Senate Discusses Gender Identity Policies and UPD Press Release

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

The 56th Student Senate met on Wednesday, Oct. 16 at 7:30 p.m. in the Student Union to discuss the issues and policies of gender identity, drug use and protocol for UPD press releases for criminal activity on campus.

Executive Vice President Zachary Rousseas drew attention to the SUNY New Paltz Non-Discrimination Policy’s recent inclusion of gender identity. He said he has led the senate to propose a resolution that would illustrate the senate’s support of gender identity being added to the SUNY-wide Discrimination Policy.

The resolution was passed, resulting in Student Association (SA) voting delegates of the SUNY Assembly to advocate for the inclusion of gender identity at the SUNY Assembly meeting in November.

SA President Manuel Tejada presented the senate with a working rough draft survey on drug use. The proposed study was created with intent of gathering statistics of student drug use through an emailed survey in order to better formulate a new campus drug policy from the information collected.

With the intended changes to the policy aimed at student marijuana use and the resulting consequences, many senate members questioned the inclusion of survey questions regarding other drugs, including LSD and “molly.”

A discrepancy of the type of questions included in the survey resulted in the issue being tabled, with a separate meeting on Tuesday planned to fully edit the proposed survey before the next senate meeting.

“It is clear too much work needs to be done to make the survey work toward what we’re trying to do,” Rousseas said. “We need to table and deal with it next week.”

Executive Vice President of Academic Affairs, Jordan Taylor, led a discussion about the recent UPD press release emailed to students concerning the alleged assault on a woman that took place on Plattekill Avenue on Oct. 5.

The press release stated the alleged attacker’s name, age, ethnicity and hometown. Taylor said as far as he is aware, there are no standards in policy for the extent of information able to be given about an individual accused of a crime. The discussion was heated, with many senate members disagreeing with one another on if and when a name should be used on a press release prior to a conviction.

The policy resolution was tabled, with each senate member encouraged to write their own proposed legislation on the issue before next senate meeting due to the varying concerns and solutions voiced during the discussion.

The proposed resolution supporting the SUNY Assembly in condemning SUNY Universities holding blood drives was tabled until next week after many members of senate agreed that the resolution required more citations for the information provided in the proposal.

“The resolution is supporting the Blood Donor Equality Resolution the SUNY Assembly also supports,” Dana Hershkowitz, co-sponsor of the proposal, said.

The resolution states that the SA denounces blood drives being held at SUNY campuses in light of the gender discrimination by blood drives denying the participation of men who have had sexual intercourse with another man, as well as an individual who has had sex with a man who has had sex with another man, for fear of the blood drive receiving blood contaminated with HIV or AIDS.

The senate voted to pass the declaration stating that the SA supports increased lighting on Plattekill Avenue in an effort to decrease the number of sexual assaults that take place on the road. The declaration was passed to show support of the town’s determination for the same goal.

The next senate meeting will take place Oct. 23 at 7:30 p.m.