Report of the Structure and Operations Committee
Columbia University Senate, 2010-2011

Meetings: September 24th, October 22nd, November 12th, December 3rd,
February 11th, March 4th, April 1st

Projects and Work:

Commission on the Status of Women
At the start of the fall term, the Commission on the Status of Women had more members than allotted under its initial mandate. The matter was brought to the attention of the Executive Committee, as the Commission falls under their purview.

Senate Media Policy
Following the March 4th plenary, S&O began to discuss the possibility of updating the Senate’s policy on internal and outside media. The goal would be to have a clear and consistent way to deal with media exposure. The matter received preliminary discussion, and may be something to take up next year.

College of Physicians and Surgeons
It was brought to S&O’s attention that medical students at P&S have an intense and inflexible schedule during much of their academic career, and that scheduling conflicts with the Senate plenary and various committee meetings may arise. After discussion, the issue was given to the Elections Commission, with the understanding that they would work with P&S to ensure that students elected will be able to fulfill their duties with as little conflict as possible.

Union Theological Seminary Seat Expansion
Students at UTS have a single observer seat on the University Senate. S&O began to explore the complexities surrounding transforming the UTS seat into a fully privileged senate seat. The issue was brought to both SAC and the UTS observer in December.

Alumni Affairs Student Seat Expansion
S&O discussed the possibility of adding a third student seat to the Alumni Affairs committee, and the matter was brought to the attention of SAC.

Confidentiality Guidelines
During the fall of 2010, the Structure and Operations Committee decided to revisit the University Senate’s confidentiality guidelines, with an eye towards updating and revising them into a more modern and useful form.

Over the fall semester, S&O constituted a subcommittee of its members to work on revising the guidelines. The subcommittee worked with a desire to strike a balance between the Senate’s need to remain an open and transparent body while still providing a measure of discretion and insulation for committee participants.

The major proposed changes to the confidentiality guidelines consisted of:

In establishing a 50-year period of confidentiality, S&O has sought to ensure that committees of the Senate enjoy a similar level of confidentiality as is extended to the Trustees, and that members of the administration and others should not be concerned about disparate levels of confidentiality when engaging with the University Senate. Additionally, the Committee has sought to provide ways for senators and unaffiliated individuals to seek confidential information, at the discretion of the Senate and conditioned by the existence of a legitimate purpose.

In mid-December, revised confidentiality guidelines were circulated to the various committees for revision and discussion. The Structure and Operations Committee remained open to comment and edits throughout the Spring 2011 term. S&O presented the confidentiality guidelines to the floor of the Senate for discussion and review during the April 29th, 2011 plenary meeting.

Jennifer Bell (Fall ’10), Paul Duby, Howard Jacobson, Ron Mazor (Chair), Consuelo Mora-McLaughlin, Jose Robledo, Daniel Savin, Debra Wolgemuth