March 17, 2005 Minutes

Thursday, March 17, 2005
3:00 P.M. – 5:00 P.M.
Leung Gallery

Members:  President Simmons, Provost Zimmer, Brenda Allen, Paul Armstrong, David Greene, Beppie Huidekoper, David Cutts, Barrett Hazeltine, Joachim Krueger, Josiah Rich, Gretchen Schultz, Elmo Terry-Morgan, Christopher Bull, David Sheinberg, Joel Payne, Kate Brandt, Robert Klaber, Emma Tai, Teresa Tanzi, Robin McGill, Matt Lease, Virginia Dunleavy, Kisa Takesue, Geoffrey Greene, Tovah Reis, Hanna Rodriguez-Farrar, Emma Simmons, and Guy Sanchez were in attendance. Stephen Foley, John Cassese, Sarah Dawson, Charles Hebert, Zachary Ginsberg, Stephanie Birdsall, Dorothy Hitt, and David Bloom were unable to attend.

President Simmons began the meeting by asking each member of the Council to introduce himself/herself and talk about what he/she brings to the position. The President was pleased by the diversity of experience on the Council.

Next the President addressed what the Council is not and what it is and what it will do. It is not a budget committee; it will not replace other governing bodies; it doesn’t write policy. It is able to make recommendations to other governing bodies about issues of concern; it is able to invite speakers to make presentations on topics of interest; it is able to form sub-committees that include non-Council members.

She then addressed the subject of how the Council will operate. A parliamentarian will be appointed to ensure orderly meetings. The Council will follow an agenda at every meeting. It will be important to have some flexibility in the agendas to allow time for developing issues or urgent matters. Members will continually be encouraged to submit ideas for agenda items. These suggestions will be reviewed and considered by the Executive Committee when setting the agendas. Final agenda items will be researched prior to each meeting. Every agenda will include open time for university community members to present issues to the Council.

A member of the Council asked the President for clarification on the difference between a committee and a council. A committee is responsible for planning, recommending, and enacting. A council is a body with broad representation that represents the whole of the council. It is a place for dialogue and debate. It facilitates the discussion of issues from across the community.

The discussion turned to how the Council should reach out and communicate its charge to the larger community. The following communication tools were suggested: a Council website; Morning Mail; WebCT. It was suggested that the Council should publish an annual agenda. It was recommended that the Council should be informed about the goals and focus of other university bodies. This will prevent overlap and inform the Council on where to direct those issues that fall outside of its jurisdiction.

A Council member asked President Simmons for a better idea of the purpose of the Council. The member felt it was important for the Council to understand its purpose before communicating its goals and objectives. The President pointed to the arming of the Brown Police as a perfect example. The Council provides an efficient way to centralize discussions among many groups and would have been a useful arena for discussing the arming of the Brown Police.  She would like to have the advice of this body on the many issues she needs to decide.

The President spoke about how she wants there to be the weight of integrity when the Brown University Community Council speaks its voice. Recommendations must be well stated and the result of a thorough understanding of background information. Good decision making requires listening and listening well. President Simmons believes that the Council could be the most powerful body on campus. It’s unique – it is not a policy or budget maker. Instead it has the force of the collective judgment of the campus.

She asked the members for prospective topics for the next and future meetings. The following suggestions were given:

  • Campus Climate
  • Academic Diversity
  • Parking
  • The Definition of Diversity
  • Fundamental Questions
  • Brown as a Workplace
  • Brown as a Neighbor
  • Respect and Tolerance within the Brown Community
  • Connecting the Entire Brown Community
  • How Brown Represents Itself
  • Local Food Initiative
  • Academic Enrichment Updates
  • Rights and Responsibilities of TAs
  • Brown Sponsored Debate

The audience was then given an opportunity to address the Council. Representatives from the College Republicans talked about what they see as the university’s failure to foster open debate and discussion. It was suggested that a greater balance is needed when selecting speakers and presenters. The university tends to invite those with certain ideologies or perspectives. An audience member talked about the shortcomings of advising at Brown and the need to make sure that students don’t fall through the cracks. It was also suggested that there should be centralization of university information.

The President proposed that future meetings be shortened to ninety minutes. The Council was in agreement.

The President closed the meeting by requesting that members submit agenda ideas for the next meeting. She asked the Secretary of the Council to send an e-mail to the members to remind them to submit their ideas.

The next meeting will be held on Friday, April 15 from 4:00 – 5:30 pm in Leung Gallery.

Respectfully submitted,

Catherine Pincince
Secretary of the Brown University Community Council