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UCS discusses class year representatives vote, delays vote on potential endorsement of Decolonization at Brown statue initiative

Results of amendment vote still unclear, UCS hears HOPE presentation

By
Senior Staff Writer
Thursday, October 22, 2020

At its general body meeting Wednesday, the Undergraduate Council of Students debated whether the general body passed an amendment to introduce class year representatives after a previously overlooked Council rule left the status of the proposal uncertain.

UCS was scheduled to hear Decolonization at Brown’s follow-up presentation about its initiative to replace Ancient Roman statues on campus. But due to time constraints, the presentation and subsequent UCS vote on whether to endorse the initiative were both pushed to next week’s general body meeting.

The Council spent much of their meeting discussing the class-year representatives amendment, which was proposed Oct. 7 by UCS Chief of Staff Sam Caplan ’22. The amendment would establish representatives for each class year in UCS.

UCS previously concluded that the proposal needed a ⅔ supermajority vote to pass and thus had not passed with 55 percent of the vote. But in an Oct. 19 email to general body members, the Executive Board and Elections Chairs wrote that an overlooked portion of the council’s bylaws states that a measure to “create special internal or external committees” needed only a simple majority to pass.

Section 4.1 of the council’s code of operations reads, “When it deems necessary, the Council shall, by simple majority vote, create special internal or external committees, either standing or ad hoc, in order to investigate certain issues or fulfill Council tasks.”

UCS Parliamentarian Zanagee Artis ’22 and Appointments Chair Eamon McKeever ’22 raised concerns about the applicability of this statute.

The point of inquiry regarding the class representatives amendment is still under consideration, pending an upcoming meeting with Director of Student Activities Joie Steele.

UCS also heard a presentation from Housing Opportunities for People Everywhere and introduced a proposal to allow UCS-appointees to University committees to become general body voting members.

Benjamin Styler ’21 and Lauren Fung ’22 presented on behalf of HOPE, advocating for increased collaboration between the group and UCS to help combat housing inequality in the Providence area. 

“Brown and its students have left expansion of student housing unchecked,” Styler said.

Drawing on his experience as a former member of UCS’ Campus Life Committee, Styler remarked upon the University’s role in the surrounding community. Within UCS, “there wasn’t a lot of discussion about Brown’s impact on adjacent neighborhoods,” he said, expressing that HOPE believes working with UCS is integral to increasing awareness of local housing issues among the student body.

Styler said that before the 1960s, the neighborhoods surrounding the University, specifically Fox Point and Lippitt Hill, were vibrant communities composed mostly of Cape Verdeans and a large Black population. “Since then,” he said, “it has mostly turned into student housing and largely been gentrified.”

As a result of the increased number of juniors living off-campus this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the University’s impact on the housing supply of surrounding neighborhoods has been even more drastic, Styler said.

As the University’s off-campus student population continues to grow, “in order to not repeat the actions of the past, we should put measures in place and create a student culture where we do not have this impact on other neighborhoods,” he said, adding that he hopes future discussions with UCS will raise awareness about this issue among students.

Also at the meeting, McKeever presented a bylaw amendment that would integrate University committee appointees into UCS as voting members. The appointees, who are selected by the UCS Appointments Committee, primarily serve as student representatives on University committees.

“If they’re more integrated with the community, they’re more likely to help implement the policy proposals UCS puts forth,” McKeever said.

General body members will vote on the amendment after next week’s meeting via Google form, UCS Vice President Summer Dai ’22 said.

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