Senate Notes: Campus & Community Affairs Committee Meets 10/30

Gin Dumcius

In a quick and surprising turn of events, freshman Senator Fritz Hyppolite was elected chair of the Campus & Community Affairs (CCA) committee at the CCA’s October 30 meeting. Another freshman senator, William Roach, was elected vice chair. Senator J. Stone Laraway had been serving as Acting Chair since Senator H. Todd Babbitt resigned in early October.

The agenda was briefly suspended in order to hold the election. Senator Paul Delaria nominated Senator Hyppolite for Chair, as well as Senator Roach for Vice Chair. The legalities of such a motion are unclear, since under the By-Laws of the Student Senate, “…Committee Chairs may nominate Vice Chairs of their committees, subject to the approval of the committee.” (Page 2, Chap. 2, Sec. B, No. 7)

Senator Hyppolite, in a brief statement of his candidacy, said that the CCA wasn’t as formal and organized as it could be and should be, and he hopes to bring it to its full potential in creating a better environment.

Senator Laraway nominated himself for chairmanship. He later rejected Student Trustee Heather Dawood’s nomination of him for Vice-Chair.

“I am disappointed that CCA did not vote for me as CCA chair,” he said later on in the week. “I have accomplished a lot in CCA, the ombudsman– doing the research; by being a representative of the Senate to the Center for Academic Integrity conference, and the recipient of an award; [and] cleaning up the information boards.”

After the elections were taken care of, Trustee Dawood stated that she had spoken to Toni Robinson, the ombudsperson at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a representative and member-at-large from the University and Colleges Ombudsman Association (UCOA). Trustee Dawood said she was in the process of setting up an open meeting with Ms. Robinson so she could answer questions about the ombudsperson issue. The date is tentatively set for November 14.

In the meantime, The Mass Media was able to obtain a memo/transcript of a telephone conversation between Senator Laraway and Ms. Robinson on Friday, October18, 2002. Part of it is reprinted here with permission.

Laraway: Can UMass Boston join the UCOA?

Robinson: No, UCOA does not offer institutional memberships. UCOA does offer individual memberships. UCOA does offer individual membership is $110.00 annually, starting September 2002 to August 31, 2002. The individual must adhere to the standards of practice and code of conduct provided by UCOA. All new memberships will be provided with a mentor.

L: UMass Boston is looking to fill the ombudsperson position with a student (per executive administration instruction). What are the traditional memberships for UCOA?

R: All of our memberships happen to be professionals. The professional’s have MBA’s, PhD’s, and JD’s and/or are certified mediators. This does not limit our membership to only professionals.

L: Does the UCOA provide a job description to its members?

R: No, UCOA does not provide job descriptions to its members. [You] can download a sample job description from the MIT website– ombudsperson job description.

L: Can a member of SGA (Student Government Association) be an ombudsperson?

R: No, a member of SGA cannot be an ombudsperson. SGA has a conflict of interest ergo the ombudsperson must be fair, impartial, and unbiased. The ombuds must adhere to UCOA’s standards of practice and code of conduct.

Ms. Robinson had questions as well, for Senator Laraway.

R: If this position will be a student, whom will this student report to and what kind of access will this student have?

L: The student will report directly to the Chancellor. I do not know what kind of access– records, personal information, legal ramifications– this student will have. I will have to ask the Chancellor what access the student ombuds will have.

R: Who will be able to use the ombudsperson?

L: I believe it is limited to undergraduates. Should we include staff, administration, and/or faculty?

R: What kind of cases will this ombuds position be responsible?

L: I do not know the extent of this person’s responsibility. Perhaps the job description will define the ombuds responsibility. Again, I should ask CCA and/or the Chancellor.