University News

UCS members voice concerns over forum with Corporation

Corp. members did not seem receptive to calls for student representation in governance, some say

Senior Staff Writer
Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Undergraduate Council of Students reflected on its interactions and relationship with the Corporation, which were on display at its open forum last week featuring Corporation members, at its general body meeting Wednesday night.

The open forum last week included guest speakers Chancellor Thomas Tisch ’76, young alumni trustee Alison Cohen ’09, Chair of the Corporation’s Committee of Campus Life Dorsey James ’83, member of the Corporation’s Fundraising and Campus Life Committees Joan Wernig Sorensen ’72 P’06 P’06 and Brown Alumni Association President and member of the Corporation’s Facilities Planning Committee Nancy Hyde P’17 P’17.

At Wednesday night’s UCS general body meeting, several council members expressed concern that the Corporation did not attempt to understand their perspectives. Tisch “wasn’t answering questions,” said UCS Treasurer Malikah Williams ’16, adding that “he kind of skirted around the answer.”

UCS Corporation Liaison Kevin Garcia ’18 said Cohen’s remark about her “detached perspective” as the young alumni trustee made him worry whether the Corporation listened to student voices.

Benjamin Gladstone ’18, UCS general body member, said the Corporation members’ lukewarm reception of the proposal to add a student representative to the Corporation demonstrated that UCS must act to ensure student needs are conveyed to the University’s highest governing body. “UCS exists to represent students, and students are not being represented in a really critical way,” he said. “They’re slighting Brown students by not allowing for representation, and it’s UCS’ job to make that happen.”

“Our interests per se are not supposed to be represented by the Corporation, but having our voice in that room is something important that we should really be pushing for,” said Ryan Lessing ’17, chair of the UCS Admissions and Student Services committee.

Lessing cautioned that members of student groups should advocate their causes to the Corporation in a tactful manner. “When we’re careless with our wording, it scares Corporation members, so we should be wary of that,” he said.

Realizing the idea of adding a student to the Corporation “strikes me as unlikely,” Lessing added. “If we want to throw our support behind the initiative, … we want to make sure it’s one that has at least some chance of happening.”

UCS President Maahika Srinivasan ’15 said establishing communication between the Corporation and students is crucial to both parties. Corporation members “need to be convinced that student representation and student voices are valuable to them,” she said.

The council also categorized new student groups and recategorized existing student groups that had submitted applications. Enactus@Brown, a competition group for political and social action, Young Americans for Liberty, a conservative student group, Oja!, a modern African dance group, and Brown Pokemon Fan Club, a Pokemon appreciation group, were all approved as Category 1 groups.

Campus Ministry International at Brown and Fashion@Brown were both approved as Category 2 groups, meaning that they will receive $200 of baseline funding. Members of Campus Ministry International plan to use the new funds to purchase food for the group’s bimonthly meetings, while members of Fashion@Brown will likely use the funds to pay for its annual spring fashion show and high-profile speakers’ travel to campus.

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