Senate Discusses Discrimination Policy

Photo by Robin Weinstein.
Photo by Robin Weinstein.
Photo by Robin Weinstein.

The 56th student senate held their second meeting of the semester on Wednesday, Sept. 11 at 7:30 p.m. in Student Union (SU) 418.

Student Association (SA) President Manuel Tejada opened the meeting reporting that he had met with SUNY New Paltz President Donald Christian and briefed him on the senate’s goals for the semester. Tejada said he will be attending the presidential cabinet meeting next Tuesday and that the proposed SUNY-wide campus smoking ban as well as the Park Point housing project will be among the subjects discussed.

Tejada also announced the return of “Let’s Talk About It,” a race and discrimination forum created in 2012 as a result of racial signage posted on campus property. Tejada said the event, featuring slam poets and speakers on race, will likely be scheduled for Nov. 16. At the conclusion of his report, Tejada said the results of last year’s online survey on New Paltz drug policy will be made public within the next two weeks.

SA Vice President Zachary Rousseas gave his report on the senate’s University Police Department Committee (UPD) which met Monday. Rousseas said the committee plans to release a pamphlet on the top ten facts students should be aware of when interacting with UPD.

Rousseas also expressed concern over Navy officers’ presence on campus. Initially under the impression that the officers were conducting a recruitment campaign, Rousseas proposed banning the group, and said that the campus should not support an organization that openly discriminates by not recognizing transgender individuals looking to enlist in the military.

Rousseas then addressed the school’s non-discrimination policy. According to Rousseas, gender identity was not listed among the types of discrimination where charges could be filed with the school.

“To my understanding, as it stands, discrimination on student gender identity is technically legal at New Paltz,” Rousseas said.

Rousseas said he would be working with Campus Climate Director Tanhena Pacheco-Dunn to further address Title IX issues on campus.

Vice President of Academic Affairs and Governance Jordan Taylor spoke on the status of the possibility of having the Women’s, Gender and Sexuality (WGS) program developed into a department. Taylor said that after meeting with SUNY New Paltz Provost Phillip Mauceri, the WGS program was offered one full-time hire within the program with the stipulation that the program would not be allowed to file for departmental status for the next three to five years.

A senate discussion on the matter was held later in the night to elaborate on Taylor’s meeting with Mauceri. Taylor said the proposal was a “no negotiation” take-it-or-leave-it  situation, which senate believes the program will accept, despite being a “short-term solution.”

The provost’s rationale for not granting WGS departmental status comes from a dislike of the academic structure where departments compete against one another for limited resources, Taylor said. Instead Mauceri proposed the creation of an interdisciplinary center where programs like WGS would collaborate to benefit one another and become stronger as a result, Taylor said.

The next student senate meeting will take place on Wednesday, Sept. 18 at 7:30 p.m. in SU 418.