Year in Review: Looking back

During the 2013–2014 school year, the RPI campus saw many happenings. A scandal over posters; clubs held many events, even beyond those detailed here. The Mueller Center and Rensselaer Union got upgrades to make them better for students.

Around the campus

Last summer, Fathers saw some upgrades: some of these were to help meet the needs of more students instead of just serving as a snack shop. Over 200 students attended Lake George during the weekend of September 20–22, led by the Rensselaer Outing Club. Communications Specialist Holly Nelson joined the Rensselaer Union in September. On October 3, Advanced Multiprocessing Optimized System joined IBM Watson in the Center for Computational Innovations. The computational power of AMOS, according to President Shirley Ann Jackson, is among the top 12 computing systems in the world. Alfred White, Class of 1865, Lewis Combs, Class of 1916, Thomas Phelan Jr., and B. Jayant Baliga ’74 were inducted into the Alumni Hall of Fame on October 4. On October 7, a large branch knocked down power lines in the Pawling region of Troy and left the neighborhood without electricity for roughly an hour. Many RPI fraternity chapters are in that area. Also in October, Max Brooks came to RPI and spoke about his book World War Z.

In early November, complaints about City Station came to a head. Graduate students who were residents there complained about policies regarding lock-outs, package delivery, and the full year leases. Later in November, President of the Union Gretchen Sileo ’14 announced that ID scanners would be installed in the Rensselaer Union. Davison Hall was announced to be a freshman residence hall next year, instead of a sophomore residence hall as it has been previous years. During the first weekend of March, Genericon was held in the Darrin Communications Center. 2,500 people attended Genericon. During Spring Break, the FIRST Regionals were held at the East Campus Athletic Village. On March 22, a student was robbed and assaulted on Bleeker Avenue. In early April, RPI Quidditch competed at the International Quidditch Association World Cup. Students complained on Reddit, Facebook, and elsewhere about the new Union logo, approved by the Executive Board on March 25. Theta Xi became a National Historic Place during the last weekend of April. A squirrel gained access to a student’s room on April 26 and attacked the student when the student tried to chase the squirrel out.

Happenings in Student Government

The Class of 2017 had freshmen elections in September. Final results for president and vice president were withheld following a highly contested race and potential miscounts.

Medical Director of the Student Health Center Leslie Lawrence spoke to the Student Senate on September 9. The excuse policy, possibility of an on-campus pharmacy, and other issues related to the Health Center were discussed at that meeting. The Student Life Committee took on these issues and continued to work on them; on November 4, the Senate as a whole discussed excuse policy changes. On March 24, SLC Chairman Kyle Keraga ’15 spoke about the excuse policy that SLC had come up with. SLC’s proposal was passed by the Senate. It is now in effect with only a few changes. On April 7, the Senate passed proposals for prescription delivery and flat-rate taxi service.

During the fall, President of the Union Gretchen Sileo ’14 sent out information related to food and travel policy changes in one of her weekly club officer emails. Also during the fall, a committee made up of members from each class council, E-Board, Judicial Board, and other bodies was formed to look through the Union Constitution and propose changes. On October 18, the Student Senate discussed potential elimination of Independent and Greek Senators. The committee continued to meet weekly, and, on February 26, an open forum was held to discuss the positions. As a result of this meeting, the Independent Council recommended on March 3 that independent senators be elected by the non-Greek student body at large; this motion passed. IC dissolved itself. The Union Constitution changes were passed by Senate during this meeting to go to a student body vote. Due to some issues that students had with the Constitution, GM Chuck Carletta ’14 split the motion into two.

Senate first proposed the idea of car sharing during their meeting on November 18. Facilities and Services Committee chair Tina Gilliland ’15 led a discussion about possible benefits of car sharing, including going to events, workshops, and lectures in the surrounding region. Students with job interviews could take a car from the car-share program to get there. On March 17, the proposal for car-sharing was presented to the Senate and passed. It was then sent to the administration to await a decision.

Club budgets were released just as Winter Break ended. Some club officers had not heard of the food policy changes and felt their clubs would be adversely affected. These clubs included UPAC, Players, and RPI TV, all of which are service clubs whose members must work long hours in order to produce what they do for the community as a whole. Additionally, the turnaround time for budget appeals was shorter than normal in order to get the actual budget (instead of a placeholder) to the Board of Trustees. Travel subsidies increased from 40 percent to 50 percent; clubs affected felt like this might help them some, but not necessarily a great deal. These two decisions were independent of each other. After a lengthy discussion at the February 3 Senate meeting, the Senate passed the Student Activity Fee recommendation.

On February 17, a new Rules and Elections committee chair was appointed because former chair Greg Niguidula ’15 had been removed after he had told Grand Marshal Chuck Carletta ’14 that he planned to run for GM. Carletta felt that it was a conflict of interest; while Niguidula would have needed to step down once elections started, Carletta removed him right away. Timothy Breen ’15 was the new appointment. Breen was confirmed 15-5.

A Judicial Board had not existed under former GM Kevin Dai ’14, but Carletta worked on making sure there was one. The Board is chaired by Anthony Barberi ’15 and also includes half a dozen or so members. Orlando Hernandez ’15 was confirmed as vice chairman on March 26.

Right after Spring Break, candidates were allowed to begin campaigning. Keraga, Niguidula, and Gavin Noritsky ’16 all ran for GM, while Frank Abissi ’15 and Erin Amarello ’15 ran for PU. Primaries were held on April 7 for GM and several alumni officer positions. Keraga and Noritsky advanced to final elections.

Final elections were held on April 10. That night, R&E was given information that some of the candidates, including Carletta, Sileo, and Abissi, had taken down posters stating that students should vote against the Union Constitution amendments. Results were withheld until the J-Board made their decision. All of the involved individuals, including Abissi, were declared ineligible to hold an elected and/or appointed position and given community service by the J-Board. Amarello was declared winner of the PU race. All five involved students sent The Poly apology letters for the April 16 issue. Keraga beat Noritsky in the GM race, announced with all but the three affected alumni races on April 14. Both the Senate and the E-Board put forth statements, although the Senate could not pass anything official. Alumni elections, save for president which was won by Dai, were postponed until April 21. Michelle Denny ’14 was elected alumni vice president; Katie O’Neil ’14 and Caitlin Blackburn ’14 were elected alumni secretary and treasurer, respectively.

On April 28, Senate confirmed the new E-Board representatives; on May 5, they confirmed the Senate cabinet and committee chairs.

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