15 years of student government impacts on life at Hudson Valley

Over the last 15 years, student leaders have looked into the future with contributions affecting all facets of student life, pushing forward long-term changes, despite serving short terms.

CDTA Free Ridership

When enrollment began to climb in 2009, members of Hudson Valley’s Environmental Sustainability Committee began to look into a way for students and faculty to take advantage of bus access.

Less than three years later, a petition from the transportation subcommittee of the Environmental Sustainability Committee created on Feb. 13, 2012, had 900 student signatures that said they were in favor of free busing with a $10 sustainability fee.

In Oct. 2012, members of the Sustainability Committee proposed a CDTA contract to the Student Senate, but the Senate was wary at first to take action.

By December of that year, the Senate agreed to pay for 25 percent of the program’s cost, while the Faculty Student Association (FSA) paid 25 percent and the college 50 percent.

“I can’t think of anything that comes as close as CDTA [free ridership],” said James Lagatta, vice president of administration, discussing the greatest Senate accomplishments in his time at Hudson Valley.

The Food Pantry

The food pantry, in existence since 1997, was moved to the Student Activities office in 2008, following a growing demand for pantry space.

Over the summer of 2009, former Senate president Clifton Dixon found starving football players in training season at Hudson Valley coming into his office wanting to use the food pantry, but there was a general lack of food in stock for the student athletes to choose from.

“These students would come from all over. Their parents and support systems were not here. They were playing football for the school, but they were starving,” recalled Dixon.

Starting as a class gift in 2010, the Senate included funding for the food pantry in their budget. Now, every year, $12,000 goes into the food pantry. “It’s taken off since then,” said Coplin.

Chartwells

On June 1, 2004, Chartwells Dining Service was selected to be the new food service provider at Hudson Valley. The decision was carried through with the help of student leaders.

“What I had insisted when we went through the RFP (request for proposal) process was that we would have a food service committee, and I made students part of the process,” recalled Ann Carrozza, director of the FSA.

“We went around to different schools. I was part of the committee that made the decision between Sodexo, Aramark, and Chartwells,” said Jessica Pugliese, former Senate treasurer from 2003-04 and current admissions counselor. She said that the decision to pick Chartwells came down to taste and price.

Redrafting the 2011 Constitution

Coplin said, “2009 through 2010 was a chaotic year. It told us we needed to do something about these bylaws.”

Redrafting the Senate constitution was in the works during the term of Victoria Ramos, the Senate president in 2010-11. The constitutional change was on the table for May 2011 but had to be pushed further to summer 2011 under the term of 2011-12 Senate president Chad Coumbes.

Under the bylaw change, the Student Activities Office received more authority with the backing of the college.

The redrafted bylaws in the constitution removed the requirement that students running for executive office had to have experience in the senate, making more people on campus eligible.

The Football Field, Other Projects, and the Future to Come

For 15 years, the Senate has contributed to the clock tower, the student pavillion, the student events sign between Guenther and Amstuz, and other projects.

For the last three years, the Senate has been helping fund the athletic complex turf. At the Senate’s Apr. 13 meeting, $85,000 of the class gift went to fund the athletic complex turf.

“The past couple of years with the turf field will make a considerable impact. We’re moving forward with the turf field now that we got the funding match from SUNY,” said Carrozza.

As the Senate moves into a new era of leadership, new opportunities are available for future executives to make an impact on student life for many semesters to come. “We need to make certain that the student body’s voice is always heard, voiced clearly, and advocated for. It was a growing experience for me,” said Sam Wiggins, 2002-03 Senate treasurer.

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