February 3, 2013 Minutes

SGA Meeting 2/3/2013

Vrinda calls the meeting to order at 7:10pm

Absent: Kendra Kelly, Sarah Henkind, Alice Fischer, Kayla Bondi, Sarah Bristow, Ali Raeber, Jenn Burns, Lija Geller, Maddy Court, Raminta Holden, Nikki Ditto, Vanessa Sanchez, Julia Stuart, Devanshi Vaid, Hannah Smith, Cesiah Ordonez.

Announcements:

Hannah Lehman ‘13: this Wednesday at 5:30pm we are having our first senior gift committee meeting of the semester. We are looking for people to join.  It’s really fun and it’s really great to have “senior gift” and “fundraising” on your resume.   Wednesday marks 100 days till graduation. Our meeting is in Helfarian.  If you have any questions contact me.

Karina Siu ‘14: I just wanted to make a general announcement that this past basketball game Nicolette Parmese scored her 1000th point. If you go onto the Bryn Mawr athletics site you can read on the page, see her picture, and if you see her, congratulate her because it is a very big personal milestone.

Sowmya Srinivasan ‘13: we wanted to update you on the campus budget committee meeting that Vrinda and I went to.  The word we got from that was that even though the endowment isn’t doing terribly well, it isn’t doing badly either.  We are at the point that if something good happens in the economy, we will be well off, but if something bad happens, that might not be so good.

Vrinda Varia ‘13: essentially we are happy, but could be happier.  We will keep you updated as we continue to go to more meetings. The activism 101 workshop is tomorrow.  It is being cosponsored by SGA, BMC Greens, BMC Dems, CEO, and LEAP from the Pensby Center.  Make sure you guys come out.  It is going to be really wonderful. Yong Jung Cho class of 2012 and former SGA President is coming back and helping us run it.  So it is going to be really wonderful.  So it is tomorrow at 6:30pm in Dalton 300.  There is a dining services forum on February 6th at 6:30pm here in the campus center.  So you can come and ask questions of Bernie Chung and David Chase and get your voice out there and ask questions about changes happening.  Elections are on Monday and Tuesday of this week. Run-offs are on Thursday and Friday of this week.  Be sure to vote and get your constituents to vote.  We are voting on some really exciting things; the executive board is up for elections, class of 2014 president, 2014 honor board rep, appointments committee, so make sure you guys vote. If you are interest in voting or tabling, email Ali (araeber@brynmawr.edu).  Special events funding is due February 11th.  We are voting on February 17th during plenary.  We will send you more information about that as Plenary and Special Events Funding get closer. That brings us to Plenary.  Plenary is February 17th at 12:30 in Goodhart.  Resolutions are due today and 125 signatures are due next Sunday at SGA.  Make sure you guys turn in resolutions if you are writing them.  If you have questions, get in contact with the eboard (sga@brynmawr.edu).  The announcement I forgot to make last week was that we had about 130 Bryn Mawr students come to the Leadership Orientation Workshop.  It was really wonderful and we had a great time collaborating on some initiatives.

Lee McClenon ‘14: so on February 17th, the day of plenary, so really you shouldn’t go to this but if you are interested you should go to it.  There will be the largest climate rally in the history of the US hopefully in DC.  We are trying to get a bus to run from Haverford.  If you are interested in going, let me know and I will send you the link to sign up.  It will be $20 round trip.

 

Your Two Cents: 

Muna Aghaalnemer ‘13: I am on the Curriculum Committee, and the last meeting, they wanted to know your opinion on the possibility of having 2 registration periods for lottery reasons.  In the preregistration period, they hold a lottery, that way if you are lotteried out of a class, you would know and have time to register for another class just to make sure you can have 4 classes.  They are having a meeting on the 7th. They asked me to see what the student body thought.  For example, in the spring the registration will open.  Then after that, they will run a lottery that way you know if you are lotteried out of class or not.  Then they will open it again for the people who were lotteried out.  Then you can register for another class.  That way you would have 4 classes that you know that you’re in.  This is just preventing the case when people get lotteried out of 3 out of 4 classes and then shopping week comes the beginning of the semester and they are freaking out.

 

Diana Tive ‘15: would there be another lottery?

Muna Aghaalnemer ‘13: yes

Lee McClenon ‘14: would there still be a shopping week?

Muna Aghaalnemer ’13: yes

Vrinda Varia ‘13: do you want a straw vote?

Muna Aghaalnemer ’13: yes

Vrinda Varia ’13: So I guess it would be those in favor of having a lottery, those opposed of having a lottery, and those abstaining.

Lottery Straw Vote:

In favor of having a lottery: majority

Those not in favor of having a lottery: none

Abstain: none

 

Small Group Discussions about next meeting with Jerry Berenson, Bernie Chung-Templeton and David Chase:

Vrinda Varia ‘13: next meeting we are having Jerry Berenson, Bernie Chung-Templeton, and David Chase come to SGA to talk about the changes happening in Dining Services. This is also giving us an opportunity to talk about some of the things we have been questioning with the college’s budget.  We wanted to be able to preface this conversation with some questions and specifics that we want information on.  We are going to break up into small groups and discuss questions. Think about topics you think are relevant that and that you would want them to speak about.  Then we will come back and share and decide how to best get in touch with them. We are calling them the “soft cheeses.”  Get it?  “Big cheeses” and “soft cheeses.”  Tyler is going to break us up into small groups.

Kersti Francis ‘13: our group had 4 questions.  The first was what is the status of the juicer and soft served machine? Are they in the closet somewhere? Number two was what are we doing with the dining hall waste?  So what is our waste management system like? Who decides the allocation within the dining services budget?  We know the Board of Trustees sets the budget, but who is in charge of who is spending what?  A question I wanted to know is is there a reason that Haverford has an increased budget? What can we do to equalize that more?

Karina Siu ‘14: one of the things we wanted to have a discussion about in a larger sense was what are the appropriate questions to ask for this certain committee.  I know a lot of us have questions like where’s the money? So like why isn’t that money getting to Dining Services, but they don’t actually know too.  Having questions more directed towards Bernie.  If it was possible to ask Jerry if he could bring a budget overview of how the money is allocated.  I know John Griffith cannot come, but if someone could tell us where the rest of the money is going to and why.  If it is a thing where they have to reallocate money because professors are getting lower pay than what they should, I am not so against it because if I was a professor and hadn’t gotten a raise in 10 years, I would probably want a raise.  What can students do to help dining services beyond just signing the petition?  It is one thing just to have dining services, but it’s another thing to have student support.

Vrinda Varia ‘13: I just wanted to follow up.  The next EBoard will try and get John Griffith to attend another SGA meeting.  Whether it be Big Cheese or another forum.  That way some of the more budget specific questions can be directly answered by him. Although Jerry Berenson said he could speak to some of the budget related issues.

Irene Shin ‘13: can you clarify what you were clarify by asking what kinds of questions can be asked?

Karina Siu ‘14: When we have this discussion, I don’t want to ask questions where all dining services can say is “well we don’t actually know the answer to that, that is what we are trying to figure out.”

Irene Shin ’13: maybe one of the questions should be about who we should really be asking?

Karina Siu ’14: yeah.  I want the most effective conversation to come out of this.  So asking “why the Board of Trustees isn’t giving you money?”  They are going to say, “well, I don’t know.”

Vrinda Varia ’13: I don’t think that this is a question we are asking of them, but one we are asking of each other.

Emily Tong ‘13: we started off by talking about some events that are of concern.  So May Day, having strawberries for that, Garden parties, food for May Day.  We wanted to check in and see where the planning is for that.  We had some questions that other people said.  We want to know whether they intend to increase communication, and what they are planning to do with the survey they sent out.  What they plan to get out of the forum they are having on Wednesday.  Also, we would like to know whether they are consulting the dietitian or health advisors.  Some opinions that came out of our discussion were that reduction in food quality should not reduce options; we should have more meal plans that have fewer meals that cost less, which would make more sense for some students; there should be more options for special diets or allergies; more grilled meats rather than fried; and in communications with the campus more about financial decisions.  So like emails that state what the project is and why it is important and who it is going to affect.  For example, when there was the leveling of Merion Green.  I don’t think there was a lot of communication about that and when that was happening.  We would like to see more preemptive communication with the community rather than us asking the questions.

Vicki Sear ‘13: one question we asked was differentiating between what we are planning to do in the future for next year and what we are planning to do for dining services this year.  Putting those two discussions in two different realms.  We talked about financial transparency.  How did this happen this year? And how did it have to come along so fast?  So asking for some clarification.  We talked about what is going to be going on with garden parties.  How is Haverford ok and we are not?  Something we talked about was sort of the internal self-operation of dining services at Bryn Mawr and Haverford have.  There have been discussions about going to an umbrella company and that student employment is saving money and that Haverford might have tried this in the 1980s and it didn’t work so well. So opening that as an option and if it’s a good or bad option.

Lindsey Crowe ‘14: a lot of our questions are already up there, including updates on traditions meals and what is happening with those?  Will the changes end next year or will this keep happening?  What are the survey results? And how will this affect dining services in the future?  Whether or not they will take things away that were not rated as high in the survey.  More transparency with the budget and, like what Karina said, who are we actually talking to?  Point of information, last year Bernie said there wasn’t a possibility to add more meal plans because of the size of the campus.  If we offer more meals, not as many people will purchase them.  Then we won’t have that money going to the dining budget.

Vrinda Varia ‘13: I have a question.  I think a lot of the groups have said they are interested in getting some sort of transparency about the budget. How would you like this to manifest itself?  What would you like to see? I think if we are more specific instead of just saying “long term budget transparency,” we give them specific of like giving us this information in particular.  That would be more readily accessible for us.

Karina Siu ‘14: I think last year John Griffith gave a presentation that was a pie chart of where the money came from and where it went to.  So like whatever percent comes from endowment, whatever percent comes from board of trustees and loans and stuff and then this much goes here, this much goes there.  That is something that is simple and not too in-depth.  I understand that for the transparency it makes sense to not be too in-depth about it.  As much as we would like to be in-depth about it, it is kind of one of those tricky lines of we are students.  Do they actually need to know?

Vrinda Varia ‘13: also how much can we understand?

Karina Siu ‘13: yeah and is it a good idea?  Something that gives us a general overview of where it’s going and where it is coming from and a why.

Taj Meyer ‘15: I was just going to say can we ask for financial reports from the last fiscal year?

Vrinda Varia ‘13: I don’t know what the policy is on how they have to regulate some of that information because on some of those reports there is salary information that I am sure the college wants to keep private, but we can ask.

Emma Rosenblum ‘14: something that I would like to see, to add onto the chart, I would like to see a report but written in laypeople’s terms.  So those of us who do not study economics or math can get an idea of what is going on and respond to that and ask questions about that.  Something, in addition to the pie chart, that is a little more detained than the chart.

Caroline Bruce ‘16: I would like to know how they determined the splitting of the budget.  Like how much of this much goes to traditions, and how much of this much goes to whatever.

Vrinda Varia ‘13: within dining services itself, not on the college level?

Caroline Bruce ’16: yes.

Karina Siu ‘14: I agree with what Caroline said. Having more specifics for our conversation, but in the future having that overview

Vrinda Varia ‘13: I definitely think these bigger questions are really important questions that we should be asking of the administration, especially at a time when we are questioning financial decisions on many different levels.  Something I want to say on behalf of the administration is that they are very willing to talk to us about the budget but they are looking for a lot more student interest because they have presented this information not many people seem to care.  SO in moving forward, and realizing what we have without it, keep this in mind that these presentations are important to us.  We are sitting here questioning the decisions right now.  We should be able to have these questions when they are presented to us as well. I will map this up and send out these questions and we will have that discussion next week.  Please come with more questions and remember that if you have any questions that are specific to dining services, ask them at the forum on February 6th.

 

GSA Vote to Give Permission to speak at next week’s meeting:

Vrinda Varia ‘13: we have some representatives from GSA coming to SGA meetings.  Sometimes more regularly than assembly members.  They would really like to participate in some of the conversations happening on campus, especially these large scale conversations.  Because under meeting procedures they are not given the right to speak at SGA meetings since this is an undergraduate organization, we can vote to give them permission to vote at specific meetings.  We were wondering if you would give them permission to speak at specific meetings.  They have some questions for people at next week’s meeting, and they also have some experience with dealing with issues with dining services and administration on their own campuses in support of us.  We are going to move this to a vote.  It is assembly members only.  We are voting to give the GSA representatives permission to speak at the February 10th meeting.

GSA Vote on giving representatives permission to speak:

In favor (24 people): Kayla Bondi, Julia Stuart, Ali Raeber, Hannah Lehman, Karina Siu, Christine Newville, Taj Meyer, Kersti Francis, Marian Slocum, Karunya Venugopal, Muna Aghaalnemer, Amani Chowdhury, Noor Masannat, Xavia Miles, Diana Tive, Elizabeth Vandenberg, Anna Kalinsky, Kaeun Bae, Tina Chang, Emily Tong, Morgan Turner, Stephanie Clarke, Kellie Meyer, Anika Ali

Opposed: none

Abstain: none

The GSA representatives will have the ability to speak at the next meeting.  We are going to move onto the next agenda item which is the voting of the divestment statement.  All assembly members should have received a statement on behalf of the divestment group this week.  We will pull it up right now to read over it.

Divestment Statement: The Assembly of the Bryn Mawr Self-Government Association supports the goal of fossil fuel divestment. The Assembly asks that the school immediately freeze new investment in fossil fuel extraction and work towards full divestment. As a body of representing students, the Assembly believes that swift action to stop climate change is in the best interest of our futures.

Lee McClenon ‘14: we have this meeting next Friday with the Board of Trustees. We have been tabling this week and trying to have conversations with students about divestment.  We want to come in having talked to SGA and have your support.  We wrote up this short statement, if you all are willing, we would appreciate a vote on it.  First, we would like to answer any questions people might have about divestment or what that looks like or how our conversation is going with the board or pretty much anything.  Has anyone talked about this with people this week?

Kelly Meyer ’13: I know a lot of people are asking what is going to happen when they do divest.  What is going to happen to the money that we take out of these fossil fuels companies?  Will this have an impact on the companies that we have divested in and their employees?

Caroline Bruce ‘16: it will be reinvested into companies that have the same rate of return.  We made the decision to not decide which companies that would be.  We feel as though that would be setting an agenda on our part, and our main priority is to divest from these top 200 companies that emit the most amount of carbon into the air.  We found that only 2 on the list that Bryn Mawr is actually invested in, which is great, but that will also be a tough battle to fight.  In terms of what this effect will be on companies, just Bryn Mawr doing this is not going to make an effort.

What this means in terms of social change is that if we should do it then other places will be like, we should doing it because we want to be active in social change and we want to show that we are socially conscious and environmentally conscious. This is more than just an environmentalist agenda, this is about social justice and the people who are most effected by social change.

Diana Tive ‘15: what if they just say no?

Caroline Bruce ‘16: if they say no, we will keep going back to the board.  Based off of our conversations with John Griffith, it seems like they want to have a dialogue with us about this and that while we might not get what we want, we can work towards a future of more transparency of what we are invested in and more environmentally just things.

Sarah Lovegren ‘14: what is the opposing argument? Like what would be John’s reasons for not divesting?

Caroline Bruce ‘16: what we discovered with our meeting with John is that it is important for the college to maintain a certain endowment because we are a women’s college and we have to do more than break more than even because the retention rate is not as high.

Lee McClenon ‘14: compared to more traditional schools, Bryn Mawr has to grow its endowment more because we are proportionally less competitive; there are just less applicants to women’s colleges. So we have less potential to bring in high paying students that are also competitive.  So the growth of our endowment is proportionally more important than at Haverford, for example.  John is concerned that we are still able to perform; it is something we are concerned about too.  We do not want anyone to lose money over this.  That is not our goal, and we are not saying that that won’t happen that we are not going to lose money. We are saying that it shouldn’t be that much and it is worth it for our futures.  And to say that Bryn Mawr should profit in the present, over future destruction just doesn’t make sense to us.  The other big concern is that if we divest from fossil fuels, then we will have to divest form other things too.  If you are making the statement that fossil fuels are immoral.  Yes, a lot of things are immoral in the world.  So should we divest from all of these other things in the world too?  I think it is our position as a group that there are more questions to be asked about these things; we think that at the present moment, fossil fuels has a high burden of proof and burden of urgency.  It is happening in our lifetime and affects all people, unlike some of the other problems that may come up.

Kellie Meyer ‘13: one of the questions that someone asked me is what is going to happening to the companies that we are divesting from?  Are the employees going to lose their jobs because the economy is not the best right now.

Caroline Bruce ‘16: that is a good question; we cannot project what will happen exactly, but our goal is that the industry will change into one that this more environmentally sustainable so that the jobs that are if jobs are lost in coal or natural gases, then there will be an increase in jobs for wind and solar and other constructive industries that are environmentally sustainable.

Kellie Meyer ‘13: how do you expect that to happen because you’re only divesting you are not implementing anything to improve the other companies?

Lee McClenon ‘14: I think it is our position that these are fossil fuels companies and eventually one of two things is going to happen.  Either we will run out of fossil fuels or we burn up our planet.  One way or another, these companies will be obsolete.  It just depends how fast that happens. So I hear your concern about jobs and job loss.  It is important.  I think that the idea is that it is such an important issue at this moment that it doesn’t balance out in that way.

Caroline Bruce ‘16: so basically the way we see it is fossil fuels industries exist to fulfill the need of energy.  If there is a call for social change, then policy will change, and then it will encourage more sustainable practices.  So the need will be filled in a different way.  There will be a correlation if jobs are lost, they will be gained in another way.

Kellie Meyer ‘13: there are still questions because I understand there is a social change will happen, but for the immediate moment, it may negatively affect people.  That is the question I am asking; there is no immediate trying to help other people.  I know it is not your responsibility to fix everything. I know that this is helpful.  I do support that fossil fuels are harming our planet.

Lee McClenon ’14: I hear that concern, and it is a concern, but we think that the need of this outweighs this risk.

Caroline Bruce ‘16: from an economic standpoint, the only way for them to be losing jobs if the company were to lose money.  The company would lose money if it had a competitor in another field. So if the demand goes down, then the companies’ profits will go down, and their profit will go down if the competitor is more environmentally and socially sustainable.  So the job loss will happen because of change.  Correlating to that, there will be jobs in a different field that will replace the ones that are lost.

Lee McClenon ‘14: I guess this is not sort of an immediate impact, but this is our vision.  There is little we can do in the moment for that issue, but we are looking for a broader vision of change for the future.

Vrinda Varia ‘13: if there are no more questions or comments, we will move to a vote.

Fossil Fuels Divestment Statement Vote:

Agree with this statement (18 people):  Kayla Bondi, Julia Stuart, Ali Raeber, Hannah Lehman, Karina Siu, Christine Newville, Taj Meyer, Kersti Francis, Marian Slocum, Karunya Venugopal, Muna Aghaalnemer, Noor Masannat, Diana Tive, Elizabeth Vandenberg, Anna Kalinsky, Kaeun Bae, Emily Tong, Stephanie Clarke, Anika Ali

Oppose this statement (0 people): none

Abstain (4 people): Kellie Meyer, Tina Chang, Xavia Miles, Morgan Turner

The assembly will endorse this statement.

Lee McClenon ‘14: we have this petition if you didn’t get by the table to sign it yet, can I leave it up front for after the meeting?

Vrinda Varia ‘13: yeah.

 

 Vote to Move February 14th Meeting:

Vrinda Varia ’13: We are going to move onto the last agenda item which is a vote to move the February 24th SGA meeting.  It is the same night as the Oscars and the campus center is being used to host the annual Oscar party.  Are there times people want to throw out there?  I heard 2pm and 4pm.  I want to note that I think this is the same weekend as the posse plus retreat and the swim meet.  So there are some time conflicts.

Lee McClenon ’14: what time does the Oscars start?

Vrinda Varia ’13: Mary Beth was a little vague. Sometime after 5pm.  The benefit of doing SGA before it is that the setup is the same, so there isn’t a lot of change they have to do in the space.  I think it would be good to be done before 5pm.

Emma Rosenblum ‘14: swim doesn’t get back till like 11pm at night.

Vrinda Varia ’13: ok so 2pm and 4pm.  Were there any times made by proxy?

Natalie Kato ’14: no

Emily Tong ‘13: if we have to be done by 5pm, shouldn’t it be 3pm?

Vrinda Varia ‘13: I think if we go until 5:30pm that will not be a big deal.  So if the meeting starts at 4pm, then ending at 5:30pm won’t be the end of the world.

Vote on Changing times for February 24th Meeting:

In favor of 2pm (17 people) – Hannah Lehman, Karina Siu, Christine Newville, Taj Meyer, Kersti Francis, Marian Slocum, Karunya Venugopal, Muna Aghaalnemer, Amani Chowdhury, Noor Masannat, Xavia Miles, Diana Tive, Elizabeth Vandenberg, Anna Kalinsky, Kaeun Bae, Tina Chang, Morgan Turner, Stephanie Clarke

In favor of 4pm (3 people) – Kellie Meyer, Emily Tong, Kayla Bondi, Julia Stuart, Ali Raeber

Abstain (1 person): Anika Ali

2pm it is. That will also be the first meeting of the new exec board.

 

New business: 

Christine Newville ’15 and Sophia Dauria ‘15: we are the COPS Co-Heads.  We just got an email from mike Ramsey. In the past, the COPS Committee and public safety have held some small events in the campus center surrounding safety on campus.  In the past, they have had a woman come from victim services or women’s services in Montgomery County.  We just got an email from Mike Ramsey that she is going to be available on Monday, February 11, at 7:30pm to come and talk. We wanted to try and get her here before Hell Week.  If you could talk to your constituents that this could be happening.  We will try and get it in here, the campus center.  There will be food.  Some of the officers from public safety will be here as well.  She will talk about general safety concerns and preventative measures and give you resources on and off campus.  It is important with hell week coming up to stress these things.  So let everyone know and you will hear from us soon!

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