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UAlbany Senate Passes Nine Pieces of Legislation

By Henry Fisher | February 14, 2023

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

The University at Albany’s Student Association (SA) passed nine pieces of legislation last session, ranging from Title IX resolution to bylaw changes to a veto overturn. Many of these bills made it to debate. Also discussed in the session was the election timeline and a line transfer from SA scholarship funds.

Following last session’s call for tuition freeze, President Enid Walker vetoed the associated “SIFT II” bill on the grounds that it compelled her to write the joint letter advocating for the tuition freeze without being consulted prior to the legislation hitting the floor. President Walker still did write the letter, but of her own accord – intending it to be co-signed by other members of SA.

The particular passage President Walker referred to was, “...the University at Albany Student Association calls on the University at Albany Administration to send a joint letter with Student Association President Enid Walker to advocate for either a reauthorization in the tuition freeze or for additional funding for SUNY & CUNY so that fees and tuition do not rise…”

“I think it would be more impactful if we, as a body, did something about this,” President Walker said.

Senator Dylan Klein, one of the bill’s initial sponsors, argued that there was more to the bill than the letter – that the bill presented SA’s united front against the tuition hike.

Senator Klein also called for senators to “Vote to overturn this veto from a president none of us voted for,” referencing President Walker’s rise to the presidency following President-Elect Sri Ganeshaan’s resignation during summer 2022.

The remark was stricken from SA’s record, and the president’s veto was overturned by the SA Senate.

“While I was extremely dissatisfied with the president’s decision to veto SIFT II, I am absolutely elated that the Senate has once again stood firm in its position to advocate for increased funding to SUNYs and CUNYs and for the reauthorization of the the tuition freeze,” Senator Klein said. “This is yet another legislative victory for the students of UAlbany delivered by the SA Senate!”

After six months of research and working closely with her co-sponsors, Senator Selwa Khan, Chair of the Committee on Community Engagement and Outreach, presented her Title IX Resolution to the SA Senate. The intention behind the bill is to offer further support to survivors undergoing the Title IX process.

The specifics of the bill include that “...the Office of Equity and Compliance requires the oversight of third-party personnel to enforce checks and accountability throughout each case handling of the Office, performed by an administrator at the university that is unaffiliated with said Office,” that UAlbany increases investment in sexual violence prevention training, that the Office of Health Promotion be more involved in the supporting of survivors, and that the University reforms mandated reporter procedures.

According to the bill, SA is calling for a new advocacy center “ support survivors through the Office of Equity and Compliance and the Office of Health Promotion and any other relevant administrative offices…”

“So many survivors have slipped through the cracks and done this alone,” Senator Khan said.

The Title IX bill passed unanimously.

“When I sat down with Title IX in the little broom closet that is the Title IX Office, I was faced with pretty crap options,” Senator Khan said. “I knew that this person was harassing other people. I knew that this person was still gaining leadership positions on and off-campus, and that there was absolutely nothing that I could do about it… I felt so horrified and invalidated in that moment because I really thought it was just me…”

“We want to make this process for survivors better, not leaving them in the dark,” Senator Khan said.

Senator Khan also promised that more bills were on this way, to continually address Title IX issues on campus.

After draining nearly all of the supplemental budget line, SA passed a bill to transfer funds from certain SA-run scholarships into the Supplemental Allocation line – a total of $10,750. The bill, sponsored by Senator Jalen Rose and Senator Amelia Crawford, would allow many clubs additional funding for the Spring 2023 semester.

“We’re moving money away from the scholarships, but its still going to the students,” Senator Crawford said.

President Walker argued against this bill, saying “I will walk around the campus center myself to ensure these funds are used.”

Though the scholarships have been available since Fall 2022, many of them have received near zero applicants, with really the only advertisement by SA being by word of mouth. The bill passed.

The line transfer bill was preceded by a bylaw change which altered caps on many of the lines that clubs could access. Senator Rose and Senator Crawford, who also sponsored this bill, hoped to prevent draining seen in Fall 2022 while also allowing more clubs access to these funds.

Vice Chair Jalen Miller sponsored the bill concerning the election timeline, with polling from April 10 to April 14. The self-nomination period ranges from Feb. 20 to March 6, with campaigning beginning on March 23.

Other bills passed included Sumia Hong’s nomination for Executive Assistant, changes to SA and University Senate relations bylaws, changes to bylaws concerning the Office of the Comptroller, and an extension of office hours later into the night. The Standard Step Team also received $400 from the SA New and Unfunded Budget Line. During the meeting, it was confirmed that a new credit card had arrived after the previous one was frozen.


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