USenate: Rewriting The Rules

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There should probably be more than four

There should probably be more than four

The University Senate had its final plenary today at 1:15. Senate Savvy Maud Rozee was there to get the news. And the snacks.

PrezBo was running late because he had to attend a World Leader’s Forum event, so Executive committee chair Sharyn O’Halloran gave some opening remarks summarizing the events of the recent Town Hall on sexual assault.

When PrezBo arrived, he commented on the search for the new Executive Vice President of Student Affairs. He noted that for several years he had been thinking that Columbia was missing someone who could have a broad, comprehensive view of the issues students are dealing with at Columbia. The discussions about sexual assault prompted him to start the search, and he expects to appoint someone by the beginning of the next academic year.

PrezBo also said that there is still a lot of work to do on the sexual assault issue, and he will be sending out another update in the next week on the ongoing work.

A senate member asked about how the recent Supreme Court decision about affirmative action in Michigan could affect Columbia. PrezBo replied with a long and very interesting explanation of how different laws worked.

Report from the Rules Committee:

  • This committee was created to consider changes to the Rules of University Conduct, which are special, university-wide, disciplinary rules which apply to demonstrations, rallies, picketing and the circulation of petitions. The rules are designed to protect the rights of free expression as well as the proper functioning of the University.
  • After three meetings, the Committee has come to the decision that the rules need to be changed. They are decades-old, dense and difficult to understand, and perhaps not as fair and just as they could be. They are also outline procedures which are very different from those of peer institutions.
  • The next step for the Committee is to gather information, and start to engage in a public way with students and faculty. To that end, starting next semester, Town Halls will be held, and the Committee will meet with student and faculty leaders.
  • The Committee doesn’t have much more information about how the rules will be changed, and for what outcome. They only know they want to start a discussion.
  • Personally, I think this process will be of especially great importance to groups like No Red Tape, Barnard/Columbia Divest, and Students for Justice in Palestine.


Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

Report from the Task Force on Smoking Policy Implementation:

  • The map of proposed designated smoking areas has been updated to include 14 locations, down from 20 in the last report. The areas were chosen to be convenient for smokers and non-smokers alike.
  • Despite suggestions that Public Safety should get involved, there will be no change to the enforcement policy, which is currently:”Enforcement of the policy is the responsibility of all members of the Columbia community.”
  • There will be a strong awareness campaign, starting with an email blast sometime before commencement and culminating in new signage and perhaps ads on Spec and Bwog. (Okay, I had to prompt the “and Bwog” part).

Annual report from the Presidential Advisory Committee on Sexual Assault (PACSA):

  • Melissa Rooker, University Title IX Coordinator and PACSA co-chair, gave the senate a timeline of PACSA’s 2 committee meetings and 1 sub-committee meeting this year, including their interactions with the Columbia Democrats about releasing data on sexual assault.
  • I was surprised that PACSA only met twice this year, but maybe I am just uninformed on how these things work.
  • PACSA will deliver their recommendations on the form and format of the sexual assault data to be released to PrezBo on Monday May 5th, so hopefully we’ll see that data sometime over the summer.

Other reports:

  • The Education Committee gave a quick report summarizing their work this year.
  • The IT Committee also gave a quick report about some issues faculty have encountered.
  • The Student Affairs chairs summarized their work this year, including the changes made using information from the Quality of Life survey.

The Senate approved a new M.S. in Applied Analytics, and a resolution which let the Executive committee handle Senate affairs for the summer break.

Sign outside your local pool via Shutterstock

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