This week’s SA meeting included continued discussion on the China-Tibet conflict, reports on committee activity, and plans for new developments for 2020.
Senior senator Tayfun Sahin introduced a motion to discuss the wording of a potential apology to the Chinese Students’ Association (CSA), as well as a possible statement addressing students who came to the SA meeting a week prior in response to the joint statement email from SA leadership and UR administration. Last week, some senators conducted an investigation into the incident that occurred at Starbucks several weeks ago involving a Chinese student and visiting Tibetan Buddhist monks.
As part of this investigation, Sahin said the group of senators created a group chat with Tibetan students who were present when the incident occurred. They also created a group chat with members of the CSA e-board. The e-board members were offended at the implication that they would have special knowledge of the incident simply because a Chinese student was involved.
Senators disagreed on points including the wording and who should deliver the apology. The discussion ended after concerns were raised over whether it was right to publicize this conversation. Junior Speaker of the Senate Micah Greenberg asked the senators to stay after the meeting to discuss the matter privately.
Academic Affairs Committee updates
Sophomore senator and Chair of the Academic Affairs Committee Ian Krager reported that all minutes and other details for the Academic Affairs Committee are now publicly available here.
Krager also said he created a spreadsheet to document the committee’s projects. He said he hopes this will centralize information and make it easier to understand what is being worked on at any given moment.
Krager reported that UR Student, the new student administrative website, will be rolled out in phases, starting in February. There will be a community forum on Nov. 6 where the details of the rollout, as well as long-term plans for the site, will be shared.
Krager said that a syllabus template is being developed to ensure syllabus standardization across all departments.
According to Krager, the Academic Affairs Committee is considering ways of countering the increased and unwieldy class sizes in the Math and Computer Science departments, including potentially taking measures to improve communication between professors and registrars.
Puerto Rican Student Organization
Junior Senator and Deputy Chair of the Administration and Review Committee (ARC) Akshay Sharathchandra reported that the Puerto Rican Student Organization has been recognized as a cultural organization eligible for SA funding.
Administration and Review Committee meetings
Sharathchandra reminded the Senate that ARC meetings are open. The next one is Nov. 13 at 8:00 p.m. in Genesee 325.
Campus Services Committee updates
Chair of the Campus Services Committee Alexander Pavlicin reports that SAD lamps —meant to alleviate effects of Seasonal Affective Disorder by replicating natural sunlight — will be rolled out next semester. The Campus Services Committee is currently determining the best way to implement them.
Intramural and housing surveys will be sent to the student body soon. These are intended to help the Campus Services Committee understand what aspects of administration specifically need to be improved.
Upcoming accessibility forum
Sophomore senator and Chair of the Student Life Committee Lea Thome reported that there will be a forum on accessibility at UR in mid-November.
Textbook and food access
Thome said that initiatives are underway with the Student Life Committee to deal with textbook affordability and food insecurity. Textbook affordability solutions would likely include an expansion of the reserve system.
According to Thome, food insecurity solutions include attempting to further publicize and raise money for the food pantry. The food pantry is currently planning to post an Amazon Wishlist in the near future, and is also looking at implementing an “adopt a bag” program in which students can anonymously buy food bundles for students in need.
President senior Jamal Holtz said that meetings regarding the possibility of what he referred to as “shared governance” will begin in 2020. According to Holtz, this would consist of greater communication between the Board of Trustees, SA, and faculty, with the goal of improving cohesion at all levels. Holtz says that, if implemented, the new system will create opportunities for student input at the highest levels of University administration.
Editor’s Note (11/7/19): This article has been amended to clarify that the motion introduced by Senator Sahin was to discuss both the CSA apology as well as a statement addressing students who came to the prior week’s meeting to criticize the joint statement email. The article originally did not mention the latter intention of the motion.
Correction (11/4/19): This article originally referred to Speaker of the Senate Micah Greenberg as a senior. He is, in fact, a junior. Additionally, the article originally referred to Akshay Sharathchandra, the Deputy Chair of ARC, as the chair.