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September 10, 2009 Minutes

Cornell University Student Assembly
September 10, 2009
4:45 — 6:30pm
Memorial Room, Willard Straight Hall

I. Call to Order

R. Salem called the meeting to order at 4:47 pm

II. Roll Call

Representatives Present: I Akinpelu, V Andrews, C Basil, C DeLencquesaing, M DeLucia, Z Glasser, N Junewicz, A Latella, J Min, N Raps, J Rau, A Raveret, R Salem, K Welch, O Williams

Representatives Excused: A Cowen

Representatives Unexcused: A Nicoletti

Liaisons present: P Eliasinski, A Flye

III. Open Microphone

The microphone was opened up for members not on the agenda

Phoebe Yu is a member of ILR here on behalf of people who corresponded for idea of committees on innovation. Mandate will be to serve as instrument for idea SA or student body has. Implement ideas as well. N. Kumar said that this is something they’re working toward a resolution in future SA meeting. Feel free to contact one of them.

Maya Koretzky is a freshmen from Arts and Sciences. She attended Clubfest. There were lots of service groups without ways to connect or let freshmen know about them. She suggested a plan. M DeLucia suggested to look up the Giving Tree. K Welch said there is already something exactly like she proposed with the discussion board.

Roneal Desai had a more a procedural question. His question was regarding financial aid and the necessity of a health plan. An audience member from Gannett said that he would be glad to speak to him personally and clarify with him.

A Raveret thought it was a great idea and suggested he come back to the SA or the financial aid committee if he did not get an adequate response from Gannett.

IV. Announcements/Reports

Gannett Update - Tim Marshell, class of ‘82.

He is the assistant director of Gannett. Dean Hubbell asked him to fill everyone in on status of H1N1 pandemic that’s affected the nation and campus. He would like to share, and enlist input. They want to start with show of hands. How many know a Cornell student who has or had a flu-like illness. (Nearly all raise hands). On annual basis 20% affected. Most often deaths occur in response to older people. Right now it is a pandemic that hasn’t occurred in 40 years. Pandemic refers to a spread, not severity of illness. They are anticipating H1N1 and the normal seasonal flu to affect the community. The severity of H1N1 or “swine flu” is that most cases are of mild to moderate impact. One unique thing is that it is disproportionately affecting 5–24 year olds. Student population isn’t usually affected, but they are at great risk for infections. One student has been hospitalized, and the total number of probable infections is 500. These are only the students who have been treated or had phone contact with Gannett. They anticipating that numbers will begin to rise. Washington State University (student population of 24,000) peaked at 2,000 confirmed cases. They don’t test every case, in accordance with the CDC. Symptoms are fever, cough, body aches, gastro-intestinal problems. This lasts 4–7 days. People with asthma, diabetes, immune diseases or people who are pregnant are at higher risk. They suggest acetaminophen, ibuprophin, self medication. They only treat with antiviral on a limited basis. They will also be hit with the seasonal flu soon, while the vaccinations for h1n1 flu and the seasonal flu should be out soon. Transmission is not airborne. It is direct or indirect. For instance a cough goes 3 feet before falling down. That or they touch a virus which lives from 2–8 hours on a surface and then can take it. People wash hands please. The best way to spread the virus is to bring together 200 people in a small room. Provide them with alcohol so motor function of facial muscles is impaired. Have loud music so people have to lean into each other. Sharing cups, funnel, smokes, chapstick, then hooking up. H1N1 is potentially a sexually transmitted infection. He says this facetiously but it is a fairly accurate description. Social events are relatively high risk venues. They find that IFC res calling for moratorium on social events to be prudent.

J Min said that he knows there are a lot of rumors around campus on what happens when certain number of students have H1N1. Is there going to be a certain number where Gannett is going to recommend the university to close down? Do you know the policy? T Marshell said that the university has been planning for a pandemic for past few years. No set protocol for reaching numbers. It really depends on how widespread, how many staff and faculty vs. students are infected and the severity. There is a response team of administrators monitoring the situation on a daily basis. All possibilities are being considered.

N. Raps wanted to know what happens when one person has swine flu and then already got over it. T. Marshell said that you can’t get swine flu twice, but can get seasonal flu. Even after feeling better, can still be shedding virus for few days, particularly if you have a lingering cough.

For students missing class, is there a policy to compensate that it’s tough for kids to do well in classes? T. Marshell said that Provost Kent Fox has communicated to faculty throughout campus that we’re in an unusual situation and even though some courses include class attendance, that given the importance of ill students staying away, faculty will take that into consideration when conducting evaluations. No specific policy but faculty has been advised.

VP Basil said that the IFC news is too late-breaking to address here and lend support. He wants to echo his personal support to shut down. He was courageous and prudent. The IFC has their support in decision.

N Junewicz said thank you. She was wondering when they think the seasonal shot will be out. T. Marshell said that they anticipate it for the end of September. N. Junewicz wanted to know if there was enough for everyone. T. Marshell said that he doesn’t know details. They anticipate being fine for seasonal flu. H1N1 is in clinical trials and may come in installments.

VP Andrews said that he knows Rammy was talking about this at executive session. Would it be possible to give out vaccine for H1N1 in dorms and multiple stations to make it easier for students to obtain? T. Marshall said that every year, the seasonal flu increases access with various locations. This year, they may be able to administer 2 at same time. H1N1 will likely require 2 doses. It is going to be logistically complicated but the aim is to make it most accessible. Community member R. Desai said that the reason he asks is because there is a difference between not getting marked down and not being able to physically attend lecture. He said that they should consider an emergency amendment for students with swine flu to be able to drop classes at irregular times. T. Marshell said that it is important for people to understand, Gannett does not issue medical excuses. In the past they have given verification of visits but no longer are able to provide those. Students who have concerns should speak directly with faculty and/or seek advice from academic advising offices. He left various posters on when to call gannet, communication tools. His email, should anyone desire to contact him is tcm9.

Elections Committee Update — Nikki Junewicz

There were 39 packets submitted on Tuesday. Unfortunately, they are still working on verifying petitions due to registrar complications. They’re trying their hardest to get everything verified. As of now, all are done but transfers. To keep it a fair playing field, not announcing anyone yet.

By-Line Funding- Chris Basil

For those in appropriations committee will already know, but the Appropriations committee met Monday and 2 things happened. One was a discussion philosophically about raising the activity fee and they said obviously it is a case by case, which makes strategy difficult. The compromise was that they would remain very transparent with updating the assembly weekly. That said they’re not looking to penalize one group over another in terms of byline funding. They’re going to look at each group with same level of rigor. Second is that the appropriations committee heard big red bikes and alternative breaks as eligible. Both were determined to be eligible by votes of 11–2. They have resolution 6 to deal with technical issues. He motioned to move to bus of day. It was seconded. N. Kumar said there was great leadership on philosophical issue. Obviously the Student Activity fee has gone up quite a bit. It is important to hold this discussion.

Vice President of Internal Operations Update- Nikhil Kumar

He wanted to make a motion to amend standing rules. One, it wasn’t really reflective of how they operated. He wants to amend rules regarding new business so that instead of author having 15 minutes, they have 5 minutes to introduce and then allow the assembly to comment. They can then ask questions give suggestions and then it would be tabled. It was seconded. There was no dissent so the amendment passed. As for Staffing, the last meeting they had over 125 applications for 40 spots. Hopefully they will be able to fill most if not all over the next week. Those interested in audience, be on the look-out. They’re about 2 weeks ahead of last year, which is a good sign. Committees should start to meet next week. N Junewicz asked if students can still apply to be on committees. N Kumar said that they can apply any time, if someone withdraws, it’s possible, but only fill spots if vacancies arrive.

Introduction from Student Programs Associate Director- Corey Earle

C. Earle is an alumnus from the class of 2007. He was asked to come speak today. As was briefly discussed in executive session, he was approached for position of executive archivist. They would like the SA to have access to historical perspective. One of his hobbies is history. He wanted to introduce himself and is happy to help the SA however you need. He would hate to take the position of an undergraduate if anyone else is interested. If not, he’d like to help. Also, this area is new and just launched. They have just created an office and the goal is to find better ways for students to interact with alumni. Improve sense of community in the student body.

IFC Update from the Executive Vice President of the IFC —Allen Miller

A Miller. As you know, we’re currently under attack from H1N1. IFC voted 29–11 to create a one-week moratorium on all events in the Greek system. It was a tough decision to make. They decided after being approached by Gannett that it was the best decision for now. Time to think about how to re-evaluate to prevent spikes in outbreak and make sure all frat houses are keeping things sanitized. Yesterday they handed out a lot of hand sanitizers, soap, etc to make sure houses are safe. VP Williams asked if this was for all Greek chapters. A Miller said they have the full support of IFC and PanHellenic. The other didn’t know much about it. Biggest concern is the “open parties” and he thinks MGLC doesn’t have as large issue but would like support.

Nick Diaz, the president of MGLC said that as their stance is that most events don’t involve alcohol. So taking next week to assess where they tailor social events to make less risky in terms of interaction.

A Miller said that a lot didn’t take it very seriously, but about a week ago there were 50 reported cases. As of yesterday it was 450 and as of now, above 500. He is here and want to make sure everyone’s safe.

Z Glasser asked if you think you’re going to extend the period. A Miller said that the way most illnesses work is a bell curve. They think it’s taken off, and hoping to level off. Gannett’s resources are currently being fully taxed. People with problems can’t get attention they need. Don’t think year long/semester long moratorium will be necessary. They will use this to raise awareness and come up with ideas to have social events and be socially responsible.

N Kumar said this is a very important step and it is great that IFC took it. He motioned to endorse efforts of IFC, Gannett, and maintain contact with SA. There was a call for acclimation. It was seconded with no dissent.

I Akinpelu asked if he’d considered extending till when the vaccine becomes available or any efforts. A Miller- time table on vaccine is currently unknown. Moratorium is a week but it’s to be evaluated on a rolling basis. Don’t show symptoms to two days afterwards. Only so much can be done.

Announcement - Justin Min

SAFC should’ve gotten an email that deadline for online budgets were due today, but because they’re working on kinks, have extended to 5:59pm Sunday. President/Treasurers tests are no longer needed. VP Basil — are these proposed changes

R Salem introduced Andrew, the RSC liaison and Tricia, the Greek liaison.

V. Business of the Day

Resolution 6 Big Red Bikes Eligibility — Chris Basil

The appropriations committee approved big red bikes as eligible. However, in appendix a, the rules state that all organizations have to satisfy requirements and additional are optional requirements or they need exemption directly by SA. Don’t satisfy “previously funded for at least two semesters” and he brings this forward to approve here and forward to President Skorton.

K Welch asked what the reasoning was behind it in first place. VP Basil responded that this is because all organizations are getting at least 5 or 6 thousand dollars. They have a lot less oversight than SAFC. There is more trust involved. Groups with history of responsible money management is a good thing.

There was a call to question. There was a call for acclimation. It was seconded. With no dissent, the motion passed. Big red bikes is eligible.

VI. Unfinished Business

R. 3- Restructuring of Review Committees- Nikhil Kumar

The only changes he’s added since last week are women’s issues and CIT committee at large undergraduate voting members from 9 to 15 and 5 to ten respectively. VP Andrews said that this is a great resolution. He called to question. It was seconded with no dissent. By a roll call vote of 15–0−0 the motion passed.

R. 4- Voting Rights for Members of the Undergraduate Community “The Community Clause”- Ola Williams and Rammy Salem

N Kumar as acting chair reminded everyone that this was a charter change so need they need 2/3 voting membership in favor to pass.

R Salem said there is a problem: regular attendance of undergrads at SA meetings is abysmal. His main point is to increase regular attendance of undergrads. His hypothesis was that granting limited voting rights will increase attendance, participation and awareness of students. His proposed solution extend voting rights. He recommended weakening his argument by logical means. He would like people to think about their constituencies. He further clarified how the resolution works. At Dartmouth, he has spoken to the president and vp to see how the SA equivalent works. As far as applying for membership, they can become by attending 3 consecutive meetings. He says it is very similar to their constitution but they run things a lot more casually. When they introduced, wanted members to have equal voting rights as representatives. They had a problem with president and tried to impeach him. After that, amended that resolutinos have to be sponsored by committees. We don’t have to make that mistake. Anticipated this and are addressing with veto power. This isn’t a novel or radical idea. He countered a lot of points brought up at last week’s meeting. His final thoughts were that they don’t feel need to stick to status quo. Don’t get bogged down by tradition. Don’t fear change, don’t remove self. Be open-minded, don’t be afraid to take risks.

N Junewicz wanted to know what VP Williams thought of this. VP Williams said that the reason why it’s a community clause is for the community. Trying to take politics out of SA. Resolution DOESN’T take power from SA, but gives power to people to vote on things they care about. We have whole list of reserved powers. If you don’t like something, have right to veto with 2/3 of vote. Rammy’s vision is to give increased participation in SA. This encourages members to get off their high horses and be like regular people.

VP Basil motioned to amend the third whereas from direct to representative. Because the direct election of EVP is representative. R Salem did not fine it friendly. VP Basil said the reason he thinks that resolution has no potency is because we’ve just heard a half an hour presentation on all the protections to effect us on evil influence of populace and spreading guns around campus. Sat here and listened to ways being protected. The community can’t vote on real business. Only thing they can do is no way to hurt them, in addition, valid concern that after resolution is passed, audience has attested that people come when there are specific issues. Come to SA when they have problems to SOLVE. They know SA knows about resources. When it comes down to it, when President Salem said to come up with a better idea, his is that we as assembly members do our job to the best of our abilities, hear groups with responsibility and grace, then when people come with issues, we listen to them. Work to solve problems. That’s how it has gained better reputation on campus when he was a freshmen. VP Williams said that the idea is to remove the politics, echoing his previous statement. Individuals in the community should be involved. He says they are apathetic because they don’t know what’s going on. Voting can be involved. Don’t have to be involved in that.

Maya Koretsky heard about this a week ago and thinks it’s a fantastic idea. Makes a stronger community. If you think about it, people coming regularly are people who will be in committees and elections. Let them know how it works. Not as long of an accommodating process. Even if it doesn’t give a ton of power, it still is a powerful symbol that says SA listens to main student body. There is a distinction between the student body and SA. Shouldn’t be afraid because support at election comes from students that’s the reason they’re here. Should be constantly reaffirming. She thinks based on numbers she probably won’t get elected but would love to still be part of SA with power even if not elected to SA.

I Akinpelu didn’t want to not give reasons for not being in approval. 1 — he thinks all protections put in make it weak anyway. Weaken own res by protecting SA. It strips away power from the community they are trying to empower. Realistically, veto doesn’t happen. Tried to reserve powers. But isn’t there risk, what if one of them really wants it and can present resolutions and community members can vote and wouldn’t be 2/3 against. They were elected for a reason to be the community representation. Aren’t they supposed to talk to US? That’s why everyone’s specified. Maybe if you change language a little, more steps into becoming, an application, or us voting on them or having whole community vote and have that count as two or three people. And feel there are other ways to encourage attendance, gimmicks, food, sit with you. Feel like this makes us seem like more figureheads. VP Williams wants to know why they can’t give community members little bit of power. Said stripping away powers but no one has any power. Rammy’s giving a little to them. I Akinpelu said that the power comes through us. Come talk to us about issue and WE present it. It’s putting too many voices into it and undermining SA. Trying to rebrand whole SA. VP Williams said it might be.

J Min said that last week he expressed reservations but having time to think he has had a change of heart. Problem remains that on campus students don’t know what’s going on. Can have students come out and get them more engaged and involved. Can be THE assembly. Nothing to lose. Doesn’t hinder or affect negatively anything doing.

Community member, Rebecca Stein had served on SA for two years. She is speaking as a community member who doesn’t want a voice. Can’t be here every week. Creating situation where someone with a lot of time on hands can come. This is a resolution with no teeth. Either say it does nothing or admit it’s giving power. Can’t have it both ways. If you want to admit giving people power, that representatives sitting on assembly are impeding on power of assembly. Hurting people who took time to campaign and vote. If you want to say that isn’t a major thing, then why not giving rights. Of course everyone knows that’s not why people are elected to assembly. Do we want to pass a resolution with no teeth and won’t do anything or do we want to sit down and come up with something that might work. Plenty of people can’t come for 2 meetings in a row. This caters to people who are power hungry. If you’re not elected, it’s cause people don’t want you representing them. R Salem said that it was most likely to affect freshmen. People won’t have time to come. Disenfranchising 35 people. People in audience should be insulted.

C DeLencquesaing had a question. She doesn’t agree with idea that attendance is important. Why is attendance so necessary? R Salem understands that everyone has tons of experience. But think that by attending 3 meetings, can get a gist of how operate. Increase regular attendance. C DeLencquesaing wants to know why it’s important. R Salem said that committees are specific issues. Not all around agenda deal with.

K Welch wanted to know if it did increase attendance at Dartmouth. R Salem said that he thinks it did but doesn’t have response officially.

I Akinpelu said that students act as congress. He suggested making this as a house of representatives type of thing. R Salem said there is something in the charter called the student activity forum. Allows students to compile ideas. Looking to revamp and reinvigorate it.

Walter Yoon is a student in CALS. If you go ask students who elected representative is, pretty sure won’t know number of people on board. But just because there is no idea, in terms of how much community knows, we don’t know much at all if anything. If it’s passed, it’s one step closer for community to understand.

A Raveret applauds passion. He agrees with basic goal of increasing attendance. Don’t know if it’s the correct way to do that. He is interested in looking at fairness. One is direct representation, which is everyone votes on an amendment. Being that that’s unrealistic, we have set up elected representation, what we have now. We proportionally represent students of each college. 3 arts, 2 cals representatives because it’s less large. They have proper representatives to population, we represent our schools fairly and if one person from Arts comes and has voting rights that throws off the proportion of. Don’t think we CAN represent thoughts of student body. They can’t read minds. Trying to do is to allow selves to be available.

Liaison Flye supports this as a symbolic gesture and lets him have a say.

R Salem does not think it’s unrealistic for every student to actually be involved. Whether they go through or not, opportunity exists. If they choose not to, it’s their decision. If they don’t like it, it’s to not participate. In senate doesn’t exist on individual member to act on behalf of students with fear of not elected.

Andrew Davids, Community member, thanks for allowing community members a chance to talk. He does not agree with calling it toothless. He likes the fact that it could tip a vote that could be 11–12 or 12–11. It is saying that it is almost too close to call, now we’ll hand a bit back to the community to the people who bother to show it up.

N Raps said she has been seen as a forefront for opposition. She is really disappointed by the conversation. This is giving the student body wrong impression of what SA is here for. They are here to listen to everyone. Come to them. They’re the community to get things done. Everyone has equal opportunity. She feels like this resolution is giving sense that they HAVE no say, they mean nothing and that goes against what we’re founded on, work for, and what we’re doing. It has been re-stated that we’re giving them this chance to talk. They can express themselves at every one of our meetings. They should come and tell us what we want. We vote because we listen. It’s open to the community because we want to listen. They come, say opinions, most vote for them. Not here to go on power trip or to make us these administrative people who can’t be touched. They are students and that’s what makes the SA work. They come here to say opinions.

There was a motion to extend the meeting by 15 minutes. Seconded

N Raps continued. This conversation is giving a bad name to the SA. We need the whole semester and should really think shouldn’t just rush it. Do agree with everyone saying all things about how SA is on a power trip, we’re here to listen to students.

VP Williams said that the SA doesn’t just bite people’s heads off. Not power hungry. But you can see an obvious divide. SA members saying we want to keep it. Most people are saying have a voice. Not making it up. This is platform we ran on. Not to say SA are villains, one point of clarification. Flye said that it’s a symbolic gesture. SA still functioning body making rules and regulations. They can compromise. Good idea, but that it’s giving people some power.

Z Glasser asked the audience how many were engineers. (No hands went up.) There are about 3500 in the school. They’re not very active. We really don’t care much. Engineers probably won’t show up. We’re giving more power to people outside of my school. It is a disparate way of representing people. This bill hurts his constituents and that’s why he’s against.

Hanser Chen from Human Ecology is in support of the resolution. Would like to address concern SA has about potentially having power taken away because of resolution. This actually empowers and promotes greater dialogue between elected members and constituents. This way, someone rings it up at SA, attends meeting, doesn’t know the process in order to pass his concern. SA doesn’t feel concern is adequate, doesn’t know process gone through. But this bill gives power to come and listen and if they desire, attend 3 and participate in something important. Attendance at meetings is abysmal. He wouldn’t attend if not for resolution. This promotes greater involvement to come to SA and weigh in. It presents medium for them to communicate more.

Ray Mensa — wants to thank Ola and Rammy for bringing this idea to the SA. Any time have an idea to give power to students is a good idea. On that same note, two members of SA who cry about not wanting to have power taken away to be given to community members, he says that’s a shame on you who said that. That said, he is concerned because in current form, it threatens to throw off balance of equal representation. If we have 30 members we risk the ideological bounds to throw off representation boundaries and risk bills passing that are not representative of the student body and that’s dangerous. On a broader note believes it missed a broader point. Bringing people TO the SA. But need to talk about how SA goes to people. The facebook group is good but not enough. Food is good but not enough. That is an issue that needs to be focused on more broadly.

There was a hand vote on whether to continue discussion. By a vote of 9–4 it passes.

There was a call to question. It was seconded. There was dissent. They voted to vote. By a vote of 8–5, the motion to vote passed. R Salem said that it isn’t giving people equal representation, it’s giving equal opportunity. People have equal opportunity to vote if US citizens. But people with high paying jobs, have more time. Equal opportunity. Raps made excellent point that everyone can come and speak. With this opportunity, people still don’t come to meetings. Let Raps say come and you can talk for two minutes or you can come and vote. Which will attract people? This is an opportunity to try something different. Added that implementation will be re-evaluated at end of fall semester. If doesn’t work by then, he’d put a resolution revoking it.

By a roll call vote of 4–11–0, the resolution fails.

Moved up.

VII. Adjournment

The meeting was adjourned at 6:45pm.

Respectfully Submitted,
Brittany Rosen

Contact SA

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Cornell University

Ithaca, NY 14853

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