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Provost Questioned at SA Senate Meeting About LACS and AFS Merger

By Mattie Fitzpatrick | November 13, 2023

Provost Kim (left), Senate Chair Erin McGrath (right) looks toward her.

Photo Credit: Shawn Ness / ASP

The University at Albany’s Student Association (SA) questioned Provost Carol Kim over the merger of the Africana Studies (AFS) and Latin American, Caribbean and U.S. Latino Studies (LACS) at their session on Wednesday, Nov. 8, with key points on the merger’s origins and future being discussed. The session was Provost Kim’s first visit to the SA boardroom all semester.

The week prior, at the meeting of Nov. 1, SA had called for the Provost to attend at least one SA meeting to address the Senators’ concerns and made a formal statement saying the Provost had lost the confidence of the students. This week, Senators had the opportunity to ask questions surrounding the AFS and LACS departments' merger.

Provost Kim clarified several points regarding the merger: that the two departments were keeping all current programs; the merger was done as a result of declining enrollment; that Dean Jeanette Altaribba of the College of Arts and Science (CAS) was responsible for the original idea to merge the two departments; and that the merger came after a number of other departments were proposed for a merger including Language, Literature and Cultures Department (LLC) and the East Asian Studies Department.

“Because it will be a larger department, it will have more visibility,” Provost Kim said when questioned about what changes will come out of the merger.

Other advantages were highlighted by Provost Kim including more opportunities for connecting to students at events like Fall Preview Day or high school visits to increase the publicity of the departments.

Provost Kim continued, “I’m really looking forward to seeing what new initiatives they want to bring.”

Senator Selwa Khan asked Provost Kim a question regarding advisement, saying “Many students have said that they have experienced advisors discouraging them from continuing to major in Africana Studies or LACS, so what has the university done to address this issue?”

“...In terms of advising, that is the first time I’ve been hearing of this particular piece. And that would never be something that we would ever encourage,” Provost Kim responded.

Provost Kim admitted that the University made a mistake in only reaching out to graduate students on their opinion on the merger and neglecting undergraduate students, saying, “Graduate students were consulted with, undergraduate students were not, unfortunately, and I apologize for that, the Dean has apologized for that. All [students] should have been consulted and there should have been a discussion around this issue.”

At-Large Senator Trevor Pettit (middle)

Photo Credit: Shawn Ness / ASP

SA also showed a bill on the floor, sponsored by Senator Dylan Klein, which made changes to the Rules Investigatory Powers and Procedures Act (RIPP) that had been previously proposed. This bill completely rewrote the RIPP Act, with changes such as granting the Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Operations the power to levy sanctions against any officials external to SA, levy sanctions against Senators of Officers in replacement of impeachment, and a revised system to deal with complaints, impeachments, and trials within SA.

This bill, which was split into two separate sections during SA, was passed with 26 votes for one part and unanimous consent for the other section.

Eight appropriations bills were posed for clubs. SA had previously put a freeze on the appropriations budget due to $27,000 of the $45,000 in supplemental funding having been used despite the budget being allocated for the full year. The clubs that were present at the Nov. 8 session are the last of those receiving funding through the New and Unfunded Budget Line for this semester. Appropriation Committee Chair and Senator-at-Large James Cooper clarified that because of the lack of funds, each club proposal was locked at $414 instead of the normal $500 limit for New and Unfunded.

The Stiletto Dance Team ($414), Umoja Dance Team ($408.57), National Alliance for Mental Alliance ($414), UAlbany Best Buddies ($414), Albany Student Press ($395.82), Bletnitsky’s Boxing Club ($414) and the Posh Daily ($414), all got their funding requests approved from the New and Unfunded Budget Line. The Albany State Indian Alliance requested $3,000 from the Supplemental line, which was frozen two weeks ago, but because they had already submitted a request weeks prior it was allowed through.


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