There has been much talk in the Village Mayoral race about how SUNY New Paltz will play into each candidates vision of the future village. Just this week, we at The New Paltz Oracle received numerous letters to the editor encouraging Oracle readers to vote for a particular candidate, illustrating why students should back a candidate and how each of these candidates backs the students in their own way.
We at The Oracle question the authenticity of candidates’ concern for SUNY New Paltz students and campus community, especially in light of Monday’s debate.
When the question of the “family” definition and village housing came up, each candidate spoke about how the particular populations of renters in the village are being impacted. New Paltz students were clearly being referred to, but no candidate would come out and say the word “students.” It was 20 minutes before a candidate, Sally Rhoads, even recognized the relationship between village and college housing.
The negative connotation of the word “student” and our role in the community within village government often comes off as humorous, considering 75 percent of village residents are renters. When you consider that there are approximately 6,750 undergraduate students who attend SUNY New Paltz, it can be assumed a vast majority of those renters are students. Not only is the university inside the village, but many students reside within the village.
When speaking about the student community – forever the village’s majority – they speak in terms of money. Only Rhoads cited the concerns of students as concerns of her own and expressed concrete proposals on platforms for a relationship with the university. Every other relationship between the village and the campus seems to be measured in dollar signs.
It was said in the debate that the college being within the village was more detrimental than positive, because the school doesn’t pay taxes.
It’s easier to create a rhetoric about the student body than to actively attempt to change university PILOT programs at it at the state level. In this situation, SUNY New Paltz can be any state institution, but an institution filled with rowdy 20 somethings who go out on Saturday night and give the police something to protect is seen as a hindrance; regardless of the thousands of dollars we pour into the village economy every year and the seven bars, more than 15 restaurants and multiple small businesses we help keep open.
The candidates’ PILOT problems, being the only SUNY New Paltz related issue addressed thoroughly, really seems to undermine the vast majority of the population of the village in which these people want to be mayor.
But at the end of the day, these people are still politicians. They are going to do what gets them elected. They will not care about the vast majority of the village if the vast majority does not vote. While each candidate offers extensive positive changes for the community’s environment, economy and communication between themselves and other members of the board, their platforms will lack focus on student concerns until students voice their power in the vote.
Editorials represent the views of the majority of the editorial board. Columns, op-eds and letters, excluding editorials, are solely those of the writers and do not necessarily represent the views of The New Paltz Oracle, its staff members, the campus and university or the Town or Village of New Paltz.