University News

UCS elects undergrads for committee on Kelly protest

Terra Laughton ’14 and Dakotah Rice ’16 will serve on the seven-member committee

Senior Staff Writer
Thursday, November 14, 2013

Thirteen students vied for spots on the Committee on the Events of October 29th at the UCS meeting Wednesday night.

The Undergraduate Council of Students elected two undergraduate representatives to the Committee on the Events of October 29th — a body tasked with evaluating protesters’ disruption of a lecture by New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly — at its general body meeting Wednesday night.

Terra Laughton ’14 and Dakotah Rice ’16 prevailed out of 13 contenders to win seats on the committee. Amara Berry ’16 will serve as an alternate.

About 60 Council members and other students assembled in Petteruti Lounge to debate the merits of candidates, though only Council members could vote in the selection process.

The committee will comprise two undergraduates, one graduate student and five faculty members, President Christina Paxson wrote in a community-wide email last week.

In its first phase, the committee will determine whether the student protesters breached the Code of Student Conduct and should undergo disciplinary action, Paxson wrote.

In its second stage, the committee will seek to “address the broader issues of campus climate, free expression and dialogue across difference,” she wrote.

Sixteen students originally applied for the position, but only 13 showed up to give candidacy speeches at the meeting.

Laughton, a political science concentrator and Social Classmates facilitator, said in her speech she would seek to be “impartial” and represent as many student views as possible to the administration.

“I agree with Paxson that there are a lot of compelling perspectives to this issue,” Laughton said, adding that “one perspective that has been missing in these conversations is that of the family that sponsored this lecture, the Krieger family.”

“I have already begun the job of a person on this committee by asking protest organizers (about) their methods,” said Rice, a member of the Undergraduate Finance Board and Black Student Union and a community fellow at the Swearer Center for Public Service.

“I don’t think my being a black male has anything to do with my exploration on this committee,” Rice said in response to a community member’s question. “I will be guided by the facts, not my race.”

Victoria Kidd ’16, a UCS general body member, praised Rice as “professional.”

“I’m confident he’ll be able to address these issues in a professional manner,” she said.

In the almost two-hour discussion preceding the vote, several Council members stressed the importance of diversity between the two representatives.

“I would love to see a diversity of strong perspectives represented on the committee,” said Samuel Gilman ’15, UCS vice president.

“There’s a lot more to diversity than just opinion and race,” said Maahika Srinivasan ’15, chair of the UCS Academics and Administrative Affairs Committee. “We should also think about gender and class year.”

Irene Rojas-Carroll ’15, who was involved in organizing the protest, said she hopes the representatives “uplift opinions that haven’t necessarily been heard or valued by the administration.”

The graduate student and faculty members of the committee will likely be selected this week, The Herald reported last week.

Dean of the Graduate School Peter Weber and Graduate Student Council President Keila Davis GS will each nominate two graduate student candidates, and Provost Mark Schlissel P’15 will approve one graduate student to serve on the committee.

The Faculty Executive Committee will identify five faculty members for the committee.

The Council also voted to increase the student activities fee from $250 to $262 at its meeting. The augmented fee will help UFB and the recently created Service Group Funding Board more fully meet student groups’ financial needs, said Alex Drechsler ’15, UCS student activities chair and former Herald opinions columnist.

This marks the first year the fee will go toward the Service Group Funding Board, which was formed last spring and began its duties this semester.

The Council also continued the process of categorizing student groups. Five groups gained Category 1 status, including Women of Color Collective and Vagabond Magazine, and five groups were granted Category 2, including the Intercollegiate Finance Journal and Common Sense Action. Amira Dance Company became Category 3, and four groups became Category S, including Food Recovery Network at Brown and Brown Brain Bee.

After about 10 minutes of debate, the Council voted 17 to 14 not to approve TOMS Campus Club as a Category S group, given its affiliation with a national, for-profit organization.

“I’m uncomfortable with a marketing campaign being categorized as a service group,” Gilman said.

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