The first Student Senate Meeting of the spring 2015 semester focused on appointments to office, amendments to the Rensselaer Union Constitution, presentations, and committee meeting updates. Grand Marshal Kyle Keraga ’15 began the meeting by appointing Edward Qiao ’18 to independent senator. Qiao has been active in the Student Life Committee, determined to take on this position. The vote passed with a count of 16-0-3.
Followed by this appointment, a motion to amend the bylaws was proposed, first by Joseph Venusto ’17 and seconded by Jenna Freedberg ’18, to change the wording of a section of The By-laws of the Rensselaer Union Student Senate addressing the Grand Marshal selecting a new Rules and Elections chair in the event of a resignation or removal. Justin Etzine ’18 believed the term “selected” can be interpreted in many ways, yielding to changing “selected” to “appointed.” This motion passed with a 19-0-2 vote.
Another amendment change also received attention. Currently, the Senate Bylaws includes a section discussing how an extended absence period should be explained better. Steven Sperazza ’18 suggested if this change is not made, it is “leaving it unclear” and up to discretion. Paul Ilori ’17 settled the questioning by adding that someone on the chair should serve until replaced or at their own resignation. The motion to modify this phrasing passed with a vote of 17-0-4.
The meeting then focused on another appointment, Ilori as Rules and Elections Chair. This motion was signed by Etzine and seconded by Sperazza. Rowdiness broke out, as Etzine questioned Ilori’s potential candidacy for Grand Marshal in 2015. He responded, “I wouldn’t be up here wasting time, if I were running for Grand Marshal.” Ilori mentioned he has the goal of finishing projects from “over the last decade.” The vote shortly thereafter ended in confusion whether abstentions are included or not in a 2/3 present and voting approval of the appointment. It was confirmed by Keraga that Ilori is appointed RNE Chair with a vote of 12-1-8.
The third motion brought to the floor was to confirm the Grand Marshal’s appointment of Venusto as the Senate Representative to the Rules and Elections committee, therefore vacating his previous position as Interfraternity Council Representative to the committee. Even though Venusto will be switching his position, this change will make a difference in fulfilling certain projects. Venusto mentioned the name of a potential successor; this was deemed irrelevant and further comments and questions were voiced. The appointment ended being passed with a vote of 17-0-4.
Ilori took the stage again, presenting his Referendum/Petitions Rules presentation that the RNE Committee has been working on. He mentioned when and how a petition becomes a referendum and posters violating the rules set forth by the committee will be taken down, and the contact person on the poster will be notified. Michael Han ’16 questioned whether Ilori was posing a vote on the rules or providing a status report. The presentation was simply a review of the petitioning rules as we approach spring elections.
The second presentation of the night was led by Venusto regarding 2015-2016 meal plan updates according to the Hospitality Services Advisory Committee. RPI students may have already noticed upon filling out the housing application for next year that the new plans have been presented. A major change in meal plans consists of Sodexo completely removing the unlimited meal swipes plan; however, an addition of “guest swipes” will be included in all upcoming plans. Students will now be able to swipe in guests without any questioning upon entering a dining hall (unless no swipes remain from the student). Additionally, incoming freshman will have four options to choose from, all nearly priced around $6,000. Beginning fall 2015, students can use $8 of their flex dollars to eat in at a RPI dining hall. Sodexo still will offer the “create your own” meal plan option. Hopefully, the goal of redesigning meal plans to accommodate each student’s different lifestyles will be achieved.
All committee meeting updates were given afterward, including Graduate Council member Kristen Lee, who mentioned how the City Station has been calling students using phone numbers obtained from the school. This issue will soon be resolved. Also noted in this meeting by IFC representatives is that Greek Rush had officially started as of January 30, but Dean of Students Mark Smith has clearly stated that no Greek members can enter residence halls to find interested individuals.
Lastly, Keraga stated that Melanie Todis ’17 has resigned as Class of 2017 Senator and Morgan Schweitzer ’16 has resigned from Senate Parliamentarian and Chair of the Community Relations committee. This concluded the meeting.