Wednesday, January 20, 2021

SA discusses new ‘blackout’ strategy, fees

What would happen if the SA shuttle, Coffeehouse and the vacation buses that bring students home were no longer available on campus?

That’s one question Plattsburgh State’s Student Association faced as they held their first meeting of the semester, where they discussed many topics to get the semester off to a good start.

As the SA spoke about an upcoming New York City trip, the involvement fair and club training, they also talked about making students aware of what the SA provides.

This semester, students will have the opportunity to vote on a referendum Nov. 10, along with SA elections, to determine whether the currently mandatory $89 Student Association fee should remain that way.

In order to make students aware of programs funded by the association, the SA is holding a “blackout,” in which eight different services are highlighted in the eight weeks preceding the election, with the inherent question, “What if the SA didn’t give this department or service money?”

“Student Association funds so many things around campus you wouldn’t expect,” SA President Kevin Clayton said.

He said so far that one department and three services have been confirmed for blackout.

“We are planning to highlight the SA shuttle, the vacation buses over Columbus Day and Coffeehouse,” Clayton said, adding that they have been in contact with the Learning Center, which is also funded by SA fees, and they are “open to it.”

Clayton said other SA-funded departments and services, such as Greek Life programming grants, designed to bring speakers to campus or host events, are not yet confirmed for blackout. The SA requires the entities’ permission to be blacked out.

He said just because the SA funds these departments doesn’t give the SA the right to black out these departments without their permission.
“Get ready for the posters. We’re painting the walls black,” Clayton said. “That’s what makes blocking out our own services attractive, but a lot of what we collaborate with the college to put on and what we collaborate with other departments is so valuable to the students that it dwarfs some of our services.”

Center for Student Involvement Coordinator of Student Activities Jacob Avery, became the new adviser of the SA in May, and he holds the idea of a blackout in positive regard.

“It’s interesting and a great way of promoting what the SA covers,” Avery said, adding that all student activities go through the SA “in some form or another.”

Nicholas Johanson, a sophomore and studio art major, attends Coffeehouse regularly.

“If Coffeehouse didn’t exist, I’m not sure I would do anything except sit in my room and play guitar,” he said. “It gives me something to plan for. It’s actually helped me get better at guitar.”

He noticed that many who perform at Coffeehouse sing beautifully and have “excellent talent,” but he said a majority of the songs played at the Wednesday-night event are all either love songs or sad.

“I’ve made it my mission to bring some levity to the entire organization, (to) sit down and play a silly song for at least once a night,” Johanson said. “I’ve been searching silly songs all over the place.”

He said he’s met at least four friends via Coffeehouse.

Johanson said if the fee weren’t mandatory, it is unlikely students would pay an optional $89 fee.

“Part of my head says, ‘Don’t make people pay things just because we want nice things,’” Johanson said. “I think this may be one of the better (fees). Not necessarily a lesser evil, but rather it does more good and it has so much more potential than people can see.”

Email Timothy Lyman at

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