40 years ago: the Student Government held hostage

As the only ethnic minority on the Financial Council, I was one of the folks selected to negotiate.

SUNY_New_Paltz_main_quadI got elected to the Financial Council at the State University of New York at New Paltz in the spring of 1974 but didn’t take office until the fall. We passed a budget, which was, I’m guessing, only incrementally different from the previous year’s.

This displeased two student groups, the Black Student Union and Hermanos Latinos. So much so, that one night while we were meeting, they sat in our offices, refusing to leave until the groups got in their allocations the percentage of funds equivalent to the percentage of blacks and Hispanics on campus.

Don’t know what that was then; the school is now 5% black, and that was probably about the same then, but it’s 12% Hispanic now, far more than then.

In any case, a committee was formed to negotiate. As the only ethnic minority on the Council, I was one of the folks selected. The FC tried to note that there were lots of things that we paid for that benefited everyone, such as the Oracle newspaper, radio station WNPC, and ombudsman; this was largely an unsuccessful line of discussion.

Ultimately, the FC agreed to the demands, and the groups left. Almost immediately, the FC head froze EVERYONE’S budget, and a day or two later reinstated a budget that was fairly close to our original budget, with perhaps token increases to the two groups. Oddly enough, they didn’t come back to complain, for which I was extremely grateful.

This experience oddly soured me on me running for elective office. Nothing that has happened since has negated that thought, and in fact has only strengthened it.

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