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This Week in Senate: Refugees, Ramadan and Reports

By Patrick Healy and Julia Barth

The Undergraduate Student Association (USA) met on Tuesday and welcomed Dr. Shyam Sriram, one of campus’s newest associate professors in the political science department.

Sriram started by talking about how positive campus change is necessary. He encouraged USA to improve diversity on campus and to work closer with admissions to diversify the student body through race, ethnicity and religion. He referenced the alumni wall outside the Regis Room, composed almost entirely of white alumni, as a sign of Canisius’s past lack of diversity.

Sriram advocated for Canisius to partner with the Every Campus A Refuge (ECAR) program, which commits colleges to sponsor refugees in college-owned housing, and he noted the unused Canisius property. Because of their Jesuit mission and location in Erie County — the refugee resettlement capital of New York State — “we are the ideal place” to host, he said.

Afterwards, Sriram accepted questions from senators, suggested a bill to pass through senate and the ways student leaders can hold conversations around these topics. Senators asked Sriram about logistics and the cost of hosting refugees through ECAR.

Sriram said that, aside from being a humanitarian measure, hosting refugees could permit service learning. Pitching Canisius as the only college in Western New York to host refugees, he said, “[is] how we can get the administration on board.”

President Jahare Hudson’s report discussed a fundraiser for the earthquake in Turkey and Syria. Dr. Harold Fields, vice president for student affairs, spoke about soliciting outside donations to Petey’s Pantry and told Hudson that he will provide spaces for students who celebrate Ramadan. Hudson announced a push for a cura personalis day to be added next semester. Also, students who stay in residence halls during breaks will no longer be charged.

Finally, Hudson said he met with Tom Chambers, dean of arts and sciences, about adding a race and ethnicity major. Hudson said next steps would be combing through curricula with ALANA Center Director Bennie Williams and Associate Dean for Diversity and Inclusion Fatima Rodriguez-Johnson. “It could increase enrollment,” Hudson said, which would increase the student activity fee and the number of events USA hosts. The final step, Hudson said, would be for a USA resolution to support the major.

The Honors Student Association appealed for about $4,500 for its banquet. The Senate passed the appeal unanimously.

Committee chairs provided reports, noting dates of their final semester events. VPMPR Elnara Karadzhayeva asked about Wi-Fi issues that have emerged since the implementation of multi-factor authentication, and sophomore Senator Meg Campbell suggested going to ITS directly. Lastly, the senate discussed whether Canisius should lock more doors around campus during the day.

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