Senate Discusses LGBTQ Support and Course Requirements

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

The 57th student senate met for their second meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 12  at 8 p.m. in Student Union (SU) 418.

Student Association (SA) President Manuel Tejada opened the meeting by asking the senate to hold a moment of silence for the recent passing of first-year student Eric Van de Laar.

Tejada announced the executive board would be traveling to the SUNY Assembly Spring Conference in Saratoga Springs on Friday, April 4 to Sunday, April 6 and opened the trip to other interested senate members.

Executive Vice President Zachary Rousseaus went on to mention that senate did not meet last week but last week he met with a staff member of the Student Health Center to discuss getting basic health rights, such as hormone therapy, for transgender students included in the student health policy.

According to Rousseaus, the staff member stated the health center negotiates its health policy every three to four years and although this negotiation might have recently passed, this would continue to be a concern for the future. Rousseaus said this addition to the health policy would be an insignificant raise to the insurance price because the population which needs this basic health right is small.

Rousseaus met with the University Police Department (UPD) Committee on Monday and completed a letter to the editor to send to the New Paltz Times and other regional newspapers regarding campus issues and concerns with the current marijuana policy.

Rousseaus also mentioned he is collaborating with the student government president of SUNY Purchase and the student government vice president of SUNY Potsdam on creating a “Queer SUNY” Facebook page, following the “Queer CUNY” Facebook page as inspiration. He said the page would discuss how to make SUNY a safer place for the LGBTQ community and allow students to discuss goals, needs and issues.

“[The page] would be a good way to bridge communities and would allow LGBTQ activisms to flourish and be more accessible,” Rousseaus said.

Vice President of Academic Affairs Jordan Taylor met with the library dean to discuss moving the late night study room and although Parker Theatre meets the requirement, Taylor said they are reluctant and still brainstorming. Taylor also notified SA that construction on the library might be delayed but is still expected to be completed on time.

Council of Organizations Chair Matt LaSpada informed the senate that club charter renewals are due Monday Feb. 17 and new clubs are to present to the Council of Organizations board next Monday. Approved clubs will be stated at the next senate meeting.

Senate Chair Carissa Moore opened the floor to comment on senate reports and administered board and committee elections.

Senator Zach Grossman brought up the Academic Affairs board’s goal of changing the current SEI policy from professors mandatorily turning in SEIs to deans to being able to opt out. Grossman also brought up the possibility of the S/U policy changing from  a C- being the lowest satisfactory grade allowed to a C.

Senator Nadia Alirahi discussed the Liberal Education Committee’s proposed changes to the general education and graduation requirements. As part of these proposed changes, students cannot take placements tests to skip the math and two language course requirements, first-year students would have to take an interdisciplinary seminar course and all majors would have to take a capstone course or experience.

Senator Jesse Ginsberg said that in the search of a new Liberal Arts and Sciences College dean, the three proposed candidates did not work out, but there are alternatives to continue the search and the possibility for a student forum on this topic.

Senator Rebecca Berlin said the Campus Auxiliary Services (CAS) board met this morning and the Sodexo contract has not been signed yet.

“[Sodexo] was really receptive with the changes students proposed last semester when it came to more protein boxes, using different stoves for vegetarian and regular food, healthy soup options,” Berlin said. “It isn’t clear why the contract has yet to be signed but they said it would be signed by the next CAS board meeting.”

Berlin also mentioned holding a discussion within the senate regarding students who are upset with the senate’s level of transparency. She said she feels that they should brainstorm on finding a way to be more transparent.

“It doesn’t really matter what we decide if the students aren’t on board with us,” Berlin said.

Senator Dana Hershkowitz said there will be an LGBTQ-dedicated website through the website which will provide information, resources, additional links, New Paltz classes with LGBTQ material and more.

Elections were held for the Judicial Board, Sustainability Committee, Curriculum Committee, Constitutional Rules Committee, Student Concerns Committee, Budget and Finance Committee and the Senate Vice Chair.

The next Senate meeting will take place Wednesday, Feb. 19 at 8 p.m. in SUB 418.