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UCS decides to table three UFB amendments

Language, leadership at issue in postponed vote

Friday, September 26, 2008

The Undergraduate Council of Students met Wednesday with the intention of voting on three amendments to the constitution of the Undergraduate Finance Board, which controls funding for student activities. However, problems with the wording and content, including a disagreement over gender-neutral pronouns, were brought up in a preliminary discussion and led UFB to withdraw all three amendments.

“Somewhere along the lines, UFB and UCS got mixed up about what was actually being passed and what the language was supposed to be,” UFB Vice-Chair Stefan Smith ’09 said.

The first amendment discussed would require that the UCS Elections Board be comprised of equal numbers of UCS and UFB members. “I think it’s incredibly important to have both bodies represented,” said Erinn Phelan ’09, a former UFB member who is now UCS’s liason to the Corporation.

Zachary Townsend ’09, the former UCS vice president, worried that the amendment, which would force UFB to put more members on the election board, would cause UFB members to do a poor job with their primary job of managing student groups’ funding. Rakim Brooks ’09, former UCS academics and administrative affairs chair, said “dragging people on the board for any particular reason actually isn’t effective.”

The amendment was withdrawn in order to take UCS’s concerns into consideration at Thursday’s UFB meeting.

The second amendment brought to the floor would require contracts signed by the UCS president to be ratified by a one-third vote from UFB. The discussion was stopped as soon as members of UCS noticed the use of gender-specific pronouns. “Is there a way to get gender-neutral language in here?” asked Clay Wertheimer ’10.

The amendment was promptly withdrawn for revision.

“Seeing as this is Brown, UFB will withdraw this amendment and make sure that it’s gender neutral,” said Lily Tran ’10, UFB chair and a Herald business staffer.

The final amendment defined procedures for an election in the event of a vacancy on UFB. Townsend said he didn’t think UFB should be able to elect its own members, calling the board “a glorified subcommittee – a creation of UCS.”

The version of the amendment that appeared on the UCS agenda for the night was missing “a very key portion that had been passed in UFB and was left out because it was lost in translation between UCS and UFB,” Smith said. Since it was not the correct version of the amendment that UFB wanted passed and because UCS also raised criticisms about it, this amendment was also taken off the floor.

Because the amendment was withdrawn, the UFB representative-at-large position is still vacant, even though UFB elected Jose Vasconez ’10 to the board last week. Vasconez is not an official member of UFB until UCS approves his position by a one-third vote from the general body. “Fourteen student groups are without a firm representative and are relying on Lily and I as representatives,” Smith said.

Margaret Klawunn, vice president for campus life and student services, also spoke at the meeting, providing an overview of the office’s goals and achievements. Notably, Klawunn said that campus life was interested in building a new residence hall but found that “renovation and repair of the residence halls that we have” was a more pressing concern on campus. The University began a three-year, $24 million renovation of residences this summer, Klawunn said.

A new dorm, with apartments or suites, is still on the agenda. Campus life officials are also trying to prevent a repeat of this year’s housing shortage. Klawunn suggested that the creation of a new freshman unit in another dorm might be a solution if there is a problem next year. She said that taking away lounges and kitchens was “very much against anything I wanted to accomplish in residential life.”

She also spoke about the expanded faculty fellow program, which will provide faculty fellows to students living off campus as well as on campus and try to move the program’s meetings beyond weekly study breaks.

– With additional reporting by Mitra Anoushiravani

In an article in yesterday’s Herald (“UCS decides to table three UFB amendments,” Sept. 25), a quote was incorrectly attributed to Jonah Fay ’12. The quote, which referred to the use of gender-neutral pronouns in an amendment, was said by Clay Wertheimer ’10.

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