Council Coverage: April 18 Meeting

President Judith Rodin made the following statement at last Wednesday's Council meeting concerning the campus turmoil prompted by the April 3 altercation at the Campus Copy Center:

The welfare of our students is our greatest responsibility--and our greatest concern. I am grateful that Gregory Seaton did not suffer any serious physical harm. But I regret any emotional pain and trauma that he has experienced. I recognize that there are conflicting versions of what happened in this incident, and we may never be able to know, with absolute certainty, what took place. But with that said, I want to make myself clear: We do not--and will not--tolerate violence at this University. We do not--and will not--tolerate discrimination of any sort. I understand the concerns that so many students have expressed in the past week. In particular, I have heard from many members of campus minority groups, who feel at risk in ways that others do not. Those concerns are real and cannot be brushed off. We cannot influence how everyone feels about another person. Or how everyone interprets an event. But we should--and we must--do all we can to make everyone feel safe--and respected. I am personally committed--and this University must be committed--to ensuring that the Penn community is safe and welcoming--to everyone. With all our accomplishments, all our talent, all our promise, we cannot consider ourselves truly great if we are not a place where everyone is treated with dignity.

Michael Bassik then reported on a meeting that had taken place last Tuesday--organized by Kim Noble, C '03 and others--attended by Ron Shapiro from the Campus Copy Center, Lee Nunery, VP Business Services, students and others. Another meeting will be held after the findings from the investigation have been released.

The Report of the Task Force on Privacy of Personal Information (Almanac April 17) was presented by Dr. Jerry Porter and Daniel Orr, a graduate student at Annenberg. Dr. Porter, chair of the Task Force, quipped that, "the University works best when professors learn from the students," and he added that this was case with their task force. The report, which contains numerous recommendations to protect the Penn community from identity theft and other invasions of privacy of personal information, is on the agenda of tomorrow's Council meeting for a vote, if there is a quorum.

They distributed some tips on ways that members of the Penn community can avoid identity theft:

  1. Refuse when asked for your social security number when not required by law. At Penn, your Penn ID will usually be accepted in place of your social security number.
  2. Don't carry your social security number in your wallet.
  3. Don't use your social security number as either a computer account name or as a password.
  4. Don't put your social security number on your resume or vita.
  5. The Privacy Act of 1974 requires that any request for a social security number from a state, local, or government agency must include a disclaimer indicating whether disclosure is mandatory or voluntary, how the number will be used, and under what legal authority the number is requested. Unfortunately many government agencies do not follow this law. Do not provide your social security number to a government agency that does not provide a Privacy Act disclaimer.
  6. Some states print social security numbers on driver's licenses issued by the state, under law you are entitled to a driver's license that does not bear your social security number.
  7. Dispose of credit card solicitations and any papers bearing your social security number by shredding.
  8. Review a copy of your credit report at least once a year. You can obtain one from any of the three credit reporting agencies: Equifax (, Experian (, or TransUnion (
  9. Write to Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion and tell them you want to "opt-out" of pre-approved credit offers. Consumer Reports advises: "Think of these as ID thefts waiting to happen."
  10. You can stop junk mail by filing a form 1500 with the local post office. This form was originally intended to stop "obscene" mail, but the Supreme Court has affirmed the right of individuals to use it to stop any mail they find offensive. More information on how to do this is at:
  11. Support organizations that lobby for stronger consumer privacy protections such as the Electronic Privacy Information Center ( and Junkbusters (

Dr. David Smith, chair of the Communications Committee presented their year-end report (Almanac April 17) noting that while the Undergraduate Admissions web site sets "a new standard at Penn" he is concerned about the state of the many outdated, non-uniform sites on the Penn web. He noted that the virtual university will be seen by more people than the campus itself.

Dr. Daniel Raff, chair of the Bookstores Committee, presented the year-end report (Almanac April 17) which touched on not only the Penn Bookstore but the Penn Book Center and House of Our Own. He said Penn should continue to support the Penn Bookstore rather than turning to the Internet to provide textbooks.

The Personnel Benefits Committee's interim report was given by Dr. Carl Polsky. He mentioned that this year the health plans are providing parity for the mental health care visits. The vision care option is used by 33% of employees. More than 50% of the A-3 staff is taking advantage of the TDR plan for retirement.

Professor Regina Austin, chair of the Safety and Security Committee, reported that they had interviewed the five finalists for the Vice President for Public Safety position. The Committee held an open forum on women's safety, especially concerning safety of academic buildings after hours. She said the committee wants to promote a "propper stopper campaign" to convince students and staff not to prop exit doors open.


University Council Meeting

Wednesday, April 25, 4 to 6 p.m., Bodek Lounge, Houston Hall

I. Approval of the minutes: Minutes of March 28, April 18 and 25 will be distributed to the Council membership in the fall.

II. Follow-up comments or questions on Status Reports (reports distributed via e-mail with agenda). 5 minutes.

III. Vote on Report of the Task Force on Privacy of Personal Information (Almanac April 17, 2001). Discussion and vote 15 minutes.

IV. 2000-2001 Year-End Reports of Council Committees. Presentation 5 minutes, discussion 10 minutes each.

A. Admissions and Financial Aid

B. Community Relations

C. Libraries

D. Pluralism

E. Quality of Student Life

V. Preliminary discussion of issues to be dealt with in the coming academic year (Bylaws IV.3(e)): discussion 15 minutes.

VI. Adjournment by 6 p.m.

Almanac, Vol. 47, No. 31, April 24, 2001