Senate Discusses Emergent Issues

Photo by Lizzie Nimetz.
Photo by Lizzie Nimetz.
Photo by Lizzie Nimetz.

The 58th Student Senate met on Wednesday, Sept. 24 to conduct their weekly meeting.

The meeting began with a visit from local representatives behind Stand Up New Paltz, a current initiative to raise awareness about dating and domestic violence. These representatives introduced the new Red Flag Campaign, a similar campaign from Virginia designed to point out “red flags” that may lead to domestic or sexual abuse.

Senate members critiqued posters from the Red Flag Campaign and offered plausible changes. Representatives also introduced “Step Up!,” a program designed to teach students how to overcome the infamous bystander effect and help others in need.

Next on the agenda, President Osatohamwen Okundaye addressed this past week’s conflict between anti-fracking protesters and state police during Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s visit to the New Paltz campus.

“Pretty much, it was a disorganized fiasco,” said Okundaye. Okundaye discussed the lack of communication between student protesters and SUNY officials on the subject of protesting regulations on campus. He also cited President Donald Christian’s press release, noting that Christian did not want to pass judgment on the police but said that he would not doubt the “split-second” reaction of a trained police officer.

“Make with that what you will,” said Okundaye.

Vice President of Academic Affairs Jordan Taylor spoke about his meeting with the school’s provost and expressed his personal opinion on the controversial event. “It was an infringement on the protester’s First Amendment rights,” said Taylor. “But that’s just my opinion.”

Jess Hicks, SUNY Assembly Representative for New Paltz, advocated in favor of the aforementioned Red Flag and Step Up! campaigns. He also noted a prominent resolution on the subject of sexual assault coming soon from SUNY Purchase and SUNY Oneonta.

Senators then expressed their opinions on services at SUNY New Paltz, including disappointment in the newly-instituted Tapingo system from Senator Paul Brown. Other senators shared the sentiment.

Next, the Student Senate conducted elections for Academic Senate, Academic Affairs, Curriculum, Academic Technology, Budget Goals and Plans and UPD. Four senators were voted onto separate committees, including curriculum, academic technology, budget goals and plans and UPD.

Senator Brienna Melodie Parsons presented Declaration 1, which aligned with her recent petition to simplify and rectify the process of legal preferred name changes on student I.D.s at SUNY schools. The Declaration cited various federal laws, SUNY student handbook regulations and statistics from the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN).