University News

UCS gathers feedback on plans for semester

Sexual assault prevention, diversity emerge as topics of focus in first general body meeting of semester

By
Staff Writer
Thursday, September 17, 2015

New general body members of the Undergraduate Council of Students broke into small discussion groups to discuss diversity and other issues.

The Undergraduate Council of Students sought internal feedback on the thematic areas it plans to address this year at its first general body meeting Wednesday night.

UCS President Sazzy Gourley ’16 said the council has struggled in the past with a lack of transparency and a retroactive confrontation of campus issues. “Tonight, we want to eliminate both of those problems,” he said.

Focus groups led by UCS Executive Board members hosted discussion of four of the five areas in which UCS efforts will concentrate: student wellness, diversity inclusion, transparent university governance, and campus life and curricular improvement. UCS Chief of Staff Elena Saltzman ’16 detailed initiatives to address the fifth area, UCS accountability, at the end of the meeting.

Gourley and John Brewer ’17, UCS treasurer, led the group discussion of student wellness, further narrowing the scope of discourse to sexual assault prevention and mental health. They introduced the Title IX Council and the Title IX Advisory Board to new members during the discussion.

The Title IX Council, to which six undergraduates were recently appointed, is responsible for determining the action necessary in response to a claim of a violation of the statute. The Title IX Advisory Board, which includes three undergraduate members, will handle implementation of this action.

UCS Vice President Alana Bhatla ’16 and Communications Director Yuzuka Akasaka ’18 spearheaded a group discussion of diversity inclusion. UCS initiatives in this area will continue in preparation for the release of the University’s Diversity Action Plan this fall.

In the general forum that followed the focus groups, measures to improve both socioeconomic and cultural diversity dominated the conversation.

Several general body members raised concerns about the implementation of measures to increase diversity without large-scale student involvement. “Diversity forums should be mandatory for students, so they can learn about why the University is pushing for these changes,” said Ebube Chuba ’19.

International students often fall through the cracks of such measures, said Alexa Clark ’19. The financial aid applications of international students are unfairly “judged by the same standards” as those of their American counterparts.

The council concluded by unanimously approving a number of UCS code changes, upon which work was started this summer.

As part of these changes, UCS created a management board to oversee internally elected UCS officials and eliminated the position of corporation liaison, Saltzman said. Instead, the president and vice president, who have the experience to “better serve” as facilitators between the council and the Corporation, will conduct affairs with the University’s highest governing body, she said.

The code change also overhauled protocols for joining UCS and drafting and voting on resolutions. No signatures from undergraduates are now required for returning members to stay on the council, while the number of signatures required for new members is now 100 instead of 150. Deadlines for submission of resolutions for votes, previously set at a week in advance, have also been made more flexible in the new code.

Looking ahead, UCS will host an open forum to solicit community input of the new Title IX policies next Wednesday.

  • Ms representation

    Removing the Corporation liaison and putting that responsibility on campus-elected officials (Prez and VP) is a great step towards a UCS which is responsible to the students. There needs to be further progress made, however, and it starts with an end to internal elections.

  • UCS= Jr. High Student Council

    Sitting in circles talking PC gibberish, accomplishing nothing. Just another day in UCS.