VSA Meeting 2/14/16
Consensus Agenda Passes
7:13//Forum with ViCE
President: Updates on ViCE?
ViCE: We talked last about student feedback inititatives. We have discussed it. We have a webite that we are adding information to. Our largest project that we just fininhshed (first phase) was our Safer Spaces policy which has been fully drafted. We are going to start posting it at our events and on the promotional materials. We are meeting with TQ to talj about school policy wording and we are setting up SAVP bystander training for all of our GB events. We are trying to set up a campus-wide meeting to edit our Safer Spaces policy. We’ve had a lot of events. We have been selecting three sober SAVP-trained members of ViCE who are wearing, still working on the exact system in terms of how to identify them., the idea is that they are there to be at the event and if at any point you feel unsafe, you can approach these three members and they are trained to deal with those issues. We’ve had a few instances and things are going pretty well. ViCE is excited about making our events as welcoming and as safe as possible. In relation to what happened at the Chapel last semester the policy is intended to also foster respect for the spaces that we use.
Town Students: Did you say you have difficulty finding ways to idenftiy people?
ViCE: Yeah we were using glowsticks but that doesn’t always work.
TS: What about a reflective belt?
ViCE: That’s a good idea. We have also been posting photos of their faces online and on the entry way to help people identify them.
President: With the feedback form, is there anything major that came out of it?
ViCE: al ot of it was similar to the things we talked about last VSA meeting with regards to questions about decision-making and finances. We had very few responses but we are going to be updating it and we are going to sned it out again. A big concern was on the diversity of programming. No-ViCE is making a more concerted effort to reflect the DIY scene in its entirety. Hopefully we shall see that eing actualized.
SOCOs: This is our second year of allowing ViCE to apply for the Special Purposes Fund. I want to hear how ViCE finds this process and how ViCE is doing financially.
ViCE: What is nice about Spring is that at this point our budget is more planned out. I don’t see ourselves applying for that much. The one thing is our new ViCE Comedy had had trouble figuring out what it programming will be and how much it should be spending so the might be applying. Most of our programming is budgeted for the rest of the year. ViCE Comedy, they’re looking at one big show.
SOCO: And you still do have Discretionary.
ViCE; We hav weekly meetings with the different branches of ViCE. One thing about Discretionary is also for surprises wiht things that happen after events and damages. We need to save some of that. Expecially wiht ViCE Film and COmedy, they are definitely using the Discretionary but the Discretionary definitely isn’t enough of a resource.
2018: MY question was directed towards the survey you brought up. Sending it individually gets a ton of repsonses. I think it would be helpful for the student body. It would be really helpful to hear all student voices in terms of weekly ViCE events. I would appreciate you to do a lot of programming to fill in the gaps for entertainment on campus. I want types of events that we don’t already see on campus.
Lathrop: You mention that a lot of events are already planned out this semester. Is there still space for other orgs to collaborate.
ViCE: For No-Vice, Jazz there is always a conversation because they know how many events they will have but they don’t always know the specifics. Orgs can frquently collaborate with Special Events because that one is more free with finances. Comedy and Film tie in really well with a lot of other orgs, like this past week with Film and “Hiphop is bigger than the Occupation”. There is always room for a oncversation. We are working for setting up standards for next year and not inly the immediate future.
Activities: I’ve learned a lot of stuff this past week. Activities will be meeting Tuesdays at 7pm in the VSA offices.
Finance: The dashboard is now allowing you to approve direct pay and reimbursements that your treasurers send in. Some things that have been sitting in there for a while, your president should have received an email about them. Also we are having a discussion about Finance.
President: City Committee is meeting soon. If you got that email and you no longer wish to be involved that’s fine but if you do fill out that When Is Good. Student Life and I are sitting on the Dean of Students Search Committee. DB is retiring. Next week we will have a forum with Chris Roelke and we are going to be speaking about what we want from the Dean of Students.
SOCOs: Can you send out to council a job description for the position ahead of next week’s forum?
Student Life: It is also important to rethink your conception of what Dean of Students is.
President: We aren’t trying to find another DB Brown we are trying to find another Dean of Students.
Student Life: We are working on a short-term focus for the tampon initiative. We are still looking for a vendor but in the short-run we are looking to do something soon.
2018: We are meeting soon to talk about vendors.
Academics: I sent everyone on council the Student Seminar application. If you or your constituencies would like to involved in the editing of our ‘Don’t plagiarize’ book come to our meeting. We want to rename it. If you rename it, you’ll get a gift card to Twisted Soul.
President: Ruby wanted me to reconfirm the committees that everyone is on. We are doing that in lieu of her update.
THs: Lighting still hasn’t been fixed. None of the lighting problems have been addressed. Four people have come to me saying that this needs to be fixed. The second concern is about the Vassar Devils singing Valentinograms. We should perhaps create some sort of Code of Conduct. Some people don’t want to have valentinograms sung to them.
President: SOmething that has been coming up a lot lately is that Yik Yak is apeice of trash. I just submitted some reports to BIRT this weekend about posts. Some schools have blocked Yik Yak on the wifi. I want to bring that up as something that has been done.
Student Life: We will be talking about this tomorrow at Student Life.
SOCos: I had an ongoing dicsussion with the Card Office about access to the Bridge Building. It is below freezing outside. I am asking Exec if you can follow up. There are a lot of people involved. South Campus is still campus.
President: If you want to tackle that you can, otherwise I can handle that.
SOCOs: In the four years that I’ve been here, there has been other anonymous online spaces. The old space was owned and addressed by a member of the Vassar community. Anonymous spaces will continue to exist and it is more like Vassar’s decision to reckon with it.
Raymond: The perosn in charge of the building access is on leave.
SOCO: Well they should put more people on that. Its a priority.
THs: Anonymous spaces won’t go away. I’ve been trying to view it somewhat positively. We have this idea that we are safe if we don’t hear people say things. Putting things out of sight, out of mind,, doesn’t help and things that happen at Vassar are things that happen behind closed doors here.
TS: I personally am worried that this is another type of cencorship. What worries me is that there is no one in the general population that we can go to to not hear these things. I am just worried that this is a slippery slope. Are we going to try to elimnate these voices all togehter.
President: Yes to both. My biggest thing is that if you’re going to say these things, you should own them.
President: We have a new Constitution and Bylaws. We have talked about the changes before so I don’t really feel the need to go more in depth. We are voting on this next week but does anyone have questions, comments or concerns? It’s worth noting that there are still a few kinks that we are working on.
SOCOs: We aren’t putting in anything that is ground-breakingly different. The Executive Board is much more specified. This is still relevant to our original document. There is a lot of cleaning up. This docuement has been torn up by previous student associations. In my opinion, these are common-sense things. There is a lot of things to go through here. Now is the time to hear anyone’s concerns.
2018: A few of my constituents were concerned that the new structure that the VSA has so many committees that it turns people off of joining the VSA. I’m just worried that there will be a bunch of committees that just don’t have a lot of people on them.
SOCOs: A Committee is a word, but what does a committee mean? What happens is that with our structure right now, the committees handle so much that important things are pushed back becausethey have to handle more issues. We are trying to make these groups more specific. The committees will be like orgs who center on certain issues.
2018: I think my constituents are concerned about the confusing nature of these groups. Are we still working on an infographic.
President: Yes, the interns are working on this.
2017: A lot of these things are things we have worked with before and we are familiar with. We are now just applying the word ‘committee’ to specific groups.
SOCOs: We’ve had people come to the VSA and they are curious about ‘how do we get to A’? It is just as important that committees are there to talk about issues and propose legislation. The onus is on us. If we want this structure to work, communication is so important.
Main: My constituents have some questions in regards to the drafters of this. The seniors won’t be here next year for these questions. Are you prepared to deal with those questions for the future?
Pres: The answer is yes. We are writing up policies for every single committee and every position. Those will take longer because we want to be detailed.
SOCOs: FAQs are things we have done in the past but we haven’t enforced. No we are going to have these documents that will really explain the specifics. We just want to make things easier for next year’s Senate.
Pres: We vote next week.
7:58//BDS Voting Process
Pres: Exec spokethis week with each other. Basically we heard through the grape vine that members of Council are planning on not voting and abstaining en masse on this resolution.
Student Life: I want to add something about the abstention thing. Unless you have as good a reason if not a better reason as Joss to abstain, its my opnion that you should not be abstaining.
SOCO: I’m abstaining because our constitution states that if you have a direct conflict of interest you can abstain. If ayone wants to talk about my decision, that is fine but I don’t want to discuss it here.
Main: Can we quickyl go through the process.
Pres: To have referendum, it dependso n Council passes or fails it. If Council apsses something there needs to be 5% of student body approval that says we want this to go to referedum. If it fails Council, the student body needs 15%.
2018: If we want something to go directly to referendum, can we do that?
THs: I don’t think that this should go directly to referedum because it would be a waste of time and resources that we’ve spent on educating ourselves. I can only assume people wanting to abstain is because of social pressure. How many hours was that traiing did I go to? We did an 8 hour training and then we are going to go to referendum? The BDS structure will continue to be brought up if we don’t do this. That’s the way I see it.
Acitivites: Another thing we talked about in Activities is doing a secret ballot.
Presidnet: We would have to suspend the bylaws for that.
J Street U Education: It is really important to me that elected officals be accountable to their constituents. If you signed up fro this job you should be taking a stand and being public with your decsions. It feels pretty unfair for the people who can’t make a choice because of their personal identities. We’ve had VSA members come to our Monday night meetings and that as been really great. To finish that statement, what is the argument for anonymity? Why would that be beneficial?
Student Life: I think that what we were toying with is ways to aleiviate ‘social pressures’. I think that one way to alleviate this is if we can thnk of a creative way of doing the votes. I’m thinking something along the lines of doing a ballot style vote where we put our vote with our name and is read alound, so as to somewhat aleviate that very public style of vote.
President: To be very transparent, an administrator contacgted me saying that some members of VSA want to abstain.
JStreet U: The VSA is elected to represent their constituencies publicly and not hide when they get into sticky situations. When you remove one of your bylaws, that seems to me like a lack of checks and blaances. Has this done before? Has this kind of thing happened before?
President: That was a suspension of bylaws when we voted the pay Exec members.
Jstreet U: Has there ever been a suspension of bylaws about voting anonymity?
President: Yes, when we were voting in a new VP for Activities last year for fear of impacting relationships.
Jstreet U: We feel that making it anonymous is a real abdication of responsibility.
JD: As far asthe ‘social pressure’ arguemtn goes for anonymoity, people will still try to find out who voted what way. If there is something that people see as a secret, it is going toget around faster than somehting that is public.
2018: If you are abstaining for a legitimate reason, that’s fine. You shouldn’t do it for social pressure. You should email out why you are abstaining to your contituents. We are all representing a large body of epople. If you are abstaining you should be transparent about why.
2016: When the VSA voted anonymously last year, we put the votes in the minutes. If we did it here, we could still post the votes online.
Finance: A lot ofu s have to go out and get jobs and this is one of the most publicized issues on campus. I am OK with voting but I’ve had employers that I know would care, I understand why you wouldn’t want to risk future career prospects. If it gets more people to not abstain and treat this with the proper respect then it might be the best option.
Jstreet U: It hit people that this public vote has weight in the outside world. You can see that duel loyality. To me, it seems like voting for BDS will get you social capital at Vassar and your employers won’t like that.
Student Life: I don’t liek the language of social capital.
2018: I don’t know who is planning to abstain but I think we are all trying to represent our constituents. For me, I’m worried that whichever way I vote I’ll be marginalizing an already oppressed group on campus.
THs: I think it is very interesting that the BDS vote has been one of the things that gets us to use our funds to learn. I disagree with REbecca that we are all very passionate. I think some people are very passionate. I just want to clarify that the anonymoity would just be about holding it up. That sounds very different and something in between. I would liek to speak to personal imploications. I don’t think ‘social capital’ is out of place. As a Jewish individual with an Israeli family, I cannot disengage with this. Last semester I was the co-president of the chabad Jewish community, I wondered whether or not if I should put this on LinkedIn. What do you do when the way people erceive yourt politics becomes potentially problematic. Everyone should send out emails and meet with your constituents. We should be doing that. We have reposnsibility to lsiten to our constituents. We are elected representatives. These are all tools to help you feel OK. I don’t feel OK about voting about this. But its an issue. We are dealing with it and its unescapable.
Pres: I have made it very clear to one organizationa already that we should not be approched in our weekend lives about this.
Main: This is a very bad assumption. I see the referendum as an inevtiabel thing. This will end up being a referendum. As somebody who is in charge of Main, I am in charge of 300 residents. I am a representative, but for me to take into consideration not just who is speaking to me but who isn’t speaking to me, it’s hard to me when I’m not hearing from everybody. It is tough for me to vote up here. If we do vote there should be some way to put out why we voted a certain way. Whether its open or not, people are going to make assumptions. I will be explaining why I voted a certain way.
THs: Certain people have capacity to explain and certain people don’t. If you’re Jewish and you say something positive about Israel, people assume you’re a Zionist. From all sides in this discussion, everyone shuts all people down. If we release explanations, that might worry some people too. We don’t need to see this through specifically the BDS framework. We need to ask ourselves, why are we trying to protect ourselves? Is that going to require us to do more work or less work?
2018: I think we also need to remember the complexity of this issue. A lot of my constituents have told me that ‘I’m in support of parts of BDS or this option’. Its hard when even my constituents aren’t all in or all out. Also economically, I’m going into a field where this is relevant. If this will affect my economic future, that is where it becomes personal.
2017: I think the bigger issue is that most people will vote about job prospects over social capital. I’ve spoke to three major groups of people and I’ve spoken with constituents as well. I’m not going to be someone who walks in and says that I value these feelings over other feelings. We all decided to be in this position but in actuality we didn’t decide to be in this position.
2019: There is lots of different areas where I’m still conflicted. Being part of clubs that are endorsing BDS but hearing counter-arguments and subscribing to those thoughts and it is very conflicting. The anonymity appeals to me. I’d rather vote anonymously because I’ve been told that voting one way or another will affect you in this way. If I’m going to vote on something that might affect me later on, that is not really fair.
2018: Some constituents I spoke with were getting emails and calls from alumnae/i. Alum are already talking to students on this campus.
JStreet U: I would just like to reiterate that SJP and Jstreet U do not exist in conflict with each other. On BDS we disagree but on a values basis, we aren’t in opposition. Also, students are receiving contact from alumnae/i as well.
THs: To speak to that point about how you feel that these orgs aren’t antithetical to one another. You guys feel that way. SJP does not feel that way. That can’t be taken out of the conversation. People from SJP and JVP keep trying to discredit JStreet U. This is something that I’ve been interested in for a while. BDS is very simple, if you have constituents who don’t agree with some parts of BDS, I don’t think that people understand what BDS is. If you are voting for the BDS resolution, you are voting for one thing. That is what BDS is. Its not that complicated. If it seems more complicated, just look up the BDS bylines online.
Student Life: I’m getting extremely uncomfortable with the direction that this conversation is going. The purpose of this conversation is about the voting process. I feel like this conversation is shifting to a place where it shouldn’t be shifting for another two weeks. It is frustrating. We need to decide how we are going to be voting. How do we want to vote?
Jstreet U: I appreciate Maya bringing us back to Israel-Palestine. Understanding the conflict is what the vote is about. Jstreet U is not exclusively for being against BDS.
President: I want to point
Finance: I understand that you need to be accountable to your constituency. That being said, I think a lot of people will face a lot of other discrimination when they seek employment. I move to vote that this be an anonymous ballot, suspending the bylaws.
Activities: Speaking to the difficulty in gauging constituency opinion. Maybe we could wait a week to determine how people feel about this.
At-Large: If you’re thinking big-picture to an extent if its your name, anonymous voting entails less of a long-term vote.
2018: I am worried that our constituents will want us to vote publicly. I don’t think our constituents aren’t going to care about your repercussions. It might draw even more attention to ask constituencies about the vote.
2016: If we are voting on this to protect marginalized people, that we remember that with the public votes there is a privilege there that some people won’t be able to get jobs and some people without those connections will not be able to get jobs. Some people’s decisions have heavier risks than other.
Ferry: This is such an important issue on campus and its going to upset people about accountability issues that the VSA already has.
Activities: I think that what you said, Rebecca, makes sense but I still think it might be worth mulling over.
President: So we are going to vote. The motion proposed was to suspend the bylaw and have a secret vote. In favor?
Finance: Because of the economic risks that are incurred attached to whether you put your name out there it should not have to be a public vote. Everyone should be able to preserve their employability.
Activities: I think we should wait a week. I don’t think now is the time to vote on it.
President: Please consider your vote. We did not get 2/3 so that motion fails. We can do that motion again next week if you want. Does anyone want to make any motions at all with regards to this.
2018: Can we put it on the agenda for next week?
Pres: Yes, it is on the Agenda.