University Assembly members sit around a table in a Physical Science Building room.

Jason Wu/Sun Assistant Photography Editor

Members of the University Assembly convene at the Physical Sciences Building, February 8, 2022.

April 27, 2022

University Assembly Discusses Judiciary Committee Resolution, Honors and Distinctions and Campus Carbon Neutrality

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During Tuesday’s University Assembly meeting, members discussed the recent rejection of Resolution 6, which called for a renaming and readjustment of responsibilities of the Cornell Judiciary Committee. Members also heard updates from the Faculty Assembly regarding changes to university honors and distinctions, as well as from the Carbon Neutral Campus Meeting. 

At the start of the meeting, UA Chair Brandon Fortenberry announced that he would be stepping down and that on May 10, after a brief assembly meeting, internal elections will take place to usher in new members from various executive committees, as well as consider candidates for his own position. 

Representatives then discussed President Martha Pollack’s rejection of Resolution 6, a proposal to rename the Codes and Judicial Committee and clarify its roles as a non-judicial body order to reflect the recently amended structure of the disciplinary hearing process and Review Panel appointment procedure. 

Fortenberry acknowledged the resolution’s rejection but noted that the assembly could respond to Pollack after reworking the resolution. 

“This resolution has lived its life, there’s not like a resurrection that can happen,” Fortenberry said. “But that doesn’t preclude us from providing our written response.”

Prof. Richard Bensel, government, vice chair of internal operations of the UA, agreed and suggested that the response be referred to the CJC for adjustments in the fall. 

“After reading the response and giving how late in the year we are, I don’t see that it’s possible for us to resolve in a deliberative way to adjust the differences or even understand some of the differences,” Bensel said.

Similarly, James Richards grad, chair of the Codes and Judicial Committee, felt that it was too late in the year for a substantive response, but felt that the President’s response seemed “heavy-handed” and “a little non-specific”, as it referenced the UA’s claim to review authority as a primary reason for the rejection.

“[Pollack] uses the word ‘review’ and she says that it’s not appropriate for our committee to have a review function. We specifically never used the word ‘review’ because that has judicial implications which we obviously are not giving ourselves,” Richards said. 

Bensel moved to send the resolution back to the Codes and Judicial Committee for adjustments, and the motion was granted with a 14 vote majority. 

Later, representatives heard reports from the Student Assembly, the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly, the Employee Assembly and the Faculty Assembly. 

Faculty Senate Chair Prof. Eve de Rosa, human development, provided updates on the senate’s discussions on the honors system, Dean’s List and graduate honors. de Rosa noted that Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education Lisa Nishii returned to the Senate for a discussion on the proposed revision of honors and distinctions across the university. 

According to de Rosa, the matter remains in discussion, but Nishii is more amenable to adjustments to scholarship-based honors, but less so for GPA-based honors. Faculty members also have strong opinions about the status of scholarship dependent honors which include honors theses and literature reviews. 

“There’s concern that  [scholarship-based honors] have been diminished with them trying to come up with GPA-honors,” De Rosa said. “Faculty are considering that making it GPA based might provoke more anxiety and grade anxiety and mental health issues for undergraduates.”

De Rosa also noted that there was less concern among the senate about the removal of the Dean’s List, as the majority of the University’s peer institutions no longer use it. 

The meeting ended with a liaison report from Campus Committee on Infrastructure, Technology and the Environment chair Ian Timur Akisoglu, grad, who provided updates from the University’s Carbon Neutral Campus Meeting. Akisoglu said that New York State’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, which calls for scoping about how to gradually transition the New York electric grid to a green electric grid, would prevent Cornell from using its existing infrastructure as it transitions to its own carbon neutral status by 2035.

“There’s gonna be an emerging challenge in the next couple of years, whether Cornell complies with the scoping requirements of the New York [State] law, or complies with its own carbon neutral goals,” Akisoglu said.