Members of the University community aired their concerns to University President Judith Rodin and other administrators at yesterday's "Open Forum" meeting of the University Council. Students, faculty members and staff made three-minute presentations to Council on a wide variety of issues they would like to see addressed, ranging from student involvement in the tenure process to the University's affirmative action policies. Council did not respond specifically to any issue. Instead, moderator Will Harris, a political science professor, referred concerns to Council's Steering Committee and promised to revisit them at meetings later this year. Discussion was limited to a certain extent by Provost Stanley Chodorow's absence. Rodin said Chodorow is out of town on University business. Some issues under his direct supervision, such as the Student Judicial Charter, could not be addressed fully as a result. Before the open forum began, Rodin reported to Council on "Agenda for Excellence," the five-year strategic plan she and Chodorow outlined in last week's Almanac. She said the Committee on Academic Planning and Budgeting would be taking comments from across campus through December 8, and would then report back to her and Chodorow with a revised version of the plan based on community input. Council's discussion during the rest of the meeting was supposed to be limited to whether specific points should be raised again later. But many topics inspired significant conversation -- and sometimes debate -- between presenters and Council members. United Minorities Council President and College senior Onyx Finney asked Council to reconsider granting an automatic seat to the UMC. Undergraduate Assembly Chairperson Lance Rogers, a College senior, said Council had discussed similar proposals in the past and voted against it. He added that he feels the UA adequately represents all undergraduates on Council, and invited any member of the UMC to run for a seat on the UA if they sought a voice on Council. But Finney pointed to the lack of minority representation on the UA, saying that minorities do not have a say on important issues. "I hope that one day organizations like the UMC will not be necessary," she said. "But we cannot pretend to be color blind when we live in a society that is not. There is a student body that is not being represented." Council voted to reopen discussion of an automatic UMC seat at a later meeting. Wharton senior Dan Debicella told Council he and other students would like to see more student involvement in decisions on faculty tenure. "I am in no way going to advocate student involvement in the final say [on tenure]," he said. "However, there is a need for getting all perspectives in that decision." Debicella suggested that students serve as non-voting members of faculty committees that grant tenure, or that committees of students be formed to issue evaluations on every professor under consideration for tenure. Members of Council said they agreed in principle that the tenure process needs more student input. Before the issue was referred to Steering, several members, including College junior and UA representative Laurie Moldawer and Statistics Professor David Hildebrand, who serves as past chair of the Faculty Senate, proposed alternative ways of including student opinion. The body also heard a report from College senior Anthony Putz, co-chairman of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Alliance, on his group's frustration that the so-called "arm's length" agreement with the United States Department of Defense on ROTC has not yet been implemented. Putz asked Council to demand that Chodorow complete negotiations with the Pentagon by Jan. 1, 1996, or else kick ROTC off campus outright. Rogers said he completely disagreed with Putz's position. He told Council he would rather change the University's non-discrimination policies to exempt ROTC than see any change in the program's current status. Other issues received with less controversy included a proposal that Council consider whether part-time employees should receive prorated benefits packages, and a report from Interim Chaplain Frederic Guyott on the activities of a campus religious group called the Greater Philadelphia Church of Christ. Guyott called the organization "a cult." "I cannot believe that this church is a valid religious ministry that a chaplain could support," he said.Comments powered by Disqus
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