Renovations to the mailroom, improvements to mental health procedures, adjustments to alcohol and social event policies and the Task Force on Sexual Assault’s final report were all key points of discussion at a Brown University Community Council meeting Tuesday.
Elizabeth Gentry, Mail Services’ assistant vice president of business and financial services, opened the Council’s official agenda with a presentation on future updates to Mail Services. Mail Services administrators have recently examined delivery, storage and handling procedures at other institutions, such as Lehigh University and Emory University, in an effort to adequately address huge increases in the number of packages, a deficiency of mailboxes and slow mail processing, Gentry said.
To combat these challenges, Gentry and her team have planned a renovation of the mail center and mailbox area in J. Walter Wilson, to be completed by January 2016. The renovations will employ an “open concept” to ease the flow of traffic in the building and use space more economically, Gentry added.
With a $900,000 budget approval from the Space Committee, the renovations will allow for a high-density system, in which student paper mail is stored together in one location rather than in separate boxes, Gentry explained. Similar to the current package notification system, students will be sent an email when they receive letters. The renovation “will not eliminate any jobs — likely it will add them,” Gentry said.
Yolanda Castillo-Appollonio ’95, associate dean for student life and deputy Title IX coordinator, continued the meeting with an overview of various proposed revisions to the Code of Student Conduct. Castillo-Appollonio led a committee that reviewed all code provisions except those relating to sexual assault policies, which were left to the Task Force on Sexual Assault.
The revisions aim to clarify the severity of deferred suspension, which students frequently do not grasp, she said. Deferred suspension refers to a period in which students who have committed offenses serious enough to warrant suspension demonstrate that they are able to adhere to the Code of Student Conduct.
The changes also modify language within University disciplinary policy to differentiate bias-related harassment from general harassment, Castillo-Appollonio said.
The committee also recommended reconfiguring the makeup of Student Conduct Board panels and altering categories of sanctions for student groups. The changes would make sanctions for student organizations reflect those for individual students, she said. Both would incorporate five levels of disciplinary sanctions: reprimand, probation, deferred suspension, suspension and expulsion.
The creation of safe social event spaces in relation to alcohol use at Brown has recently become a prominent topic of discussion among administrators, said Timothy Shiner, director of student activities and the Stephen Robert ’62 Campus Center. The University’s interim alcohol policy, which was implemented in January, prohibits large-scale events with alcohol service in residential areas.
While “students have a slightly different perspective … than some administrators” on what safe event spaces look like, administrators are actively engaging with the student body to reexamine social policies, Shiner said. In particular, Shiner communicated with students involved in athletics and the Greek Council.
Despite his successes in working with students in Greek life, he has found the athletic community to be “particularly tricky in terms of having the right level of conversation,” Shiner said. Some students athletes do not feel that there is a “deeper commitment to having these conversations about alcohol use” within athletics, he said. Possible next steps in response to reexamining social event policies include funding crowd management organizers, providing more food at University-sponsored events, improving bystander intervention training for party managers, reframing substance-free housing in the eyes of undergraduates and coordinating with campus planners to create more spaces for students to host registered events on campus, he added.
Margaret Klawunn, vice president for campus life and student services, also outlined her goals for reforming the University’s mental health system. In addition to creating a gathering of medical experts to issue recommendations for the University’s mental health policies and procedures, Klawunn aims to improve information and access to University health insurance and develop mental health resources designed for graduate and medical students, she said.
Improvements to Counseling and Psychological Services will hopefully end the seven-session limit for students as part of a multi-year strategy to increase CAPS staff, Klawunn said. Staffing levels in terms of providers per student, “are not in line with our peers,” she said.
Klawunn said she also looks to bolster peer support among students by enhancing training for Residential Peer Leaders, Meiklejohn Peer Advisors and students involved in other support systems. Reforms will also create a more seamless medical leave process in response to student complaints about current leave procedures, she said.
Russell Carey ’91 MA’06, executive vice president for planning and policy, also presented “an opportunity for discussion and questions” on the Task Force on Sexual Assault’s final report. “It’s a great report, and I want to congratulate (Carey) and the entire task force,” said President Christina Paxson P’19.
Many BUCC members asked for clarification on the report’s description of sexual assault training. Though administrators are also considering modes of in-person training, the “easiest thing to do is an online training in terms of covering a community of 10,000-plus people,” Carey said. Foremost, the training will be mandatory and annual, with enforcement measures and efforts to create a culture where sexual assault training is valued, he added.
While Carey has not yet received much feedback on the report, the administration is trying to gather opinions from many different communities on campus, he said.
Paxson said the lack of feedback “speaks to how well the task force did.”.
Liliana Sampedro ’18 presented a statement on behalf of the Brown Student Labor Alliance, calling for a resolution to boycott the Hilton Hotel. The hotel has severely overworked their employees, Sampedro said. In one case, a worker was obliged to complete a 13-hour shift without a break, she continued.
In the past, the University has issued resolutions against other establishments in Providence for mistreatment of employees, such as the Renaissance Hotel last spring. Sampedro urged council members to pass the resolution “if Brown desires to present itself as a just and liberal institution.”