Vassar Student Association

VSA News

VSA External Review

The VSA Operations Committee is excited to announce that the VSA will be undergoing a full external review.

Operations Committee has hired SG Consulting, a firm that specializes in student governments, to perform this review. A member of the firm will be on - campus on December 3rd and 4th, during which time he will conduct interviews with students (both involved in the VSA and in other orgs) and administrators, as well as hosting an open forum for all students to attend and voice their concerns with the VSA. The forum will occur on December 3rd, at 6:30 pm in the Villard Room. Pizza will be served.

In recent years, the VSA has been shown to be inaccessible or thought irrelevant to the majority of the student body. There has been under-representation of many student groups within the VSA and certain positions on the VSA are virtually unattainable for students of particular financial need due to the extreme nature of the time commitment involved in holding these positions. We are aware of these problems, and many more, and we believe that this external review is an important step in making the VSA an organization which truly serves all students, and allows for full participation of all students who wish to be involved. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please contact the VSA Operations Committee at vsaoperations@vassar.edu. We would like to be transparent in this process, so please let us know if you would like more information at any point.

The information we receive from SG Consulting will be available to everyone and will be used by the Operations Committee to formulate changes to the VSA.

SoCos Presedent Election & Raymond President Appointment

This Fall, there are two positions on the VSA Council that are not definitively filled. The SoCos are having a recall election for their President and Raymond's President has resigned. Look below for details on the specific positions!

South Commons President

When a petition for recall is filed, the Board of Elections and Appointments verifies the petition and ensures that it was signed by at least 25% of the positions constituency. The petition for the SoCos recall included just over 25% of the consitutencies' signatures. As a result, an election must be held to determine if the current SoCos President will continue in the position throughout the year. Only current residents of the SoCos are eligible to run. The timeline and link to file are included below.

Students may file using the VSA's Standard Filing Form.

Fall SoCos Election
Filing Begins Tuesday 8/26/2014 12:00 PM
7 Days
 
Filing Ends Tuesday 9/2/2014 12:00 PM Classes Begin
Campaigning Begins Tuesday 9/2/2014 12:00 PM
3 Days
Classes Begin
Campaigning Ends Friday 9/5/2014 12:00 PM Candidate Debate Thurs at 5pm; Location TBA
Voting Begins Friday 9/5/2014 12:00 PM
48 Hours
 
Voting Ends Sunday 9/7/2014 12:00 PM  
Results Released Sunday 9/7/2014 2:00 PM Online & Retreat First Council Meeting

 

Raymond House President

The VSA President recieved a letter of resignation from the previous Raymond President. The VSA Council met to decide how the position should be filled and voted in favor of an appointment to be executed by the Board of Elections and Appointments. Only current residents of Raymond who have attended Vassar for at least one semester are eligible to run. The timeline for this appointment and link to the application are included below.

To apply, please complete the Appointment Application.

Fall Raymond Appointment Timeline
Applications Open Tuesday 8/26/2014 12:00 PM
10 Days
Appointments Application
Applications Deadline Friday 9/5/2014 12:00 PM  
Candidate Interviews Saturday 9/6/2014 1:00 PM to 2:00 PM Open to all! Location, TBA.
Recommendation Confirmation Sunday 9/7/2014 7:00 PM   VSA Council Meeting

If you have any questions or concerns, don't hesitate to email the Board of Elections and Appointments.

2014-2015 Saturday Shuttle Schedule

The VSA operates a shuttle for Vassar students to local stores and the mall most Saturdays of the year. The shuttle leaves campus hourly for stops downtown, the Poughkeepsie Galleria Mall, a Barnes & Noble bookstore-cafe, and a Stop & Shop grocery. Look for the white Leprechaun Lines bus at the shelter by Jewett.

The shuttle will operate from September 6th to December 6th for the Fall Semester, with the exception of the following:

October Recess: 10/18, 10/25
Thanksgiving Recess: 11/29

The shuttle will operate from January 31st to May 2nd for the Spring Semester, with the exception of the following:

Spring Recess: 3/14, 3/21, 3/28

The shuttle attempts to follow this schedule shown below. It is important to note that times are approximate as various conditions can cause delays.

Depart
Campus

North Lot (bus shelter)
Downtown/Walkway Over the Hudson
Mansion & Washington
Train Station
Mill/Davies
Poughkeepsie
Galleria Mall
South Road/Route 9
Barnes & Noble
(bookstore-cafe)
South Road/Route 9
Stop & Shop
South Road/Route 9
Arrive Campus
North Lot (bus shelter)
1:00 PM 1:09 PM 1:12 PM 1:27 PM 1:40 PM 1:42 PM 1:55 PM
2:00 PM 2:09 PM 2:12 PM 2:27 PM 2:40 PM 2:42 PM 2:55 PM
3:00 PM 3:09 PM 3:12 PM 3:27 PM 3:40 PM 3:42 PM 3:55 PM
4:00 PM 4:09 PM 4:12 PM 4:27 PM 4:40 PM 4:42 PM 4:55 PM
5:00 PM 5:09 PM 5:12 PM 5:27 PM 5:40 PM 5:42 PM 5:55 PM
6:00 PM 6:09 PM 6:12 PM 6:27 PM 6:40 PM 6:42 PM 6:55 PM
7:00 PM 7:09 PM 7:12 PM 7:27 PM 7:40 PM 7:42 PM 7:55 PM
8:00 PM 8:09 PM 8:12 PM 8:27 PM 8:40 PM 8:42 PM 8:55 PM
9:00 PM 9:09 PM 9:12 PM 9:27 PM 9:40 PM 9:42 PM 9:55 PM

For even more information about transporation and the beautiful community that surrounds Vassar, checkout Neighbors.

Fall 2014 Tasty Tuesdays Schedule

Tasty Tuesdays will start on Tuesday, September 2nd and run through December 9th, with the exception of October 21 (Fall Break). Good rule of thumb: if there are regularly scheduled classes, there will be regularly scheduled noms!
While it's not always 100% certain that specific eateries will sell their delectable delights every week, there is a good shot that the following five will be around pretty consistantly: Gino's, Julie's, Kismat, Ku-Yah, and Twisted Soul.
Follow the VSA on Twitter and like us on Facebook to get up-to-date information including which vendors will accept V-Cash and other pertainate details.

2014 Fall Leadership Conference

Each year the VSA hosts the Fall Leadership Conference to provide student leaders with the tools to successful run an organization. This includes learning about avaliable resources (through both the VSA and other College Offices), policy changes, liability, leader responsibility, and successful programming.

Each organization is required to have at least one representative present at the conference, or that organization may be fined (VSA Bylaws Article VIII, Section 23). In the past the imposed fine has been $100 or 5% of an organization's budget, whichever is less. Students that move in but do not attend the conference as expected may face College disciplinary action.

Please note that only students who have been registered for the conference and recieved an email from the VP for Activities may move-in on August 28th.

Conference Schedule

August 28th:

9am-5pm - Registered Attendee Move-In (Visit the ROC during this time.)
6pm - Dinner in the Villard Room

August 29th:

10am-3pm - The Fall Leadership Conference (Breakfast will be served at 10am as the conference begins.)

If you have questions, please contact the VP for Activities.

Vassar's free shuttle begins spring semester service

Vassar's free Poughkeepsie Shuttle bus service has started up again for the spring semester and will continue until the last day of classes. Take the shuttle to restaurants, arts centers, riverfront Waryas Park, and the recently opened Walkway Over the Hudson (using the City Hall stop). Information is available at the College's Neighbors website.

E-mail questions, comments, praise, ideas, and suggestions to pokshuttle@vassar.edu.

VSA Council passes memorandum on curricular response to economic crisis

On Sunday, Nov. 29, the VSA Council unanimously passed a memorandum to explain and contextualize its earlier endorsement of a letter written by a campus group:

MEMORANDUM

From: The Vassar Student Association Council

To: The Board of Trustees and Students of Vassar College

Cc: President Catharine Hill, Dean of the Faculty Jonathan Chenette, Dean of Planning and Academic Affairs Rachel Kitzinger, Dean of the College Christopher Roellke, Vice President for Finance and Administration Elizabeth Eismeier, Vice President for Development Cathy Baer, Vice President for Computing and Information Services Bret Ingerman, Vice President for College Relations Susan DeKrey, Chair of the Faculty Policy and Conference Committee Steve Rock

Date: November 29, 2009

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________

We, the VSA Council, wish to elaborate on our 11.22.09 endorsement of the Campus Solidarity Working Group’s letter to the Board of Trustees. The letter, written by Adjunct Associate Professor of English Judy Nichols, was presented to Council by a group of five students. After a heated discussion of nearly four hours, Council voted 15-6 to endorse the document. We seek here to frame this endorsement in the context of our nuanced discussion.

Ms. Nichols’ letter—the second in a series of similar documents—criticized the reductions in tenure lines, adjunct and visiting faculty members, and course sections as a result of the financial crisis. The document demonstrated a clear concern for the long-term health of Vassar’s multidisciplinary curriculum, our flexible course offerings, and our retention of excellent scholars and teachers. The Council voted to endorse this letter because we believe these are core properties of a Vassar education that our constituents value deeply.

Our endorsement of this letter was, to some extent, a reflection of the mood of the student body. Council is comprised of 24 full-time students. We study in every academic department. We compete on varsity athletics teams. We do research with our professors, learn from the life experiences of our staff, and benefit from the multifaceted diversity within our own student body. Council’s views on Vassar parallels the views of our 2,450 constituents. Many Council members felt that they lacked accurate financial information; many felt unsure of the future of their department or their favorite professor; many felt annoyed that, while members of the Executive Board are routinely consulted on confidential financial planning, the broader student community is left in the dark until after decisions have been reached. These feelings, reflected by our 15-6 endorsement, are all reflective of broader concerns on campus.

We also respect the student contingent of the Solidarity Group who attended our meeting. We are their representatives, and it is our responsibility to channel their feelings to the College’s decision-making bodies. Even if we disagree on policy and approach, we applaud these students for caring about our College so deeply. Indeed, a consistent frustration among Council members is that surprisingly few constituents come to us with institutional concerns—unfortunate, in a financial climate inevitably filled with such concerns. We are often discouraged when students are apathetic about the state of the College, and do not seek information easily available through campus-wide e-mails, our VSA site, the Economy site, or The Miscellany News. We admire the commitment of the students in the Solidarity Group and appreciate their efforts to make Vassar a more conscientious, egalitarian institution.

Nevertheless, we harbor no unrealistic expectations that Vassar can remain unchanged. In this economic climate, the VSA Council is fully aware that the curriculum we all value must shrink. So too must our teaching staff. However, as members of the community, we cannot help but feel saddened when our teachers are let go. And as representatives of the student body, we cannot help but agree with the Solidarity Group’s sincere concern for the effect of the financial crisis on academic life and on the lives of community members.

Beyond these sentiments, which earned the support of the majority of Council, we feel it is our responsibility to acknowledge some of the many inaccuracies within Ms. Nichols’ letter. In its accusatory and hyperbolic tone, the document presents a problematic interpretation of Vassar’s careful financial planning. We seek to highlight just some of the instances where the letter marshals false or incomplete evidence to make its case.

The letter makes several inaccurate claims about the staffing and curricula of specific departments. Computer Science will actually be teaching four more course sections next fall compared to this year. Film too will be one course ahead of the level of staffing they requested for 2010-11 because a new tenure-track appointee would have had a reduced course load in the first year. As for the languages, the Dean of the Faculty office has indeed asked that tenure-line faculty members engage in teaching at the 100-level on a regular basis. Students at the 100-level deserve and benefit from contact with our tenured scholars, and our tenure-line faculty benefit from regular engagement with the challenges and rewards of teaching at that level. We disagree with the letter’s implication that this trend is negative. Further, we take issue with the letter’s baseless accusation that the administration has illegally forced faculty members to retire. While the College’s financial situation has no-doubt resulted in some retirement-age faculty feeling pressure to leave the institution, we have no reason to believe that the administration is the source of that pressure.

Most significantly, beyond these specific points, the letter conveys both implicitly and explicitly that decisions have been made by a small group of administrators without regard to community input. This is misleading. While our Senior Officers (most of whom are also teaching faculty) have directed financial planning, students and faculty also had direct input into decision-making. Two elected students—the VSA President and VSA Vice President for Operations—sit as full members on the Priorities and Planning Committee. The members of this group sit as equals, debating the College’s many noble aspirations alongside its financial restraints. The students, faculty, and administrators come together with optimism for what Vassar should be and realism for what Vassar can be. Through this committee, we have had (and continue to have) substantive and specific input into the financial decision-making process. On curricular issues, the VSA Vice President for Academics sits on the Advisory Group for the Allocation of Faculty Resources (AGAFR) and the Committee on Curricular Policies (CCP), and is a vocal advocate for multidisciplinary programs, the reduction of administrative course releases, and the general maintenance of our broad and diverse curriculum. The letter fails to acknowledge the substantive input that students have had into the current financial plan through their elected representatives.

Moreover, the letter implies that Vassar’s financial planning was reached haphazardly—that the senior administration hacked away at the budget without care for the curriculum or respect for the College’s employees. In fact, we recognize that the process was thoughtful and deliberative. Dean of the Faculty Jon Chenette has worked (and continues to work) with departments to ensure that we are making academic reductions in ways that will affect the broader curriculum as little as possible. We recognize that some members of the community, including some members of our own Council, object to staffing decisions in certain areas. However, the Senior Officers, CCP and AGAFR reached these decisions after long and careful consideration. This important work should not be dismissed.

We agree wholeheartedly with the document’s concern for the curriculum, and are pleased that since the Council’s endorsement, the most recent estimates suggest that the curriculum will lose only 10 course sections next fall, rather than the 30 previously estimated. It is important to realize that the damage done to the curriculum by these changes is not nearly as catastrophic as Ms. Nichols’ letter implies. By almost any measure, Vassar’s curriculum will remain flexible and diverse.

We would also like to clarify the conditions under which Council voted to endorse the letter. The members of the Solidarity Group told Council that Ms. Nichols planned to send her letter on Wednesday, November 25. As we later discovered, she did not plan to send it until Wednesday, December 2. This false date essentially prevented us from delaying the vote by one week to consider the motion in greater depth. While we do not believe that we were intentionally misled, this significant miscommunication put pressure on Council to act quickly. Many representatives saw this as a choice between “doing something” to advocate for the curriculum or “doing nothing.” Under this tight timeframe, the majority of Council elected to endorse the document. In some cases, this endorsement was more for the sentiments behind it than for the facts underlying it.

The feelings we express here are nuanced, but the issues facing the College are complex enough that such nuance is required. Unlike the Solidarity Group’s letter, we lack a unified thesis. We are instead left with competing and simultaneous thoughts—irreparable sadness for the loss of professors and staff, concern for our characteristically dynamic curriculum, profound respect for the College’s senior leadership, and a determination to mend our community and build an unshakable foundation for Vassar’s next 150 years.

Vassar Emergency Medical Services launches new Web site

Vassar College Emergency Medical Services (VCEMS) has launched a new Web site. VCEMS operates on weeknights from 5 p.m. until 8 a.m., and provides 24-hour coverage from Friday at 5 p.m. until Monday morning at 8 a.m. VCEMS also provides extra coverage during large-scale campus events.

Learn more about your department's majors committee

As the College responds to the global economic crisis, departments are finalizing their course offerings for Fall and Spring of the 2010-11 academic year within the next week. Department chairs and program directors have been negotiating with the Dean of the Faculty Office, and staffing plans are currently being determined.

The VSA Executive Board has been in constant conversation with the senior administration regarding the changes to the curriculum. We would like to encourage the student body to engage with their majors committees and department chairs to learn more about the changes to the curriculum in their respective areas. While students should rest assured that Vassar will continue to offer a broad and diverse curriculum, the changes will nonetheless be significant, and it is in the best interests of students to be well informed.

Student voice is essential to academic life at Vassar; our hope is that majors committees can channel that voice. Whether you are declared in a department or simply interested in it, you should be aware of and have a voice in the department's future course offerings. Majors committees, groups of student majors, are excellent resources for facilitating communication in departments and channeling that input to the faculty.

Contact information for all of the majors committees and department chairs is available here. If you have any concerns about your academic opportunities in the coming year, please engage with your majors committee and department. And please come talk to your VSA Executive Board—we are your advocates, and we want to be your resource.

Philaletheis, Vassarion launch new Web sites

Check out the new Vassarion site, the online home of Vassar's official yearbook. And then check out the new Philaletheis site, the oldest student organization at Vassar College (est. 1865).

Meet the VSA

Find office hours, learn about executive positions, and read biographies of the six students serving on the VSA Executive Board.

Meet this year's Board »

Meet the VSA Council

Find your class and residential representatives and learn how to contact them with your comments and concerns. Also read about the various council committees and peruse agendas and minutes from the weekly VSA Council meetings.

Meet this year's Council »

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