After a close race at the end of last semester, Josh Simpson was voted Student Association (SA) President.
Simpson said his plans for this year include increasing transparency between the administration and the student body as well as increasing communication between the Residence Hall Student Association (RHSA) and SA.
Like former SA President Terrell Coakley, Simpson looks forward to hosting a campus wide “Let’s Talk About It” forum, where students have the opportunity to have a dialogue with faculty and staff regarding issues of social injustice and diversity throughout campus.
“I believe that although we had a forum on racism after the events that occurred last year, racism is still an issue,” Simpson said. “We all chose SUNY New Paltz to be our home for four plus years and everyone should feel welcome in their home.”
Simpson said he is also looking into holding a forum on New Paltz’s acceptance of the transgender community.
He said these forums will not only inform students about current issues on campus, but serve as an educational tool.
Sen. Richard Jean-Louis, who ran against Simpson for SA President last year, believes that Simpson and the rest of the SA Executive Board have done a fine job handling basic procedures and maintaining healthy relationships with faculty and staff.
“It is really not fair to judge the progress of the Student Association with only a month into the semester,” Jean-Louis said. “[However,] I know Josh is going to do a great job and I’m looking forward to seeing him perform as the president.”
Since the beginning of the semester, Simpson has been working on issues regarding food on campus. SA Vice President Manuel Tejada said Simpson has been able to directly communicate students’ concerns regarding food services.
Tejada said Simpson has played a large role in working on the acceptance of dining dollars in the Shop24 vending machine, increasing meal plan blocks and supporting stronger advocacy for local and sustainable food in the request for proposal and food service contract.
Tejada said Simpson spoke to the appropriate figures, was quick with feedback and was eventually able to open a convenience store based upon student needs.
Jean-Louis also acknowledged Simpson’s work toward making sure student food requests are kept in mind.
“[Simpson] has been meeting with faculty concerning issues leftover from last semester and making strides toward taking care of them,” Jean-Louis said. “He has been meeting with Campus Auxilary Services and staying on top of Sodexo to ensure that the food is up to par.”
Not only has Simpson improved communication with faculty, but also within the senate itself, Jean-Louis said.
He said Simpson is a very approachable and genial person who gets along with everybody and that communication within the senate has been extremely good.
“There will always be some miscommunication with the senate and the E-board,” Tejada said. “But so far, I have seen increased dialogue with senate, feedback on both sides, common goals and increased working ties with senators on issues at hand.”
For the future, Simpson said he plans on educating the student population as well as faculty and staff about the current issues.
Tejada said he hopes to see Simpson and the E-board work together on making sure SA is known across campus and building better communications with the administration and organizations on campus.
Jean-Louis said last year’s SA should be used as a template for success for current senators the and E-board.
He said the first-years on senate last year had a huge impact and played an imperative role in the progress of SA, and Jean-Louis hopes to see them reach out to first-year students and transfers in the future.
“I can really say that [Simpson] has all the attributes and characteristics that a leader should possess,” Jean-Louis said. “As long as he continues to grow and mature as a campus leader, he will be one of the best SA presidents this campus has ever had.”