Senate Talks Possible UPD Oversight Committee

The 59th Student Senate met on Wednesday, March 11, to discuss on-campus issues such as student election guidelines, housing handbook text and the formation of a University Police Department (UPD) oversight committee.

The meeting started off with Student Association President Osato Okundayne reminding the Senate that a memorial for Sodexo employee Precious Newkirk will be held Thursday, March 12, outside Hasbrouck Dining Hall. Newkirk passed away in a car accident last week.

The senate then discussed new election guidelines that should be put into the bylaws. The Senate was in unanimous agreement that vandalizing another candidate’s poster is to be outlawed. The topic of slandering was then brought up. While it is difficult for the senate to enforce outlawing slandering, Vice President of Academic Affairs and Governance Jordan Taylor suggested the rules should at least be stated.

The concerns of multiple E-board candidates running together, campaign finance and campaign materials were also discussed.

Sen. Brienna Perez brought up many issues concerning the transgender community.

The first of which was a proposition for a rule that at the beginning of any ceremony or meeting on its first meeting, people should be beholden to present their preferred gender pronouns, he/she, his/her and they/theirs as a part of their introduction. The senate voted to both pass and co-sponsor this.

Next was the issue of the way the transgender community is represented in the Campus Housing Handbook. Perez proposed that the terms “gender identity” and “gender expression” be included in the grouping of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity students in the Campus Housing Handbook. This was proposed so the transgender community will be represented in the handbook when issues of discrimination and sexual assault are mentioned.

The last discussion was the potential creation of an oversight community for the UPD. Student Association President Osato Okundayne noted a remark that SUNY New Paltz President Donald Christian made: that the committee would not be qualified and not be trained. The senate discussed that the committee, which would consist of student and faculty of the SUNY New Paltz campus, are intelligent enough to understand basic policing and it would not be difficult to institute basic training for the committee.

“The faculty, student and staff would be trained for these positions, so that should not be a concern,” Okundayne said.

The oversight committee would listen to complaints about the UPD. The oversight committee and UPD committee would be two separate entities.