Staff Council Meeting Minutes – February 2017

Staff Council met on Wednesday, February 15 at 9:00AM in Perry Presentation Room. Below are the meeting minutes (approved on March 17, 2017) for your review. These minutes can also be found on the K: Drive, located at K:\Staff Council\Staff Council – Meeting Minutes\June 2016 – May 2017. Please send any recommended revisions to prior to the March 14 meeting.


I. Welcome – Call meeting to order (Jimena Huaco, Facilitator)

II. Approval of the December meeting minutes(see in K:drive/Staff Council Meeting Minutes),

  • A motion was made to approve, motion was seconded, and the December Meeting minutes were unanimously approved

III. Freedom of Expression Project Update – Jen Sweeney

  • The Freedom of Expression Project was introduced at the all campus update event held in January. Laurie Quinn followed up with an email to the college community detailing the initiative’s next steps, which will ultimately result in a community-driven Freedom of Expression statement.
  • Jen emphasized that this project is not in response to student behavior, rather it aims to create a context on campus for community members to feel safe in expressing themselves and voicing their beliefs.
  • The next step is to form a task force comprised of representatives from staff, faculty, and student populations. The task force will be charged with developing 3 preliminary statements. These statements will be shared with the college community for feedback. The goal is to have an official statement on Freedom of Expression by the end of the Spring 2017 semester (May). Jen encouraged individuals to nominate themselves and/or their peers to join the task force.
  • The differences between policies and statements were discussed. The group identified policies as being aimed at changing behavior. Policies are formal, binding, and enforced. Alternatively, a statement reflects guided principles/values important to the community and allows for conversation from all sides of a given issue.
  • A question was asked regarding the current level of student participation. Jen noted that she has presented at SGA and other forums. She is hopeful that, as a result, there will be representation from SGA and/or members of the student body. Staff and Faculty are encouraged to discuss this initiative with students and nominate individuals for the task force.

IV. Role of External Relations – Sandy Yusen

  • The Strategic Communications Team is charged with elevating the institutional brand. Sandy noted that the team focuses on 4 key areas: Media Relations, Community Relations, Internal Communication, and Social Media.
  • Much of Sandy’s role as Director of External Relations and Communications is focused on the area of Community Relations. This includes expanding brand visibility and building relationships with neighbors, area non-profit organizations, as well as city/state influencers. Sandy noted that Champlain College facilities and various activities span a majority of Burlington city wards, with the “main” campus being part of ward 6. It was noted that the College is represented at various planning meetings for each ward and actually hosts those for ward 6, often inviting members of SGA to provide campus updates. Sandy expressed that neighbors enjoy hearing from Champlain students and appreciate many of the activities happening on campus.
  • Sandy emphasized the importance of keeping neighbors apprised of campus activities and future projects, especially those which may directly affect them. For example, moving day for on-campus residents is likely to cause a lot of traffic around the area. Neighbors are made aware of scheduled campus projects/events in city ward meetings, as well as Front Porch Forum.
  • Sandy added that having strong relationships and being meaningfully engaged in the community is essential for gaining their support for various projects. Most importantly, both the College and its neighbors have a vested interest in making Burlington a great place to live, work, and receive an education. Staff members’ role in fostering positive community relations include looping Sandy in on neighbor-related issues (e.g. events which may affect the area, etc.), being kind to neighbors (e.g. greeting passersby, driving the speed limit around campus, etc.), being aware of existing institutional sponsorship efforts, and understanding the role of external communications in everyday work.
  • Staff were also encouraged to complete the upcoming survey regarding civic engagement. Champlain College recently signed on to the 30th Anniversary Campus Compact Action Statement. As a result, the College is charged with developing an institution-wide civic action plan. The survey seeks to identify the college community’s current impact and will be a valuable resource for developing the action plan.
  • The question was asked whether or not opportunities exist for neighbors to get involved on campus. Sandy expressed that there is currently no formal channel, however, she suspects increased involvement will be a result of keeping neighbors informed. It was added that neighbors have library borrowing privileges as well as fitness center access on weekend mornings.
  • A question was asked regarding what the College’s involvement in various levels of politics may be. Sandy responded that the team currently works with various levels of government on an as needed basis when issues arise. Government relations is an area in which the team could grow in the future.

V. Supporting Employees Impacted by National Events – Mary Lee, People Center

  • Mary Lee spoke to the group regarding steps the College is making to support employees and students in light of recent political action, specifically, the Presidential Executive Order on Immigration. Upon signing of the EO, the College reached out to employees currently in immigration status of some form. While none of these employees are from the 7 named countries, the overall “ramping up” of immigration policy enforcement suggested in the EO does have impact on a number of community members.
  • Mary noted that the College is also working closely with an immigration attorney, who is currently in contact with employees on immigration status. There has been and will be open sessions available for individuals to speak with the attorney regarding their respective situations and to answer any questions.
  • While the travel ban is currently on hold, the College does anticipate more to come on this issue (i.e. amended EO, etc.).
  • A question was asked regarding the effect of the EO on current and prospective students. Similar to the employee population, there are no students currently on visa from any of the 7 named countries. However, it was expressed that students are feeling apprehensive, fearful, and nervous regarding this action. The People Center and President Laackman are dedicated to being as communicative as they can be in informing the college community of updates related to the EO.

VI. Committee Updates

Communication & Engagement – Roland Palmer

  • With Staff Council Executive Board elections approaching in May, Roland reminded the group that nominations are open.

Staff Welfare & Advocacy – Dan Selicaro

  • The employee session of “Self-Guided Professional Development: Owning Your Path” took place the afternoon following this meeting. Staff were encouraged to take part.

Networking & Recreation Committee – Jared Cadrette

  • Staff were reminded of the upcoming “Let the Good Times Bowl” event held on Friday, February 24 at Spare Time.

Manager’s Roundtable – Roland Palmer

  • In the last meeting, suggestions were made for future professional development opportunities. Additionally, the group took part in a session focused on Appreciative Inquiry.

College Council – Christina Erickson

  • The group revisited the College Council bylaws and purpose statement and had conversations regarding what the focus of future meetings may be.

Staff Council Executive Board– Christina Erickson

  • Christina noted that in lieu of a January Staff Council meeting, members of the Executive Board volunteered their time helping Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program organize their warehouse full of generous donations from the community.

VII. Announcements

  • Debra Dayman reminded the group of the upcoming “Focus on You”, A 6-Part series designed to bring attendees a greater sense of overall health & wellness. Sessions take place throughout the end of February and commence in early April.

VIII. Closing – if you have questions, feedback, ideas – please speak to me or one of our Executive Committee members