Risk management helps Union clubs

This week I’d like to take an opportunity to talk about the Rensselaer Union’s approach to risk management and the variety of different systems to help students with it. Allowing students to participate in as many activities as possible and still remain safe is a top priority for the Union. It is the role of club student activities resource persons and the Union Executive Board to ensure that all our clubs are operating in a successful and safe manner. Also, each club is responsible for making sure it has both strong leadership and is using good judgment when it comes to safety.

Any organization that is Union-funded or recognized is protected under the Union. This means that the Union is liable for any harm that may come to students involved in club activities. Director of Student Activities Cameron McLean is responsible for risk management and reviews and signs all contracts for the Union. This includes contracts that pertain to Union functioning and contracts that clubs may have with outside organizations. The review of this ensures that the Union and club both understand the terms of agreement and that there is never a situation in which legal action is necessary.

The E-Board has a responsibility to make sure that all clubs are acting in an appropriate manner when it comes to safety. If clubs are making decisions that could result in liable situations, it is the job of the E-Board to take action in order to keep students safe. In fact, most of the money given in contingency requests in recent Board meetings was allocated to handle some form of safety issue for a club. There have been a number of safety issues lately, including tumbling mats for RPI Cheerleading and wetsuits to prevent hypothermia for the Sailing Team. Helmets for the Ski and Snowboard Club were added to budget last year and required with any rental.

Another way the Union supports the well-being of students and clubs is to offer free legal service, which is funded by the student activity fee. The purpose of the service is to assist students in identifying and resolving their legal problems so they can make the most of their educational opportunities. The service is designed to help resolve or minimize legal problems that threaten to interfere with any participant’s effectiveness as a student. This legal service offers walk-in visiting hours on Mondays and Wednesdays from 3:30–5:30 pm in Union Room 3511. For more information, check the Union website,

In keeping with the importance of the safety of our students, I would like to mention an event happening this Sunday. As many of you may know, one of our fellow Rensselaer students, Ben Hecht ’13, was in a cycling accident where a car struck him as he was crossing an intersection. He suffered various injuries, the most serious being a fractured skull. He is currently responsive and in stable condition. Sigma Alpha Epsilon is hosting an event, along with Alpha Phi and the Cycling Club, to support him in his recovery. The event will consist of an approximately seven-mile bike ride down the Mohawk-Hudson Bikeway starting at the parking lot in Watervliet on November 20, from 9 am1:30 pm. For those without bikes, there’s also a hiking/walking option, approximately three miles long, that will be available. As Hecht was not wearing a helmet during his accident, if you plan to bike, you must wear a helmet. This is not a race; it is just a way to show some support for a Rensselaer student. You can register in the North Lobby of the Union from November 16–18. For more information, check the following, If you have the opportunity, please come out this weekend to support Hecht and his recovery.

One last quick plug for a club: make sure you get your monthly dose of comedy by checking out Sheer Idiocy this Friday night. The show is in Mother’s, starting at 8 pm. If you ever have any questions about the Union or the Executive Board, feel free to contact me at