VSA Meeting 4/10/16

7:05// Consensus Agenda

Finance: The Limit wanted a new camera, Choice wanted more funding for contraception. Slow Foods had some budget application problems last year so this is just some operational costs. Davison and Vice Comedy are collaborating and we covered as muych as we thought was good. Strong wanted money for an event but they had plenty ofm oney in their budget so we didn’t give them any. Cushing is bringing a speaker and we covered the costs that weren’t already purchased. Vassar Greens needed funding for CLimate Whiplash. Nearly players wanted some capital items. FWA is bringin a songwriter. Traditions ishelping to pay for a trip to Six Flags. WVKR is doing a DJ workshop. SASA is expanding HOli and bringing a DJ and we’re transfering funding because we have two funds that are in teh hole.

BOEA: We had to break two ties during the Election. We decided to make two appointments. We are really excited.

Consensus Agenda passes

7:10//Forum with David Bradley regarding Diversity Statement

Bradley: I’m one of the Co-chairs on the committee on inclusion and excellence. I have a statement prepared for you all. The CIE has drafted a new statement on diversity and inclusion and we ask that the VSA incoporates it into governance. A formal endorsement from the faculty is concurrently being sought so that the recommendation would be from both faculty ad students. I want to thank CIE for their wokr on this initiative including three student representatives and the Diversity Sub-Committee. Writing language of this nature is difficult work. CIE started this prospect two years ago by studying statements from peer instutiotnons. Vassar currently doesn’t have a diversity statement. Prior to a mrjor revision, diversity language existed in the mission statement. This previous diverstiy statement was inthe student handbook for several years but it was removed in 2013. The College and the larger society have grown and changed since 1998 and this new statement reflects that change. We want to define what diversity and inclusion means. An official statement lends legiticmacy to the COllege’s Inclsuion and Diversity efforts. Members of hte Committee also meant with faculty members and the VSA. CIE decided that the statement should be incorporated into governance to protect it from the same fate as the rpevious statement. This section of the government thatwe’ve recommended was hcosen because this part of the governance contains other guidung principels of the College. The adoption of this statement is only one step in a larger effort. CIE will continue to work alongside other ofices to implement the statement in meaningful and useful ways. The Committee decided to maintain the list of social groups in a list of mechanisms for implementing this statement. I want to call your attention to the last sentence of this statement. CIE discusses the words community members and ‘expected to’ at length. During the discussion today, if we could spend some time on that last part, that would be helpful. We have a couple of different versions of this language. I spoek with several students about this particularly in Lathrop. In general students were in favor of keeping ‘community members’ and ‘expected to’. That’s all I have to say and I’m happy to take questions.

Student Life: I’m interested to hear how this went over with the Faculty.

Bradley: We actually didn’t get to it in our agenda. You all would vote on it first. This is unfortunate and we would have preferred that the faculty would vote on it first. If both the Faculty and the VSA both voted on it we would both have to revisit later anyway so who votes first isn’t super important.

THs: Was the language of responsibility idsucssed over the language of expectation?

Bradley: One of the major points borught to us was the idea of accountability and more people felt the wording of expectation included that accountability element.

Bradley: I think our statement is much stronger. I think it is stronger because of the part that mentions a past of injustice. A lot of the statements don’t mention injustice. Most fo the statements are much more idealized and general. THey don’t get into the specifics that this statement does. This statement is a stronger version of the one we sent out in MArch. It makes more snese for the faculty and the students to recommend a statement that we feel is stronger because we will have to negotiate.

J: I have two questions. Was the language and the concepts in this written- Is this document that CIE is the best document or is the is the document CIE thinks teh Truesttes will have the least problems with?

Bradley: I don’t think those are two separate things. A good statement is one that all ocntistuencies on campus can beleive in. COnstituenceis include faculty staff administrators and the trustess. Taking into acocunt the board of trustess is something we had to do. I am happy with this statement. Whe nI statrted with this work, this addresses the concerns that the Committeee borught uip. I am more radical than the board of trusstees but twriting something more radical waan’t my job.

j: “We must continue to recognize and address these injustices”. Was there any discussion about the implications about this line and the credit it offers to the College?

Bradley: A couple of folks said that the previous version didn’t live in the moment and didn’t acknowledge the work we are continuing to do. That lanugage was meant to make the statemewnt more dynamic. That statement lives int htis place where its recgonzigin what we are doing but also pushing us to be better. I think that language recognizes what we do and then says what we need to keep dojig. Also this statement is about the whol Campus. It’s tryignt to describe something that’s really heterogenous.

Joss: What about this do you think compels the administration to walk the walk and not only talk the talk?

Bradley: You have to have a conrete understanding of what we arte going to do before we actually do. This is going to lend a lot of power to various powers like the VSA like CIE to say that this is osmething that everyone voted on. The people who have power- if they vote to reccommend this to the board and the board approves it, this is something we can use to say ‘what you’re doingright now isn’t in line with this statement.’ I think that that is where a lot of the power comes from to be able to point to it as a guiding principle. Right now the College is getting off the hook because they took it out of the mission statement. I ihink that is really dangeorus and irresponsible and that is osmething that I would like to corret.

Joss: Is CIE going to be the watch dog for pointing out the discrepencies between the statement and the reality?

Bradley: I won’t use that word. I think that everyone is responsible for upholding the statment that we adopt. That being said, CIE takes the spirit of what you’re talking about really seirously. That is going to be one of our primariy goals in the next few years- to develop ways to make sure that this statement lives outside of a filinf cabinet.

2019: So is it fgoing into the guiding pricinples? IS it meant to be a mission statent?

Bradley: Mission statements and divesity statements tend to be a littel idealistic in general. THe diversity statement does that even more so than a mission statemnt. A mission statement is the number one guingin pricniple. A diversity statmeent is a littel more dynamic- it changes more frewquently. In that sense, it talks more about current political climates. Right now it says historically unrepresented and disenfranchised groups and it is likely in 10 years we will have different language to decirbe those groups.

Bradley: I worked with a group and we wrote this language together. There wads no point where I didn’t want to include language about expectation s but when you’re working with a group, osme parts of the gorup see that language differently. If I had written this on my own, I might not have been as sensitive to the varying pewrspectives of the group.

2019: It’s all written as an expectation except for the last sentence which feels less absolute.

Bradely: That issue was discussed. The etire thing is an expectation. it’s implicit. That last statement makes it explicit. We felt that that was particularly important for leaders. It was this idea of implict versus explicit.

THs: So you didn’t get to meet with the faculty this past meeting but I’m assuming there has been dialogue with faculty previously.

Bradley: We held something like a faculty club which is like a town hall for fcault.y We’ve had these conversations. The only thing we haven’t done is duscss it as a governing body.

THs: Is CIE working with the first year program? Statements are statements. So much of this has to do with how faculty respond to diversity. I don’t know how far allong those discussion are. When you’re talking about the Dean of Faculty, I’m assuming you’ve spoekn a lot more about the expectations you’ll have of them?

Bradley: The purpose of this statement is to define diversity and inclusion and provide the guiding principle. There is so much more to be donw. What facutly do in the first weeks of school is a collabortion with a number of offices. We are working with those groups. That work cant’ happen in the statement, it has to happen mroe puyrposfully and more locally. We have had conversations with the Dean. You’re right, you can expect something from someone and you don’t have to do it. But responsibilities work in the same way,. That’s why CIE is focussed on what happens when we want to pass the statment. It’s likely that the Board of Trusteeswill come back and ask for a revote so it’s likely that more of the language iwll change.

2017: Not to go too deeply into this semantic discussion but we could make this statemnt could be more active and use the active voice more than the passive language in hwich its written.

Bradley: Yeah I think small tweaks can happen in the fall of next year, that being said you all can make amendments whenever. Ultimately though, a few words here or there isn’t going to change to vote for faculty and the administration.

SOCOs: The end of the day is to have the endorsement form the body and it will go to the Board and come back from the Board. Let’s say it ocmes back form tha Board and they ahve restructured it in such a way where we don’t feel comfortable with it. I’m just curous because I’m not in CIE. There’s always differeing perspectives. What’s oging to happen if there are major structural concerns or differenceiws between what this body imagines and what the faculty and the trustteess imagine? Students seem to get the short end of the stick when it comes into compromise. I’m also interested in how admissions ties into this dicussion.

Bradley: The Dean of Admission is on CIE. I don’t agree with the idea that students get the short end of the stick with regards to compromise. The goal is to avoid that for any constituency. The system is set up so that that is true. What would happen if the Board comes back with changes. If the Board came back and said that we are willing to adopt this statement that is radically different and the faculty and the students could easily say that this is not something that they want to pass. At not point would CIE say that they agree with whatever changes the Trusttees make. Literally you as a governemnt body are reccommending this thing. Even if you all passed somehting and let’s say that the faculty passed it cbut made some changes. But what we would be saying is that the two primary governing bodies agree with this statement even if there are small changes. For the faculty, there is a limit for the number of changes that they can make. I don’t think that the two documents would be drastically different.

Operations: Thank you so much for coordinating this. I don’t know how we are feeling this but I’m feeling comfortable endorsing this right now.

Bradley: Thank you everyone.

7:44//Diversity Statement Discussion

J: I would disagree with professor Bradley about the idea that this would not be the idea for VSA input. I don’t think that that is the right way to approach it. I think a really important change that should be made is “we must continue to recognize and address”t to “we must continually recognize and address” so we odn’t suggest that we think the Colelge is perfect.

Student Life: Speaking as the person who was on teh sub-committee that created this, I can say that we got a wide variety of feedback about this. How itreads nowm, I’m pretty happy with. In terms of my feelings on it, I think that it has as surface level as I once thought it was, I think that is has reached a point where I’m proud to say that I co-authored it. It’s important that this exists and I think we should endorse it.

Pres: I definitely like this a lot more thzn the first version we looked at. On one hand there is nothing to hold anyone to but it also makes me a little nervous that they don’t plan on changing this in 10 years but something is better than nothing.

Stud Life: I agree, the committee has talked about that but I think what the vision was that the High Impact PRacticoes documents would be the lving document that is constantly changing.

Operations: I motion to endorse this statemtn as it is.

Student Life: I think this is extrmemly important for the progression of the College because nothing like this exists right now.

J: I’m not in opposition to the document as a whole, I’m opposed to sending it out in its current form. I think we should endorse a document that the VSA is happy with, not the document we were told not to tamper with.

The motion passes!

7:50//Exec Reports

Student Life: Privilege Campaign is happening in the College Center right now. The Tampon Initiative survey has hundreds of resposnes .We are going to be analyzing that data tomorrow. We will see whwere we go from there. Ashley Hoyle reached out to me this past week. She has been in contact with a company called Hora. Right now they have outlined a proposal for a project with a budget.

Ferry: There seems to be a huge price-point difference.

Student Life: This proposal was 22 centes per product. We are going to lok at the budget tomorrow. The trial period is good because Hora has come to us with a very goal-oriented outline and they seem to want to do some of the logistical work. As a smaller-based company whose business model is partnering weith Vassar, that could help us to an extant where the difference would be made up in that partner relationship.

2018: All of Hora’s producrts, for as many products you buy, they donate that many products to people in need.

SOCOs: This is half devils-advocate. it is always good to have mutlple options. This company is into it because it is also a business model. They want the publicity becaus ethan people will buy their products. THey have a personal incentive out of this. They aren’t a not-for-profit organization. I want to give transparency to that. The pricing is very in line iwht my personal expectations. Bear in mind also that this is a pilot run. I don’t want the impression that this is a commitment. We want to see it all over campus and we might need their investment and they might not be into this. They might have rules and expectations on their end. This is not a traditional supplier for when we go out of pilot-run.

Studnet Life: Just todirect respond, I toatally hear that. I think as the wokr ocntinues, those questions will be raised. This isn’t an outright ‘we are working with them in the future’ but for the last two months that we are here, it is important that we do this as soon as possible. This is something tangible, relatively cheap and doable. But I do agree that we need  to question and reckon with the implications here to make suree that this is instutitojnalizes.

2018: Also htis is just a trial perdio and uits not like we are signing a 3-year contract with them.

Academics: Major’s fair is happening on wendesday, April 20. Student seminars are happening. There is a large course proposal in the works. Academics talked about it last week and we are going to talk about it again this coming week. PLease come to these meetings, youer opinoins are important.

President: The Dean of Students search committee is moving forward with the Skype interview processes. Are goal is to give a reccommendation by MAy 1. Congrats to the winners of the the elections. The BDS referednsum votes are going to be happening later in April. Annual Budgeting is going to happen soon. The restructuring group is currently working on committee and board policies.

BOEA: We decided that for SOCO president, we are going to have an appointment.

Operations: Ops met this past week randomly. We talked about house president compensation for next year which is a thing that is happning. We also talked aobut need-blind resolutions. We’re going to contineu those conversations next week.

Activities: If you are in an org and you have my email andyou have a closet, fill out the form. If you don’t have a closet please wait, that will be a later thing.

2019: Are we still having trouble with emails? My constituent said that they emailed recently about a question for a pre-org.

SOCOs: Are any of those pre-orgs getting levelled up?

Activitiies: Yes, that is somehting we are working on right now.

Joss: How much Social Consciousness at the start?

Finance: I’m pretty sure it was $15,000.

Ferry: Are we going to try to put our udget online so people know where everything is going?

Finance: At the end of every year, when annual budgeting happens, we give a run-down of where everyhting went. Org budget allocations are public to everyone.

Ferry: But we don’t jsut give to rogs. Is that all online?

Pre: We ususally publicize where our money goes at the end of the year.

SOCOs: Can you email out the current levels of the funds?

8:05//Constituent Concerns

President: Annual Budgeting has been quite a struggle. As we all know we passed this new ocnsittuokn. Basedo nwhat is possible and because of timing this VSA cpuncil needs to meet on May 1st. I move to make that posible. We will just vote on the budget and then we will all move on.

SOCOs: Is this a suspension to our bylaw? I don’t think this should be done by consensus.


President: We need to meet on May 1st so we can pass the budget.

Vote passes.

8:08// Need-blind admissions resolution

SOCOs:  I’m saying that it is clear that need-blind admission is important. In some conversations Iv’e been in, there is rhetoric about quatifying need-blind admissions. My answer is that I odn’t think need-blind admissions is quatifyable by certain metrics. Thid isn’t trying to deny the financial implications of nedd-blind admissions. There is a cultural impact. There is a vision impact. The idea is that we are committed to it as a student fovenrment.

Raymond: For the second point, I want to change it for U.S. citizens and permanent residents because it does not include international students.

Motion by consensus to change this.

Motion passes

President: Exec Board met with Marianne Begemann about the future of need-blind. While this is a conversation, this isn’t something we need to be too ocncerned with.

SOCOs: No one in the room is trying to throw out need-blind admission but a lot of people are trying to put a number to need-blind admissions. I care about the fac t that we don’t wnat to let the College just assign a metric to need-blind admissions.

VOTE on resolution

22 in favor- it passes

8:14// Constiuent Concerns

Raymond: I wanted to have a discussion about the meal plans. A lot of people have questions about seniors on the meal plan.

Ferry: On behalf of the Co-op, it would defeat the purpose of the co-op if we are forced to eat at the dining center.

Raymond: One of hte issues that was borught up was about the cost of having the meal plan and not having the money to buy groceries.

Ops: The plan is for all of the vending machines to have Vcahs swipes. I nterms of the pmeal plan changing for senriosn, something that has been thrown around is the idea of getting bulk gorceries for senrios to bring gorceries bakc to their houses. There is also an idea about giving seniors about a stipend for getting groceries.

SOCOs: First of all, this will not impact students on financial aid. There is soemthign called cost analysis. This doesn’t mean get a specific amount of money but they increase the expected cost to attend. Finanical aid will be taking meal plans into account right now. Two more things. The Comprehensive plan is dsomething that is done at other schools at Wesleyan. This is about accessing other food shares. We are thinking about how this will support co-operative housing. I’m on the Res Life task force and a very big goal of that group is conitnunig that co-operative and expanding that lifestyle. Res Life is thinking about how all ofthose changes are going to impart the co-operatives. THere is more to this plan than just the Deece. It is called the Comprehensive Plan.

Ferry: Can the co-ops be involved in these conversations? So far, we haven’t been involved.

Student Life: There were and will be more focus groups that people will be invtied to. Make sure you go to those focus groups. Bon Apetit and the architects will be coming back to cmapus often with proposed ideas and proposed plans for the rennovations to the Deece. Make sure you attend those if you want your ovices to be heard. The co-ops can contact Terry Quinn.

President: From the beginning, I have said that it is a bad idea to have seniors on the meal plan. It is within the upcoming Senate’s best interest to come up with a list of things that you would like from the Comprehensive plan.

Abby: I just want to point out that the lack of talking about religious accomodations about food is important. VJU went to the meetings with food vendors It is upsetting for me as a leader in an RSL org to see no mention of RSL accomodations in the meal plan. I just wanted to bring it up.

8:23// Open Discussion

Finance: $12,000 was originally in Social Consciousness Fund.

Operations: There has been a house team project ot rename one of the parlors. They want to rename the MPR after Claudia Lynn Thomas ’71 .

Student Life: My understanding is that props to Res Life for partnering with Main House however my understanding is that they are n0ot providing the funds to hepl refurbish this. I have a big problem with that. I acknowledge that Res Life is underfunded but I also acknowledge that the VSA would be involved in a bad precedent if it provided sole funding for this.

Operations: Our ocmmittee’s reccomeednation was for to Main House to reach out to all orgs on campus to make this a campus-wide effort.

2016: I also wonder if the Alumnae/i including AAAVC could possibly be interested in this project.

SOCOs: Is Ms. Thomas aware of this yet?

Operations: She is but she hasn’t given her consent yet for this project.

SOCOs: My biggest reservation is the financial thing. It is a very bad precedent and it also messes up the relationship between the VSA’s assets and Res Life’s assets. We dont’ do furniture. We can make acceptions to that but there is a lot to discuss further.

JD: I just wanted to remind people that it is a really important part of this conversation. She hasn’t come out in support of this. I understand the intention but it’s very understandable to not wnat to let your person or your personal history be co-opted by an instutiotn and be absorbed into the institutokn’s lore and be proof that Vassar is good now. I think even bigger than the financial precddent would be communicating very directly with her and finding out if she has an y objections and what those objections are.

2017: Mark did say that they were in the process of cehcking in with her and that was a high priprity for them.

Jewett: Is anyhting actually being done about the rats and mice. I keep getting ore and more emails every day.

President: We just s poke with them two days ago. This is a failure of communication between Res Life and B&G. It is also frustrating on our end ofr us to have to tell administrative offices to work together to do their job. We’ve had to go to three different senior offices to discuss this.

SOCOs: Another example of this: Over the last few weeks we have been getting these emails in the Res Life office about phones. I had to call on Friday and ask them to be competant and stop going bck and forth. This is an example of a failure in communication. A second question I have related to a pest ocntrol issue is what happened to the ticket system?

Presient: That system started but we haven’t seen anything else move forward yet.

Raymond: A reminder that the mice aren’t just in the dorms. They arre in other places including the Library.

JD: Before someone said something about dorm cats.

President: That was a joke.

THs: PSA the plumbing is going wrong. Property is being damaged.

8:38// Meeting Adjourned

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