Student Association (SA) President Josh Simpson questioned the motivation of members of senate in his opening remarks during the fourth meeting of the student senate on Wednesday, highlighting a lack of comprehension and unity within the senate at large regarding the recently distributed “State of the College” address.
Simpson said the address, which was sent to SUNY New Paltz President Donald Christian, was “insulting” to SA and showed a lack of motivation within the senate as “thousands” of students had read the document before the senate had in-depth knowledge and understanding of the text.
“Honestly you are all dead,” Simpson said in his report to the senate. “I come into this room and the energy doesn’t feel right. No one feels motivated. I need to see more and I need to hear more. You are wasting your time not talking here…That’s why SA is ineffective, and it’s not just because we have to go through certain loops – it’s because there is a lack of motivation and a lack of willingness to communicate with each other in this room.”
“The State of the College”, which was sent across campus last week, addressed particular institutional “policies that diminish the potential of the many in exchange for maintaining the prosperity of the privileged few,” the document said.
Some of the topics discussed in the letter included: the Women’s Studies department, gender-neutral housing, sustainability, bringing local food to campus, admissions and the campus’ marijuana policy.
The address asked President Christian for a response by March 13.
Simpson said while the address brought up many points that have been important to both past senate boards and the current one, acting outside of the senate disenfranchises those already working on it as part of the student government.
“In my mind it’s counterproductive to have a system in place to represent the student body and not use that fully,” Simpson said. “I didn’t know about this address until Don [Christian] already got it. I don’t think my E-board knew about it, and that’s concerning.”
Simpson said the passion members of the senate put into the “State of the College” should be focused on the pre-existing government that is in place.
“The conversations in this room on those topics are dead,” Simpson said. “If you are passionate enough about something to write something to Don [Christian], I would like to see that passion come into this room – from all the senators. It’s my hope the SA and the senate can become a part of these conversations before it goes to the administration – so students are more aware.”
Simpson said he hoped moving forward, the “State of the College” can be used as a guideline for the senate to take action.
Sen. Roberto LoBianco said the letter, and the thousands of students who read it, was empowering to those involved as they were certain that their message reached thousands of students on campus, rather than passing legislation through the senate.
“We write legislation and it goes into this netherworld where we don’t know what’s being read and addressed by the administration and how they are to act on that,” LoBianco said. “That collaborative process empowered the students who wrote it. That in of itself is a good thing.”
The topic of the address was added to the agenda for the senate’s next meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 27 at 7:30 p.m. in Student Union 418.
*This article was edited on Feb. 24, 2013