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University News

UCS voices support for students hurt by Herald columns

Council also discusses changes to alcohol policy, Student Code of Conduct at general body meeting

Staff Writer
Thursday, October 8, 2015

The Undergraduate Council of Students drafted a statement urging The Herald to “hold itself accountable for its actions” at its meeting Wednesday.

The Undergraduate Council of Students released a statement of solidarity with students affected by the recent publication of two racist Herald opinions columns at its general body meeting Wednesday.

The UCS Executive Board drafted the three-sentence statement, which was amended through discussion and approved through an electronic vote by the general body.

“The Undergraduate Council of Students stands in solidarity with students of color in the wake of racist publications in The Brown Daily Herald this week,” the statement reads. “We join fellow students in urging The Herald to hold itself accountable for its actions. UCS pledges to attend the demonstration organized by Native Americans at Brown on Monday, October 12th to support and amplify the voices of students of color who have been silenced.”

UCS President Sazzy Gourley ’16 emphasized the need for productive conversation in the wake of the publication of the two columns. “There’s a huge need for more learning and dialogue in this area on campus,” he said. “We can all do our part by being informed about what’s going on.”

“It’s important that we recognize UCS’ role as part of campus conversations,” said UCS Chief of Staff Elena Saltzman ’16 while proposing the adoption of the statement.

The Herald published the columns — “The white privilege of cows” and “Columbian Exchange Day” — Monday and Tuesday, respectively. The Herald took down the second column and issued an apology in an editors’ note Wednesday. The first column built its argument on eugenics, a concept disproven by numerous scientific studies, and the second suggested that Native Americans should be thankful for the Columbian Exchange and thus celebrate Columbus Day.

The general body meeting was extended half an hour for the purpose of debate on the language and content of the statement.

Ryan Lessing ’17, UCS community and business relations liaison, expressed concern about the initial structure of the statement, suggesting that it might be advisable to avoid mentioning The Herald altogether and instead focus on UCS support for students of marginalized backgrounds.

Other members stressed the idea that UCS should support student groups that have issued statements on the columns. “We need to stand in solidarity with (the student groups’) statements, and they’ve all said that the BDH’s actions were a problem,” said Britt Edelen ’19, a UCS general body member.

Lessing also raised the issue of the short time frame over which the statement was introduced and passed. “I’m uncomfortable with general body members committing to something they haven’t had the time to process,” he said.

“Given the time-sensitive nature of the issue, we have to do it quickly,” Gourley responded. But the meeting was an inclusive space in which UCS members could ask questions and be part of the process of finalizing the statement, he said.

UCS devoted the rest of its meeting to a discussion of recommendations by the Alcohol and Social Event Committee and changes to the Student Code of Conduct. Interim Assistant Vice Presidents of Campus Life and Student Services MaryLou McMillan ’85 and Mary Grace Almandrez attended this portion of the meeting to brief the general body on the changes.

The most-discussed element of social event monitoring was the presence of graduate students in first-year dormitories on Friday and Saturday nights. McMillan said the role of the graduate students is primarily to help facilitate a safer living environment, not to discipline residents.

“They’re not putting their ears to people’s doors,” McMillan said. They will only actively intervene in “egregious situations,” she added.

“They’re helpful because they provide an extra pair of eyes to help students. They serve as a guide to help us acclimatize,” said Yvonne Diabene ’19. But more clarity regarding the identities and roles of the graduate students would have been helpful to alleviate student anxiety about the extent of their disciplinary power.

“It feels like a patrol,” said Lisa Schold ’19. “It would be helpful to know what the repercussions are.”

Almandrez outlined alterations to the Student Code, highlighting the move toward an investigator model for all higher-level cases, such as sexual misconduct cases, which are “complex or sensitive in nature.” Witness statements focusing on a particular person’s character will also be eliminated, she said.

A process of letter adjudication has also been introduced for lower-level violations, Almandrez said. Instead of the hearing process, a student accused of a lower-level offense now has the option to accept the charges without going through a dean’s hearing, she said.

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  1. “It’s important that we recognize UCS’ role as part of campus conversations” this is very important

  2. how about expell Meier?

  3. The BDH keeps erroneously asserting that Maier’s “White Cows” column was based on theories of eugenics. Eugenics is an active process of unnatural selection based on the misguided desire to weed out certain alleles and subjectively “improve” the human phenotype. The lactose tolerance found among people who domesticated cows, on the other hand, or the shape change in blood cells of those who live in areas where malaria is prevalent, are due to a passive process of mutation and natural selection. It’s this sort of process to which Maier is alluding and from which he is extrapolating his notion of social evolution. The existence of substantial genetic differences based on regional heredity is certainly up for debate, and should be debated, rigorously. Don’t get me wrong–it’s still a crap article, but the arguments Maier is attempting (poorly) to make are more sophisticated than “eugenics” and should be addressed head-on instead of simply calling him a Nazi in a roundabout way.

  4. Alumni Guy says:

    I noticed the backlash, requests for atonement. but… how about the discussion that his article/s are generating? i think it’s a junk argument, but at least I benefit from it’s discussion. i get more involved with the learning process when the topic at hand is controversial. we get to learn from his errors; how to think, discuss, respond. I have learned quite a bit from discussing his writing with my peers and reading the comments here (i know this does not absolve anybody from publishing racist opinions, I don’t think I’m too crazy). AND i like that in opinion sections. i have problems with a lot of the articles the BDH publishes (giving out what should be private info on Brown student errors (arrests, etc.)), but is the BDH really racist by publishing this content? or were they following their unbiased editorial standards to publish freely written speech that generates discussion (unless that’s not a thing, and I have a very limited knowledge of editorials etc.) ? if students found out that a student writer had been censored for his views (at least without knowing what was written), would they stand up for him? i think they would. it’s not okay to limit free speech until one is offended, and the concept of free speech goes out the window. the paper did their job, responded appropriately to controversy, and is moving on. is it not too far to request that “the BDH admit the role it has played in consistently giving a platform to racist ideologies.” ?? and if you are going through and get to this line and have thought about how poorly written my response was and how off I am in my opinion (logically, morally, etc.), remember please, that I agree with you 🙂

    • Someone has been reading John Stuart Mill….

      Totally agree with you alumni guy. But why is this the topic to discuss…. the campus discussion should focus on other issues like: the economy, sexual assault, rape… and thayer street stores closing… more closer to home topics… rather than the religious beliefs of Maier.

  5. Fair Dinkum says:

    Psst! Hey, racists at Brown! Better lay low! The Thought Police are looking for you!

  6. Fair Dinkum says:

    When you say “marginalized groups,” I assume you also include the millions of middle and working class whites in flyover country who are the most underrepresented demographic in the Ivy League student population.

  7. petty tyrant wannabes

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