In response to student outcry, the Student Senate attempted to remove a ban Friday that prevents it from giving out food containing meat to students at senate-funded events.
The bylaw banning meat was not actually overturned, however, because a two-thirds vote of the entire membership is required. The vote was 3-0-1, with President Josh Villanueva abstaining and Student Trustee Krystle Farmer absent. That is three-fifths voting members of the senate, and thus does not meet the two-thirds majority needed.
It appeared that the senators were not aware that due to Farmers absence they did not have the two-thirds majority at the time needed to overturn.
Although the vote to remove the ban occured Friday without discussion, the senate discussed it at length during the senate’s previous meeting on August 31.
“Everyone I spoke to talked about how it’s a very ridiculous law to pass because no government should limit the type of food people have,” said Kenny Igbechi, vice president of operations and finance. “The ASG is the advocate of students and we’re not making laws for ourselves — we’re making laws for the students.”
The meat ban was passed last semester and advocated for by then Sustainability Commissioner Nick Hofstatter and student Robert Coronado. It prevented the senate from using its funds to purchase foods containing meat with some exceptions, such as for money given in Club Grants and certain cultural events requiring meat.
In an interview with The Channels after the ban appeared to have been lifted Friday, Hofstatter said the goal of the ban was to decrease meat consumption and emphasize plant-based foods. Hofstatter said that because people look to City College as one of the best in the nation, it may have helped to form similar policies on other campuses. He believes this would decrease demand for meat and force the animal agriculture industry and its harms to shrink in the long term.
“Global animal agriculture is the cause of more greenhouse gas emissions than all the world’s transportation vehicles combined,” Hofstatter said. “My main concern is that if we don’t make a significant dent in our emissions between now and 2030, we’re looking at a warming trend that would cause a lot of permafrost in the arctic to melt.”
It has been widely reported that the release of methane from melting permafrost in the Arctic may make climate change self-reinforcing and out of human control.
Igbechi requested the senate review the ban after hearing several complaints from students. Student Advocate Christopher Lee also attested to this during the August 31 meeting, having also received feedback about the ban that was predominantly negative.
“There’s a lot of students who say ‘why ban meat in the first place,’” said Lee.
Vanessa Vera, vice president of external affairs, said she supported having more inclusive options for everyone.
The public was given an opportunity to send comments to the senate about its August 31 proposal to lift the meat ban between then and Friday’s vote. However, no comments from the public were referenced during Friday’s meeting.