The agenda’s inclusion of a discussion about Spring Fling drew a larger than usual attendance to the November 30 Council meeting. Moderator James English said he was “looking forward to a lively discussion” and it was more animated than typical meetings.
President Amy Gutmann said she took great pride in the fact that two Penn students won the Marshall and Rhodes Scholarships this year, “we are honored and uplifted by their accomplishments,” she said. The surprise $14 million gift from George Weiss will allow “thousands of students to afford a Penn undergraduate education,” the president said, adding that Mr. Weiss is a “great benefactor to humankind.” Dr. Gutmann then turned to the crime situation that has caused Penn to increase police presence—both uniformed and plainclothes—on and around the campus. She said that until it is brought under control, “we will spare no expense.”
Vice President of Public Safety Maureen Rush thanked UPPD’s partners in the Philadelphia Police, especially the Southwest Tactical Task Force, with whom Penn Police share radio communications. She said that “opportunity plus motive equals crime” and Penn is trying to take away the opportunity for criminals to attack in this area. She showed a blinking red light that the Allied Security Safety Officers will wear on their arms so that their presence is more apparent, perhaps serving as a deterrent.
Provost Ron Daniels said that the Report of the Quality of Student Life Committee triggered discussions concerning Spring Fling, which he said should be inclusive and safe. The committee’s chair, Dr. Rosoff, described some of the issues that the committee addressed including the “nature of the event” as well as the venue.
The UA had passed a resolution in which they stressed that the Quad is an essential part of the tradition that goes back to 1972. The students’ resolution suggested that they encourage their peers to behave in a responsible manner. Dr. Phil Nichols, the faculty director of the College Houses, said he had been asked by the Provost about ways to make the Quad safer; Dr. Nichols enumerated the assorted problems and challenges he has witnessed in past years’ Flings. He suggested hiring outside, trained staff to monitor the area, which he noted has hundreds of corridors where problems can occur. He also attributed much of the problematic behavior to the large number of guests who come to the event. Some 2,500 guest passes are sold for the annual event and a database is kept with the names of the hosts and the guests. VP Rush said that Public Safety has had a hard time with the guests in prior years. SPEC has recommended “maintaining tradition while changing the culture” with their Pilot Program, Fling Safe (formerly Team Sober) to educate students about safety and security during Fling. Rev. William Gipson asked if it might work to have students sign an ‘oath of community’ to take on a sense of ownership. Some students said that freshmen choose Penn because of Fling and that is one of the defining characteristics of Penn. Provost Daniels summarized by suggesting that Fling would remain in the Quad for this academic year, as long as there are efforts made to educate the students about what is acceptable, train personnel to monitor effectively, ensure access to all students and to plan for needed intervention. Then, Penn could take stock of the events next spring.
Campus Development plans were presented by EVP Craig Carnaroli and Senior VP for Facilities Omar Blaik.
No Council Meeting in December
To the Penn Community,
Due to the final examinations schedule, the Steering Committee has canceled the Wednesday, December 21, 2005, Council meeting. The next meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, January 25, 2006, 4-6 p.m. in Bodek Lounge, Houston Hall, at which time the annual Open Forum will be held.
For your information, the following is a tentative timeline for discussion of the issues identified as focus issues for Council this year:
• Campus Development Planning—occurred October 19th and November 30th
• Spring Fling—occurred November 30th
• Interdisciplinary Education—March or April
• Global Engagement, including programs of the Office of International Programs—following the report of the Task Force on Global Engagement—February or March
• College House System and Student Housing—April
—Leslie Laird Kruhly, Secretary of University Council