02.15.23 — agenda + minutes

Zoom link
Pizza 🍕 [1:50]
February caucus updates
Administration [2:10]
Rita / Development [2:10-2:25]

Works on private philanthropic support towards the institutions, ultimately made into scholarships for students. Sometimes donations are dedicated towards certain projects. Annual Fund – current use money, all turned into scholarships. Last 3.5 years, $10 million was raised. $1.1 million in cash needs to be raised in 12-month cycle; 30% increase (recommended by the boards) means we must raise $1.5 million.

Why would people want to contribute back to the institution? Primarily alumni donations, want to protect integrity of diploma and attract the best and the brightest students.

1836 Day: one day of giving on March 7, 2023. Asking donors and friends to give, accept a challenge, etc. Last year, we raised $30k; this year, we want to raise $100k, predominantly for unrestricted scholarships.

How can current students help? Students can come in and speak honestly about their experiences — either through 15-second video, writing a postcard, etc. Always a choice, no pressure!


We are at 807k of $1.5 million (as of December 2022); most donations come in during the spring.

Development Office is on the 3rd floor; stop by the office to send postcards.

Most of the campaign will be online/social media and sent to “entire file.” Recent classes are more likely to participate on 1836 Day. Students are more than welcome to create posts before, on, or after March 7.

Note of appreciation for Rita and her efforts to be an active and integrated member of the Union community.

Class Gift: The graduating class decides if they want to give a gift back to the institution and what that looks like. For example, the portrait of Delores Williams was a gift from the Class of 2019. The Class of 2022 created the Adelante Award, awarded to Kimberley Gordy and another student at graduation.

Academic colleagues recommended raising $10k for the class gift to make it sustainable each year. Money can only be used for that specific purpose; does not go towards the general fund.

Examples can include portraits, benches, or nothing! Development can help facilitate a survey to gather ideas from the graduating class.

Executive Team [2:30]

Board of Trustee Meeting – Updates
Next academic year, students/faculty/staff now have to request time off for Easter; there will be no more Thursday-Monday break.

PhD’s at Union / Higher Education

Discussion among faculty and administration, PhD is most expensive and labor intensive program; ethical conversation around job placements after a PhD is earned. Suggestions have ranged from removing to expanding the program. As of now, the PhD program remains in tact — accepting and fully funding 2 students per year.

  • PhD students may be guaranteed jobs/placements in other countries; in this case, the PhD program remains incredibly important.
  • PhD program needs to be funded more; a $30k stipend in NYC is not enough.
  • If the conversation is happening at the board level, they’re only hearing the perspectives of faculty and administration. Where as a student body are our voices heard?
  • Columbia students recently organized a union. Other institutions have formed cohorts/unions to advocate for rights and funding.
  • Summer housing and funding concerns.

Send in receipts
You may borrow credit card if you reach out to KB

Ministers of Fun

Prom is April 29, 2023!
Join the Prom Committee


Who is interested in an oral history?


Upcoming worker’s meeting about transitions as McGiffert closes

Open Forum [3:10-4:00]
Assessment Committee – Amanda & Elliot

Conversations about what student success look like, especially as new programs are added, feedback, and equitable classrooms. Suggestions have included universal design, more rubrics, etc.

After the survey and faculty meeting, the conversation went back to Assessment. Return to conversation about whether or not the feedback being offered too students is consistent and effective.

CD’s were not intended to be given out as the rate they have been — 52% of fall grades were CDs. The current culture crystallizes and commodifies the way we learn.

Ultimately, there is no conclusion or decision being made any time soon.

Next assessment meeting is March 8 — Ask your caucuses whether this can be discussed at a meeting; can send perspectives to Amanda and Elliot.

Link to Shanaz’s and Peter’s op-ed

Student Discussion:

  • no consistent communication or accountability for faculty to provide feedback
  • students haven’t received grades from midterms/assignments from last semester
  • similar conversations have emerged in the JEI committee
  • suggestion of organized complaint — process through Dean Abby
  • professors should have freedom to choose how they provide feedback, but there needs to be structure to ensure it in consistent on time.
  • PhD students have missed certain benchmarks
  • power dynamics between students and faculty; how do relationships evolve when students have to remind professors to provide feedback?
  • concern about subsequent programs that students apply to afterwards (i.e., grades matter)
  • what type of students does Union want to attract? we have a bunch of different programs and career desires among our student body
  • shifts will take time, but we should trust and uplift the new administrators
  • cultural shift towards peer to peer feedback?
  • what constitutes a CD? 92% → 97% a few years ago
  • lack of advising — classes and career paths
  • queering grading system — how we let every student achieve according to their needs?
  • need to elevate the power of students to find their pathway to success

Virtual Inclusivity – Dom

  • discussed a few months ago, but there was no action plan
  • how can we start the next academic year in a way that improves what’s been done this year?
  • student experience for MASJ is not diminished because they haven’t been invited into caucuses
  • please send feedback to Dom — currently working part-time with Communications
  • need to work on best practices such as announcing one’s name before speaking
  • do we need an organized group dedicated towards virtual/hybrid students?
    • students impacted + advocates + Dean Abby
  • need how-to/tutorials for how the tech works in each room
  • more virtual-only events? hybrid format makes it difficult to connect with students in-person

Class Gift

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