Wesleyan Student Assembly — Wesleyan University
WSA Minutes: 10/5/2008
Open Forum: Nothing.
First Agenda: Saul:
- Saul gives out report from Board of Trustees Retreat
- Board comes to Wesleyan a total of four times
- Retreat—First meeting. Less formal, sets agenda to year. Normally without substantial issues.
- Due to economy, board did discuss issues in depth.
- Molecular and Life Sciences building will not be built at pace expected.
- Board Meeting Agenda: Joe Bruno provided University Update.
- John Meerts gave in-depth finance report. Endowment down 4%/$100 lower than it should be. Good news on budget reduction.
- Barbara-Jan Wilson—annual fund goal to be frozen at $17.6 million for next five year.
- Michael Roth—brainstorming session to enhance revenue. Ideas included programs to use University facilities in the summer.
- Roth—long-range plans: science and environment programs, engineering, Green St Arts, financial aid.
- Board then split into committees. Becky: Campus Affairs discussed agenda for the year. Chris: Finance oriented new board members to how college finance works. (Finance 101 tutorial proposed.) Future of woodframes, financial aid. Jen: Woodframes will not be phased out, but will be centralized in future. Saul: UR set agenda for year. Discussed how to make younger alumni give more. (“In The Heights” type fundraisers and events.)
- Other highlights included a lively discussion of the role of athletics in fundraising. Jen: Becky and I went to a conference to learn how to set up a task force for a Committee for Investor Responsibility. Proposal for CIR on website. Will meet with a working group, trying to get faculty members and students on said group.
Stack Opens—Discussion on the report on Board Retreat.
- David Markowitz: Is it worth asking Roth about engineering?
- Karl: Harvard changed their financial aid policy—clarify?
- Saul: At Harvard, family can make 200k. Board did not see that as according to Wes’s values. Our peers can also beat us if we wanted to do that.
- Justin: Clarify endowment drop?
- Saul: Clarifies—we lost money.
- Justin: Are we looking to keep budget restrictions at same drop?
- Saul: Yes.
- Meherazade: Why put the money we do into annual fund?
- Saul: U. practice. We have higher AF, lower endowment than peers.
- Chris Goy: Silver lining—BJ Wilson says AF $ hardest to raise. The fact that we do this better than our peers is an unsavory reality, but we’re doing a good job of raising the hardest dollars. Despite economic downturn, UR is working well and we are planning ahead for capital campaign.
- Jeff Stein: Any indication of when we’ll get info on where endowment stands?
- Saul: Later…quarterly.
- Jeff: Follow-Up-fany proposal to change strategy if budget looks like it’ll be in the red?
- Saul: Budget reduction will continue and new revenue enhancement will be sought. Further info when budget priorities committee meets.
- Justin: Yields.
- Becky: Who is budget increasing transparency for?
- Chris Goy: answers question.
- Justin: Future of Green St?
- Saul: Budget cut were presented. Board was curious as to what Green St. was costing. Issues seemed to be whether GS adds value to U or community. No discussion of cutting it.
- (Lots of people go “Ummmm…”)
- Saul: Board members were negative towards it, but they are looking to find ways to add value to University.
- Ally: What does creative campus mean?
- Saul: Proposal from Mellon foundation. Foster creativity on campus and amongst students.
- Ally: That’s vague.
- Saul: Institutional priorities by definition are vague. It will be clarified in time. Roth thinks arts and creativity are important.
- Ally: So that’s a good question to ask tonight.
- Saul: Yes.
- Bradley clarifies Robert’s Rules
- Benedict: GS: not a negative conversation. New MGMT means less $ needs to be spent. If GS is not spun off soon, U is not committed to keeping it open. Short-term commitment to keep it open. Roth says biggest fear is we will get the Mellon Grant. Definitely ask about that.
- Mike Pernick: Endowment draw. Now at 5.5%. Used to be at 7.9%. We were able to lower it through budget cuts. Three rounds. This year is third year; cuts do not effect student life this year. Most cuts were admin staff (not over hiring.) Now we will have further budget cuts to maintain 5.5% draw. We should be cognizant of future cuts affecting students. Where is the fat to cut? It is good that we will have a seat at the table.
- Candace: Who decides 7 institutional priorities? What is “strengthening undergrad experience?”
- Saul: 1. Roth. 2. Research support for students, multidisciplinary classes 3. Capstone. Also, make it easier to go abroad, more internat’l students. Regional diversity not discussed. Dean of Admission says it was a priority.
- Happy birthday Morgan!
- URLC working on unlocking Hewitt/Nic doors.
- Morgan/Becky met with Dean Danny for Student of Color Committee.
- AOD will have full committee meeting soon.
- Ben Firke met with Dr. Coughlan for SABH.
- SPLAT met.
Becky: Fountain Ave. will have recommendations next Sunday.
- Ali joined Procurement/Waste and Recycling Sustainability subcommittees.
- Chris C: Hanging student art around campus.
- Transport discussed New Haven shuttle outsourcing. Larger shuttles, price increase of a few dollars, but it’s worth it. Zipcar—will finalize proposal this year. Major roadblock: backup funding.
- Jen had Major Maintenance meeting tomorrow at 8 AM.
- Jen attended Responsible Endowment Coalition meeting this weekend with Becky.
- Justin: Laundry problems at vine? Jen: We’ll deal with it this week.
- Becky: Why raise the price for shuttle? Jen: Will not be above $8 each way.
- Benedict: Nothing in report.
- Saul: What did EPC do this week?
- Benedict: We did stuff.
- Jeff: It was a Jewish holiday. But we followed up on previous meetings.
- Saul: What things?
- Benedict: Oversubscription proposals.
- Jeff: Mike Sciola—academic credit for internships, independent studies.
- Chris G: There is a program called Ed. In Field if you want credit, but you have to pay.
- Jeff: Lot of dept’s don’t give credit for Ed. In Field.
Chris Goy: SBC
- Chris: It’s all up there on the screen.
- Saul: Situation with Film Hall?
- Chris: U created FH a few years ago. We’ve run into intellectual property rights. U was threaten with lawsuit by distributors of Black Snake Moan. Question is where does money for film rights come from? Chris will firmly put foot down—if the U didn’t plan for the $, SBC has no interest in giving it to them.
- Justin: FH description on ResLife site says nothing about showing films.
- Saul: Did you look at that before or after suit?
- Justin: Day of Argus article.
- Meherezade: All campus email?
- Chris: Tomorrow:
- Candace: Right issue effects all public viewings. Issue for Wash. St, RA’s. Cannot invite people from other houses, showing have to be in individual rooms, without a whole hall.
- Benedict: Can I watch a movie in the lounge?
- Candace: Only by self or with a few friends. Cannot advertise.
- PSAC met. Adopt A PSafe officer, MPD substation. Brian Langenmayer will be non-WSA rep on PSAC.
- Karl: MPD sub will just be used for interviewing students.
- Discussed 190 High.
- Discussed block party.
- Candace: Psafe forum on Tuesdays
- Mike: More info on substation? Always an MPD officer in PSafe building? Right now, it is U’s decision to call PSafe. Does the MPD officer know when PSafe is called? Andy Tanaka: set up program where students can ride shotgun with PSafe officers. And Bike-Co-op?
- Karl: I have a meeting scheduled about the bikes.
- Cesar: See me after meeting for student concerns about PSafe inactivity for break-ins.
- Saul: Wes has a bike-co-op. Lots of issues to deal with new co-op program. Elise—Wes students on town council subcommittees?
- Elise: It was suggested that Wes students sit as non-voting members on town council committees. Should we look in WSA or out?
- Chris: Made a funny joke.
- Benedict: I don’t understand Cesar’s burglary claims. There’s been a lot of horror stories, but PSafe has been fairly good in my experience.
- Bradley—out of order.
- Bradley: Don’t check facebook on your laptops, especially when Roth is here.
ROTH ENTERS at 8 PM.
Andy Tanaka, class of 2005, introduces self.
Roth: Discusses culture of Board of Trustees. Last year, board was used more as a problem-solving group to deal with issues on campus. Danger is the Board is only here a few weekends a year. Input is sporadic, but provides ideas from individuals passionate about Wes. Last year discussed communications, admissions values. Retreat this year was more freeform, informal. Last year Roth set about changing financial aid packages. This year, trustees discussed failing economy. Arrived with questions on how this affects the U’s fundraising. Over the last several months, the Admin has been discussing the U’s finances; not just the fiscal crisis, but the long-term fiscal/fundraising strategy. Last spring, Roth said we were overspending too much on an annual basis. There was a “frank exchange of views” on the finance situation, and we are trying to create a new model for departmental reports and goals for the year for the Board.
- Candace: Where does regional diversity fall in admissions priorities?
- Roth: We want to expand our influence beyond where we are already known. (South, Southwest, etc.) We have taken steps to change that by reaching into different networks of low-income applicants and using alumni in other regions to expand recognition in other parts of the country. Texas is a huge market full of great students, for example. Internationalization is also a big issue.
- Ali: What do you mean by “creative campus?”
- Roth: People say Wes is full of creative students. However, we do not always fulfill that promise. More accessible intro courses are needed in arts—we need more instructors in the arts. More sections in creative writing, drawing, etc. We also need to integrate arts into other departments, such as science and social studies. I am also interested in identifying courses in all depts that enhance students’ creative potential. We should find out how creativity serves students in anthropology and econ dept.
- David M: What sort of shape will an engineering program take?
- Roth: I don’t know a lot of engineering. I can’t build with legos. But I’ve talked with physicists and chemists who know a lot about engineering and the skill engineers will need. It’s a new idea and we’re still floating it around. Infrastructure needs, alt. energy, lots of future disciplines need students. There’s money there. College of Environment seems to call for a greater understanding of how technology and nat science intersect. Roth is beginning to hear that a cross-section of disciplines are forming in areas with job growth. Why aren’t we there? A liberal arts approach to engineering will be useful in future and in future job markets. What does it mean to have lib arts approach to engineering? Can we offer courses in chemistry/physics etc cross-linked with engineering. We also don’t offer a design program. Design calls for a lib arts approach. But a dose of reality—to do these new things, we have to cut old things.
- Allison Cies: Financial aid was discussed at retreat. What has university done at the retreat to help aid and loans?
- Roth: We need to help students get the loans they need. In the last 10 days, the credit crunch has gotten worse. We need to monitor status of individual students. Lessen requirements for loans. We have to match students with agencies that provide credit.
- Justin: I know your commitment is strong to financial aid. Even with economy, will you continue your support.
- Roth: I’d like to say yes, but it wouldn’t be honest to commit to something that requires $ if we don’t have $. But as of now, we have the ability to maintain and in the future expand these programs. It is a matter of cutting programs and funding others. Economics is about trade-offs and the board is discussing those. But over time I hope we will be able to expand financial aid, and financial aid will be one of the top priorities in the next capital campaign. Access to Wes is a fundamental value.
- Chris Goy: A president 50 years ago said that the current student will never understand what the alum does. Past alums, stereotypically speaking, were not as liberal as they are now. How do we keep past alums connected?
- Roth: Alums don’t necessarily give or not give money based on students’ political beliefs. But “liberal” is relative. A lot of it is press portrayal. The same issues come up with U of Chicago Core, etc. As long as students are challenged and stimulated, alums will support that. It is important that there is political diversity at Wesleyan, though. But there is no place at Wes for homophobia, sexism, or racism.
- Julian: 4 institutional priority suggestions. 1. Commitment to environment. 2. Closer contacts with professors in research, social sciences, humanities. Closer personal contacts between students and professors. More advisor/student meetings, office hours. 3. Diversity—there is a feeling of social fragmentation. Should admissions prioritize students who will bring their talents to many fields?
- Roth: 1. College of environment idea is a step in this direction. We’re finalizing job description for director of sustainability. We need sustainable energy. 2. We need more opportunities to involve students in all research. Create a fund for summer research projects for students. Grad programs in arts and writing. 3. Yes, we have generated micro-communities. Our housing program unintentionally contributes to that with affinity groups. Community-building events must come from students. We need to build community with the faculty as well. We had a lunch where the faculty shared their research.
- Justin: 1. Now that we’ve seen delays in the molecular and life sciences building, will we have delays in recruiting those students?
- Roth: No. Even if we were on schedule, the building wouldn’t be completed for years. We attract science students based on the quality of our science education.
- Justin: 2. What is your admin’s commitment to student/Middletown relations as well as the Green St. Arts Center?
- Roth: We have students doing all kinds of great programs. My commitment is to develop relationships with all of our community outreach programs and integrate them into the U and its mission. Green St: set up as quasi-independent organization, but still part of U. How well does it affect the Wes students as opposed to the town? How does the program help Wes by helping Middletown?
- Allison Cies: Wachovia is limiting access to 1,000 colleges and their funds. Are we one?
- Roth: Yes. But we’ve modeled it out, and students will not notice anything. It was a shock, thought. Many very credit-worthy organizations were affected by this.
- Jen: Did you do any follow up on our discussion of molecular/life science program?
- Roth: I was in touch with dean of sciences that night. We scheduled a time to meet with faculty, and there was a good turnout. What we can’t predict now is when we will have the best economic situation to begin development. We will not start until we have the $$ to finish. U has a long history of spending money in the present that is meant for the future. (Art center.)
- Karl: Out of pure self-interest, what steps have we taken to make sure legislation has been passed to help us?
- Roth: Have you read about the CT budget? There is a huge budget deficit right now. There is no money for earmarks to “Bridge to Butterfield,” but we are involved in dialogues with the State, especially in regards to financial aid. We are also talking with our representative in Washington.
- Candace: How is the U combating misinformation in US News/Princeton Review that is detrimental to our reputation?
- Roth: I encourage you all to write into the “unigo” founder to circulate good information. Like how Dartmouth combated the “Animal House” image, we must only speak about the qualities we want to talk about. We like to shoot the messenger, but US News does point to some problems. We are trying to create smaller classes (and pay for it) for example.
- Allison Cies: Is Wesleyan considering increasing tuition?
- Roth: No. We always consider increasing and decreasing our tuition, but we will try to maintain it at its current level in the economic crisis.
ROTH LEAVES AT 9.
- Website had an outage, but it was resolved.
- Most of OEAC has been trained to update website.
- Blog will go up today, including a short summary of what happened in meeting.
- Looking to redesign website, brainstorm major changes.
- Looking for NYT speakers to benefit readership program.
- Proposals for UR and Admission advisory committees.
- OEAC will have 2nd seat on website redesign committee, and the WSA will create a student focus group for the website.
- Feel free to email Brad for changes in WSA meeting formats.
- Questions: Jen: How many hits does the website have?
- Brad: We don’t know for sure, but it’s low. We will install a counter when we install the blog.
- Jen: There were blurbs on Wesleying before the meeting last year…
- Saul: They were after the meetings, but we will try to start having weekly meeting previews.
- Justin: Minutes?
- Saul: They will be posted soon.
- David: ITS says they have a counter for every Wesleyan.edu site.
- Brad: I talked to Pat Leone. We will pay attention once the site is updated.
- Karl: Google analytics?
- Brad: ITS uses it.
- WSA endowment will be discussed next week.
Benedict Introduces New Resolution.
- AAC is introducing a resolution that will codify the process for choosing a student commencement speaker for the future.
- Senior class officers will form a committee with faculty marshal and the class dean as advisor.
- 2 amendments on phrasing.
- Benedict wants the senior class officers to choose, but would support putting it to a senior-class wide vote.
- Saul: Encourages all WSA members to read the resolution over.
- Brad: It will be sent out tonight, potentially voted on next week.
- Benedict: Read it carefully.
- Brad: This is a generally controversial idea.
- Mike—Dinner with Dean Mike will be rescheduled for next week.
- Brad: November the 2nd, before election day, we’ll ask all WSA members to dedicate 3 hours on Sunday for a partisan or non-partisan campaign, or for community service, in lieu of a meeting.
- Jeff: Do you have a list of non-partisan efforts in Middletown?
- Brad: Yes. There will be a list of options.
WSA Party: Saul—Details will be set.
1. Student Budget Committee
Our weekly allocation hearing occured again this past Monday
- $289,609 was requested.
- $115, 820 was allocated.
- The Senior Class Officers were fully-funded in the $82,000 request. While only $2,000 over last year's allocation, they were able to lower ticket prices from $190 to $120.
- That is all.
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2. Organization and External Affairs Committee
Publicity and clarifying the public record
- OEAC took the lead on correcting some of the misconceptions that had been communicated in the Argus and on Wesleying about the commencement resolution. We made a clarifying post on Wesleying, sent out an all-campus email, and dropped flyers under the doors of senior houses and apartments. We also got a correction from the Argus in Friday’s paper.
-OEAC has started to put up flyers advertising Independent Projects.
- ITS committee met on Friday, which Cesar chaired.
- Ben is putting together the web redesign focus group. Please contact him if you are interested in providing feedback on the new Wesleyan homepage.
Webpage and blog
- OEAC researched student assembly home pages from 12 peer schools and compiled them into a list of suggestions for changes to our web page. Contact Saul with additional ideas.
- The first blog post went up last week, and this week we are having a post spotlighting SAC’s current initiatives.
3. Finance and Facilities
- grab-and-go options will be expanded at Summerfields
- discussed getting to-go for dinner at the Marketplace and will have a discussion with higher-ups soon
- Thanksgiving dinner at the Marketplace will be really sweet
- Any earlier opening time for Pi on Saturdays will hopefully start second semester
- Discussed 50 cent surcharge for to-go containers at Late-Night
added because most students were eating there
cost of container
Major Maintenance Leadership Committee
- approved list for 09-10
highlights coming soon! (not sure if still confidential)
Laundry Facilities issue addressed
- hopefully Vine laundry will be fixed soon
Recycling and Waste Subcommittee of the Sustainability Committee
- Discussed composting, recycling, President's Climate Commitment
Responsible Endowments Conference
- Jen and Becky attended
Learned lots and are very excited about starting the CIR!
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4. Community Outreach Committee
- Justin, Katie Shelly, and Elise will be working together to make the necessary improvements and will meet on Wednesday.
Block Party is being postponed
- We want it to be done well and feel that we cannot gather enough input from residents in time (before the weather gets cold).
Town Council committee seats
- Michelle and Liana are contacting the mayor’s office to see what seats are available for us to sit on.
COCo discussed its goals for the upcoming year. We’re particularly excited to achieve one of our goals, establishing a COCo identity.
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5. Academic Affairs Committee
AAC continued to work on the Commencement Speaker Resolution
- Benedict continued discussions with the Senior Class President about the resolutin.
- Benedict helped coordinate OEAC’s excellent campaign to educate students about the resolution. The AAC thanks OEAC for their help on this.
EPC met as usual on Monday
- We began a discussion of “outcomes assessment” (see below for more information) which will continue at this week’s Faculty Meeting and throughout the year.
Joe Rouse, Chair of the Faculty, sent out a Faculty Governance Report which he has allowed me to share here.
6. Student Affairs Committee
Undergraduate Residential Life Committee (URLC)
- The URLC voted to allow students to request to have the adjoining doors between singles in Nic 7 and Hewitt opened. Next year will be a trial year and students will be notified of this option during GRS this spring.
- We got an update on Major Maintenance.
- Dawn Brown provided an overview of the process to propose a new Program House. Next week we will be reviewing the evaluation criteria for current Program Houses. There will definitely be multiple spaces available for new houses.
Student Life Committee (SLC)
- Lisa Currie, director of Health Education, presented Core Institute survey data on alcohol and other drug use at Wesleyan. The SLC discussed the data and brainstormed issues that AOD should address this year.
Alcohol and Other Drugs (AOD)
- AOD had a full committee meeting at which all of the members of the AOD Core Committee and four AOD sub-committees got together to hear the committee’s charge from VP for Student Affairs Mike Whaley. The committee received a summary of the Core Institute survey data and discussed a long list of priorities for the year.
Student Health Advisory Committee (SHAC)
- SHAC is in charge of the hand washing campaign. There are hand sanitizers in ST lab, Has lab, Pac lab, Freeman athletic center, the Health Center, and the CFA. They are currently in the process of putting hand sanitizer in the Usdan Marketplace.
- They will be mailing flyers with sample hand sanitizer to students, as they did last year.
Student Pandemic Leadership and Training (SPLAT)
- SPLAT will be giving a presentation on the Friday of Homecoming weekend. They will discuss their work with ITS to prepare emergency tool kits for students, will be meeting with parents to discuss what their role would be if the school shut down, and will be meeting with students to inform them of the University’s emergency plan and how they can be prepared.
Campus Climate Log Committee
|Morgan Mc Cray||P||P|
The Commissioners met with the likes of Dean Mike, Dave Meyer, and the Fountain Ave. Working Group, and have also seen plenty of each other. We prepared our final proposals for this Sunday (temporary and hand-held camera policies, community relations ideas, general SJB and Code of Non-Academic Conduct recommendations, etc.) and continue to think about the last round of proposals due next Sunday (when PSafe can call MPD, student education, Social Event Policy, etc.).
We will be putting together comprehensive goal lists for the year
- If you have big projects or ideas or initiatives you’d like to take on, now would be a good time to start up
Dinner at Dean Mike’s
- It will now be Wednesday October 22 at 6PM - make sure you are free
The Fountain Avenue Working Group from the summer met with President Roth and answered his questions from the report. He was pleased with the report
|Name||EC meeting, Thursday October 9|
WSA Office Report
Activities in the office are progressing smoothly. We are having consistent traffic but not a lot of activity in the office outside of routine duties.
Appendix: Faculty Governance Report (AAC)
Educational Policy Committee
In addition to its usual ongoing responsibilities (including issues held over from last year, such as how to handle grades from study abroad), the Committee has identified three major topics for discussion this year:
1) reviewing the First Year Initiative program, and considering possible ways to strengthen its contribution to students education;
2) exploring the question of what forms might be taken by an expanded program for senior capstone experiences, and how such an expansion could be integrated within the degree requirements and the curriculum more generally;
3) discussion of a movement, led by accrediting agencies, granting agencies, and the federal government toward outcomes assessment. This last issue is not the Committees own initiative, but is instead an effort to understand how Wesleyan might respond to possible external expectations or impositions on this score, and how we might re-direct those demands in ways that are more consistent with our own understanding of this institution and its educational mission.
Compensation and Benefits Committee
The Committee will report later this semester on its discussions with the administration concerning faculty salaries and benefits. While we can anticipate that these discussions will take account of changing economic circumstances, it is too early to say how the current budget will be affected by these changes.
The Committee is also considering whether Wesleyans policies concerning summer salaries can be adjusted in ways that would permit some faculty receiving summer salary from outside grants to include additional funding for pension contributions from those grants.
The Committee has made some minor adjustments in how the University records and reports the award of University Honors, and will report briefly on these changes at the October 14 Faculty meeting.
The Faculty and its Executive Committee
One of my primary aims as Chair of the Faculty this year is to provide more opportunities in Faculty meetings to discuss issues of broad institutional significance.
This fall, the Executive Committee has planned three such occasions for discussion:
1) Next Tuesday, October 14, the Educational Policy Committee will take perhaps a half an hour to solicit our views and suggestions to help initiate their discussion of how to respond to external pressures for outcomes assessment. As I noted above, this is a very preliminary topic for the Committee; they are exploring what such assessment might involve, and how Wesleyan might re-direct such pressures in ways that would be constructive, rather than finding ourselves reacting belatedly to external impositions ill-suited to this institution. Depending upon time constraints, the Committee might also invite some initial comments about the other two large items on its agenda, the FYI program and the possibility of a capstone initiative.
2) Also on Tuesday, October 14, we will have an opportunity to begin discussing how the current economic situation may affect Wesleyan. This discussion will be initiated by a report from President Roth on the choices he presented to and discussed with the Trustees at last months retreat, and also by a report from Gil Skillman, the long-time Faculty representative to the Trustees Finance Committee. Gils report will primarily address how we as a Faculty should understand our responsibilities to look out for the long-term financial well-being of the institution.
3) On Tuesday, November 11, a large part of the meeting will be devoted to open discussion about the priorities we as a Faculty would like to see implemented in the Office of Admissions. While this discussion will be initiated by a brief report from Nancy Meislahn and her colleagues about how the Office currently understands its task, our aim is less to assess current practices, and more to consider questions of what we as a Faculty want to see in our student body. I participated last year in a similar discussion at the November Trustees meeting, and I (and President Roth, who proposed this topic) look forward to a vigorous discussion of our vision for the institution.