University Senate                                                                   

Proposed: September 30, 2014




With President Lee Bollinger delayed at another meeting, Executive Committee chair Sharyn O’Halloran (Ten., SIPA) called the Senate to order shortly after 1:15 pm in 106 Jerome Greene Hall. Forty-nine of 98 senators were present during the meeting.

Minutes and agenda. The minutes of April 4 and the agenda were adopted as proposed.
Executive Committee chair’s remarks. Sen. O’Halloran said she would speak until the president arrived. She said the Senate held a productive town-hall meeting on sexual assault policy on April 14, and the transcript would be available in the next week. She said one of the main points raised was the need for an environment in which people who have experienced rape or sexual assault have a place they can go to immediately, with clear and safe procedures. Issues related to sexual assault have been debated not only on the campus but also in the outside press.

Sen. O’Halloran said the president has spoken of hiring an executive vice president for student affairs, an initiative that might lead to changes in the adjudication of sexual assault cases as well as appeals procedures. It may also have implications for the rules governing political rallies and demonstrations and how violations are handled. It will be necessary to take a broad look at these processes to understand how they might fit into a new administrative structure, as well as any new federal mandates. A working group on sexual assault has been formed in the Executive Committee, which will be naming members to this group, as well as to the President’s Advisory Committee on Sexual Assault (PACSA). Melissa Rooker, associate provost for affirmative action and a co-chair of PACSA, would be speaking later in the meeting, but PACSA is also expected to recommend possible changes in adjudicatory procedures, which the Senate will use in forming new policies.

Sen. O’Halloran looked forward to an open and comprehensive deliberative process in the coming year. She said the Senate has taken on these issues before, and will dive deeply into them again. She welcomed everyone’s input and hard work in this effort.

President’s remarks. At this point President Bollinger arrived and took over the meeting. He addressed the following items.

            A new Law School dean. The president had recently announced the appointment of Gillian Lester as Law School dean. She comes from Boalt Hall, the UC Berkeley law school. The selection followed a search that recommended three candidates. A key point, the president said, is that the Law School and its new dean are interested in achieving greater integration into the life of the university.

            A new Architecture dean. President Bollinger is leading the search for a new dean of the Gfaduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation. This search has been longer than usual, but it is close to the final stage—the president’s selection of one of three recommended candidates. He will announce a new dean in the next month.

            An Executive Vice President for Student Affairs. The president said he first mentioned such a new position in response to discussion of sexual assault policy focusing on the need for an administrator who is engaged with students but who also has a broad view across the institution. The president said he had actually been thinking for some time about including such a position among his group of executive vice presidents for important university functions. He said an EVP position would not override the important work done by people in student affairs in each school. The president expected to appoint someone to this position by the start of the next academic year. A few people have already been identified to help form a search committee, and formulate a job description.

The president said he will make another public statement in a week or so, an update on the university’s efforts on sexual assault. He said undergraduate deans James Valentini (Columbia College), Mary Boyce (SEAS), and Peter Awn (General Studies) have been thinking deeply about issues such as the campus culture, prevention, relationships, and the role of alcohol abuse in sexual assault.

Sen. Ronald Breslow (Ten., A&S/NS) commented on the president’s commitment to integrating the Law School more fully into the rest of the institution. Sen. Breslow said his daughter, as an undergraduate at Cornell, took a course on philosophy of law at Cornell that influenced her to apply to law school and earn her law degree at Columbia. He said similar curricular arrangements could benefit Columbia.

The president said similar initiatives are under way at Columbia. He teaches an undergraduate course on the First Amendment with 100-150 students every year. He said there is a tendency for professional schools specializing in a particular kind of knowledge to go off on their own. But these kinds of knowledge ought to be available to more students in different divisions of the university, and faculty from other schools should also be allowed to teach more courses in the Law School.

Sen. Samuel Silverstein (Ten., P&S) asked whether the recent Supreme Court decision on affirmative action would subject Columbia to provisions of New York State law that might have undermine Columbia’s position.

The president spoke at some length on the implications of that recent Supreme Court decision, which upheld (by a vote of 6-2) as constitutional an amendment to the Michigan state constitution forbidding public universities and colleges to consider race or ethnicity in admissions.

Committee reports.
Education. Co-chair Letty Moss-Salentijn (Ten., CDM) thanked committee members for their hard work. She said Education had brought seven new degree programs to the plenary this year for approval, with three more proposals still in the pipeline. The committee also reviews new online versions of existing academic programs, but only reports the results to the plenary. A similar arrangement governs certifications of professional achievement, which have been significantly fewer than during the previous year.

The committee approved a name change for the Institute for Research on Women and Gender Studies, which was rechristened the Institute for Research on Women, Gender and Sexuality. It also conducted a review of a new website produced by the provost and the registrar on requirements for new program proposals. Finally, it is writing a set of guidelines for requirements for academic credit for combined degree programs. Over the years the committee has used its own rules, which will be presented in the report. But these requirements have never been formally stated before.

Rules of Conduct. Christopher Riano (Nonsen., NT, SCE) presented the report, along with co-chair Zarah Taufique (Stu., P&S). Mr. Riano said the Rules Committee is mandated to review the Rules of University Conduct governing political rallies and demonstrations, and from time to time amend for approval by the Senate and the Board of Trustees. The Rules govern the conduct of all members of our community, including students, faculty, and staff. Since the Rules address vital issues related to free speech and free expression on campus, the committee bears a special responsibility to the university at large.

Mr. Riano said he had been asked at the start of the fall semester to lead a revived Rules Committee, canvassing key constituencies to find a blue-ribbon group of students, faculty, staff and administrators. He expressed pride in the work of the committee to date. The committee was fully formed at the end of the fall semester, and held three meetings during the spring of 2014. After serious discussion, including a particularly pointed engagement with the Senate Student Affairs Committee, both as a whole and with its current and future leadership, the Rules Committee has decided to move forward in the coming year with a serious review of the Rules, engaging in a public dialogue with the entire Columbia community.

Mr. Riano listed several reasons for the committee’s decision: the Rules have not been significantly updated in decades; they are written in such a way that is difficult to understand them or to apply them, and past experience shows that they may not be as fair or just as they should be. In keeping with the spirit of the principles whose boundaries they are defining, the committee plans an open, engaged, and inclusive deliberative process, including town hall meetings. He said that only after a robust and open dialogue will the Rules Committee decide what changes, if any, it will recommend to the full Senate.

Mr. Riano said the committee is dedicated to assuring the extraordinary role that Columbia University plays in continuing international public debates on issues both historical and contemporary. He said Columbia is a place where serious ideas should be debated and dissenting views protected, and it must remain firmly dedicated to its core missions--to continue to discover the truth, to develop new ideas and diverse theories, and to ensure a role for every member of the committee in its public deliberations.

Mr. Riano invited questions; there were none.
Sen. O’Halloran noted that the Rules of Conduct are another adjudicatory process, like those for cases of sexual assault, that would engage the new EVP for Student Affairs in the coming year.
Student Affairs. Co-chair Akshay Shah (SEAS) reported without a document. He said an important issue for SAC in 2013-14 was the quality-of-life survey analysis and report. The final product was an 84-page document that’s now on the website for everyone to see. It covers all the topics in the survey, from safety to career services to funding. Sen. Shah said there has already been progress on some recommendations in the report. For example, Public Safety has made more than 20 changes to current practices, adding lighting at the Medical Campus, and providing more security guards, as well as more training in "soft skills." In response to another recommendation in the report, the university has provided a gender-neutral bathroom on the fourth floor of Lerner.

Sen. Shah said the Senate passed a resolution on April 4 to institutionalize SAC’s quality-of-life surveys, with the next survey to take place in the spring of 2015.

Co-chair Matthew Chou (Columbia College) listed two other major SAC initiatives:

Sexual assault
. In partnership with the administration and other constituencies, SAC
helped to strengthen institutional support for the fight against sexual assault. It reformed the Presidential Advisory Committee on Sexual Assault (PACSA); it offered advice on the new position of EVP for Student Affairs; it has recommended improvements in education efforts on sexual assault for both graduate and undergraduate students, in partnership with the student Coalition Against Sexual Violence, and with major contributions from Columbia College senators Marc Heinrich and Jared Odessky.

Sen. Chou said SAC has also helped to prepare the release of aggregate data on sexual assault that the administration promised. He said President Bollinger had indicated in January that the university would release data from this past year by the end of the 2013-14 academic year. SAC leaders offered administrators and PACSA a proposal on what kind of data to include. Sen. Chou said that in the next couple of weeks, there should be a clear understanding of what will be included in these data releases.
Technology and CUIT. Sen. Chou mentioned three main SAC accomplishments that he said will benefit not only students but also the whole community:
--A new open course evaluations tool that will help with the implementation of the Senate
resolution adopted at the end of the 2011-12 session. The roll-out will occur over the course of the 2014-15 academic year.

--A plan to roll out Google Drive, possibly in the coming fall, so that everyone on LionMail can have access to Google’s tools. In addition, CUIT is looking into creating a print app, so that instead of having to log into a local computer to print, people can just send the command from their computer to any printer on campus.

Sen. Chou asked the incoming SAC co-chairs, Zila Acosta (Law) and Will Zvara (Business), to outline the SAC agenda for the fall.
Sen. Zvara said SAC will be following up on the quality-of-life initiative. The group had already begun meeting with schools and departments, to discuss ways to improve the survey and make it more useful. He invited all senators to offer feedback.

Sen. Acosta said she plans to continue current initiatives on sexual assault, with particular attention to new educational efforts for the graduate student populations, and will make sure that the student voice is clearly heard in the upcoming review of the Rules of Conduct.

To applause, Sen. O’Halloran thanked Sens. Chou and Shah for their extraordinary leadership of SAC, and for their yeoman work on behalf of the Senate. The president seconded this statement.

--Information and Communications Technology. Co-chair Julia Hirschberg briefly summarized the committee’s work, and said a fuller report would come in the fall. She added her own congratulations to student senators for the quality-of-life survey, which she characterized as fascinating, useful, and consequential.

She said the IT Committee had continued to focus on Accounting and Reporting at Columbia, the ARC system. A committee of Arts and Sciences and Engineering School department chairs is working on adapting ARC more successfully to the reporting needs of Columbia faculty. Sen. Hirschberg said there has actually been considerable progress on this front. She thanked EVP for Finance Anne Sullivan and her group for their help.

Sen. Hirschberg said the committee had also considered some new digital security initiatives and their implications for the Morningside campus. She said the university will have to do a great deal more to assure security in the next few years.

The committee had also had valuable input from students, particularly about printing policies. It will also take up the online directory and Courseworks in the coming year.

Sen. Hirschberg said faculty have had a lot more trouble with the new LionMail system than students have. She thanked VP for IT Candace Fleming for the exceptional responsiveness of her group to requests for help. With a moment’s hesitation, Sen. Hirschberg provided her email address for senators with persistent problems with LionMail (, and said she would forward any pleas for help to Ms. Fleming.

Finally, Sen. Hirschberg thanked her current co-chair, Sen. Breck Witte (Libraries), and welcomed the committee’s incoming co-chair, Sen. Matthew Jones (Ten., A&S/SS).

Final Report of the Smoking Policy Implementation Task Force. Task force chair Scott Wright, VP for Campus Services, based his presentation closely on the written version of the final report, which was projected on a screen and later posted on the web (

Sen. Silverstein said the language Mr. Wright had been using about smoking sounded supportive rather than negative, but there can be no doubt that smoking is not a positive contribution to human health. His own preference would be to include a public-health comment in signs at the entrance to the university saying, "Recognizing that smoking is detrimental to health, the university requests that you not smoke anywhere except in designated smoking areas."

Sen. Daniel Savin (Research Officers) said he had been one of the skeptics about enforcement issues when Mr. Wright had given his interim report on February 28. He said the current signage, telling people to smokers to move at least 20 feet away from campus buildings, didn’t work, and he doubted that new signage would be any more effective. He said it was unrealistic to expect Columbia people to police their fellow Columbia citizens. If the new policy is to be effective, campus security guards, on their normal rounds, should go up to people smoking and say something to them. At the entrance to the music building, for instance, smokers are standing right under the signs prohibiting smoking within twenty feet of the building. If he says something to the smokers, he gets nasty looks.

Mr. Wright said Sen. Savin was expressing one of the opinions that made this a robust discussion at the last task force meeting. Mr. Wright outlined the position reached at the end of that discussion: it is important to respect the rights of smokers, but at the same time to respect the rights of non-smokers. The path to this conclusion was the idea that if we genuinely care about the people on campus who smoke and the ones who don’t, there was no reason why there couldn’t be compliance with the new policy, though Mr. Wright acknowledged that there hadn’t been much compliance to date.

He said the parallel the group considered was to littering. We know it’s wrong, and when people litter one approaches them and says, "Oh, I think you dropped something. Would you mind throwing it away?" not something like, "Hey criminal, pick that up." The response to gentler prompts might be positive, whether out of a sense of shame or some reason. He said the map shows that the designated smoking areas are clearly visible and a short distance from every building. The group also felt that if compliance couldn’t be achieved by means like these, then designated smoking areas and 20-foot rules will never work. The group felt it was important to try this approach, as the best way roll out the policy respectfully. The committee never said that its approach was guaranteed to succeed.

Sen. Breslow said scientists start with a theory, then test it. He was concerned about the theory the task force had adopted. Its chances of working appear to be low, and the chances that there will be a lot of second-hand smoke appear to be high. As time goes by, he hoped people will reexamine this theory, and decide that a total smoking ban is an easier measure to adopt, and that selective smoking doesn’t work.

Sen. Kalliope Kyriakides (Stu., Barnard) said she had sat on the task force a year earlier, and thanked the group for its work. She suggested, as a contribution to the goal of raising awareness of the new policy, incorporating information about the policy into the New Student Orientation Program. Mr. Wright said he would carry out that suggestion.

--Annual report to the Senate from the Presidential Advisory Committee on Sexual Assault (Melissa Rooker, Associate Provost, Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action; University Title IX Coordinator, and PACSA co-chair, 2013-14 ). Ms. Rooker closely based her presentation on a written report ( that was distributed later.

Concluding her report, Ms. Rooker outlined next steps. She said PACSA would be submitting recommendations to the president on May 5 about how aggregate data on sexual assault from the 2013-14 academic year should be released. She declined to talk about PACSA’s agenda for the coming year, saying that the April 4 Senate resolution to amend PACSA would be taking effect then, and PACSA would have a new membership, and new issues to address.
She said PACSA was looking closely at the recommendations on the form and format of a data release that the Student Affairs Committee had proposed. Her sense from PACSA discussions was that most members agreed that the SAC proposal was the way to go. She invited questions and comments; there were none.

President Bollinger thanked Ms. Rooker and PACSA for their work.

New business.
Resolution to Approve a New M.S. in Applied Analytics (School of Continuing Education). Sen. Moss-Salentijn asked Sen. Chou, as a graduating senior on the Education Committee, to present the resolution. There was applause.

Sen. Chou said he and Sen. Matthew Jones had reviewed the proposal, which would train executive-level professionals at an accelerated pace to incorporate data-based decision making into their business organizations. The program includes a business and management core, focusing on how to incorporate data into an organization; an applied analytics core, which teaches the hard skills involved; and an integrated capstone project. Sen. Chou said the subcommittee and the full Education Committee recommend approval of the program.

Without discussion or dissent, the Senate unanimously approved the program by voice vote.

Resolution Concerning Summer Powers (Executive Committee). President Bollinger read the resolution aloud. It calls for the Executive Committee to take necessary actions in the name of the Senate over the summer when the Senate is not in session, and to report on any such actions at the first plenary in the fall.

Without discussion or dissent, the Senate unanimously approved the resolution.

The president then adjourned the meeting.

Respectfully submitted,


Tom Mathewson, Senate staff