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April 5, 2012 Minutes

Agenda — March 29, 2012
Cornell University Student Assembly
4:45pm — 6:30pm, G08 Uris Hall

I. Call to Order / Roll Call

N. Raps called the meeting to order at 4:53 pm

Members present
S. Balik, G. Block, S. Breedon, A. Chopra, B. Francisco, A. Gitlin, R. Gitlin, D. Goldberg, M. Gulrajani, A. Meller, J. Mueller, D. Muir, A. Nicoletti, A. Pinkney, H. Pittell, N. Raps, J. Rau, E. Szulman, N. Treffeisen, E. Yeterian, A. Santangelo
Members tardy
R. Desai, J. Lee
Members absent and excused
J. Kay, P. Scelfo
Members absent and unexcused
D. Brown, G. Hoffman, A. Wolford, A., Raveret
Also present
Ari Epstein, Amy Edwards, Julie Paige, Eva Drago, Alexander Bores, Chelsea Cheng

II. Approval of the 03/29/12 Meeting Minutes

  • Minutes approved

III. Julie Paige (5:00 — 5:30pm
Assistant Dean of Students
Office of Fraternities, Sororities, and Independent Living

  • Realized that a lot of students do not know that the off-campus housing office exists at 531 Willard Straight Hall — trying to reach as many students leaders as they can to publicize
  • Denise Thompson sits at the front desk of the office and she would be the first person students talk to
  • What the office does
    • Working to get the culture changed — do not want landlords pressing students to sign contracts in early September
    • There will be a parent panel during Cornell Days
    • Plan to be present at graduate resource fairs during Orientation week
    • Will continue tabling during Orientation week in Barton
  • The First Year
    • Plan to send a September First Year Letter to first years to talk about sophomore living options
    • Plan to have a blurb in the Parent’s Bulletin linking to the letter
    • “Finding your First Apartment Programs” on West Campus and at the Carol Tatkon Center
  • Finding the Apartment
    • One-on-one consultation to discuss living options — walking hours also available
    • Encourage students to visit the office before signing their first lease
    • Also encourage students to visit the office if they choose to sublet
  • Students Already Living Off Campus
    • Asks SA members for feedback on the bi-weekly newsletter
    • One-on-one meetings with students having challenges with living off campus (landlords, property managers, roommates, etc.)
  • Assistance with Dispute Resolution
    • Talk to the landlords and discuss the situation and possible resolutions, including a time frame. Keep a record of all correspondences
    • Be persistent and follow up
    • If there is no resolution, there are a number of local and regional agencies that can help, all of which are listing on the off campus housing website: www.offcampushousing.cornell.edu
  • Melissa Lucasiewicz: A lot of girls rushing expect that they are given housing — what is the best way for them to become more aware of other housing options?
    • The website would be the first place to start and one-on-one sessions would also be very helpful
  • A. Gitlin: Students need to be careful when using Craigslist both for renting apartments and for subletting — scams can happen in both cases
  • A. Nicoletti: Thinks the biggest issue with students looking for housing is the information gap. The database is great, and expanding it would not only be helpful to students but could also be potential leverage against landlords for changes that need to be made. What is the relationship between off-campus housing office and landlords?
    • Landlords call the office to advertise their apartment. They also go when they have problems with students
    • The office tries to advocate for groups of students more so than individual students
  • J. Mueller: Suggests that the information that appears under the “Cornell Community” link shows up on the main page. Also, recommends that the office makes a hub — a link to publicize how students can be involved in Collegetown
  • A. Bores: Are there other requirements that landlords need to fulfill in order to advertise on the website (other than building compliance)? About how many people currently go through the off-campus housing office?
    • They have not looked into it, but it would have to be a bigger picture process as they would have to consult other offices as well
    • Do not have the statistics on how many people visit the office
  • H. Pittell: Suggests a one-page handout with key points for students to read — packets of all the housing forms are rather intimidating
  • M. Gulrajani: Suggests that they get Resident Advisors to talk to their residents about not signing leases in September, as first years do not necessarily read all the emails they receive. Along those lines, what is the reason for telling students not to sign a lease in September?
    • The office encourages students to explore all of their options (West campus, Co-ops, Greek housing, etc.), as signing the lease is binding.
  • A. Chopra: Really likes the Tenants’ Rights Guide — suggests that they provide the guide in other student agencies, especially in Collegetown, to advertise
  • D. Goldberg: Suggests that they add a section for a bus pass in addition to a parking permit on the housing budget sheet

IV. Open Microphone

  • Eva Drago ‘12: As an active member of the Women’s Resource Center, she has been working over the past couple of years on how Cornell handles sexual assault. Is present to answer any questions regarding the Dear Colleague letter and the possible changes to the Campus Code of Conduct and Policy 6.4
    • G. Block: What is your personal stance on the lowered standard of preponderance of evidence? Is there resistance to this from any school?
      • There is no resistance and their should not be any because the Dear Colleague letter mandates this change
      • Most likely, if it is a student-student issue, the university would most likely stick with ‘clear and convincing’ versus ‘preponderance of evidence’ (70% vs 51% sure) as the results have lasting impacts on the students (say, if one were to be expelled)
      • In terms of preponderance of evidence, they want a level playing field for students so that the hearing board does not go into the hearing already in favor of the accused (which consequently makes it more difficult for the victim to prevent his/her case)
      • The main difference between having it in the Code of Conduct and Policy 6.4 is a hearing board vs an investigator. Personally believes that the cases would be handled in the Code because changes can be made to it later on if students wish. Changing Policy 6.4 would be a very difficult uphill battle
    • N. Raps: What steps need to be taken to change the Code vs the Policy?
      • M. Lukasiewicz: Policy 6.4 can only be changed through the policy office. Changes to the Campus Code of Conduct can be suggested and written up in resolution form in the CJC and the UA then sent to President Skorton for approval. The UA is currently working to make sure that if the cases are to be handled in Policy 6.4 that they still have a say in the changes made
    • J. Mueller: In a court of law, preponderance of evidence vs clear and convincing remind him of ‘innocent until proven guilty’ vs ‘guilty until proven innocent’. So at the college level, why is ‘innocent until proven guilty’ not enough?
      • There are multiple sides to the issue. She sees it as civil vs criminal. When the accused is expelled, it is documented, but when the victim is re-traumatized from seeing the accused on campus, it is not documented. In this sense, she believes that cases would be handled in more a civil sense (as criminal requires 99.99% sure of crime committed)
      • M. Lukasiewicz: Cornell University is a private institution so its rules are a bit different than the state — that is why there is a bit of discrepancy
    • E. Szulman: Recommends a one-pager for all students regarding the issue
      • N. Raps: Recommends breaking down the terms, showing both sides of the issue, and possibly giving a personal opinion as Eva is someone very influential in this area

V. Announcements / Reports

Gorge Safety Update — A. Chopra and R. Gitlin

  • First part of the gorge safety video was filmed yesterday. Hopefully filming will be done by next week and production will be done by the end of the month

Calendar Update — G. Block

  • The proposal is still the same. Their main goal is to slow down the process and get as much feedback as possible. The biggest feedback right now appears to be keeping a longer study period

VI. Business of the Day

Resotluion 40: Appendix B 2012–2014 — A. Nicoletti

  • By-line funded organizations were pretty satisfied with the Appendix — no changes were made since the last meeting
  • Matt Danzer is present to speak regarding the Filthy Gorgeous stipulation in Haven’s section of Appendix B
  • Currently, there is a cap on how much Haven an spend on Filthy Gorgeous as it is funded by many groups — the Appropriations Committee did not want Haven seeking funding for the purposes of one event and wanted Filthy Gorgeous to continue being funded by multiple groups
  • Amendment proposed to strike the clause
    • There is no cap for any other SAFC group (except for Cornell EMS)
    • The SA should not limit organizations so much with how they spend their money
    • Haven has spent their funding very responsibly over the years
    • Filthy Gorgeous has expanded three-fold over the years so it is not an irresponsible expenditure
    • Even without a cap, Haven would still be responsible in spending their funds (as in, not spending all of it on one event) as they are very committed to the other events they hold
    • If the cap was seen the LGBTQ conference, it would deter them from coming to Cornell
  • A. Gitlin: Supports striking the clause, as there is a review process during off years (non-byline funding years) to review groups in case they are being irresponsible with their funds. So, Haven will still be kept in check, though it appears that they will not need to be
  • E. Yeterian: Why was there a cap in the first place?
    • Haven funds about a quarter of Filthy Gorgeous and is the main organizer
    • The Appropriations Committee was concerned that Haven would spend all of its funds on one event and put all their other events on the side (especially since there other events vary yearly)
    • Also, several years go, Haven went without an advisor so they were not spending their funds efficiently. Now the group is very structured and has a history of responsible spending
  • Call to question on the amendment
  • Vote: 21–0
  • Amendment passed — cap removed on Haven’s allocation
  • Call to question on Resolution 40
  • Vote: 21–0

Resolution 40 passed

Resolution 32: Blue Light Survey — R. Gitlin and S. Balik

  • Last time the survey was presented it was very rough — they have spent time talking to many groups and have a revised survey. Would like to get it passed to that it can be sent in the SA monthly email in April
  • J. Rau: What is the survey trying to conclude?
    • Trying to gather data as to how people feel about walking around campus at night
    • A similar survey was sent out two years ago — helpful to have for data trends
  • G. Block: Was a question about students’ willingness to pay for the shuttle proposed to be put in the survey?
    • It was brought up, but was not put in the survey due to bias — most people would answer no
    • Plan to address funding after the results of the survey
  • E. Yeterian: In question 10, suggests that some language be added to call attention to the fact that there is currently already a late night transportation shuttle
    • Planning on sending a blurb along with the survey to let people know about the transportation services
  • Ari Epstein: Recommends that the survey be sent out through a campus departments that regularly handles surveys
  • D. Muir: Why create the survey?
    • The survey was created to assess students’ opinions as things have changed in the past two years. The previous survey helped N. Raps in creating the BLUE program, so this survey could have similar results
  • A. Pinkney: Recommends adding the word ‘alone’ to question 2b.
  • A. Gitlin motions to extend the meeting for 10 minutes
  • Meeting extended
  • M. Gulrajani: Would like the blurb that is to be attached to the survey to be reviewed by the SA before it is sent out
  • H. Pittell: Recommends grouping questions in terms of similarity. Also, recommends conducting the survey in person at, say, libraries between 10pm and 2am as those are the people the survey should be targeting
  • N. Treffeisen: Recommends having an input box if ‘Other’ is selected for question 1b.
  • G. Block: Recommends sending a copy of the survey to the Approprations Committee so that they have if when reviewing funds for the WRC in the future
  • Amendment proposed and adopted: adding “Be it further resolved that the information collected in this survey gets sent out to all relevant parties including the SA Appropriations Committee
  • Call to question
  • Vote: 21–0
  • Resolution 32 passes

N. Raps adjourned the meeting at 6:38pm

Respectfully submitted,
Chelsea Cheng

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