Fall Plenary, 2015: Minutes

Bryn Mawr College Fall 2015 Plenary

(September 20th, 2015)

Quorum reached at 1:20pm, Plenary officially began at 1:23pm

 

Charlie Bruce ’16: Hello Everyone! Welcome to Plenary! We’re going to start reading though the yellow packets, so please open up your booklets to page one. Our agenda is as follows- an overview of plenary, approval of the rules of order and agenda, then our first resolution, which is the recommendation for developing a sustainability fund. So, in 1892, Bryn Mawr College became the first institution in the U.S. to give students the responsibility to decide on how they should govern themselves. While it was considered a radical experiment, it has become one of the most valued aspects of the Bryn Mawr education. The tradition of student autonomy and responsibility has created a unique campus where students participate in discussion and resolution of the most important issues facing the College. Twice a year, students get the opportunity to present resolutions to the entire student body. The Spirit of Self Governance is a beautiful thing and should make all Mawrters proud. Plenary uses a form of communication based on Robert’s Rules of Order. They ensure that the will of the majority is done while protecting the voice of the minority. The rule of order may seem awkward and sometimes constraining, but it will limit chaos and personal attack. Please give your attention to the guidelines and follow them. In the long run, they will make Plenary run smoother and faster. Quorum is essential and required. This means that everyone must enter and exit from the side door of Goodhart. Votes are only valid if there is quorum. Each resolution will be presented as follows: Reading of the resolution by the presenter(s), explanation of the resolution by the presenter 3 minutes, floor open to questions and Pro/Con statements 12 minutes. During this time, questions are given priority. If amendment is presented, it is given an additional 8 minutes. The floor is open to Pro/Con statements for only 7 minutes. The rebuttal period for presenter of the proposal is 3 minutes. Then, we will be voting on the resolution. If there is discussion occurring at the microphones, then discussion will occur for at least 12 minutes as outlined above, before the question may be called. This is to ensure that a minimum discussion is given to all proposals, as the community has already warranted these resolutions worthy of discussion. If there is no discussion at the microphone, the SGA Executive Board will give a 30 second time limit for those who wish to speak to identify themselves by either approaching the microphone or alerting their section counter. If after the 30 seconds no one has announced that they wish to speak, the amendment or resolution will be voted upon. There will be a member of the SGA Executive Board moderating as well as another member keeping time for each resolution. One minute and 30 second warnings will be given for each timed period. In regards to speaking, if you wish to ask a question, please line up at the middle yellow microphone. If you wish to make a statement in favor of a proposal, please use the green microphone. If you wish to make a statement in opposition to a proposal, please use the red microphone. There will be a moderator at each microphone who will limit the number of people standing in line. Please keep your statements to one minute, so that everyone may have time to speak. Please listen carefully to the speakers to avoid asking the same question or making the same basic point. If you have already spoken on an issue, you will not be allowed to speak again until everyone else who desires to speak has done so. If you must talk while in your seat, please be considerate of those around you who may be trying to listen to the discussion. Most importantly, please be patient and respectful of all other members. Even though you might not agree with an idea, everyone has the right to speak and be heard. The President will call on microphones alternating Pro/Con. Only the people at microphones who are recognized by the President will be permitted to speak, and again, no one will be allotted more than one minute to the proposal. Voting is a right and privilege extended to all members of the Association. The options for exercising this right are pro, con, and abstain, which is if you have no opinion, or you feel like you don’t have enough information to provide an informed vote. For a motion to pass a majority of members present must vote pro. Please raise your hands high, and know who your counter is for your section. The President will ask that everyone return to their proper seat during a vote, as to make sure everyone is counted accurately. All votes will be done visually unless there the majority of the vote is unclear. If you believe you are not being counted, please see a counter or come to the front of the stage. Next, we’re going to move on to definitions. An amendment is an addition or change that is proposed to a resolution which is on the table for discussion. Please try to use language such as “strike,” “add,” and “replace with.” If the amendment strays too much from the original intent of the proposal, the President may declare the amendment to be out of scope, or outside of the resolution’s jurisdiction or purpose. After an amendment is presented, it must be seconded at a microphone by another member of the Association, and is then open for debate. At this time, all discussion regarding the original resolution ceases to allow adequate attention to be given to the amendment. If you are speaking to the main resolution during this time, the President may request you to come back to the microphone when debate on the main resolution resumes. Motion to extend time needs a simple majority for approval. When making the motion, please specify a length at which time shall be extended, so for example, 4 more speakers, 5 minutes, etc. It must be made before time has expired, seconded, and then passed by a simple majority. Motion to commit or refer is if you feel like more research needs to be done in order to support the motion you may move to refer to a committee. So for example, you can say, “I move to refer blank to a committee/task force.” Upon doing so please specify the size, responsibilities and whom will be on the committee. Postpone indefinitely may be done if you feel like there is inadequate information and you feel like the motion does not warrant discussion. The effect would be to postpone debate entirely and move on to the next order of business. If desired, it could then be brought up at Plenary the following year. Calling the question is when a request is made to stop all discussion immediately and put the resolution to a vote. This must be voted upon, and requires 2/3 support. It is basically a vote to vote. The first vote will be to close discussion and move to the final vote. If this fails discussion continues; if this passes then the presenter moves to the rebuttal period and then we vote on whatever debate is currently occurring—i.e. an amendment or the original resolution. If you call all previous questions, this would include the same premise as calling the question, only we would proceed to vote systematically on any amendment on the table and the original resolution. This motion may only be made after the original 10 minutes of discussion have elapsed, and must be recognized by the President. Point of order is a motion made after an infraction of Robert’s Rules of Order. May be made from any place in the room. The Parliamentarian will confer with the President regarding the error and then will present a method of recovery to regain order. Important- these motions as well as the amendment process are serious procedures; which can, if abused, hinder the process or render it unfair. Please use them with discretion and allow the existing process to work as efficiently as possible. All motions must be presented at the microphone, and all amendments must be written down in advance of approaching the microphone and presented to the microphone moderator. All amendments must be presented and discussed as written. In regards to food- food must be consumed in the atrium and the lobby. In the case that food is consumed in the Auditorium, SGA will not be allowed to use Goodhart in the future. Please abide and uphold the Social Honor Code by respecting this rule. Please, please, please clean up after yourself and recycle plenary packets! And with that we move to our first, and only, resolution regarding sustainability. This will be presented by Delaney Williams, class of 2017, and Joy Chan, class of 2017. Thank you!

Delaney William ’17: Thank you. Whereas, there is no dedicated budget or staff for sustainability at the college. Whereas, sustainable initiatives such as conservation hours, trayless dining halls, LED lighting, composting, and waste reduction have saved funds for the college. Whereas, the aforementioned initiatives, as well as others (Appendix A), take place through partnerships of students, staff, and faculty in courses and through extracurricular activities. Whereas, in the future such a fund could save the college money. Whereas, the college has previously set and met many goals for sustainability made in 2010 (Appendix B). It would be in the college’s interest to continue such goals’ through developing a sustainability fund. Whereas, the college has yet to make significant reductions in fossil fuel usage in the period from 2008 until 2014 through sustainable investment, further reductions of fossil fuel usage could be made. (Appendix C) Whereas, the college is currently working towards reporting its sustainability efforts according to the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education’s (AASHE) Sustainability Tracking, Assessment, and Rating System (STARS). This comprehensive report evaluates the environmental leadership of comparable institutions and ranks them. Participating in the report requires research, for which there are not currently devoted funds. Be it Resolved, the college initiates a fund to support sustainable initiatives and/or staffing in which cost savings from present and future sustainable initiatives are deposited. Because of the many sustainability initiatives such as conservation hours, composting and waste reduction, we are saving the college a ton of money. These numbers have been calculated through math professor Victor Donnay and his senior seminar Math Modeling course. What this resolution plans to do is to set aside these funds into a pot that will then only be used to support new sustainability initiatives. This money will be managed by the sustainability leadership group, a preexisting committee made up of relevant staff, faculty, and student leaders from green groups. Though this committee has been functioning for the past five years, we’ve never had a legitimate budget. It’s too soon to identify exactly how this money is going to be distributed, however here are some past sustainability projects that this fund could’ve supported. Some things are sustainability internships salary, the lantern stickers above light switched to remind you to turn them off, new Recycling Bins in academic buildings, and switching to 100% Wind Power. This resolution is simply just a way for Bryn Mawr to put our money where our mouth is, and finally make a long-term commitment to sustainability.

Charlie Bruce ’16: At this time the floor will be open for discussion for 8 minutes. If you would like to make a statement please approach the microphone at this time.

Naomi Siegel ’19: How does the amount of money saved compare to the cost of initiatives?

Delaney Williams ’17: It’s hard to say because it’s all through out the different departments. The money we’ve saved is significant and the initiatives we’ve stared aren’t that costly. But the money we do have comes from other budgets. So this money would be money that is given to them to support it- does that make sense?

Miranda Smith ’16: I’m curious to the accounting process- a lot of the sustainability initiatives have a tendency to have a large outlay and the return isn’t seen for quite a while. How long will we have to wait to see a return?

Delaney Williams ’17: So, we intentionally made this a little vague so we could talk to the administration. So, i.e., we see how much something is before we can get the costs.

Charlie Bruce ’16: Balcony microphone.

Kit Webber ’18: How much money goes into the fund? So if the money goes into other things besides sustainability, do, I mean, where would all the money saved go to this fund for future projects?

Delaney Williams ’17: Can you clarify your question?

Kit Webber ’18: Yeah, how much money would come from sustainability to sustainability?

Delaney Williams ’17: Ok, we kept this intentionally vague so we could get a percentage of how much money is saved so we can talk to admin and say, ‘what can you do with this amount to make things happen?’

Abbie Sullivan ’17: Have you talked to the admin about this?

Delaney Williams ’17: I work really closely with Jerry Berenson, and he’s really on board with it. It’ll be how we convince admin to do it. We’re talking to him.

Abbie Sullivan ’17: Who is he?

Delaney Williams ’17: He’s the chief administrative officer.

Charlie Bruce ’16: Balcony.

Toby Makowski ‘18: Are you trying to establish new lines of budget separate for sustainability?

Delaney Williams ’17: We’re trying to make a new budget for sustainability. Does that make sense? For our group, we’ve been trying for years to get a budget, but we’ve never gotten one.

Toby Makowski ’18: Where is the money coming from?

Delaney Williams ’17: I don’t have expertise on where the money comes from. It takes a whole semester of research to figure it out. Victor is on sabbatical, so I don’t have all the data that’s needed.

Elizabeth Tramontana ’18: You said we had saved money from composting and stuff, but where is the money that we saved now?

Delaney Williams ’17: I know a ballpark is $20,000 for composting and waste reduction. The money is going everywhere- it’s interdepartmental. I’ve been trying to find it but Victor is on sabbatical, and I can’t reach him.

Elizabeth Tramontana ’18: Is that money being used?

Delaney Williams ’17: The departments are allotted a certain amount of money, so the money they don’t ask for goes back to the school, but we want it to go to us.

Tess McCabe ’16: This sounds like it’ll take a lot of clerical work. Is anyone prepared to set up and do all this clerical work that might take a lot of expertise and knowledge?

Delaney Williams ’17: A lot of this work has been done, but I couldn’t get a hold of Victor to get data.

Tess McCabe ’16: Is that just data or about how to create a system where a budget is built from the saved money?

Delaney Williams ’17: An estimate of the money saved, so we would ask for that money.

Tess McCabe ’16: So there is no confirmation?

Delaney Williams ’17: I got research from last semester, it had suggestions, but no saving, I would have to go back to previous years and find the actual savings.

Ming Lee ’16: Follow up- it sounds like it would be based on the previous year, all the data for reimbursement and to carry on through.

Delaney Williams ’17: It’s more like, like we said we kept it vague, so we can have some wiggle room.

Ming Lee ’16: What do you mean?

Delaney Williams ’17: Like I said, it’s vague because it’s something we would have to discuss with the admin and see how far back we can go. We can look into how much money has been saved. Does that make sense?

Ming Lee ’16: So the professor would be in charge of this?

Delaney Williams ’17: He’s a member of the SLG and he would help us, and then the students would talk.

Ming Lee ’16: But you said he’s on sabbatical…?

Delaney Williams ’17: This would be for next semester.

Miranda Smith ’16: It sounds like this has a lot of groundwork. Would you be amendable to establishing a working group?

Delaney Williams ’17: I feel like through the SLG we could do this, but it feels like creating a committee would only complicate things more. The group exists, but we haven’t met as of yet.

Charlie Bruce ’16: Twelve minutes have passed we need a motion.

 

Motion to extend speaking order by 5 speakers, motion seconded

 

Nora Dell ’19: I was wondering if it would be helpful to lay out in your resolution the procedure, like an idea of where you wanted the money to go?

Delaney Williams ’17: Like I said, we can’t commit this money to anything now because it would go to the sustainability leadership group. We, from there, would have to see where the funds would go. This isn’t allocating funds, it’s getting funds.

Nora Dell ’19: I wasn’t suggesting that.

Delaney Williams ’17: We had allocated funds in the past, and we have a procedure through that, so that process already exits. Is that ok?

Haley Varnum ’19: I’m concerned where the sustainability funds come from. The $20,000 we saved from waste reduction isn’t just floating around campus- it’s being used. Parts of the sustainability savings are used to allocate funds to other things on campus.

Delaney Williams ’17: That’s good, but the funds that would be saved should be used to go to other sustainability initiatives such as LED light bulbs that won’t show up right away.

Ann Clare Grammer ’16: In the case that you were to exceed the funds from sustainability savings, what would you do?

Delaney Williams ’17: We would do what we are doing now, so we would ask for money from facilities and the treasures’ office.

Piper Martz ’16: I support this resolution. As an intern from SLG and a former head for other green groups on campus, I can say that with total honesty. It has been so difficult to engage in the initiatives to get new supplies! In SLG students, faculty, and staff present ideas and different departments donate money to get our things through. This committee has existed for five years, but it has never had a legitimate budget, so this is a good idea for the admin to make a commitment towards sustainability. We want to support different ideas and green groups, but it’s been very hard to actually do these projects. If we start using conservation hours, we can save money, and our efforts save the school money, and help our group, rather than the money being absorbed back by the college. It would be nice if it came back.

Charlie Bruce ’16: Question microphone- this will also be the last on the five person speaking order.

XXX ’19: The girl speaking last said that taking money from other funds are the same thing they were already doing, but now you’re going to get money preemptively. It’s like you’re just collecting the same funds ahead of time?

Delaney Williams ’17: It would be along with. We would be collecting money as we save it. They would allocate less money for electricity and for the money they don’t allocate we would get it.

Charlie Bruce ’16: Would you like to extend the discussion to the end of speaking order?

 

Motion to extend discussion to the end of speaking order, motion seconded

 

Charlie Bruce ’16: We will need to take a vote. Yes, no, abstain. That was very ambiguous. Can section counters please count your groups? Yes, no, abstain. Section counters please report to Miranda Smith here at the front.

 

Motion to extend discussion to the end of speaking passed

 

Charlie Bruce ’16: Motion passed. So to the end of speaking order. If you wish to speak you must approach the microphones now, or make yourselves known to the section counter.

Assata Auey ’19: My understanding is that you have this thing that is saving funds for the school, but the funds are being used around the school. You want the thing that’s saving money to keep itself going. Can we track something so we can have brackets so we can track amounts that are being spent and saved?

Delaney Williams ’17: That makes sense. I’ve talked to Deb and I can talk to her again. Good idea.

Assata Auey ’19: I want to make an informed decision. I think it would be nice for us to get more information later on so you are held accountable.

Delaney Williams ’17: Yes, I can report about it at the SGA meetings, and what we’ve done, and who we’ve talked to.

Charlie Bruce ’16: Pro microphone.

Rhea Manglani ’17: I’m in support of this because I’ve seen the amount of work Delaney has been putting into this. Plenary is more of a recommendation to the administration versus telling them what to do. This is honestly kept vague so when things are going wrong, it can be kept transparent.

Hannah Chinn ’19: I was wondering if you have any similar budget initiatives examples so we know it can be successful?

Delaney Williams ’17: I don’t have exact numbers because I said these are projects from the past and I haven’t found the data for it. Conservation hours do save money, but I don’t want to give a number I can’t back up.

Hannah Chinn ’19: Can I clarify the question? Do you have any examples that would show this is more efficient than the current system? Like a budget working in another place?

Delaney Williams ’17: Other schools usually have budgets for things like this, BMC doesn’t.

Charlie Bruce ’16: Balcony.

Toby Makowski ‘18: Are you considering outside funding like grants?

Delaney Williams ’17: We haven’t look at that, but we can look into it.

Charlie Bruce ’16: Con.

Elizabeth Tramontana ’18: I move to post pone this until next plenary so your professor will not be on sabbatical leave, and we can all make an informed decision. That way, you can also get more information.

Charlie Bruce ’16: The vote is to post pone this to next plenary. Yes, no, abstain.

 

Vote to post pone discussion not passed

 

Charlie Bruce ’16: This resolution will not be postponed. We will resume speaking order.

Yanira Santos ’16: I’d like to clarify- so the essence of this resolution- we have things in place that save the college money. This resolution will try to take the money it saved to save more money?

Delaney Williams ’17: That’s essentially it, yes.

Naomi Siegel ’19: You mentioned that it’s coming from several departments, facilities has been thrown around a lot, do you have any idea in particular what departments this would be coming from?

Delaney Williams ’17: The money that is, ok, so currently, facilities and the treasures office is doing that. The fund is being made so they wouldn’t have to go into their budgets.

Naomi Siegel ’19: So are you saying that a certain amount of funds will be allocated to sustainability?

Delaney Williams ’17: I presume in addition. I don’t think facilities has a budget dedicated to sustainability. So our money would be in addition to that.

Jo Dutiloy ’16: Call to question.

Charlie Bruce ’16: What would you like to call to question?

Jo Dutiloy ’16: Stop the discussion and vote.

Charlie Bruce ’16: This resolution will go to a vote- yes, no, abstain. This resolution passes. Anassa kata, kalo kale, Ia ia ia Nike, Bryn Mawr, Bryn Mawr, Bryn Mawr! Plenary!

 

Plenary concludes at 3:47pm

 

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