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2/10/19 Students’ Council Minutes

Students’ Council Weekly Meeting

Sunday 10 February 2019

5:15 PM – 7:13 PM

Minutes by Katie Leiferman & Mariana Ramirez*

Meeting Minutes

Table of Contents

  1. Attendance
  2. Plenary Resolution Committee
  3. Quaker Bouncer
  4. Election Reform
  5. Plenary Committee


  1. Attendance
    1. Council Members
      1. Co-Presidents: Andrew Eaddy & Maurice Rippel
      2. Co-Vice Presidents: Sydney Churchill & Shayan Hashemi
      3. Co-Treasurers: Alejandro Wences & Danny Mayo
      4. Co-Secretaries: Katie Leiferman & Mariana Ramirez
      5. Officer of Multiculturalism: Jhoneidy Javier
      6. Officer of Academics: Ethan Lyne
      7. Officer of Arts: Rachel Kline
      8. Officer of Athletics: Claire Cai
      9. Officer of Campus Life: Tina Le
      10. Representative of International Students: Jason Ngo
      11. First Year Rep: Jacob Gaba
      12. Sophomore Rep: Devi Namboodiri
      13. Junior Rep: Katie Guild
      14. Senior Rep: Julia Blake
    2. Guests
      1. Joe Struski ‘20 (Quaker Bouncer Co-Head)
    3. Absent: Marked with Red
    4. Late: Marked with Orange
  2. Plenary Resolution Committee
    1. Katie G: We can start but Julia isn’t here yet. We should’ve had the conversations that we had sooner, speaking for myself I take responsibility for that. Julia can speak for herself but she seems to be the dissenting opinion, especially regarding th SC Librarian. I’ll talk about the option that I support. Essentially, I think the SC Librarian should be modeled similar to the HC Librarian. They are not a full member of council. They are appointed by the SC Vice-Presidents through the appointments process. The language is in the resolution draft that we shared with you. The main point of contention is the status of the librarian. Should they be a sitting member of council? A new position?
    2. Julia: I think that this position should be given to someone in SC that has already been elected who is a consenting member. I did some research, where I charted out all the members of SC from 2015 on. There are at least 5-6 from previous councils that moved to the new ones. It seems like there is a lack of continuity but there is continuity. I think that with that, there are SC members who will continue to serve who can take that on and it won’t be that strenuous that you can’t add that to your duties.
    3. Jhoneidy: How will the responsibility be determined? You all have had different positions throughout council. Will the responsibility be moved by who stays here the longest?
    4. Julia: Yes, I would hope there would be an officer/rep that would take that on. I think as a Council, we assess who has most experience and vote/elect someone for the yearlong position
    5. Shayan: What if the person with the most experience doesn’t want to do this? Are they going to be forced?
    6. Julia: I don’t think it would be forced. I think these are all the questions we are asking. It is about balancing the importance of the position with lack of interest.
    7. Shayan: What is the problem with appointing a librarian? What is limiting?
    8. Julia: I think it would be weird to do this position but not want to be on council–to sit in the room on Council but not be on it.
    9. Shayan: I think they still have an impact by writing down, researching, etc
    10. Julia: at meetings or plenary, i think this person would want to make an impact.
    11. Katie G: I think logistically, it would make more sense to create a new position. I think we should also talk about the specific responsibilities.
    12. Maurice: I want to hear from Mariana and or Katie, both of you brought up issues about Council at large about institutional memory.
    13. Katie: I don’t think that the responsibilities laid out in the resolution for an SC librarian is possible for one of us in the room based on what we have been doing for the year. Adding all of those to the already existing jobs and projects is not reasonable for people who are already doing what their role entails. I think there should be an independent position.
    14. Mariana: I agree.  
    15. Shayan: i think there is a common ground. If someone wants to take responsibility, that would be great. But if not, then we can run appointments. Each member has a lot of responsibilities.
    16. Ethan: For me it is beyond time wise, there is institutional history beyond the people that have been here the past 5 years. Those past ideas need to be looped in. I also think updating of the SC website, is something that none of us have been able to take on and is perfect for this position
    17. Katie G: I agree, we included website in the responsibility list.
    18. Jhoneidy: The librarian would be elected or appointed?
    19. Sydney: It would be appointed as we have it, through appointments process.
    20. Maurice: Thinking broader, because of how the SLO is changing budgeting, it essentially will change the budgeting process to make it unnecessary for 2 people.
    21. Alejandro: There is not a lot of day to day things that the Co-Treasurers do. The SLO interns help with a lot of it.
    22. Julia: How will that affect who decides where budget goes?
    23. Alejandro: It would still be the treasurers, but based on attendance and participation.
    24. Sydney: How would that make the treasurer position less work?
    25. Alejandro: it has been decreasing since last year actually.
    26. Julia: I would just think about why we have the Co-Treasurer positions on exec council. I thought it was rooted in Quakerism? I really loved how the co-positions worked for me in the past. If we are going to do this with the treasurers, why not do it for the rest of the positions?
    27. Danny: I think that for us, we definitely have differing opinions for a lot of things which is helpful. I think we have balanced out our work well.
    28. Shayan: I agree.
    29. Alejandro: Yes, but we also have Michelle and Mike which help you bounce ideas off and make decisions. For example, they are really helpful in terms of historical memory.
    30. Danny: They provide guidance while letting us still make our own decisions.
    31. Shayan: So it seems like a co position would still be good.
    32. Danny: The SC budget is large so it is better as a co position with all that money.
    33. Maurice: With my understanding, for the budget the amount we allocate does not change much year to year
    34. Alejandro: To my understanding, yes–looking historically and then deciding on what to allocate is pretty consistent.
    35. Maurice: Do you guys have to do a lot of meetings, etc at the beginning of the semester? Don’t you guys interview folks?
    36. Alejandro: The previous co-treasurers discouraged interviewing everyone. We also didn’t find the meeting of the clubs necessary.
    37. Danny: this year we only interviewed clubs for follow-up.
    38. Alejandro: One thing to remember is we reach the budget through consensus on SC, so that is a way to keep the power balanced.
    39. Maurice: Quickly turning to first year rep portion of this, can you all speak to that?
    40. Julia: I just don’t understand why we would add reps, if someone wants to speak to that go for it.
    41. Ethan: The first year class only has one voice out of the entire student body.
    42. Danny: I don’t view my position as only bearing on my class.
    43. Katie G: we also discussed adding more structure to roles. Are there enough responsibilities?
    44. Sydney: I understand the intent, but I don’t think it will be super crucial for the sake of continuity. In my view, it would be for leadership development. I think that it might not be able to live to its full potential. If you spread out responsibility across 3 reps, you could actually diminish the amount of leadership development that takes place.
    45. Alejandro: I think adding more people hinders the process. Hiding within a larger group really exists. We would be more likely to get people who don’t contribute as much even in conversations. We want to aim for that sweet middle spot.
    46. Mariana: I want to push back on this idea of SC being the only platform for leadership development. Leaders find different platforms across campus. I can think of many people who are leaders and aren’t on council.
    47. Jacob: I want to echo Mariana first, and also say that council is already pretty big. The four class reps are the only reps on SC that are not elected by the whole student body. Everyone else in this room is elected by whole student body. I don’t see a reason why a class that isn’t here when council is forming to have any informed say. I also think the first-year rep position is much more structured than the rest of the class positions. This is because I work with Katrina and the FYDC. I think we need to think long and hard before making council bigger. There should be equal representation for each class and that should come through the avenue of a class rep–when you are specifically elected by your class and not the greater student body. Frosh who aren’t yet here don’t need and shouldn’t have a say in electing the leaders of SC. If we are talking about productivity we shouldn’t change anything to have frosh involved in those decisions as well.
    48. Katie G: For structure, do you think the role could benefit from another person?
    49. Jacob: From my experience, I think that it would feel too many bodies to do minimal work. I get much more out of my relationship with all of you than if there was two. It would have distracted me from developing these relationships.
    50. Shayan: I agree, but the advantage of having more first-years is that you will be better prepared for the next year.
    51. Jacob: In the end you all appointed me because we didn’t reach quorum, we ran the election twice. How is that even fair? It’s kind of inappropriate for me to even be here. And inappropriate to have three roles when no one is even voting anyways.
    52. Shayan: That isn’t your responsibility, that is the student body’s for not voting.
    53. Devi: I agree with Jacob, and I think that it is also hard when you first come in, you already don’t know that many people on campus. When we were running in my year, it was a popularity contest like who is heard of the quickest when you first come in. I don’t think that is appropriate to increase to three.
    54. Maurice: I think that council experiences brain drain in terms of not having first-year representation. Brandon is doing great on HC and if he were in this position, I think we could benefit from that. What happened this year was unique–people not voting. But the first year class rep is always tightly contested. But I think we do see a lot of folks. I would raise the question, there is always work to do on council and slack always needs to be picked up. Roles are also arbitrary. I hear all of you, and I think we are thinking too small. There are ways that we can reallocate roles. What is the most productive use of this space? Co-positions can be a hit or miss. For the sake of brevity, I think we should move on. What do you all think is the best way forward? There is so much confusion.
    55. Katie G: Resolution wise we have the content, we just have to decide. We didn’t feel comfortable writing a resolution with disconnect in opinion.
    56. Katie: Just to clarify, we don’t need consensus now, right? You could potentially bring this forward in whatever manner you decide, and those who disagree could voice their dissenting opinion there.  
    57. Julia: I feel like if we, as a council, aren’t on the same page, it doesn’t make sense to bring that to the community.
    58. Maurice: If we don’t internally agree than yes it doesn’t make sense to bring because people outside of council don’t have a reason to care. We could at least bring forward a resolution with a statement about SC having their own flexibility to change their structure on their own.
    59. Julia: At Swat, if they want to change their constitution, they do it online via value statements. That’s something to think about if we wanted to make changes to the constitution, outside of the honor code, being able to do that outside of Plenary and using Plenary as a place to bring forward value statements in order to do so.
    60. Jason: I just want to point out that the reason people don’t engage is because people don’t understand how we function internally. We should decide as a group because we know best.
    61. Devi: This is going back to value statements. I think people support value statements like gender-neutral bathrooms and sustainability. I don’t know if all of these value statements are actionable. I feel hopeless about Plenary sometimes because it isn’t actual change that is being made, it is just people saying in the future change will be made.
    62. Jacob: That is what a value statement is. It isn’t saying we are going to it is saying we believe in.
    63. Maurice: I am thinking something stronger than a value statement.. “Be it resolved that SC has the power to….” Recognizing institutional memory problems, and give SC the ability to restructure itself as it sees fit.
    64. Sydney: Would that be a one-time thing or ongoing?
    65. Maurice: It could be a one time thing, a May 2019 deadline with us having to present decision to student body. Thus, it doesn’t require a plenary resolution that lays out everyone’s responsibilities. I’m thinking about co-writing the COML position with Leah Budson, we included 2 clauses that gave HC the ability to write policies for the position that it sees fit and an evaluation date that has the position reviewed at Plenary in X number of years. It gives us flexibility.
    66. Shayan: Do we want to get a sense of where people are leaning toward?
    67. Maurice: I think I have a sense. What are the options on the table? Moving forward with librarian option #1–internally appointed through appointments or #2 through elections (new position or duties given to existing position)
    68. Julia: We wouldn’t need resolution for mine because it is just adding duties to position.
    69. Shayan: Do we need to have a resolution? It could be just a new committee that we are appointing.
    70. Maurice: Yes, technically a committee of one.
    71. Ethan: I think we should run through Plenary and uphold the values of campus.
    72. Katie G: Can we vote on this?
    73. Julia: I’m confused we wouldn’t need a resolution for mine. Why would we bring something we don’t need to.
    74. Maurice: We want continuity.
    75. Katie G: Also creating new position, we need it documented
    76. Julia: I am saying it isn’t new position.
    77. Katie G: We are all voting for not that
      1. Vote: All but Julia vote for new librarian position internally appointed through appointments (option #1).
    78. Sydney: My understanding, someone would apply outside of SC and SC appointments committee decides. The pre-req is a year experience on council. The idea is that it is a new position.
    79. Maurice: I think HC has been successful in having a good website. The constitution really needs to be updated. Innerworkings here would need a discussion if it passes. Could you all get 200 signatures? Do we put it through the community before you all go with the finalized version?(special Plenary style)
    80. Julia: I don’t feel comfortable writing this resolution, so I won’t be on this committee.
      1. *Julia leaves early
    81. Sydney: Does anyone want to take her place?
    82. Katie G: We can have it written by tonight.
    83. Maurice: IS it worth sending out via google doc to the community writ large?
    84. Ethan: No, I don’t think so. IT is pretty technical and people can ask at Plenary.
  3. Quaker Bouncers
    1. Joe: The QBs are considering changes to ID policy. Recently, we have been a little more relaxed with the ID policy. We have let people in who can prove through Q/A to get into parties like using Moodle or answering who is our president. That is not ideal. To make it easier to prevent racial bias as a part of that subjective intercourse, and so that we can identify people better, we want to recommit to stricter id policy. We just want to talk with you all about our policy and get your stamp of approval. I will share a google doc with you all.
    2. Maurice: Does that sound fair to people?
      1. Unanonymous yes.
  4. Election Reform
    1. Maurice: I think this resolution looks very thorough. Let’s get a 30 second synopsis of that. What are the big ticket items? When are elections?
    2. Rachel: We will move the elections to the second friday of April for a 48 hour period, after that the election will take place. We are changing quorum from 50% to 33%. That is going to be the same for all elections. We are also changing plurality for the elections (plurality is the percentage of the voting population instead of the percentage of the entire population).
    3. Shayan: I thought we changed that
    4. Rachel: Oh you’re right. It stays at 40%.
    5. Maurice: Why the second week of April?
    6. Rachel: This is to have a longer transition period.
    7. Shayan: Nominations will open the last friday of March. There are 3 periods. Nominated by week, campaigning week (time to finalize bios, submit pics and videos), and then after the second week there is 48 hours to run elections.
    8. Maurice: Did you all change the language of unopposed elections–do you still have to reach quorum? Right now, in an unopposed election, you still need to reach quorum in that election so they can get the position.
    9. Rachel: No.
    10. Maurice: Can you add language to that.
    11. Rachel: Definitely.
    12. Jason: For rep of International Students, it says for F1 students only. So can we change the constitution? The constitution says international students represent F1 students.
    13. Shayan: If you go to HC website and search international student it will be on there (the definition of rep for IS).
    14. Maurice: So you are saying we are using a definition that isn’t in the constitution, which defines it as just F1 status not including residents in PR, etc.
    15. Shayan: The problem is people who aren’t F1 students haven’t been happy in the elections because it isn’t all encompassing definition of international students.
    16. Maurice: Good. Glad we are making it more explicit.
    17. Jason: So should we make a plenary resolution to change the constitution? To reflect this language?
    18. Maurice: We had trouble with this at a Plenary in the past.
    19. Shayan: Spring of 2017.
    20. Maurice: I think if you write in such a way I don’t think it needs to be an individual new resolution. I think it all fits under elections reform.
    21. Ethan: I’m wondering about funding for campaigns. It is not clear who it will be apply to. Also, how will we legislate the campaign period?
    22. Shayan: The last thing we wanted to ask you all about is under the summary section of the resolution. There is a date where quorum will return, so people know it is temporary
    23. Maurice: Why is it a temporary measure?
    24. Shayan: We are decreasing quorum 50% to 33%, but in the long term we want it to go up. This is a two year window to implement changes to increase student engagement. By spring 2021, we will return.
    25. Claire: If our future goal is to increase quorum then we shouldn’t drop it right now. So we should keep it at 50% with hopes of increasing in the future, not lower it.
    26. Shayan: The core problem is we don’t want to keep running multiple elections. The only way to avoid this is by decreasing quorum.
    27. Jhoneidy: The point of lowering is to change the culture surrounding voting.
    28. Shayan: Exactly, and to add the campaigning, speeches, videos etc. We want to implement changes and than return to original percentages.
    29. Mariana: The other parts of this resolution seek to make positive changes to combat student apathy. It seems like lowering quorum is inconsistent and does the opposite.
    30. Maurice: Why have quorum?
    31. Jhoneidy: To address the climate of the voting body
    32. Shayan: we want to limit number of people voting so there isn’t 10 people voting.
    33. Claire: As much as I think multiple elections are annoying, running multiple to hit quorum forces people to engage with the election even if they initially didn’t. For example, 50% hitting quorum the second time is better than 33% the first time
    34. Shayan: That is what has caused our currently problems with unfilled positions.
    35. Maurice: 10 years ago, when we first did quorum you could get a higher percentage of people to vote because you had fewer folks on campus to vote (1,000 vs 1,300 people for example). Something that I have curiously done is read other campus’ newspapers. Some of Harvard’s elections had 22% turnout, Princeton had 30% turnout, etc. We are doing rather well all things considered. It begs the question, yes we might want to hold ourselves to a better standard than this, but for the functioning of student governance does it make sense to go up to 50% if it no longer  works for our campus
    36. Shayan: We also discussed whether we should do 33 or 40%.
    37. Jacob: I think that there is no point is arbitrary drawing a year. It just doesn’t make sense because lowering quorum disincentivizes people from voting. I think it’s silly to be talking about student apathy and on the other hand, lower quorum. I think we need to be consistent. Setting a high standard to aspire to–lowering quorum is the opposite of that. I think we should be consistent in how we do these things and what kind of group we want to be.
    38. Devi: Also, we are still only targeting the surface of student apathy, not the real reason why students don’t vote.
    39. Shayan: What is the real reason students don’t vote
    40. Devi: If we had in-person voting in booths, and one day dedicated to voting, and you get a sticker if you vote–it feels more like an actual vote. This could encourage people to do more.
    41. Jhoneidy: To Jacob’s point about the discrepancy between laptops and voting. For pragmatism, we couldn’t function as a government for two months because of this. I think the language of the resolution should say it is expected to rise (to increase quorum) if culture has changed. The point of the resolution is to have a functioning government.
    42. Alejandro: Other colleges do have day-long elections. It’s not radical or unheard of.
    43. Jacob: Also to address Devi’s idea, we already do Plenary and there are problems with that (that is a day when everyone comes together to vote on things). Should we have plenary and then a whole separate voting event?
    44. Devi: I think the structure of voting is very different than plenary. If a voting booth is there, you can stop by whenever. It’s at your own convenience. It’s on you, you aren’t straining your ear to hear what is happening. This is on you. We would have a high voter turnout if we did that.
    45. Ethan: I personally enjoy this conversation, but with this time constraint–can we return to the language of the resolution. We are considering the percentage.
    46. Shayan: One way we can incorporate some of this, have the elections coordinator sit at the DC and vote through them.
    47. Maurice: Do people want to 1)move to 33% but go back to 50% eventually (in a few years), 2) no change keep at 50%, 3) 33% but don’t foresee going back to 50%, 4) 40%. Let’s vote to give the resolution writers a feel for the sense of the room.
      1. 1:  4 people
      2. 2:  8 people
      3. 3: 0 people
      4. 4:  3 people
    48. Maurice: Do with that information what you will. Will people like to send that one out to community for feedback.
    49. Ethan: No.
    50. Jacob: People will ask questions at Plenary any way.
    51. Mariana: We can talk about at the workshop tomorrow if it gets done tonight.
    52. Devi: Not everyone who voted in the first Plenary did it without a reason, but a lot did it because they didn’t want to be engaged. So, if we opened this up to student body people will lower quorum to choose to do soto avoid engagement.
    53. Maurice: Ready to table tomorrow for this?
    54. Alejandro: Yes
    55. Maurice: Who is tabling tomorrow for either or both resolution?
      1. Devi, Alejandro, Sydney, Katie G
    56. Maurice: We need finalized resolutions to those who will be tabling. Email out to all of SC tonight. Signatures can be electronic or printed. Put it on an excel sheet. You should be able to get through it in a couple hours.
  1. Plenary Committee
    1. Katie: Headcount for workshop please!
      1. Devi, Jason, Mariana, Katie L, Maurice, Ethan
    2. Mariana: Also Daisy and HC member will be there.
    3. Katie: For plenary, does someone want to be a point person for the packets?  We have a working draft already.
    4. Devi: I can be. Should the cheat sheet be included in the packet?
    5. Katie: No. Also, are you all sending an email? Plenary Co would like to make some announcements to the community.
    6. Maurice: Yes by Thursday.
    7. Katie: Okay so we can get all of our info and the packet to you by then. The cheat sheet is a physical flyer to distribute the day of whereas the full packet is electronic because it is way too much paper to print.
    8. Ethan: People can download pdfs and turn off their wifi there are ways.
    9. Maurice: My hope would be, you have your laptop out looking at the packet fully engaged like you are in class–trusting people to be engaged in Plenary.
    10. Joe: A complaint is that people can’t read the projector.
    11. Maurice: A happy medium to print a few out for people who can’t take out laptops.
    12. Devi: I think the cheat sheet could be helpful. I don’t understand what else needs to be printed out.
    13. Katie G: Can we just print out the resolutions instead of the packets?
    14. Maurice: The packets are comprised of resolutions. One of resolutions is already 10 pages.
    15. Katie: You can just put it on the Thursday email to download the pdf before you get there.  
    16. Maurice: Is there anything in the works about community guidelines? Anything we want to say to the community to set the tone.
    17. Katie: Like the laptop thing?
    18. Maurice: Yes that kind of thing. Do we want to say a statement to the community about expectations for the space this semester.
    19. Mariana: Yes in the Thursday email. After last plenary, we should definitely make a statement to the community.
    20. Maurice: What should it include?
    21. Katie G: I think if we are expecting laptops, we make a statement that they should be using it only for resolutions.
    22. Sydney: Encourage people to not do school work and be fully engaged in the space–that’s all we can do.
    23. Jhoneidy: Any possibility of turning off wifi? Might be too much of a logistical hassle?
    24. Devi: My high school we could control what websites people could go on via wifi.  Or like block moodle or netflix
    25. Maurice: It would do that to the entire campus.
    26. Jason: I work in IITS I don’t think they can do that.  
    27. Maurice: Let’s think broader outside of laptops what to include in statement
    28. Devi: No headphones..
    29. Jason: Read packet before hand
    30. Katie G: Disclaimer about disability and need for headphones needs to be stated.
    31. Jason: Tell people there is a conference room upstairs
    32. Katie G: I think also a brief statement about respect.
    33. Jhoneidy: In WeSpeak, we talk about listening to each others experiences, this is a vulnerable space, welcome discomfort.
    34. Maurice: But this is Plenary–not the same thing as WeSpeak.
    35. Ethan: We could change the layout of Plenary.. the table in the front could be shifted to the middle.
    36. Jacob: More broadly, are we going to have the tables? I think people in the bleachers could pay more attention.
    37. Devi: If we had picnic blankets instead of tables–the tables obstruct the view of what is happening already and gives everyone equal space.
    38. Maurice: Do we have those already?
    39. Mariana: We can encourage people to bring things to sit on.
    40. Jason: People on bleachers it is very difficult to approach the stage.
    41. Ethan: I emailed the co-secs about floating mics for that reason
    42. Katie: I reached out to BLAST about it.
    43. Devi: this is more of a selfish thing, but I really enjoy being part of plenary instead of counting. Can we ask for student volunteers to count quorum?
      1. *Honor Council shows up* “We can give you a second to finish your meeting”
    44. Mariana: Mike and Michelle could do it?
    45. Katie G: There is a ton of yoga mats we could use to sit on.
    46. Devi: A few tables in the back for people with disabilities.
    47. Katie: I would like to decide more firmly on what our layout plan is. We had a meeting for over an hour last year on this same question of how to set up the space. Also, we need to let conference and events know because they are bringing in the chairs/tables. Also, there is always a craziness the day of Plenary I would like to have a better sense of how we want the space to look.  
    48. Maurice: I think all of us should be sitting together instead of just the Co-Pres and the Co-Secs. We have the same order for food–with the exception of chicken tenders. Anything else on the statement of values? Who is the point person?
    49. Jason: I can help write.
    50. Katie: Can we also have a space planner point person as well?
    51. Devi: Yes, I can.
    52. Ethan: I can help too.
    53. Maurice: People floating the mic
      1. Katie G and Jacob
    54. Maurice: Typing up signs and print for each position
    55. Devi: I can.
    56. Katie: Upstairs conference room monitor? Food point person
    57. Maurice: Julia can be the upstairs person.I can get Mike and Michelle to monitor Quorum.
    58. Katie: Okay, everyone can help with chairs and we will defer to Devi for how to setup the space.
    59. Marucie: What time for setting up?
    60. Katie: 1pm.
    61. Maurice: We will meet after Plenary with Town Hall and Ford Form updates since we ran out of time.

*These minutes reflect summaries written by Katie Leiferman ‘20 and Mariana Ramirez ‘20, Students’ Council Co-Secretaries. Questions/comments? Email or submit to the Ford Form.