University News

Corporation discusses sexual assault policies, strategic plan progress

Members review work of committee on Third World Center’s proposed revamp

By
Senior Staff Writer
Monday, May 26, 2014

Corporation members discussed the University’s sexual assault policies with students and  reviewed ongoing efforts to implement President Christina Paxson’s strategic plan and revamp the Third World Center during their meeting Friday.

Academic planning, gift announcements and campus development also emerged as topics at the Corporation’s annual May meeting.

The University’s response to sexual assaults  and recent calls for greater student input in University governance featured prominently in the meeting.

Paxson wrote in a community-wide email May 2 that administrators’ “goal is to move Brown to a position of national leadership for prevention, advocacy and response to issues of sexual assault.”

At the time of a community-wide email Paxson sent Friday that highlighted updates from the Corporation’s meeting, the body had discussed concerns raised this month about Brown’s sexual assault policies. Its Committee on Campus Life planned to meet with students directly to discuss their experiences.

The committee has since held a breakfast meeting with seniors invited by the Undergraduate Council of Students, wrote Marisa Quinn, vice president for public affairs and University relations, in an email to The Herald.

In addition to the issue of sexual assault on campus, the meeting covered the effectiveness of the open curriculum, advising and student involvement with the Corporation, said UCS President Maahika Srinivasan ’15.

UCS sought to invite campus leaders from a wide array of areas, including environmental groups and student government, Srinivasan said. Council members also strived to tap into groups of people who do not always participate in campus policy discussions, she added.

Melanie Fineman ’14, a student trustee of Brown/RISD Hillel and a varsity track and field runner, Sahil Luthra ’14, a former Herald science & research editor, and Kayla Rosen ’14, a Meiklejohn Leadership Committee member, were among the 30 students who attended the breakfast, Srinivasan said.

UCS members are responsible for selecting students to serve on the Sexual Assault Task Force that will convene this fall, Quinn wrote.

A formal application will go out the first or second week of the fall semester, and interviews with select students will be conducted shortly thereafter, Srinivasan said.

“We have four spots, so we have people who can really engage in this issue and bring different and diverse perspectives to policy-making,” she said.

Though UCS is not involved in the selection of two students who will work with administrators and outside consultants on studying Brown’s sexual assault policies this summer, Srinivasan said UCS did ask that the University “open the position up to students who couldn’t commit to a full-time job.”

“There are several students who are on campus this summer who would like to still be involved,” Srinivasan said, adding that UCS asked Margaret Klawunn, vice president for campus life and student services and interim dean of the College, to “keep that in mind and to have them consulted.”

The Corporation’s Campus Life Committee also reviewed updates from the Third World Center, Quinn wrote.

Klawunn and Andrew Campbell, associate professor of medical science, serve as co-chairs of the TWC’s strategic planning committee. The group has been charged with establishing a mission statement centered on student empowerment, developing a comprehensive five-year plan and proposing a new name for the center.

According to a document on the TWC website, 16 open space dialogues involving 330 students, alums and staffers took place between March and last October. The dialogues focused on recurring themes, such as “Be a voice for students of color” and “Maintain (legacy of) activism and politicized space.”

As of April 28, Brown community members have suggested 34 new names for the center, including “Center for Racial Justice,” “Center for Vocalizing and Mobilizing Truth” and “Center of Learning, Organizing and Resistance (COLOR),” according to another document on the TWC’s website.

The Campus Life Committee had “a full and robust discussion” on the TWC strategic planning process, and committee members “look forward to receiving the report when it’s completed,” Quinn wrote.

The Corporation meeting’s agenda also focused on academic and campus expansion. The University received significant financial gifts designated to further graduate education, build additional facilities for the School of Engineering and support new professorships and ongoing research.

The University received $25 million — the largest announced gift from the meeting — from anonymous donors to establish a “Fellowship Fund” for 25 individual graduate fellowships. Paxson wrote in her Friday email that graduate education is a “key component of the strategic plan.”

A gift of about $2.2 million from Hugh Pearson ’58, added to previous gifts he has donated to Brown, established the Hugh W. Pearson ’58 Family Professorship in Technology and Entrepreneurship.

The University also received a cumulative $2 million to put toward hiring an architect, producing plans and ultimately constructing the new engineering building. At the Friday meeting, the Corporation formally accepted monetary gifts totaling over $4 million for engineering and entrepreneurship, according to the School of Engineering website.

The new engineering building will be located on Manning Walk next to Barus and Holley, the University announced in a press release Saturday. Corporation members’ formal approval of the new site came amid news that the University had reached its fundraising goal for the building, according to the release.

Corporation members adopted a faculty proposal to convert the Executive Master of Business Administration program, currently run through the University’s partnership with the IE Business School in Madrid, Spain, into a joint degree offered by both Brown and IE.

The Corporation also approved a number of chair appointments and departmental name changes. Twenty-six faculty members were appointed to named chair positions, effective July 1, according to Paxson’s letter.

Twelve of the 26 faculty members have been appointed to history or international studies professorships with an additional seven appointed to positions in other humanities subjects. Seven faculty members have been granted professorships in STEM-related fields.

The Corporation approved three department name changes. The Department of Egyptology and Ancient Western Asian Studies will become the Department of Egyptology and Assyriology, and the Department of Slavic Languages and Department of Geological Sciences will be renamed to the Department of Slavic Studies and the Department of Earth, Environment and Planetary Sciences, respectively.

  • Branf Wataver

    Much talk. Nothing done. Then, a planted article claimed to have been written by a Brown student (or staff) on Memorial Day and the day right after commencement exercise and end of school year. It’s one thing for Chris Paxson to be irresponsible and stupid. It’s another thing to be all those and transparent, unawares. By having taken her on, Brown University has put itself in a pathetic state.

  • johnlonergan

    The U’s role in preventing rape is clear. Brown, like many universities we’ve seen, is completely incompetent and unfair in trying to prosecute suspected rape, however. That has been shown in this unfortunate case. It’s also been demonstrated at U of Mich., Stanford, UNC and countless other universities.

    Once a suspected sexual assault occurs, it is a police matter, not a University matter. We have police, courts, defendants and plaintiffs in this country for a reason.

    Christina Paxson, continue to discourage this criminal activity. But when it becomes a crime, stand back and call the police.