[Additional reporting by Laurel Hennen Vigil, News Editor]
On Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017, Miranda Amey ’19 announced her resignation as the 2017-18 president of the Vassar Student Association (VSA) in an email to the student body.
Amey, who took office on April 30, 2017, will not be returning to campus for the upcoming fall semester, as she revealed in her email. According to the VSA Bylaws, roles on the Executive Board require an entire academic year’s service, thus rendering her ineligible to hold the position of president.
Amey will be succeeded by Anish Kanoria ’18 following the VSA Constitution’s rules of succession.
Kanoria, who was elected as vice president in April, previously served as Cushing Freshman Representative, the 2015-16 Cushing House President and as the 2018 Spring Senator for Strategic Planning this past semester. He is also the co-founder and student leader of Vassar Refugee Solidarity. As Kanoria was informed, he will now become the first international student to serve as VSA president.
In her email to the student body, which is printed in its entirety below, Amey elaborated on the reasons that led her to step down. “For circumstances outside of my control, I will be taking a leave this Fall,” she wrote. “I fought this decision with every resource I had; I did everything I could to be on campus this fall and it is with a very heavy heart and a hand composed of lead that I am writing this forced resignation.”
As stated in Amey’s email, the announcement of her resignation was deferred from mid-July. “The delay arose out of a respect for the school’s administrative process regarding student leaves as well as Miranda’s privacy,” the VSA Executive Board explained in an email. Both parties settled on early August to release the news to the Vassar community.
The Executive Board issued a statement to The Miscellany News—likewise printed in full below—providing additional details. In it, the Board cites the VSA’s governing documents to explain the procedures of Kanoria’s succession and of filling the vacant vice president position, in addition to expressing its sympathies to Amey. “We, members of the VSA Executive Board, are as saddened as the rest of the student body about Miranda’s departure as VSA President…” the Board stated. “We understand that this turn of events isn’t ideal…but we wish her the best in her time away in finding what she needs to thrive in her remaining time at Vassar.”
Concerning the vice presidential vacancy, Kanoria will also serve in this role in an interim capacity until a replacement is found. According to Article XI, Section 13, of the VSA Bylaws, “The Board of Elections and Appointments [BoEA] shall internally decide whether appointment or election shall fill a vacancy for an elected position.” BoEA Chair Nora Eigenbrodt ’18 commented in an email, “We [worked] with VSA to determine what option would be best, as there are benefits and drawbacks to both, and given the importance of the position, we [didn’t] take this decision lightly.”
“[A]fter much consideration the Executive Board agreed with the recommendation of the Board of Elections and Appointments (BoEA) that the position should be filled through an all-campus special election,” the Board disclosed in its email. “Details of this process will be sent to the student body very soon.”
Despite these changes, the incoming VSA Executive Board has continued to prepare for the upcoming school year since Amey’s resignation. “In addition to being in touch with administrators and setting priorities for the year,” the Board wrote, “some of the things we have concretely done include—hiring the VSA interns for the year, deciding on the VSA reps on the search committee for the new Director of Residential Life and Associate Dean…[and working] with BoEA to confirm open positions on various house teams…”
Furthermore, the members of the Executive Board have been on campus since Thursday, during which time its members have prepared for VSA Senate training and the Fall Leadership Conference, as well as meeting with President Bradley on Saturday.
With regard to whether Amey has plans to resume her involvement with the VSA in some capacity once she returns to Vassar, she said in a phone interview that it is likely. “If there is an instance where I feel that I could do a lot of benefit to not just myself but other people, I’m going to take the opportunity to place myself in that position,” she stated. Amey explained that she chose to run for her past elected positions because she felt she would be an asset to the given role and that this approach would be no different if she decides to run for another office in the future.
Amey, in addition to her work in the stand-up and sketch comedy group Indecent Exposure, has been involved with the VSA since her first semester at Vassar, rising through the ranks first as president of the Class of 2019 in her first year and then as Chair of Programming as a sophomore this past year. During her campaign for the VSA presidency, she stressed proactivity and accessibility—both in terms of representation among the members of the VSA and transparency with respect to the student body—as improvements for what she sees as an overly bureaucratic organization.
In her phone interview, Amey asserted that she is optimistic that the members of the VSA will continue to represent the student body’s wishes and follow through on the resolutions and promises they made at the end of last semester.
“I am really saddened by not being able to be a part of this VSA because I am so confident in…the goals and wants of my senators,” Amey stated. “They are extremely capable.” What’s more, given the particularly diverse range of identities represented in the 2017-18 VSA, there is, in her view, great potential for increased inclusivity and for properly addressing past problems with student representation.
As for advice to her colleagues, she offered, “[P]rioritize in every way how the students feel … I think the most important thing is that we’re communicating with students…[and] that we’re also having difficult conversations and discussing matters that concern them.” She additionally referenced the VSA’s commitment to anti-racism and intersectional feminism, as well as the quote by writer, feminist and civil rights activist Audre Lorde that she shared in the first Senate meeting she oversaw as president, “My silences had not protected me. Your silence will not protect you.”
During her phone interview, Amey also encouraged students to engage with the VSA as a resource, including attending meetings, participating in discussions in order to have their positions heard and holding VSA accountable when their needs are not being met. “I want everyone to know that VSA is…not this huge, big structure that should be intimidating,” she said. “It’s not.”
The members of the Executive Board affirmed the VSA’s continued dedication to the governing body’s ideals in their statement: “[We believe] the year will be one of accountable, real, and positive change for the student body. We are making it a point during our times in office to continue to reach for whatever is going to make life at Vassar better for students.”
In her parting remarks to the student body, Amey reiterated her confidence in the VSA’s representatives. “I believe this year’s senate to be proactive, empathetic, and responsibly reactive,” she wrote. “Utilize them. This year’s senate has the composition to be extremely impactful and I trust them.”
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Statement from outgoing VSA President Miranda Amey ’19 to the student body
To the Vassar Student Body,
It is for reasons outside of my control and with no pleasure that I inform you of my official resignation from the office of VSA President. I have debated in length with myself on how to best deliver this message and have written and rewritten this letter too many times to count. In mid-July I was told that, without a doubt, I could not change the outcome that has led me to author this email. This is one of the hardest things I have had to communicate to a group of peers and friends I respect so highly.
For circumstances outside of my control, I will be taking a leave this Fall. In past drafts, I have detailed the reasons behind my leave but ultimately I do not think I have had enough time to process my own understanding of this situation to then disseminate it on such a grand scale. It feels much more intimate than that, so I will just say that it is not at all a choice for me. I fought this decision with every resource I had; I did everything I could to be on campus this fall and it is with a very heavy heart and a hand composed of lead that I am writing this forced resignation.
This is not what I want. I would do anything I could to maintain my presidency, or even to resume it in the Spring semester. However, after having a conversation about the reading of the constitution with my Vice President, Anish Kanoria, and then later the VSA advisor, Michelle Ransom, I have been informed that it is both expected, and less disruptive to the student body for Anish to take my place for both the Fall and Spring semester (I have attached the constitution and bylaws below), as he will be doing the work of the President and I would be missing out on a lot of the knowledge he would have gained during his half term. I was told this is in your best interest, and I hope very much that you agree.
Anish and the rest of the Executive board that you elected will still be here, just not under my lead. I hope you embrace them kindly, as I was lucky enough to be received in this fashion. From the conversations and work we began together in the Spring, I am positive that their current plans for you will carry positive impact for both the structure of VSA and the campus at large. More than a few of Exec I considered friends before our election, and through our work in the Spring, I have grown to respect all of their abilities.
Anish’s replacement for VP will also need to be filled this Fall—it is my hope that someone as excellently detail oriented and knowledgeable on VSA will be appointed. Although Anish was the perfect VP, I’m confident another student will be found to join the Exec board. It is also my hope that they share the same ideals and principles of the current senate, which is detailed in our first resolution (attached below).
I hope that I have not greatly disappointed you. The hardest part about this has been the idea that you might doubt my commitment and responsibility to the student body and Vassar—that because you chose me, you chose wrong. I hope you do not think that. I want what’s best for us as students, and VSA does have the ability to make campus life better. VSA gets a seat at the table when a lot of us do not. Occupy this seat, and make our voice louder to the administration.
I hope you continue to hold VSA accountable this semester. VSA is supposed to be for all of us, inclusive of black and brown bodies, queer folks, differently abled peers (both mentally and physically), low income, first gen, and more. Go to a meeting and make them talk about what’s happening on campus that impacts you. I believe this year’s senate to be proactive, empathetic, and responsibly reactive. Utilize them. This year’s senate has the composition to be extremely impactful and I trust them.
I may not be on campus this semester, but I will remain active in being here for anyone who needs me. I’m an email away, and would be very happy to help or listen to any peers. I may no longer have a title, but I’m just as dedicated to being present and responsive to your needs as ever.
It is with great honor that I have served as your President, even for this short period, but I, Miranda Amey, hereby resign as the 2017-2018 President of the Vassar Student Association.
If you have any questions, comments or concerns, please direct them to my Vassar email account firstname.lastname@example.org. I am no longer going to be using this email. I will also be following up with more about this on an informal channel, possibly my social media, The Misc, or Boilerplate.
I wish everyone of you an amazing and successful semester.
Until the spring,
Miranda B Amey ’19
VSA President, former
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Statement to The Miscellany News from the VSA Executive Board
Anish Kanoria, VSA President and Interim Vice President
Tamar Ballard, Chair of Equity and Inclusion
Takunda Maisva, Chair of Residential Affairs
Pat DeYoung, Chair of Organizations
Joaquim Gonçalves, Chair of Academics
Robyn Lin, Chair of Finance
We, members of the VSA Executive Board, are as saddened as the rest of the student body about Miranda’s departure as VSA President. From the time of our election and up until we found out in June about Miranda’s leave, she showed a tremendous amount of passion for her role as VSA President, especially in her desire to hit the ground running on many of the ideas and proposals that we think are important to the student body. Although neither we nor Miranda wanted this outcome, it is the situation that we find ourselves in. We have done our best over the past two months to work with her during this difficult time to resolve this situation in a way that both respected her needs and fulfilled our collective obligations to the student body. We understand that this turn of events isn’t ideal, especially for her, but we wish her the best in her time away in finding what she needs to thrive in her remaining time at Vassar.
In framing our response to this unexpected development, the Executive Board was bound to turn to the VSA Constitution and other governing documents keeping in mind our obligation as representatives of the student body for guidance on how best to proceed. After carefully reviewing the constitution, bylaws, and Vassar College governance, we reached the following conclusions. According to the VSA Bylaws, specifically Article XI, Section 6, an individual must be an enrolled student at Vassar for the entire year to serve on the Executive Board. According to Article IV, Section 3, of the Constitution, if the position of President becomes vacant, the Vice President shall succeed them. Therefore, in line with our governing documents and keeping in mind that we each were elected to serve the entire student body, Anish Kanoria will succeed and serve as the VSA President for the 2017-18 academic year. The position of VSA Vice President will be filled as soon as possible according to an appropriate method as determined by the Board of Elections and Appointments.
We are excited to have Anish as our new President and believe that with the leadership we have in this year’s Senate, the year will be one of accountable, real, and positive change for the student body. We are making it a point during our times in office to continue to reach for whatever is going to make life at Vassar better for students.