The 59th Student Senate met on Wednesday, April 1 and hosted the four mayoral candidates for the Village of New Paltz.
The candidates — Sally Rhoads, Tim Rogers, Amy Cohen and current mayor Jason West — stood in front of the senate to discuss their campaign platforms and to participate in a Q&A panel.
They discussed student issues such as parking in the village as well as the legislation which changed the definition of a family, hindering students who wish to live off-campus with more than three non-blood related individuals.
“I met with the village attorney and building inspector to review the definition and we want safe housing for everybody,” West said.
He said that the village needs a definition of a family for technical reasons, but will be updating the definition once again next month.
Cohen recognized that it takes months to change a law and said that she is 100 percent against the legislation.
“There are New York State laws that protect tenants,” Cohen said. “Our 1.6 square mile village doesn’t need this legislation.”
Going off of this, Rogers said that the village board made a mistake when they changed the definition of family in 2013 and that the town should have better supervision and code enforcement.
Rogers recognized that students pay more than any demographic in the village.
“That’s a problem,” he said. “For a long time New Paltz has been a mix of students and long time families. If you choose to live in the village, it’s hard to afford housing as a young professional.”
In reference to parking in the village, Sen. Brienna Perez asked how much revenue is made from parking meters.
Rhoads said that the village has to pay for the maintenance of parking lots in the village. She and West agreed that the village generates about $50,000-100,000 in revenue a year and that maintenance expenses are approximately two thirds of that.
“The revenue is supposed to cover the cost of parking,” West said. “You don’t want someone parking in the same spot for days at a time, so the parking meters are needed.”
After the Q&A panel, a quorum of the Senate voted in favor of the nonsegregation of gender-inclusive housing.
As stated in the “Whereas Clause,” “Be it resolved, we, the 59th Student Senate, resolve to call upon the SUNY New Paltz Office of Residence Life and other relevant parties, to amend this discrimination by making all housing and bathrooms gender inclusive.”
Student Association Executive Vice President Jesse Ginsberg said that they are hoping to get the village board to pass resolutions on tuition hikes and a University Police Department (UPD) Oversight Committee.
Senate addressed that this past weekend was Budget Finance Committee (BFC) weekend. Vice President of Finance Rosemary Owuo said that the total budget for the Student Association (SA) is $1,550,000.
She said there are stipulations made for each general programming account and that each club has its own stipulation. On-campus clubs have until April 13 to appeal their designated amounts within the SA budget.
Vice President of Academic Affairs Jordan Taylor announced that next Wednesday, April 8, is the State of the Campus Address at 6 p.m. Senators will address campus issues such as meal plans, UPD oversight, drug policies, the ban of plastic bags on campus and tuition hikes.
He said that Campus Auxiliary Services (CAS) are going by village rules, which banned plastic bags in the village as of April 1. Many senators agreed that the campus should be provided with alternative options such as paper bags or reusable bags.