By Stephen DiFiore
PSGA senators discussed a list of proposals to be voted on at the annual Fall Conference of the SUNY Student Assembly (SUNYSA), the statewide student government organization for SUNY students.
Such proposals address plastic bag use, diversity, and incorporating student patrols on campus. These proposals are recommendations to SUNY administrations at schools across the state, and schools are not required to enforce them.
The first item discussed was a proposal on plastic bag use. This resolution would request that SUNY schools, “significantly reduce the prevalence of single use plastic bags on each of their respective campuses.”
Senators indicated that they would not, however, approve the resolution as written, claiming that its language is too weak.
Senator Jessica Gambino (Neu) said that the resolution should call for plastic bag use to “be eliminated,” rather than just reduced.
Senator Soulangie Leeper (LAS) said that there ought to be more language to include single use plastic bottles, straws, and utensils to be included as well.
Senators indicated that they would not support the resolution unless those major concerns were addressed.
Additionally, Senate Chair Teresa Wheeler, one of Purchase’s two votes (the other being President Elijah Logan), said that the PSGA Green Fee Council is already working on a plan that would ultimately eliminate the use of plastic bags at SUNY Purchase.
The Senate, however, was more supportive of a resolution that would strengthen diversity training at SUNY schools.
The resolution, if passed, would recommend that schools “work with multicultural resource centers, gender and sexuality centers, religious centers, and disabilities centers to create diversity and inclusion training within their freshman and transfer undergraduate orientations.”
Senator Steve Kollias (Comm.), who sits on SUNYSA’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee, said he would have preferred that the resolution included specific references to using people’s preferred pronouns. However, he mentioned that the issue will be addressed separately at another time.
“There is somebody working on a pronoun resolution,” Kollias said.
Kollias also added that he would have preferred the resolution include bystander intervention training and training for faculty members as well, as the current resolution only addresses training students.
Wheeler said that she recommends adopting the resolution anyways because of the lack of attention this issue has at SUNY schools in general.
“Schools need this as a base push,” Wheeler said.
Although senators noted these issues with the resolution they were generally supportive of it passing. Wheeler and Logan will also take their concerns with them to the SUNYSA Conference.
The last major item that was discussed was a resolution to create student patrols at campuses across the state. Senators did not give a hard yes or no answer as they did with the previous two proposals.
The most major issue with the proposal was the fear of students with biases becoming members of the student patrol.
Senator Leeper said, “You have to be very careful as to who you hire,” with regard to this issue.
Senator Andrew Tatar (LAS), said “Maybe it’s because I’m cynical. I just don’t trust people.”
Senators indicated that schools should give a lot of attention to the interview process.
While noting the senators’ concerns, Wheeler noted some potential benefits.
“I personally think it increases student transparency,” she said. “We want students to trust UPD.
In addition to specific resolutions, senators briefly discussed the proposed SUNYSA advocacy agenda, which usually includes freezing tuition and supporting the passage of the DREAM Act, which would provide financial aid to undocumented students.