Click for Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Forecast



Open Forum--Early Decision, Divestment, Civilian Review Board

At University Council's December 4 meeting, the quorum necessary for a vote was present, and the proposed Bylaws changes were unanimously approved before the Open Forum.

GAPSA's status report noted that a GAPSA/UA/GSAC Joint Taskforce on Graduate Student Teaching will be making a preliminary report to those three organizations in January, with a final report later in the spring. GAPSA is working with GSAC to disseminate information about the NLRB's decision and has created a webpage accessible through The Graduate Student Center third floor renovation is expected to be completed by Spring Break.

President Judith Rodin's status report noted that the University's response (Almanac November 19) to the Gender Equity Report "underscores the University's commitment to promoting gender equity and to improving Penn's comparative position on this issue relative to peer institutions."

Her report also reiterated her opposition to divestment, "Penn will not support divestment from Israel, boycotts of Israeli scholars and scientists, or any effort to stifle the free expression of diverse ideas and opinions about the Middle East conflict by our faculty and students."

She also pointed out that Penn continues to have an early decision program, which is binding on students who are accepted but that Penn does not preclude students who apply early decision here from applying early action at other institutions. This year, the early decision pool of 3,401 applicants reflects an increase of 13% over last year.

The first of the three topics presented by students during the annual Open Forum portion of the meeting was Early Decision. Lincoln Ellis, C '04, contended that the early decision process benefits wealthier students who do not have to compare financial aid packages of different institutions. He expressed concerns about diversity and how the Early Decision process impacts minority students.

President Rodin responded to the request for statistics by explaining that the Council committee on Admissions and Financial Aid gets data about the applicants, and that for the last two years, the Early Decision pool has actually been "significantly stronger than the regular pool." She also said that Penn's financial aid offer is the same regardless of when the student applies.

Senate Chair Mitch Marcus added the committee is charged by Council to look at these issues this year and that the president and the provost are fully supportive of this. Dr. Rodin also said that the committee will consider whether applicants could get a pre-read to know approximately what their financial aid package would look like.

The second topic was presented on behalf of the Penn Arms Divestment Campaign which called on Penn to revive the Committee on University Responsibility or to create a similar body to examine holdings and to divest from companies that "support occupation, colonization, and human rights abuse in the West Bank and Gaza."

A UA member explained that their resolution passed in February, was meant to pertain to investing as it relates to environmental issues and human rights of workers, not to divestment. The UA asked Penn to establish an Advisory Committee on Investor Responsibility to make recommendations to the Trustees.

Secretary of the University Leslie Kruhly mentioned that there is now a proxy Trustee subcommittee, "a successor to the Committee on University Responsibility," which addresses student concerns that have been channeled through the Office of the Secretary. She said that some students had met with the subcommittee about a month ago to offer recommendations.

The final topic was the Civilian Review Board (CRB) which was initially suggested last January after an alleged racial profiling incident. It would get involved with citizens' complaints against the Penn Police. Shaun Gonzales of UMC, said that the UMC member on the Public Safety Advisory Board resigned this semester to avoid giving the impression that the Advisory Board was sufficient.

Chief of Police Tom Rambo said that the complaint process has been revised and that the appeal process allows a complainant to go to the Vice President of Public Safety or to the Public Safety Advisory Board, chaired by Dr. Dennis Culhane, of social work. Complaint forms are now available not only at the UPPD headquarters, but at the many resource centers throughout campus.


  Almanac, Vol. 49, No. 16, December 17, 2002