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UAlbany Senate Holds First Meeting of 2023 Amid Budget Speculation

By Henry Fisher | January 30, 2023

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

The University at Albany’s Student Association (SA) met for the first time for the Spring 2023 semester on Wednesday, Jan 18. The agenda included the upcoming Student Activity Fee vote, a Valentine’s Day event, as well as a vote on a bill to extend the SA virtual office hours policy.

The upcoming Student Activity Fee vote decides the fate of the mandatory $110 per semester fee attached to students’ tuition payments. Depending on the vote, this fee could become voluntary, leading to a reduction in budget for clubs on campus – though it also lowers fee payments for students.

The Student Association gets a budget of $3 million from the Student Activity Fee, and is largely responsible for distributing these funds. Senator Jalen Rose, the Chair of the Committee on Appropriations, was responsible for making a possible budget without the Student Activity Fee – a Contingency Budget Plan.

Concerning the potential budget, Senator Rose said “it does not look good.”

Due to this, the Student Association has concerned itself with preserving the mandatory Student Activity Fee. In particular, Vice President Ciarra Medrano encouraged SA’s directors to use the resources of SA to reach out and connect with students.

With Valentine’s Day upcoming, the Director of Health and Sustainability, Erica Strand, as well as others, are planning the Love Yourz event for Feb. 14 at 6:00 p.m. in the Campus Center Ballroom. This event will be held with the Departments of Gender and Sexuality Concerns, Community Engagement and Outreach, Communications, and Disability Services.

“We will be having free self care products for students, therapy dogs, journaling, flowers, stuffed animals, stress balls etc. We are also inviting many student groups and university departments to table and support. I just want to create a space for students to come and practice healthy forms of love and receive free resources for Valentine’s,” Director Strand said.

While not discussed extensively, nine senators and one director resigned over winter break. Senator Rose seemed interested in creating programs to increase retention rates.

Comptroller Kevon Burke also mentioned that SA’s credit card was frozen. The exact cause is still being determined, with a meeting being scheduled with the credit card company to discuss it.

Up for consideration was a bill sponsored by Senate Chair Naishaly Vélez Galán which would maintain the legality of virtual office hours for members of the Student Association.

The bill passed with one against and two abstained votes.

Senator Dylan Klein voted against the bill on the grounds of it violating the Student Association’s own bylaws, such as “203.4.1 – All bylaw changes must go through the Committee on Rules and Administration prior to being introduced to the Senate floor.”

The meeting, though virtual due to the snow, was noted within the session for its high attendance on zoom.


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