Council Tackles Race Dialogue

This last Council of Organizations meeting began with a discussion of the “colored only” sign found on the water fountain in the Humanities Building and the other hate crimes that took place on campus last week.

Student Association (SA) President Terrell Coakley spoke about what happened and announced that there will be forums on Thursday at 9 p.m. in Student Union (SU) 401 and on Nov. 30 from 4 to 8 p.m. in SU Multipurpose Room.

He said he feels that the administrators and police are doing a good job and that while this was a terrible thing, conversation about the incidents are necessary. Although there are ongoing discussions in separate organizations, Coakley said there are never all-inclusive conversations about this topic and that must be changed.

“We as a community do not have a discussion about race together,” said Coakley. “We are not trying to encourage this, not a race war but a race discussion. This impacts all of us.”

Coakley believes that the planned forums and open discussions of race and personal bias or prejudice will allow for a greater understanding.

“Once we genuinely try to understand each other there is nothing that is going to stop us,” he said.

Following this discussion, Council of Organizations Chair Shayna Bentley announced that the General Programming fund (GP) is now under $1,000.

GP is usually more than $100,000 and last year at the end of the fall semester there was about $10,000 left, said Bentley.

According to Bentley, SA added 40 new clubs this semester and there are almost 200 clubs in total.

“There is no money left this semester and it’s been gone for about two weeks now,” said Bentley. “We can either amend the constitution and have more money for General Programming or we could potentially ask for club consolidation.”

The next topic addressed was senate elections led by Senate Chair Alberto Aquino. SA has 25 senators representing different facets of the school.  There are currently 15 positions open for next semester and Aquino will provide information the openings to anyone interested.

“We are direct representatives of 8,000 students and we get reports every single week,” said Aquino. “It’s an overall blend of perspective [and] gives you the tools to get things done in the school.”

Aquino said if students are interested in a senate position, he or she should go to the SA office for more information. Elections will be held online through and all names will be online.

Following this, Bentley introduced a video describing Planga. Planga is an online social calendar for colleges. Mike Patterson, director of student activities and union services, sent this video to the Student Association. Other campuses are currently using it, such as Massachusetts Institute of Technology and several SUNY schools.

“It’s kind of like Facebook. Go and log in and it’s there,” said Bentley. “We can ask administration to add it into the system.”

The final address before the meeting broke off into houses for discussion was led by Village Trustee Ariana Basco, SUNY New Paltz alumna, former-NYPIRG coordinator and co-chair of the Environmental Task Force.

Basco said that the Village Board has passed a resolution to declare the first week of October as Local Food Week and wants to further this by making local food readily available on campus.

She then presented a petition made by Students for Sustainable Agriculture requesting more local food be served in the eateries on campus. She said this is ideal timing because the Sodexo contract is up in about a year form now.

“We want to make sure you’re eating food that is really good for you,” said Basco. “We have 600 signatures already, going for about 1000.”