College Senate talks police consulting firm, unsafe water on campus

SUNY Buffalo State Interim President Howard Cohen announced Friday during the College Senate meeting that the college will hire a consulting firm to analyze racial profiling on campus.

Cohen said Margolis Healy and Associates, LLC will be brought to Buffalo State in March to review and assess its policing model.

“I thought it was very important that we get a third-party, professional outside look at how we’re doing,” Cohen said.

Cohen also addressed the ongoing data collection regarding the application and admission of white and non-white students.

“We have collected some data,” Cohen said. “If we look at the Fall 2013 data, and we leave out the EOP (Educational Opportunity Program) applications, there is a difference between the admission rates of Caucasians and non-Caucasians. The difference is between 63-percent and 79-percent. At the moment, we have documented that there is an unexplained disparity.”

The Senate also addressed excess bacteria that have been present in Science Building water.

The SUNY Construction Fund has been contacted regarding the heightened level of bacteria present in the building’s drinking water.

Cohen said the SUNY Construction Fund has not been able to isolate the cause of the excess bacteria, but that the Science Building is the only location where the problem exists.

In the meantime, chlorine is being added to the water to keep the bacteria at a drinkable level. Bottled water is also being provided to students and staff who prefer not to drink the now heavily chlorinated water or use it in science experiments.

Cohen said the administration is continuing to push the construction fund to figure out what could be causing the problem. He added that the water is “safe, but maybe not pleasant.”

Senator M. Scott Goodman asked that a “Plan B” be devised should SUNY Construction not be able to solve the problem, which has persisted for the past 11 months.

“The SUNY Construction Fund — well, let’s face it, they’re in Albany,” Goodman said. “I don’t think they’re paying a lot of attention to a problem that we’re living with daily. Something needs to happen besides the status quo.”

The Transformation Group also presented during the meeting on the developing academic plan at Buffalo State.

Senators Sarah Hinderliter and Ted Schmidt said the college should be mindful of the words of former Buffalo State president Aaron Podolefsky and to “think outside the box.” The senators said in order for Buffalo State to ensure its future and set it apart, it needs to transform its curriculum as well as its culture.

Student senator Trivet Jarmond then addressed the Senate and asked them to think about what is missing when these new programs are implemented.

“Not one time have I heard, at any moment, ‘What do students have to say about this?’” Jarmond said.

Jarmond likened the separation between student and faculty senators to the kids table at a Thanksgiving dinner.

“When we go forward with these proposals,” Jarmond said, “I want to ask that you ask yourself, personally, what are you taking out of the equation when we move forward? When I’m invited to a meeting, it doesn’t really seem like my voice is heard. It feels like it’s taken as ‘duly noted.’”

In other Senate news:

Provost Dennis Ponton gave an update on the implementation of the revised Intellectual Foundations program. The new requirements are expected to go into effect for incoming students this September.

For existing students, the Technology and Society requirement has been waived.

Buffalo State is also looking into modifying credit requirements for some majors.


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Twitter: @MikeVProvenzano