Tensions heat up in BSG senate meeting

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President Heidi Macpherson took some heat at the BSG Senate meeting when senators criticized the college’s bias and reporting system (photo courtesy of Ryan Bagley).

By: Ryan Bagley

A presentation of the College at Brockport’s new strategic plan was overshadowed by discussions of race-related incidents that have occurred on campus over the last two semesters. The  tone that developed prompted BSG president Devin Bonner to compare the atmosphere to that of a “wolf’s den.”

College President Heidi Macpherson was slotted to give a presentation on the plan at Friday’s BSG senate meeting.  The plan lays out the desired direction the college plans to take over the next five years. It emphasizes four “pillars” (Community, Engagement, Excellence, and Transformation) that will be used to “build a better Brockport” and make it a better place to live, learn and work.

The former strategic plan was designed to go through 2016 and is being revised and rewritten to better fit the goals of the next five years. The goal for the new plan was to increase student feedback and involvement through presentations such as the senate meeting that took place on Friday.  

Following a summary of what was stated in the plan, the floor was opened for questions from BSG senators and crowd members alike.  That’s when the discussion took a turn.

Following three questions centered more on the structure of the plan, BSG Senator Matthew Millace took his turn at the proverbial mic.  He spoke briefly of the two incidents involving racism that took place over the last two semesters. Being an off-campus student himself, Millace asked President Macpherson how the strategic plan will incorporate better systems of communication to students who do not live on campus.

President Macpherson responded by referencing Brockport’s “Bias Response and Reporting System,” (hereafter BRRS) and how it is designed to help incidents that may have previously gone unreported reach the proper people. She stressed that once an incident is reported, it has to travel through the proper channels just as any other incident does.

“So, we now have [the ‘BRRS’], that process is working well,” President Macpherson said. “That is not necessarily something we are advertising. In other words, we don’t advertise there’s an incident or tell everyone on campus what happens as a result of that. It goes through the processes we already have… if it’s student conduct it goes through student conduct. Those are the things I can say about that.”

Millace yielded the floor for more questions. Senator Christopher Rivera continued the line of questions regarding the BRRS.

“So it sounds like it’s just a reporting system. So, like, does everybody get to know when things get reported on the system?” Rivera asked.

President Macpherson reiterated that answer was “no,” but Rivera continued on the topic.

“For these kinds of incidents, it’s important to know that when not everyone knows what happened, but certain groups know – for example, people of color, who know about the incident – but they don’t feel like it’s being adequately acknowledged to the campus as a whole, it doesn’t really help us feel any better if we just know that there’s a system in place,” Rivera said.

President Macpherson tried to steer the conversation back onto the strategic plan, promising to come back around to Rivera’s question. Following a few more questions from senators and crowd members, she delivered on her promise.

President Macpherson reiterated that the incidents mentioned were under investigation and that no more details about their outcome could be provided. She acknowledged how events that go unsolved can be hard, telling a personal story about how a close friend of hers was abducted on her way to work in 1995 and that no information was ever found.

“It’s really hard to have things go unsolved. The reality is, there are unsolved things across the world,” Macpherson said.

After that, the remarks and questions became far more accusatory toward the college’s reporting system, with a general sentiment that the college is not doing enough.

 

 

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