Senate Approves Appeals, Allocates Funds

The 50th student senate appointed a student for the alternate position on the Research Board and passed a resolution regarding the current school drug policy at the general meeting on Tuesday.

Third-year biology major Corinna Ridgeway was confirmed to the alternate position on the Research Board. The Research Board is in charge of awarding grants out of the Research Grant Line after reviewing all applicants from faculty-sponsored student research already approved by the Institutional Review Board.

When looking at research, Ridgeway said she is looking to approve anything of merit across all fields.

“I think any area of study is worthy of conducting,” Ridgeway said.

Although the alternate does not have voting power, they are encouraged to participate in discussions. According to Student Association (SA) President Jennifer Sanchez, the alternate can only vote if a voting member is not present.

After a few friendly amendments, the legislative body approved a resolution regarding the current school drug policy sponsored by Sen. Marc Pottak and cosponsored by Sens. Samantha Kossin, Max Lasky, Chris Albach and Chris Thurston. A resolution is a non-binding piece of legislation that represents the sentiment of the student senate.

In their resolution the legislative body proposed to organize discussion groups that focus on “acquiring the opinions of the campus community as a whole, including but not limited to students, faculty and staff.” The resolution said “the goal of these discussions is to ascertain whether or not the majority of our campus community is in favor of reforming the drug policy.”

According to the resolution, SUNY New Paltz currently holds the most strict drug policy concerning marijuana out of all of the SUNY schools and “is reflective of a time in New Paltz that is not pertinent to its student current population.”

The legislative body also delivered a unanimous vote and approved an appeal for $1,049.49 made by members of Invisible Children.

Invisible Children is a club on campus that does not have a line item budget and their money is mostly raised through donations. Last semester, club members raised $1,049.49 from donations made by New Paltz community members. According to club President Lauren Brois, the money raised was being kept in her banking account during past semesters, but that was “getting messy and not professional,” she said, so they decided to open an account with SA.

However, the club members were unaware that the SA account was functioning as an account that has line item and at the end of the semester all of the money they raised was put into general programming.

“The problem is this money is not our money. It’s the New Paltz community . . . students, faculty and it’s for people in Uganda,” said Invisible Children member Julia Wilson. “Although we were making a big mistake we really need this money back because it’s not ours to give to general funding,”

Before the discussion, the club members said they’ve learned from their mistakes and rather than keeping the money in an account, they are donating the money they’re receiving this semester as fast as possible.

Senators said they understood the appeal.

“This money in question wouldn’t even exist if people hadn’t donated so it could go to this cause, so I think it’s our responsibility to make sure that it gets back to them so it could go to the cause that it was originally intended for,” said Sen. Megan Grieco.

The legislative body also approved an appeal made by Jennifer Sanchez regarding a trip to the American Speech and Hearing Association (ASHA) Conference in Philadelphia, Pa., where she and three other students will present selected research. The senate voted to take $600 from the conferences line and give it to the students for hotel fees with the stipulation that the rest of the money be returned if not used on hotel fees.

Originally, the research group was approved $1,575 by the Budget and Finance Committee to cover the expenses for the trip. But, two weeks after their approval the National Student Speech Language Hearing Association requested money to go to the ASHA conference as well, and BFC decided to spread the money out evenly reducing the amount of money that the research group was originally awarded to $900.

Sanchez said she and the rest of the research group needed the money to cover the hotel fees. Senators decided that because their research was specifically selected by the ASHA convention to present, they should be given the money.

The next student senate meeting will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 2 in Student Union 418.