On Wednesday Nov. 20, the 56th Student Senate convened for their weekly meeting where they discussed their stance on supporting the construction of Park Point, a proposition regarding gender-inclusive housing and a judicial board bill.
Student Association (SA) President Manny Tejada started by thanking Senate for all of their help and the hard work they put into the “Let’s Talk About It” symposium on Saturday Nov. 16.
Vice President Zachary Rousseas also thanked those in SA who attended the vigil for the National Transgender Day of Awareness on Nov. 20.
Rousseas said he recently met with University Police Department Committee to develop ways to create awareness for the marijuana policy. He also updated SA on the letter to the editor the executive board is crafting. It will address the marijuana policy and Rousseas said it will “hopefully be done” by the end of the semester.
Executive Vice President of Academic Affairs Jordan Taylor spoke about his recent meeting with the dean of the library, where they discussed potential new locations for the campus’ late night study room, including Parker Café.
Newly hired Campus Sustainability Coordinator Lisa Mitten presented to Senate on the recent water fountain survey, campus recycling upgrades and this past week’s Food Waste Education and Awareness Initiative and what results have found.
“We waste 1,000 lbs. of food per day,” Mitten said. “On Monday, I was doing outreach for three to five hours and saw that we wasted 145 lbs. of food that could have been eaten.”
After Mitten spoke, Senate discussed a judicial board bill law, which included a clause that addressed the frequency with which the chief justice should be attending weekly SA meetings.
SA also addressed the decision to support the construction of the controversial Park Point apartment complexes.
Rousseas said he was considering writing up a formal statement of the SA executive board’s conditional support for Park Point and that he wanted to run it by senate first.
This list of limitations includes Park Point being built 100 feet away from New Paltz wetlands, silkcreen being used during construction to further protect the wetlands, the use of semi-permeable asphalt to reduce chances of flooding, the non-use of natural gas, the installation of solar panels on roofs of Park Point structures, the use of alternative energies and that Park Point pay the full taxes to the town.
The list of conditions also proposed the removal of a separate gym building, field and clubhouse that would be included with Park Point to bring down the average rent at the complex, which Rousseas said he estimated would be about $700.
“If rent is going to be $700, that’s ridiculous,” Senator Dana Hershkowitz said. “That’s not solving any problem — that is making a gentrified apartment building on our campus.”
Other senators questioned whether Park Point was necessary and suggested the new residence hall, which will be completed in August 2015, will facilitate first-year and transfer students comfortably. Another senator brought up the issue of which police department would be responsible for patrolling Park Point.
Senate’s final action was to pass the vote to co-sponsor Proposition 5, which proposes the addition of gender-inclusive housing options, originally referred to as gender-neutral, to campus, Rousseas said.
“Whether that passes or not, I will be meeting with [Residence Life Director] Corinna in the coming week,” Rousseas said. “I’m hoping it will be passed by then. She is down to make part of Lefevre [Hall] gender-inclusive, but she needs a formal statement. We’d be trying to get …. a house area [to become gender-inclusive].”
The next Senate meeting, and the last one before the final meeting of the semester, will take place Wednesday Dec. 4 at 7:30 p.m. in SUB 418.