The Student Senate met this Monday and several interesting topics were raised. An issue that the Senate has been researching for the past semester is the transportation needs of students on campus. The type of transportation service that is being looked at is a program that would allow students to rent vehicles for periods of time. The car sharing initiative would allow students to rent a car within the RPI campus, through some vendor, and use it for whatever needs that they have. This initiative has risen from student concerns for the lack of transportation options on campus for important things like job interviews, networking and professional events, and health appointments. This program focuses primarily on students who do not have a car on campus.
A more complicated issue that was discussed at the Senate meeting was the representation of greek life on the Senate. Currently there are two greek senators representing both the Inter-Fraternity Council and the Panhellenic Council. In addition to these members, there are two Independent Council senators, with the rest of the Senate elected from the Freshmen, Sophomore, Junior, Senior, and Graduate class years. Much earlier in RPI’s history, the ratio of greek students to independents was flipped, with greek life being the larger population of the two. The large amount of greek students led to the formation of the Independent Council which was founded to preserve the rights of non-greek affiliated students and to promote and cultivate activities that were separate from the greek system.
There was a discussion in the Senate meeting about getting rid of the Independent Council, as it hasn’t served any sustained purpose for a long period of time. The Union has grown substantially since greek life was the majority, and because of this, the number of activities and events open to everyone has drastically increased. This, in effect, has made the Independent Council a relic of different times, as most, if not all, of the events it would host are done by different clubs existing in the Union. With the Independent Council removed, there would be no IC senators on the Senate, which led to the idea of removing the greek senators.
It is my opinion that the IC senators and the greek senators should be removed from the voting membership of the Student Senate. In essence, they act as lobbyists within the Student Senate, and it’s because of this function that they shouldn’t vote. I am a proud member of the greek community, but I feel that having these voting members is not in line with the purpose of the Student Senate, which serves all students. While I don’t think they should vote, I am in favor of having liaisons from these organizations, because I believe that communication between these bodies is incredibly important. These are just my opinions on the matter, and as the Grand Marshal, I do not have a vote in the Senate unless there is a tie. This was a preliminary discussion on the matter, and it will make its way to the Senate floor again in the future for further discussion. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns on the matter please email me at email@example.com.