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Council  Coverage

Before turning last Wednesday’s Council meeting over to moderator Dr. James English, President Amy Gutmann congratulated him for his Best Academic Book award (Almanac January 24, 2006).

Dr. Gutmann then commented on Penn’s new $5 million safety initiative which was prompted by recent events near campus (Almanac January 24, 2006). These funds will provide for a 20% increase in Penn Police and a 50% increase in security guards, as well as some $2-3 million going towards lights, cameras and emergency blue light phones. She said Penn is working with partners in the City for more lights in the vicinity. These are in addition to what she reported to Council at the end of November (Almanac December 6, 2005). Dr. Gutmann concluded that it takes a lot of work to keep this place “vibrant, safe and wonderful.”

Provost Ronald Daniels’ Status Report described the Inaugural Provost’s Global Forum featuring the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize winner Dr. Shirin Ebadi, the first Iranian and the first Muslim woman to win that prize. This annual event is intended to spotlight a key world leader, engage the campus in substantive dialogue on issues of global importance and local relevance and establish Penn as a key source of knowledge and research in creating a global, civil society.

There was a discussion about Graduate Student Housing, with Lela Jacobsohn, GAPSA Chair, outlining the range of issues that concern graduate students. She said housing revolves around three factors: availability, quality and affordability.  She said Penn only houses seven percent of its graduate students on campus; there is a need for upgrades to the spaces and many apartments are too expensive. International students who have no credit history in the U.S. have difficulty renting off-campus. There is no longer on-campus housing for students who have children; there had been apartments until the mid 1990s for families in Sansom East and West (formerly known as Graduate Towers).  Several other grad students also spoke about their experiences. Anita Mastroieni, director of the Graduate Student Center, noted that much of Sansom Place is now dedicated to undergraduates. Senior VP for Facilities and Real Estate Omar Blaik acknowledged that more graduate students living on campus would be good but that lately Penn has been focused on undergrad housing. He said that the development on the 3900 block of Walnut will provide apartments: 65% for undergrads and 35% for grad students. The Office of Off-Campus Living’s website can help those looking to rent or sublet. VP for Public Safety Maureen Rush said that it was because there was not enough on-campus housing available about 15 years ago that Penn’s transit services were expanded.

There was also a discussion about managing stress and work-life balance. Dr. Ilene Rosenstein, director of CAPS, said that “emotional wellbeing is essential to success.” She said that CAPS offers individual counseling, workshops and post-vention collaborations with those concerned about students. The RAP line is getting more multi-issue calls, illustrating the complexity to stress. DART provides peer education about drugs and alcohol. Marilyn Kraut, director of Quality of Worklife, admitted that while the focus needs to be on students, Penn is also an employer and as such offers 24/7 EAP services. The Special Services Unit of the UPPD also offers assistance 24/7. President Gutmann suggested that there are three things Penn faculty and staff can do as role models: teach more—assign less, assigning more is not teaching more; doing more is not doing better, focus and follow passions; and most important, sleep more and perform better. The Provost added that it is important to ensure good mentoring.

The Open Forum centered around warrant-less searches of U.S. citizens and its possible effects on Penn. The topic will go to Steering for consideration.



  Almanac, Vol. 52, No. 20, January 31, 2006


January 31, 2006
Volume 52 Number 20


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