On Tuesday, April 17, the 53rd student senate held their 11th regular meeting during which they heard an appeal from the Student Art Alliance (SAA) which addressed issues with Sodexo and ratified the budget.
SAA attended the senate meeting with numerous members to appeal for the proposed 2012-13 budget which was cut by more than $10,000. SAA requested $25,000 instead of the $14,548 that they were allotted during Budget and Finance Committee (BFC) weekend.
Youssouf Kouyo, vice president of finance, said SAA was denied money to provide lunch for their speakers, a photographer and an emergency fund. They were given $400 instead of $500 for workshops and the two thirds rule which BFC introduced this year will provide the club with only two thirds funding for their trips. In addition, the Student Association (SA) will be providing SAA with half of the funding for their annual honorarium.
“We are paying half of the honorarium because we believe that we shouldn’t be paying for events that only art students or only a certain groups of people are supposed to be going to,” Kouyo said. “Every event that we fund is supposed to be open to everybody. It seems like [their events] are very focused on art students.”
SAA said they were unaware they were in violation of any policies. However, they are prepared to make necessary changes to satisfy the demands of the policies while preserving programming.
“To say the least, these cuts would have a devastating effect on the opportunities our college can offer through SAA to the student population and the community at large,” Todd Martin, graduate student in the Printmaking Department, said.
The student senate discussed the possibility of increasing the SAA budget by $8,000, allowing SAA to hold programs such as the honorarium without any difficulty.
After consideration, the senate decided in favor of a motion sponsored by Sen. Wendy Cohen. The student senate moved $4,000 from the General Programing budget and $4,000 from the Conferences budget to the SAA budget in addition to the $14,548 they were already awarded.
The senate awarded this money with the stipulation that contracts with artists participating in the honorarium specify that all students are able to participate in the lecture series and have their artwork critiqued. Also, the events must be held in a more public space.
In addition to SAA, the General Manager of Food Services Ralph Perez-Rogers attended the senate meeting to solicit questions about food services and Sodexo from the senators.
Sen. Dhruv Shah expressed concerns with the price of food on campus compared to the price of food in town. He said the price of the food on campus and in town is similar, but the service and quality of the food on campus is not up to par.
Perez-Rogers said the fact that students must go to the same places to get food every day becomes very limiting. He said while they try to develop a solution that will create more choices, he will look into lowering the price of the food.
Perez-Rogers also said he contacted communications to speak with corporate Sodexo representatives in response to the incident taking place during the recent Sodexo focus group. He said letters were sent out that addressed the situation and the concerns students had about unfair treatment.
After hearing outside bodies, the senate ratified the 2012-13 budget without any objections or changes and then discussed their goals list.
The senate added a goal to develop a science lab which will be open to all students. This project will be headed by Sen. Joskary Diaz.
SA President Terrell Coakley reported to the senate his plan to start a Sojourner Truth Institute, allowing students to become experts on Sojourner Truth’s life. Coakley also said he finished the grant proposal for diversity initiatives he discussed last meeting and is hopeful they receive the funding.
SA Executive Vice President Eve Stern discussed the gender-neutral housing survey which received more than 1,000 responses. She said she will be holding a presentation on this project soon.
Vice President of Academic Affairs Ayanna Thomas encouraged senators to hand in their candidate campaign forms. Thomas also said the Constitutional Rules Committee drafted a contract for clubs and organizations to adhere to SA guidelines which will address the liquor-liability issue. She said the constitutional convention will be taking place on Saturday and Sunday at noon.
Vice President of Programming Laneesha Bacchus, said SA Productions is continuing to promote for the spring concert. Bacchus said there will be two opening acts for Wale including Bounce Method and Sam Lachow. She said tickets for New Paltz students are being sold in the Student Union (SU) near SU 100 and tickets for non-New Paltz students will be on sale soon.
The next senate meeting will be on Tuesday, April 24 in SU 418 at 8:45 p.m.