October 13, 2008

Cuts In Time Of Economic Crisis?

There was discussion of making cuts to programs, organizations, resources, etc. at last night's VSA Council meeting, sources report. Administration asked the VSA to evaluate where money can be saved during this time of national economic crisis.

The Vice President for Operations said the idea of "getting rid of Baldwin" is being considered. The VP continued to say, "We don't want to turn Baldwin into a drunk tank. If you're that irresponsible, maybe you should go to the hospital."

The Vice President for Student Life noted that Baldwin cannot be shut down, but the hours could be more selective.

Update: To clarify, the information above was taken from the Misc's live blogging of of the council meeting (available here). The VP of Operations quotes were quoted in the live blogging post, and noted on the Misc website as "verbatim quotes."

The VSA's discussion on budget cuts was not limited to Baldwin, and also included discussions of Media Resources and the use of fireworks at events, among other things.

Update 2: The VSA tells Mads that the item on the agenda involved how the economy is affecting Vassar. The VSA then proposed questions, including "are there any services that can be cut."

In addition, we are reminded that it is not the VSA who makes the decisions on budget cuts, and the discussion was a conversation, not a plan of action.

Update 3:
Check out the comments for this post to see statements from VSA officers, including President Jimmy Kelly '09.

54 comments:

Anonymous said...

No offense to like... VT and ViCE and all that, but do we seriously need to have so much free entertainment on campus?

Dont get me wrong - I personally love all the music we have here, and all that. But when ViCE is operating with over 150,000 I think we need to consider certain frivolous things before we consider getting rid of OUR HEALTH SERVICES.

I know Baldwin isn't the most effective thing in the world, but I also know that there are people going to Baldwin for more than just "being too drunk."

I know I went one night after a (sober) accident that left a huge piece of glass in my arm. This would've cost me about 400 bucks at a hospital. No thanks.

I also think that since the VSA is Not a valid sample of students on this campus, they really shouldn't be the body making these sorts of changes.

I believe the budget cuts they were thinking about were more....
$45,000 MIA concerts (that the VSA gives out money for) and not college programs like Healthcare.

Again, no offense to the "fun stuff" on campus, but I think we all need to really consider that if the college needs to ask us to give something up, maybe we shouldnt start with something that can save lives, educate, and help all students.

Anonymous said...

The drunk tank comment is pretty irresponsible. If these VSA meetings are going to be blogged by the MISC, the officers need to be more careful in their word selection, or else they run the risk of coming off like asses, like the VP of Operations.

Anonymous said...

i get what you're saying, 5:18, but i think there are things that should/can be cut before vice and other orgs that are responsible for campus entertainment. if there is less to do on campus, then there probably would be more drinking and therefore more hospitalizations.

baldwin obviously shouldn't be cut, but just because vice has the biggest budget doesn't mean it should be cut.

Anonymous said...

VT's an odd one to include there 5:18 - we literally have 0.33% of ViCE's budget.

Though I am glad you thought of us!

Anonymous said...

That is a % of equivalency, not a cut of ViCE's budget... if that wasn't clear.

Anonymous said...

I personally don't use Baldwin; I do tend to go off campus to a hospital (never to recover from a drunken hangover). However the times I've been deathly ill, NONE of which included being drunk, Baldwin was a great option.
Why are we thinking about punishing our students by getting rid of health services or even limiting the hours? Really?
Would Vassar prefer a student get really drunk, not go off campus to a hospital due to the implications, but get seriously injured or potentially die of alcohol poisoning? REALLY?
We might have a few irresponsible students, but at the end of the day Vassar's first priority should be its students' health, NO MATTER WHAT.

Anonymous said...

5:18, just a clarification, the VSA doesn't make these kinds of decisions. They just make suggestions, and it's just as likely that they'll be listened to as not.

Anonymous said...

if baldwin were shut down i would not ever go anywhere for any type of illness.

that said, ive never been sent to baldwin for drinking but i know people who have and every one of them said that all that happens there is you are put in a bed. nobody gives you an IV or anything. so Baldwin could save money probably by not dealing with drunk people since they don't really help anyway.

Anonymous said...

FYI all student organizations, including ViCe are funded through the student activities fee. This is separate from the college's budget, which means that if an organization is given less money, it will not be the case that the college will have more money. This means that those funds will be given to another VSA organization.

-Marcelo, VSA VP for Finance

Anonymous said...

I completely agree with 5:24- calling Baldwin a Drunk Tank is really naive. If that's the only capacity in which the VP of Operations has experienced Baldwin, that's their own issue, but Baldwin serves an important function on this campus.

Being in a college, with extremely close contact between many people living in such physical proximity to one another, illness spreads like wildfire. If it's a cold, that's fine, but if it comes to something involving an infection that needs treatment, it would spread much more rapidly with much less control if healthcare were not as accessible.

I also recognize that the VSA does not have a final say in what gets cut from the budgets, but frankly I'm embarrased that my student organization thinks that this is the most superfluous expenditure of the college.

Anonymous said...

I have to concur with, well, everyone saying that cutting Baldwin hours would be a terrible idea. I've been to Baldwin a few times while I've been on campus, and I wasn't drunk any of them. I've gone when I've had a dangerously high fever, mono, and strep. Is that seriously irresponsible use?

I'm right with the people who are embarrassed that this was even suggested.

Who is the VP for Operations again?

Anonymous said...

VP for Operations wasn't saying that Baldwin IS a "drunk tank" - she was saying that it WOULD BECOME that if it were open only on Friday and Saturday nights. Which is basically true, if the college were to cut its 9 to 5 service and only have a service open on weekend nights. essentially that service would be geared toward incidents of drinking not serious enough to warrant a hospital visit.

Anonymous said...

VSA better be issuing a "what-we-really-meant-was..." statement. They'll come off as rather stupid anyway, but just less so...

Anonymous said...

Baldwin isn't even open enough as it is. If your sick you can't go there on weekends unless it's and emergency

Anonymous said...

you guys are taking that discussion totally out of context. look at the entire conversation. it was just random people suggesting services for ways that various campus offices might increase their cost effectiveness. people suggested everything from cutting media resources to cutting various campus offices.

you guys shouldn't be so reactionary unless you have the facts. first, are you even 100% sure that the college is getting the most possible service for the money it spends on health services? if not, don't be so quick to judge until you speak to your VSA representative.

Anonymous said...

I just want to say that the Misc live blogging is not really an accurate representation of what goes on at VSA meetings. Not to say that it's a bad thing, but they obviously can't record everything that's said and there was a LOT of discourse that was not included in the live blog, including the issue of international students who don't want to navigate the obnoxiously confusing US healthcare system. So basically, don't trust the Misc live blog as a verbatim account of what goes on, use it as a guide that outlines what we talk about. Students at large are ALWAYS welcome at VSA meetings and their input is encouraged, so if you have thoughts on this, feel free to attend VSA meetings on Sundays at 7 in the CCMPR.

-Dana, Town Students President

Anonymous said...

students really should show up to those meetings if they intend to get so angry about these issues. thank goodness the misc is trying to push for some transparency giving an outline to the vsa's discussion, like the previous commentator said.

students just need to be more active in their government if they want to be involved in these conversations in any meaningful way.

Anonymous said...

who do we need health services? if its serious enough, the kid should go to the hospital. if it's not serious enough, the college shouldn't have to shoulder the cost.

Anonymous said...

Let me provide a bit of clarification. The discussion was framed as a way for us to think critically about the services we offer as a college and to assess how well they are being utilized.

We have told members of the College Administration that we, as student leaders, would think about services on campus that maybe aren't working as well as they could be, resulting in us putting a lot of financial resources in the wrong places.

Baldwin came up as a suggestion. I believe that if it became clear that Baldwin was being used solely as a drunk tank on the weekends, it might make sense assessing how useful it is for the College to keep it open 24 hours. We would never recommend that we cut health services at Vassar, but it may be worth thinking about if they are being used to their full potential.

I would encourage anyone - either in this forum, at Council, or through email or personal conversations - to continue this dialogue. As the year progresses we will continue to think about the student services the College offers and it will be helpful to hear from all of you about what could be improved upon in terms of overall use and efficiency.

Please do not take any of these comments out of context and I encourage you to approach individuals for clarification, instead of just ranting anonymously on this blog.

- Nate Silver, VP For Student Life

Anonymous said...

perhaps some of you haven't read the news lately. there's a global financial crisis. maybe spoiled vassar kids will have to endure one or two fewer services.

Anonymous said...

right...

like healthcare.

Anonymous said...

* we should Definitely get rid of Metcalf too *

Anonymous said...

**** Oh - and what could we save by getting rid of the rape crisis center? ***

Anonymous said...

how about emergency contraceptives and std tests? Don't you think that most girls would prefer to go to Baldwin?

Anonymous said...

6:57- you've got to be kidding me.

Anonymous said...

http://vsa.vassar.edu/exec-board/vp-for-operations/

the vp for operations is caitlin ly. if you'd like to let her know exactly why her comments were incredibly misguided, please copy-paste the link above.

Anonymous said...

i <3 the VP of operations... dont hate!!

Anonymous said...

Drunken freshmen may be assholes, but their parents can still sue the shit out of a school that neglects to care for them.

Anonymous said...

i don't think caitlin's comments were out of line given the discussion. if all that baldwin was being used for was a holding pen for drunken students, wouldn't you agree with her comment that maybe those kids should be more responsible (or go to the hospital of it's serious), so that the College can spend its money on things that actually matter, like financial aid?

she wasn't saying that this is the current state of baldwin, she was saying that if the hours were altered to make it be that way, then maybe our resources should be better spent elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

Maybe we should be a addressing an underlying problem: why does Vassar allow a culture of drinking, such that it must pay to operate a 24/7 medical facility to care for these kids?

Perhaps we should have a great discussion about more prevention of underage drinking. I bet the College would save a bundle that way, and students would be more safe and more responsible.

Anonymous said...

amethyst initiative-- lower the drinking age to 18. get on it vassar.

Jimmy Kelly said...

Just a clarification; I think that the few things cited here bring the discussion out of the appropriate context. The agenda item was a discussion on how the economy is affecting Vassar, and we asked three specific questions to guide discussion:
1. What services do we offer that you think are being underutilized?
2. Are there any areas where we might achieve greater efficiency through collaboration amongst offices?
3. Are there any services that can be cut?

The discussion does not represent any realities other than the fact that the College, like all institutions and people in America, is facing hard times with the downturn of the economy. In these situations, we must prioritize our core areas - providing an outstanding academic program, making the College accessible to individuals from all socioeconomic backgrounds, and continuing to provide a distinctive liberal arts education. We will seek to work with the College as it faces the realities of a financial crunch and will endorse changes only after extensive public discussion.

The discussion on Sunday was a brainstorming session - no ideas should be taken as actual recommendations or options. Instead, this is a starting point for discussions that will continue in the weeks and months to come.
Finally, it must be clear that the VSA does not make decisions on services outside of those that we sponsor, particularly in the realm of student organizations - we can only offer recommendations.

We would love to hear more feedback on the specific questions listed above - anyone is welcome to attend VSA Council meetings on Sundays at 7pm in the College Center MPR or can e-mail us at vsa@vassar.edu.

-Jimmy Kelly, VSA President

Anonymous said...

Holy shit this is ridiculous.

ALL colleges need to provide health services. This isn't some weird privileged thing.

Like the first comment said, let's stop spending money on bullshit if we're in such a financial crisis, not cut healthcare.

These comments where people are talking about accountability are really scary. Listen, there are some things in the world that you need to just let be. And that's because you don't know about them. I might not either, but it's like - if someone says that something is Vital for their lives, you've just got to keep it going.

Example - MADS receives information that a post is putting someone's life, safety, etc. in jeopardy, he pulls the post.

I know I've called Baldwin before. And I think the STD comment is extreeeeeeeeeeemely important. There are a lot of programs at Vassar that people don't advertise their involvement in and their use of. The college needs to support that.

i hope that the comments about the vsa not being the proper body are somehow rooted in the idea that the vsa Cannot (and should not) be dealing with people's personal problems, and when you get into the realm of discussing things like hate crimes, personal safety, health care, mental health, etc. they are doing just that.

There are bodies that are designed to properly deal with these issues staffed by people with degrees, training, experience.

I think Vassar kids feel so entitled that they think this is a problem they need to deal with. If the administration brought the VSA in on this, then shame on them for making everyone all up in arms. If not, I think we need to have a little faith in the systems that are set up for us and not be arrogant enough to believe that we are more capable as students.

Anonymous said...

Ok -- --
If the drunk tank thing was in reference to only keeping baldwin open on weekend nights -- then i agree completely. that would be an absurd waste of resources especially considering that going to baldwin for being drunk is exactly the same as going to your own bed only you get in trouble for it.

I think you are all flying off the handle really without knowing the full story. Mads I think you should post a concise version of what was REALLY said before anyone gets any more up in arms.

And Caitlin yeah is rich and whatever but she's really intelligent, caring, and a great friend so shut up and don't get personal. that isn't fair especially considering that none of you even really know what was said.

Bri said...

i think there is some merit to the idea that perhaps baldwin isn't the most efficient place... like the time when i made an appointment, went to it, and was told my appointment didn't exist. Or the time when I waited 2 hours to be told they couldn't help me. So if it isn't operating in the best way possible, should we continue to fund it? Or should we waste money on a service that isn't best helping the student body?

maybe in a separate discussion it would be useful to discuss how to improve baldwin so that it could actually operate in a functional manner, and we wouldn't be wasting our money. if it provided adequate services, maybe we wouldn't be thinking about cutting the hours.

Anonymous said...

Baldwin should be open 24/7 because going to a hospital, especially in an ER truck, is extremely expensive. Healthcare costs are also expensive. Baldwin, we pay for it. Sometimes you're a little too drunk but not drunk enough to be put in the hospital and get racked with a 2,000$ overnight fee (before insurance, of course, if you even have a good one). Shut up with the 'culture of drinking' argument. It's college. We could be a frat state school. Why does everyone have to shit on Vassar so much?

Anonymous said...

if one our elected officers says something absolutely ridiculous, i think we have the right to comment on it in whatever way we see fit...this is something she said at a vsa meeting, not in class or at a party. not everyone wants to shoot off an email or go to office hours. the vsa exec board should be glad there's a forum like this to gauge how people react to things.

Anonymous said...

And Caitlin yeah is rich and whatever but she's really intelligent, caring, and a great friend

wow you're not

Anonymous said...

What she said isn't stupid. It was not her making a policy. It was just expressing a POSSIBLE idea, like Jimmy said. Do you guys really think that a student is going to shut down Baldwin? Chill out. There's no harm in our representatives discussing something.

Anonymous said...

11:39- What she said WAS stupid and insensitive. There is no harm in discussion.. because isn't that a part of learning? But what you say carries a lot of weight, and people should be held responsible for their comments, whether they solicit praise or criticism. and especially if you're on a board which "represents the Vassar student body."

11:03- And what does her being rich and/or a great friend have ANYTHING to do with what we're discussing?
Ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

what she said wasn't stupid. she was responding to someone who said, basically, that Balwin is really important for people when they drink too much.

she was just saying we shouldnt have a health center staffed 24/7 so that people can get drunk and have someone look after them.

and it is true that vassar has a drinking problem.

Anonymous said...

"Shut up with the 'culture of drinking' argument. It's college."

How is that an excuse? If you drink so much that you get sick and have to go to Baldwin or a hospital, you have no one to blame but yourself. Take some responsibility for your actions.

Anonymous said...

Word, 1:33.

It's not as though most people on campus are drinking for the first time. They're familiar with their limits, but they drink more than they can tolerate, anyway. Which is fine if you just want to get smashed and have some fun, but when you drink so much where they need to call EMS...well, that's a really a LOT of alcohol. At that point I think we veer away from "oh, it's just college students having fun" and more into "students are exhibiting burgeoning forms of alcoholism wherein they take out their frustrations/fears/anxieties/boredom? through substance abuse." And at that point, I think there's a problem that needs to be addressed.

And to say that drinking is "just college" is to exclude the people on campus who don't drink, or who drink for enjoyment rather than oblivion. I don't rack up costs at Baldwin. I don't do dorm damage (Main, Lathrop last year, Jewett at serenading this year, Main and Cushing this past weekend) for which other students will ultimately have to pay. That is absolute bullshit and I'm really glad Caitlin addressed the issue, even if only peripherally.

Kenneth said...

Although it may appear that sleeping it off in Baldwin as no better than sleeping it off in your room. Baldwin provides observation, if something were to go wrong and it could. There would be somebody awake to take care of it.

Ken Oldehoff

Anonymous said...

bri - as for your comments re: baldwin and appointments, it helps if you call before your appointment to make sure it's still on schedule...

i've never had any problems with baldwin. in fact, it has been my second home (recovering from surgery, getting really bad migraines on the weekends).

but i do agree that the culture of drinking at vassar needs to be addressed.

Anonymous said...

the amount of drinking that goes on at vassar absolutely PALES in comparison to what goes on at most other schools in this country.


Fuck all of you, you're all morons.

Anonymous said...

whoa! so it pales in comparison, so it's perfectly fine to have people rip-roaringly drunk and throwing laptops out windows and not making class and throwing up in the shower and defecating on people's beds??

Anonymous said...

defecating is such a nice word for shitting,

Anonymous said...

I think there's a rift here between what we're entitled to and what we feel we're entitled to. As far as I'm concerned, we're entitled to an effective 24 hour on-campus health care facility. If someone encounters a medical emergency or has health problems that need to be addressed, I think Vassar has the resources to foot the bill. I agree with posts saying that we should reconsider budgeting for other things, such as events or landscaping, before we cut off health services.

I don't think we're entitled to having Baldwin available as a "drunk tank." I've been hospitalized for drinking too much, and it made enough of an impression that I haven't gotten that drunk since. My feeling is that if someone needs medical attention because they got too drunk, they've displayed a level of agency in their own situation that goes beyond almost any other medical emergency I can imagine. Let's think about our responsibilities to our school and ourselves, as well as our school's responsibilities to us.

Anonymous said...

we shouldn't judge ourselves based on other schools. if people are addicted to alcohol that is an issue. it is a concern. even if its only one person.

Anonymous said...

This school is so hateful. I don't understand why everyone here is so consistently negative. Seriously, it is worse than high school. Nobody is friendly and all anyone does is bitch and talk shit. Look at what happened with boredat. That website does not have to be a venue for everyone to take out their bullshit hostility and it became one. Now that it's gone (although it actually is back), people have come here. It makes me sick. I love this school and I love a lot of the people at it, but I don't understand why everyone has to wallow in their own bitterness and anger all the time. Maybe it's not so much the fact that people are getting drunk but the fact that so many people here are so full of negativity that beds and laptops get thrown out windows and people get hurt.

Anonymous said...

oh yes it does.

ill tell you what, its not everyone here, but it is a good amount of the loud kids, the kids who run orgs, the kids who we call 'student leaders' etc.

i have been clawed in the face by my ex-dorm president, been called terrible names, been emailed threats about my safety all from these 'important' students.

point is, you give these people a place to hate, theyre gonna hate.

Anonymous said...

i really love the peace sign made of leaves in the quad

Anonymous said...

5:18, I don't know what you think the VSA is. The VSA refers to all Vassar Students. So yes, the VSA is the one to make that sort of change. Were you talking about the VSA Council? Remember, you elected the VSA council to make these decisions. Would you say that Congress isn't representative and shouldn't make decisions? Same principal. It isn't like we just spring out the woodwork.

Mathew Leonard, President of Cushing