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2/12/20 Town Meeting Minutes

Selectboard Clerk Felix, February 13, 2020

12 February 2020

Town Meeting Minutes

 

Minutes are taken by Selectboard Clerk Felix and reflect to the best of my ability goes on during a Selectboard meeting. Due to the fast-paced nature of the meetings and the limitations of flesh and bone, the minutes do not necessarily directly quote those who choose to speak. They do, however, provide a record of the discussions had and decisions made in Town Meeting. With questions or concerns please comment here or email selectboard@marlboro.edu.

(These minutes have been edited at the request of quoted parties to reflect a more accurate version of their statements.)

Town Meeting Agenda:

  1. Trustee Meeting Update
  2. Graduation Resolution Deliberation
    1. Whereas May 2020 is likely to hold Marlboro College’s last commencement ceremony on this campus,

 

and whereas current Marlboro students who are first-semester seniors this spring semester would traditionally be recognized at the spring 2021 commencement,

 

Town Meeting resolves that those students shall be allowed to walk across the stage at said ceremony, although they will not be granted a degree at that time.

  1. Title IX Report
  2. Flag Resolution Read-in and Deliberation
    1. Whereas Marlboro College strives to support a diverse and inclusive learning community;

 

And whereas the feedback from Town Meeting discussions and student conversations support the need for a welcoming atmosphere that is inclusive of students from diverse backgrounds;

 

And whereas immense support has been expressed for flying international flags on campus;

 

And whereas flags can be an opportunity for continued cultural learning;

 

Let it be resolved that Town Meeting supports the International Office in raising flags in the dining hall representing place-based identities. The International Office will facilitate conversation between any community members who may oppose a particular flag.

  1. Committee Reports
  2. Announcements

 

Meeting has begun, Emmanuel is reminding us to introduce ourselves before we speak, she has also placed copies of our resolutions for the day on tables behind the screen where people might not be able to see them



[TRUSTEE MEETING UPDATE]

 

Charlie Hickman, HSP: we had a trustee meeting Saturday, I want to start by thanking everyone who attended the trustee tea, expressed concerns, comments, really made an impact, trustees heard your comments… at the trustee meeting I reported on behalf of the students, because I didn’t have a written trustee report due to some miscommunications, I generally spoke about the fact that there has been a lot of uncertainty in regards to decision-making because the decision about the merger is planned to be made in May which does not give a lot of certainty for students exploring options for next semester when we’re not sure how the deal will come through, so I made the request that the trustees make a more binding decision earlier in the process…

 

Richard Glejzer, Dean of Faculty: one of the things we’ve been working on is how do we give you more information, the trustees are very aware of our desire to have as much information as possible as early as possible, students have thought about there’s a difference between Emerson’s credit requirement and Marlboro, if you’re a senior 1 you have eight more credits to do, faculty spent a long time, they passed yesterday a proposal that will grant four credits to the completion of clear writing, and then four for the progression, technically when we do this it’s for future students, but any current students can petition the registrar to count those credits, they will be put in for the semester you complete that requirement

 

Patrick, Dean of Students: we recognize there’s information you all need, we’re trying to get answers as quickly as we can, financial aid being one of the most important we’re realizing, I will start by saying please know that even if the information you’re currently receiving feels muddy, Marlboro has made the commitment to make sure you have the funds necessary to be successful at Emerson? We are committed to covering the difference in room and board, which will be $6500 per year per student, we’re working with Emerson to get them the funds, distribute the funds, as you’re meeting with Emerson they may not have the answer to that but we do. More than likely there will be a tuition increase of 3-4% next year. This is standard practice amongst colleges, and for a Marlboro student this would translate to roughly $850-$1100. As soon as we hear from Emerson we will let you know, be aware that a 3% increase is probably going to be the standard in tuition, room and board, housing, if you haven’t completed a FAFSA form please do that, they are willing to apply federal financial aid to room and board costs, so that may help you in that process. I know for Beautiful Minds scholars there’s been confusion, we are committed to fully fund Beautiful Minds scholars at the same level at Emerson as they are at Marlboro, in the next few weeks we will have more specific information, also if you’re going to Emerson this Friday and have not completed the FERPA waiver I recommend you do that because there will be the opportunity to meet with offices who need that information

 

Amy Beecher, faculty rep to the trustees: Jaime Tanner is also a faculty rep, member of the curriculum working group, have made a lot of progress, I’m not on that working group, but you should know that that group has sent ideas to Emerson, Emerson is mulling over our first draft of that… faculty are in the process of working out what they’re going to teach, the time is now for us to think about teaching courses, you should be checking in with faculty really regularly to see what the deal is, things change from week to week, in visual art lack of facilities has changed to facilities! talk to your advisors, ask questions, know that the answers to those questions will change

 

Catherine Canaan, student: question about the added credits, if you’ve already taken 18 credits in the semester, is there a problem with that? money?

 

Richard: there is no problem with that

 

[GRADUATION RESOLUTION DELIBERATION]

 

(we read this in last week, we’re going to vote this week)

 

(I read it in, Izzy is giving rationale)

 

Izzy: the rationale is allowing people who are currently a senior one to have a ceremony, a ritual to honor the work they’ve done, since most likely wherever people choose to go on they would have the option to walk in May, but having been somewhere for three months and having been gone most people probably wouldn’t return, so this is a time to honor the work where it feels right, they’ve started Plan here, honoring that through

 

(questions)

 

Eric Wefald: I’m wondering exactly who the decision maker would be

 

Felix: Izzy and I brought this up to the senior team, I think it goes to Dan Cotter, they seemed receptive

 

Jenny Ramstetter: I’m wondering if this should come before faculty meeting

 

Felix: because this is a non-binding resolution, there’s no harm in bringing it here, faculty meeting might be the next step

Maia Segura: I’m wondering if there are senior 2s who want to speak to this and see how they feel?

 

Emmanuel: this sounds like an opening to deliberation?

 

KJ Ramos, student: as long as we get our degree too, I don’t see a problem with it, they’re our friends, we’ve been through a lot together

 

Lucy Johnson, student: this isn’t an argument against, it’s a deliberation from a junior 2, I guess it seems like I’ve been here for a really long time and it sucks that I can’t graduate and why do senior 1s get to graduate and not junior 2s

 

Cyane, student: I wanted to say again with Karla, I don’t mind being a senior 2, going into a new environment and having to start over and not knowing people, having to adjust, it’s kind of awkward, I know senior 1s are starting Plan right now, and the process is a little different from everyone else right now, I’m in favor


Felix: point of information to Lucy’s point, this doesn’t necessarily preclude other forms of recognition, putting people’s names in the program, letting other people walk, it’s just an opening point to a conversation

 

Veronica, student: I feel like I’m not speaking necessarily against the idea that senior 1s shouldn’t be allowed to walk, I’m more wondering how long is graduation going to be, considering it’s the last graduation, it takes a long time to get all the senior 2s across the stage, are we going to do that in a different way, are there different resolutions we could reach

 

Richard: a couple things, ultimately the decision is also a trustee decision, trustees are starting to weigh in, from an administration and senior team perspective we’ve made it clear that current students are a priority, we talked about this, it looks like a good idea, there have been times where we’ve let senior ones slip through at the end before, this is a good proposal, there’s a lot of conversation about how to make it expansive, time is also a part of the conversation

 

(moved to a vote, resolution passes)

 

[TITLE IX REPORT]

 

Patrick: I’m here to talk to you about what is one of the most uncomfortable and painful parts of the college experience, which is the Title IX process… my role as dean of students is to make sure that every student is able to experience Marlboro in a safe and supportive environment and at the same time to provide an environment that allows students recourse when that is not the case. Over my time here and after discussion with a number of students, it has become clear that our current Title IX policies and procedures fall short, they leave gaps, they have the ability to be not supportive for all participants in the process, at times they can be harmful to participants, including complainants, respondents, students, faculty, and staff who are charged with making difficult and at times impossible decisions that they are often not trained to make and often despite our best ability lack the knowledge and experience that one would hope one would have in a decision-making process like this. That being said, we are in unusual times, after discussion with students and senior team, I have made the decision to put in place interim policies and procedures for the rest of the semester, those policies change the way we approach this, from a single to a double investigator, from a panel decision-making process to a process that puts the onus on individuals who are better trained, they still provide community panel opportunities, they do a better job of providing a clear pathway for students or others reporting Title IX violations, they do a better job of providing a road map for students involved in the Title IX process that allows them to feel more supported and more part of a community that values them as individuals and also the process is more trauma-informed than the one we currently use. this is not something I take lightly, I recognize this is out of the norm for who we are as a community, and I wanted to acknowledge that. Title IX sits outside of community governance and does so for a reason, it’s one of the pieces of our community that requires a level of knowledge, skill, expertise, and an extreme level of care and concern for students. as a community we are amazing at supporting each other, but we often get bogged down in the decision-making process. after discussion with Kevin etc., we have new policies enacted at the start of next week, they’ll be sent out tomorrow, I’m happy to sit down with people and talk about how we made this decision, it’s in the best interest of the community, students, who we are and who we say we are as an institution

 

Seth Harter, faculty: how do we ensure that the policies going into effect next week, that the entire community is up to speed?

 

Patrick: it is going to be short turnaround, they will go out to the community, starting next week Megan and I will hold sessions, Q&A, programming and information sessions

 

Amer Latif, faculty: I wonder if you have information about how this new set of policies might compare with the policies at institutions students might transfer to

 

Patrick: in looking at our policies, I looked at about five institutions that are considered best practice, these are much more in line with what the national standard is for Title IX policies, in keeping with almost all of our transfer institutions and also with Emerson’s

 

Nelli Sargsyan, faculty: how are students being supported, people involved with the process

 

Patrick: Megan, our survivor advocate, provides support on campus, and then Dylan is our respondent advocate and advisor, he provides support and guidance in that area, we do our best to connect students with on-campus and off-campus resources. this new policy does a better job at providing resources at every step

 

Ritu, faculty: so there’s going to be a double-investigator model, is the investigator and the coordinator going to be the same figure still?

 

Patrick: we are looking at separation between the two

 

Alex O’Pray: will this do anything for students who have recently been inadequately supported?

 

Patrick: unfortunately we are not able to re-hear or re-investigate cases, but we are looking at what we can do to provide supports for students

 

Grace: I’m wondering if Jean (Kiewell) is still involved, is she here?

 

Patrick: she is involved

 

Grace: why isn’t she here?

 

Patrick: she’s not an employee, she’s contracted, ultimately this process falls to me, Jean reports to me

 

[FLAG RESOLUTION READ-IN AND DELIBERATION]

 

(Maggie is reading in the resolution)

 

  1. Whereas Marlboro College strives to support a diverse and inclusive learning community;

 

And whereas the feedback from Town Meeting discussions and student conversations support the need for a welcoming atmosphere that is inclusive of students from diverse backgrounds;

 

And whereas immense support has been expressed for flying international flags on campus;

 

And whereas flags can be an opportunity for continued cultural learning;

 

Let it be resolved that Town Meeting supports the International Office in raising flags in the dining hall representing place-based identities. The International Office will facilitate conversation between any community members who may oppose a particular flag.

 

Maggie: …I would love to put the flags back up for the last few months on this campus as a visual display of who we are and who we love and who’s here. I do have a collection of flags that were up about a year and a half ago, however that doesn’t need to be the definitive flags that go up, I’ll be sending out an email, on Monday I’ll be here all of lunch if this passes for you all to share with me if you want a particular flag up

 

KJ: I have a question… LIC fought for those flags and the Black Lives Matter flag for so long, and Town Meeting always shuts it down with some weird thing, like they want the Confederate flag, Blue Lives Matter flag, so what’s the difference now, I feel like people are going to do the same thing, ask for all those flags, what’s the difference with that

 

Maggie: two part answer, some of those we hoped were relieved by the previous resolution that student groups could facilitate bringing those flags up, so LIC, QRC, WRC, spiritual life, we’ve re-resolved that they now have the power to put up identity-based flags. This is specifically bringing forward place-based flags, they don’t have to be geopolitical, nation-states, however place-based, I use those words to potentially not get at some of the flags that you just reference. Flags are complicated, and it’s an opportunity for a lot of learning, so if someone wants to bring a specific ask to me I’d love to chat with them, why they’re picking it, and go from there. I’m hoping that this resolution can be seen as a celebration

 

Nastia: I’m pretty sure the BLM flag is up there, I’m worried as part of this language that it’s not considered a place-based identity, I’m worried people might want to take it down

 

Maggie: the two resolutions, I don’t see them as conflicting, one is not overriding the other, this resolution is saying we put place-based flags up, not that any identity-based flags should come down

 

Adeel: I’m wondering are you only putting up flags by request, if not which flags you will put up and why

 

Maggie: so I have year-and-a-half-old collection, represents folks who were or are still here, I have not done inventory… I have that collection with the intention of putting those flags up for quantity’s sake, generally in places where flags go up the more there are the more visually appealing it is. I’m going to send an email out, I would love feedback

 

Adeel: talk more about who these folks are

 

Maggie: current collection is a mix of all of our partner institution countries, for example Geraldine asked if our Uruguay flag could go up for Luis and I said yes, students here on a visa, Arabic fellows’ countries of origin, Oxford fellows, international faculty, also students with specific input, some part of family or identity, I bought those flags as well for students

 

Rosario: I want to acknowledge that the BLM flag is due to the work of the students, thank you (applause) and secondly I think there seems to be a contradiction between flying international vs place-based

 

Maggie: there has been immense support for flying international flags, place-based is because, like we flew Hawaii and there was a debate whether that was international

 

Tobias: what would you say about conflicting place-based identities? identities of people that have historic claim conflicting with others who have historic claim, and how those flags would work, would it have to be internationally recognized, flags of nations that exist in some form now, would it be something historic?

 

Maggie: place-based was to get away from “they have to be geopolitical stamped by the UN”… all the flags that we have right now are people-based. so I would leave it up to our community members, if they want a specific flag, I don’t care if there are borders attached, if it’s recognized as a state right now, I want you all to hold the power and see and feel that you like seeing… not to say that every student might like every flag, that has not been the case… does that first part answer your question?

 

Veronica: I think someone who wants to place the celebration of their nation into a flag has the right to do that, yet what agency do students who have been at the college have over how their culture is celebrated, when you see flags in the dining hall not knowing you have students from there, those would be symbols of nationalism, are you going to be asking the people who through a flag you’re representing, if they want to be represented

 

Emmanuel: sounds like we may be ready to move on to deliberation

 

Maggie: it’s something that I’ve thought about a lot, in that we’re such a small community, so oftentimes you see a flag and you know who that might be there for, and I’ve had more than one instance of a flag, someone saying “is that for me because I don’t want that,” two instances I’ve said “yes a student asked for that,” it’s hard to know what the intention of each individual flag is, that’s tough and I get that, that is 100% the reason why we are talking about this so much and have in the last several years, that’s part of the reason I brought that here today, an attempt to hear and buy in to the celebration, the visual celebration of it, and not the politics of borders and people. and I know that you can’t fully separate that, so that’s why I’m here, to hear if you buy in to that intention or not. I’ve done several things throughout the years, putting information on my board, “what are these flags about,” if people’s first reactions are “what is this display of nationalism” that’s there, I’m open to suggestions of how to convey that or to continue conversation/discussion about symbolism of flags, colonization, nationalism…

 

Star: so what you’re saying is regardless of where we come from, we email you and it’ll be put up along with the other flags?

 

Maggie: yep

 

Maya: I was curious about the last sentence of the resolution, the International Office will facilitate conversation… what environment would that be, would it be taken to Town Meeting, how would that manifest

 

Maggie: so this is the same wording as the prior one, the resolution about the identity-based flags, so just to make sure that the language seemed the same across… I am the International Office, conversation could look different depending on the student or students and what they want, the intention behind this sentence is “I want to hear you.” I want to understand the reasoning. what I don’t want is a flag to be ripped down and me not knowing who or why, I want to talk about it, I don’t want to change your mind but I want to hear why so we have a better sense of what to do, I don’t foresee it coming through Town Meeting unless someone wants it to, I don’t want the big conversation coming through Town Meeting

 

Matan: do we need that last line at all? can’t we just draw a simple criteria, if we’re going to do this, can’t we come up with a simple criteria, according to international law, and that one standard is going to decide whether a flag flies or not, if we start doing personal sentiments as criteria, there’s no end

 

Maggie: as the writer of this resolution I don’t want to do that because I am happy for any and all flags to go up

 

Emmanuel: this sounds a little bit like an argument or an amendment

 

(motion to table, seconded)

 

(ayes have it, motion passes)

 

(motion to adjourn, second)







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