Although the members of fall 2010 Student Association (SA) executive board were elected last spring, one seat has been vacant since the semester began. With the departure of the incumbent Yasmin El Jamal, the SA E-Board was left to find a new vice president of finance for the academic year.
The E-board was notified this summer that El Jamal, who was elected as vice president of finance in May, would not be returning to the State University of New York (SUNY) at New Paltz for graduate school. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree through an English-language program in Amman, Jordan in Islamic Studies with a minor in Islamic law.
The constitutional duties of El Jamal’s former position include providing authorized signatures for SA’s financial disbursements and monitoring all approved allocations of SA funds to ensure that all expenditures are consistent with available funds and adhere to the SUNY Board of Trustees Regulations. She said that although she cannot return to the E-board this academic year, her experience with SA was valuable to her.
“I really wish I came back to New Paltz and the Student Association, but it is time for me to advance and do something for myself and my future,” El Jamal said. “The Student Association has helped me develop into the person I have become today.”
According to SA President Jennifer Sanchez, the executive board began working together to complete several projects over the summer that El Jamal was still working on after all members were notified about her decision.
Sanchez said she and other E-board members will miss El Jamal.
“My initial reaction was a little bit of a panic because the [vice president] of finance is a really important position,” she said. “I was also saddened to see Yasmin leave because I worked with her last year and I was really looking forward to having her here again because she is really good at what she does.”
Since the semester began, the residing E-board members have assumed certain duties allocated to the vice president of finance. Vice President of Programming Anthony Lino has been in charge of approving program funding requests made by various organizations, with Sanchez’s assistance. In lieu of a vice president of finance, Sanchez has been signing off on financial paperwork including SA employee time sheets, checks and line item fund requests made by various groups. E-board members have also been responsible for coordinating financial decisions with SA Disbursing Agent Linda Lendvay.
Although she said she has not personally received any complaints, Sanchez said that during this time there has been a one case in which programs were approved before the SA lawyer reviewed them, causing students to have to go back for approval again. However, Sanchez said that invalid approval of programs has not been a common occurrence over the past two weeks, and that the E-board is doing the best it can to review all requests.
Article V, section 3, statement 2 of the SA constitution states that the E-board has the power to set forth nominees to fill any vacant position to the student senate for approval. Two candidates have submitted resumes in hopes of winning a nomination for the vice president of finance seat, with a third expected to submit his or her information by the end of the week. The E-board’s nominees will be presented at the next student senate meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 21.
During the question-and-answer period with the nominees, Sanchez said she hopes returning senators will bring attention to problems the vice president of finance has dealt with in the past that they may also face in the future. The E-board plans to send forth two candidates who have experience in student government, in studying finance or both. Their possible time commitment will also be heavily evaluated.
“I think we have a very approachable E-board now. We are talking about ways that we can get our faces out because we really want to be available to students,” she said. “We don’t want a [vice president] of finance who is going to have a lot of attitude, or not be helpful to the students. This should be a go-to person for them.”