Last set of minutes on SA website from 2 years ago
Portions of the Student Association senate’s website haven’t been updated to reflect the current legislative session for nearly two years ― a violation of the organization’s transparency by-laws.
According to the transparent policy-making directives found under section 204.1 of SA’s by-laws, voting records and statements of justification for each senator are to be made available to the public, properly archived, and displayed on the Student Association senate website.
Despite the provision, the last set of senate minutes found on the SA senate’s website date back to the 2015-2016 session. That is the same year the organization last updated its committee assignments, by-laws, and budget information on the site.
“To my knowledge, up until this academic year, a third party was in control of actually executing the updates to the website,” said Jarrett Altilio, senate chair.
Nicholas Fahrenkopf, a UAlbany alumni, served as SA’s webmaster from 2008 until the spring of 2016 when then SA president Felix Abreu opted not to renew his contract.
“As an organization that prides itself in providing students with opportunities to grow as professionals, we are now transitioning into a different time for the Student Association where we are looking to establish our first internal IT Department,” wrote Abreu in an email provided by Fahrenkopf regarding his release .
Abreu did not respond to request for comment.
SA did not establish its own IT department until 2017-2018 academic year, nearly two years after the organization decided not to renew Fahrenkopf’s contract.
“I can’t make a case that we’re not in violation of the senate website portion,” said Altilio, referring to the by-law. “The records should still be available in the case that someone asks for them … it’s just a matter of moving them onto the website.”
Altilio went on to say that he expects the senate to be in compliance with the by-laws “sooner rather than later” and that delays with uploading documents have been exacerbated by infrastructure issues with the site.
“There have been a lot of past developers that had the website all over the place in terms of organization with the files,” said Joel Duran, SA’s director of Information Technology, who has been working on updating SA’s website. “A lot of last semester I spent organizing [the files] and pulling in the infrastructure.”
When asked if the current state of SA’s website put the organization in violation of its own by-laws, Rules Committee Chair Brandon Holdridge pointed to mitigating circumstances surrounding the website.
“It’s out of our hands right now,” said Holdridge who stressed the need for transparency. “We’re waiting for it to be completed, and when that is, it will be updated.”
According to Duran, the most recent senate documents are expected to be uploaded within the next two weeks with documents from preceding legislative sessions to follow soon after. Updated committee rosters and weekly video recordings of SA meetings are expected to follow within a few weeks.
“Once the framework is there, it’s just a matter of uploading the files,” he said.
“Hopefully when it’s completely operational we’ll be able to start implementing this by-law,” said Holdridge, referencing the website. “We live in a digital age. Things should definitely be open to the public.”