By Shawn Ness | January 29, 2024
Senator Dylan Klein proposed a resolution supporting state Senator Brad Hoylman-Sigal’s SSPA bill.
Photo Credit: Shawn Ness / The ASP
The University at Albany’s Student Association (SA) met Wednesday, Jan. 24, to discuss the Student Suicide Prevention Act (SSPA), a piece of state legislation proposed by Senator Brad Hoylman-Sigal in the New York State Senate.
Senator Dylan Klein proposed a resolution that would “support the existing provisions of the SSPA, but finds current legislative effort inadequate,” the resolution reads. It demands an additional provision to the SSPA requiring NYS colleges and universities to adopt the policies, effectively expanding the bill’s scope from K-12 grades to higher education as well.
“Student suicide is not an epidemic in this country. It is a pandemic,” Klein said. “14.1% of students in NYC attempted suicide in 2020. As a state, we are 15th in the country in suicide rate as a whole. 25.9% of non-fatal hospital visits for suicides are from 10-19-year olds.”
The ASP was unable to verify Klein’s specific claims, but, according to the CDC, New York is ranked 2nd in the country at 8 deaths per 100,000 people in 2020. 2021’s statistics were near-identical, with New York again ranking 2nd in the country at 7.9 deaths per 100,000 people.
The state legislation (S. 1537/A. 4788), which was additionally sponsored by Assemblymember Daniel O’Donnell, would ensure the creation of a statewide standard procedure when dealing with youth suicide prevention.
“I’ve had experience with the Counseling and Psychology Services (CAPS),” Senator Emma Rennard, a co-sponsor of the resolution, said, “...but I was very lucky that I was in a position where I had a good support system, but more people need access to therapy in a quick and efficient manner because not everyone can wait.”
The resolution passed with 24 “yes” votes and no opposition, although it did have three voting abstentions.
The body also considered another piece considering some executive appointments. SA passed by unanimous consent, the appointment of Madison Jones and Nia Dove to serve as Executive Assistants for the remainder of the 2023-24 academic year.
The Vice President for Student Affairs, Dr. Michael Christakis, also made an appearance at the body’s first meeting of the new year to talk about Gov. Kathy Hochul’s executive budget and its lack of funding for higher education within it.
He elaborated on Senator Klein’s previous comments on the matter, detailing its shortfalls when funding college institutions. “I haven’t seen a budget this bad for higher education since the Cuomo administration,” Klein said.
Dr. Christakis detailed some of how the budget processing for SUNY schools works, with funding first given to the SUNY system as a whole, who then decides how much each SUNY school gets and for what. It was said that in last year’s budget, Purple Pantry got $50,000, the Great Dane Internship Fund, which provides scholarship support for students in unpaid internships, got $390,000. The Disability Access and Inclusion Student Services got approximately $300,000 to hire three new full-time employees, and UAlbany’s mental health services got approximately $600,000 to hire three new full-time employees.
Four student organizations made appropriations requests, and all but one submitted a penny request. A penny request is a procedure that SA routinely employs to ensure that clubs are able to receive funding to get them on their way to being fully funded clubs. To do that, clubs have to apply for funding for two consecutive semesters. If a club does not need more funding, it is common for them to submit a request for one cent to meet the requirement of two consecutive semesters of applying for funding.
The Lucky Seven Car Club, UAlbany Neuroscience Club, and the Klosure Dance Team, all submitted penny requests, all of which were passed by unanimous consent. The Chinese Student Association requested $3,000 from the supplemental line for club apparel and to host its annual China Night. The request was granted with 20 “yes” votes.