Top Hat

Senate, Hospitality Services negotiate

Opportunities for participation in student government outlined, promoted

Hello everybody, and welcome back to the Rensselaer campus! I hope you’ve all enjoyed your summer, and that you’re ready to get back into the swing of things. With the close of Navigating Rensselaer & Beyond, I hope you’ve been given a taste of what campus life has to offer. The events this year were spectacular and larger than ever thanks to capable, dedicated, and fun-loving Student Orientation advisors and Residence Life Staff, and it was my distinct pleasure to be able to share in the experience.

To new and returning students alike, I want to talk a little about Student Senate and the value of involvement with Student Government here at RPI. RPI Student Government has a little something for everyone, and offers a myriad of ways for interested students to get involved and make an active difference in our community. You may join your Class Council to help plan class events and traditions. You may apply for the Executive Board, headed by President of the Union Erin Amarello. This board manages the budget of the entire Rensselaer Union—supervising and working with clubs to determine their budgets in the process. The Judicial Board, led by Judicial Board Chairman Anthony Barbieri, works with the Dean of Students Office regarding student judicial matters.

As Grand Marshal, it is my role to be a voice for the student body, to represent student thoughts and ideas to the Rensselaer Administration. To this end, I am Student Body President and chair the Student Senate—our Senate is the chief representative and legislative body of the Rensselaer Union, and works with the administration, Troy community, and student groups to collaboratively improve the student experience at RPI. Our focus this year is on integrating a wider community into the student government process—bringing more outside student voices into Senate conversations and assisting other student organizations to reach their goals.

Already, this year’s Senate has begun operations. Over the summer, Sodexo considered changes to meal swipes and the way swipes may be used with regards to guest passes. Having received student feedback on these changes, Hospitality Services and Sodexo graciously agreed to delay any changes, and work with the student body on a compromise approach. This past Monday, Alex da Silva, our Director for Auxiliary, Parking and Transportation Services, spoke before the Senate to hold an open conversation about the proposed changes. Many students both within and beyond the Senate had the opportunity to negotiate with da Silva, including some freshmen.

This conversation was the beginning of a collaborative process between the Senate and Hospitality Services. The Student Senate will be forming a Hospitality Services Advisory Committee by mid to late September—this committee will draw membership from multiple demographics of the student body and will work with both the Senate and Sodexo on food—related topics. This committee will be the vehicle for our collaboration on the subject of guest passes and other focus areas. Once it is formed, we will be sending invitations to grow the committee’s membership. We in the Senate look forward to our upcoming collaboration with Sodexo and the chance to lend professional input into campus food service.

Of course, there are many other ways to become involved in the Senate. Four 2018 seats will be open for election this September. Elected Senators have a vote at our general body meetings, and maintain membership on two or more Senate Committees. On that note, if you’re more interested in a singular topic, our committees are open to general student membership—these committees form the brunt of our project work and offer a great chance for any student (elected or unelected) to make a difference on campus. If you’re interested in becoming involved, check us out at the Activities Fair this Thursday from 6:30–8:30 pm in the Armory. Alternatively, you may reach Melanie Todis, Rules and Elections Chair (, and as always, you may contact me if you need anything at