Smith College Staff Council
August 14, 2001 (Approved at the September 12, 2001 meeting)
A meeting of the full Staff Council was held on August 14, 2001 at 2:00 p.m. in the Mary Maples Dunn Room at Pierce Hall.
Attending: Stacey Anasazi, Cristen Sankey Abrams, Jack Begleiter, Cyndee Button,
Sandy Bycenski, Carla Coffey, Honey Gillman, Alicia Guidotti, Serena Harris, Chris Carr Hill, Patty Kimura, Anne-Marie LaFosse, Mimi Lempart, Merrilyn Lewis, Ann Mayo, Steve Monteiro, Sam Rush, Stephanie Schoen, Bill Sheehan and Michael Washut
Excused: Patrick Diggins, Lisa Dwinell, Patty Hayes, Bob Lesko, Janice McDowell, Michelle Moye, and Joe Stoddart
Patty Kimura opened the meeting at 2:08 p.m. and asked for everyone to review the July 17th minutes before the council moved for approval. The minutes were approved pending an edit to the ergonomics committee's notes.
A. Activities: Ann Mayo reported that the committee met on August 9th. The e-mail account is now set up. Some of the group volunteered at the Taste of Northampton. Denim Day tactics were discussed. New business: discussion about a staff/faculty glee club, possibility of adding new links to the Smith web page, and goodies to be given away at the HR benefits Fair. The next meeting is September 6th at 2:00 p.m.
B. Communications: Sam Rush continues to be the acting chair but hopes that a new chair will be appointed at the August 15th meeting. He met with Judi Marksbury who is taking over the staff discount program. She is setting up an advisory group that will meet on August 22nd. Sam reported that the last two van tours received feedback that they were too fast. At the last meeting, Patty Hayes gave an update on the Council Chronicle and said the lead story has not been decided upon. The new picnic tables were also discussed.
C. Nominations and Elections: Serena Harris met with Bill Sheehan to discuss the chair's responsibilities. Since the committee consists of such a small group, Serena asked for more board members: Ann Mayo and Alicia Guidotti volunteered.
D. Personnel Policy: Sandy Bycenski reported that the committee will meet with Lianne Sullivan-Crowley on August 28th to discuss the supervisory review process along with other pending matters.
3. NEW/OLD BUSINESS
A. Electricity: The Daily Hampshire Gazette recently published an article about Smith College negotiating a new commercial electric rate. A staff member contacted Patty Kimura to investigate whether the staff could be offered this discount. Patty has asked Jim Hardy, Purchasing Manager, if he would look into this possibility.
B. Ad Hoc Committee on Training: Last year Staff Council members attended a diversity training series and are now looking to continue that education. This year new staff council members will attend the certificate course that is offered through Human Resource's Training & Development series. Afterwards, all Staff Council members will participate in a half-day or partial-day training that is specifically designed for the whole council. Patty asked for volunteers to serve on an ad hoc committee to investigate what that training will be. Stephanie Schoen, Carla Coffey, Merrilyn Lewis and Steve Monteiro volunteered for the ad hoc committee.
C. Focus for the Year: Sam and Patty have talked about what the focus of Staff Council should be in the upcoming year. They are committed to looking at how things relate to or focus on diversity and community and asked each committee to discuss ways that we can be active participants in keeping this focus alive.
Patty asked the council whether as a group we wanted to continue the commitment to diversity and community as our main focus. If we each wanted to look at ways we could take leadership in the community as Staff Council members in this area. The council agreed yes, we continue our commitment to diversity and community building, with an integrated focus in all that we do. We also wanted to be clear that this commitment is continuing and is a part of who we are as a body @ diversity is not a just a focus du jour. Ideas were discussed.
D. Otelia Cromwell Day Participation: Patty is on the planning committee of the Otelia Cromwell Day program. She will be working with Ellen Watson to bring in a poet for the event, and she also wanted to think of a way to include everyone and shared an idea that she is exploring to increase diversity awareness. Patty told us of a Japanese custom she and her sister used to take part in as children. That was to write special messages/poems of good wishes/thoughts on colored strips of origami paper and hang them on a tree in her backyard to celebrate the one day of the year that Japanese folklore says is the day that a celestial princess and a gentle cowherd are allowed to meet on the path of the Milky Way. It is on the 7th day of the 7th month. Patty thought this might be a good means (by writing things down @ messages, thoughts, wishes, sorrows, on slips of paper or cloth, and leaving them for others to read or add to) to share things about each of our cultures that we want to celebrate and that might be misunderstood. To celebrate and learn more about our community. She said she was inspired by the installation on racism that the students of the School for Social Work put up in the triangle between Lilly, Seelye, and College Hall. It was a tremendous learning and sharing opportunity, and a very practical, interactive, and matter of fact way of sharing ideas, feelings, and experiences. A discussion ensued and various people talked about the different ways in their cultures and backgrounds (the wailing wall in the Jewish tradition; the stacking of stones in the Basque tradition) that we might also use as means to enlighten, share, and learn. We talked about how this was exactly what should happen @ members of staff council share and learn with each other and our project grows to reflect our own wonderful diversity.
E. Miscellaneous: Patty sent an e-mail to the council with the idea of adding a short van tour stop at the Botanic Gardens. Sam discussed the current van tour and we discussed the ideas of perhaps adding a separate walking tour for new employees. Patty suggested perhaps a focus group or further discussion to examine the pros & cons of an included or separate tour. Sam said the Communications Committee would continue to discuss this matter. Mimi asked if the Lunch Buddy Program is in place and she was told yes. She said maybe a walking tour could be held as part of the lunch buddy program? We all agreed that we should consider many and more ways to build community, and perhaps this would include a way to explore the campus on guided or mentored trips.
The council thought that a walking tour or ways to explore the campus was a great idea and decided each committee should discuss it further. One idea was that the Council Chronicle publish some type of article on "My favorite place on campus is." and its expected that some people might be interested in exploring them on their own, too.
The van tour is the Staff Council part of the College's orientation process for new employees and the van tour takes place on the third Wednesday of each month at 10:30 a.m. The tour leaves from the Office of Human Resources at 30 Belmont. If space permits, current employees are also welcome to join the tour.
Sandy Bycenski made a motion to adjourn at 3:10 p.m. and Alicia Guidotti seconded. All members were in favor.
The next Staff Council meeting is set for Wednesday, September 12th, at 2:00 p.m. in the MMD Conference Room.
Chris Carr Hill