The first resolution that came up before Council was titled, ‘A Resolution Concerning a Relationship Abuse Charge.’ The resolution focuses on specific forms of relationship abuse that are not sufficiently addressed in the student handbook. As 2016 Class President Max Moran, and the resolution’s principal author, explained, “My understanding is that there’s a huge discrepancy with what we consider sexual misconduct in terms of how we report it in the student handbook.”
He continued, “Elizabeth Shrock [the Sexual Assault Violence Prevention Coordinator] came to our Student Life Committee meeting and said it was an issue that needed to be fixed and she thought that it would be easier to be fixed if it had the backing of the VSA because the VSA is a representation of the student body.”
After brief discussion, Council opted to table the resolution to allow for more time for discussion and to allow council to speak with their constituents. According to Moran, the delay was expected.“Nine out of ten times, the VSA will always table a resolution when it’s first proposed. It is tabled so that people on council have time to discuss it with their house teams,” explained Moran.
Despite the tabling, many are confident the resolution will ultimately be a success. As Moran stated, “I predict that it will pass.”
The next resolution to come to the floor of Sunday’s council meeting came from the Committee for Academics and was titled, ‘A Resolution Concerning Coursework in Social Awareness.’ The resolution supported an academic requirement for the integration of the study of systems of oppression and social awareness within a student’s major. It was proposed to Council by Faren Tang ’13.
As Tang explained, “The proposed requirement for coursework in social awareness is part of a multi-pronged approach that we are making towards making campus more inclusive. It’s also part of an effort to fulfill Vassar’s stated mission of trying to educate the whole person.”
Tang stressed the importance of dialogues between students surrounding issues of social awareness. “We see that taking place in a couple of ways. Part of it is that we hope to have all Vassar students able to engage with each other in respectful debate and engaged citizenship by having common vocabulary and a basic analytical framework to understand issues of oppression and hierarchy.”
Tang continued by making a clear distinction between this resolution’s proposed course requirement and the college’s other course requirements. “We wanted to make this course requirement part of every individual’s major requirement as opposed to a blanket checkbox like the QA. We want this course requirement to be meaningful and to be relevant to everybody’s course of study because it is relevant to everybody’s course of study. There is no discipline where these issues don’t come up at all.”
The Council sent the resolution to the Committee for Academics for further development.
The third resolution was titled ‘A Resolution Concerning Training for Athletic Leaders.’ The resolution was brought forth by Class of 2013 President Vincent Marchetta. It proposes a training program for leaders in athletics who often offer guidance to younger team members. As Marchetta argues, the resolution impacts a group on campus that is not often considered. “Basically it comes from the idea that athletic teams on campus represent specific spaces that don’t particularly get the same attention that a lot of other spaces on campus get, but also that they have very different experiences,” Marchetta noted.
As captain and president of the men’s rowing team, Marchetta noticed times when he would have utilized leadership training. After discussing this with the president of the women’s rowing team, he discovered that this was felt by others as well.
He explained, “We both had moments where we said, ‘It would be really great if I knew how to do this and handle this certain situation before it came about.’ And I knew some of this stuff because I had been a student fellow and in that thinking, I was like, ‘It just makes sense to have that kind of training for athletic leaders.’ Mostly just so that they can handle those types of situations, so that they are more inclined to behave in a way that sets an example for their teams.”
Marchetta specifically expressed concern for freshmen who are most impacted by strong leadership in their transition to Vassar. “I know for a lot of…freshmen who are recruited to fall sports, they get here before their fellow groups, typically, and they spend most of orientation with their teams. So it’s even just making sure that the type of things that are covered in orientation, those freshmen still have.”
The VSA ultimately passed this resolution. As Marchetta explains, the VSA’s active support of athletes on campus is of real significance. “I thought it would be important especially if we worked with a bunch of different administrative offices, to have the student support behind us and for our student government to recognize the fact that athletes do have a specific need on this campus is a really big deal.”