By Henry Fisher | April 24, 2023
The University at Albany’s Student Association’s (SA) Senate passed both their external and internal budget last session, April 19. While several budgets were flagged for reconsideration, none of the external or internal budget plans were changed from the plan the Board of Finance released.
The Student Association Senate meeting on April 19.
Photo Credit: Henry Fisher / the ASP
According to a memo sent out to student organizations, the Board of Finance worked with budget allocations in terms of a “share” of the overall budget.
“For example, let's take an organization who received a $20,000 dollar allocation in 20x1 when the external budget was $1.5 million. The organization received 1.33% of the external budget. Now let’s say the external budget in 20x2 was $1.0 million. All else being equal, the organization should still expect to receive 1.33%, meaning their budget would be around $13,300,” the memo read.
This does not mean that the budget proposed by the Board of Finance was final, with student groups being able to appeal to the Constituent Relations Committee.
“Before appeals, the external budget was roughly $1.02 million. BoF [Board of Finance] was targeting a $1.1 million dollar budget. So, they decided to grant $80,000 worth of appeals,” SA Deputy Comptroller Jason Lisciandro said in an email to the Albany Student Press.
During the discussion of the external budget, senators could flag budgets they wanted to ask questions about or propose changes to. Many were to increase the budget of certain organizations, such as for Five Quad and for the African Student Association, though none of them passed.
Several of the budgets appeared to be flagged more for issues with how the organizations ran, such as the discussion about the University at Albany College Republicans by Senator Dylan Klein, who asked about specifics of the guest speakers they may have present, as well as the flagging of Democracy Matters by Senator Jerome Honey, who was concerned with an alleged lack of neutrality within the non-partisan club.
“If we’re going to talk about groups, let’s make it germane. As senators, if you have problems with how groups are operating, these are issues that should’ve been brought up and should’ve been dealt with – not during budget,” Senator Faith Archer said, before going on to speak on SA’s viewpoint neutrality. “When I say germane, let’s keep it to the numbers…. The way y’all are talking, it’s really sounding like you have a conflict of interest and opinions on the group. That’s not what we’re here for. We’re here to talk about the budget and numbers.”
Senator Klein opened a discussion on Turning Point USA at UAlbany (TPUSA), in which he requested to move all $6,066 from TPUSA’s budget into the Muslim Student Association budget. The motion died, being followed by a motion by Senator Klein to completely eliminate the $6,066 from the budget, which also died.
The internal budget was passed with unanimous consent. This budget concerns matters such as staff stipends, Dippikill Retreat maintenance and staff wages, as well as SA event funding. There also was a piece of legislation sponsored by President-Elect Jalen Rose and Vice President-Elect Amelia Crawford that affected the internal budget by altering the roles of directors. It eliminated five director positions in the executive branch, merging their roles. With each director having received a $5,000 stipend, this saved $25,000.
Though the bill was debated upon, it passed. The Director of Marketing, the Director of Information Technology, the Director of Health and Sustainability, the Director of Civic Action, and the Director of Communication were eliminated. The Director of Programming became the Director of Marketing and Programming, the Director of Community Engagement and Outreach became the Director of Civic and Community Engagement, the Director of Dippikill became the Director of Sustainability, and the Director of Disability Services became the Director of Health and Disability Services.
President-Elect Rose, a member of the Board of Finance, also lowered his own stipend as President by $1,109.60.
During the Campus Climate section of the meeting, senators commented on the recent abortion protest and counter protest that day before the meeting, on April 19.
“If you looked out on the podium, you probably would’ve noticed that this campus was under attack today,” Senator Klein said, before talking about his own experience at the protest. “[I found] probably the most graphic images I have ever seen this way on this campus…. What was displayed today on the podium, which was funded by New York Right to Life, to ship a bunch of Canadian people to Albany to protest abortion rights in a country they don’t even vote in. So my question is, why is this university defending these actions that we saw today.”
Senator Klein went on to call for the resignation of University Police Chief of Police Paul Burlingame, as well as the defunding of the University Police Department.
This appeared to be partially spurred from the recent protests and arrests on campus, with Adjunct Sociology Professor Renee Overdyke being arrested on April 19 after trying to unplug a television screen at the event.
“Why is the university even going to try to defend now that a professor was assaulted by this university’s police department?” Senator Klein said.
“I think it’s very concerning that this university allows outside groups to play… graphic images depicting radical caricatures of what abortions look like,” Senator Jeremy Zheng said. “This group of people is not from UAlbany, nor are they paying tuition to attend UAlbany, and they’re being protected by UPD…. I support free speech under the First Amendment, but I think that showing these graphic and sensitive images and harassing students that are simply trying to go to class is just going too far in my opinion.”
“The university is a public university, and despite the fact that we’re in a pro-choice state, despite the fact that we have a campus with administration and leadership that are begging for the support of state legislature to put forward affordable and comprehensive access to contraceptives and abortion, we still have this weird little loophole where organizations like this one can come up from Canada, from Buffalo, from anywhere else, and protest on this campus. That is something that is a pitfall when it comes to being a public university. What we can control is how we deal with these things when they come up,” Senator Selwa Khan said.
Next week’s session on April 26 will include both the swearing in of new SA officials elected in this year’s general election, as well as the internal election of the Senate Chair.