September 4, 2012,
Volume 59, No. 02
2011-2012 Report of the Committee on Open Expression
The Committee on Open Expression is a standing committee of the University Council, and its charge is described by the Guidelines on Open Expression: “participating in the resolution of conflicts that may arise from incidents or disturbances implicating these Guidelines; mediating among the parties to prevent conflicts and violations of these Guidelines; interpreting these Guidelines; advising administrative officers when appropriate; and recommending policies and procedures for the improvement of all levels of communication” (www.upenn.edu/provost/PennBook/guidelines_on_open_expression).
Number of Meetings
The committee met four times from November through April.
Major Points Addressed by the Committee
In 2011-2012, the Open Expression Committee significantly increased its activity compared with recent years. The committee met regularly throughout the year and formed a strong working relationship with administrators in the University Life Division who implement the Open Expression Guidelines as the Vice Provost for University Life’s designees and observers. Members of the committee engaged in learning the history, purpose, policy, and practice of Open Expression at Penn. The committee also discussed the criteria and training for the Vice Provost’s Open Expression monitors, the Penn community’s awareness of the Open Expression Guidelines, and current issues related to Open Expression.
The committee set two major goals. The first goal was to review the Open Expression Guidelines, assess whether the policy meets current needs, and recommend any necessary changes. The second goal was to begin developing a strategy for building awareness of the Open Expression Guidelines and administrative protocols among those who may choose to exercise their Open Expression rights, student activity advisors, and faculty and staff who may volunteer to serve as the Vice Provost’s Open Expression monitors. This year, the committee members took steps toward achieving those goals and laid the foundation for continued progress.
Recommendations of Topics to Be Addressed in the Following Year
The committee’s next steps involve continued collaboration with VPUL staff. The committee and administrators will develop a process for regular communication about the events that Open Expression monitors attend. Administrators will also continue working with the committee to build members’ knowledge of Open Expression policies and practices so the committee is able to engage in current issues and address any complaints it may receive. The committee is poised to move forward with its review of the Open Expression Guidelines and efforts to build awareness of Open Expression monitoring.
Chair: J. Matthew Hartley; Faculty: Eiichiro Azuma, Cindy Christian, Mary Ersek, William Ewald, Kurt Hankenson, Gary Hatfield, Claire Mitchell; Graduate students: Gastón de los Reyes, Anthony Pratchert, Seattle Wang; Undergraduate students: Ivy Epstein, Ernest Owens, Sachi Sobti; PPSA: Daina Richie Troy; WPPSA: Donna Gladstone
Ed. Note: The other 2011-2012 reports of the University Council committees were published in a supplement to the Almanac May 1, 2012 issue which is available here.