Senators, Trustees chairman debate transparency and arming SUPD

This week in SGA…

Bob Lamb, chairman for Suffolk University’s Board of Trustees, spoke with SGA at its Oct. 24 meeting about arming campus police officers and how transparent the Trustees should be, among other issues brought up by senators. 

Suffolk President Marisa Kelly said in an email sent to The Suffolk Journal last spring that if the Trustees felt they had sufficient information, they would vote on the arming issue at their June Board meeting. Over the summer, the Trustees postponed the vote indefinitely. 

Lamb said at Thursday’s meeting that the vote was postponed to give Trustees and other groups more time to gather information on the issue. 

“Please don’t assume that since the Board did not make a decision this year, that this is not a priority item for us,” said Lamb. “We have committed to continuing to discuss this, and research this [issue], this academic year.”

Lamb said last year that he thought a decision on arming would have been made sooner. 

“What I’m very focused on is not making a bad decision just because I thought we should get it done quicker…” said Lamb. “When the Board makes a decision on this issue, yeah, a communication will come out.”

Commuter Senator at-Large Lukas Phipps asked if the Trustees would consider making the arming decision process more transparent and inclusive to students. 

“Should we open the board meetings up for these kind of conversations when you’re dealing with a transparency issue? No,” said Lamb in response. 

“The board, in my opinion, needs to be able to discuss very sensitive information, very critical topics, without the expectation that there’s going to be a transcript that goes out…,” said Lamb. “We have decided that those are closed sessions.”

Phipps agreed the meetings shouldn’t have to be open when sensitive topics are discussed. Rather, he said he was trying to ask if the Trustees could update students with as much information as possible on where they are in the process of the arming decision.

“Let me think about that and I’ll discuss that with our president,” said Lamb in response. 

The issue of on-campus parking spaces for commuter students — or a lack thereof — was also brought to Lamb’s attention. He said he is not in favor of adding student parking spaces to campus, as the university should prioritise allocating its funds to financial aid and scholarships.

“We are not focusing on a way to support people’s parking,” said Lamb. “I don’t know what it would cost to find a way for the community to park, but there’s millions of dollars involved.”

“Our focus is really on offering housing opportunities — two year housing opportunities — for freshmen and sophomores first,” said Lamb. 

According to U.S. News and World Report, 73% of Suffolk students are commuters. 

Class of 2020 Senator Dan Redznak asked Lamb why the university bought a new dorm building at 1 Court Street for millions of dollars when it could have used that money to help commuter students. 

“We’re a majority commuter school, so I don’t understand why it wouldn’t be a priority to accommodate the majority of students who are coming here,” said Redznak. 

Lamb said it was a matter of limited resources. 

“I would much rather have money available to pay for your education in scholarships and financial aid than provide parking,” Lamb said