On Monday, December 2, the Student Senate met and discussed issues relating to Sodexo and electronic voting. Some graduate students discussed how issues affecting Sodexo workers could affect students. Policies Sodexo is implementing include not giving workers sick days, which means that workers handling food might come in sick. Members were confirmed for the Judicial Board. The Senate discussed electronic voting and feasibility. Committees continued working on projects including car-sharing and excuse policies.
The Sodexo representative cancelled, but the discussion continued without him. Graduate student Pedro de la Torre explained why he and other students were concerned about some of Sodexo’s new policies. Sodexo is using the Affordable Care Act to justify discontinuing some of its health care benefits, according to de la Torre. Workers haven’t been pleased with the changes, but, according to de la Torre, “Sodexo employers have been bringing in union busters” and making threats and claims that labor laws prohibit. de la Torre noted that these practices should be concerning to students at RPI. Students could try to convince the administration to end their contract with Sodexo if they do not change their labor practices. When asked what Student Senate could do, de la Torre said that Senate could pass a resolution, talk to the administration, or even organize students with petitions, rallies, and teach-ins. de la Torre said that it is a “dangerous thing for students” if food workers don’t have sick days. He concluded by telling the Senate about a Google Group they could join if interested, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Anthony Barbieri ’15 and Orlando Hernandez ’15 were confirmed as J-Board chair and representative, respectively.
Electronic voting is in the works to “make [voting] faster, easier, and slightly more environmentally friendly by moving to an electronic voting system,” according to Rules and Elections Committee Chair Greg Niguidula ’15. Niguidula led an open discussion on electronic voting. Kyle Keraga ’15 felt that an electronic voting system should not diminish RPI voting traditions. Niguidula explained that booths, similar to the ones found at any polling booth, would be available. Card readers, which RCOS has, according to Niguidula, would be used to check identification. Students would then vote using an online platform.
Some of the senators wondered if easy access to candidates’ biographies would help students make choices, but other senators worried that this would slow voting down. In the Darrin Communications Center, for example, voting lines are often backlogged. Chase Krivo ’14 suggested keeping a paper option in case lines get backed up. Grand Marshal Chuck Carletta ’14 asked the senators to think of reasons why people might not want electronic voting. Paul Ilori ’17 noted that initial set-up might be problematic. Tina Gilliland ’15 pointed out that students eligible for different class years would have to have multiple voting options (if someone falls behind or gets ahead credit-wise, that student can either vote for the class year they are credit-wise or for the class year they entered with). One of the senators asked about duplicates, especially if there is both a paper and a print option. Niguidula explained that RINs on the paper ballots are put through a Scantron machine and checked to see if there are duplicates already. Finally, the platform would have to allow for write-in votes. The system could possibly check to make sure the write-in was spelled correctly and a student eligible for the position.
Shoshana Rubinstein ’16, chair of the Student Government Communications Committee, said that the new Union logos would be brought into the next SGCC meeting. Members of the committee and others attending the meeting (Tuesday night) would be able to give input. Neither the Academic Affairs Committee nor the Independent Council had an update. Frank Abissi ’15, who is the Senate-Executive Board Liaison and Constitution Committee Chair, gave updates for both groups. The E-board approved a club classification document to spell out how clubs could get funding and be recognized. The Debate Club and Humans Versus Zombies clubs became Union-recognized clubs at the last E-Board meeting.
The Constitution Committee will be looking at changes in the E-Board at the next meeting, as well as possibly the Undergraduate Council. Discussions on the greek and Independent Council senators will continue in the spring. Tina Gilliland ’15, chair of the Facilities and Services Committee, said that a new shuttle stop would be instituted in the spring near the J Building on 13th Street and Peoples Avenue. Gilliland said that a preliminary draft of the car-sharing initiative had been given to Auxiliary and Parking Director Alexandre da Silva. da Silva gave FSC feedback, which will be discussed at their next meeting. Student Life Committee Chair Kyle Keraga ’15 said that SLC has continued to work on the excuse policy. A presentation about the excuse policy will be presented before the Faculty Senate next spring. SLC is still looking into the feasibility of Black & White as a taxi service for RPI students for medical needs and other services. They are investigating prices of an on-campus dispensary. SLC is also generating ten questions to be included in the Residence Life survey in the spring. Gabe Perez ’16, chair of the Web Technologies Group, said that the final meeting of the semester would showcase all of the students’ projects. Lots of progress has been made, especially on the study network. Lisa DeCrescente ’15, the Panhellenic Council Senator, said that a new Panhel Council would be elected that night. Graduate Council will have its last event of the semester on Thursday.
Student Senate meetings are open to the public and will be held on Mondays in Union Room 3202 during the spring semester. Shorter meetings likely to last just one hour will start at 7 pm, while longer meetings likely to last two hours will start at 6 pm.