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The Brown University Community Council met Thursday afternoon in Brown/RISD Hillel to discuss Rhode Island flooding, faculty tenure and a number of student initiatives on campus. Over 50 students from a course about sustainability attended to hear the council's perspective on Real Food at Brown, and the Student Labor Alliance brought issues to the council's attention during the meeting's community time. 

University updates
Vice President for Public Affairs and University Relations Marisa Quinn told the council that the University has been in contact with United Way of Rhode Island, which has established a fund for flood relief.

"We let them know that we wanted to be an early founding partner on that," she said. "What's needed right now is cash."

Quinn also said she and Senior Vice President for Corporation Affairs and Governance Russell Carey '91 MA'06 have met with state officials to discuss ways for establishing and funding "UTRA-like projects" for students wishing to provide relief work over the summer.

Carey said the University's emergency grant program for employees has made 21 grants since the flooding, most of which have been at the maximum level of $5,000.

Senior Associate Dean of the Faculty Elizabeth Doherty presented on last month's report of the Committee to Review Tenure and Faculty Development.

She said likely modifications to the University's tenure policy will include extending the length of the probationary period for junior faculty from seven to eight years and bolstering the mentorship system for junior faculty. Another recommendation also proposes dividing the Tenure, Promotion and Appointments Committee in two — one for the sciences and one for humanities and social sciences — while increasing total membership from 12 to 14.

The recommendations drew some criticism from council members, including Professor of Chemistry James Baird, who raised concerns over many of the proposals, such as splitting the committee into two sub-groups.

Though the tenure review process began in light of concerns raised last year by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges about Brown's abnormally high rate of tenure, Doherty said this was not a concern for the committee.

Doherty said the difference "raises questions, but not answers," because there are too many different factors among schools to say what a differing rate of tenure means.

Though there is "inevitably a risk in any tenure appointment," Doherty said she hopes many of the recommendations will help the University gather better information on which to base tenure appointments.

"The purpose of academic tenure is to protect freedom of inquiry and research," Doherty said. "When we grant someone tenure, we're granting them free inquiry for the next 30 to 40 years."

Student initiatives
Jason Harris '10.5, a member of the Beyond the Bottle student group, reported a 160,000-bottle — or 49.5 percent — reduction in the number of disposable water bottles sold by Brown Dining Services in the past two years.

Harris said the group has been successful in encouraging the use of fruit-infused water dispensers offered by Dining Services at events and is pleased to see eateries selling reusable bottles.

Thus far, the group's only obstacle to eliminating bottled water completely, according to Harris, is the University's need to have some bottled water on stock for emergencies.

Emily Viggiano '12, who is employed by Dining Services as a Real Food Initiative progress coordinator, said "real" food is considered local, fair to workers, ecologically sound and humane to animals. According to Viggiano, 15 percent of Dining Services' food purchases meet at least one of these four criteria.

Kyle Lemle '11, the Real Food Initiative's public relations and education coordinator, said Brown is "at the forefront" of the movement for real food, citing courses formed at Brown to meet growing interest, such as ENVS 1560: "Sustenance and Sustainability: Exploring the Nexus of Agro-Food Systems, Society, the Environment."

Most students in Sustenance and Sustainability — a course of 80 students that was meeting during the council meeting — slipped away during the class's break to show their support for the initiative by attending the presentation.

Lemle said he hopes to see the Blue Room soon become the "pilot real food cafe" on campus, serving only food that meets at least one of the real food criteria.

During the time allocated for community members at the end of the BUCC meeting, Student Labor Alliance members Rebecca Rast '13 and Haley Kossek '13 called for the council to develop new policies for handling labor disputes.

The request was made in light of the April 17 Gala, which was scheduled to be at the Westin Providence Hotel and moved to Andrews Terrace after SLA members informed the event's organizers of a labor dispute at the hotel. The snafu could still cost the event's organizers as much as $20,000 in contractual obligations to the Westin.

"We're thankful to everyone who helped in that process (of moving Gala), but we want to make sure that doesn't happen again," Rast said, asking the council to pass a resolution directing student groups not to patronize a hotel under boycott.

Rast said if Gala had been held at the Westin, workers would have picketed outside to detract from students' experience, and "it wouldn't have been good for anyone."



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