Student Association met on Wednesday, Feb. 25 to talk about a number of issues including campus drug policy, crucial town laws and SUNY tuition increases.
Vice President of Academic Affairs and Governance Jordan Taylor discussed the recent report that listed SUNY New Paltz as having the most drug arrests per capita of any school in 2013.
Taylor said the report indicated that some changes could be made when it comes to campus drug policy.
“We should be advocating for rehabilitation measures, not punitive ones,” Taylor said.
Taylor cited that eight SUNY schools were listed in the top 50 list for college drug arrests, and felt that SUNY as a whole needs to adopt a rehabilitation program to deal with drug abuse.
Spokespeople from Awareness, a rehabilitation program aimed at alleviating substance abuse problems, talked to senate about their program. The group works with the courts in Ulster County and aims to rehabilitate people caught using alcohol or drugs illegally rather than punishing them with a fine or jail. They cited that Ulster County has the highest rate of underage drinking in the state, something the group aims to fix.
Currently, Awareness is a club on campus. They said they want to make their program the standard policy for substance abuse policy on campus. More info on the program can be found at awarenessinc.org.
Another issue discussed during the meeting was the recent discovery of a village board housing law passed in January. The law states that no more than three people, excluding families, can live together in a residential house.
Adele Ruger of the New Paltz Property Owners Association came to discuss the legislation, which she referred to as a “while we were sleeping” law, as it was passed while nobody was paying attention.
According to Ruger, this law became possible because of another law passed in 2013 that changed the legal definition of a family in New Paltz. Previously, a group of people living together in a residence did not have to be legally related to be considered a “family.”
Ruger says the law came about because many townspeople do not approve of college students living off campus, and does not think the law holds up legally.
“[The New Paltz Property Owners Association] are going to challenge the law in court,” Ruger said. “Once it gets challenged it will be put on hold.”
Ruger also said that students who have already signed a lease or sign a lease for a house before the summer is over should be safe from the new legislation for the next school year.
Senators were concerned about the new law. Many senators felt it would restrict the ability of students to live off campus and would severely hurt options for transfer students.
“This isn’t looking good for us, for any student looking to live off campus,” said Sen. Zach Grossman. “Students need to get involved on this issue.”
The SUNY Board of Trustees approved an extension of the Rational Tuition Plan in November of last year, which allows SUNY to raise tuition by $300 every year, and want to keep the tuition increase going through 2020.
SUNY Oneonta, Stony Brook and Purchase’s Student Association have already given support to the tuition increase program, much to the chagrin of many senators and University Representative Jesse Hicks.
“I didn’t even know these schools supported this tuition hike,” Hicks said. “This isn’t a good thing for SUNY students.”
With all senators in favor bar one, senate passed legislation which declared that the Student Association of New Paltz does not support an extension of the Rational Tuition Increase and calls for a freeze in tuition increases.
The legislation is meant to stop tuition increases as well as show New Paltz’s disapproval of the plan and will be brought to SUNY Assembly in March.