Student Senate Seeks to Repair Rift With OSI
Student Association senators eased back on a resolution slamming the Office of Student Involvement for allegedly overstepping the organization’s operations, at last week’s senate meeting.
The resolution included several concerns among SA leadership: OSI deemed two senators, both of whom missed sexual violence prevention training last fall, ineligible to serve and opened a signup form for the seats on MyInvolvement; OSI reportedly planned to freeze MyInvolvement access for about 70 student group accounts, all of which had officers fail to attend training.
Recent concerns were struck down during talks between SA and OSI on Wednesday. Sexual assault training for group officers and student leaders was extended for early February.
Out of roughly 950 student group leaders, 130 members missed training last semester.
“It would’ve been very disruptive to the progress of UAlbany student organizations,” said SA President Felix Abreu.
As a result of negotiations earlier in the day, sponsors of the resolution (nearly half of the senate), decided to table the legislation at the Wednesday meeting.
The recent ordeal, Abreu said, may lead SA to update its bylaws to comply with state-mandated sexual assault training.
Because both senators did not violate bylaws, SA leadership argued prior, OSI’s call infringed upon organizational independence from the university.
Under the 2015 law, university officials are responsible for enforcing training. Much of the communication regarding training has been between OSI and Chantelle Cleary, Title IX coordinator.
Prior to this week, Michael Jaromin, director of Student Involvement said that communication between SA and OSI was unsteady.
“What I would own is that we need to communicate,” said Jaromin. “Because if we did communicate, this wouldn’t have happened.”
SA-OSI relations first took a hit three years ago with the enactment of the recreation and campus life fee which sought to fund the creation of the Programming Board. SA opposed its enactment in a resolution, considering the fee to overstep the role of student government.
Three years later, tensions mounted after OSI established the Student Organization Resource Center, an office designated to assist student groups. Claimed in Wednesday’s tabled resolution: SORC was created with “minimal” communication between SA and OSI.
While avoiding further conflict, Austin Ostro, senate vice chair said that the overall sentiment within the resolution remains.
“I do think there were inappropriate actions taken that have violated our autonomy,” Ostro said. “I think we can do more to help our situation by entering that dialogue [rather] than just by standing by that resolution.”
Some student groups, which attended Wednesday’s meeting in response to a mass email sent by Abreu earlier in the week warning budget freezes, had separate concerns.
In the fall, Zainub Amir, president of the university’s American Marketing Association chapter, faced miscommunication from her executive board regarding training. Had she been notified about officers missing training, she believes the situation could’ve been eased.
“If somebody didn’t attend and the last session was coming up, we would’ve liked to have been notified,” Amir said.