Here is our interview with Charlie Dobb '12, candidate for VSA Vice President for Student Life.
Mads Vassar: What experience qualifies you for the position?
Charlie Dobb: In some ways, any student that’s been here a while is qualified to be the Vice President for Student Life. That’s because we all have the experience of being part of this campus and have ideas for improvement. What sets me apart is 3 years of experience in positions that have taught me how to take ideas and make them happen. I’ve been a CARES listener since my freshmen year, a position that makes me uniquely qualified to address the addition of the relationship abuse charge to the campus regulations (something I’ll talk more about below). In addition, I was a student fellow last year and this year I’m currently the student advisor for Jewett. After 2 years on house teams, I’m very familiar with critical elements of the VP for Student Life’s job including the residential life experience, student leader training, and freshman orientation and I’ve become very familiar with the administrative resources I’d be working closely with.
MV: What campus issue matters most to you?
CD: If I had to pick just one, I’d say the addition of a relationship abuse charge to the college regulations. Relationship abuse is happening on this campus, and on college campuses across the country. Right now, by prosecuting these situations as “disturbances” or other inadequate charges, the college is sending a message to individuals affected by all kinds of inter-personal violence on this campus that their issues aren’t serious or don’t warrant specific charges with severe consequences. I know that policy isn’t reflective of the concern and compassion most students on this campus feel. This year, we came very close to getting this charge on the books. The administration is not convinced this is something students are passionate about. I’m confident we can prove them wrong and get this regulation passed in the coming year.
MV: If anything, what do you want to see changed about the VSA?
CD: Right now, the attitude on the VSA is “we’re available, our meetings are open, come talk to us.” It’s a step towards transparency and inclusion, but it doesn’t seem to be working. That’s why I want to push the VSA to become more active in going out and collecting opinions. One specific idea I have is to create an Advisory Council on Inclusion, which would consist of the heads of all of the student life orgs, including, for example, ALANA, queer, and spiritual life orgs. This Council would convene regularly and provide input on VSA policy, as well as put forth its own agenda.
MV: Describe your platform in 140 characters.
CD: Student input on student life issues, starting with 4 major challenges: the meal plan, VSA restructuring, inclusion, and relationship abuse.
MV: Ok, now you can elaborate...
CD: I’ve said a lot above. There are just two more critical things in addition to the Advisory Council on Inclusion and the relationship abuse charge: the meal plan and VSA restructuring. Next year, Vassar’s contract with Aramark is finally up and open to real serious renegotiation. This means our opportunity to make real change in how we eat on this campus. I know that there are a lot of important student voices on this issue, including individuals with allergies, athletes, vegans, vegetarians, and student dedicated to eating locally and sustainably. I know these students are passionate enough to make their voices heard on the issue, and I intend to listen to them and every student on this campus through forums, surveys, and invitations to council and committee meetings.
The VSA restructuring is a very similar issue in a lot of ways. Students were angry this year because they didn’t get a say in changing the constitution. That mistake doesn’t need to be made again. Next year we can make positive changes in the VSA’s structure that emphasize an active, engaged, and diverse council, while getting at large input every step of the way. Students have shown they’re passionate, and it’s elected representatives’ job to listen.
MV: What is your favorite Vassar memory or moment?
CD: If I had to pick just one, probably Founder’s Day freshman year. It’s just one of those many moments when you stop, take a look around campus, and ask “do I really go here?” You just instantly realize how incredible Vassar is. I think that really summarized my freshmen year, just a series of events that impressed on me every day how unique and amazing this campus is!
CD: I’ve covered a lot. But I think I’ve made my main point pretty clear: I want to here from you! If you have anything to add, send me an e-mail at chdobb[at]vassar.edu.
MV: Anything you want to add?