Skip to main content

20 November 2018

Staff Advisory Council Meeting

Agenda for Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Listening to and lifting staff voices to build an informed community

Attended:  Diane Fritz, Ben Wilson, Alex Sastre, Shá Duncan Smith, Domenic Porrini, Zenobia Hargust, Emily Almas, Julie DiPietro, Nabil Kashyap, Pamela Prescod-Caesar, Pamela Borkowski-Valentin


Thursday, Dec 6                      Winter Gathering



10:00 – 10:15 am

Shá Duncan Smith      Committee on Learning, Working & Living at Swat.

SAC and Committee on Learning, Working & Living at Swat are going to look for ways to work together and to share information to make decision and process more transparent.

Remind the community that there are suggestion/comment boxes around campus.

10:15 – 10:30 am

Alex Sastre                 Enhancing communications with staff        

Internal communication.  How do we hear each other and facilitate conversation?

Current Human Resources Communication:

Revamped Garnet Newsletter to be totally digital and added a summer issue

Revamp of HR website which is part of the broader campus website revamps

Worked with Benefit team to develop a benefits philosophy to help make the principles and practices that drive the benefits process more transparent

Ongoing work on marketing events and programs, e.g. Season of Kindness

Alex asked the council to share their experience regard communication with the community:

The council has experienced the challenge of how to get information out so that it will be seen by the whole community.  No one method will work for all community members.

We have heard that people are interested in know how decisions are made.

Many groups are not aware of other groups that may be working on a similar project or there could be synchronicity.

Look for ways to inform and engage the third shift staff.

Interested in a central depository to list all the club/groups:

intramural sports, book club, parents club, etc.

Employee Resource Groups (ERG) are voluntary groups of individuals formed around shared experiences or a common background or identification. ERGs provide opportunities for underrepresented groups on campus to gather with support for their activities.

Staff are looking for more information on the professional development resources that are available to them.

HR has a Food for Thought session which will lift up this information.


For Discussion:

From Alice Turbiville  AAC 2018-2019 Workplan – any topics SAC and AAC can meet and

                                    talk about?

Partnership with SAC and AAC

Have joint meetings/attend one of their meetingThink about meeting 1-3 times/semester

Try to meet in January

Ask AAC to share their work plan

Share information between the groups from AAC to SAC

SAC to send recent charter to AAC.  Diane Fritz to email to Alice Turbville.

Seek ways SAC and AAC can work together

Living Learning and Working


SAC member recruitment

We may want to create a nominating committee for our SAC members

Maybe have Val send a message out asking for members

Domenic Porrini, Luis Alvarez, and Meghan Gebhard are in charge of recruitment.  

Meghan’s tenure has ended


Questions for SAC/HR

Concern #1:

Hi Pamela,

I understand that health care plans are increasing in price and that Swarthmore's generous total compensation package is becoming more and more difficult to cover. But it appears that not only will employees be paying at least $300 more for their formerly $0.00 plans... but that the college will be paying $673 less per year for the same plan. Would you mind addressing the community about this?

One of my concerns is that our benefits package is considered to be our compensation. Since we now have to pay for our basic individual health benefits, this feels a lot like a pay cut.

If the college negotiated significantly cheaper plans, why is that savings not passed onto the employee?

I've copied my SAC rep […] and my departmental coordinator […] on this email.

Thank you,

Hi […],

I was talking to some folks about the upcoming SAC meeting about healthcare premiums.  I wanted to share a screenshot from the enrollment site showing how the HMO premiums have increased for employees but decreased significantly for the college.  I'm curious why the college decided to make employees pay more while the plan itself costs less



On September 19, in our message on Important Healthcare Plan and Other Benefits Updates, we announced to the community that this cost-share would be put in place for the 2019 benefit year. We shared this information in anticipation of the open enrollment season, to give our community members time to make any necessary preparations for the coming year.

As we noted in that message, the employee contribution to the HMO plan was influenced by multiple factors, including the implementation of the Affordable Care Act and a continually evolving regulatory environment that has affected the entire healthcare industry. In order to navigate these changes and prepare for the future, we conducted an in-depth review of all our benefits offerings, collected benchmarking data from peer institutions, worked closely with benefits consultants and various health insurance providers, and gathered insights from our faculty and staff. In assessing all of the College’s health plans, we found that the HMO was not in alignment with similar plans offered at other institutions. This decision was made after careful consideration, and we are sensitive to the fact that it may present a challenge to some of our community members.

Regarding your question about the change in employer contribution to the HMO plan: while our budgeted costs for your particular plan and coverage tier were reduced for 2019, the College actually experienced an increase in aggregate health care costs for all of the College’s plans in 2019. While this bigger picture is not readily visible to individual community members through our benefits management tool, we plan to make sure it is made clearer during next year’s enrollment period.  

Because of the various factors that shape the current benefits landscape, we cannot guarantee that the payroll contribution for any College plan will remain the same from year to year. However, we will continue to evaluate our benefits offerings annually, including the payroll contributions for all College plans, and remain committed to offering a high-quality, competitive, and viable suite of benefits for our community.


Concern #2:

Can EVS have updated pictures and contact information on their webpage (instead of a group photo) so everyone can get to know the staff better and also know exactly who to reach out to if a concern or request arises?

Diane Fritz will contact Tyrone Dunston to see if there is an interest with that department.  


I'll coordinate this with communications to see if they could assist us with individual profiles, followed with contact information. The group photo will remain however, because it includes our entire staff and they are very proud to be seen as an important part of we do.  By the way, we do have an EVS workbox . This what the community should use when they any concerns or request.  


Concern #3:

Can there be a program set up where faculty or staff can fund students to receive flu shots? Or why aren't flu shots free to students? 

Diane will reach out to Karen Henry/Alice Holland to see if there is a program to help support student receiving flu shots for those who may not have insurance or fall under their parent’s insurance.  


Dear Diane,

Thank you for sharing the question.

The student cost of the flu vaccine covers the fee for the College to purchase the vaccine. 

Students have the option to pay via cash, check or have the fee placed on their bursar account.

Most, if not all insurance companies cover the cost of the flu vaccine. Students can enter their Swarthmore College student health portal the same day that they receive the flu vaccine, to print a statement/receipt to send to their insurance company for reimbursement. If students submit the statement/receipt to their insurance company right away, they can often receive insurance reimbursement of the cost from their insurance company before they even receive a bill on their bursar account, eliminating any out-of-pocket expense. 

Students who have the student health insurance plan (SHIP) will have the fee billed directly to SHIP so there is no out-of-pocket expense. Currently, over 600 students are enrolled in SHIP.

The Health Center can bill SHIP but does not have the capability to bill the many hundreds of other insurance companies that exist. 

Students who would like to receive the flu vaccine and have concerns about financial hardship (this is few since most, if not all insurance companies cover the cost of this preventive vaccine) can talk with the Health Center staff and the fee can be waived.  

All of this information is provided to students.

This season the Health Center staff offered seven flu vaccine clinics at various locations, for student convenience. (Parrish Parlors, BCC, IC, McCabe, Matchbox, and two at the Health & Wellness Center.) Students who attended a flu vaccine clinic received a reusable disposable thermometer where the thermometer is removed from the Phoenix's beak and the reverse side lists the difference between the common cold and the flu as well as the Health & Wellness Center contact information. Snacks were also available to students who received a flu vaccine.

Vaccine is still available for students at the Health & Wellness Center.

Hope this information helps.

Warm regards,