University News

UCS considers Kelly committee report, coal divestment resolution

Council hears presentations by Kelly committee representatives, Divest Coal members

By
Senior Staff Writer
Thursday, March 20, 2014

Members of the Committee on the Events of October 29 attended the meeting, including Terra Laughton ’14, English Professor Amanda Anderso, Dakotah Rice ’16 and Africana Studies Professor Anthony Bogues.

Four members of the Committee on the Events of October 29 solicited feedback from the Undergraduate Council of Students on the second phase of the committee’s mission, which involves establishing guidelines for how the University should address similar events in the future, at the UCS general body meeting Wednesday.

The committee members present included committee chair and Africana Studies Professor Anthony Bogues, English Professor Amanda Anderson and undergraduate representatives Terra Laughton ’14 and Dakotah Rice ’16.

“Our whole charge was to see if we could … put before the University a set of recommendations that would be useful,” Bogues said, adding that free speech, academic freedom and the campus climate were key issues the committee must consider.

On Feb. 19, the committee released its initial report, in which it stated administrators canceled the lecture by former New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly in part because they feared the protesters would turn violent, The Herald reported at the time.

At the meeting, the committee members posed questions to UCS about how the University should weigh academic freedom of speech and student well-being.

Some UCS members expressed concern that students have lacked influence in University decision-making in the wake of the canceled lecture.

“On both sides, I think that people feel like they don’t have a voice,” said Kiera Peltz ’16, chair of the UCS Communications Committee and a former Herald staff writer.

Additionally, members of Brown Divest Coal presented a resolution calling for UCS to endorse the group’s goal of University divestiture from major coal and fossil companies.

“The University’s investment should align with its commitment to sustainability,” said Tammy Jiang ’16, a Divest Coal member, adding that despite President Christina Paxson’s statements that the issue had been settled, the group will continue fighting “because we are on the right side of history, and it’s the right thing to do.”

The resolution urges UCS to maintain an ongoing partnership with Divest Coal and include three divestment-related questions in the next UCS Fall Poll, which UCS distributes to the student body annually.

“There’s something very significant for our Council saying that this is something the next Council should pay attention to,” said UCS President Todd Harris ’14.5, but he added that the resolution’s call for UCS commitments would not be binding for future elected student representatives.

UCS is set to vote on whether to approve the resolution after spring break at its next general body meeting.

The Student Activities Committee also presented at the meeting, discussing the classification and delegation of umbrella groups, which are overarching student groups with at least three subgroups.

Elections Board Chair Heather Sabel ’17 also made a successful motion to approve the newly appointed elections board. Board members will include Harris, current Undergraduate Finance Board Chair Leila Veerasamy ’15, Stacy Bartlett ’14, Isabella Levy ’16, Jacqueline Kim ’17, Alexander Lloyd George ’16, Herald Sports Editor Caleb Miller ’16, Miyo Malouf ’16, Brenna Scully ’17, Audrey Lew ’14 and Lydia Chim ’17.

UCS Vice President Sam Gilman ’15 announced his decision not to run for UCS president in the upcoming elections, despite rumors he was planning to mount a campaign. “You guys have been inspiring in the sense that we can figure out how to elevate student concerns,” he said, adding that over his three years he has “learned so much from UCS.”

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