Last Senate meeting covers E-Board, Student Handbook

On Monday, the Student Senate held its last meeting of the semester. Business during the meeting included officially appointing students to the Rensselaer Union Executive Board, who had been recommended by President of the Union Jonathan Stack ’13, and deciding on revisions to the 2012-2014 Rensselaer Handbook of Student Rights & Responsibilities proposed by the Dean of Students Office.

According to its website, the Executive Board is “the chief financial body of the Union and is the mechanism by which students directly manage the Union itself.” It is comprised of one representative from each class, five club/intercollegiate athletics representatives, one representative each for the Undergraduate and Graduate Councils, two members-at-large, and a Senate/Executive Board liaison.

Stack began by explaining that he had received 42 applications from students hoping to be one of the 13 new members of the E-Board. He added that, as two positions are held by graduate students and only two graduate students applied, there were effectively 40 students vying for 11 positions. Of these 40, Stack said he interviewed 36. In regard to the applicants he recommended and who attended the meeting on Monday, Stack stated he was “very impressed with their dedication,” and that he had “the strongest confidence in all of them.”

Each potential applicant was approved by the Senate unanimously, each with a vote of 12-0-0. Erica Hutchins will serve as the representative for the Class of 2015, Harish Lall for the Class of 2014, Courtney Lang for the Class of 2013, and Joseph Grimaldi for the graduate class. Erin Amarello ’15, Allison Feldman ’14, Craig Bennett ’14, Nikki Galant ’13, and James Petranik ’13 will be club/intercollegiate athletics representatives. James Buchwald ’14 will serve as a member-at-large, and Gretchen Sileo ’14 will be the next Senate/Executive Board liaison. They will be joined by representatives for the Undergraduate and Graduate Councils—Stack recommended Matthew Kosman ’14 and Joe Perchiacca, respectively, but their statuses are currently pending—as well as a representative from the Class of 2016 and a second member at large, who Stack said will most likely also be an incoming freshman.

Following the appointments to the Executive Board, the potential appointment of William Toth ’13 as the chair of the Senate Rules and Elections Committee was discussed. After listing his commitments, including serving as president of his fraternity, Toth mentioned that one of his main goals as chair would be a push toward moving to electronic ballots for Grand Marshal Week elections in the spring and freshmen elections in the fall. His appointment was also unanimous, again with a vote of 12-0-0.

The rest of the meeting dealt with revisions to the Student Handbook. Prior to discussion, Grand Marshal Kevin Dai informed the present senators that most of the proposed changes regarding the Student Bill of Rights, including almost all off-campus issues except those contained in Sections A and B of Article VI of the Student Handbook, were tabled until next year. Therefore, the changes the Senate dealt with focused on the areas of Academic Integrity, Sexual Assault, Sexual Harassment, and the previously mentioned portion of Article VI. Several senators immediately expressed concerns regarding the fourth topic. Most of the discussion centered around the changes to Section B of Article VI, which included the addition of the phrase “in the judgment of the Institute,” and the removal of the sentence, “If a student incidentally violates Institute regulations in the course of his or her off-campus activity, such as those relating to class attendance; he or she shall be subjected to no greater penalty within the Institute than would normally be imposed.”

Chair of the Finance, Facilities, and Advancement Committee Russell Brown ’14, building on the ideas of his senators, suggested that all off-campus subjects be dealt with at once, either during that meeting or next year. The Senate then amended its motion to cover only revisions dealing with the other three topics. This motion then quickly passed with a vote of 11-1-0.

Dai concluded the meeting by praising the senators for their work during the 43rd Senate’s first two meetings and outlining the goals and events for both the summer and the first few weeks of the fall semester.