Calvin Dimmig | February 7, 2022
The Student Association Senate kicked off the spring semester with meetings held on Jan. 26 and Feb. 2 composed of a meet-and-greet, the State of Senate address given by Chairman Nicolas Chin, and hundreds of dollars in funds proposed and passed in under five minutes.
State of the Senate
At the meeting on Jan. 26, Chairman Chin proposed a new theme for the semester: “Vision and Prosperity.” The motif enabled the creation of a stable and collaborative senate, said Chin. The Senate in recent semesters has fallen under scrutiny for ineffective meetings, delayed elections, and the retroactive disqualification of the 2021 presidential elects. Chin wants the Senate to overcome this stigma.
“For us to move forward, we must have these two things,” said Chairman Chin, “I have a vision for a collaborative senate; one that is student-focused; one that is vocal and firm; one that is kind and compassionate; and, yes, one that ends before 11 o’clock.”
He stressed the importance of increasing transparency in SA meetings. Chin also stated that senate meetings, which take place in person every Wednesday in the Campus Center Boardroom, will now be broadcasted and recorded on IG Live, allowing students to watch meetings from the convenience of their phones.
In his closing remarks, Chin touched on ways to connect with administration, staff, and students. “We must all remember we are all a part of one team, and, in doing so, we can achieve community. Therefore, let us stay vigilant, persistent, and focused,” he said.
The senate passed the MAFAI (Make Albany a Flagship Academic Institution) Act. The act expresses the senate’s support for Gov. Kathy Hochul’s proposal in her Executive Budget to designate UAlbany as a flagship (leading) research institution and partner the university with the SUNY Polytechnic Institute.
Hochul’s proposal would designate $500 million towards research initiatives for the university. With this proposal, UA could revamp its research capacity and compete with other flagship institutions.
In addition, Hochul said she wants to “lean into the strengths of each part of the SUNY system,” by creating a streamlined application and financial aid process, simplifying and improving the transfer process, and job acceleration between education and the workforce.
The Jim Malatras Reinvestment Fund Act attempts to repeal and reinvest ex-SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras’ severance package. Malatras, a former aide of Andrew Cuomo, resigned from office due to problems arising from his “toxic management style” in Jan.
Malatras will receive a year of paid leave at $450,000. Reacting to this sum of money, UAlbany’s political science professor José E. Cruz called the severance package “immoral” in a letter to the Times Union.
The Jim Malatras Reinvestment Fund Act only shows support for the reinvestment of Malatras’ severance package, not the actual reinvestment of the package.
The Free Tuition Support Act encourages the passing of Bill A54—currently in the assembly committee. This bill provides free-tuition for students attending SUNY, CUNY, and state funded community colleges. Free tuition has been a subject of local and national debate. The Student Association justifies the passing of the bill as New York’s chance to become a leader in the nation.
The Spring 2022 General Election Timeline Act, Committee Reassignments Act, and Senate Agenda Re-Organization Act streamlined processes and actions of the Student Senate. Respectively, these acts propose a timeline for the Spring General Election (nominations held during the remainder of Feb., campaigning in March, roughly speaking), makes the Senate Chair responsible for changing committee membership if a need to do so occurs, and the optimization of Senate meetings (allowing only the public to talk during public comment, restricting specific discussion topics to a set time, etc.)
The meeting also featured the funding of The Cryptocurrency Club and The National Association of Black Accountants (NABA). Vice Chairwoman Divya Tulsiani briefly mentioned certificates of recognition for student group leaders.
“[The certificates will] recognize and reward student groups for their hard work on this campus. Through our Constituent Relations committee, Senators are able to nominate a group to be recognized via a simple form on MyInvolvement,” said the Chair and Vice-Chair in a statement to the ASP.
They continued, “once the request is submitted to the committee, they vote on it and the student group (if approved) is recognized with a certificate during the next Senate meeting.”
Student groups should know the Senate has “taken legislative measures to streamline this process, so that we can recognize as many student groups as possible before the end of the semester. Our student groups have had such a difficult year, with everyone getting back to in-person mediums and adjusting to life back on campus, and we feel it is only right we honor and celebrate their accomplishments.”