Changes in the Racial Harassment Policy and open expression procedures at former President Ronald Reagan's May address are expected to be at the center of debate at this year's first meeting of University Council today. President Sheldon Hackney last week proposed narrowing the policy's definition of what constitutes racial harassment, and Council members predicted yesterday that debate over the code's free speech implications will be in the fore. In the past, advocates of narrowing the code -- including History Professor Alan Kors and Physics Professor Michael Cohen -- have argued that the current policy's vagueness limits free speech. But some Council members have said that the current code is already too narrow and opposed Hackney's proposed revisions. Graduate and Professional Students Assembly Chairperson Susan Garfinkel said that GAPSA members will come out against narrowing the guidelines because they feel it allow racist comments to go unpunished. Garfinkel also criticized Council's Steering Committee for allowing only 25 minutes for discussion of the subject, saying it would be "absurd" to accept the changes after such short debate. Also on the agenda for today's meeting of the president's advisory body is a GAPSA resolution for an explanation of students' ejection from Reagan's Peak Week speech in May. The Secret Service or the Philadelphia Police Diplomat Protection unit ejected at least three students from the address for carrying placards inside the Convention Center. Faculty Senate Chairperson Almarin Phillips said yesterday that he expects debate on the resolution to be at least as heated as that on the Racial Harassment Policy. "Different people have different understandings of what transpired before President Reagan's address," Phillips said. "I wouldn't be suprised if there was a good deal of discussion." Both GAPSA's Garfinkel and Undergraduate Assembly Chairperson Duchess Harris, whose organization has also called for the incident to be investigated, said yesterday that despite statements and letters from President Hackney explaining the University's stance on the incident, there are still "a lot of questions unanswered." "I'm not buying it," Harris said of Hackney's explanation. The final major item before Council will be the report of the committee examining the Code of Academic Integrity. Committee Chairperson David Pope said that while there are major changes in the revised version of the policy, he expects little dispute over them. The report is the last of three reworkings of the codes of the University's judicial system to be discussed in Council. The committees examining the Open Expression Policy and the Student Judicial Charter presented their findings last year. Also up for discussion today is a proposal to change Council's bylaws to only permit an independent moderator to preside over Council meetings. All Council members interviewed last night said that they expect the body to support the bylaw change without much debate since the independent moderator has worked well during last semester's trial runs.Comments powered by Disqus
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