RA Meeting Minutes 2/25/15

Bates College Student Government

Representative Assembly


In accordance with the Bates College Student Government Bylaws

(Article I, Section 4)

Wednesday, February 25th, 2015 9:00pm-10:30PM | Meeting Room: Pgill G65


  1. Announcements
  2. Ratification of Minutes
    1. Vote: For: 20. Against: 0. Abstaining: 1. Ratified.
  3. Public Participation
  4. Officer Reports
  5. Committee Reports
    1. Treasurer Henry Finkelstein
      1. Africana Club Cosponsorship – The club wishes to send 4 members to the Africa Business Conference at Harvard. They have asked for $500, and each student visiting will be putting in a bit of their own funding. This event was hosted at Bates last year, and was recognized as an opportunity for great political and cultural dialogue.
        1. Vote: For: All. Passes.
      2. Outing Club Cosponsorship – The club asked for funding for a speaker in an event coming in March. $400 has been asked for, but the club has not looked for other sources of funding, and the Budget Committee has pushed off voting and has urged the club to look for other points of financial support for this event.
      3. Men’s Ultimate Frisbee Club Cosponsorship – Requesting $450 for a tournament, and the Budget Committee voted unanimously to grant none of that, recognizing that the club had the majority of their budget left at their disposal.
    2. Vice-President of Clubs Sarah Stanley
      1. Bates Consulting Group – Nick Luther came to speak about the club’s hope to give Bates students a leg up in consulting, joining up with the Howards Center to reach out to organizations in the nearby community in which students can get involved in. The club will be open to everyone, and will hold meetings with clients to introduce students to the field of consulting. The founders are already planning for when they graduate and how they will continue a good relationship with the organizations and clients. The club will need money for computer design programs, transportation cost, as well as the ability to host clients on campus, speakers and consulting agency coming to Bates to speak.
        1. Vote: For: All. Club created.
      2. Student Support Network – Sarah presented on behalf of ORB’s eagerness to make this group a club, which they felt would be a great addition to the resources for students in need of help on campus. Alex Eaton spoke on the club’s work and mission; they are a group of student advocates and support peers. The club has a cellphone number and an email address, and is working to get other outlets of communication through which students can reach members of the club. Alex spoke about the club’s current process to bring together a student and a peer, of which there are around 100, with 75 or so active and available at a time. Each peer goes through three hours of training sessions, each semester, given by the Assistant Director of the Health Center and psychologists from the Health Center.
        1. Vote: For: All. Club created.
    3. Vice-President of Committees Tommy Fitzgerald
      1. Vinny was a package center employee who was “pushed out” of his job fifteen months before he could retire. As a member of the package center team, Tommy presented information about the situation to the RA. He spoke about the personal, day to day interaction that students had with Vinny, and the hesitance and resistance of the administration to respond to inquiries and concerns made by students. The student paper is working to write up an in depth piece on the matter, and there has been talk about getting the Lewiston Sun involved. The following is word for word the document as presented by Tommy:

This was the original letter written to the administration including all of the Deans as well as the President and Crystal Williams (Discrimination Officer)

“To Whom it May Concern:

As you may have heard by now, Gregory Vincent, the beloved package center manager has decided to quit his job at Bates College. Up until now, we, his student employees have remained silent upon instruction, but we feel that we are no longer able to hold back.

Gregory Vincent is the victim of age discrimination by his superiors. This is a direct violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Mr. Vincent has been discriminated and targeted against his will being the age of 63 years old and having a bad knee and hip. He has been forcibly put under “cross training” by order of his superiors. Both his supervisors are well aware of how Vinny’s bad knee and hip from a motorcycle accident when he was younger limits his mobility and makes it painful to stand for long periods of time. It is this same reason that he is missing a finger on one of his hands. Vinny has been forced against his will to do tasks in the office services room in Lane Hall. His job position however, requires him to manage the package center located in Chase Hall alone. It is well known that Vinny was planning on retiring upon reaching age 65 when he can apply for retirement and open his IRA account. However, over time this “cross-training” developed into specifically targeting solely Vinny and a co-worker Bobby as to forcibly make him leave now rather than waiting for him to retire in 2 years. Originally, this cross-training was labeled as preparation for moving to the new dorm with working 1-hour per week in the office services room. Over time this cross training increased to 3-hours per week and ultimately 1-hour per day and then 3-hours per day. Because of Vinny’s disability and lack of mobility, standing for long periods of time is extremely painful. The “cross-training” he was forced to endure had led to him being in extreme pain walking and otherwise not being able to go home and relax after work. Instead, Vinny was forced to nurse and prepare himself for the next day’s abuse and pain. He had us remain silent for fear of being fired by his superiors as it is clear they already want him to leave.

Mr. Vincent is a hard-working and important individual to the Bates Community. Previously before Bates, Mr. Vincent was a lifetime employee at L.L. Bean’s customer service center and is well-known as one of the major individuals who has helped to make L.L.Bean’s customer service as successful as it is today. He is a trusted and honest person that we aspire to be like every day when we walk into that package center.

We collectively are bringing this to your attention because we firmly believe that the acts being committed are not only unconstitutional by the United States Congress, but furthermore not Bates-like. Vinny as we call him, is a keystone member of the Bates community. He worked hard with us everyday to make sure that every package that came in to the package center remained with us until it was hand delivered to our customers, fellow students, and staff.

In addition to the discrimination, his Superiors have also targeted Vinny further trying to make him feel uncomfortable and unwelcomed by pressuring him into removing his memorabilia and wedding photos off of the wall of the package center. Until this summer, these photos and memorabilia had remained where they were since he joined Bates College 9 years ago. They also banned the daily riddle or trivia question that Vinny used to post on a white board for students to guess the answers.

Thus the question may be asked why are we contacting you? Because we believe that you fully grasp and understand the importance of being a Batesie and can fully understand this predicament and provide guidance and wisdom for how to properly handle this situation. Currently Vinny’s last day is this Friday January 30th, but we are confident that Vinny will stay if he feels that his treatment will be changed and the threats and harassment will be stopped. If Vinny is officially finished on Friday, he will be without insurance and will be forced to apply for Obama care and social security. His wife, Doris Vincent, whom we also love dearly, has also retired from Bates as the long-time administrative assistant in the abroad office. Up until recently, they together had been relying on Vinny’s insurance. Because of the level of abuse and discrimination, Vinny has decided to leave simply because his body cannot handle the toll of being abused by the orders of his superiors anymore.

Please help us stop this hate crime that is a violation against humanity and our fellow Bates employee whom we cherish so dearly. We have spread the word amongst the Bates students and across the student body. Their is general unrest and disappointment to hear of Vinny’s forced departure. To quote one student “Vinny is that guy who no matter how crappy your day may be going, he will still put a smile on your face and find a way of distracting you with just a good riddle. So simple and so Bates. He is that guy” (Student ’16). Please respond to us and help us save this man’s job and life so that we can continue to enjoy such a wonderful and kind Bates individual.

As you may already be familiar with this statement, I have decided to include a section of writing released by the Campus Culture Working Group’s Mission statement: “In its investigations, deliberations, and development of recommendations the Campus Culture Working Group will engage with a central and valued dimension of the Bates experience, namely, our distinct and mission-driven definition of community. For this reason, much is at stake at Bates as we seek to make life on this campus more vibrant, more inclusive, safer, and healthier.”

Thus I ask all of you who are included in this email, do you believe that the way Vinny has been treated is correct? Do you believe that this is the moral way Bates should go about handling one of its key contributing factors of positive culture?

Sincerely and with our best regards, Concerned Package Center Student Employees”

Since writing this email, we received a 2 line response from Crystal Williams saying that the situation was being handled and they would be getting back to us with a more formal email in a few days. More than a week later, we wrote the administration asking for a response. The next day, Crystal responded with the email below:

“Dear Students,

Thank you for writing, and thank you for your patience as I looked in the issue you raised.

While I’m not able to comment specifically about any personnel situation, please be assured that the College has taken the allegations expressed in [abatesstudent’s] January 26th email seriously and has acted in accordance with College policy.

More personally, I deeply appreciate your concern. It is yet another testament to Bates’ culture of caring and support. And while I realize you may want more information than any of us can give regarding a personnel matter, I hope you understand that part of my job is to ensure that our institution responsibly creates and maintains an equitable work environment. After review of this situation, I believe the College has acted in a responsive and conscientious manner, in full compliance with our employment policies and procedures.

Best Regards, Crystal Williams”

When we tried to approach Dean Holly Gurney on the matter, we were referred to Dean McIntosh. We were told that the deans had been instructed to not respond to the Bates student’s email and all questions were to be referred to Dean McIntosh. The day after we received Crystal’s email, we the concerned employees, met with Dean McIntosh. He confirmed that Crystal Williams and Mary Main conducted an investigation on the report sent to the administration and that we needed to trust them that they completed said investigation thoroughly and correctly. He informed us that the way HR handled this situation is typical and routine of any college or corporation. He also stated that further discussing the matter openly or asking for more information on the investigation would be highly inappropriate. However, having spoken with credible sources, we are further informed that the “upstairs” implying the President and Trustees were trusted to be handling this situation by the Deans. In actuality, we still have not heard anything from the upstairs administration and have only received minimum contact from Crystal Williams (ie not the “upstairs). It has also been confirmed that the Trustees have been kept in the dark about this whole incident. In addition, neither Crystal Williams nor HR ever interviewed the “whistle-blowers” or concerned package center student employees on the injustices witnessed. How are we to be able to trust HR to handle situations involving students and employees when the original reporters were not even interviewed? We find that the original policies put into place are flawed and need to be reformed. We as a student body demand more transparency across the entire administration. How are we to “trust” an HR department to handle an investigation such as the report above to be handled properly when the discrimination officer is a tenured English professor? Furthermore, it is very questionable that this procedure was handled correctly because Vinny was 18 months away from reaching 65 years old. Upon reaching the age of 65, he can legally retire. Vinny is now forced to apply for social security and withdraw money from his retirement account in order to pay for his medical insurance. Why was the college not able to coordinate with HR and help pay for Vinny’s health insurance for the next 18 months? To add, Vinny’s predecessor David Moore was involved in a similar incident involving HR and harassment. He worked at Bates for 14 years and was less than a year away from receiving additional Bates benefits. What was strange about Mr. Moore’s case was that he left very quickly and suddenly. We also know that HR was involved and nothing resulted of it.

To conclude, we feel that we were not given the proper treatment as being the initial reporters of said incident by HR. In addition, we feel the issue was swept under the carpet and are extremely disappointed in how the college has handled this report. We believe there needs to be reformation in the policies and procedures of HR and the discrimination offenses departments. If Bates is a school about community, how can we trust our own HR department to do the right thing when it seems that the policies and procedures in place allow harassment and discrimination incidents to occur routinely whenever the college wants to push someone out of the Bates community?


  1. President’s Report
    1. Berto spoke about the announcement that Holly Gurney and Keith Tannenbaum will be leaving Bates at the end of the year. Berto, Tommy and Tomás met with Dean McIntosh about the situation and the lack of transparency in administration decision and policy. The EC will be having dinner with the Dean later in the week to continue this conversation, and the issue of administration failing to involve and form of student representation in it’s decision making policy that directly affects the students at Bates. Members of the RA expressed their concern with this change in administration, and spoke about the effect that these two deans had on the lives of students at Bates in a productive and supportive manner.
      1. Jake Barbato: “Something should be on record that is reflective of the attitudes of the students at this campus. I therefore would like to push a vote of no confidence.” A discussion ensued about the target of the vote.
      2. Motion for a vote of no confidence towards President Spencer and Dean McIntosh: For: 19.  Against: 1. Abstaining: 1. Vote passes. The RA, as a representative and authoritative voice for the student population, through a motion of no confidence, respectfully withdraws its confidence from President Spencer and Dean McIntosh.
  2. Member Reports
    1. Tomas presented an amendment that would allow any amendments presented by a member of the RA or the student body, to be passed by a vote of the student body, rather than going through the RA.
    2. A question was raised about whether Tomás can raise this amendment at this meeting, given a past interpretation of the constitution made by the EJC. Now, however, the EJC has met to discuss this interpretation and the Parliamentarian spoke about a revision in the interpretations, allowing Tomás to present an amendment.
    3. Members of the RA voiced their concern about the risk in letting the student body vote, running a risk of having the constitution altered by a small turn out. Cole suggested letting the student body vote and then having the RA vote on it as well, which Kiernan said went against the amendment’s purpose: to allow the student body to make changes despite the RA’s actions.
    4. Paul proposed that the RA addressed this amendment at the beginning of the following meeting, given the late hour and the midweek exhaustion of the RA members.
  3. Old Business
    1. Berto spoke once again about the student government conference at Tufts.
  4. Adjournment
    1. Motion to adjourn: For: All. Adjournment.



Respectfully Submitted,


Katharina Harling  ‘17