Not quite viral: President Paxson’s online office hours

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Yesterday, The Brown Undergraduate Council of Students set up their own version of a Reddit-style AMA for President Christina Paxson. From 2:30-3:30pm they opened up a comment thread on their Facebook page and invited students to ask the president questions which she could respond to in real time.

There were 33 questions asked. Here are some things we learned:

Classes of ’16 and ’17 will not see a renovated Ratty.

Screen Shot 2015-02-27 at 4.14.11 PMStill, the new Ratty may not feel all that new.

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Paxson will go anywhere with Margeurite.

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What we learned at yesterday’s sexual assault lectures


Last Friday, November 14, President Paxson sent out an email to the Brown community that addressed a number of concerns regarding university sexual assault policy and planning for the future. In particular, she called attention to the Janus Forum event that was to take place the following week, “Valenti/McElroy: How Should Colleges Handle Sexual Assault?” Paxson wrote:

“Some people–including writer Wendy McElroy, who will speak with Jessica Valenti at a Janus Forum event next week–have argued that sexual assault is the work of small numbers of predatory individuals whose behaviors are impervious to the culture and values of their communities. I disagree. Although evidence suggests that a relatively small number of individuals perpetrate sexual assault, extensive research shows that culture and values do matter. Societies that have strong norms against sexual assault have fewer assaults.”

Further, Paxson informed the community of an alternative event to “provide… more research and facts about these important issues.” This lecture, “The Research on Rape Culture,” given by Brown University Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior Lindsay Orchowski, Ph.D., would occur concurrently with the Janus Forum event, but in a different location. By initiating this alternative to the Janus Forum, Paxson made a bold statement to the student body, faculty, and the Brown community: she offered us the option to educate ourselves through a fact-based presentation or to attend a discourse in which two contending speakers posed significantly different solutions to handling sexual assault on college campuses. The events differed in purpose, in lesson, and in nature.

Though both events were videotaped, it was intentionally impossible for any person to attend both. So if you went to one and not the other, or if you missed them altogether, we’ve got you covered. BlogDH sent one writer to the Janus Forum and another to “The Research on Rape Culture.” Here’s what we heard:

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What you need to know about the Thayer Street revamp


Yesterday, President Paxson and Mayor Angel Taveras held a press conference to announce that our beloved Thayer Street — where you can do everything from 2 a.m. drunching to maintaining your utmost hipsterness at the Avon — will undergo an extreme makeover, Ty Pennington style. As Paxson said in her speech, Thayer Street is a central “rib” of the university, so some TLC is well-deserved. Here’s what you need to know about these ch-ch-ch-changes:

When’s it all happening?
This summer! Construction is supposed to last about 6 months.

Who’s paying for it? (Because we know you’re all wondering.)
The District Management Authority is funding the project as a thank you for the increased efforts the University has made over the last year in engaging local public high school students with academic scholarships and summer programs.

What’s it gonna look like?
Here’s what you’ll see, according to a press release put out by the University:

  • Repaved streets! Hallelujah!
  • New street signs and parking meters on Thayer. Fancy.
  • Wider sidewalks outside of Blue State and City Sports, great for outdoor lounging during a four-month Polar Vortex.
  • Outdoor furniture (to facilitate said outdoor lounging) outside of the Brown Bookstore and the Granoff Center.
  • New trees planted on the street.
  • A “miniature” park by the Brown Bookstore. I am curious to see how miniature a miniature park for college students is.
  • New trash receptacles, a cleanup of Fones Alley, and a new trash ~*~*~compactor~*~*~.

For more info on the press conference and the renovations to Thayer, read the University’s press release or see the Herald’s article.

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A summary of today’s e-mail from President Paxson on sexual assault


This afternoon, President Paxson addressed all members of the Brown Community regarding the recent national and Brown-related conversation on sexual assault.

The White House Task  Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault, formed in January 2014, just released “Not Alone.”  President Paxson announced that Brown will benefit from the report and its associated guidelines in the planned review of the University’s policies and procedures related to sexual assault. In an email sent last week on sexual assault at Brown, President Paxson announced that the review, which was already planned for the coming academic year, will be accelerated. In the most recent communication from President Paxson, she elaborated on the University’s plans and presented a timeline for addressing the issue the sexual assault on campus:

Step 1: External Consultation (Summer 2014) 

As the first step in the review, this summer Brown will bring in  consultants working nationally on campus sexual assault to assess “current policies, procedures, and programs and provide us with information on prevention, student support, and discipline, and alignment of our policies with recently issued federal guidelines.”

Step 2: Formation of the Brown University Task Force on Sexual Assault (Fall 2014)

The second step will begin in fall 2014 with the creation of the Brown University Task Force on Sexual Assault.  The Task Force will be composed of faculty, administrators, undergraduate, graduate, and medical students. It will be co-chaired by Dr. Michele Cyr, specialist in women’s health, professor of medicine, and associate dean for academic affairs at the Warren Alpert School of Medicine, and Russell Carey, currently executive vice president for policy and planning at Brown. Student representatives will be chosen by UCS, Graduate School Council, and the Medical Student Senate to be a part of the Task Force. They will be announced in September. Recommendations will be due no later than December 2014.

Immediate Plans:

However, the University does not intend to stall action until the arrival of external consultants and the appointment of the Task Force. Three suggestions, informed by the White House guidelines, will be accepted immediately: the hiring of a single full-time Title IX coordinator, providing additional resources to students through education around sexual assault, and creating a campus climate survey to measure the incidence of sexual violence and student perceptions about assault.

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SPONSORED: Brown University, An Architectural Tour

Brown University: An Architectural Tour (The Campus Guide) is a new and noteworthy book about the history of our campus. The Brown University Library and its Library Advisory Council are holding a book talk on Friday, May 2 at 4:00 p.m. in the first floor presentation space of Rhode Island Hall on the Main Green. The talk will feature the author, Raymond P. Rhinehart ’62, and the photographer, Walter Smalling, Jr. They will discuss the process of collecting the images and the stories behind the buildings, as well as the vast array of architectural styles on Brown’s campus.

The book is divided into nine campus walks that bring together the images of the buildings with information about their history and architectural significance. President Christina Paxson wrote the foreword for the book, while Professor of the History of Art and Architecture Dietrich Neumann provides the introduction. The guide was not purposely made in conjunction with Brown’s 250th Anniversary, but the Brown Alumni Association, which generated the idea for the book, considers it a gift to the University in this special year.

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Live-blog: The State of Brown Address


We’re bringing you live updates on President Paxson’s address. It comes just a couple of days before the official beginning of Brown’s celebration of its 250th year. Most of the event, however, will be dedicated to Q&A, so who knows where the conversation will go. No matter what, we’re here to keep you in the loop even if you can’t make it to Salomon.

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