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USenate addresses M'ville, confidentiality at meeting

In just over 30 minutes on Friday afternoon, the University Senate addressed eminent domain, gave an update on Senate committee confidentiality, and passed two resolutions at its last plenary meeting of the semester.

Provost Claude Steele attended, though Columbia College Dean Michele Moody-Adams was absent for the third time this semester.

Bollinger briefly discussed Thursday’s setback to the Manhattanville expansion, as the New York State Supreme Court, Appellate Division ruled that the use of eminent domain in the area was illegal.

“This is a stage in a process that will continue to unfold,” he said, adding that he is “calm” and “optimistic” about the situation.

“Columbia needs these properties in order to complete a campus in the form that was approved by the city in the rezoning process,” Bollinger added, while refusing to speculate on what will happen if Columbia doesn’t receive them.

Sharyn O’Halloran, the George Blumenthal Professor of International and Public Affairs and chair of the executive committee, moved on to an update on the state of the Worker Rights Consortium’s agreement with Russell Athletic, an apparel manufacturing who specializes in university logo products sold in the United States.

Columbia joined the WRC, a labor rights-monitoring organization, about nine years ago. Executive director of business services and Lerner Hall operations Honey Sue Fishman, said the group had reached an agreement with Russell Athletic and the union representing the former workers of the Jerzees de Honduras factory, which also periodically manufactures University merchandise.

Fishman said that this was the first time universities came together to “make sure manufacturers meet our code of conduct when using our intellectual property.” She said that this was a “historic case,” which she hopes will set a precedent on workers’ rights for other companies.

Benjamin Brickner, chair of the elections commission, also named the newly elected and re-elected senators. There are seven new Faculty of Arts and Sciences senators for the natural sciences, three for the humanities, and one for social work. Five student senators were elected to represent Teachers College, the School of Engineering and Applied Science, the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation, and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

Monica Quaintance, CC ’10 and a senator on the structure and operations committee, gave updates on the new confidentiality guidelines for Senate committees. Right now, the structure and operations committee is working on new guidelines for the confidentiality of the minutes of the Senate’s committee meetings. The main component of these new guidelines is a new 50-year confidentiality policy for these minutes, a reduction from the current policy of eternal confidentiality. Quaintance said committee members are “still soliciting feedback from committees,” and that she hopes for the guidelines to come to the full Senate for a vote in January.

Next on the agenda, Bollinger jokingly addressed the two “controversial resolutions.” After Letty Moss-Salentijn, co-chair of the education committee, briefly described them—one to establish a program for a master of science degree in bioethics for the School of Continuing Education and another to change the name of the Center for the Study of Human Rights to the Institute for the Study of Human Rights—both were passed in a matter of minutes.

“By becoming an institute, the center will be in a position to negotiate with individual departments,” which will make it easier for them to function, Moss-Salentijn said on the move from a “center” to an “institute.”

Philip Genty, a senator from the Columbia Law School, said that his school favors the resolution to change the name of the Center for the Study of Human Rights despite the fact that the Law School has its own Human Rights Institute.

“The more institutes, the better. That’s our policy,” Bollinger joked, before ending the meeting.


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