Vassar Student Association

Executive Board updates from September

Once or twice each month, the Executive Board writes short reports about some of its current projects. These reports are in addition to oral reports delivered frequently within the VSA Council and longer written reports for the Board of Trustees. The following are updates from September 2009:

Caitlin Ly, VSA President, ’10,
Tuesday: 11 a.m. - 1 p.m., Thursday: 11 a.m. - 1 p.m.

This has been a busy start to the semester for the VSA Executive Board. We have made some great steps forward in a number of areas, and have held our ground in others amidst an environment where cuts in services are a main point of discussion on almost every agenda. Here are some of the highlights:

Academic Credit for Athletics: Having recognized the dedication required and benefits attained from playing a varsity sport, the Vassar Student Association (VSA), in collaboration with the Student Athletic Advisory Committee (SAAC), has passed a proposal that, if approved by the faculty, will allow athletes to receive up to two academic credits for participation on a varsity team to count toward graduation credits.

Composting in the Retreat: The VSA allocated $10,000 from the Great Works Fund to allow composting to take place for all pre- and post-consumer waste in the Retreat starting this year. Last year’s waste audit revealed that fully 72% of all waste could be composted if we had the system in place. We hope this new system will provide the Vassar community with the tools it needs to significantly reduce our carbon footprint and maintain its ideals of sustainable living moving forward.

Room Entry Policy: The VSA passed a proposal on the room entry policy, which will amend the Student Handbook and the Residential Life Guide pending a vote of the Committee on College Life. The room entry proposal gives Residential Life staff the right to inspect students’ rooms given 24 hours’ notice and specifies the conditions under which a security guard can enter and search a student’s room.

Common-sense proposals: While these proposals are less visible, we have continually advocated in meetings with senior officers and the Board of Trustees for a broader vision of where cuts will be made. One recent example is the unexpected cutting of library hours; we have made a counterproposal to return to normal library hours (we feel there aren’t enough to begin with) but to close the Circulation Desk at earlier hours, saving money but maintaining a core student service.

Feel free to email me with any questions, concerns or suggestions. You can also always stop by my office hours and we can chat in person.

Elizabeth Anderson, VP for Student Life, ’11,
Thursday: 12 p.m. - 3 p.m.

This semester, I've been focusing on two areas in particular: Campus Dining and Security. In both of these areas, students agree that there's quite a bit of room for improvement. The current meal plan isn't working for many students (seniors and off-campus students can't use ACDC, and most students seem to end each semester with excess meals.) So I've been meeting with the Chris Roelleke, Maureen King, the food committee (which will be meeting soon), FDIC and some administrators in our purchasing and accounting departments to see if we can design a better meal plan structure for next year. This is also something that the Student Life Committee will be working on, as well as the CCL.

I've also been working to improve relations with Security. This year, we were able to make Security a real presence during Orientation so that new students and house teams would get to know their officers. Many students have are concerned that Security policies are not as clear as they could be (like the policies surrounding room entry, and punishments). The VSA Council has passed the room entry policy, which the VSA has been working on for nearly two years. The hope is to adopt that into the Student Handbook and make it very clear to future students. I have also been working the DB Brown and Luis Inoa to improve the reslife guide to clarify these policies.

Additionally, the VSA Council recently passed the Athletic Proposal, which will soon be presented at CCP:

Please feel free to e-mail me or come to my office hours if there are other student life concerns you'd like to talk about.

Brian Farkas, VP for Operations, ’10,
Monday: 9 a.m. - 10 a.m., Wednesday: 6 p.m. - 8 p.m., Friday: 3 p.m. - 5 p.m.

After a summer of design, this fall saw the launch of a revamped VSA Web site ( The site now features regular updates on the work of the Council, as well as reorganized information for organization leaders and treasurers. One of my favorite features of the site is Exploring the Hudson Valley, a user-friendly database of local dining, shopping, cultural attractions, and natural attractions. Each location features a description written from a Vassar student's perspective. Through the Web, the VSA hopes to be as transparent and accessible as possible.

Rationalizing Vassar's committee structure is a long-term challenge that the Executive Board hopes to tackle this year. As the coordinator of student delegates to College committees, I have ensured that committee members are well-trained and can begin work with a thorough understanding of current issues. I am also researching redundancies and inefficiencies in our committee system. For example, three drug-and-alcohol-related groups were combined into a single task force with broader membership. These types of consolidations and collaborations save countless hours, and keep our system of shared governance moving smoothly.

I am working closely with the Alumnae and Alumni of Vassar College (AAVC), the Career Development Office, and the Development Office to better incorporate alumni into the life of the College. Our graduates are among our most valuable resources ‹ particularly in the current job market ‹ and I hope to streamline interactions between alumni and students. I am also doing fundraising work through Phonathon and the Friends of the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center. As the College faces unprecedented financial challenges, philanthropists are invaluable in supporting central aspects of the College. As the student liaison to Development, I am articulating student needs and
concerns as clearly as possible to donors.

Finally, I am working to establish a 24/7 study space in the Faculty Commons. We hope to equip the space with a VPrinter and possibly several public-access iMacs. More on this to come!

Stephanie Damon-Moore, VP for Academics, ''11,
Monday: 1 p.m. - 4 p.m.

As the VSA VP for Academics, my job largely centers on developing long-term policy changes in academic areas such as the curriculum, advising, course evaluations, financial aide, etc. In that capacity, I sit on the Committee on Curricular Policy (CCP), the Advisory Group for the Allocation of Faculty Resources (AGAFR), the Library Committee, and the Committee on Admissions and Financial Aide (CAFA). I also chair the internal council committee on academics. This year, the academics committee and myself are working toward revising the Course Evaluation Questionnaires (CEQ's) and getting them online, improving advising by instituting a peer advising system, and invigorating the majors committees as sources of information for students in the department, advising bodies for the faculty, and resources for department and advisor evaluations. We're also considering supporting a social consciousness requirement, addressing scheduling and course availability issues, and examining major requirements and cross-listing options. It is my hope that through my work and the work of my colleagues on the council, we can preserve a strong curriculum, facilitate communication among administrators, faculty, and students, and provide more opportunities for student input to be heard by the Office of the Dean of the Faculty and by the department chairs. Please feel free to email me or come to my office hours if you have any questions, suggestions, or concerns regarding academics at Vassar.

Aaron Grober, VP for Activities, ’11,
Monday: 12 p.m. - 1 p.m., Wednesday: 3:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.

A BIG HELLO to everyone from your VP for Activities, Aaron! I just wanted to send along a very brief update of what I’ve been up to throughout the summer and since the year started.

I spent most of the summer attempting to figure out how to do my job, a difficult task for anybody in such a high-turnover position like student government. I worked on a number of summer event approvals remotely with the office of Campus Activities to ensure that we could start-out the year with a BANG! One interesting piece of information about this summer’s festivities included the relatively last-minute news of the departure of Megan, the Assistant Director of Campus Activities. In light of this, Terry Quinn, the director of Campus Activities, myself, and the SARC interns have been attempting to cover the work that Megan used to do, for the time being until we’re able to find a replacement for her. The Fall Leadership conference at the very beginning of school was one of our most successful ever, despite its pitfalls. This was the first year we attempted to hold the conference off-campus, and that decision definitely had its detriments but also a huge amount of benefits. I’m really looking forward to looking at the feedback from the conference and working with the office of Campus Activities to make next year’s FLC AWESOME! The Activities fair, which took place earlier in the month, was also hugely successful. We had 120 organizations on-hand to represent their organizations and recruit new members. We had over 1000 attendees, and all of the org leaders walked away with an impressively grown list of members. One thing that I’m currently working on, and will continue to work on is how we offer continuing leadership opportunities beyond the fall and winter conferences. Also, I’ve been meeting twice weekly with the office of Campus Activities to get your event requests approved. We’re working on them! We get around 60 event requests a week, so don’t be too disappointed if it takes a few days or if your application gets turned down. There are only so many weekends in the semester, and everybody has so many incredible ideas for programming! I’m also extremely excited about the year for the activities committee, we have some ambitious goals, but we also have an incredible group of dedicated student leaders poised to tackle them. Last but not least, I’m looking closely at our campus culture and organization programming in trying to best gage how orgs can allocate their resources to create the most diverse and inclusive programming possible.

Please don’t hesitate to drop by during my office hours, Monday 12:00-1:30, or Wednesday 3:30-5:30 to talk about any activities related issues you have on your mind! Peace!

Scott Pascal, VP for Finance, ‘10
Monday: 12p.m. - 1:30p.m., Wednesday: 3p.m. - 4:30p.m., Thursday: 12p.m. - 1:15 p.m.

The VSA is in good financial health. I’ve made sure all the organization budgets are set up and have already started to field many special purpose fund requests. I have also been working on procedures for the new purchasing policy. Applications for both Capital budgeting and Supplemental budgeting have been sent out and are due the 29th and 27th of September, respectively. There is plenty of money available in both these funds and all the special purpose funds so I encourage all orgs to apply!

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