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Council Meeting Coverage

February 28, 2012, Volume 58, No. 24

At the February 22 University Council meeting, President Amy Gutmann mentioned the statement issued by Penn that day concerning the recently discovered surveillance by the NYPD in 2006 and commented further.

Provost Vincent Price said that the PULSE survey, developed in 2009 is not being administered this year but the Enrolled Student Survey is being used; it is shorter and can accommodate Penn-specific questions.

Sam Starks, the executive director of the Office of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity Programs, then talked about Title IX. He explained how the Penn community creates an atmosphere of mutual respect and acceptance and how it can be improved. He started by quoting Title IX: “No person shall on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be treated differently from another person or otherwise discriminated against in any interscholastic, intercollegiate, club or intramural program.”

Mr. Starks said that Penn’s responsibilities include the following:
•     Promptly investigate and respond to complaints of sex discrimination, including sexual harassment
•     Take action to eliminate discrimination, prevent its recurrence, and address its effects
•     Designate a Title IX coordinator (he is Penn’s)
•     Adopt and publish grievance procedures

He then mentioned some of the programmatic efforts that take place at Penn:
•     Title IX Compliance Information Sessions
•     Anti-Violence Advocate Training
•     1 in 4 Training for Fraternities & Sororities
•     Training on Sexual Harassment and Sexual Assault during New Student Orientation
•     SALT Conference hosted by the Penn Women’s Center
•     Seminar for Title IX Sexual Violence Response Compliance

Mr. Starks also said that Penn is updating Policy 715, the Acquaintance Rape and Sexual Violence Policy. It is one of the many policies that Penn has that are available online; see www.upenn.edu/services/policies.php

The remainder of the meeting was devoted to the Open Forum which included numerous topics and speakers who were mainly students, as well as two faculty members, listed below:

1.  Concerns about Penn Family Care, HUP, abortion, and sexual practices and ideology promoted by Student Health Services, CAPS, and the Graduate Student Center: topic submitted by Daniel Bridges, LPS’12

2.  Concerns regarding the state of classrooms at Penn, and the need for updated technology and infrastructure; topic submitted by Madeleine Joullié, professor of chemistry

3.  Concerns regarding President Gutmann’s lack of response in the wake of PennBDS students being personally attacked in the lead-up to its recent conference, and the implications for the safety of these students; topic submitted by Jacob Minter, C’14

4.  Discussion of the President Gutmann’s reaction to the PennBDS conference, as well as the security situation of student participants; topic submitted by Madeline Notewaré, C’12, W’12

5.  Concerns regarding how LGBT issues are addressed in the campus-wide “Action Plan for Faculty Diversity and Excellence”; topic submitted by Robert Ousterhout, professor of Byzantine art and architecture, Chair of the Graduate Group in the History of Art, Director of the Center for Ancient Studies, Department of the History of Art

6.  A statement of principles regarding student rights, with an overview of some of the eight points of the statement (points relate to transparency, democratic decision-making, and student debt), and a request for how Council might address the grievances; topic submitted by Zachary Bell, C’12

7.  Concerns about the need for a case manager for students taking leaves of absence; topic submitted by Alex Marcus, W’12

8.  Advocating for Penn to host a 2016 Presidential debate; topic submitted by Dan Bernick, C’14

9.  Concerns regarding mental health issues among Penn students and a proposal for a Penn sponsored wellness retreat; topic submitted by Justin Broglie, SEAS’12

Almanac - February 28, 2012, Volume 58, No. 24