By Henry Fisher | April 3, 2023
Photo Credit: Shutterstock
The University at Albany’s Student Association’s (SA) Senate passed a new community service bill this week, one that would encourage senators to participate more in the campus community. The bill had previously been tabled at the session of March 13, but was presented during the March 29 session after revisions.
The bill was sponsored by Senator Michael Regateiro and co-sponsored by Senator Sean Millington and Senator Selwa Khan. Compared to the original bill, this one no longer requires 10 hours of community service. Instead, it highly encourages senators to do so, with the added benefit that the Elections Commission would publicly post the total number of hours each senator has completed. This means that, at least in this capacity, constituents can see their senator’s contributions to the university and the Albany community.
In addition, the bill increased the number of “student group meetings or programs” that members of the Senate had to attend from three to four. After some brief questioning, the bill was passed with unanimous consent.
Senator Khan in an interview following the session thanked the Chair Naishaly Vélez Galán and the freshmen senators Regateiro and Millington for their roles in making the bill.
“I would like to shout-out the Chair of the Senate [Vélez Galán], this work would not have been possible without her. She is a huge inspiration to me, she’s one of my brothers, and I love her dearly. I would be nowhere without her, and this bill would be nowhere without her, because it was her idea when she was Committee on Community Engagement and Outreach (C.E.O) Chair last academic year,” Senator Khan said. “...I would also love to shout-out my two freshman senators that wrote this bill. I am so, so proud of them. This is Michael’s first piece of legislation – he literally came in here and changed a bylaw in the first month of his senate experience.”
In addition, Senator Khan attributed much of her work to Alpha Phi Omega, the fraternity she is a member of.
“For those of you who don’t know, I’m a brother of Alpha Phi Omega National Service Fraternity Incorporated,” Senator Khan said. “I have taken a pledge to dedicate myself to giving myself selflessly to all humankind without ever asking for anything in return, but this was a pretty big return today. I’m excited I was able to… replicate and bring that passion that was given to me also by Naishaly [Vélez Galán], because she made me the brother that I am.”
Senator Khan said that she believed that the debates were useful for constituents in showing who was against the bill.
“I think it showed the true colors of who debated against this [bill]… you guys were worried about having to do service hours, and I know it and everyone else who saw this debate knows it,” Senator Khan said. “I think it's really important to not lose sight of who you are supposed to be serving and how. Your impact doing an hour of community service, whether it feels stupid, whether it's a letter-writing, whether it's a Pine Hills clean-up… will have infinitely more impact than anything we do in this room. I can say that as someone who has made impacts in this room and outside this room.”
Senator Khan also reminded students to vote “yes” for the upcoming Student Activity Fee vote.
Later in the meeting, Senator Klein discussed the recent Nashville Shooting and UAlbany’s lack of a strong safety plan.
“Yet another mass shooting at a school, and yet there’s no action,” Senator Klein said. “...We have seen far too many lives lost to gun violence.”
He called for UAlbany faculty to meet with SA to revise the university’s safety plan.
“We cannot afford to be complacent when it comes to campus safety…. As it stands right now, probably not a single person on this campus knows what to do in the case of an active shooter,” Senator Klein said.
Senator Temesgen spoke about a recent health issue she had after eating at Jamal’s Chicken. It is the second complaint to be brought up concerning food in the Campus Center, following Senator Jalen Rose’s report on expired food at 518 Market in February.
After eating at Jamal’s Chicken, which was an irregularity compared to the other food she ate that day, she experienced severe stomach pain and diarrhea. Over the course of four days, Senator Temesgen lost 12 pounds.
“Jamal’s got the wrong one,” Senator Temesgen said. “...My personal goal is to fix the issue so that students can eat here without fear.”
Senator Temesgen reported that after talking about her experience on Instagram, many other students commented concerning similar issues they had with food on campus.
Senator Temesgen called upon the Senate to help her change things on campus, saying “Please help me do something, because I’ll be damned if this happens to someone else.”
Other legislation passed this week included a Scholarship Advertisement bill, sponsored by Senator Klein. It introduced a new advertisement policy concerning SA scholarships, saying “All Student Association Scholarships shall be advertised no later than the third (3rd) week of each academic semester.”
The final piece of legislation passed was an emergency bill sponsored by Senate Vice Chair Jalen Miller. It asked the Senate to support the Director of Dippikill, Ethan Warren, in several measures – including the purchase of new camping equipment and a competition for student groups to stay at Nelson’s Farmhouse on April 8.
Phi Alpha Delta, returning from the March 8 session, received their $2,350 after making their event ticketed and more easily accessible to the general university population. Should all of these funds be used, the Sponsorship funding line would be left with $1,100.