University News

UCS reviews semester’s initiatives

Committee chairs update council on efforts to improve mental health, student-admin interaction

By
Senior Staff Writer
Thursday, December 4, 2014

Maahika Srinivasan ’15, president of the Undergraduate Council of Students, updates the council on her work related to sexual assault.

The Undergraduate Council of Students reviewed the projects that members worked on this semester at the UCS general body meeting Wednesday night, including committee reports on improvements to faculty diversity, mental health and sexual assault policy.

UCS President Maahika Srinivasan ’15 briefed the council on her own efforts this semester, including serving on the search committee for a Title IX coordinator, facilitating communication between the Task Force on Sexual Assault and the student body and working with the organizers of the mental health group Let’s Erase the Stigma and the recently unveiled internship initiative BrownConnect.

She also emphasized the importance of the entire council’s collective contributions. “The work that we’ve gotten done, and the kind of work that we’ve gotten done, has been really awesome,” she said.

Sazzy Gourley ’16, UCS vice president and chair of the UCS Outreach and Advocacy committee, said his committee brainstormed a lot this semester about “how Brown can move forward in showing diversity both in faculty commitment but also student resources and also post-grad resources.”

A major current project is the expansion of focus groups featuring Corporation members and centered on issues such as dining, diversity and mental health. These focus groups are opportunities “where members of (Corporation) committees can meet with a pool of students and discuss issues on an in-depth basis,” he said.

UCS Treasurer Malikah Williams ’16 said she and UCS Media Director Alana Bhatla ’16 successfully spearheaded an initiative to extend the hours of popular study spaces on campus during reading period, as announced in a campus-wide email from Provost Vicki Colvin Wednesday morning.

Williams said she became involved early in generating the petition to have “The New Jim Crow” by Michelle Alexander be the text that incoming students in the fall of 2015 read as part of the First Readings program. Requiring incoming students to read the book would help them “have action and not just conversation” when discussing race on campus, she added.

As part of her presentation, Williams also said the council’s Initiatives Fund provided 14 student groups with funding this semester, adding that the council hopes to fund even more groups next semester using additional money.

Tim Ittner ’18, a member of the UCS Academic and Administrative Affairs committee, said, “Our biggest project has been compiling a list of pre-concentration advisers so that students who are thinking about concentrations potentially can talk to them.” This academic year, the committee is aiming to “prioritize working on office hours, reaching out to the student body” and creating a program “to rent a dean” and “parade them around” Sharpe Refectory to facilitate student-administrator interactions, he added.

Ryan Lessing ’17, chair of the UCS Admissions and Student Services committee, said the committee plans on unveiling “an online feedback forum” to give individuals the opportunity to voice problems that need attention using the platform Uservoice at the start of next semester. The committee named the forum “WTF Brown,” or “What to Fix Brown.” The committee has also partnered with the Rhode Island School of Design student government to create guides outlining what RISD resources are offered to Brown students as well as what Brown resources are available to RISD students, he added.

The UCS Campus Life committee has worked on getting suggestion boxes at the Ratty and creating a student advisory dining council to improve student dining experiences, said committee member Christine Mullen ’16. On the topic of housing, the committee has looked into the dates of the off-campus housing lottery and “what a suite actually entails, especially when it’s accompanied by a suite fee,” Mullen said. Committee members walked around campus to assess the adequacy of lighting, are looking into the maintenance of gyms around campus and successfully requested for the Watson Center for Information Technology to remain open until 12 a.m. in an effort led by Mullen.

E-Soo Kim ’15, chair of the UCS Student Activities committee, said her committee has mostly worked on Bear Sync, the new online platform for student group social media that will replace the current platform MyGroups in January.

The council also discussed and approved an opinions column about mental health resources on campus published Thursday in The Herald that was written by the OAC, aiming to build on the momentum of a previous mental health open forum. “Conversations are only as good as the resources that we have to back it up,” Gourley said.

Lastly, the council categorized several student groups. Brown Sports Analytics Club, Gates Millennium Scholars, the Khmer Student Association, the Pre-Vet association, the Brown University Impulse Club, Students for Life, Artbeat and the Metal were approved as Category 1 groups. Mariachi de Brown, currently a Category 1 group, applied to be a Category 3 group but was approved to be a Category 2 group. Camp Kesem, a summer camp for children whose parents have had cancer, and the Circle K club, a conglomerate group aiming to connect all service groups on campus, gained Category S, meaning they are now officially recognized as service groups.

A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the expansion of focus groups featuring Corporation members would be a major project next semester. In fact, it is one of the council’s current efforts. Additionally, the article incorrectly quoted Gourley as saying the goal of the Herald op-ed was increasing the visibility of mental health on campus. In fact, its goal was to build on the momentum of a mental health open forum three weeks prior. The Herald regrets the errors.

  • HaroldAMaio

    You asserted a “stigma.” That is contrary to education.