Updates from the VSA

Senate 11.26.17

1. Forum with Engaged Pluralism Initiative (EPI) leaders

— Goal of EPI: To change campus climate and inclusivity.

— Core Team: Associate Professor of Anthropology Candice Lowe-Swift, EPI Coordinator Patrick Tonks and ALANA Center Director Wendy Maragh Taylor.

— The grant, from the Mellon Foundation, is focused on marginalized groups on campus. — They are hoping to have larger participation from VSA going forward.

— They came together with Dean of the Faculty Jon Chenette with ideas from identity orgs in the ALANA center and other students’ perspective.

— Q: What has been done so far of significance?

— A from Maragh Taylor: Two World Cafe discussions that were well attended, just getting the working groups formed this semester. A participatory action research class has been going well, and they will be doing a campus presentation in a few weeks.

— A from Lowe-Swift: We want to do relationship building as well, to slow down from the “doing” thought process and bring people together and give them a new language. The climate assessment is also moving along, and a survey will be distributed to whole campus mid-February.

— A from Tonks: There was a big reflective cube outside the College Center, an audio recording booth that pairs of people were invited into who didn’t know each other, to answer a question about their Vassar experience.

— Q: My fear is that anything for diversity and inclusion gets pushed to EPI. Nothing gets done, and things take a long time. How are your guys balancing it?

— VP Cody Harmon ’19: I completely agree, everything becomes an EPI problem instead of it becoming a campus problem. What is the long term process of the EPI grant, what can new students expect, what can students leaving do on their way out?

— A from Maragh Taylor: We all need to speak up about the fact that there is not one thing, person, office, who should be addressing issues of inclusion. We need to make numerous ways for people to thrive here.

2. Forum with Assistant Director of Campus Activities Will Rush

— Rush was at Senate to follow up with how students do activities and events certification on campus.

— Chair of Orgs Pat DeYoung ’18: We’re working on revamping the SARC process for how orgs books spaces and funding, streamlining the whole process, helping to include event fees so orgs can budget better, which will allow orgs to keep better track of their finances.

— Rush: We’re making the process efficient and student-friendly. The goal is to make it easy for students who don’t know about event fees.

— Chair of Finance Robyn Lin ’18: This will ease the burden on Finance and SARC. Once orgs fill out the form they’ll have a very clear idea of how much funding to ask for, avoiding backend costs and deficits.

3. Committee Chair Updates

Planning Committee

— The full launch of the Student Discourse Forum will be at the beginning of next semester.

Health and Wellness Committee

— They received money from the Social Consciousness Fund for the Mental Health Fair.

— There will be posters up across from Express and in the Deece where people can write what they’d like people to know about mental health and mental illness.

— Q: What is the process for getting access to the mental health fund Vassar has?

— A: Email Director of Student Financial Services Jessica Bernier (jebernier[at]vassar. edu) and Director of Counseling Services Wendy Freedman (wefreedman[at]vassar.edu). The fund is restricted to those who are Pell Grant-eligible.

— This fund is for the treatment of both mental health and physical health.

Programming Committee

— They’re tabling in the College Center, for the Millenial Pink Masquerade. A ticket is $5 (VCash or cash), but if students can’t pay, they can email vsaprogramming[at]vassar.edu.

— Students can buy alcohol from The Chance if they’re 21+

5. Executive board updates

Chair of Equity and Inclusion Tamar Ballard ’19

— QCVC app to the Social Conciousness Fund hasn’t been allocated yet, but they are funding it.

Chair of Residential Life Takunda Maisva ’19

— Director of Safety and Security Arlene Sabo wants to know if anyone on VSA wants to go through peacekeeping training to learn the protocol of safety and security. She’s planning training depending on when people can go, details will be sent out in a email.

Chair of Organizations Pat DeYoung ’18

— The sound system proposal will be in soon, hopefully before the semester break, which will save money and be used by a lot of orgs.

— The org audit is being presented at next week’s Senate with recommendations.

Vice President Cody Harmon ’19

— VSA is working on bylaw changes.

— A second When Is Good for changes for Senate meeting time and location for next se- mester will be out soon.

Chair of Finance Robyn Lin ’18

— There’s a Google Doc in the VSA folder called Speaker Questionnaire, which the VSA is hoping to have completed by the spring semester.

President Anish Kanoria ’18

— The EPI Steering Committee met. They are thinking about having a common space for students to gather.

— Professional development at Vassar: How can this be institutionalized for lasting changes?

— VSA interns and H2A are working to come up with a PDF of administration structure

— Exec met with Dean of the College Chris Roellke to talk about admin feedback for the AEO. There will be a change by next semester, and President Bradley increased psychiatrist hours from one day to three days a week.

— There will be a forum with Director of Health Services Irena Balawajder next week.

— The VSA website is mostly up to date, and the layout will be changing soon.

— Update on DACA letter: VSA is getting an official reply from President Bradley this week.

—Sarah Jane Muder, General VSA Intern

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