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The Brown University Community Council struck a grave note when discussing natural catastrophes in Haiti and Pakistan, but enthusiasm over a steadier financial situation, the launch of a new website and the recently opened Stephen Robert '62 Campus Center prevailed during its meeting Tuesday.

"There is not a whole lot of interest or appetite for the large-scale review we went through last year," said Karen Davis, vice president for human resources, at the meeting, which was held at Brown/RISD Hillel. She said there were no planned staff cuts for this fiscal year.

The implementation of various recommendations suggested by the Organizational Review Committee — such as pooling together administrative resources across departments to cut costs — were also examined. The recommendations, aimed at decreasing the budget while increasing administrative efficiency, prioritized the preservation of academics, Davis added.

"Many of us were hoping that by the stroke of midnight on June 30, everything would be done," Davis said. "But much remains ... all of this has to be carefully tracked and followed."

Response to the University's new, colorful and multimedia website following its launch last week has generally been positive, said Marisa Quinn, vice president for public affairs and University relations, at the meeting.

"We wanted something modern and functional," said Quinn. "We really couldn't convey what we care about as a University with the old website."

Approximately half of all visitors to the former website would leave immediately after accessing it, but the "bounce rate" for the new page hovers at 18 percent, she said — adding that the figure may be credited to freshmen and their parents. While most users appreciate the bright colors of the site, the most frequent complaint is a lack of a direct link to Brown Gmail, Quinn said. Comments will be reviewed at the end of the month.

The new welcome page is part of a larger goal to strengthen Brown's place on the Web — from its nearly 12,000 fans on Facebook to its roughly 6,800 followers on Twitter, the University's online presence is growing, she said.

"I said to (President Ruth Simmons), we really need to work on social networking, but I'm 46 and don't know how to," Quinn said about a talk with Simmons last year, which then led to student participation in the projects.

Simmons also addressed student involvement in the new Stephen Robert '62 Campus Center at the meeting — "Will you tell us whether you've been able to shorten the lines for sandwiches?" she asked to laughs.

Director of the Campus Center Dean Kisa Takesue '88 agreed that the center has become a magnet for students seeking food, study space or downtime with friends. "The second the door opened, Meiklejohns were holding meetings," she said. "Even first-years who don't know any different like it."

Existing programs at the Center including First Friday, which features food and entertainment, will resume, while new events, such as an evening when a faculty member picks his or her favorite movie to watch with students, are also planned.

BUCC member Brittaney Check '12 addressed concerns surrounding the food containers, which she said many students deem wasteful.

The eatery's use of containers is inconsistent with Brown's environmental approach and will be further examined, said Director of Dining Services Gretchen Willis, adding that bottled water has already been eliminated from the shelves.

Addressing the lines for paninis or bagels, Willis said, "In case you didn't know, you all eat at noon. Not at 11:30, not at 1:30 — at noon," and suggested varying dining times to avoid the queues.

Members of the council also discussed relief efforts for Pakistan's devastating floods and the ongoing efforts in Haiti.

The two disasters should push the Brown community to help and learn from the tragedies, Vice President for International Affairs Matthew Gutmann said. Brown's 22 Pakistani students and their families are safe, he added, and commended student efforts to assist the region, where the U.N. estimates more than 4 million people have been displaced.

Areebah Ajani '11, a member of the Pakistan Flood Relief Committee, said the group wants to "fundraise and have education going on at the same time." A teach-in on Sept. 24 and a fundraiser on Oct. 1 are planned.

"We certainly will be working hard to get you what you need to get these programs done," said Simmons, who sent a campus-wide e-mail Sept. 8 expressing the need for the campus to assist in recovery efforts. "Thank you for taking the responsibility to get this done."



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