The Binghamton University Student Congress’ weekly meeting prompted votes on a wide array of campus issues, from controlling the deer population in the Nature Preserve to expanding the number of textbooks available in the library.
The meeting began with a short speech by Brian Rose, the vice president for Student Affairs. He introduced himself and his office to Congress and outlined the various services Student Affairs offers to students, which includes running health and wellness campaign B-Healthy, and capital planning, which manages the funding of student resources and buildings on campus such as residential halls and retail dining.
He also addressed the impending rise in minimum wage, which would impact the University’s ability to offer on-campus jobs to students due to budget constraints.
“We want to be able to continue to employ students and continue to provide the services that students help us provide, and we need to figure out a way to accommodate that,” Rose said.
A growing number of non-Congress attendees prompted student representative Nicholas Ferrara, a junior majoring in political science, to move up the Internal Affairs report portion of the meeting; a section of this report dealt with the revocation of Student Association-charted group Black Dance Repertoire’s (BDR) room on the third floor of the New University Union. The room had been taken away due to improper usage when the group allegedly allowed a former student to use the space for a for-profit hair salon.
“It’s against state law mainly for holding an illegal business on state property,” explained Charlie Scheftic, the chair of internal affairs for the Student Association (SA). “It’s also within an SA room, which is a privilege that [only] certain groups get.”
Members of BDR argued that those rules had not been made clear to the group and, consequently, did not warrant punishment. The punishment had originally also entailed removing the president, but has since been remanded due to it being out of the jurisdiction of Internal Affairs.
“This is a violation that occurred by a couple of people who did something dumb. Look around the room and we don’t just have a couple of people in the room,” said Ferrara, who spoke for the group during the debate. “A lot of people are affected by this. Don’t do this again. Don’t run a business out of your SA office. I think the point was made… I think the lesson has been learned.”
A vote was called, and Congress voted 17-9, with four abstentions, in favor of barring BDR from using the room. BDR can re-apply for use of their room next semester.
Four other pieces of legislation also came to a vote. Congress voted 30-0, with two abstentions, on supporting a SUNY-wide resolution that pushed for more transparency in unpaid intern’s rights and called for more support by SUNY regarding this. A second vote was 33-0, with one abstention, to support increasing the number of textbooks available in the library’s course reserves, with the aim to make college more affordable for students.
A third vote on the Biodiversity Protection Act produced a 27-0 vote, with four abstentions, in favor of pushing BU administrators to explore population control of deer in the Nature Preserve. The final piece of legislation suggested exploring with administrators the idea of allowing students to retake a class and consider the second grade earned to be the final one. This passed 26-4, with two abstentions.