University News

BUCC heats up over ROTC, sports cuts

Senior Staff Writer
Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The reinstatement of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps and the possible elimination of several athletic teams were the two hot issues at Tuesday’s meeting of the Brown University Community Council in a standing-room-only Kasper Multipurpose Room.

Dean of the College Katherine Bergeron presented the final report of the Brown Committee on ROTC, which was made public Sept. 7. In the report, the committee “recommends that the president engage in conversations with the Department of Defense to learn how Brown students might participate in Naval or Air Force ROTC programs currently unavailable to them.”

The committee was divided six to four on this point, Bergeron said.

“Why does it need to be decided on so quickly?” asked Julian Park ’12, a member of the Coalition Against Special Privileges for ROTC, during public comment time. Transgender opportunities in ROTC need to be brought up in continued dialogue across campus, Park said.

“Any steps to bring ROTC would be divisive,” he said.

Simmons said there were extensive opportunities to comment before the report was published and added that people may still comment and discuss the matter with her.

Discussion of athletic teams also evoked emotion from members of the gallery.

“No decision has been made yet as to what we will do,” Simmons said, adding that this meeting was the first opportunity for a more general discussion since the athletics review committee’s report was published in April.

The teams currently recommended for elimination are men’s and women’s fencing, women’s skiing and men’s wrestling. The report also recommended a review of coaches’ salaries, $10 million in athletic facilities improvements and a reduction of 30 admissions slots for athletes from the current 225 set aside, said Vice President for Campus Life and Student Services Margaret Klawunn.

There was no scientific  method for choosing teams to be eliminated, said Dick Spies, executive vice president for planning and senior adviser to the president. The committee considered the teams’ past records and positions in the Ivy League, among other factors, he said.

During public comment time, Assistant Professor of Biology William Fairbrother said removing any part of the University that directly impacts students is drastic. Athletics are an important aspect of some students’ college experiences, he added.

Members of the teams up for elimination were in attendance at the meeting, and several gave emotional presentations for their cases.

“The proposal is a betrayal of Brown’s ideals,” said Billy Watterson ’14, adding that many athletes would not have matriculated at Brown if not for their sports.

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