Tuesday, April 23, 2024

SA funds Afrofest, targets safety

By Aleksandra Sidorova

After some deliberation, the Student Association Senate decided to allocate $1,465 to the club African Unity and announced the 60th legislation’s finance policy at its meeting Wednesday, Sept. 21. SA President Taiba Azeem also announced working with University Police to improve safety on campus.

The meeting started with the unanimous approval of Yousra Amrhar as a voting member of the Finance Board. Amrhar was absent from the meeting “due to some emergency,” but met all other requirements for the position, SA Treasurer Osamuyimen Omorogbe-Akpata said. 

The next item on the agenda was African Unity’s request for $1,465 for Afrofest, an event the club planned to host the following weekend, days after the meeting. The senators had many questions about the event.

Hafsah Abdourahamane and Abieyuwa “Abby” Uzamere, the treasurer and president of African Unity, explained to the Senate that the event was intended as a carnival, hence the need to spend $1,000 on inflatables such as bouncy houses. $465 would be spent on Chartwells catering for the event. Usually, Uzamere said, African Unity would host an ice-skating event, but the club wanted to do something different this year. The goal of the event was to build community and showcase small businesses, some student-run. The types of businesses included clothing, handiwork and beauty services. Fifty people were expected to attend, and club members have been promoting Afrofest during their meetings and over social media.

When Senator Dineshreddy Channapareddy asked why the funding application was filed mere days away from the event, Uzamere said the club wanted to fully finalize its plans before requesting funding. 

When it came time to vote, 13 senators voted in favor of allocating $1,465 to African Unity, one voted against and one abstained due to a conflict of interest.

Upon follow-up, Abdourahamane said Afrofest was a “huge success” thanks to the funding, bringing in 65 attendees.

“Although it was windy and a bit cold, we had an amazing time,” Abdourahamane wrote in an email response. “It was nice to see all the new faces on campus; a lot of the students got to learn about the local small businesses we have on campus, and now they know what African Unity is about.”

The final order of business was Treasurer Akpata’s presentation of the 60th legislation’s finance policy. Akpata highlighted key points of the policy. Club funding for decorations would be capped at $75. Funding for apparel would be limited to $10 and $15 for short- and long-sleeved shirts respectively, and the apparel would be available to all club members, not just the executive board. Travel funds are limited to $2,000 per semester not included in the clubs’ funding; instead, club representatives must file a separate application. Additionally, the Finance Board can approve funding requests up to $300. Requests for amounts exceeding $300 would have to be presented to the Senate. 

Once business was settled, President Taiba Azeem, Vice President Saran Kaba and the senators presented their reports. 

Azeem said she had an “interesting” conversation with University Police Chief Patrick Rascoe regarding campus safety. Azeem said she learned the campus’ emergency blue lights were inspected monthly, but have not been used in 45 years. Azeem also said she will be working with UP to add more street lights to the campus. In a report following Azeem’s, Senator Munashe Chikukwa said he was not worried about how lit the campus is, but was more concerned with the lights’ energy efficiency.

Azeem’s third and largest concern, however, was Title IX. When the campus had a staffed Title IX office, an average of 40 cases of sexual assault would be reported per semester, Azeem said. But without the office in place, UP receives an average of “barely six” reports a semester.

“As student representatives, as students who are looking out for our community, our job is to push, so I think that’s what our legislation should do,” Azeem said. “Push for a Title IX office.”

Other issues addressed by senators include disruptive fraternity activities and campus dining.

Senator William Donlon said he found, after asking students, that many do not have plans on Friday nights or choose to go to fraternity parties. Donlon also said Plattsburgh civilians have told him that some fraternity parties end in littering.

“It’s surprising that on Friday nights, most people don’t have anything to do: they’re just not doing anything, or they go to frats,” Donlon said. “And I spoke with someone from the community, one of the locals, and he told me that people would, like, throw cans in the middle of the streets, just leave it there and leaving the local community cleaning up the next day in the middle of the streets. That’s not good, so I’m thinking it would be great if we can try to get as many activities from clubs and everyone to do it on Thursday nights, Friday nights, Saturday nights, to try and counteract the frats.”

Senator Pratyush Kapadia stated in his report that he will be looking to expand catering options for club events, which currently are limited to Chartwells by contract. Kapadia will also work to address the food quality at campus dining venues, which, in his words, “has been degrading year by year.”

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