On Tuesday, March 28, Stockton University’s Student Senate held an open meeting for members of the University community to attend. Senate Vice President Ben Yandell presided over Tuesday’s proceedings in the absence of President Brianna Bracey. Yandell opened the meeting by listing the Senate’s major areas of concern, which included committees not being aligned with the University’s needs, the implementation of a health and wellness committee, and the long-term direction of Stockton’s Atlantic City Campus in terms of its lack of resources.
Yandell also announced that Diversity and Inclusion Committee member Senator Vera Tagtaa is eligible to run for the Senate presidency in the upcoming election. Tagtaa had missed a Senate training session earlier this year while abroad in Ghana; though she had attempted to join the session virtually, WiFi disruptions prevented her from doing so. Yandell took these circumstances into consideration and interpreted the Senate constitution in Tagtaa’s favor. The motion to declare Tagtaa eligible for the presidency passed unanimously.
Conflict arose during the Finance Committee’s report when two student organizations—the Caribbean Student Association (CSA) and The Argo Newspaper—requested increased funding from Student Senate. Though The Argo’s request for $4,000 to go toward payroll and business expenses passed with 22 votes in favor and three abstentions, CSA’s request for $8,500 to attend the Caribbean Scholars Association conference in St. Croix sparked a roughly hour-long debate between CSA President Ann Delva and the Senate.
CSA had originally requested $16,000 from the Senate to attend the conference, which they claimed would allow them to learn more about their Caribbean heritage and spread greater awareness of their culture on Stockton’s campus upon their return through the implementation of a Caribbean carnival. Though the Finance Committee initially expressed the desire to grant CSA the full amount, concerns over the dwindling remainder of the Senate’s budget prompted committee members to push for a request of $8,500 prior to the open meeting. When presented before the full Senate, the motion failed with nine Senators for the request, 15 against, and one abstention.
Multiple Senators, including Public Relations Committee member Senator Garrett Testut, expressed hesitance in granting funding for the proposed trip, stating that the “research” that CSA planned to conduct by attending the conference can be done independently using online resources. Public Relations Chairperson Brandon Wildman expressed his solidarity with CSA as an individual of Caribbean descent himself but suggested that CSA could request a smaller amount of money to fundraise for the trip, rather than requesting the full amount from the Senate. In response, Delva and her fellow representatives commented on the “disconnect” between Senate and multicultural organizations like CSA, citing the recent significant funding allotments granted to Stockton’s Skii Club and Dance Team with presumably little to no pushback and stating that the debate over CSA’s funding was “insultive.”
Wildman then motioned to approve $4,000 in funding to put toward the trip, which failed. Another Senator proposed granting CSA $7,000 to attend the trip, which also failed. After Finance Committee Chairperson Jennifer Dorval warned her fellow Senators against playing a “money game” with CSA’s funding, the Senate agreed to approve $5,000 of funding for CSA to attend the conference.
Other topics addressed at Tuesday’s meeting included the Governmental Affairs Committee’s upcoming civic activism documentary showing at Oakcrest, the upcoming Senate elections, the establishment of a long-term prayer space on campus, the conversion of existing menstrual product machines to free ones, and upcoming events honoring Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Heritage Month in May.
Student Senate will host their final open meeting of the semester on Tuesday, April 25, 2023.
Categories: Stockton News