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3/3/2019 Students’ Council Meeting Minutes

Students’ Council Weekly Meeting

Sunday 3 March 2019

5:15 PM – 7: 25 PM

Minutes by Katie Leiferman and Mariana Ramirez*

Meeting Minutes

Table of Contents

  1. Attendance
  2. Town Hall Goals
  3. Town Hall Logistics
  4. Town Hall Agenda


  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. Absent: Marked with Red
    3. Late: Marked with Orange
    4. Guests: Mike Elias and Michelle Leao
  2. Town Hall
    1. Maurice: Katie and Mariana, you met with SWOL do you want to share anything?
    2. Katie: It was a meeting between customs committee and SWOL just to increase communication between the two groups.
    3. Mariana: I think we have realized there are two major parts of this conversation–one is about the ideological point of should we pay customs and another is about how we should find the money/models used to pay.
    4. Katie: I think both sides think it’s better to focus on the ideological point in terms of the town hall–whether customs should be paid, the question of what counts as labor vs service etc
    5. Mike: The process of paying people has come up but we also realize that everyone is still not convinced about customs being paid. Perhaps the latter conversation could happen in a different setting? We need to get an idea of how many people we are talking about who want to be paid/don’t–what the numbers are. We want you all to know the numbers in terms of money and have transparency so that you all know some information beforehand.
    6. Ethan: I attended SWOL’s meeting earlier in the week. Largely, they wanted to wait after the Town Hall to see what will happen. They want admin feedback to move forward. They are coming prepared to address admin concerns.
    7. Mike: If it seems like the folks coming to the conversation are split in terms of pay and not pay–do you imagine doing some community vote?
    8. Maurice: what do folks think?
    9. Jhoneidy: I think having a poll would be a good move, a third of campus is involved in customs we should have a general sense. This affects the logistics of paying them. There would be a change in on-hall dynamic if we paid Customs people, and that is something that hasn’t been clearly discussed. I think a poll should be done after we clarify what the positions are and what each entails.
    10. Jacob: I agree that it is important to gauge how the community feels but I think we have to be careful about the paid/not paid dichotomy. This week at FYDC, we talked about it for a while, and there were a lot of interesting ideas about how pay-adjacent models (ex: pay customs people for customs week and not the whole year). I am worried this dichotomy is a trap and is limiting.
    11. Maurice: We do know that SWOL suggested $9500. Is that still right for the people who met with them?
    12. Katie: Their numbers reflect an ideal situation to strive towards from what I understand.
    13. Katie G: i did hear from someone that alumni have some very strong opinions about the issue. I’m not sure at what point their voices would come in.
    14. Mike: I had lunch with IA and they want to make sure that we have some sort of documentation (minutes) that they can refer to. It’s mostly the alums from the 80’s and 90’s who see the Customs work as a part of service and a rite of passage.
    15. Andrew: For Mike, what is the mechanism to actualize this idea of paying Customs, is it actually a campus-wide referendum?
    16. Mike: I don’t think so. If you felt the conversation is robust enough tomorrow to get all the perspectives, you would have to find some way to vote as a campus. I think the challenge with this from the SLO, the program is running at this size because students’ have never wanted to make it smaller. For chipping away at the size, we keep getting push back.
    17. Tina: To jump in, Rachel and Saumya chipping it down to one PAF and one HCO, we got so much push back last year. It made it more manageable and efficient and we could expand the budget for Customs. I think people are so used to the numbers and the large group. Once we got the numbers down, we still had to run multiple rounds of applications and it comes down to apathy and it is hard to get people to apply right now. Especially the sophomores and frosh and juniors, there is an ideological shift in terms of how they see their Customs people.
    18. Maurice: Can you expand?
    19. Tina: Me, Andrew, and Katie G did a lot for the program and never once did we think we should be getting paid. But Me and Madeline struggled a lot with that and our committee. Some of those people are now involved in SWOL I believe. There was a lot of CPs and UCAs who wanted to be in apartments because it means you can be off the meal plan, so for this reason we turned away a lot of UCAs because we couldn’t fit them all there. We had no other form of compensation for them so we had to let them go. In that case I think there should be compensation. You have to consider what counts and what doesn’t count as labor.
    20. Mike: It would have to be stipend-based. In hearing all of you, I don’t know what the best way to start the Town Hall would be. This was initially brought to us as about compensation, but this is tied to a conversation of service vs. work. I’m worried that the entire time is going towards the ideological and not the financial piece. The reality is that 150 people are fed for three days for Pre-Customs, then frosh come and we pay for their meals + Customs people (10 days of food). A lot of ways to get creative in how you do that.
    21. Michelle: So, the budget that we have to use for allocating to pay is out of that food budget. So right now we pay 150 people for 10 days, the money that comes from that could be cutting the number of Customs days or the number of people. Or both. If you want more than 1,000$ you need a cut on both. Or, we could eliminate the programing but that takes all the fun events out of Customs.
    22. Mike: The only other thing we have discussed is that it is not easy to fill 6 days of programming to keep everyone occupied. There is a worthwhile discussion about moving people in a day later, cut a day on the other end, have half a day, etc.
    23. Katie: Can you speak to why the money should come out of the Customs budget?
    24. Michelle: I’m not sure what other budget they are expecting this money to come out of? The only other budget I’m thinking students have control over is students’ organizations which would mean half of what they’re looking for?
    25. Mike: There is a difference between capital investment and operation investment. Capital is one time large investment like VCAM. The component of that that becomes operational is the upkeep and operation yearly. Paying Customs folk is an operational cost. If we invest, we would never close that gap. That’s not sustainable because we cannot uphold that cost. It has to come from an operational perspective. The only budget we have is the Customs Budget. The conversation has to be about what happens when there is a crisis response in the residence hall, and that is where the argument for compensation should happen–do you need 150 people to do that? No.
    26. Tina: Going off of that, I think the culture around Customs is to do as much as you can which is everything 24/7 for frosh. That just isn’t sustainable for anyone. 75% of people in customs have had someone do that for them so they want to give back. But, they realize it is unsustainable, and then they begin to get frustrated, question what they are benefitting from. I want the culture to shift here on boundaries–where people aren’t expected to do things like that. What people are doing right now is not part of their job description, and they can’t get mad at admin for something that isn’t about admin, students are choosing to do this.
    27. Mike: I agree.
    28. Katie G: I think that speak to a culture shift that everyone is trying to address, especially in the wellness projects. You shouldn’t have to be the mental health specialist on your hall. So many students on this campus become the only source of support for their friends while also dealing with their own mental health.
    29. Maurice: I think that the concept of compensation then blends nicely with the idea of delineating responsibilities. If you chose to do more, that is your choice. Would it be relevant to go over the financials now in preparation for the meeting? Also who will be there?
    30. Michelle: Us, Martha, Katrina, Nate, Martinez.
    31. Mike: Going back to your point, to change that approach/culture you need to change the structure.
    32. Maurice: Going back to what Katie and Mariana were saying in terms of ideological rift–It sounds like from what you were saying, it is almost not worth having a conversation about financial models if people can’t agree on paying.
    33. Mariana: I don’t think there is an ideological rift between Customs Co & SWOL, but the point of contention is what getting paid looks like and the implications of that.
    34. Katie: I disagree, I don’t think SWOL and CC are on the same page ideologically about whether Customs people should be paid. I don’t think SWOL sees that it is worth debating the financials at the Town Hall because administration can just say the money isn’t there at the end of the day, and there isn’t enough financial transparency for students to argue back.
    35. Mike: The reality is that they proposed a financial model that is not feasible. So in an attempt to respond, there would have to be some conversation about the money. If we agree to pay but not what they wanted, we are going to go back to the same conversation.
    36. Ethan: I think a lot of these conversations have to happen outside of the Town Hall.
    37. Katie: I think it would be most helpful to clarify what is at play. We need to increase communication between groups so that what the logistics of each decision would entail. For example, not everyone knows the legal changes that would apply if we paid Customs folk and how their role would shift because of being a paid employee of the college.
    38. Mike: If that is shared, and people are on board for a higher level of accountability, I don’t feel we can get any. If you are not happy with what the finances look like, you would not want to go ahead with that.
    39. Mike: What is the sense of the room re: Town Hall structuring.
    40. Julia: You said something about coming to a decision, why has this problem intensified so dramatically over the last few weeks regarding this Customs? Why do we need to decide this now?
    41. Maurice: That is where Customs Committee is at. At plenary, SWOL got around 500 signatures and gained momentum. Customs was already having an application issue, and then SWOL tried to use that situation to their benefit.
    42. Mike: I also think that we have been trying to reduce the size of the program over time. Customs is a full operational endeavor from now to the rest of the summer. We cannot go through every year with the same issue. If the conversation continues every year trying to get applicants, at some point we need to make a decision on it. It is clearly impacting people’s work and how we interview and how we hire.  It cannot be an ongoing issue–we need to address what is at hand. There is far too much time invested into the mobilization of the program to continue to debate it, but not do anything about it.
    43. Katie G: It just seems like it is too soon to be talking numbers when there is such a divide about whether this is what students want?
    44. Michelle: I agree we need some sort of campus consensus.
    45. Katie G: Or even CC consensus
      1. *Julia leaves early
    46. Michelle: The reality is that this program does still need to happen next fall. We need to accept applicants and let them know when they are supposed to travel here. Trying to be as communicative as possible with dates, if we don’t have that info it slows down the rest of the process.
    47. Mike: I just want to clarify, that this has happened every single year. Nothing is new in terms of not getting enough applicants. Something has been prompting this for a while, we need to own that.
    48. Ethan: This is a logistics question–are there other offices that could divert money to this effort? I know this question is going to come up.
    49. Katie: Like why you can’t just half the president’s budget and get the money, I think that way of framing money is very common and will come up.
    50. Mike: We don’t need to convene a Town Hall to do that. Of course, people can discuss cutting his salary, but that is not a feasible request. I doubt that other departments will look to divert funds for this effort. I don’t know what offices would even do that. And even doing that, these offices would then have a say in what they expect from customs.
    51. Sydney: One good way to frame the Town Hall would be admin vs not admin involved. If money becomes involved, admin has to be more involved in Customs–so that could be a central theme in Customs. One benefit of Customs is not having that involvement.
    52. Katie G: Or even using part of the Town Hall to set out what will change if payment/stipend/compensation occurs.
    53. Maurice: A way for the Town Hall to start–based on the previous one–it was divided between audience only speaking and then the speakers only speaking. This encourages listening to everyone. The most important part will be going over the financial models and the consequences of that and then hearing the responses. My issue with a poll is that not everyone that is there will have the same level of information to be able to make an informed decision. If you are not here now, if you are not going to the Town Hall, you will not have enough information to make a decision.
    54. Katie: It could also be helpful to make a “cheat sheet” that has all the nuances of each part of the argument (what is compensation? What is not?) that we could include with any poll. Like talk to all the parties, read the minutes, and create a sheet with the possible steps forward that we could take.
    55. Andrew: What will we do with the results of the poll? We can send out a poll, but we need to decide what to do with that.
    56. Ethan: What role do we play in this? Are we decision makers? It’s important to understand where we come in.
    57. Maurice: I think one of our role is to mediate community conversations.
    58. Katie: Isn’t it customs committee that has the final say about Customs?
    59. Andrew: Not in terms of the money decisions. Is SWOL going to be super obstinate? Or not open minded to other options? I don’t want to waste anyone’s time.
    60. Maurice: I think it goes back to what Mike has said. We can’t control how they use the space, we can create questions + structure + pragmatic place which we can control.
    61. Katie: In terms of them being obstinate, that is not my perception, I think we can have some productive conversations tomorrow.
    62. Jacob: If we presented ourselves as a third party could be helpful.
    63. Mike: You could take a middle ground position. Its a student-run program and you all represent the student body. It feels like the decision lies within all of you. Maybe if there is a component of what you are comfortable with and what you are not, you can then debate that.
    64. Maurice: How quickly of a turn around do we need on this?
    65. Michelle: For now, we will continue the normal process for Customs with interviews and applications
    66. Katie G: Would it be beneficial to have a discussion with SC after Town Hall and Co-Heads of CC and SWOL? To have all three parties in one room would be beneficial.
    67. Maurice: We have the space reserved until 10. If we wanted to break out, we could have a post TH on productive conversations on how to move forward.
    68. Mike: You could all do a Special Plenary. I think it is important for all the pros and cons to be heard and fleshed out thoroughly. We need to have some kind of recommendation.
    69. Maurice: We will send you both the structure of the Town Hall after our meeting tonight.
      1. *Mike & Michelle leave
  3. Town Hall Logistics Planning
    1. Maurice: Who are the stakeholders?
      1. SWOL, Customs Committee, Admin/Student Life Office, Incoming frosh, potential customs folks, Student Council, alumni
      2. Dc Basement 7-8:30pm
    2. Maurice: What are the goals of this conversation?
      1. Tina: I think it is important to define what the responsibilities and expectations are of future Customs People that are getting paid.
      2. Andrew: We should also establish the facts. What are the positions? What are the financial models?  We want to make sure we are all working from the same page.
      3. Katie G: Also the repercussions of payment/compensation in general
      4. Jhoneidy: Coming to agreement on whether Customs counts as a job vs volunteer work. I think we could go into the space with that spirit–this conversation about service vs work (meta question)
    3. Maurice: What is SWOL’s stake in this?
      1. Ethan: Their whole drive is 4 points including increasing the minimum wage of students. This might be one of their more paramount concerns.
    4. Maurice: Whose voices are the most unheard? Who is not being heard right now?
      1. Katie G: Customs Committee
      2. Maurice: Who isn’t listening to them? Who isn’t being heard by who?
      3. Katie G: Potential customs members.
      4. Jhoneidy: Has SWOL been in touch with Customs Committee?
      5. Katie: The meeting today.
      6. Tina: Was that the first one?
      7. Katie: Yes.
      8. Jacob: In the town hall I hosted a while back, the consensus is that a select few are leading the charge for paying Customs people rather than the people actually applying this year. This was not something that was thought of as an issue in my class.
      9. Maurice: So potential applicants feel they aren’t being heard?
      10. Jacob: Yes potential and actual applicants. I guess it isn’t that they aren’t heard, but are being drowned out.
      11. Tina: Has there been any communication between SWOL or CC with potential applicants? Someone I know who is a PAF and wants to be one again, hasn’t heard anything about timeline/Customs info.
      12. Maurice: This raises the question of how effective is SWOL actually?
      13. Katie: I think SWOL recognizes that there was a lot of apathy again for applications and so they used that moment for the boycott.
      14. Tina: Every year, one position gets more applicants than others.
      15. Alejandro: Doesn’t SWOL have a list?
      16. Ethan: They had a list of applicants that were going to pull their application last Friday. I heard 10, but this is not a set number. They are still recruiting people.
      17. Katie: Which they agreed to move back until after the Town Hall (rescinding the applications).
      18. Maurice: What makes sense to be heard first? We are not coming out with a finite decision.
      19. Jacob: I think the record needs to be set straight and I don’t want that to get bogged down.
      20. Alejandro: Could we do that in terms of giving a brief overview? Talking about the budget.
      21. Andrew: I agree we need to set the record straight.
  4. Town Hall Agenda
    1. Maurice: We could open with intro, the guidelines, why we are here, and then move toward opening up the space for admin. We could then let Martha/SLO team give an overview of the budget and size.
    2. Andrew: I think people will go into this not as a stakeholder but rather as an interested member of the community and will want to hear more information. Do you all think SWOL will have a presentation or agenda or will they be a member of the community.
    3. Maurice: I don’t think SWOL should be speakers.
    4. Katie: I think they should
    5. Jhoneidy: I want to echo that they should.
    6. Ethan: What they are proposing is actually not that public knowledge. Unless you are on the email list or you have friend in SWOL, their statements haven’t been that public.
    7. Andrew: I think there should be a difference between people presenting facts vs opinions.
    8. Katie: They have numbers and information they have provided.
    9. Maurice: My issue is they are a student interest group, but they aren’t like Customs or Admin or a group that has a final say. I envision the table as a presentation of facts and I don’t view SWOL in that light.
    10. Ethan: My thing is then, should CC be up there? If they are up there they are presenting their perspective not facts, so making that the deciding factor for who is there doesn’t make sense.
    11. Maurice: Should CC be there?
    12. Jhoneidy: They should, they are heavily involved in the ongoings of Customs.
    13. Tina: I don’t think Customs Co-Heads should be up there because I don’t want them conflated with admin. We ultimately do not have a lot of power other than allocating some parts of the budget.
    14. Maurice: So table could be Martha, SLO team, Nate and Michael Martinez?  I think that also tailors more towards the goals of the conversation. Especially if the Town Hall is supposed to be a bit more informative rather than abstract/theoretical. In terms of agenda, after intros and fact presentation what should we jump into?
    15. Syndey: I think SWOL and Customs Committee should also have allocated time to speak.
    16. Maurice: Also, should the financial models be a part of the initial presentation? Or should that come later?
    17. Jhoneidy: I see pros and cons for both. Depending on when that information is presented will likely determine where the conversation goes.
    18. Maurice: So is everyone in favor of the alloted time for SWOL to present? This could include demands, what they have been up to, etc.,
      1. *Yes*
    19. Katie G: Katie, do you think it would be useful to have CC talk? If they are not on the same page right now, what space would that be taking?
    20. Maurice: I think an important part of their perspective is how the current situation has impacted them. Though, does it necesitate a space for them to speak out about where they are at? Or can that be looped in to general concerns?
    21. Katie: I don’t think we represent one unified front. I think people have perspectives and the Town Hall is a place where individuals can share those perspectives.
    22. Andrew: I assume people will have questions about clarification and feasibility. If we are not trying to achieve a consensus or decision, we could have them both speak and then open it up to members of the community.
    23. Ethan: I think it would be helpful to focus on getting clarifying questions from the community. I’m sure people will have questions to SWOL and to SLO.
    24. Maurice: I like the portion Katie and Mariana had where we had open speech.
    25. Andrew: I think people want answered questions.
    26. Katie G: I also think financial models might make sense after this. I know we need space for clarifying questions, but they could also be fit in somewhere else.
    27. Maurice: I think SWOL will present their point of view regardless.
    28. Maurice: I think Ethan was saying that it makes sense to have clarifying questions there, since people might have questions for SWOL. I think admin will have some commentary about broader campus apathy, previous applicant pools, other information, etc. It makes sense to have this as a point to pause for clarification, than move into models for how to move forward. What would make sense next?
    29. Sydney: At that point, we can open the floor to free form discussion/Q&A
    30. Alejandro: Should we still discuss the responsibilities of what customs entails?
    31. Maurice: In their presentation of financial models, we can have what that looks like.
    32. Ethan: I think it is also important to give space for students to voice  their concerns and then have a separate section for questions.
    33. Maurice: We can break that up.
    34. Ethan: I would hesitate to give a general response at the end, because then there could be misinformation that just hangs out in the space for a period of time. I don’t know how to combine need to clarify facts versus giving everyone voice.
    35. Maurice: To get a sense for the weight of the room, how does it make sense to end? A weight of the room type feeling? How people feel about the models?
    36. Jhoneidy: What if we had boards around the room for thoughts? That way it is anonymous.
    37. Katie G: We can also provide post-it notes at the beginning. And we can collect them at the end as people are leaving.
    38. Maurice: What would the prompt be for these post-it notes?
    39. Andrew: Jacob just brought up the point that we only have a 90 minute framework and we have a lot to cover.
    40. Maurice: We can have a debrief afterwards with Customs Committee heads.

*These minutes reflect summaries written by Katie Leiferman ‘20 and Mariana Ramirez ‘20. Questions/comments? Email or submit to the Ford Form.

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