The 59th Student Senate met for its first official meeting of the spring 2015 semester on Wednesday, Feb. 4. The meeting began with new rules to be implemented at weekly meetings for smoother flow and greater progress, going over rules of making motions, order of businesses and quorum, the minimum number of members to be present for a meeting were included.
“Anyone who works here should have self-determination,” said Student Association (SA) Executive Vice President Jesse Ginsberg. “There needs to be greater emphasis on campus with organizing students to advocate for what they want.”
In order to begin strongly and focused, each senator was allowed to individually voice their goals for this coming semester. These issues which many senators wish to address this semester include dining plans, creating a better social climate in the college, enhancing student relations with senate, increasing action concerning environmental issues, rape and sexual assault policies, drug policies and most prominently, enhancing transparency of senate activities to students and administration.
“It would be really great to see New Paltz on a local level legalize industrial hemp to move away from petroleum plastics,” Sen. Brienna Parsons said.
The senate report brought discussion to the topic of the women’s studies department downsizing for the salary of new professors which is cutting down the amount of adjunct professors.
“The amount of money that’s being put towards one professor is being taken away from others,” Sen. Zach Grossman said. “If class sizes don’t get bigger, you are losing the content of the major.”
Senate then moved to elections for Interim Judicial Board Seat, RHSA Liaison, Research Board, University Police Department Committee, Constitutional Rules Committee and Sustainability Committee.
Following elections, SA Vice President of Academic Affairs and Governance Jordan Taylor expressed his concerns of election guidelines. In the past senate has experienced what was described as “ugly” campaigns where actions such as voter intimidation and vandalism on other candidates’ flyers were taken by some candidates running last spring. According to Taylor, anyone who is found responsible for taking actions such as these are immediately taken off the race. Senators then began to make suggestions for the most fair race possible to take place this year.
“Stipulate a certain amount of money in the print shop, therefore no one would be at a disadvantage if everyone had the same amount of money,” Sen. Paul Brown said.
Senators mainly discussed the issue of money in campaigns. Some students having the advantage of spending money on separate campaign promotions such as apparel may be unfair to students who do not have these resources and question of the possibility of money spending regulations for candidates was discussed. Sen. Adriana Dulmage said that social media, however, should never be regulated as all students have access to school computers where they can create Facebook or Twitter accounts to promote themselves for senate.
An article from The Huffington Post which named SUNY New Paltz No. 1 for most drug-related on campus arrests then sparked conversation.
“We are having students being brought to these hearings for minuscule drugs,” Parsons said. “We are students with voices, minds and mistakes.”
According to Taylor, Ray Schwartz, former associate vice president at SUNY New Paltz, said that he would not change the drug policy as long as he was in office. Taylor then brought up that Linda Eaton is the new associate vice president at SUNY New Paltz, therefore, students should strive to make changes by being active in the issue.
“The fact that it is easier for a student to get kicked out of this school for marijuana use than it is for a student to get expelled for rape is ridiculous,” Dulmage said.