University News

UCS mulls statement on housing

Senior Staff Writer
Thursday, October 6, 2011

Clarification appended.

The Undergraduate Council of Students discussed a statement deploring the “embarrassingly substandard” state of campus housing at its general body meeting last night.

The council also discussed a resolution opposing the elimination of any varsity athletics programs and heard from Dean of the College Katherine Bergeron and Margaret Klawunn, vice president for campus life and student services.

Both the proposed housing statement and athletics resolution, still under revision and discussion in preparation for a vote next week, used strong words in decrying University failures to live up to students’ expectations. “It should be a fundamental right of all Brown students to have a university dedicated to comprehensive and regular renovations of all dormitories,” the statement now reads, adding that University dorms are “embarrassingly substandard compared to those of our peer institutions.”

The statement, which calls housing “increasingly a negative experience for Brown students,” outlines a call for a comprehensive plan to maintain residence halls before they reach unacceptable levels of “decay.” It is the first statement UCS has proposed in a decade. The plan is to pass the statement in time to present it to administrators before the Oct. 20 Corporation meeting.

UCS members agreed that speedy renovations should take priority over construction of new dorms, which they said could take years. Members bemoaned the Corporation’s repeated refusal to allot the Office of Residential Life the full amount they request.


Proposed athletics resolution

The council then moved to a resolution criticizing, point-by-point, the Athletics Review Committee’s rationale for cutting the varsity wrestling, fencing and skiing programs.

The resolution featured research compiled by the teams themselves, which had already been presented to the committee, but which UCS said was not previously readily available to students. After detailing various points of data to prove the teams’ value to the University, the resolution concluded that the committee’s findings were “unsubstantiated and lacked thorough and comprehensive research.”

“We therefore, on behalf of the undergraduate students of Brown University, urge the Corporation not to cut these valuable athletics programs,” the statement concludes.


Bergeron and Klawunn

Earlier in the night, Bergeron and Klawunn took a markedly more positive view in their address to the council. The two recounted improvements that have been made across the University in the last year from their collaboration with UCS.

Bergeron highlighted the improved support for international students, changes to CareerLAB and progress on the transition from MyCourses to Canvas.

She enthusiastically revealed the feature of Canvas that allows class assignments to automatically appear in students’ Google Calendars. She emphasized that CareerLAB underwent more changes than just name and logo, but that the “name of the center should actually reflect the multiple purposes,” since finding a career is more of a fluid process. Bergeron also alluded to the planning of an event called the January Career Laboratory, scheduled to be announced later in the month. This new event, she said, “will feature a whole lot of alums to do networking” and give students of all years a chance to discuss career options and meet alums in another capacity.

Klawunn then discussed what she called the Division of Campus Life and Student Services’ four mission areas — facilities, student support and advising, diversity and connections with faculty.

She also discussed the planned dorm at 315 Thayer St. and the consolidation of first-year housing in Pembroke and Keeney Quadrangle, eliminating concerns of the far distance of Perkins. When questioned about the elimination of small first-year dorms like Littlefield, Klawunn said the University plans to renovate several Pembroke and Keeney dorms to create smaller units, preserving the “Littlefield experience” elsewhere.

She also discussed proposals “to create more of a center” for international students, combining the services and programs available to them and making something that would be “more visible and a real sign of our global mission.”

She apologized in response to student concerns with the satellite fitness centers, saying, “We did not manage that well this year.”

“We will have new machines in there as quickly as we can,” she added.

Bergeron and Klawunn both detailed the strengths of the Faculty Advising Fellows program, urging students to take advantage of the program’s events. “They are some of our best teachers and advisers,” Klawunn said of the faculty participants.

Bergeron highlighted a “new appendage to the program,” in which students can now take individual faculty members of their choosing out to lunch.

When the floor was opened up to questions, UCS members raised concerns about inadequacies in the explanation of prerequisites for international students, inconsistencies in policies for preregistration waitlists and lack of centralization of the University’s online tools.

Klawunn and Bergeron took the questions in stride, offering possible solutions to the students’ concerns.

Later in the meeting, UCS also changed Right to Play’s group constitution to realign the group with Sports Corps and changed the group’s name accordingly. UCS also talked about the progress of their compilation of dossiers on each member of the Corporation in preparation for this year’s Corporation meeting.

Due to an editing error, a previous version of this article stated that the Undergraduate Council of Students approved a name change for Sports Corps and a change of Right to Play’s group constitution. The change in Right to Play’s group constitution  realigned the group with Sports Corps and changed its name accordingly.