University News

TWC’s name, direction assessed at UCS meeting

The center’s director addressed issues of race in the wake of the Kelly lecture cancellation

By
Senior Staff Writer
Thursday, November 7, 2013

The Undergraduate Council of Students grappled with the Third World Center’s name and role on campus in a conversation with Mary Grace Almandrez, TWC director and assistant dean of the College, at the UCS general body meeting Wednesday.

The center recently embarked on a strategic planning process, unaffiliated with President Christina Paxson’s strategic plan, that will guide its agenda over the next five years, Almandrez said.

The center’s potential name change dominated early discussion in the meeting. The name change was recommended in a recent program review report, which took into account feedback from the center’s staff members and external consultants, The Herald previously reported.

Many students are “turned off by the name” or do not understand it, said Malikah Williams ’16, chair of the UCS Campus Life Committee.

Some first-years do not participate in the Third World Transition Program — a pre-orientation program that seeks to explore race, class, gender and other issues — because of its name, Williams said.

The center should change its name to the Third Way Center, said Krishan Aghi ’15, who is not a UCS member but attended the meeting to share his views.

The phrase “would still carry the same history” connoted by the term “Third World,”  he said, noting that both terms originate from Frantz Fanon’s 1961 book “The Wretched of the Earth,” which identifies a “third world fighting systems of oppression.”

Council members also discussed the center’s role in helping students consider issues of race and free speech in the wake of a lecture canceled last week to be given by New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly. At the event, protesters stood up and shouted objections to Kelly’s enforcement of the “stop-and-frisk” policy, leading administrators to shut down the lecture.

Following the protest, many students “felt like they didn’t know where they belonged in this conversation, and that created a lot of tension and emotional turmoil,” said Todd Harris ’14.5, UCS president.

“We want students to know that whatever they’re feeling, whether pride or anger, there are staff here to listen,” Almandrez said. “We try to create spaces where we can agree or disagree respectfully.”

The center does not take sides in disputes but rather aims to support all students, Almandrez said.

Council members also suggested new programs the center could offer.

The center should run a program similar to TWTP available to all students, not just a limited number of first-years, said Sam Rubinstein ’17, a UCS general body member.

The TWC should “co-sponsor events about what it means to be a minority on campus” with other organizations, such as Brown RISD Hillel, said Alex Drechsler ’15, UCS Student Activities chair.

The Council also started its categorization process of student groups. Six groups earned Category 1 status, including Design for America and Recess Journal. Three groups were approved as Category 2, including Brown Unheard and Wubappella, and two groups became Category 3.

Council members engaged in several minutes of debate before approving the International Socialist Club as a Category 3 group.

Leila Veerasamy ’15, Undergraduate Finance Board chair, expressed concern that the International Socialist Club had requested funding for international speakers, which the board does not fund.

The club also sought funding for national speakers and travel to conferences, Drechsler said.

“The whole topic of free speech has come up a lot recently, and it’s good that a group so controversial would get funding,” said Ian Cossentinos ’17, a UCS general body member.

The Council also approved seven groups’ requests for $200 of baseline funding from the recently created Service Group Funding Board. Seven groups out of 20 applied and received funding, including Active Minds, Interfaith Exchange, Nourish International, Carefree Clinic, Brown University Sexual Health and Empowerment, Rainwater for Humanity and Making Moves, said Noelle Spencer ’14, chair of the board.

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  • Disgruntled Yet Excited Wubber

    Wubappella has two Ps and two Ls. Also, WOOHOO Catgeory 2!