This Strange Technicality Almost Kept a Student Off the PSGA Senate



By Stephen DiFiore


The PSGA Senate approved three new senators at its meeting on Sept. 26, increasing their numbers from 13 to 16. One student, Darjee Minah, was almost kept from joining the Senate due to her housing status.


Minah, who applied to become a Commuter Senator, is one of 106 students who were assigned to live at the Doral Arrowwood Hotel due to Purchase not having enough dorms for residential students. As such, she would be qualified to be a Commuter Senator, as students living at the hotel need to commute to campus.


Minah pitched her case to be appointed to a Commuter Senator position by advocating for plans that would benefit commuter students, such as improvement of the the child day care on campus.


She added that because she is paying $12,000 to go to school at Purchase, she wants to make a difference and make the most of her time here “because [Purchase] is certainly getting the most out of me.”


However, the hotel where Minah currently lives is meant to be temporary housing until on-campus residential plans are available, which means there is a good chance that Minah will have to relocate to on-campus housing, thus losing her commuter status and potentially making her ineligible for the position. Senator terms last one year, but she could lose her commuter status before her term is up due to the temporary nature of her current housing situation.


This dilemma brought the Student Senate on the verge of a crisis.


Senators passionately discussed a variety of plans to approve her appointment in a manner that would not risk forcing her to resign her position.


Liberal Arts and Sciences Senator Oscar Salazar, also a commuter, offered one roundabout plan to approve her. Salazar offered to resign and be appointed as a Commuter Senator, while Minah would be appointed to his seat as a Liberal Arts and Sciences Senator.


This plan was dropped after it was mentioned that appointed senators will have to re-run for their positions should the Senate call for a special election any time during the year.


Additionally, senators did not want to deny her the opportunity to represent commuters because those are the people on campus whom she wants to represent.


“She’s here to represent commuters,” said Olde Senator Adel Martinez.


PSGA President Elijah Logan, a former senator, said that her future situation should not influence the Senate’s decision to appoint her for now, saying that having her for half a semester would be better than not having her at all.


“It’s less about the position you hold and more about the work that you do.” Logan said.

Liberal Arts and Sciences Senator Charlie Caspari said it would be best to approve her now and worry about the housing situation later.


“I think the best thing would be to revisit it,” Caspari said.


Finance Coordinator Jack Sullivan said that although the election applications, which are not official PSGA governing documents, say that senators need to be a member of the constituency that they represent, there is nothing in the Constitution or the bylaws that say anything similar, so a change in a senator’s housing situation should not be a problem.


After an unexpectedly long debate, the Senate unanimously voted to approve Minah’s request to be appointed as a Commuter Senator with no stipulations or changes, and a potential crisis was averted.


Three out of four Commuter Senator positions are now filled, the most in at least the past year.

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PSGA Bylaws (August 2018), Student Bill of Rights, Section B. Freedom of Speech, Press and Inquiry


Neither the student government nor any faculty or administrative person or board shall make a rule or regulation or take any action which abridges students’ freedom of speech, press or inquiry, as guaranteed Constitutional rights as citizens of the United States. Students of the campus are guaranteed:

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  2. the right to learn in the spirit of free inquiry;

  3. the right to be informed of the purposes of all research in which they are expected or encouraged to participate either as subject or researcher;

  4. the right to freedom from censorship in campus newspapers and other media 

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