The 53rd student senate met with a Sodexo employee and representative, reviewed the budget and approved members to the Student Association Productions (SAP) board and the Academic Affairs Committee (AAC) during their ninth meeting of the semester.
Student Association (SA) President Terrell Coakley started off his report by commending the Budget and Finance Committee (BFC) for their performance at BFC weekend. He then urged the senators to remind students to vote on the activity fee during this year’s SA elections.
Coakley said he wants to depict the significance of the student activity fee by possibly hosting a “blackout day.” He said SA might put up signs around campus that
emphasize how essential the student activity fee is for school clubs and organizations.
He also mentioned that he is busy drafting the proposal for the $10,000 grant that SA could be receiving from the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at SUNY Central. The grant will be for the next SA president to host forums.
SA Vice President Eve Stern prefaced her report by handing out fact sheets explaining the way the judicial process worked. She said she thinks it’s important for senators to know the judicial process so they can educate other students about their rights.
Stern said she sent out the gender-neutral housing surveys on Monday. She said she has received nearly 850 responses and she hopes to receive about 1,000 or 2,000 responses by the end of this week.
She commended Sodexo on the recent changes they have made at Hawk Station. Stern said she and Vice President of Programming Laneesha Bacchus will be meeting with Sodexo again on Tuesday to go over further changes. Stern also informed the senate that a number of students have brought concerns to her about Sodexo, “not necessarily on our campus but as a corporation,” regarding human rights issues with workers around the country.
“I know that when their contract is up next year that’s going to be a concern in terms of who’s sitting on the CAS (Campus Auxiliary Services) board and which different vendors [we’re looking at],” she said.
Vice President of Academic Affairs and Governance Ayanna Thomas said the AAC is putting together a few resolutions. They are trying to propose that each academic department on campus discuss ways to improve advising and get feedback from students. The committee wants a brief summary of the changes the department decided to make.
“I think it’s a really big step [in improving advising on campus],” Thomas said.
She said there are guidelines regarding academic advising in the Faculty Handbook but they are not updated and need revising so the AAC is proposing new guidelines.
During her report, Bacchus said tickets to Wale’s concert are free for students and $20 for the public. They will start selling tickets to SUNY New Paltz students from April 9 to April 20. Tickets for non-students will go on sale after April 20. She said they did this so New Paltz students can be the priority when buying their tickets.
Bacchus also talked about using media outreach to find an opening act to perform on the day of the concert.
“We’re going to have people submit videos [where they’ll explain] why they should perform before Wale,” Bacchus said. “My board and I are going to choose what band or which artist opens for him.”
The videos have to be about three minutes long where they explain why they want to perform before Wale and then demonstrate their talent.
Retail Director for Hawk Station Shariff Nickens was invited to the senate meeting on behalf of Sodexo to get an understanding of what the senators are looking for and to listen to their concerns.
Sen. Kevin Cavanna was the first to bring concerns regarding the quality of the food served at Hawk Station and the prep time for food. He said it usually takes too long to make certain meals.
Sen. Lori-Anne Wallen said many students are concerned that there aren’t many healthy options at Hawk Station.
Nickens said he is looking into the issue. He also said in the “Grab and Go” cooler they’ve added some dipping sticks and lower calorie food options. They’re trying to outfit the entire cooler with healthier options.
When one member of the legislative body complained about customer service and the attitudes of the workers, Nickens said he is constantly coaching and developing staff.
“I’m a huge advocate of customer service because if nobody came to the store, then what?” Nickens said. “Then there’s no Hawk Street, just an empty nest.”
He also refuted the ongoing rumor that Hasbrouck puts laxatives in their food.
Nickens said he will bring all of their concerns to the General Manager Robert Ness.
Sen. Manuel Tejada presented to the senate his research of the Sodexo company. Although the Sodexo workers at SUNY New Paltz are unionized, other Sodexo employees around the country aren’t. Tejada said he found the company has committed human rights violations. He thinks students should be concerned since their purchases from Sodexo vendors add to the company’s revenue.
“It might not affect [SUNY New Paltz] personally,” said Tejada. “But I think it’s important for us to stand in solidarity [with these workers].”
During his senate report, Vice President of Finance Youssouf Kouyo briefly discussed BFC weekend but went into more detail during the senate discussion.
He said many changes were made during BFC weekend. One of these changes were student organizations that have a line item cannot request money from general programming. However, if there is a price for one of the items that the club was already approved for, they can.
Kouyo also mentioned he penalized a few clubs for not regularly attending council of organization meetings every Monday by not giving them a budget next year. The two clubs can appeal this decision.
Sen. Henry Lino said this was an effort to set a precedent for other student organizations.
The senate approved Sen. Kaychelle English to SAP and Sen. Ramelle Pool was approved to AAC.
The next senate meeting will be on Tuesday, April 10 in SU 418.