New Residence hall changes proposed

Senate moves forward on Residence Hall Proposals and appoints graduate senator

The first motion on the floor debated how the Student Senate should move forward with their recommendations to Residence Life regarding residence hall improvements. While the agenda had originally called for a vote to see if these recommendations would be sent to the Residence Life staff, the discussion was not to center around what could be improved in the write-up of the work done so far. This project progressed under the work of the Student Life Committee head Lexi Rindone ’15 and project lead Kees Cranendonk ’15, both Class of 2015 senators. Via surveys directed at the student body and Resident Student Association, the Senate was able to gain a number of statistics that reflected the general feelings and thoughts of the residence halls. The intent of the project was to compile and organize this data into a single write-up which would be sent to the staff of ResLife and would suggest rankings for the various potential improvements of the residence halls. In regards to that ranking, Cranendonk stated that health and safety concerns were prioritized over other amenities and looked to shape high impact, low cost changes. Class of 2018 Senator Steven Sperraza ’18 questioned if there had been enough respondents to these surveys to make the contained data viable. Cranendonk was prepared to clarify this by including the number of respondents per residence hall in the final report. Shoshana Rubinstein ’16 , Class of 2016 senator, applauded the specific nature of the data as some areas of some halls needed more help than others. Director of the Rensselaer Union Joe Cassidy suggested a comparative survey of off campus and Greek housing should be attached to the report. After discussion, Rindone and Cranendonk agreed to increase the amount of raw data that was available in the report.

Having closed the conversation about the hall improvements, the Senate then turned attention the appointment of graduate student Benjamin Walcott as the final graduate senator. Current graduate Senator Kristen Lee spoke on his behalf, as he was not present at this meeting. Walcott is a second year biology graduate student and is currently the secretary for the Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies graduate council and was believed by Lee to make a great senator. After finding out that he had at least two years left at RPI, Walcott was accepted as a graduate senator with a vote of 17-1-1.

The Senate was then presented with a motion that would support the efforts of the Facilities and Services Committee in regards to crosswalks. Michael Han ’16, FSC chairman, states that this motion would formalize the work made by project head, Patrick Aselin ’18. According to Han, should this motion pass, Aselin will have greater weight to his claims when discussing the issue with city officials. Graduate Senator Jen Wilcox questioned how the project is to be funded, and questioned whether it would be a joint project between the affected bodies. Han replied that for the crosswalks on Burdett Avenue, the committee was looking to apply for a federal grant in conjunction with Troy Middle and Troy High School. For the remaining crosswalks, Han looked towards both RPI and the city of Troy to move the project forward. Grand Marshal Kyle Keraga ’15 wondered if the approval of this motion would damage the school’s relationship with Troy. Morgan Schweitzer ’16, head of the Community Relations Committee, stated that it would not, a thought that was seconded by Class of 2018 Senator Justin Etzine ’18. Paul Ilori ’17 stated his worry that it may come across as a mandate by the school to the city, which was followed by Han’s statement that it is a piece of business that must handled. Rubinstein, while approving the mood of the motion, requested to see a more concrete plan to move forward. Han replied that in order to move forward with city officials, the project needed the backing of the Student Senate. According to Han, the official perceived Aselin as a single student involved in this project and did not see the connection to the Senate.

After some discussion to change the wording of the document, the notion arose of tabling the vote to a later meeting. The motion to table passed with a vote of 13-4-1.

With the official business done, the meeting then turned to committee reports. The Student Government Communications Committee Chairman Wilcox, stated that the results from the Senate student survey were published. The Interfraternity Council and Panhellenic representatives, James Whelan ’17 and Morgan Schweitzer ’16 respectably, reported that their executive boards have been elected. Rindone reported again that their Residence Hall proposal was being revamped and a draft was being written of their pharmacy proposal after discussions with Dr. Leslie Lawrence, RPI medical director.