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Several important senate motions pass

Grand Marshal talks about new excuse note policies, and changes to officer requirements

Hello, RPI! The Student Senate voted on several motions this week. The most prominent one focused on revisions to RPI’s Class Attendance and Examinations Policy. The Student Life Committee, chaired by Kyle Keraga ’15, has been hard at work for more than a semester meeting with the administration and other staff and faculty on updating the policy. I would like to thank everyone that was involved in the process for their collaborative efforts.

The new proposed policy has positive changes that have an effect on all students. A big change now is that students will be guaranteed an excuse note from the Student Experience Office for unforeseen circumstances if they provide valid documentation. Students may now attain an excuse note without documentation at the discretion of Student Experience officials. A third change allows students to submit a request for an excuse note online via the policies webpage when they are unable to visit the Office of Student Experience.

A suggested grade guideline was added for excuse denial, which sets a minimum academic standard as criteria to get an excuse. Another change guarantees students the opportunity to engage in conversation with Student Experience and any relevant faculty member if an excuse note is denied. The process for attaining an academic excuse is clearly detailed and removes prior ambiguity. Another change emphasizes the importance of students talking to professors prior to requesting an excuse, and states that faculty can in fact excuse students without an official note. Some faculty and staff were unaware of this, so it’s important that it states this in the policy.

After excuse policy, the Senate had several other motions to vote on. The next motion amended the Union Constitution changes that were proposed and passed on March 3rd. The amendment motion changed one clause of the Judicial Board section. Before the motion, the proposed Constitution stated that the Judicial Board decided whether to review a case brought before it for a decision. Now, it says that the Judicial Board chairman shall decide whether to review a case or not. In addition to this motion, the Senate confirmed the appointment of Orlando Hernandez ’15 as the Judicial Board vice-chairman.

The final motion of the night changed the requirements for the vice-chairman of the Student Senate. The vice-chairman needed to be a senator in order to hold the position, and now it no longer has that requirement. Two reasons given in support of the motion were that the Grand Marshal is qualified to appoint appropriate officers of the Student Senate, and that senators aren’t necessarily the most qualified to hold the position. Before I was Grand Marshal, I believed that the position should only be held by a senator, but now that I have almost completed my term as the GM, I have changed my mind. The GM needs a good chief of staff to manage the tasks that are assigned, and being a senator shouldn’t be a limiting factor in finding a person that can perform these duties. That’s it for me RPI. Have a great week!