Joe Milholland, Governmental Bwogger Extraordinaire, attended the USenate plenary this week. An unexpectedly wide range of topics came up, making for some interesting takeaways. But, of course, how can one have a USenate plenary without mentioning the Smoking Policy?
The University Senate had a plenary on Friday, and several smaller topics came up. Here they are, followed by two policy updates:
- After a moment of silence for the Columbia students killed and injured in the Global Brigades trip to Honduras, PrezBo said that the university’s response was “just outstanding.” PrezBo singled out Samuel Seward, Robert Gristo, and Kavita Sharma, who flew to Honduras as quickly as possible once they heard the news.
- Columbia College Senator Ramis Wadood said the Student Affairs Committee will release the student quality of life report in a week to a week and a half. He also said that SAC has voted to support a plaque that indicates Columbia is built on land once lived on by the Lenape people.
- The university’s faculty have been taking a quality of life survey of their own, and, according to Sharyn O’Halloran, 33% of faculty completed it. O’Halloran will provide highlights from the surrey’s data on April 1 and will have more detailed info on April 29. O’Halloran also said that a quality of life survey for research officers is being rolled out this semester.
- A proposal to give non-tenured faculty “longer notice periods for any decisions not to renew their appointments” was presented and discussed. The proposal passed unanimously, although one senator worried this might lead the university to hire more part-time faculty.
- The Smoking Policy – a perennial University Senate topic – reared its head once more from the deepest, darkest depths of Columbia policy discussion. Specifically, Research Officer Senator Daniel Savin asked for an update, saying, “Walking around campus, it really doesn’t seem as if there’s been any change in the amount of smoking or the location of smoking.”
- “This is my favorite topic,” said O’Halloran in response. “I will simply say I too have noticed those issues. We have an implementation committee. They will be coming back to us next year with an assessment of whether this has worked or not.” She thanked Savin for his input.
The Institute for Ideas and Imagination
- A resolution to establish an Institute for Ideas and Imagination passed unanimously. The institute, located at the Global Center in Reid Hall, Paris, would house 14 fellows from humanities-related fields – 7 from Columbia’s faculty and 7 from around the world (not necessarily university faculty).
- “Broadly speaking, the idea is this: America has probably the best universities in the world,” said Senator Mark Mawozar. “Nevertheless, they’ve benefited in various ways from a period of world history – about 50 or 60 years – when America has been the unchallenged hegemon. And that can lead to a certain kind of intellectual inertia, in which you assume, within your field, or your discipline, or your subject, that you know exactly what’s knowledge and how it should be defined and what’s mainstream and what’s not. And the world’s changing now, pretty fast.”