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Campus community to be topic for reflection
September 21, 1998

A week-long series of discussions and other events on the topic of campus community will take place during the spring semester.

The Trustees, Administration, Faculty and Students (TAFS) committee Tuesday approved a proposal for a Metanoia - a period of reflection - one of the recommendations of the Chancellor's Task Force on Community and Civility, a group appointed in the aftermath of University Weekend.

Metanoia is a Greek word meaning "change of mind" or "repentance," said Peter Halvorson, chair of the task force, who also chaired the TAFS meeting.

The first Metanoia, in 1970, was on the subject of race in America. The most recent Metanoia was a 10-day period of discussions and presentations on strategic planning held in 1994.

The task force will now appoint a committee to develop plans for the week and report to the task force. Halvorson said that the period of reflection could include class assignments, discussions both in and out of class, a campus-wide lecture by a nationally prominent speaker, and community service projects. The week will end with a campus-wide celebration.

He noted that the University has allocated at least $20,000 for events during the week, including a reserve to support individual departments planning events consistent with the theme of community, with additional funds for a closing celebration.

Vicky Triponey, vice chancellor for student affairs, said the goal is to end the Metanoia "being more connected with each other and caring more about this community and other people that make up that community.".

Student leaders on the TAFS committee said they were concerned that the week should not replace Spring Weekend. They said a concert would be the type of celebration most likely to attract a large number of students, yet such a concert would require substantial funds and energy to plan.

"SUBOG doesn't have the funds or energy to plan something three weeks later," said Brian Collins, student trustee and an MBA student. "This is in effect canceling Spring Weekend."

Roger Gelfenbien, chair of the Board of Trustees, assured Collins that the committee was not making a decision about University Weekend.

Triponey said she wants the week of Metanoia and the celebration to be intertwined with students' academic experience. She said she hopes the University "will think about what kind of community we want to create, then let's go live it."

Irene Brown, an associate professor of family studies and member of the TAFS committee, called for faculty to be involved in the planning. "What we're laying out here is a very ambitious program," she said, "and the process is as important as the actual week.

Elizabeth Omara-Otunn.