UCS outlines, brainstorms committee projects for next year

The Undergraduate Council of Students introduced some of the initiatives its committees will work on this academic year at its general body meeting Wednesday night. Committee chairs outlined their committees’ roles to the general body and then met with smaller groups to brainstorm additional project ideas.

Communications Director Sofia Jimenez ’21 will lead a newly established committee dedicated to communications, which UCS added “because we want to do a lot of cool things that involve transparency between the student body and UCS,” Jimenez said.

Not only charged with managing “the brand, publicity and all forms of social media UCS has,” the committee will also aim to implement a new version of “What to Fix Brown,” an online forum that previously enabled students to provide feedback to UCS. The committee also hopes to work with the Student Activities Office on “a more visually stimulating way to announce certain club events,” Jimenez said.

Chair of Student Activities Alex Song ’20 stressed that his committee’s primary task is “taking care of new clubs that want to be created on campus, or clubs that want to increase their funding opportunities.” The committee also aims to make the process of establishing a club or changing club categorization more efficient and make information about the resources available to student groups more accessible, Song said.

Chair of Student Wellness Shivani Nishar ’20 outlined four projects relevant to her committee.

First, the Student Wellness Committee will work on developing a reporting system within Student and Employee Accessibility Services “so that if students aren’t getting the accommodations that they need they can report and have that concern be dealt with within SEAS,” Nishar said.

Second, there will be a Title IX Town Hall “in around two weeks” intended to provide a space for students to discuss “the guidelines that are being released by Betsy Devos’s office on how educational systems should deal with sexual harassment and gender-based violence,” Nishar said.

It will also pursue initiatives within Health Services, such as developing “a Health Services student advisory board,” Nishar said.

Finally, the Student Wellness Committee will work to “partner with the athletes on campus and figure out how we can better wellness both mentally and physically for that community,” Nishar said.

The Academic Affairs Committee, chaired by Mar Weiss ’20, will coordinate an award for informal advisors, defined as “anyone who is doing a lot of mentorship and taking a lot of time out of their lives … without getting enough public recognition as well as money,” Weiss said. The committee will decide how to divide $1,500 allocated for the award. They will also determine a nomination process for the award, Weiss said.

Academic Affairs will also work on dedicating space in engineering labs to people of color in the field, a project that has been  “spearheaded” by the regional head of the National Society of Black Engineers at the University, Weiss said.

A third initiative the committee will work on is “getting student representation on the disciplinary hearing committee,” a topic Weiss said will be discussed at an upcoming faculty meeting. If the University grants permission for a student representative to join that process, the Academic Affairs Committee will determine how to select that person and work with the Offices of the Provost and the Dean to formalize a training process.

Melissa Lee ’20 chairs the council’s Campus Life Committee, which works on topics related to University divisions including the Office of Residential Life, Dining Services and the Department of Public Safety.

Lee said she has been in contact with Bon Appétit Management Company, which manages menus for the University’s dining services, “to try to find a more reliable, consistent way to get student feedback,” Lee said.

Among the committee’s other projects is working with the shuttle service “to find out a more consistent and reliable way to get the shuttle service to come on time and for students to indicate when they want to get on and off the shuttle,” Lee said.

In a smaller group meeting, Lee also mentioned that plans and funding are in place for the University to increase the number of hydration stations on campus, an initiative the committee worked on last year, as The Herald previously reported. The Department of Facilities Management could not be reached for comment by press time.

The council is also looking to recruit applicants for several open student representative positions on various University councils, Appointments Chair Jason Carroll ’21 told The Herald.

There are two vacancies on the Brown University Community Council, two vacancies for first-years on the Financial Aid Advisory Board, one vacancy on the Diversity and Inclusion Oversight Board and three vacancies on the Student Advisory Board on Equity and Diversity.

The council also selected Michelle Liu ’22 to serve as their webmaster, filling their final open internal position. Liu ran unopposed and was confirmed via unanimous vote.

The UCS-coordinated Community Accountability Focus Group, which intends to explore informal ways to address harm in the community, held its first meeting at 8:30 p.m., following the general body meeting’s conclusion.

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