By Aleksandra Sidorova
The 60th legislation of the Student Association declared it would “push further” than the legislation before it to maximize the value the celebration of Black Solidarity Day Nov. 7 can bring to the campus. That can potentially mean mandating faculty to cancel classes for the day. Additionally, the SA Senate approved “up to $800” for an educational trip for the entrepreneurial club C.E.O., gave the Muslim Student Association permanent club status and granted the new club APOSA provisional club status.
The discussion began at the meeting of the SA Executive Council Monday, Sept. 26. Professor John McMahon attended the meeting as a guest to provide the Executive Council with information about the social justice teach-in happening on Black Solidarity Day, as well as learn how faculty can “contribute to its success.”
When the 55th legislation of the SA tried to add Black Solidarity Day to the academic calendar, they were “very hard on ‘no classes’” and thus unsuccessful, McMahon said.
The 59th legislation succeeded, reaching the provost “using almost the same language,” but had to settle for a compromise: classes were to continue despite the social justice teach-in “due to academic freedom concerns.” This arrangement left many students, including a few members of the Executive Council, having to choose “between class and an event that speaks to their community and identity,” as SA President Taiba Azeem said. Coordinator for Clubs and Organizations Deasha Gilmore said the dilemma left her feeling unsupported by her professor.
McMahon said there are currently “conversations and disagreements” on whether professors should hold class on Black Solidarity Day. In his understanding, emails will be sent out encouraging faculty to let students attend the teach-in. McMahon said his hope was for there to be at least an informal norm for no classes so more students could attend the teach-in.
“I know, and my fellow planners know, that this is a problem,” McMahon said. “It places a lot of burden on students to make difficult decisions.”
Besides canceling classes, the Executive Council suggested making class attendance for that day optional, offering extra credit for attending the teach-in or assigning work related to the teach-in to encourage more students to attend.
“This day is a day of value,” Coordinator for Student Affairs and Diversity Peculiar Joseph said. “Yes, we should really have classes, but there should be a way for people to actually go to this teach-in.”
The SA plans to pursue action, although it is still unclear what course of action it will be.
“I don’t know how the professors are going to feel if all of us come together and we say to them, ‘No, this day is really important to us, and you’re going to have to work around our schedules,’” Gilmore said. “I feel like we can push that. We just have to be very stern.”
At the Senate meeting, Vladamiere Perry, the president of C.E.O., a club for entrepreneurially-minded students, requested an $800 grant for four club members, including Perry, to attend the Collegiate Entrepreneurs Organization’s 39th annual conference in Chicago Oct. 28-30. Perry said this would be the first time the Plattsburgh chapter of CEO attended the conference, and that the event offered students “great networking opportunities” as well as competitions to participate in.
“This is our first full year being a chapter of CEO, so I think it means a lot to make a presence at this national convention,” Perry said. “It would be the first time ever that Plattsburgh is going to have representation here.”
Perry explained that the $800 would be split evenly between the four attendees, reducing each individual’s cost of attending the event from $822.32 to $622.32. Perry said the club will be requesting a grant from College Auxiliary Services to further help with costs, but the rest would be paid “out of pocket.” The grant was unanimously approved.
The Muslim Student Association’s whole eboard attended the Senate meeting to request permanent club status. Permanent club status can be granted after 90 academic days of the club’s existence and entitles a club to receive a fixed budget allocated to it every spring semester.
An MSA representative said the club has already hosted its first event this semester, a hot chocolate social to attract new members. Coordinator for Clubs and Organizations Deasha Gilmore confirmed that the MSA applied for provisional club status last academic year and had “a lot of successful events.” The Senate unanimously agreed to grant the MSA permanent club status.
The new club requesting provisional club status was APOSA, standing for Apostolic Students and Associates. The club is a chapter of Apostolic Church International, based in Ghana with some branches in New York City.
Vania Nyarko, the president of APOSA, said the club provides students access to church professionals offering guidance in areas of careers, finance, spirituality and decision-making. The club does not currently have fixed meeting times, but aims to host biweekly meetings and is looking to formally introduce itself to the student body by hosting a banquet. The club will be receiving some funding from the church as well as additional resources for club activities, such as instrumentals for worship. Through a unanimous decision, APOSA received provisional club status.
Lastly, as part of the end-of-meeting reports, Senator Liza Ali announced a meeting with club presidents is scheduled for 3 p.m. Friday, Oct. 21 in the Amnesty Room at Angell College Center. The meeting is also open to other club members. It will serve as an opportunity for Gilmore to share additional information and help club leaders with problems and concerns they may have.