10/15/2019 Selectboard Meeting Minutes
Minutes are taken by Selectboard Clerk Felix and reflect to the best of my ability what is said during Selectboard meeting. With comments or questions please comment here or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Present: Charlie, Ariana, Stephanie, Izzy, Ritu, Seth, Felix, Tanner, Beth Ruane
Beth: came to last year’s Selectboard when the decision came that we should change the workflow of the Plan process, one of the pains of Plan had always been submitting the print copy, it was stressful, often ended up with a lot of back-and-forth, was last interaction students had with library/registrar, ended in a lot of ink/paper wasted, it was bad, we knew it was bad… administration asked us to change that workflow, we decided to go to a completely digital submission which went really well last spring, everyone liked it, easier on Stephanie because she was the one who would handle it, it was a big thing for us at the end of every year and a thing that continued through the summer, but it meant that the cost went up quite considerably, so I went to Selectboard last year and talked to them about this increase in price, we estimated $40/plan when before it had been $20, in the end that was still deemed worth it in that reduction of stress, ease in workflow, we did our first test last spring, the $40 was a pretty good guess, some plans went much over that, some went under, the balance ended up being okay, when I talked to last year’s Selectboard, we budgeted $1400 for plans, I ended up charging $1000 to Selectboard every year, we wound up paying $2000 for library copies, not everyone requests their Town Meeting copy… the discussion I’d like to have would be are we going to continue to do this through TM, we would probably request about $1400 again, we have a much larger graduating class, it depends whether people want their copies, I just wanted to see where Selectboard was…
Tanner: first, from my understanding, we’re not altering the budget, usually we would bring a proposed budget, what I’ve done so far is just pinpointed anywhere that it seems plausible/would make a lot of sense for TM to not cover this expenditure, in regards to the senior Plan-binding, we wouldn’t undo any of the new systems, it would then be incorporated into a senior’s graduation fee, we just implemented a graduation fee recently, it’s nothing too substantial yet, adding $40 to that alleviates the cost from TM, the idea is if that’s a problem for the student that’s a place where they could go to TMSF, it’s not a decision that I think we as a group are making, we need to at least cut out $7000, the goal is to show “these are the different options,” some places we can cut, some are not optional, if we want to let go of the fire chief, it’s going to be picked up by the college, all that stuff is going to TM, it would be good to discuss in TM, you would do exactly what you’ve been doing it would just come from a different place
Beth: having it be part of the graduation fee is tricky, it would mean the current graduating class is paying for the past graduating class, it doesn’t necessarily correlate to the size of the class, it makes me feel like then we would have to give every graduating senior their Plan, and that would be then something they’re paying for and something they get, it doesn’t necessarily then correspond to the number of personal Plan copies that get charged in any fiscal year
Seth: what percentage of people ask for their own copy?
Stephanie: it varies year to year, first year I did it it was about a quarter
Beth: last year was about half, 25 copies for 42 students
Seth: I remember when the graduation fee came up, it seemed like it had been designed to unleash a wasp’s nest in development, why would you hit people with a charge just as they’re walking out the door… couldn’t we increase the student activity fee, do away with the graduation fee?
Beth: that’s where it’s coming from now
Seth: I would not want to be the one who said we’re increasing the graduation fee
Izzy: I feel like the graduation fee is tuition, an extra graduation fee on top of that, having this extra “you’ve been paying this tuition for however many years but if you want this degree you have to pay,” I would really discourage having any increase in a graduation fee
Beth: I think there is one now but it’s nominal, it’s like $25
Felix: some people aren’t going to have $40 more on top of that, some don’t have $25
Beth: and not everyone chooses to have their personal Plan copy
Tanner: students need to decide, are they in some way paying for people to get a Plan if they want it, do they all want to chip in, or do they just want to pay for their own… not every student is paying $40 towards a Plan over the course of four years, that’s something that’s up for Town Meeting, I have to look into the logistics, since it’s an optional thing… that’s all important for the community to know, for someone who wouldn’t want to get one they might not want to pay for others
Felix: would it be possible to have people pay $20 and another $20 comes from TM
Beth: shift in community thinking, this is a gift that we want to give seniors even though people have been paying into this system, what you’re saying now is there is not that reward/gift at the end if we shift the cost of the personal Plan copy onto students
Felix: I like it as a gift
Beth: I think it’s a lovely gesture, not everyone wants it, but we’ve always appreciated that piece as well, that community coming together, you’ve worked very hard on this thing, we give you at least one, students choose to order their own if they want more than one copy
Charlie: I do think that if we could find a way to do this 50/50, a cost sharing, I think it’s really nice that there is this gift that TM can help provide, but we do have to reconcile that with the reality that we don’t have enough money right now for things, and potentially I could see the cost sharing option as “if you want to get your plan you can pay $20 and we can pay $20”
Felix: I think $20 makes more sense…
Seth: do you know if there was a decrease in paper consumption?
Beth: I don’t know, we don’t track that, we’d have to go through IT
Tanner: it’s just on there because it’s one of the things, it’s complicated because I didn’t see any strict language about budget approval, we’re kind of all voting on where this money goes but only about a third of us pay into
Felix: but some of it only students are allowed to vote on right
Tanner: … it’s like the soda machine where we all use it but only students pay in, students should vote because it’s students’ money, constitution and bylaws control this, control these positions, TM needs to decide where they would like to be investing their money… I think Plan-binding and TMSF are much easier things to lobby for vs. maintaining that TM oversees the Dining Hall Crew Chief, the Fire Chief, I still don’t have an understanding why that’s coming from TM … but I also think we should be putting more in towards the resource centers… I don’t have a good idea of what it looks like yet for how we procedurally do that, we just kind of go down through the budget… every piece will get debated, or as Selectboard we can choose not to advertise the Plan-binding as something to cut and someone could bring it up
Charlie: I’m having a moral dilemma of wanting to… I feel like we could take advertising Plan-binding as a place to cut as a last resort, if we don’t want to cut anywhere else, say “we can cut here but it has xyz implications”… I think it’s ultimately something we just have to take to the broader community and see how it shakes out
Beth: this would be the ’20 budget, right?
Tanner: yes, there’s no ’21, it’s in the bylaws that we have to do it in April, but our projected numbers are off every year, we say we’ll use this much of the rollover… maybe the Selectboard can design one but we don’t have the community approve it until we have the actual numbers
Beth: okay I’ll be at TM, I can jump in if there are questions
(Maggie is here but I did not see when she arrived… Beth is leaving)
[GETTING MINUTES ON THE WEBSITE]
Tanner: we’re working on it, committee liaisons would be the ones to post minutes for their committees, we don’t want to give access to that many people to edit the site
[PUBLICITY ON COMMITTEES WEBSITE]
Stephanie: as I was updating the membership of the groups I was mindful that the QRC moderators were comfortable being comfortably identified on Nook, public to this community but not the world, vs. the new website being public to the world, I checked with the elected moderators and they said they were fine with it, but I was wondering if there were other groups where this could be an issue, do we need to be more thoughtful about people’s names, make sure we’re not outing people, associating them with something they’re not comfortable with… if that’s something we want to talk about it doesn’t have to be now even but I was thinking about it… I think other than emailing every group there’s not much we can do
Felix: we could make it known that we’re concerned, ask people to reach out if they’re concerned
Maggie: I think if we wanted it back protected on Nook we could get that to happen, we could also have it in the email that says you’ve been nominated, “your name will now be shown on the website” just so there’s an awareness piece
(talking about committees, does it need to be public, having our only resource for who’s on committees being a public website and not Nook)
Tanner: say contact Selectboard if you want to reach the committee?
Maggie: it’d be nice if Selectboard was not the go-between
Izzy: how often is it that people looking at the public website are needing to contact committees…
(talking about taking names off the website and only putting them on Nook)
Izzy: safety concerns of people…
Stephanie: knowing where they’re going to be, yeah
Charlie: Stephanie and Tanner are the people I know have the connection to website people
Tanner: I can incorporate it into my next meeting
(Lydia is here)
[ARE COMMITTEES NOTIFIED OF ELECTION RESULTS]
Maggie: committees as a whole aren’t, new people get the email…
Charlie: I’ve talked to people who’ve been elected to committees who have not gotten emails abotu regular meeting times or anything like that, so maybe this is a liaising thing, you could email your committees… ask when are you meeting, email me minutes
Felix: I haven’t emailed write-in votes yet, that’s on me, I’ll do it
Izzy: I’ve sent emails I have to send more I just really don’t want to… I’ve been just giving it a week and a half and hoping people respond
Charlie: the issue we’ve been talking about of if we’re emailing this committee, people aren’t responding, people have been elected, what do we have to do to make the committee function or make some cuts
Izzy: is the motivation behind making cuts to committees financial or people-power or what’s the motivation behind cutting less-active committees?
Charlie: I think it’s a people-power thing, if there’s only a small percentage of people who are on committees, if you scroll through who got elected it’s the same group of people
Felix: and it’s freshmen who don’t know their limits yet
Charlie: we want people to be able to make changes, bring things to Town Meeting, they can’t do that if they’re on three other committees… please liaise with your people and CC Selectboard on everything so everyone can see what’s going on, also this is a time to notify them that they should be sending you minutes so those minutes can be uploaded
Maggie: I feel like we might want to dedicate a whole meeting or big chunk to doing that work of actually combing through committees and checking in, we need to send them a warning, second warning, I feel like that process is actually going to be really involved and really time-consuming for us
Charlie: I also think that the reimagining task force that will be meeting soon will also be doing a lot of work of looking at the committees and what is necessary and stuff like that… so I want to see when that committee is starting to meet where purviews are aligning and who’s supposed to be doing what and making what decisions
Felix: was talking to Matt Ollis, we were talking about paper ballots, Google forms, ways we could have more control over elections, just wanted to voice it
Charlie: I do think the Nook system is clunky… if people have ideas of how to do elections better, we have much room for growth…
Felix: I’ll think about it, I’ll think about it over winter break, I just wanted to bring it up
[DO WE HAVE TOWN MEETING NEXT WEEK]
Seth: are there more things we want to talk about?
Charlie: this also depends on the budget thing, are we reading in a budget and then voting on it?
Tanner: we’re more informing the community of where we’re at and what’s on the table, also introducing the format we’d operate under, the next week we’d actually start voting on parts of the budget, it could be that we as a TM create a proposed budget and that gets voted on
Charlie: so this is like a presentation?
Tanner: yes, I think it should be something where there’s a lot of space/time to answer questions, I didn’t get any feedback from people, I did talk to resource groups, that would give me more time, I need to look into consequences, timeline, what systems need to be put into place…
Charlie: is there any update about the flags situation?
Maggie: it’s complicated, we have not met since the last time Selectboard met, I’ve said over email I don’t feel ready to draft a resolution based on things that came up during this meeting, there’s not a resolution that’s coming yet, we have to think about it
Charlie: so for TM next week do you think there’s anything that needs to be addressed in the HSP address?
Tanner: only if we opt not to have TM for Work Day
(Work Day is next week)
Maggie: I would vote not to have TM next week…
Charlie: I would say push the W/D funds request through… that’s time-sensitive?
Tanner: yes the way Nick and Hannah said it to me was like they needed it this week
(funds request is for more ice rink materials)
Charlie: so do we not say that there’s no TM next week until we know whether the thing is going to be voted on, or should we say no TM next week?
Tanner: I think it’s important that we make more space for Work Day… and I think it’s more important that we prioritize Work Day, if we run into issues around the ice rink we’ll have to find a solution to it in the meantime
Charlie: so let’s not have Town Meeting that day
(Charlie moves not to have TM on the 23rd, it passes unanimously)
[PROPOSED TOWN MEETING AGENDA FOR 10/16]
Ice Rink Washer/Dryer Funds Request
(talking about board book report, do we want to mention that at this TM)
(Charlie moves the agenda above, we vote, it passes unanimously)
[BOARD BOOK REPORT]
Seth: when we first were raising this I sent a message to Chris Tripp, did he respond to everybody?
Seth: I’ll tell you what I wrote back to him is that yes, of course that’s the elephant, I think the reason no one is writing about that is we feel like there’s very little leverage
Lydia: what’s the elephant
Seth: I had asked Chris do you have a sense of what you’re going to bring to the board, here’s what we’re working at, he said those are important but the elephant is the future of the college and all other topics are subsumed by the future of the college
Izzy: I would love to use this as an opportunity to actually have an influence, there’s not so much the board is going to take into consideration about the merger, using this for that topic is sort of a symbolic gesture
Felix: it’s Chris’s choice, we don’t have authority over it, I can see both sides
Izzy: is he supposed to be polling/asking students
Lydia: it’s happened before but not necessarily
Maggie: he’s alluded to talking to students
(my computer died, I’m writing from Seth’s now but I missed a bit)
Charlie: … Chris obviously feels very passionate about it… this is mine but it’s technically ours, I’m not going to be at the trustee meeting to present it, we got 30 responses on our survey, that’s pretty good, especially for a somewhat long and intensive survey, so… maybe we can take a little bit to just go through it, see what some thoughts are, I’ve already read through the written responses, there’s several thrulines people have pointed to of “if this changes my life would be easier,” there’s a lot of discussion of accessibility as something that’s leading to student burnout…
Ritu: do we have access to the survey?
(we do, Charlie shared it with Selectboard)
Charlie: some of this, we’re looking at this data en masse, it’s difficult with the how many credits are you taking/how many are in tutorials to distinguish who’s doing what… most people, the majority spends eight hours or fewer in class, the majority of people who responded to the coursework question said that they spend 36 or fewer hours doing schoolwork, but 70% of respondents said they do experience burnout, which is interesting if people feel like they’re doing less work
Lydia: what do responses say about work-study/committees
Stephanie: 70% said they don’t serve on any committees, that’s sad
Charlie: 40% of people are participating in other people’s Plan work for some number of hours ranging from 1-6 or more, only 30% of those people are receiving credit for it, 30% of people are serving on committees, and then there’s a wide variation of how much time they’re spending on committee work… and then 50% of people said they spent 1-2 hours on extracurricular activities, 20% said they don’t spend any time… 30% of people are spending 6-10 hours on employment, more doing 11-15 hours, another 15% are doing either 1-5 or 16-20 hours of work a week… I think that the final thoughts section has the most tangible response that we could take something from without more number-crunching… there were some written responses that were stating feelings many people have, one of them was I feel like I have time to do 80-90% of my work, I have to choose one class to do less work on, I’m not meeting my academic expectations… employment was interesting because yes or no were both 40%, one person said they didn’t have time to take on a job, 50% of students said they do not have the time to meet their co-curricular responsibilities, the rest of the responses were either no or they don’t have any… this is where it gets juicy, the how do you feel like your personal life affects your ability to manage responsibilities at Marlboro, a lot of it seemed like a chicken or the egg scenario, is burnout causing issues or are your anxiety etc. causing burnout, there’s also the thread of health resources, not having health resources, having to take the time to go off-campus… I think that’s the biggest, and also people feeling like they’re having to choose between having a personal life or meeting their academic responsibilities, they can’t be fulfilling all of their needs, if you’re trying to get everything done then something somewhere is going to be not met
Lydia: I’m thinking back to these numbers and sample size, you guys were talking about being surprised by the class and homework time responses that people gave, if people are spending 8 hours a week in class and 15 hours a week in work-study, and 20 doing homework, that’s over 40 hours a week still, more than full-time with none of the co-curricular… you guys are probably familiar with some of the research around work weeks, but 42 hours from just those three things takes a pretty significant toll on people
Charlie: it’s also pretty split over people feeling like they have control over their schedules and pointing to class time changes and stuff like that which is somewhat unpredictable, things just popping up out of the blue that they’re required to attend, and I think that the biggest thing that came out of this question is the things are frequently added/dropped/expected out of your schedule without much personal agency in that, like class time changes and stuff like that… 70% of people said they experience burnout… and then some side responses about maybe sort of, maybe not yet, or not understanding the question… the next question was about things you want to do, not just have to do, and 53% of people said that they do not feel like they have time to do things that they want to do, and then there were some other responses about feeling guilty about prioritizing certain things, like making time to do things that you want to do makes you feel guilty about neglecting things that you have to do, and then I think the responses about how to rebalance the student experience were the most exciting for me to read, it gave me some concrete ideas
Maggie: what… is this report going to be a summary of the answers or are you going to take this to inform the report
Charlie: I have to propose, this is an issue on campus, this is why it’s an issue, here are some potential solutions to this issue on campus… so I think one tangible thing is that either classes shouldn’t be during mealtimes or mealtimes should be longer to accommodate classes that go into mealtimes, people are having to miss meals because they’re in class, I think a lot of this is how many hours of work is there per credit, how can it be clarified, how much work people should be doing per credit, and also we are such an academically rigorous institution that even though people are… I’m trying to grapple with this concept of people are feeling like they’re not doing a lot of work but it’s still a lot of work, and I feel like a lot of the responses were discussing how people feel like it’s not communicated clearly exactly what the expectations for the work they’re doing are…
Lydia: can I ask because I think with times with classes and mealtimes and what a credit hour means, a lot of those things that have come up I feel like are within faculty meeting, the board’s control over that would pretty much be task the faculty with that, is this something that’s been brought to faculty meeting in the first place, if the board brought this to faculty meeting would this be the first time they’ve heard this
Seth: I haven’t looked at the data specifically, but it’s interesting to look at the problem from this point of view, because faculty meeting has had a number of discussions about scheduling classes, those have always been an effort to depopulate the most popular times, the effort has been to push the classes away from those into weird evening times… the other thing is that there are a handful of classes that try to find a time to meet that doesn’t conflict with any other classes
Lydia: I guess I mean has the idea of student burnout and the curricular aspect come through faculty meeting?
Ritu: in the last one year I don’t remember it
Seth: we haven’t had a broad conversation, we had the midterm meeting this morning, most of which is about individual students of concern, there was a trend of saying “this is a bright student who’s capable of doing the work but x is in the way…” there’s accessibility and health issues dragging people down
Charlie: this is not just a curricular issue, I am personally feeling the effects of the lack of resources at the THC and the other things on campus requiring people to go off campus to get care that should be things provided on campus, that is something that the board can look at
Lydia: I talked to a couple members of Selectboard about how I was really interested on focusing on my crusade for accessibility/health resources on this campus, that feels like something the board can do, allocate funds for, outside of the health and accessibility aspect, what you’ve summarized with the responses there’s the health and the people’s personal lives things htat are coming up, I’m thinking about what the board can do and is likely to do
Izzy: this is the first thing I have felt that bringing to the board is useful, there’s this experience of burnout, the fact that students are having medical issues that aren’t able to be addressed by services on campus, that’s majorly contributed, cannot go to faculty, can be affected by the board giving money, if there’s a way to focus on tangible ways that the board can help, and by tangible I mostly mean financial, and giving money to the THC could help with burnout, and would also be the best use of their time and our time as far as getting things done
Ritu: one thing I’d like to add is that in my short experience I’ve interacted with a few students who have transferred/wanted to transfer for health reasons
Felix: I know a number of students who have left
Lydia: and those who haven’t have thought about it or been on the bring
Charlie: programming, conflicting programming, we’re told as RA’s not to do programming at the same time as other people, but that’s something we can also be better about
Lydia: the community calendar is new and hasn’t taken off yet, if that becomes something people are using, the intent of that was to sort of avoid that kind of conflicting programming
Tanner: program done by any extension of student life, none of us overlap, we have a calendar and a policy of our programs, they might happen on the same day, we make sure they’re very unrelated… but again that’s not necessarily, we still haven’t fully gotten in touch with other people
Felix: and also two things can happen at the same time and that’s okay
Charlie: so there’s a curricular level, a health and accessibility angle, in the responses there’s some discussion about the coffeeshop is not functional very often/not being able to be at meals, which could be another thing but I feel like it’s important to focus on the curricular and health and accessibility as the two pillars of the report
Seth: curricular question, the nominal workload is out of our hands, the state defines a credit as 4-5 hours worth of work, the concern here is transparency but also equity, we can work on it but I have misgivings about how
Lydia: I was aware coming into college of the nominal workload, but as a senior a four-credit class is hugely varied between professors, I guess curriculum stuff with the faculty, maybe because I’m feeling cynical/bitter today, I’m not sure faculty see burnout as a problem, faculty say students need to do more, work more, I think if that’s a prevailing attitude I don’t see a lot of potential for changing
Seth: that doesn’t surprise me that you would’ve heard that… I think if you came to the faculty as a whole with these results that’d be an interesting conversation, but I’d be surprised if it gained a lot of traction
Lydia: I’ve been thinking a lot about burnout, I don’t think it’s necessarily decreasing workload as a whole but equalizing workload, not necessarily adjusting curriculum, but on a personal/emotional level, students are made to feel really guilty for not doing more by faculty that they’re working with, even if the workload doesn’t change at all, if attitudes changed I think that would go a long way, if faculty were more aware of what students are doing, I don’t think faculty need to be therapists, but some recognition that students are experiencing burnout, are overworked, not necessarily just through classes but through work-study etc., if it was the exact same curriculum, no positive message, but faculty weren’t telling us we were lazy and needed to be working harder, that would go a long way… students are really influenced by faculty opinions, students feel like they aren’t doing very much when they’re doing what’s expected of them or more, I don’t think that’s a problem consistently for everybody but that’s something I think is varied
Ritu: what do we do with students who really are not doing enough? That’s the conversation that keeps playing in my head… accountability, right? There does seem to be a section among those who do not have accountability…
Seth: I was characterizing the meeting one way, there were also people who were saying students didn’t seem to know why they were here, it appears they’re not overworked
Lydia: “it appears” is salient, students aren’t showing up but they might be taking care of a family member, health issues, etc., but also the job you do and we sign up for is you give us work and you do it
Tanner: and the students you’re saying “it appears” are now on our list and we’re scheduling our next steps of checking in, we’ll start establishing whether appearance is reality or not
Charlie: next steps… the report is due on Friday, not sure what time, I’m proposing that those who could meet after ded hour again tomorrow, if we could meet again then and start doing the actual writing of the board book report, and hopefully get a good chunk of that done… would people be able to meet tomorrow after ded hour?
Charlie: I could also potentially… I don’t know how people feel about breakfast meetings, but that is about the only other available time in my schedule
(we’re going to meet from 8-9 tomorrow morning, we can decide at that meeting if we need more meetings)