Council December 4:
Messages, Deliberations and a Message on Deliberation

In addition to opening statements quoted on page 2 of this issue (Council: Benefits Study Awaited), reports at the outset of Council's December 4 meeting included:

The President reported on the new lighting program (see also this issue's Speaking Out) and the 40th Street Project (See Compass). In response to a query on the lighting project, she said that in hardship cases the West Philadelphia Partnership will have the decision-making on rebating more than 50% in the event of hardship.

The Provost's State of the University report, on globalization, research and graduate study, will be published in full in January.

The Open Forum

Two speakers brought issues to Council in its third annual Open Forum.

Consultation and Related Issues:Paul Lukasiak, an SSW staff member, delivered a four-part request that Council study and pass resolutions that (a) no decision be made regarding the further use of University real estate assets in the campus vicinity for purposes other than those that directly serve the mission of this university, until such time as there is a consensus regarding use of those assets toward the fulfillment of Penn's mission; (b) the decision-making process at Penn in general, with the Barnes & Noble deal as an illustration be made more responsive to the University's mission; (c) determine what services are appropriate to outsource and under what conditions outsourcing should occur for each service, (later spelled out as "not to leave it just to the Administration or treat [academic re-sources] as an asset to exploit to make money"; and (d) set minimal standards for the treatment and compensation of employees in businesses that Penn outsources its services to, or that Penn rents to on campus.

Moderator Will Harris explained that Council would now have these topics in its purview, with various routes to disposition, normally by Steering's assigning them to committees or administrators to report back. He said Steering will probably indicate at the next meeting the disposition of the four topics.

In Q & A, Dr. Helen Davies cited as a failure of consultation the change in this year's Penn's Way's, and EVP John Fry indicated agreement on starting immediately to plan and consult for next year's campaign.

Drug-Free Environment: Dr. Anthony Tomazinis introduced the second Forum topic with, "I would like to explore what it would take to declare Penn a drug-free environment with zero tolerance." He reported discussion among faculty "angry as hell because we tolerate, and have on campus drug dealers, visiting buildings of the University, dealing with individuals who buy inside those buildings--not only on surrounding streets but on campus." He also cited harm to students' health and academic life.

Maureen Rush of Public Safety said that any such activity brought to the attention of Public Safety "will be dealt with through the criminal justice system, and there's no in between. It's illegal for all people on campus." But she said that very, very few incidents have been reported; if people do report, "we'll take care of surveillance and arrest if necessary." Dr. Tomazinis and other speakers agreed that more background information is needed toward development of a public position.

The Moderator suggested calling for a formal report early in semester. Chair-elect Vivian Seltzer added, "I one thing being asked is how much concern there is among various con-stitutencies. We may want to have Council get the constituencies to discuss this and tell Steering whether it's a universal concern, whether we need new and additional approaches besides the Task Force."

Council as a Deliberative Body: As Dr. Will Harris adjourned his last Council meeting, to go on academic leave as a scholarly advisor on a new Congressionally-funded project called The International Framework for Teaching Constitutional Democracy, and to work on a book called The Constitutional University, he gave a short farewell speech, saying in part:

"Council is a place where for two hours once a month everyone around this table is a political equal. The fact that the people here are equals and that they can speak their minds and register their points of view is extremely important, because it says something about the nature of this university as one of the distinctive half-dozen or so American universities and American types of universities, in terms of the quality of deliberation that can take place.

"I think Council does a very good job at representation...It also does a good job, a very good job at times, of holding central administrators and other holders of authority to account and questioning them...and in some ways reinforcing their authority by giving them a chance to give reasoned responses to criticisms and questions that arise from this forum.

"What it has not done as that it doesn't deliberate quite as well as it should. By deliberation I mean something very important, because I think of deliberation as more important than voting, more important than elections for a democratic system. [Deliberation happens when] equals assemble, and they bring their opinions but they leave with different opinions. And what they produce is different from what any one of them brought.

"What we do here very well is register opinions, and put them on record, in the public forum. What we don't do is to work out compromises and negotiations as well as we might.

"I hope that perhaps under another moderator we might continue to develop along those lines, where we produce insights and outcomes that are different from the particular positions that we brought to the meeting. So I urge you to do that--with a great deal of thanks for what you have taught me and what you've enabled me to see."


Volume 43 Number 16
December 17, 1996

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