By Stephen DiFiore
In their last meeting of the semester, the PSGA Senate made a couple of major decisions, one to publicly support a measure to address the lack of gender-inclusive housing on campus, and another to confirm the NYPIRG cut from $6 per student per semester to $4 per student per semester.
Senate Calls for 50 percent gender-inclusive housing
After backlash from students who felt that the school’s gender-inclusive housing system is not meeting the needs of students, senators unanimously approved a resolution to request the school drastically increase gender-inclusive housing.
“During housing selection, a lot of people have different priorities when it comes to gender-neutral housing,” said Senator Donyae McCray (LAS), referring to different reasons why people use gender-inclusive housing, such as living with their significant other or because of their gender identity.
“People think it should have some type of increase.”
The proposal endorsed “a plan to implement 50% gender-neutral housing within the next two years,” a plan that Antony Ware, Director of Housing for the Office of Community Engagement (OCE), said is overambitious.
Senator Charlie Caspari (LAS), who sits on the Civic Actions Committee, said to this point that, “We’re asking you [OCE] to aim high.”
Fellow Civic Actions Committee member Nezih Bouali (LAS) said that this resolution is “a stepping stone” to “as much as they can give.”
Ware also mentioned the different things that OCE has done on this issue since he has been with them, such as making the application process more inclusive and also increasing the number of units available.
“We have slowly increased to where we are now,” Ware said. When he started, there were less than 50 gender-inclusive spots, now there are 254. Roughly 20 of those spots are currently available but there are no fully empty gender-inclusive units.
Additionally, during Ware’s tenure in OCE, the office has eliminated an application which required students to write an essay on why they deserve gender-inclusive housing.
“I thought that was a horrible process,” he said.
In addition, Ware said he will meet with Interim President Dennis Craig to talk about the possibility of letting students choose housing based on gender identity. The current system requires students to be placed based on legal sex, with gender-inclusive housing being the exception.
Senate rejects deal to restore NYPIRG funding
Senators rejected a deal that would partially restore cuts to NYPIRG’s grant that were approved in the passed budget.
NYPIRG receives its funding from the PSGA based on a per student fee. This year the fee was $6 per student per semester. The passed budget reduces this to $4 per student per semester. The resolution in question today, described as a compromise by PSGA officials on both sides of the aisle, would have made the rate $5.
Senators Mina Bunch (SOA) and Jessica Gambino (LAS) took issue with a couple of programs that the resolution cut from the proposed budget to restore the funding.
“A lot of this could have been redistributed to possibly ... pay for senators,” Bunch said. Senators are currently volunteer positions. Finance Coordinator John Sullivan said he will be working on senator pay during the next year.
Gambino opposed cutting funding for Stood supplies, Culture Shock talent, and other entities.
“That’s taking a lot away from the students,” she said.
Responding to these criticisms Senators Caspari and Julia Tortorello-Allen (Comm.), the two architects of the deal, said that all cuts were either very small, from entities that frequently have money leftover, or from entities that have indicated that a cut would not harm them.
On cutting funding for Stood supplies, Caspari said, “There’s still 10 grand for that,” referring to any repairs that need to be done at the Stood.
Tortorello-Allen said that many of the cuts were minimal, such as a $1,500 cut to Culture Shock talent, which has a budget of $93,000.
Regarding NYPIRG’s importance on campus, Tortorello-Allen said, “I think it is as important as the Stood. It’s as important as Culture Shock,” and that the cuts “would not be damaging to our campus.”
Sullivan said that the proposal would not leave the PSGA in poor financial standing, but stop short of an endorsement.
“I’m happy they decided to continue prioritizing the entirety of the body we serve, including NYPIRG,” Sullivan said in a statement to the Phoenix.
Kevin Dugan, NYPIRG’s regional supervisor, also said in a statement that, “NYPIRG is greatly dismayed that the Student Senate did not adopt the compromise resolution that will ensure that Purchase will receive a full NYPIRG program next year,” but assured that NYPIRG “will continue to fight for all students at Purchase who are worried about rising tuition costs, climate change, and those with the greatest need in our community.”
Sullivan also said that senators “exercised their oversight responsibility, successfully, and honorably.”
Editor's note: DiFiore is a former intern and Board member for NYPIRG.