This past Monday evening, the Senate Executive Board Liaison Jonathan Stack ’12 presented The Union Annual Report 2012 to the Student Senate. It was passed by a vote of 14-0-0, but it is important to note that the Rensselaer Union budget for fiscal year ’13 is not final until approved by the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Board of Trustees in the beginning of March 2012. The Student Activity Fee recommendations for the upcoming fiscal year are $582.00 for undergraduate students with $13.50 in class dues for a total of $595.50 and $309.50 for graduate students with $12.00 in class dues for a total of $321.50.
The Union Annual Report is a testament to the dedication and motivation of the student body at Rensselaer. There are over 200 clubs and organizations that call the Rensselaer Union home, and they are all managed by students. This Union is something unique to Rensselaer, and it offers students an opportunity to build on their experience outside the classroom. Rensselaer offers more than just an academic education.
RPI offers a well-rounded experience, rich with opportunities to grow as a professional leader and work effectively on a team. At the Union, students are the facilitators of change. When a club wants to travel, hold an event, or conduct a fundraiser, the students are the designers. Students use the many organizations supported by the Union to showcase creativity, take action, and explore all different kinds of interests. It is very hard to find a similar example of student initiative anywhere; the Rensselaer Union is truly a student-funded, student-run organization, and there is no better way to deliver exactly what students want.
Guided by professional staff members and past club officers, current club officers are taught how to interact with outside businesses, how to manage a budget, and how to project future expenses. Students are taught how to run a meeting, how to build a team, and more importantly, how to accomplish anything they set their minds to. These are the skills that allow students to become innovative leaders, and it begins at the Union.
The Union Annual Report is a large part of an initiative to create transparency in the budgeting process. This document is a showcase of our Union and it is an important insight into the way the Union has developed throughout the years. It illustrates how the Union continues to grow in conjunction with the changing student population. As you can see in the following pages, much effort is taken to make sure that the Student Activity Fee is being used appropriately, that is, to benefit the entire school community, and support the functioning of all aspects of the Union. This is by no means an easy job, and every year, hundreds of student leaders come together to create this budget for the Union. After club officers develop proposed budgets, the Union Executive Board and advisors review every budget line-by-line. The board strives for consistency, and is dedicated to using the Union’s money and resources to best benefit the students. We strive to create a budget that supports activities that will benefit the student body, and add culture, opportunity, and fun to campus life.
This year’s increase was a reasonable 3.57 percent increase for undergraduates and 3.54 percent increase for graduates. Many forces pushed for an increased budget. With lowered numbers in enrollment, the Executive Board faced a budgeting challenge that would carry forward with the lowered undergraduate student total. With the national decline in textbook sales, the Bookstore faced a revenue decrease. Considering these issues, along with increased costs for goods and services sprinkled throughout budgets, the minimal increase is a testament to conscientious budgeting from the club and administrative level right through to the Executive Board’s deliberation.
We are working towards ways for students to express their thoughts, opinions, and desires when they see what is happening with their money, or when decisions and events impact their lives here at RPI. You have a right as a member of the Rensselaer Union, an Activity Fee paying student, to understand how your Activity Fee will be distributed. I encourage you to explore the document for details, ask questions of your Student Government, and get involved. As a paying member of the Rensselaer Union, you deserve to know what is going on, and you deserve to have a voice. I urge you to take advantage of everything we have to offer and make the Rensselaer Union yours. A copy of the report can be found by contacting a club officer, checking Flagship, or emailing me at email@example.com. Please e-mail me with any questions or concerns.