By Leigh Roberts | May 1, 2023
President Jalen Rose (left) and Vice President Amelia Crawford (right).
Photo Credit: Jalen Rose
The following is a transcript of the ASP’s recent interview with the University at Albany Student Association (SA) President-elect Jalen Rose and Vice President-elect Amelia Crawford. Rose and Crawford won the Spring 2023 SA Presidential election with their “Fight the Power” ticket, which emphasized meeting the needs of students by increasing outreach between the SA and the student body. The SA 2023-2024 Presidency goes into effect today, May 1.
You said that the Student Association has said “no” too many times. Can you tell me about a time that the Student Association has said “no,” and you don't think they should have?
Rose: There have been plenty of times where senators have asked for things like reform on campus, when people actually wanted to pay attention to the student concerns. [But] in the past – not this year – SA has focused a lot of its internal…focus on the agendas people have against each other instead of focusing on the student body as a whole, which leads to a lot of people not caring about SA, which is why we had decreased voter turnout, because nobody really knows what we do. No one’s reaching out to the students anymore.
One of your goals that you mentioned during the Presidential Forum was increasing voter turnout. Do you have a plan for that?
Rose: Voter turnout is not something that happens over the course of the week that we have [the election]. It’s like, the year goes by and you're supposed to meet with the people to make sure that they know what the Student Association is and when the elections are. I think that that's been our main problem, is only highlighting students when it’s time for them to vote. So I think that my number one plan would just be to make sure that we're constantly reaching out to students instead of one time in the fall and one time in the spring when we need them to…vote for us. I would want there to be a constant communication between SA and the people that we're supposed to represent. Whether that includes programs or meet-and-greets with people, I think that there needs to be more of an SA presence on campus rather than just sitting in the office.
This ties into your stance on wanting to increase outreach. What else would you like to see in terms of student outreach?
Crawford: We’re planning on going to talk to almost every student group that we fund. I think the important thing is that people don't know what the Student Association does. We had a whole referendum for the Student Activity Fee, which is how we fund all student groups and events on campus, and that didn't get the turnout that we wanted it to. It passed, but when it was just us telling people to vote yes to it, no one really knew what it was. So I think making sure that people know that they're paying us our money – the reason we function is because people pay this fee – and that they should take advantage of it and get what they want out of it…would be the main goal.
Would you like to comment on the Student Activity Fee being voted mandatory?
Rose: The Student Activity Fee, in my opinion, should always be mandatory, because we fund so many things on campus that regular students probably don't know. We do Block Party, and our concerts may or may not have the turnout that we want, but they are pretty big events that we put a lot of money and time and effort into. So I think the Student Activity Fee…is a crucial part of life on campus, because if it were to be voluntary, you wouldn’t see all of the fun programs that student orgs put on, like all of the fashion shows and concerts and [speakers], those won't exist anymore because there's no money to fund any of those programs. So we’d see a dead campus without the Student Activity Fee.
One of your goals that you also mentioned in the forum was free parking and free printing.
Crawford: I've just noticed that we pay a lot of money to be here, we pay to live here on this campus, and we have not been prioritized parking-wise. It's just a major inconvenience when you're trying to get to class and you're trying to fit in the one parking spot [in] the parking lot that's sectioned off for you, and you're spending 20 minutes trying to find a spot when faculty just pull straight up. There’s always spots in that spot, and they get to go in easily. And then how they’re using parking, how they’re using tickets, I think they’re going a little crazy. How much money are they making off of just ticketing people when we, again, pay a lot of money to go here, attend here, and live here on this campus? So that’s something I want to talk about, and reworking how parking works is a goal of ours.
[With] printing we've kind of been looking at other colleges, other campuses, how they do printing, how they pay for it. And we've seen other models…a lot of other campuses have free printing. And why is that something we don't have here? We pay a technology fee, we pay a lot of other fees, why do I have to go swipe my card and pay five cents for a piece of paper to be printed? It's just ridiculous. We pay a lot of money to go here, and it's something that wouldn't cost a large amount just to change and take away. So we want to talk to administration about that as well.
You also mentioned decreasing Student Association spending. How would you plan to do that?
Rose: In the budget that we proposed, we already proposed $450,000 in decreases internally. Last year we spent…close to $2.2 million. In this year we brought that back down to 1.8. I wouldn’t consider it reckless spending, but I’d say a lot of the things that we spent money on last year didn't actually need to be spent on again this year, especially when we have a lot of student groups that are begging us for a lot of money to put on more programs and events. I think it’s kind of crazy that we’re unable to do that because a lot of our spending is internal. So that was the first thing that I wanted to do, was decrease how much money we were spending, which includes decreasing my own stipend. I decreased that by $1,100 because I feel like if you want to do this job, yes, you should get incentivized for it, but I think that it’s more about wanting to do it rather than getting paid to do the job.
One last question: I know you’ve mentioned this, but just to clarify, how do you plan to support student organizations here at UAlbany?
Rose: As a senator, I was the Appropriations Chair, so a lot of my job was giving funding and helping some organizations through the funding process. But as President, I think the number one goal would be working with student groups to promote their events more. And not necessarily on the funding side, because I think they have a lot of turnout internally for the groups that have the very big member counts. But I think the smaller orgs are the ones who need a lot more help, because they do get these budgets, but then when they don't have people turning up to the events, they're unable to prove that they need a bigger budget for next year because they're stuck in this cycle of getting little amounts of money, and they're not having a lot of people come to their events. So they're kind of perpetuating bigger groups getting more money and smaller groups getting less money when we should be funding all of them and promoting everybody at the same time.
The first thing that we want to do is meet with almost every student group on campus, because one, they don't know who we are, and two, I think they don't know the resources that are available to them through the Student Association. I know this year the current administration heavily promoted programming with our departments and making sure that we can use our outreach and the organization’s outreach to further promote the event. And I do want to keep doing that, because I think that that did help people learn about more events. And I think it's great that we have organizations out there that correspond with the departments that we have, because then you're able to have bigger and better events and use some of our budget to help supplement what the student organizations can't get.