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UCS resolution pushes for council rep. in plus/minus meetings

In order to ensure undergraduate interests are represented in the debate over adding pluses and minuses to the grading system, the Undergraduate Council of Students passed a resolution Wednesday night to secure permission for one of its representatives to attend meetings of the College Curriculum Council and the Graduate Council concerning the issue.

Although there will likely be a University-wide forum within the next month to allow students to express their opinions about the grading change, the private meetings will decide how the forum operates, said Tristan Freeman '07, chair of the Academic and Administrative Affairs Committee.

"We have been very surprised at the results of closed meetings involving the CCC before. It seems like the interests of UCS are not always represented as they should be," said Freeman, who drafted the resolution. "It is important that this time we make sure Brown students are heard in this decision that will drastically affect their future."

As another part of the resolution, which passed with 19 yeas, 3 nays and 3 abstentions, UCS will also add a question concerning the grading debate to its WebCT student poll this semester. The poll is scheduled to begin Feb. 27.

Cash McCracken '08, UCS representative to the Undergraduate Finance Board, provided the only substantive opposition to the proposal. "I don't think it's appropriate for us to insert ourselves into that kind of setting," he said. "If the CCC is not doing their job properly, we should take action, but I am confident they can do their job this time and we should not be meddling in their affairs."

In response to McCracken's objection, Freeman said the lack of mention of UCS in recent Herald articles concerning the plus/minus proposal indicates undergraduate interests are not being considered as heavily as they should be in deciding the issue. "We shouldn't have to read (The Herald) to find out that the CCC is voting tomorrow or that it is planning to hold a forum with the graduate student council," he said.

There were not enough supporters of McCracken's position to warrant a debate, so the council moved directly to voting on the resolution, pausing only for minor amendments to its structure and wording.

"I agree it might not necessarily be our place to be in the (CCC) meetings, but it is our place to at least ask the CCC whether they would let us in," said Benjamin Boas '06.5, appointments chair. "I don't see why we should shoot ourselves in the foot right now."

In other business, Boas said he is looking to widen the applicant pool for the student position currently open on the University Resources Com-mittee. Boas said he will pick a sophomore for the two-year position based on an e-mail application form he recently sent out to the undergraduate community. The application is due Friday, he said, and an applicant will be selected by the following Friday.

He said the URC, which includes two undergraduate representatives and sets the University's annual budget, is the most powerful position given to an undergraduate because it involves contributing to the University's significant financial decisions. In addition, committee members are privy to confidential financial information. Last year, Boas said he had over 50 applications for the position. This year, however, the number of applicants has been significantly fewer.

"People think you have to know econ or math to for this job, but you actually just need to care a lot about Brown," he said.

UCS also elected Vernissia Tam '09 as its Ivy Council visiting delegate for policy. Her opponent for the position was Miguel Blancarte '09. As visiting delegate, Tam will participate in policy meetings with student councils from across the Ivy League to consider issues that affect all the schools.


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