Hello, everyone. My name is Frank Abissi, and I’m chair of the Senate’s Constitution Committee. Last semester, the Senate formed the Constitution Committee and tasked it with reviewing the Union Constitution and making recommendations for its revision. Although the Constitution was amended during GM Week last year, the changes were made under strict time constraints. By starting the process earlier this year, we were able examine the Constitution more thoroughly.
The Constitution Committee was comprised of members representing the Student Senate, Executive Board, Judicial Board, Interfraternity Council, Panhellenic Council, Independent Council, 2017 Council, 2016 Council, 2015 Council, 2014 Council, and the Graduate Council. Having many student government groups involved in the Committee help to ensure that changes we discussed were examined from different perspectives, and this has resulted in what I believe is a significantly improved Constitution. The Committee first met in November and worked through February, making its recommendation for revisions to the Senate on February 27 by an 11-0 vote.
Upon receiving the Committee’s recommendation, the Senate discussed changes made by the Committee, as well as additional amendments. After nearly two hours of debate, the Senate passed the amendments by a 22-0 vote. No senators were absent or abstained from the vote, and considering the scope and complexity of the changes, it is notable that the Senate agreed to these changes unanimously.
The full text of the changes can be found on Flagship Docs at poly.rpi.edu/12311. Wherever significant changes have been made, an explanation has been provided for those changes in the annotated version of the document. However, these changes are not final until approved by the student body in a referendum that will occur during GM Week. As such, students need to be aware of what the changes are and how they will be affected by them in order make an informed decision. Over the next few weeks, I will attempt to do so in this series of columns.
This week, I’ll start with the shortest and least modified parts of the Constitution: Article I: Organization, and Article II: Membership. Article I combines Articles I and III of the current Constitution, and spells out the name and purpose of the Rennselaer Union. While the name has remained the same, the wording of the Union’s purpose has been modified. The purpose of the Union now reads:
“The purpose of the Union shall be to expand extracurricular life at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, to coordinate all student organizations, to act as a medium for the expression of student opinion, and to encourage student initiative and action in all interests which serve the welfare and the betterment of its members, the Rensselaer community, and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.”
The new purpose maintains the same meaning as the old one, while simplifying the language used and providing a clearer and more concise directive to student government groups.
Article II is unchanged from the current Constitution, and states that the Union’s membership consists of all presently enrolled students who have paid the Student Activity Fee. Additionally, Article II stipulates that only members of the Union are eligible to vote or run in student government elections.
For the full text of the proposed amendments, please go to poly.rpi.edu/12311. If you have any questions, please contact me at email@example.com.