President Ruth Simmons visited the general body meeting of the Undergraduate Council of Students Wednesday night to discuss the council's work this past year and to answer questions about tuition increases, the relationship between Brown and Providence and the University's priorities. UCS also discussed a possible code change regarding the relationship between the council and the Undergraduate Finance Board.
Simmons said she expects the number of students applying to the University to continue to decline in the future.
"I think that the landscape is changing because the public is very aware of the challenges of meeting the cost of higher education," Simmons said, adding that she does not think this will affect the quality of applications. Simmons also said it was infeasible for the University to go universally need-blind given its current budget.
Simmons later answered questions about the University's reputation nationally and globally, increasing the diversity of the faculty and the University's relationship with Providence.
"Universities have become, in many ways, the most successful sector in society," Simmons said, adding that because many other institutions are failing financially, she believes it will become more common for cities to ask colleges and universities for assistance in the future.
But she said, "I don't think it's reasonable for the city, having made mistakes and having become insolvent because of those mistakes, to turn to institutions that are successful and to demand that they pay for those mistakes."
UCS also recommended changes to the relationship between the council and UFB and the way in which the council is funded. A five-member committee was formed last month to review ways to improve the communication between the two bodies after the council proposed an amendment that would give the council more control over its funding.
The committee was a "way for UCS and UFB to hammer out what each group has for responsibilities and rights and also to put forward different and clear rules about how UCS was funded," said Holly Hunt '13, one of the council members who served on the UCS-UFB committee. "Before, it was actually really ambiguous."
Under the proposed changes, the council will still submit a budget to UFB each spring, and UFB will remain a subsidiary of the council. But UCS would automatically receive $1,200 each semester to use for projects on behalf of students. At least one-third of all proposed "capital improvements" will be funded by the board, and the council will receive a certain amount of funding for decorations, publicity and "mission-relevant conferences."
Currently, UCS members are all required to attend one UFB meeting, and, under the proposed changes, UFB members will also be required to attend one council meeting because they "didn't really have a clear sense of what we do here, and why we need money," Hunt said.
The finance board will also be allowed to submit a list of groups they would recommend for categorization or re-categorization to the Student Activities Committee. This list will only be a recommendation, and the committee will not be required to adhere to UFB's suggestions, Hunt said.
The council will vote on these and other suggested changes next meeting in the form of a proposed code change.
The council also approved a code change to implement rules for write-in candidates in UCS-UFB elections. Because Chris Catoya '13 did not receive the required number of signatures to officially run for UFB vice chair, people will be allowed to write in candidates for the position during the election. But the current code does not specify rules for determining the victor should more than one write-in candidate receive votes during the election.
For this reason, the council approved a code change specifying that if only one write-in candidate enters the election, the candidate could win with five percent of the votes. If multiple write-in candidates enter, one candidate must receive a majority of the votes in order to win.