After a week of recess, the Student Senate met as a whole to carry their usual duties as student representatives. First on the agenda was a conversation with Dean of Residence Life Todd Schill about changes to the universal access policy for RPI’s residence halls. Schill began by stating that he was one of the integral parts of getting this policy implemented in the school only two years ago. After examining policies at other colleges, Schill saw that a universal access policy allowed for more inclusive programming, friendships, and relationships with staff members. Schill reports that when he introduced the idea to the Residence Life staff three years ago, it was opposed by some and it wasn’t until a year after its trial period that it was accepted by a majority of the staff. After the incident of two burglaries at Bray Hall, universal access was revoked so as to increase security and prevent the “piggy-backing” that had led to these thefts. Since last Friday, students with meal plans have had access to dining facilitiesaccess has been on for all students with a meal plan and Schill is thoroughly examining the list of those who remain with universal access and has limited it to only those who need it. After Schill stressed that Residence Life has made these changes with the ultimate goal of safe residence halls, he opened up to take questions from those assembled. Senator Justin Etzine ’18 suggested that all of the residence halls in the quadrangle gain access to each other as this hinders events for this residence hall. Senator Mason Cooper ’17 asked if Sharp Hall, Nugent Halls, and Warren Hall may gain access to each other due to the laundry facility within Sharp. Schill also acknowledged problems with Ground Zero events as this event is highly attended by the public and allows for greater security compromise than most other residence hall events. Schill ended his portion of the meeting by stating that feedback from the student body is always welcome and that ResLife is constantly working to improve safety and optimize access. Dean Schill may be reached at email@example.com.
Next, a member of the Facilities and Services Committee, Patrick Aselin ’18, gave a presentation regarding the quality of RPI’s crosswalks. Aselin reported that he noticed very few cars who took the crosswalks on Burdett Avenue seriously as they rarely stopped for students crossing the road. He pointed out that correct crosswalks have a parking buffer on both sides and are well-lit at all times, much like the one on 15th Street near Quadrangle Residence Hall. After discussing the problem with both Public Safety and Troy officials, Aselin found miscommunication and confusion on who was actually responsible for these crosswalks. Aselin expects to meet challenges with grey areas of jurisdiction as well as gaining lasting support, as the problem has to be handled by a multitude of bodies, not just RPI. So far Aselin’s research involves road safety device improvements. Graduate Senator Spencer Scott recommended Aselin work with the Troy Police Department to gain statistics about any incidents that involved RPI’s crosswalks. From this point on, Aselin hopes to tie together representatives from Troy High School, Troy’s City Council, RPI’s Public Safety, and members of the Student Senate to fully understand where and how this project can move.
Then, Paul Ilori ’17 and Joseph Venusto ’17 each presented a motion to the Senate. The first dealt with revising an article of the Senate Bylaws which listed the members of the Rules and Elections committee, one of which should be a member of the Independent Council. Since the Independent Council has been dissolved, this member couldn’t be appointed. The motion allowed R&E to select an Independent student without an IC. The motion passed with a vote of 16-1-2 with stipulations that the GM would appoint an independent member to R&E with the Senate’s approval and the term “Independent” was clearly defined within the article. The next motion, presented by Venusto, dealt with another change to the Senate Bylaws, which would prevent any person from holding a voting position within the Judicial Board, Executive Board, or Student Senate at the same time, with the exception of the Executive Board-Senate Liaison. Ilori, the motion’s sponsor, stated that this would increase the separation of powers within these three governing bodies. Graduate Senator Kristen Lee, stated that the E-Board taskforce to review Class Councils asks for a graduate representative and, with the size of the Graduate Council, a graduate senator may have to be appointed should no one step forward. Senator Shoshana Rubinstein ’16, said that although this council may feel stretched at times, the governing bodies would be able to get a wider authority under this motion. Christina Gilliland ’15 indicated that she saw little reason for this change to affect positions in both the Senate and E-Board as there would be few conditions in which this would be an issue, all of them containing extreme circumstances. Furthermore, Gilliland believed that should a student qualify for both of these positions, he or she should feel free to take the responsibilities of the jobs. Ilori countered that while it was unlikely to see a high number of overlapping positions, it was possible, and should be legislated for to prevent abuse of power. Because the motion needed a two-thirds majority of the present voting members to pass, the motion failed with a vote of 11-7-0.