GAPSA nixes proposal on business ethics resolution

JP Leider

Even though her resolution was unceremoniously shot down in the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly meeting Wednesday, GAPSA Senator Kris Houlton said she’ll keep pushing.

Her resolution, which would call for the University to create a policy to hold its corporate partners to “ethical business standards,” was removed from discussion, she said, after a fellow GAPSA senator incorrectly stated the University already had this policy in place.

“We do not have a code of conduct for corporate sponsorships,” she said. “Because of a technicality, I wasn’t able to rebut that statement.”

Houlton said her resolution was confused with a policy created by former University President Mark Yudof in 2000 that prohibits University-licensed apparel and goods from being made in sweatshops.

The University is part of the Workers Right Consortium, an organization that assists in enforcing codes of conduct for University licensees. Under Houlton’s resolution, the consortium would have provided a basis for University policy on ethical corporate partnerships.

“You sort of walk around this campus and see corporations every day and wonder how these corporations got deals with the University,” Houlton said. “And you wonder, Are these necessarily the best and most ethical corporations in their field?”

Richard Pfutzenreuter, the University’s chief financial officer, expressed interest in the resolution presented to GAPSA Thursday.

He said although these policies may exist, they’re not in one place or easily accessible.

He also said it’s important for the University to support high moral standards.

“We certainly want the corporations we do business with to have ethical dealings in the businesses that they do,” he said.

Pfutzenreuter said discussion is the first step to creating this type of policy.

“Ultimately policies flow – there’s lots of consultation with faculty, administration and clearly the graduate and professional assembly is interested, as well,” he said. “Policies take a little while to develop here because (the University) is a highly consultative place.”

While Pfutzenreuter plans to begin discussion at the administrative level, Houlton said even though her resolution didn’t pass this time around at GAPSA, she plans to introduce it at the next student Senate meeting.

“Senate is the supervisory body of the University and so this is most appropriately Senate business,” she said. “The resolution (was) really just to see whether graduate and professional students are behind the concept of ethical corporate partnerships.”

In other business GAPSA President Karen Buhr informed members that University administration had agreed to place a GAPSA member on each of the strategic positioning task force steering committees, giving GAPSA a larger voice in the process.

In addition, student representatives will form a pool that task forces can draw input from, she said.

After working for months on getting more students involved in strategic positioning, Buhr said she was thrilled it finally happened.

GAPSA awarded $10,035 in academic initiative, social event and travel grants for the month of October. Applicants requested $22,078.

Senators approved a resolution supporting the University’s 2006 State Capital Request to the Legislature for almost $270 million.

“Once we pass (the resolution), it gives the University more leverage at the state Legislature,” said Josh Colburn, vice president for administrative affairs and resolution author. The resolution passed unanimously.