UCS selecting UFB Representatives

On Wednesday, September 28, 2016, UCS will be selecting students to fill Representative vacancies on the Undergraduate Finance Board (UFB). UFB allocates the funding obtained from Student Activities fees to student groups across the year, including through Category II group social funds and Category III group budgets. UFB also helps advocate updating the Student Activities Fee to Brown’s administration and assists student groups with other funding-related projects, including support with budgeting concerns and fundraising goals. Seven vacancies are currently open and will be filled by undergraduate students, selected by vote of the UCS General Body. Each candidate will be required to present a 2-minute speech to express their interest and qualifications, after which there will be a 3-minute time frame for questions and answers. Elections will begin at 7pm in Petteruti Lounge, and any interested undergraduates are encouraged to attend and run for a Representative position. Please direct any questions about this process to ucs@brown.edu!

An Update on Mental Health Resources at Brown

Over the past couple years, students have called for critical improvements to Brown’s mental health resources. UCS has been working with students and administrators to push several policy changes forward, and below is a comprehensive update on the current status of these efforts.

BACKGROUND:

Student advocacy has played a central role in pushing Brown to engage with issues related to mental health. Our peers in Active Minds, Project LETS, Students for Samaritans, and the Brown Center for Students of Color (BCSC), as well as Residential Peer Leaders (RPLs), international student leaders, and countless others have done tremendous work to fight stigma surrounding this issue.

In May 2014, UCS passed a resolution calling for increased support for mental health, followed by multiple public statements and open forums in subsequent semesters. In December 2014, the University created the Mental Health Community Council (MHCC) to generate recommendations for ways to improve mental health resources at Brown. Since then, our campus has grappled with intense activism surrounding Title IX and the Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan (DIAP), among other issues. As a community, we’ve also experienced the devastating loss of student lives and engaged discussions of suicide at Brown, such as through the film “Help us find Sunil Tripathi.” Some of the updates below have already been announced through the Office of Campus Life and the DIAP, while others are the result of work from the MHCC and other student-administrator forums.

UPDATES:

  • Eliminating the 7-session limit at Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS):
    • Progress: Brown pledged in the DIAP to eliminate the 7-session limit by 2017-2018
    • What’s Next? Due to employee leaves, CAPS will not be fully staffed until fall 2016 (next semester). The department will then be able to accurately determine if more staff are required to eliminate the 7-session limit while keeping the short-term psychotherapy model.  This semester also saw the initiation of a search for the new Director of CAPS, who will be a crucial player in determining how the DIAP pledge is carried out.
  • Reducing wait times at CAPS:
    • Progress: By initiating an appointment reminder email sent to students before sessions, CAPS decreased the no-show rate for appointments by 50% this semester, which allowed unfilled appointments to be available for students on the waitlist. However, there are still many no-shows, thus wasting crucial appointment time. This semester, CAPS also instituted having a therapist available for crisis and urgent appointments. All crises were seen on same day and students with urgent issues are seen within 72 hours. The designation of “crisis” and “urgent” status is determined as the intake is scheduled by one of the therapists on staff.  
    • What’s Next? When CAPS returns to full-staff levels in the fall, the department will measure changes in wait times, strategize how to use all staff more effectively, and examine where there are gaps in staffing. CAPS will also change the language on the appointment reminders so that more students will call/email to cancel, and therapists’ time can be effectively utilized.
  • Evening & Weekend Hours:
    • Progress: After receiving an anonymous gift, CAPS piloted Saturday hours for two therapists to offer appointments to graduate and medical students beginning this past March.
    • What’s Next? CAPS will evaluate the potential for expansion of Saturday hours to include undergraduates who cannot use CAPS during regular hours.
  • Mental Health & Orientation:
    • Progress: A re-tooled mental health workshop has been planned in collaboration with various student groups, which will be offered in a larger venue during first-year orientation.
    • What’s Next? Planning is underway for the workshop to be offered again mid-semester for students unable to make the first session. Students are also continuing to work with administrators to assess the possibility of a mandatory orientation event for all new students, and will continue efforts to reach a larger student population during orientation.
  • New Faculty Training:
    • Progress: Training for incoming faculty members will now include specific information regarding the importance of compliance with accommodation letters from SEAS and Deans’ notes.
    • What’s Next: This information will also be shared at trainings for first and second-year advisors and concentration advisors.
  • A web-based tool to clarify campus resources for mental health:
    • Progress: Student employees at B’Well Health Promotion are currently developing an interactive tool to clarify the relationship between the various student support resources, including CAPS, OSL, SEAS, DOC, Chaplain’s Office, B’Well Health Promotion, Health Services, and SHARE advocates.
    • What’s Next: A prototype of the web tool will be made public at the beginning of next semester. The student employees will send out a survey to garner feedback on the name and location for this web-based tool.  
  • Student ID cards:
    • Progress: CAPS is now listed on the back of all new ID cards.
    • What’s Next? Contact information for the Administrator on Call, who handles crises after business hours, will be added to all new ID cards beginning fall 2017.
  • Data Collection:
    • Progress: CAPS moved to electronic record keeping and collecting data of the types of issues students are seeking help for.
    • What’s Next? This information will be used to guide future programming at CAPS to provide more services which will reduce wait times.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDATIONS:

Beyond continuing to make progress on the issues listed above, undergraduates on the MHCC and UCS are pushing for the following recommendations to be enacted:

  • Continue hiring more diverse staff members to improve the representativeness of CAPS
  • Hire additional staff in the Office of Student Life (OSL) to improve capacity for supporting students on medical leave. Currently, students on leave receive only one check-in per semester from the University.
  • Pilot evening hours at CAPS, to improve the department's’ accessibility for working students, athletes, and others.
  • Review DPS protocols for responding to psychiatric emergencies and improve sensitivity training, including awareness of race and gender power structures.
  • Enhance support for and coordinate between peer resources including training for RPLs, Meiklejohns, and EMTs.
  • Improve transparency of the medical leave process for undergraduate and graduate students by clarifying communications during the reapplication process.
  • Supplement advising upon return from medical leave by bolstering the Leavetaking Coordinator program through the CRC and publicizing the Back at Brown support group.
  • Standardize initial communications from CAPS to improve intake experience, better identify students in crisis, and reduce the burden on students to define their own need.
  • Strengthen internal consistency and coordination between offices in order to reduce student shuffling between the various administrative support services.

If you have any additional action items or feedback, please submit them here. While the implementation of these efforts remains in progress, we hope this communication provides transparency in ongoing initiatives to improve mental health care at Brown. In July, Brown’s new Vice President for Campus Life, Eric Estes, will begin work on campus. Searches for a new Director of Health Promotion and Director of CAPS are ongoing. As these positions are filled, we hope you’ll join us in pushing them to further bolster support for mental wellness at Brown.

Best,

Your MHCC Undergraduate Representatives:

Sazzy Gourley ‘16

Maggie Jordan ‘16

Malana Krongelb ‘18

Dolma Ombadykow ‘17

-----

In addition to these updates, we wanted to include a brief announcement on improving the accessibility of our physical campus:

Progress: This summer, renovations will be made to the Campus Center terrace (above Faunce steps) and to replace the elevator in Health Services. The Grad Center Bar (GCB) was recently made accessible via Power St., and a gender inclusive restroom was also added.

What’s Next? The Provost has committed to a long-term renovation for Wilson Hall, timeline TBD.

Update on University Support for Low-Income Students

In recent weeks there have been many updates on policy changes Brown will implement to support low-income students. UCS has been working with students and administrators over the past nine months to enact many of these policies, and we wanted to share a comprehensive update on all upcoming changes.  

Below is a list of new policies that will affect many students on financial aid in the 2016-2017 academic year, as well as recommendations that we are continuing to advocate.

BACKGROUND:

Student advocacy has played a central role in shifting conversations to actions. Our peers in First-Gens@Brown, 1vyG, the Brown Center for Students of Color (BCSC), as well as Residential Peer Leaders (RPLs), international student leaders, and countless others have worked tirelessly to push for increased support for low-income students.

In May 2015, UCS held a focus group with members of the Brown Corporation and students concerned with Brown’s lack of financial support for expenses beyond the official cost of attendance. Over the past few months, a working group of students and administrators met regularly to discuss action items following May’s conversations, and to propose a number of recommendations, listed below. Some of these recommendations have already been announced through the University’s FY2017 budget or in the Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan (DIAP), and some will remain in recommendation form until funding is secured.

Note: For the purposes of these initiatives, the working group discussed high-need students as those with financial aid packages that ranged from no parent contribution to an expected parental contribution of less than $5,000.

2016-2017: NEW FUNDING

The following policies and programs will be implemented in the 2016-2017 school year:

  • Scholarships to cover Brown University Health Insurance for high need students who are unable to waive the requirement.  

  • $1,500 allowance towards travel for aided international students each year.  

  • Coverage of the excess scholarship tax for incoming aided first-year international students.  

  • Food and housing costs will be covered for high-need students staying at Brown during all periods of the academic year when the University is closed.  

  • Doubling the amount of money in the Campus Life Emergency Fund, which can be used to assist students in times of crisis.

  • An Assistant Dean of the College for Financial Advising will be hired, who will advise and support low-income students on financial issues that may intersect with academic, social, and personal issues.

  • Summer storage vouchers will be prioritized for students with the highest financial need, and the voucher’s value will increase from $60 to $100 through collaboration with Brown Student Agencies. A limited number of $50 vouchers will still be available to all other students via lottery.

The DIAP also includes funds for programming costs associated with Brown’s new First-Generation, Low-Income Student Center, which fell outside the scope of this particular working group.

NEXT STEPS:

We are continuing to advocate for the implementation of the following recommendations:

  • To provide funding and other supports for high-need students during Commencement to reduce the costs of senior week, cap & gown, campus dance, food, and housing for family members.

  • To provide funding for high-need students staying on campus over the summer to cover the Summer Health Fee.

  • To provide small, regularly timed cash stipends throughout the year to high-need students in order to ensure low-income students have funds on hand to cover costs not included in Brown’s official cost of attendance, such as those related to clubs and other extracurriculars.

  • To reduce the Summer Earnings Expectation (SEE) for all aided students, with the ultimate goal of eliminating the SEE.  

  • To allow students on financial aid to qualify for summer earnings waivers for multiple summers.

Currently, Provost Locke is leading long-term efforts to fundraise for these remaining recommendations. The leadership and commitment of Provost Locke and Dean Mandel, who chaired the working group, has been crucial in shaping these efforts over the past few months. They will provide future updates to the student body regarding funding and implementation.

Members of this working group played a huge role in advocating for these critical changes. We’d like to recognize the work of the following individuals:

  • Maud Mandel, Dean of the College (Chair)

  • Maitrayee Bhattacharyya, Associate Dean of the College for Diversity Programs

  • Alana Bhatla ‘16, Vice President of the Undergraduate Council of Students  

  • Shontay Delalue, Assistant Dean of the College, Director of International Student & Visitor Experience

  • Sue Farnum, Assistant Director of Financial Aid

  • Sazzy Gourley, President of the Undergraduate Council of Students

  • Ricky Gresh, Director for Campus Life Projects

  • Janet Cooper Nelson, University Chaplain

  • Viet Nguyen ‘17, Co-President of First-Gens@Brown

  • Wynette Richardson, Director of Financial Services

  • Yolanda Rome,  Assistant Dean for First-year and Sophomore Studies

  • Jim Tilton, Director of Financial Aid

  • Sara Walsh, Managing Director, Academic Finance and Administration

We’re excited to continue this important work as the semester moves forward! Feel free to email ucs@brown.edu with any questions. 

Statement of Support of Indigenous People's Day

The Brown Undergraduate Council of Students enthusiastically supports the current proposal to change the name of the University’s Fall Weekend to Indigenous People’s Day, in celebration of Native American cultures and Native American resiliency throughout a history of oppression.

UCS’s support for this renaming stems from a desire to affirm our fellow students in their advocacy for this necessary change. We believe it is Brown’s responsibility to support its students, beginning with the name change and continuing with other policies to institutionalize support for Native communities at Brown.

In 2009, Brown renamed Columbus Day to Fall Weekend. This change was a step in the right direction, but simply neutralized the holiday. Now, Brown has the chance to make this break in the academic calendar an explicit recognition of Native Americans. We echo Native Americans at Brown’s statement in the Brown Daily Herald last semester, that “renaming the holiday Indigenous People’s Day has the power to transform the day into a celebration of the cultures and histories of the original inhabitants of the Americas.”

As representatives of Brown’s undergraduate student body, UCS continually seeks to amplify student voices, particularly those advocating for critical changes to make Brown a more inclusive and supportive environment for marginalized students. Native students, faculty and staff, local New England Native American communities, and Indigenous peoples all around the country and the world deserve this recognition and this day of celebration. We urge the Faculty Executive Committee to vote in favor of this name change.

#InSolidarityWithMizzou

To the students of color at Mizzou, we, the Brown Undergraduate Council of Students, stand with you in solidarity. To those who would threaten your sense of safety, we are watching. ‪#‎ConcernedStudent1950‬ ‪#‎InSolidarityWithMizzou‬

We encourage all Brown students to participate in Thursday's Blackout at Brown to stand in solidarity with Black students at Mizzou and all over the nation, and to attend a teach-in organized by Africana Studies graduate students on the Main Green directly afterward at 1pm.

 

UCS STATEMENT OF SOLIDARITY

UCS STATEMENT OF SOLIDARITY:

The Undergraduate Council of Students stands in solidarity with students of color in the wake of racist publications in the Brown Daily Herald this week. We join fellow students in urging The Herald to hold itself accountable for its actions. UCS pledges to attend the demonstration organized by Native Americans at Brown on Monday, October 12th to support and amplify the voices of students of color who have been silenced.

The Facebook event page for the demonstration can be found here.

Apply to Serve on a University Committee!

UCS is currently accepting applications to fill vacancies on 10 different University committees! Undergraduate students may apply to up to THREE committees, and applications are due by Friday, October 16, at 5 PM.

UCS will be filling positions on the following committees:

  • Campus Planning Advisory Board
  • Diversity Advisory Board
  • Public Safety Oversight Committee
  • Campus Life Advisory Board
  • College Curriculum Council
  • Library Advisory Board
  • Mental Health Community Council
  • Residential Council
  • Financial Aid Advisory Board
  • International Life Advisory Board

Please see our appointments page for more information about these committees and to apply!

Applications Released: Title IX Council and Title IX Oversight and Advisory Board

Title IX Council

The Title IX Council will be responsible for reviewing cases of gender-based misconduct. This review entails assessing evidence presented in an investigative report, determining if a violation has in fact occurred, and, if so, determining a sanction. 

Applications are due Thursday, September 10th, at 10pm. 

For more information please visit our FAQ page here

Please apply by clicking here

Title IX Oversight and Advisory Board

The Title IX Advisory Board reviews and makes recommendations concerning Brown University’s policies, programs, and initiatives designed to address sexual and gender-based harassment, sexual violence, relationship and interpersonal violence and stalking. This includes: Meeting at least twice annually with the Title IX program officer and deputy Title IX Coordinators to: (1) review progress on programs to prevent sexual and gender-based violence and harassment, including on-line and in-person training and education of faculty, students and staff; (2) review progress in enforcement of the University Sexual and Gender-Based Harassment, Sexual Violence, Relationship and Interpersonal Violence and Stalking Policy; (3) review annual statistics collected by the Title IX office on the incidence of reported cases of sexual misconduct, the characteristics of complainants and respondents (with information aggregated so as to protect confidentiality), and the distribution of the time it takes to move from an initial compliant to its resolution.

Applications are due Thursday, September 10th, at 10pm. 

Please apply by clicking here