received about 40 applications for the finance rep student positions. Exec is in the process of figuring out how to review the applications because there’s a lot of them and we hope to have a committee by Wednesday. We’ll let you know how it goes.

    Ops: If anyone didn’t get a notepad or the document, let me know. I was recently informed that Buildings and Grounds won’t be replacing any lightbulbs in anything other than new TAs or new THs. You either have to order a light bulb through them or replace it your help. Some people will get light bulbs for free and others won’t. Which isn’t fair.

    TAs: Do you know the reasoning behind it?

    Ops: They don’t think it’s worth it for the older buildings. They’ll give you the light bulb, but they won’t do the labor.

    Activities: Pre-org applications will be due Wednesday.

    At-large: What do they mean that it’s not worth it to change a light bulb. It doesn’t take a lot of effort.

    President: Motion to adjourn. All in favor?

    All. This motion passes.

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