New Paltz Vies For ‘Diversity’ Grant

Student Association President Terrell Coakley hopes to secure $10,000 grant from SUNY Central to host diversity initiatives.
Student Association President Terrell Coakley hopes to secure $10,000 grant from SUNY Central to host diversity initiatives.

Student Association (SA) President Terrell Coakley is working on a proposal to receive a $10,000 grant from SUNY central to support diversity initiatives. Coakley said the grant would allow a series of programs to be held next year similar to last semester’s race forum “Can We Talk About It?”

“My intended goal is to make the “Can We Talk About It?” forums a consistent thing,” Coakley said. “If we start to have more consistent forums, then people can know one another as well as know the administrators on a personal level.”

Coakley said he does not expect the grant to remedy all issues on campus, but rather serve as a tool for sparking conversation and awareness.

The possible $10,000 grant will be used to host discussions throughout the year that would focus on the various aspects of campus climate.

“The grant is not supposed to solve any problems,” Coakley said. “I am specifically asking for money to make these forums an easy thing to accomplish.”

President Donald Christian said he and Coakley would like to host events similar to the TRANSaction program, held on March 12. He said TRANSaction  was “a remarkable event” because it was student-led, student organized and generated great participation.

“We’ve been able to organize and generate so much interest and feedback in a campus forum on race that attracted 400 students and a campus forum on issues experienced by transgender/ transsexual students that filled Lecture Center 102,” Christian said.

Due to the large amount of students the last campus fora had attracted, Christian would like this money to help fund more programs about issues in which students express a strong interest. He said the grant would possibly be used for advertising and travel costs for speakers.

Coakley said past programs have been self-sustained, with Christian paying for most of the advertising. He said this money will give SA the opportunity to do “a lot more,” such as bring in keynote speakers and get the rights to watch films.

According to Christian, the deadline for the application is mid-April, therefore the grant has not been submitted yet. He said the submission process includes an abstract or executive summary and a clear statement of the goals, activities and who would oversee the program.

“I think we’ve clearly shown that there’s campus spirit behind exploring and talking about these issues,” Christian said. “I think that [spirit] would be a real strength in the submission.”

Even though the grant is not assured, Coakley is working on another event for early April which will focus on campus safety, according to Christian.

The event will address concerns that “different people with different identities” have about safety issues, including sexual assault and harassment of people in the LGBTQ community. Attendees will also discuss the shooting of Trayvon Martin in Florida. In addition, Coakley said he has spoken to someone in the graduate program to conduct a domestic abuse forum.

“At the end of the day we are here for a collegiate purpose,” Coakley said. “I think working to create a better communal aspect of the campus only empowers both ends of the spectrum as far as being a better academic university.”