By Stephen DiFiore
The PSGA Senate appointed a few new senators after a slew of resignations during break, such as those of Soulangie Leeper, Dylan Schwartz, and Blake Albano. Other senators have switched constituencies. Senator Jess Gambino, formerly the senator for the Neu, now represents Liberal Arts and Sciences.
One prospective senator, Nezih Bouali, had applied to be a senator for Liberal Arts and Sciences. Because that constituency is currently full. His application was tabled until the next meeting. Currently, there are plans to move either Senators Oscar Salazar or Joshua Andrews to a residential seat in order to make room for Bouali.
The first to be appointed was Meeynz Bunch to a School of the Arts seat. Bunch said that she is “hoping to become part of a team that bridges these groups together,” referring to different academic programs. Bringing together students of different boards of study is a common idea among prospective senators.
Bunch plans to organize events where students can present their work, and plans to involve faculty in these plans as well.
“I would have to get to know faculty outside of my department,” Bunch said.
Also appointed was Ivan Mercado to the Big Haus/Campus Center North seat. Mercado wants to focus on poor living conditions on campus during his tenure.
Mercado not only wants to “improve the conditions of the students” who live on campus but also wants to improve socialization between students as well.
The last to be confirmed was Emma Whitbeck to the Olde seat. Whitbeck also spoke of highlighting housing issues on campus, particularly in the Olde.
“We don’t need those tables. We don’t need those benches. We need better housing,” she said, mentioning the presence of mice in her apartment and holes in the wall that might have been there for years.
“It’s kind of messed up,” she said.
Whitbeck also spoke to the issue of privatization of school property, particularly with regards to the senior living center that is planned to be developed on campus. Privatization of school grounds has been a concern of students for a while, including with regard to the ropes course that was built next to the E2 parking lot and opened in 2018. Whitbeck firmly opposes continued privatization of the land.
Officer-in-charge Dennis Craig, who defended the senior living center earlier in the meeting, said that the income from the living center would raise $2 million in scholarships for students.
Craig also said that the center is being built in an area that is not frequented by students, so access should not be a problem, he said.
At the Faculty Senate meeting, which took place right before the PSGA meeting, Craig had mentioned that inaction from Governor Cuomo’s office is slowing down the search for the a new college president. This could result in either current president Tom Schwarz remaining for another year or Craig remaining as officer-in-charge for another year. Schwarz plans to retire at the end of this academic year.
Also mentioned at the faculty meeting was a resolution calling on the state to pass the Maintenance of Effort bill, which would increase base funding to SUNY and CUNY schools. Governor Cuomo has vetoed this bill for the past couple of years despite it being passed with bipartisan support.
During the faculty meeting, Senator Gabriel Minah also pushed for more student input on a reevaluation of the campus sexual assault policies, and said that students currently have “no faith” in the current system.