COUNCIL Coverage

At the December 6 University Council meeting, President Judith Rodin encouraged the Penn community to participate in the University's upcoming observance of Martin Luther King Day as an official holiday for the first time; it will be as A Day of Service with volunteer opportunities. President Rodin said she was proud to have conferred the University's Medal on Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor at the Law School last month. Dr. Rodin also congratulated the student athletes on the football team for winning the Ivy League title.

Provost Robert Barchi congratulated Ari Alexander for being the second Penn student in as many years to win a Marshall Scholarship. Dr. Barchi said the new PennInTouch electronic worksheets have been popular; 6,700 worksheets have been created by students and 300 were advisor-created since they were launched in mid-October. Dr. Barchi also spoke about the plans for the Life Sciences Building as it relates to the future of the Bio Pond, a 100-year-old garden that he said will be preserved. He said the new building will be as far west as possible to protect the pond, and that the shadow plans of the building will be taken into account. There is a 19-slide virtual tour of the renovation at Dr. Barchi said that the Biology Department has a significant gift to restore and renovate the garden.

Steering Chair Larry Gross noted that a joint Senate-Provostship committee is to be appointed this semester to assess systems for evaulating teaching at Penn.

GAPSA Chair Kyle Farley mentioned GAPSA is sponsoring an event which will be a Philabundance fundraiser.

UA Chair Michael Bassik said the UA is developing an electronic newsletter and has a sweatshop statement advocating that Penn join both the FLA and the WRC.

UMC Chair Jerome Byam introduced the two new co-chairs of the UMC, Jen Kwon and Iman Martin.

Anna Loh, chair of PPSA, also encouraged participation in the MLK service opportunities. Regina Cantave, chair of the A-3 Assembly, said that in conjunction with the Penn VIPS, the A-3 Assembly is adopting a family for the holidays. (click HERE for more).

Disability: An update on disability issues was given by Charles Newman, on behalf of Omar Blaik. Improving accessibility to campus structures is included in the scope of a major renovation project or incorporated in construction of new buildings. In the past two years, $4 million was spent on access in renovations. He said that Facilities Services has worked with Alice Nagle from the Office of Affirmative Action to conduct an assessment study of the worst 20 buildings on campus which will be prioritized and undertaken.

VPUL Valarie Swain-Cade McCoullum then reported, on behalf of Peter Conn, on the structure of the services for students with disabilities. She said there are currently three central University services: Program for People with Disabilities in Affirmative Action; under the Department of Academic Support Programs, a CAPS learning Specialist and an Office of the Learning Disabilities Specialist. A Review Team is completing a comprehensive assessment and preparing recommendations for possible modifications, by February.

Manufacturer Responsibility: Dr. Gregory Possehl, chair of the Committee on Manufacturer Responsibility, said that he gave the committee's report, along with majority and minority opinions to President Rodin recently. The committee had voted 5-4 in favor of joining both organizations, instead of joining only the WRC. Dr. Larry Gross noted that this committee is not a Council committee but was appointed by President Rodin and has representatives of the groups engaged in the earlier discussions. Michael Bassik said the UA was asked to address the sweatshop issue by Brian Kelly, a Wharton junior who had been on the Ad-Hoc Committee on Sweatshop Labor, and a PSAS representative. Dr. Rodin said that although she had received the report from Dr. Possehl, she had learned that the UA had deliberated on the topic and that it would be discussed at the Open Forum therefore she would refrain from making a decision until afterwards.

Open Forum: This annual opportunity for the University community to raise topics began with Brian Kelly expressing the concerns of the Students Against Sweatshops. He said the committee heard from more representatives from FLA than they did from WRC. Then, Daniel Delancy, a senior in the College and Engineering, spoke about FLASH and other peer health education groups on campus. He wants such groups to be located in Houston Hall rather than in a small building on Locust Walk which he said prevents students from being discrete about going there. Randolph D. Quezada, a senior in the College, raised the issue of Latino representation and said that the 16 groups in the Latino Coalition are requesting a seat on Council, adding that the UMC doesn't represent the Latino students. Alicia Sieminski, an Engineering student, expressed concerns that the new vice president for public safety should be sensitive to women's and minorities' issues; she wants those constituencies to have input in the selection process. Dr. Regina Austin, chair of the Safety and Security Committee, said that the committee will be canvassing minority groups and women's groups to determine what issues are important. Dr. Larry Gross said that various campus groups will have an opportunity to meet with the finalists. The last topic for the Open Forum was the Life Sciences Building which was raised by Ann Dixon, a gardner, biology, who expressed concerns about the fate of the Bio Pond and the surrounding greenspace with the construction of a new building near the pond. Provost Barchi said he shared her sensitivity to the Bio Pond.

Almanac, Vol. 47, No. 15, December 12, 2000