By Olivia Bousquet
The Student Association Senate discussed two large topics at its meeting Oct. 12, the first being work ethic, brought up by SA President Taiba Azeem, and the second on Black Solidarity Day.
Azeem’s presentation on SA’s work ethics began with a refresher on the goals of the senate and executive committees. Some of these goals were for increased involvement and visibility, challenging the norm and welcoming students. She noted how the semester has just hit the halfway point, yet the “how” aspect of these goals is not being discussed.
The big point of the presentation was to highlight the importance of accountability. Azeem asked the senators to raise their hands if they missed more than two office hours, and a few did. However, she said many more were missing hours. According to their bylaws, senators can be impeached if they miss more than two office hours.
Senator Aissatou Lo pointed out that while they are senators, they are also students. Academics can come into play when missing hours for meeting with groups or professors. Vice President Saran Kaba countered with the point that senators were asked for availability at the beginning of the semester to work around their academic schedules.
“This was not randomly assigned,” Kaba said to the senators. “You made a commitment to show up to these office hours, and if you do not show up, you won’t be getting paid.”
Azeem pushed the point further by saying that when she can’t continue, she remembers why people voted for her. She wants the “SA to be perceived better.”
“If you said you would be there and you’re not, you failed that student,” Coordinator of Activities Marileana Rodriguez said.
Michael Casey, vice president of the SUNY Student Assembly and also an SA legislative review board member, echoed Azeem and Kaba by saying “impeachment is something to be taken seriously.”
Azeem’s goal to combat the missing hours is through the acronym RACI, which stands for responsible, accountable, consulted and informed. Through this method, senators can communicate better with each other and push toward accomplishing the goals set at the beginning of the semester.
The second big topic of discussion was Black Solidarity Day, which will be celebrated Nov. 7. The legislation came forth last year and was celebrated, but it was difficult to do so because of COVID-19. This year, the planning committee has a day filled with activities, workshops and presentations.
The day will start around 8 a.m. with a couple of speakers, including Plattsburgh Mayor Christopher Rosenquest. There will be over 50 breakout sessions that will happen during the morning for students, faculty and staff to partake in. In the afternoon, there will be food trucks and potentially some dance performances. The day will conclude in Yokum 200 with a keynote speaker and presentation.
One of the concerns raised was that classes are not canceled for the day. Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Vice President Allison Heard said, “The consensus was that if classes were completely canceled, people would take it as an opportunity to take a long weekend instead of using the day for education, like it is meant to be.”
Some discussion sparked around professors allowing students to miss class to attend workshops. Heard does not have a number of professors agreeing to this, but has heard in conversations that some are offering extra credit to attend events.
“If a professor were to tell their students to go to Black Solidarity Day [events] for extra credit, do you see it as an issue that the students are not willing to go on their own?” Lo asked.
Heard believes that sometimes students just need some incentive to go to things, and if extra credit works, students will still be learning while attending. Heard said the day isn’t only about recognizing the struggles of the Black community, but a day for advocacy and mobilization.
Some students will also be involved with presenting workshops and performances. The committee is also inviting Black-owned businesses to campus for the community to support. There will be a more detailed schedule of events released soon, and the committee hopes to record many workshops to put on their website.
In other SA news, two representatives wanted to create a chapter of Young Life College at SUNY Plattsburgh for provisional status. Young Life is a Christian outreach organization. According to the website, Young Life’s goal is to “build relationships with college students, showing up in their lives daily and offering weekly events, small groups, trips and service opportunities, ultimately inviting students to take their next steps in following Jesus.”
Young Life has chapters at over 230 colleges across the United States. The club would focus on more event-based activities, which makes them different from the other Christian-based club LEGO.
These events could be something like barbecues, movie nights or dinner together. They welcome anyone to attend the events. The representatives did say the event may not center around faith, but the end of each event would have a testimony from either a local pastor or Young Life club member. A testimony highlights how they came to the faith.
They anticipate funding would come from Young Life and local churches.
There has been some controversy surrounding Young Life, and Casey wanted to know the stance of the club if someone in the LGBT community wanted to take on a leadership role.
“Young Life has its own stance on that,” the representative said. However, he said that the board is open to welcoming anyone to join. He also addressed some controversy by saying that nothing is perfect, but there is more accountability now.
The club was approved.
The SA also approved of six new members for various positions. Heard became the adviser to the coordinator for student affairs and diversity. She recently worked closely with student government, and she is excited to take on this role. Deasha Gilmore was approved as co-chair of special events. She will be helping with execution of event plans. Cristal Perez became co-chair of FENT, and has expressed interest in coming up with ideas for the committee. Kaela Deleon was approved as co-chair of Coffeehouse. She was vice president last year. Yolin Barton became co-chair of ACB athletics. She was vice president of Red Zone, which encourages students to attend athletic events, last year, so she was promoted based on these qualifications. Lastly, Azeem became a voting member of the legislative review board.