University News

UCS continues to categorize new student groups

Senior Staff Writer
Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Undergraduate Council of Students continued the process of categorizing student groups at its general body meeting last night, evaluating appeals and deliberating the values of groups seeking Category I status.

Vincent Stamer ’15 opened the meeting with an appeal on behalf of the Brown Biotechnology Investment Group.

The group was initially rejected for any categorization status because Student Activities Committee members thought it was too similar to the Brown Investment Group and should be absorbed by BIG.

But Stamer presented a letter from the president of BIG stating that the groups should not merge. He also explained that BIG focuses on stocks, while the biotechnology group focuses on “raising awareness for the healthcare sector” – biotechnology and pharmaceutical stocks are not even part of the BIG portfolio, he said.

The group’s members are primarily science students. They examine business models by reading and presenting papers on the science behind company products.

At the moment, Brown Biotechnology Investment Group has a virtual online portfolio without any actual money, but in the long term, members hope to be able to invest real funds.

UCS voted to approve Brown Biotechnology Investment Group as a Category I student group.

UCS also discussed the status of Social Enterprise Ecosystem Economic Development, a group that Alexander Kaplan ’14, chair of the Student Activities Committee and a former Herald staff writer, said he was “apprehensive” about categorizing because it “would not help their cause.”

SEEED hosts an annual conference that costs approximately $50,000, Kaplan said, a sum which UCS cannot provide to a Category I group.

UCS members expressed concern that categorization may cause the group to move away from current channels of support. SEEED currently receives funding from the Swearer Center for Public Service and through the nonprofit Social Venture Partners Rhode Island. 

But Manya-Jean Gitter ’14, chair of the Academic and Administrative Affairs Committee, said the group will probably not continue to receive nonprofit funding.

“This could really have a lot of potential for Brown,” Kaplan said, adding that the group could “solidify Brown as a sort of hub of entrepreneurship.”

After several votes and vigorous discussion, UCS voted to accept SEEED as a Category I group.

Brown Arab Society was also approved upon appeal. Though Student Activities members were uncertain about the need for another political group on campus, Brown Arab Society members made clear that the group has more of a cultural than political focus.

Parliamentarian Gregory Chatzinoff ’15, a member of the Herald business staff, presented proposed amendments to the UCS code of operations. These include increasing the number of elected positions to the Undergraduate Finance Board from six to eight, empowering the elections board to propose a penalty without first holding a hearing in case of elections protocol violations and requiring that all victorious candidates of any race win at least 5 percent of the total votes cast. The amendments will be voted on next semester.

Committee updates followed the appeals process.

The Academic and Administrative Affairs Committee is working on an organizational chart of the entire University, said Giuliano Marostica ’15. It will map Brown offices from the Corporation down, making students more aware of resources available to them, specifically those related to advising.

Brown Conversation will be hosting a Reorientation Boot Camp in January. It is a “mega-extension of the Brown Conversation,” said Woo-Hyun Byun ’16, which is designed to discuss ways to make the most of a Brown education.

The Admissions and Student Services Committee has been working on a revision of Morning Mail for more than a year, said Holly Hunt ’13, and the new edition now has a prototype. A timeline for its launch is still uncertain because Computer and Information Services is still working to ensure that the revamp is done well, she said.

Jon Vu ’15, the alumni relations liaison, closed the meeting and described last night’s financial aid open forum. There will be more events to discuss the issues surrounding financial aid next semester, he said.

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