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University Council Open Forum:
Focus on Funding,
Flexibility and Fairness

At Council's annual Open Forum last week, five issues of concern to various constituencies were presented for consideration by the Council Steering Committee. Two other topics that were anticipated were not presented since their speakers were not present.

The first issue concerned the University's commitment to financial aid, recruitment and retention, and development of standard resource centers in the context of the Strategic Plan. Several student organizations were represented: UMC, Latino Coalition, UMOJA, and Asian Pacific Coalition. UA representative and College sophomore Papa Wassa Nduom & two others spoke about their hope that the University would increase the pool of resources for such resource centers. President Rodin and Provost Barchi stressed the institutional commitment that the centers would continue. President Rodin explained that the new Strategic Plan being developed does not deal with this level of specificity, but rather "meta-goals.'

The next topic was presented by Troy Odom, the chair of the A-3 Assembly, to facilitate the attendance at University Council meetings and committee meetingsof A-3 employees who are members of Council and Council committees. He suggested that either a policy should be established or that supervisors should provide the needed flexibility for the employees. Dr. Rodin said that input from Human Resources would be sought before the next Steering Committee meeting to determine what is possible.

Med School student David Dinan, LGBT Advisory Board co-chair, then presented a proposal about the addition of gender identity and gender expression to the University's non-discrimination policies. He noted that of the top 25 universities in the US only one is this inclusive, then suggested that Penn could be "on the cutting edge of this issue." Dr. Gerald Porter then pointed out that this could be a challenge when it comes to "binary gender restroom facilities."

The next topic concerned the unavailability of SAC funding for campus religious groups and was presented by College junior Hanni Batzel on behalf of SPECIAL--Student Program on Education Concerning Interfaith Activities and Life on campus. She said SPECIAL serves as an advocate for interfaith groups and serves as a forum about religious understanding among groups. UA Chair Dana Hork requested clarification as to whether the funding is for the umbrella group which does not promote a specific religion. It was also pointed out that University Council does not control how SAC, a part of the UA, allocates its budget. President Rodin also noted that the Chaplain's Office is another source of funding for such interfaith activities.

The final proposal concerned "economic justice" as College senior Reshma Mehta, the Penn Students Against Sweatshops coordinator, focused on the needs of Penn Dining Services employees. She said her organization is concerned about what could happen to the employees when the dining contract expires and they "do not wish to benefit from exploitation of employees with a potential new sub-contractor." Adam Sherr, PPSA representative to Council and former Dining Service employee noted that only the management positions were out-sourced to BonApetit, not the union positions

Almanac, Vol. 48, No. 15, December 11, 2001


December 11, 2001
Volume 48 Number 15

More SAS endowed chairs: Dr. Randall Wright, is appointed to the Ronald Lauder Endowed Term Chair, and Dr. Richard Schultz is the Patricia Williams Term Chair.

Provost Robert Barchi and Executive Vice President John Fry will be part of an Open Form for the University's Strategic Plan on January 15.

Dr. Helen O. Dickens, a pioneer in women's health has died at the age of 92.
UPHS Bond rate has been revised to stable by Moody's Investors Service
Ben Financials begins its countdown to launching of new services on January 2.

Women of Color Scholars Awards applications are due on January 21

Penn Press has a collection of books just right for the holiday gift giving season. If you prefer there are Gifts of Involvement or ideas in the neighborhood from the Holiday Shopping Guide.
During the holidays, there are simple Safety Tips to keep in mind while you work and shop.
As always volunteer opportunities abound available throughout the community.
Researchers receive $1.26 million to study microfluidic systems; Penn has received $2.84 million to improve reliability of computers; the Center on Adult Literacy has received $2.4 million for technology; are part of Research Roundup in this issue.