Top Hat

Grand Marshal Brown encourages student participation in Senate, Institute committees Senate pushes for further student involvement

Hello RPI! For the past two weeks, different committee chairs have been contributing to the Top Hat column. I hope that you have found them informative, or at least enjoyed the different perspectives. More guest Top Hats are coming, but this week I am back to writing the full column!

As I mentioned earlier in the semester, the Senate cabinet has been hard at work setting out goals and tasks for the Senate. One of the tasks the cabinet has prioritized is recruitment. Many of you know that the Senate is made up of committees that are open to all students, but the Institute also has a number of committees which are in need of student representatives (both undergraduate and graduate). We are beginning to tackle this issue by setting up a workshop for committee chairs with the Archer Center for Student Leadership, and comparing recruiting strategies between committees. We are also assembling a list of Institute positions that are in need of student representatives. I will be publishing this list once I receive more information from the committees, which will hopefully be later this week. Keep your eyes and ears peeled for more information.

Two weeks ago, The Poly published an article about the Student Life Advisory Board with the secondary headline “New board comes after Senate Student Life Committee dissolves.” As this article prompted a lot of questions, I would like to clarify some things. As mentioned in the article, the Senate cabinet and I began looking to prioritize our efforts. We ultimately decided that we had too many committees for our current membership. With the Student Life Committee chair resigning, we decided to not fill the position for the remainder of the term. All of the Senate committees deal with student life issues, allowing us to transition any active projects into other committees. This is not the same as “disbanding” the committee, as it may be repopulated by the current Senate if we have the students to staff it, or by the next Senate if it so chooses. This decision was not taken lightly, but was made with the intent of keeping our committees as strong as possible.

One of the projects typically delegated to the Student Life Committee is the review of the Student Rights and Responsibilities Handbook. The Senate typically works closely with the Dean of Students Office on any proposed changes to the handbook. The Senate will be establishing a subcommittee to work with Dean of Students Mark Smith on this project. As always, we want your feedback, so when the subcommittee is established, I hope that many of you will get involved.

This past week was the Senate’s semesterly State of the Union. Due to low attendance, I decided to postpone it to a later date. Many students have told me that the snow, other meetings, and a lack of publicity caused them to not attend. I have given that feedback to the Senate Communications Group, which is working on ways to better publicize the event and drum up interest. The Senate is also looking into the possibility of having the event filmed by RPI TV for students who cannot make the new time. If you came out for the State of the Union last week, I sincerely apologize for the inconvenience and hope that you can join us on the new date.

As always, we are always looking for your feedback, so please don’t hesitate to e-mail the Senate at I hope everyone has a great Spring Break!