Student Senate Brief

Photo by Holly Lipka.

The 60th Student Senate met on Wednesday to discuss issues of sustainability, both on campus and within the greater community.

Eric Wood, the project coordinator for the NYPIRG chapter at New Paltz, discussed Reforming the Energy Vision (REV), an initiative to reform energy consumption in New York. According to Wood, an estimated $30 billion will be necessary over the next decade to update the current infrastructure. The proponents of REV New York seek to “overhaul the outdated, unsustainable and expensive infrastructure” almost exclusively dependent on fossil fuels by redirecting the funds towards greener initiatives.

Senator Megan Spoth, a member of the community-based Environmental Task Force, spoke of a letter authored by the committee encouraging the administration to support more sustainable efforts on campus. According to Spoth, SUNY New Paltz dining services only scored one out of seven possible points in the Princeton Review’s “2015 Guide to 353 Green Colleges.” Spoth also discussed Executive Order No. 88, which calls for a 20% reduction in the consumption of electricity in buildings maintained by the state, including those on SUNY campuses.

Peter Brown, former chapter president of United University Professions (UUP), encouraged students to request access to the college’s newly-developed energy plan. Brown explained that the energy plan, the first of its kind at New Paltz, offers a “unique opportunity to look at our energy future” and includes recommendations for the consumption of green energy, as well as the structure of the microgrid distribution systems that regulate the energy supply on campus.

Executive Vice President Kelsey Ryan invited Hector Rodriguez, the Ulster County legislator, to speak about the relationship between the New Paltz campus and the surrounding community. Past collaborative efforts between the Student Association and the county offices include the establishment of the Ulster County Area Transit (UCAT) LOOP bus route through New Paltz.

Rodriguez responded to comments on a variety of community issues, including the proposal to build a CVS in the town of New Paltz, as well as the county’s own efforts to improve sustainability and energy efficiency, particularly through the use of solar panels.

Six candidates competed for the five available Senate seats. The semester-long term winners were third-year students Lauren Fitzsimmons, double-majoring in political science and history, Marynis Lopez, majoring in  political science major, and Renee Servisi, double majoring in business and political science, as well as Cheyenne Evans, a second-year student, and Laura Rinaldi, a fourth year majoring in English and communications.

Jordan Taylor, a 2015 graduate of SUNY New Paltz with degrees in Black studies and political science, spoke to the Senate in regards to the issues currently faced by the Black Studies department. Taylor, who served as the Vice President of Academic Affairs and Governance for two years, reported that the decline in black student enrollment and the limited presence of black faculty on campus were among topics of discussion at a meeting of First World alumni this past weekend.