By Henry Fisher | May 1, 2023
The University at Albany’s Student Association’s (SA) Senate met for the final time this semester last week on April 26. Officials elected in the recent general election were sworn in, including new senators as well as President Jalen Rose and Vice President Amelia Crawford. The meeting was immediately followed by a special session for the election of the Senate Chair.
Members of the Student Association holding signs during Senator Dylan Klein’s presentation of the “A.C.A.B.” bill. From left to right: Senator Sean Millington, President Jalen Rose, and Senator Timothy Goldsmith.
Photo Credit: Maceo Foster / the ASP
Senator Dylan Klein presented the “A.C.A.B.” Act last session, which stood for “A Call Against Burlingame.” Paul Burlingame currently acts as the University Police Department’s (UPD) Chief of Police.
“We have had a counter protest on this campus met with direct opposition from the University Police Department where they go ahead and say, when the counter protesters are chanting ‘no cops, no KKK, no TPUSA,’ the University Police Department officers decided to egg them on and ask ‘what did I do?’” Senator Klein said. “Let’s go back to last semester, when the UPD disrupted union activity, federally protected union activity, when the Vice President of Finance and Administration assaulted a grad student who was a member of the Graduate Student Employees Union protesting at an end wage theft rally…. Paul Burlingame, with Todd Foreman [UAlbany Vice President for Finance and Administration] harassing that very same woman, was screaming in her ear telling her… that she did not have a right to protest.”
Senator Klein also spoke on the recent abortion protest on campus, as well as the arrest of adjunct Professor Renee Overdyke, saying, “That’s Paul Burlingame [in the picture], our Chief of Police, standing over as five officers assault Professor Renee Overdyke, slamming her to the ground twice, dragging her off the podium and basically making her nude. Meanwhile, Paul Burlingame stood there and did nothing. And then right after it, you can see him talking to students and smiling about what he just did – having a professor arrested and ganged up like that by five University Police Department officers.”
The bill itself calls for reform in the UPD, including a divestment from the UPD to create a Mobile Crisis Center. While SA had already called for the establishment of the Mobile Crisis Center, Senator Klein found UPD’s 2021 attempt of a Community Response Team unsatisfactory – referring to them as “five white guys with polo and badge and gun.” Klein called for licensed professionals responding to mental health incidents on campus.
The A.C.A.B. Act also called for the creation of a fully independent Civilian Complaint Review Board. One does exist on campus currently, but, according to Senator Klein, it is not free of the university’s influence. An amendment was proposed to formally call “on Paul Burlingame to resign the position of Chief of the University Police Department,” though the motion failed.
When asked who he would recommend as the next Chief of Police, Senator Klein said “The honest answer is that I want to see all those f------ gone…. The political answer [is that] it could really be anyone this university decides as long as they are confirmed by the University Senate.”
The bill, without the amendment, was passed by unanimous consent.
Other legislation passed included a bill to beautify the Office of Health Promotion, sponsored by Senator Orobo Obaro-Ogbova. The goal of Senator Obaro-Ogbova’s bill was to promote awareness of the office through a mural near the office and other beautification projects.
The mural will be chosen through a student art competition – incentivized with a scholarship.
The election timelines for Fall 2023 were approved, as well as Nicholas Feldman’s nomination to the SA Supreme Court. The Anthropology Association received $343.20 from the New and Unfunded budget line.
Swearing in of new senators.
Photo Credit: Maceo Foster / the ASP
The end of this session marked the end of the 2022-2023 Student Association. Officials, including, but not limited to, President Enid Walker, Vice President Ciarra Medrano, Senate Chair Naishaly Vélez Galán, and many senators have seen the end of their terms. The beginning of the April 26 session saw many speeches from different SA officials, including Senator Selwa Khan, Senator Klein, President Walker, and Vice President Medrano.
Gabriella Romero, Councilperson of the Albany Common Council, visited SA, presenting Senate Chair Vélez Galán with her stole and a gavel.
“I’m so excited to be here and to honor you and say congratulations on your last meeting as chair. Your outstanding leadership, dedication, and commitment to doing what is right has been an inspiration to so many people, including myself,” Romero said. “It’s been a really exhilarating journey to witness your path as a student leader over the past few years, and I feel special to have known you and to have grown from you…. Your legacy will continue to inspire future generations of student leaders here, at the University at Albany, and also in the city of Albany.”
“We’re all here together, and we are all stronger as a result of our experiences in the Student Association and in the Senate. Being the chair has been one of the most emotionally taxing things in my undergraduate career. I hope that, moving forward, the Student Association continues to foster a culture where we give and show our leadership team, and each other, respect and grace, because we are all humans on this planet who have the same values of wanting to help others, which is why we are all here. To those of you that prayed on my downfall, I am glad you did not get to see it,” Chair Vélez Galán said.
Vice President for Student Affairs Michael Christakis spoke at the meeting, congratulating all staff, directors and senators this year.
“Congratulations, thank you for a terrific year. You all were, legitimately, a fully functioning and actively engaged body. I congratulate you on that… I have no problem with a dysfunctional Student Association, because a dysfunctional Student Association does not keep me accountable, Vice President Christakis said. “You were a functional – highly functional – Student Association.”