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by Brown Daily HeraldJan 01, 2015
“The wrestling team kicked off its season at the East Stroudsburg Open Nov. 16, and continued its early season bouts at the Navy Classic Nov. 22. Between the two events, the Bears earned eight placeholders, showing there is a lot to look forward to in this year’s campaign despite the team’s near-bottom finish in the Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association standings last season.
“I think we are improving a lot,” said captain Ophir Bernstein ’15. “I can honestly say that this is the best Brown wrestling team that I’ve competed with since I’ve been here. It’s really exciting for us.”
The team’s efforts were exemplified by Justin Staudenmayer ’17, who took home the title for the 157-pound weight class at the Navy Classic and placed second in the same event at East Stroudsburg. With the two strong showings, Staudenmayer is now nationally ranked in his weight class.
“It’s great to see,” said Head Coach Todd Beckerman. “Especially as an underclassman — a sophomore who is really stepping up as a leader on the team.”
Bernstein, an All-American, will also be a key player on this year’s squad, starting the season on a strong note by capturing fourth and third place in the 184-pound weight class at East Stroudsburg and Navy, respectively.
Bernstein entered the season fresh off a third-place finish at the World University Wrestling Championships this summer, where he competed for Israel. With that tournament marking his third year of competition at the international level, his sights are set on making the 2016 Olympic team.
“Luckily I had a good tournament,” Bernstein said of his latest tournament on the international circuit. “I went out there and actually lost the first match but came back and won two tough matches. At the end, I was fortunate enough to end up on the podium with a third-place medal.”
But before Bernstein makes a run at the Olympics, he has one last season with which he can cement his legacy as one of Brown’s all-time greats, and this time around, he will look to break the school’s single season record for victories, a mark of which he fell just two wins short last year.
Aside from those standouts, the team still had a strong showing. L.J. Remillard ’17, Ricky McDonald ’15 and Billy Watterson ’15 all recorded fifth or sixth place finishes at East Stroudsburg, and McDonald also placed fifth at the Navy Classic. Yet Beckerman seemed most impressed by the team’s first-years, three of whom fought their way into the quarterfinals at their first collegiate level competitions.
“They’re doing a great job,” said Beckerman of his rookies. “They’ve been working hard all preseason, and then it showed in the first two tournaments. I’m anxious to see how the season unfolds for a lot of them.”
The Bears are now looking ahead to the weekend, when they will compete at the Cliff Keen Invitational in Las Vegas, Nevada. The competition promises to be a stern early season test for Beckerman and the crew, with 12 of the nation’s top 25 teams making the trip out to Sin City.
“This is what we’ve been preparing for in the preseason and the first two tournaments,” Beckerman said. “It will really act as a gauge to see where we are at and what we need to work on to prepare for the NCAA tournament in March.”
In his second year as head coach, Beckerman knows that the team has a lot to learn from these early season contests, but he is adamant that the team shouldn’t dwell on any disappointing results at this point in the season. He hopes the team will instead remain focused on the ultimate goal of competing in the NCAA tournament. This message seemed to resonate with Bernstein, who offered a similar take on the squad’s mindset going forward.
“In the next couple of months, we will probably make some mistakes, but as long as we correct them and we’re ready for the tournament in March, we’ll be good,” Bernstein said. “That’s our focus and what we are really worried about.””
by Brown Daily HeraldJan 01, 2015
“Just over 150 students graduated in the Midyear Completion Celebration Saturday afternoon, marking the 25th year that the University has honored students set to graduate at the end of the fall semester.
Enthusiastic students, parents and alums packed Salomon 101 to cheer on the graduates. A smaller but equally animated contingent watched a simulcast of the proceedings in Salomon 001.
The midyear graduates, whom many refer to as “point-fivers,” took part in a visibly lighthearted procession. Many dressed in creative semi-formal attire: Notable accessories included Hawaiian shirts and an intricate pirate-style bicorne.
Performances by the Van Wickle Winds preceded the ceremony and Mariami Bekauri GS opened the ceremony with a rendition of the national anthem.
Following an invocation by University Chaplain Janet Cooper Nelson, several faculty members made speeches praising the class of 2014.5. Speakers noted that the University stands apart from its peer institutions in holding a ceremony to honor midyear graduates.
“You as point-fivers have opened the curriculum as far as it can possibly open,” said Margaret Klawunn, vice president for campus life and student services. “You are perhaps the most Brunonian of all Brunonians.”
Paxson echoed Klawunn’s celebration of unconventional paths to graduation. In her remarks, Paxson lauded the “individuality” and “independence” of the December graduates and reminded them that they would have more power to effect social change going forward than they “ever had as students.”
Paxson also urged the class to stand against “injustice in all forms,” to “use education to do good in the world” and to hold on to the “sense of social responsibility that distinguishes Brown students and Brown alumni.”
Todd Harris ’14.5 and Maggie Tennis ’14.5, a Herald opinions editor, delivered speeches reflecting on their time at and away from Brown.
Tennis said she became a midyear graduate after deciding not to take a medical leave in the fall of her senior year and to complete an honors thesis. Delaying her graduation to complete her thesis afforded her the freedom to do the kind of work she “came to Brown to do,” she said.
“At Brown, a different approach to education is not odd; it’s expected,” she said. “By pushing us to direct our own educations, Brown positions us to be the leaders of our lives.”
Harris, who took a leave to work on President Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign following the death of a parent, said the option to do work he believed in was an essential opportunity to heal. “Although everything around us can often feel out of our control, one important choice that we do have the ability to make is the choice to continue growing.”
Provost Vicki Colvin’s remarks about her experience as a “double point-fiver” at Stanford University drew much laughter from the audience. While driving to take the Chemistry GRE during her senior year, her car “made a loud exploding sound and filled with smoke and flames,” preventing her from taking the exam and threatening her future plans. This experience of uncertainty affirmed her instinctive awareness of her true passions, she said.
She encouraged the graduates to recognize and trust their instincts. “Pay attention to each and every day of the remarkable life I know you’re going to have,” she said. “The true joy in life is unfolding it and not knowing the future.”
A previous version of this article misstated that Maggie Tennis ’14.5 decided to take a medical leave in the fall of her senior year. In fact, she decided not to take a medical leave. The article also previously stated that a student was wearing a pirate-style tricorne. In fact, it was a bicorne. The Herald regrets the errors.”
by Brown Daily HeraldJan 01, 2015
“Rhode Island Lt. Gov. Elizabeth Roberts ’78 was nominated as Secretary of the Executive Office of Health and Human Services, Governor-elect Gina Raimondo announced at a Dec. 7 press conference. The appointment is pending confirmation from the General Assembly in January.
“The lieutenant governor’s years of experience working on various health and human services issues … makes her the best choice to lead this office,” Raimondo said, Go Local Prov reported Dec. 7.
Roberts is slated to replace current Executive Office of Health and Human Services Secretary Steven Costantino, who has held the position since 2011. Constantino previously served for 16 years as a Democratic state representative from Providence before losing a 2010 mayoral bid. “I haven’t decided whether or not there’s a place for him someplace else in state government,” Raimondo said of Costantino, the Providence Journal reported Dec. 7.
Before beginning her eight-year stint as the Ocean State’s first female lieutenant governor in 2007, Roberts served as a state senator for 10 years.
As an undergraduate at Brown, Roberts concentrated in human biology and volunteered at Women and Children’s Hospital , which furthered her interest in health care. After graduation, Roberts earned an MBA in health care management from Boston University.
Roberts initially got involved in Ocean State politics by volunteering for campaigns in the early 1990s. She successfully claimed a senate seat in 1996, becoming the first Rhode Island woman to do so in 12 years.
During her nearly two-decade career in public service, Roberts has aided a number of bodies tasked with evaluating the state’s health care system, serving as chair of the State of Rhode Island Healthcare Reform Commission, co-chair of the Permanent Joint Committee on Healthcare Oversight and chairwoman of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee. She also introduced the Rhode Island Healthy Reform Act of 2008, an eight-part reform package aiming to improve citizens’ access to affordable health care, according to Roberts’ website.
Additionally, she helped establish the Office of Health Insurance Commissioner, which works to oversee insurance companies and health care costs, according to her website.
At a meeting with reporters Sunday, Raimondo called Roberts “one of the smartest people I know as it relates to health care,” the Providence Journal reported.
In her new role, Roberts plans on working to foster inter-agency collaboration, which could help improve health care delivery systems, according to a Dec. 7 press release from the Office of the Lieutenant Governor.
“(I) look forward to rolling up my sleeves to make sure Rhode Islanders of all ages have access to the quality services they deserve,” Roberts said in the press release.”
by Brown Daily HeraldJan 01, 2015
“Updated Dec. 11 at 8:45 p.m.
The University accepted 20 percent of early decision applicants to the class of 2019, admitting 617 students to the largest early decision class since the program was instated for the class of 2006, wrote Dean of Admission Jim Miller ’73 in an email to The Herald.
The 20 percent early admission rate is higher than in recent years — 18.9 percent of early applicants were admitted to the class of 2018 and a record-low 18.5 percent of early applicants were admitted to the class of 2017 .
Out of the 3,016 total early decision applicants this year, 1,968 were deferred to regular decision and 408 were denied admission.
The early decision applicants to the class of 2019 comprised the “strongest ED pool we have ever had,” Miller wrote.
The Program in Liberal Medical Education accepted 18 students, the same number as in the last early decision cycle, Miller wrote.
Recruited athletes account for 26 percent of the early decision class, marking a small dip from the last admission cycle, when athletes accounted for 28 percent of the class, Miller wrote.
Racial minorities account for 31 percent of the admitted class — a slight rise from the last admission cycle, when 30 percent of early admits identified as racial minority students.
Forty-six percent of admitted students applied for financial aid.
Approximately 58 percent of early admits are female, while approximately 42 percent are male.
Admitted students hail from 43 states and 31 nations. New York, California, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Rhode Island are the most represented states in that order, Miller wrote. China, Canada, the United Kingdom, Singapore, France and India are the best-represented foreign countries.
The mid-Atlantic region accounts for 24 percent of the admitted class, New England accounts for 21 percent, the Mountain and Pacific states account for 19 percent, the South accounts for 12 percent and the Midwest accounts for 9 percent. The remaining 15 percent of students are international.
“It feels amazing to get into Brown. … It feels like such a relief to find out,” said Katie Hammaker ’19 of Ephrata, Pennsylvania, who received a “likely” letter earlier this year as a recruit to the field hockey team.
“I decided to apply ED after visiting the school,” she added. “When I visited, everyone was so nice and willing to share what they liked about Brown.”
Mark Hocevar ’19 of Perry, Ohio, said he felt a “connection (he) didn’t feel at any other school” during his three visits to Brown. “It’s the whole package you’re looking for in a college.”
An admit to the Program in Liberal Medical Education, Hocevar said he plans to concentrate in cognitive neuroscience before attending Alpert Medical School. He said he is also interested in participating in robotics research and taking Hispanic studies courses.
- With additional reporting by Eben Blake”
by Brown Daily HeraldJan 01, 2015
“In May, President Christina Paxson P’19 formed the Task Force on Sexual Assault to confront the issue of sexual assault on campus. The task force — which currently consists of 17 members, including four undergraduates and three graduate students — convened for 11 weekly meetings, four open forums and 10 outreach events. The results of these productive conversations are manifested in the task force’s interim report, which was released to the Brown community Tuesday.
The 25-page document highlights the key themes the task force took away from its meetings: the importance of clear information and timelines, the traumatic nature of these crimes and processes and the need for consistent guidelines for punishment. From their observations, the task force members seem to have captured the conversations heard across campus in the past year.
The report is light on proposals to direct students to the criminal justice system and focuses instead on how to reform the campus judicial processes required by federal law. The measures presented would improve sensitivity in handling sexual assault cases so students feel more comfortable filing and following through with complaints — an important step in deterring future misconduct.
Above all, the interim report appropriately highlights the need to address the underlying cause of sexual assault. It indisputably recognizes rape culture as a primary cause of not only the respondents’ actions but also the lack of intervention by bystanders. Indeed, the report notes that while the majority of Brown students are respectful, they “are too often silent.” Proper education, while available, is only valuable if students act on it.
On the whole, the task force rightly addresses the role that campus culture plays and the need to reinforce that all community members “are equally valued, respected and safe.” Upholding this value system is critical in order to achieve any degree of progress, and doing so requires proper education and awareness.
Accordingly, the task force makes great strides toward comprehensive reform of campus culture. Praising the existing Sexual Assault Peer Education program, the task force members call on the University to immediately allocate resources for and plan further training and awareness programs to inform students, faculty members and staff members. Only through education, they suggest, will the Brown community “know the right thing to do.”
The task force’s findings also remind us how desperately we need some of the most basic fixes. Many of the changes proposed are simple, and while we will see their impact immediately, should have pre-empted the campus and national outcry. For example, the report recommends a simple one-page graphic to show students all the resources and options available to them after an assault, mandatory training for everyone on campus and a single comprehensive policy on prohibited conduct.
But these are commonsense reforms that the University and the Office of Student Life should have made years ago. This is a reminder that while campus sexual assault is an old problem, it has never received the attention it deserved.
Though the task force’s work to date is but a small step in what should continue to be a highly transparent assessment of campus sexual assault, the interim report provided the community at large with much-needed insight into the problems that plague our campus and others around the nation. To build on the report’s great progress, the administration must continue to foster discussion and encourage feedback.
The report outlines significant areas for improvement over winter break and through the spring, and we encourage the University to implement many of the task force’s recommendations.”
by Brown Daily HeraldJan 01, 2015
“Following nearly three months of negotiations, unionized library workers unanimously agreed to the University’s proposed contract earlier this month, said Karen McAninch, business agent for the library workers’ union, United Service and Allied Workers of Rhode Island.
The old contract expired Sept. 30 and was extended to allow for ongoing negotiations . The new contract is set to expire in September 2017 and includes changes that union members hope will lead to professional development and more unionized employees, McAninch said.
Of the five unionized positions vacated recently, the University agreed to fill two with full-time unionized employees and one with a semi-permanent employee, McAninch said. But filling union positions is “a moving target” because vacancies frequently open up, she added.
In the new contract, the University agreed to omit earlier proposals related to disciplinary proceedings, storm day policies and health insurance rates.
In a previous version of the contract, the University proposed extending the amount of time a verbal, written or suspension order would remain on an employee’s record. The new contract leaves the current disciplinary policies unchanged, McAninch said. A proposal to let the University determine storm days, as opposed to a city-wide parking ban, was also taken off the table, she added.
The expected healthcare contribution of library workers will remain at the current rate of 12 percent, though an earlier proposal suggested raising the rate to 14 percent.
“We’re pleased that the library union and University negotiators were able to reach a fair and competitive agreement,” wrote Marisa Quinn, vice president for public affairs and University relations, in an email to The Herald. “The University values its employees and appreciates the many contributions made by our library staff.”
Under the new contract, a labor management committee comprising three University administrators and three unionized workers formed. The group will meet once a month to discuss training and job opportunities for unionized workers, McAninch said.
Though a similar committee formed during the last contract’s negotiations in 2010, it was ineffective due to infrequent meetings, McAninch said. “This one has a lot more bells and whistles, so we’re hoping it will be more effective,” she said, citing the inclusion of a library administrator as a positive change.
The digitization of the libraries has contributed to the decreasing number of unionized library workers, said Mark Baumer MA ’11, a Sciences Library guide and a member of the negotiating team.
As the library becomes “more and more web-based,” most employees hired to do technical work are not unionized, Baumer said. “We understand that some of the work we’ve done in the past no longer exists,” he said, adding that there is less need for catalog work, such as putting call numbers on books and entering them in a system.
The new contract makes training programs and workshops on the library’s digital offerings more available to unionized workers, McAninch said.
Baumer said that “in the last couple years there’s been very little training offered” to unionized employees, noting that unionized library workers have not had access to training on book preservation or on the digitization process for large manuscripts.
After gathering and circulating a petition to show support for library workers during the ongoing negotiations, the Student Labor Alliance held a final march at University Hall Dec. 8, said Stoni Tomson ’15, an SLA member. The student group also facilitated a sit-in at the Rockefeller Library during reading period that about 30 students attended, Tomson said.
Without the support of SLA, “we wouldn’t have gotten the contract we got,” Baumer said.
Looking ahead, Tomson said SLA will “keep fighting” to hold University administrators accountable to the needs of library workers during future contract negotiations.”
by Brown Daily HeraldJan 01, 2015
“Barbara Chernow ’79 will succeed Beppie Huidekoper as the next executive vice president for finance and administration effective March 1, President Christina Paxson P’19 announced in a community-wide email Friday. The appointment concludes a search that began in August, when Huidekoper announced her intention to retire after more than 12 years in the position.
Chernow currently serves as Stony Brook University’s senior vice president for administration. Though her new title is different, the job description is the same, Chernow told The Herald.
Chernow said she has worked closely with students, faculty members and staff members during her time at Stony Brook to improve dining services, implement energy-saving programs and change parking and transportation systems. “I’m very, very proud of the work I’ve done with my staff,” she said.
At Brown, Chernow will be charged with “leading and directing essentially all of the non-academic operations of the University” and overseeing a “range of strategic planning issues to advance the University’s mission and goals, including the development of short- and long-term financial and capital plans,” Paxson wrote.
The impending capital campaign — set to go public in October 2015 — will focus on financing the priorities Paxson outlined in her strategic plan .
Chernow will also work in collaboration with Provost Vicki Colvin and the University Resources Committee to develop annual budget recommendations, Paxson wrote.
The University currently faces a structural operating budget deficit of about $10 million. To address this concern, Paxson and Colvin formed a Deficit Working Group in October and charged its 23 members with finding $7 million in cost savings.
Chernow said she is “looking forward to learning more about the issue” and plans to “listen carefully,” though she will not determine her specific goals and strategies until she arrives on campus.
“I really want to work with the team at Brown to find out what the needs are and what the priorities are,” Chernow said. “My goal is really to help the president with her plan.”
Huidekoper managed the University’s finances and operations during the execution of former President Ruth Simmmons’ Plan for Academic Enrichment.
Despite dropping by about $740 million when the 2008 financial crisis hit, the University’s endowment grew overall during Huidekoper’s tenure.
The endowment’s market value reached a record high of $3.2 billion during the last reported fiscal year, but it remains the lowest in the Ivy League.
“I think that Beppie had an incredible impact at Brown, and because of her insight, good work and planning, Brown is in a good place,” Chernow said.
Chernow said her undergraduate experience at Brown impacted her greatly and she is “excited to be back with an active and engaged campus community.””
by Brown Daily HeraldJan 01, 2015
“Private sector leaders gathered with federal, state and municipal officials in a ceremony Monday to kick off renovations to the Jewelry District’s South Street Power Station, popularly known as the Dynamo House.
The revamp — expected to be complete by the fall of 2016 — will result in a nursing education center shared by Rhode Island College and the University of Rhode Island, as well as graduate housing and administrative offices for the University.
Officials joked that this would be “the last groundbreaking at this particular site,” said Dick Galvin ’79, president and founder of Commonwealth Ventures Properties, poking fun at failed past projects that attempted to renovate the former power station, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. Prior to the actual groundbreaking, officials ranging from Galvin to Gov. Lincoln Chafee ’17 P’14 P’17 voiced their excitement about the project to a crowd of more than 200.
“On a day such as this, I can see why Travel and Leisure (Magazine) named Providence ‘Favorite City in America,’” Chafee said.
The current project serves as a capstone for Chafee, whose self-proclaimed mantra during his tenure has been: “Invest in education, infrastructure and workforce development.” Chafee also created the I-195 Redevelopment District Commission in 2011. The resulting relocation of I-195 cleared up land that will be used for the South Street Landing.
The new nursing education center will be “a thriving center of the meds and eds,” Chafee said, noting that education and health care are two of the biggest labor sectors in the state.
Galvin pointed to federal historic tax credits as helping to finance the revamp and thanked the state’s federal delegation for its support. As a Brown alum, he said he is particularly excited about the University’s involvement in the project.
Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., said he believes the project will meet the economic demands of a larger labor force in the health care industry.
“With the Affordable Care Act, there are … thousands of Rhode Islanders who will have access to care,” Reed said. “We need the nurses and the health professionals to care for them.”
The Rhode Island College nursing school “has been on a roll lately,” said President of Rhode Island College Nancy Carriuolo, noting that 91.5 percent of RIC students who took the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses last year passed and RIC’s average was eight points above the national average.
The University will occupy half of South Street Landing, Reed said. “They’ll be a lead tenant in the 264 beds of graduate housing, and will continue to drive a lot of economic development.”
The University has invested more than $200 million in the Jewelry District, said President Christina Paxson P’19, who participated in the ceremonial groundbreaking. The project “really solidifies our presence here, and one that I think will continue to grow,” she said.
Once completed, the building will house 400 more administrative employees, she added.
Consolidating administrative offices in the Jewelry District will not only free up space for academic priorities on College Hill, but also allow for more collaboration and consolidation within administrative offices, said Russell Carey ’91 MA’06, executive vice president for planning.
The offices of the Vice President for Research, which are currently located in three different places on College Hill, will move to the new building, Carey said. The Division of Advancement, which has some employees at 110 Elm Street in the Jewelry District and some on College Hill, will also be consolidated in the new building, he added.
Further decisions about the use of the new offices and the repurposing of current office space on College Hill will be decided over the next two years, before the lease begins in 2016, Carey said.
Many officials highlighted the collaborative nature of the project. Galvin said the ceremony was “groundbreaking” on several levels, noting that it highlighted the partnership between state and city leadership, the collaboration between the government and a public utility to solve problems and the sharing of a facility by three educational institutions.
The project “really needed more than one anchor tenant to make it practical and feasible,” Carey said. “We probably won’t fully realize how valuable that is for years.”
Governor-elect Gina Raimondo commented on the uniting factor for all stakeholders in the project. “The one thing that binds you is a deep and enduring commitment to this state,” she said in her speech.
“Here in Providence and here in Rhode Island, we have all of the ingredients to be nothing less than a world-class place to live, to work and to play,” said Mayor-elect Jorge Elorza. “But in order to do that, we have to think big, we have to be creative and, most importantly, we have to be collaborative.””
by Brown Daily HeraldDec 22, 2014
“Cass Cliatt, vice president for communications at Franklin and Marshall College, will come to Brown as vice president for communications April 1, President Christina Paxson P’19 announced in a community-wide email Friday.
She will succeed Marisa Quinn, vice president for public affairs and University relations, who will become director of communications and outreach at the Watson Institute for International Studies, effective Jan. 1 . Directors in Public Affairs and University Relations will manage the office during the three-month interval between Quinn’s move and Cliatt’s arrival, Quinn wrote in an email to The Herald.
The position’s title will change from vice president for public affairs and University relations to vice president for communications due to restructuring of some administrative offices.
Like Quinn, Cliatt will preside over 18 staff members, including those in the Office of News and Communication, the Office of Web Communications and Brown Alumni Magazine. But beginning Jan. 1, Executive Vice President for Policy and Planning Russell Carey ’91 MA’06 will oversee the Office of Government Relations and Community Affairs, which currently reports to Quinn.
“This organizational change will align our government and community relations with the University’s strategic growth and economic development planning, which Russell oversees,” Paxson wrote.
In her new role, Cliatt will develop and execute “a strategic communications plan that supports and advances the University’s goals and priorities,” Paxson wrote. She will also act as the University’s primary spokesperson for media inquiries and counsel administrators and faculty members on communications, Paxson added.
Additionally, she will serve on the Cabinet and Executive Committee.
Cliatt said she was attracted to the University in part due to Paxson’s strategic plan, “Building on Distinction,” adding that the document “outlines a vision for educational excellence, for academic excellence, for making a difference in the world.”
“It’s always important to arrive at a new institution and really understand what the strengths of the existing communications are,” she said. “I look forward to arriving on the Brown campus … and then building a strategic vision from there.”
At Franklin and Marshall, Cliatt spearheaded policies “to protect the institution’s identity,” oversaw improvements to its website and managed its social media presence, Paxson wrote.
Cliatt said she expects her role at Brown to differ from that at Franklin and Marshall due to the unique characters of the institutions. “When you’re at a place like Franklin and Marshall, it’s a much more intimate environment — it’s a college, not a university,” she said.
Cliatt will add to the diversity of a senior administration that includes just three people of color. The majority of senior administrators are white, including the president, provost, dean of the College and dean of the faculty.
After graduating from Princeton with an English degree, Cliatt obtained a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. She originally pursued a career as a reporter, working for the newspapers the Daily Herald, the Battle Creek Enquirer and the Lincoln Journal Star.
She joined the Cook County Clerk’s office in Chicago in 2003 as deputy director of communications and policy. From 2005 to 2011, she served as an administrator at her alma mater Princeton, first as director of media relations and then as director of news and editorial services.”
by Brown Daily HeraldDec 19, 2014
“The Task Force on Sexual Assault released an interim report with short-term recommendations for improving the University’s sexual assault and prevention policies, President Christina Paxson P’19 wrote in a community-wide email Wednesday.
The report — compiled by a group of 17 administrators, faculty members and students — includes research conducted since the task force began its work in September and suggestions for measures to be implemented as soon as next month.
Several major concerns surface in the report about University policies and procedures on sexual assault and sexual violence, including the clarity of information and timelines, trauma enhanced by the current complaint process, weakness of sanctions for those found guilty of assault, transparency in communicating the occurrence of sexual assault to the community and a lack of sexual assault awareness training programs.
The report shows that Brown is not immune to national trends. Brown students who completed a fall 2013 survey conducted by the University reported unwanted touching and attempts to penetrate without consent over the past 12 months at levels significantly higher than national averages from the Spring 2013 American College Health Association’s National College Health Assessment. Almost 13 percent of Brown respondents reported experiencing unwanted touching, compared to 6.4 percent nationally, and 4.5 percent reported attempted sexual penetration without consent, compared to 2.8 percent nationally.
The need for “changing cultural norms” on campus to address sexual violence emerged as a priority in the report.
“The current norms and culture of the Brown University campus are not acceptable, and as a community we must seek in word and deed to fundamentally change that culture in order to ensure that the Brown campus is a safe and welcoming place to learn, teach, conduct research, work and live for all members of the community,” the report reads.
The document echoes the stress on “changes in policies and practices” found in the reports from the Committee on the Events of October 29, which examined the controversial protest and shutdown of a planned on-campus lecture by former New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, Paxson told The Herald.
“Culture change is probably one of the hardest things to do in a university or in a society, and one hopes that changes in policies and practices drive culture change,” she added.
In order to motivate culture change, the report suggests introducing mandatory sexual assault awareness training for all students, faculty members and staff members.
“Mandatory training is going to be an important component of what we do,” Paxson said, adding that “I’m not sure exactly what form that will take…but I know we have to do it.”
As the interim report mentions, Paxson has called for reforms that will position Brown as a “national leader” among universities seeking to address sexual violence on campus. Over the next couple of weeks, Paxson will consult with her staff in order to determine which recommendations the administration can implement immediately and which changes will require approval by the faculty or the Corporation, the University’s highest governing body, she said.
The task force proposed in the report that major resources related to sexual assault be compiled and organized in a clear manner on a “centralized university website” before the beginning of the spring semester. One of these resources should be a graphic detailing the student conduct process and a statement of measures available to students in the immediate aftermath of an incident, according to the report.
The task force’s members wrote that they were “struck” by how many students lack knowledge or awareness of these resources, which underscores the need for the University to better publicize them.
The proposed website featuring sexual assault resources would improve upon the current system of informing students of these resources, said Emily Schell ’16, founder of Stand Up, a student organization that aims to prevent sexual assault on campus. “How do you expect people to sift through nine websites the day after being sexually assaulted to determine a course of action?” she asked.
The task force also proposed that the appeals process should take no longer than 30 days from the time an appeal is filed to the time a decision is made. The University should also clearly communicate deadlines to the parties involved in the complaint process and make the rationale for any sanctions clear to those who receive them, according to the report.
If implemented, all of the report’s proposals will ideally lead to an unprecedented level of clarity and transparency in the University’s approach to sexual assault, said Katie Byron ’15, a member of the task force.
“Having transparent policies is part of how we build a culture of trust” between students and administrators, Byron said. She added that she hopes this trust spurs students to believe the survivors who come forward.
Schell voiced support for many of the recommendations in the report, especially the suggestion to provide students who receive sanctions with a rationale for their punishment.
“The University system actually has an opportunity here to be educational,” Schell said. Rather than simply giving sanctioned students lines out of the Code of Student Conduct delineating exactly which rules they have broken, the University should seek to explain hearing decisions in a way that makes perpetrators fully understand the consequences of their actions, she added.
But Schell said she was concerned that the report, at 25 pages, is too long. The length could deter students who are not particularly passionate about the issue from reading and engaging with the report, Schell said, adding that this could exacerbate the gap in awareness between what she perceives as a small minority of very involved students and a majority who care about the issue but are not directly involved.
The report also urges that all students sanctioned to leave the University should be removed immediately from their campus residency and either be restricted to a specific campus function, such as attending classes, or be forbidden from campus entirely. While the Office of Student Life currently oversees this process, the task force calls for this practice to be established as an expectation and codified next semester.
The task force also suggested the incorporation of investigators, such as attorneys or professionals with other relevant experience, into the hearing process.
Investigators could “assemble facts in a way that can be useful for resolving a complaint and also take the burden off the students,” said Russell Carey ’91 MA’06, executive vice president for planning and policy and co-chair of the task force. Some peer institutions have already adopted the practice of hiring investigators for sexual assault cases, he added.
Next semester, students will participate in a national survey organized by the Association of American Universities, Carey said. The task force recommended that the University publish the data that relates specifically to Brown.
The task force will hold further discussions and finalize its initial recommendations over the first few months of the spring semester before submitting a final report in March.
Over the next couple of weeks, Paxson will consult with staff members in the Office of the President to determine which recommendations the administration can implement immediately and which changes will require approval by the faculty or the Corporation, the University’s highest governing body, she said.
Before the beginning of the second semester, Paxson said she will likely release a response to the report addressing whether a certain suggestion has already been implemented, will be implemented in the future or will probably not be implemented. If the University decides not to adopt a recommendation, Paxson will explain why, she added.”
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