The 59th Student Association (SA) Senate met on Wednesday, April 29 to discuss changes on campus, budget issues and constitutional changes.
Sen. James Auer announced that Coca-Cola will be the sole provider of beverages on campus for the next five years starting in August, replacing Pepsi. According to Auer, the Campus Auxiliary Services (CAS) Board chose Coca-Cola because Pepsi lacked sufficient communication and flexibility.
“We all knew that Pepsi was the better option financially, the deciding factor was the difference in services,” Auer said. “Pepsi’s communication with Sodexo and the school has been subpar. We all felt that we needed a change, someone who would better accommodate students.”
Sen. Paul Brown accepted a nomination for Senate Chair, the position responsible for running meetings and creating the agenda for each meeting. He will be replacing current Senate Chair Carissa Moore and ran the meeting in honor of his selection.
Senate discussed the proposed 2015-2016 SA budget, which had many changes, including cuts for General Programming (GP) and the New Paltz chapter of the New York Public Interest Group (NYPIRG), and a large increase for the SA Productions (SAP) budget.
GP is all of the money given to clubs that don’t have budgets. Dozens of clubs at New Paltz rely on GP to fund their activities. SAP is the money used to bring in talent for performances such as musicians for the annual spring concert.
Many senators felt that NYPIRG was too important to students to get cut, and that the cuts were unfair.
“A lot of clubs are still getting funded even though they didn’t hand in their paperwork on time,” Sen. Nick Watkins said. “Why are we punishing an organization like NYPIRG that did do their paperwork?”
In order to fund NYPIRG, senators brought up the idea of taking money away from GP or SAP.
Vice President of Programming Goldie Harrison disagreed with any notion of taking money away from SAP, which received an increase of $40,000 on the proposed budget.
“We didn’t have enough money this year to bring in good talent,” Harrison said. “SAP budget increases were needed.”
Vice President of Finance Rosemary Owuo mentioned that since many clubs failed to get budgets for next semester, they will need money from GP, so cutting the GP budget means those clubs will get even less funding.
Senate voted to overturn the budget cuts for NYPIRG. Senate took $5,500 out of conferences, and $2,000 out of senate’s discretionary funding and the rest out of GP to give NYPIRG the funding they wanted.
“I’ve served on senate for two years and this is the most unethical budget debate I’ve ever seen,” Sen. James Auer said. “This debate was literally SAP versus NYPIRG, at the expense of everybody else. You look at the budget as a whole, not just an individual organization.”
Farmer and Professor Jocelyn Apicello spoke to senate about an upcoming program called the Ecological Citizen’s Project. The project entails a one-week retreat for student leaders in the Ulster County area to live on a farm and learn how to create a sustainable food source through farming. Apicello said the project was to build ideals of sustainability and civic engagement. The retreat will take place in August, and will be tuition free for its initial run thanks to a grant from the Endeavor Foundation.
Senate discussed potential changes to the SA constitution. Although they cannot make the changes until next semester, the bulk of potential changes had to do with revising election guidelines.
The new proposed election guidelines state that executive board candidates must have at least 100 signatures supporting them in order to run and restricted the time period in which they can campaign. It also stated that two candidates cannot campaign together on a flyer.