On Monday, April 28, the 45th Student Senate met for the first time. They approved 11 new Executive Board representatives, six of them returning, and one new Judicial Board member. The J-Board bylaws were also approved. Additionally, the excuse policy changes proposed by the Senate earlier this year are going through with just one change. A motion recognizing Bruce Kunkel, who is the director of campus planning and facilities design and now retiring, was passed.
First, Grand Marshal Kyle Keraga ’15 welcomed the Student Senate and asked all of the senators to introduce themselves and name a fun fact. He stated that the excuse policy changes worked on by the 44th Student Senate earlier this year is going through.
Next, Nathan James ’15 was approved as J-Board member 17-0. James noted that he had little experience directly relating to the J-Board, though he is treasurer of his fraternity and also participates in debates. Ethan Illfelder ’15 asked James how familiar he was with the Union Constitution; James said that he wanted to look at it more.
The motion to honor Bruce Kunkel read: “To recognize and honor Bruce Kunkel of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Class of 1971 for his contributions to the Rensselaer campus, community, and student body. Throughout his time at Rensselaer, Bruce has filled many roles, most recently serving as director of Campus Planning and Facilities Design. In his long and successful career, Bruce has been at the forefront of physical and campus innovation, involved with the design and construction of Barton Hall and the Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies. With his retirement, Bruce leaves behind a longstanding legacy with a positive impact on generations of students to come. The Student Senate thanks Bruce for his visionary work and wishes him a long and healthy retirement.”
After that motion, the E-Board appointments were voted on. President of the Union Erin Amarello ’15 recommended appointees to be confirmed by the Student Senate. Since Amarello was unable to be present for the Senate meeting, graduate student Nimit Dhukalar introduced the appointees. Kirk Bittner ’15 was approved 17-0 and Yi Lin Chen ’15 was approved 16-0. Emily Farella ’16 was next. Last year, she was the chair of E-Board’s Marketing, Advertising, and Publicity committee and the Union Programs and Activities Committee. Farella is also the service coordinator and treasurer for Newman Catholic Fellowship. Illfelder, who is the president of RPI-Sage Hillel, asked Farella about her thoughts on funding religious clubs at RPI. Farella replied that funding was not necessary for Newman, but that she did not know about the other organizations. Rubinstein asked which committee Farella was more interested in, to which she replied UPAC rather than MAP. Illfelder again asked her about religious organization funding, to which Farella again stated that she only knew Newman’s situation and that they received enough money from the Newman Fellowship. The confirmation of Farella’s appointment was brought to a vote, which passed 16-1 with Illfelder’s being the only vote against.
Next were Colton Fisher ’14, Colin Fortuner ’15, and Alex Glover ’16, who were all confirmed with no nay votes. The longest discussion about any E-Board appointee took place for graduate student Chaz Goodwine. Goodwine was on E-Board last year and represented the media clubs. Goodwine said that all of the media clubs had overcome hurdles last year and he hoped to be their representative again this year. Illfelder asked Goodwine about the transmitter for WRPI. Goodwine explained that this was a 15-year-old problem, with 15 generations of club officers who could have done something. He pointed out that Union doesn’t want to take leadership opportunities away from clubs or run them, so if WRPI doesn’t do anything, the Union can’t. WRPI, according to Goodwine, is reaching out to their alumni. Goodwine said that he is excited about what WRPI has accomplished so far. After several questions about Goodwine’s experience as a graduate student on the E-Board, Illfelder asked more questions about capital budgeting and whether it should be changed, to which Goodwine responded to and said he would love to have a conversation with Union Business Administrator Martha McElligot about it. The vote to confirm Goodwine passed 17-0. Erica Hutchins ’15, Joyce Liu ’16, Spencer Norris ’17, and Eric Ray ’15 were all confirmed with no votes against.
After E-Board appointments were confirmed, the J-Board bylaws were voted on. The major change was that representatives from each class, chosen by their class councils, rather than the outgoing J-Board members, would choose the new J-Board. Some discussion was had and the amendment passed 17-0. Next, the Senators discussed joint committees between themselves and E-Board. Last year, the Senate Communications Group served as a joint committee.
Committee updates were next. Keraga said that Senate cabinet applications were still open until the deadline of Sunday at noon. Cabinet positions are open to the student body as a whole. The Advocacy, Community, and Advancement Committee is being reinstated.