News | Administration

At plenary, USenate talks global initiatives, wellness

  • GLOBAL QUESTIONS | At the plenary on Friday, University Senators considered how to increase awareness of the Global Centers.

The University Senate discussed the results of the Global Initiatives Task Force report as well as the initial stages of the Student Affairs Committee’s quality of life survey during Friday’s plenary meeting.

The task force, composed of both faculty and students, focused not only on the Global Centers, but also on international study options and Global Core requirements.

The key issues in the global initiative, according to the task force, are a lack of clear lines of authority, organizational transparency, and effective communication.

“Overlapping jurisdictions make it difficult to get things done,” senate executive committee chair Sharyn O’Halloran said, adding that administrative global functions are often dispersed among different offices with different constituencies. “We have been thinking about the opportunity of consolidating some of these activities.”

O’Halloran said that the Global Centers, “if well managed, can play a powerful role in research, educational outreach, and sites to anchor online learning.”

Still, O’Halloran presented a survey indicating that 80 percent of students surveyed were unfamiliar with the Global Centers, as were 68 percent of faculty members who were surveyed.

“If you had to put on the board right now one place where faculty and students could get information, could you do that?” physiology professor Samuel Silverstein asked O’Halloran. “Wouldn’t it be useful to centralize diffusion of similar information?”

The meeting also reviewed the incipient stages of SAC’s quality of life survey, which was put forth as the first of its kind to assess students’ quality of life beyond local surveys from their respective schools and their associated services.

The project, led by School of International and Public Affairs senator Aly Jiwani, is meant to become a longitudinal approach to improving students’ quality of life, sent out every two years.

He said that it is not meant to evaluate the performance of individual Columbia services.

“I am concerned about the long-term implementation of this program,” Daniel Savin, a senior astrophysics researcher, said. “It’s going to extend beyond the tenure of most students here. I would suggest that there be a very clear office, administrator, or person at Columbia who has that long-term responsibility to ensure there is continuity.”

The survey’s pilot will be distributed to all student senators to generate an initial response rate of at least 10 people per senator. SAC plans to have the first results by Feb. 22 to begin analysis.

The plenary also voted to establish an M.A. in global thought and briefly discussed the Task Force on Smoking Policy’s proposal to establish designated smoking areas.

cecilia.reyes@columbiaspectator.com | @kcecireyes

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