Understanding the VSA: Our Leaders and Our Peers

Screen shot 2013-08-13 at 10.39.11 PM
Noble Ingram ’16 is the sole News Editor. Noble has been writing for The Miscellany News since the fall of his freshman year. He has yet to declare a major.

Welcome to Vassar and The Miscellany News, Class of 2017! If you’re looking to keep up to date with campus events and news, then it is necessary to be informed about the operations of Vassar’s student government, the Vassar Student Association (VSA).

Manifesting itself in several ways, the VSA is responsible for working with the Vassar Administration to affect campus policies, programs and events, and generally be the voice of the student body in the college’s decision-making processes. Additionally, the VSA is responsible for sponsoring, supporting and allocating funds for all Vassar student organizations. Whether or not you intend on formally serving as an elected official of the VSA, it is almost certain that at some point in your time at Vassar, you’ll find yourself personally affected by a VSA policy. In fact, technically all Vassar students are members of the VSA. The VSA meets as a council every Sunday evening during the school year at 7 p.m. in the College Center Multipurpose Room and is open to any member of the Vassar community.

The VSA is organized into a council of 18 students and headed by an Executive Board of 6 additional students. The council is composed of the house presidents, the presidents of the Terrace Apartments, Town Houses, South Commons, and Town Students, and the four class presidents (once your class elects a class president in a few weeks). Elections take place in the spring and if no one runs for a position, it is left empty until the VSA appoints someone.

During meetings, the VSA Council hears reports from committees, student organizations, and administrators and holds broad discussion on college policies. The Council also hears testimony from any concerned students in attendance.

The VSA Executive Board is composed of five vice presidents, each representing a specific area of focus (Finance, Student Life, Operations, Academics, and Activities) and the VSA president. Each vice president heads a committee that deals with one of these focuses and is composed of members of the larger VSA council. The VP for Operations is the one exception. This Vice President heads the Constitutional Review Committee in addition to the Operations Committee.

Generally, the committees discuss issues relating to their focus and come to a decision that is then presented to the VSA council as a whole. The entire VSA then votes on whether or not to support that decision.

Each committee meeting happens at a different time in the VSA offices and all meetings except for Finance meetings, are open to everyone. Each of these executive board members also meet with several of the college’s senior officers and sit on almost all of Vassar’s committees.

In addition to VSA committees, whose only voting members are students, are Joint Committees.  Usually chaired by administrators or faculty members, Joint Committees are a testament to Vassar’s commitment to the inclusion of student voices in policy decisions. These committees can focus on things ranging from specific event programming to broad college life policies.

The President is the sixth member of the VSA Executive Board. The president oversees the day-to-day operations of the entire VSA. He/She isn’t associated with any of the specific focusses but rather acts as the main liaison between the student body and the administration. In addition to chairing the VSA council meetings and leading the Executive Board, the President of the VSA sits on the Board of Trustees as an observer, and meets with several members of the administration, including the President of the College, the Dean of the College, and the Dean of students. This year’s VSA president is Deb Steinberg ’14. In her candidate statement she stated, “My main goal as President will be to strengthen and celebrate the Vassar community. I believe our student government should be a support system for all students and their organizations.”

Each VSA Executive Board member holds office hours every week in the VSA offices, located on the second floor of the college center. Students are encouraged to contact these officials if they have any questions or want to schedule a time to discuss issues specific to each member’s focus. For more information about the functions of the VSA, to meet the new council members, or to find information about getting involved, visit the VSA offices once you get to campus, or visit the VSA website at www.vsa.vassar.edu

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *