Affordability, sustainability, gender at center of SSC agenda

This semester, the Student Senators Council created three new task forces for the 2015-2016 year to oversee topics students identified as the most important. Through student feedback from all schools, the SSC chose to focus on affordability, gender understanding, inclusivity and sustainability.

The feedback was based on discussions at each school’s general assembly meeting at the beginning of the year.

The affordability task force was created with the intention of finding ways to make NYU more affordable for students. CAS junior and SSC Senator-at-Large Caterina Dacey Ariani said a lot of the group’s work is designed to make life more affordable to students on a daily basis.

“There are always big things we’re looking at like lowering tuition and tuition fees, but larger steps like this are very difficult to get to happen,” Ariani said. “Right now we’re working on smaller steps, little things that can help students when they come to such an expensive city.”

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Some of these smaller steps include getting Campus Cash to work as laundry payment in leased residence halls and giving students free laundry credit, similar to the printing credit they receive every semester. The SSC is also working to make meal plans more affordable, to spread information on financial opportunities, to create online modules on financial responsibility and to make for-credit internships more affordable by providing academic credit at a much lower cost than normal class credit.

The task force is also working to gather and analyze financial data with the long-term goal of increasing financial transparency at NYU.

“Right now, we’re getting data from Admissions and Financial Aid so we can understand better where tuition goes,” Ariani said. “If students are able to look at the data and it’s transparent, students can say where they want it to go and help allocate.”

The sustainability task force is made up of both student government members and environmental student leaders on campus working to create more sustainable actions on campus. Chair of the task force and Gallatin senior Emma Spett said the group hopes to integrate sustainability into various aspects of campus life.

“The goals of the sustainability task force are to address concerns and interests of the environmental community in a way that will ultimately benefit the entire university,” Spett said.

Currently, the sustainability task force has a Take Back the Tap campaign to reduce plastic bottle consumption on campus by increasing reusable water bottle availability and water stations. The task force is also taking a role in the design of new buildings and renovations being done on campus to make sure the plans are as sustainable as possible.

Spett said the group is also discussing the creation of a Center for Student Sustainability, where environmental groups on campus could meet and collaborate.

The gender understanding and inclusivity task force was designed to explore gender issues on campus and take action in order to make the student experience better for everyone at NYU. Stern junior and SSC Alternate Senator-at-Large Shawn Thibault said many senators recognized diversity as an issue that needed to be tackled at the beginning of the year.

“We realized quickly that diversity as a whole was too broad of a topic,” Thibault explained. “So we focused in on a particular area of diversity and inclusion that we thought was important: trans issues.”

Right now, the task force is in the planning stages for the advocacy initiatives and policy changes it wants to implement on campus. The task force hopes to increase gender-neutral bathrooms on campus, update the housing portal to better accommodate gender-neutral students and create a gender-understanding campaign for next semester.

Thibault said one of the most important goals of the task force is to collaborate with the transgender and gender nonconforming community at NYU and is intent on gathering feedback from them.

“[This] cannot be decided by a few senators,” Thibault said. “Rather, it needs to be a collaboration of student government and the community that it will affect.”

All three task forces have goals to collaborate with students outside of the student government and get their input on the objectives.

A version of this article appeared in the Nov. 23 print edition. Email Bryna Shuman at [email protected]

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