University News

GSC supports expansion of ombuds office

Divest Coal members also urged the council to support U. coal divestment

By
Senior Staff Writer
Thursday, April 4, 2013

The Graduate Student Council unanimously passed a resolution Thursday evening calling for the expansion of the ombuds office’s jurisdiction to serve all graduate students and for the ombudsperson position to become a full-time post.

The resolution will be given to President Christina Paxson and Provost Mark Schlissel P’15 immediately, said GSC President Matthew Lyddon GS.

Ruth Rosenberg, the current faculty ombudsperson, was hired last spring part-time, The Herald previously reported. The ombudsperson is “an independent, confidential, neutral and informal resource” who serves as a confidant for concerned parties, according to the ombuds office’s mission statement. The ombudsperson now serves faculty members, post-doctoral students and associates exclusively.

Lyddon underscored in the meeting that the Faculty Executive Committee recently passed a resolution supporting the ombuds office expansion and said he hoped that GSC’s passing of a similar resolution would demonstrate the graduate school community’s support for expanding this office.

“This could be an important additional resource that we want for all graduate students,” Lyddon said. “And it’s now being discussed at a very high level, so our support could show how the graduate student body as a whole is behind this.”

Two student representatives of Brown Divest Coal also spoke at the meeting and urged GSC members to pass a resolution supporting University divestment from the “15 filthiest coal companies.”

The Divest Coal members encouraged the Council to create a resolution similar to that recently passed by the Undergraduate Council of Students, which would support divestment due to ethical and environmental concerns.

“Only 0.1 percent of our investments are in these 15 coal companies, so the University can take action immediately against them,” one of the Divest Coal representatives said in his presentation.

The members cited 2,000 student signatures on a petition against University investment in coal companies and said a resolution from the GSC indicates Brown students’ commitment to divestment because graduate students are an “integral part of the Brown community.”

But the Council did not discuss the prospect of passing a resolution at the meeting. Lyddon told The Herald that a busy agenda and the fact that no GSC member has yet drafted a resolution pushed conversation about divestment to next month’s meeting.

Three potential graduate school student commencement speakers delivered their proposed speeches at the meeting, and GSC members then deliberated and voted on whom they deemed the best candidate. Ben Raymond GS, a master’s candidate in education studies and former Master’s Advocate for the Council, was elected speaker by a margin of 30 out of about 34 votes.