The 45th Student Senate met Thursday, March 5 and Monday, March 9 to discuss proposed constitution amendments. Before discussing the amendments, the Senate passed February 19 and February 26’s meeting minutes, and established queue rules for the current meeting. The bulk of the Senate’s meetings related to adding amendments to the constitution on the ballot for GM week.
Proposed amendment two relates to officers of the Union. Major changes include listing the chairman of the Judicial Board as an officer of the Union, allowing the Judicial Board to choose a new chairman from among its members should the chairman be removed, and allowing the Undergraduate Council President to only vote on the Undergraduate Council in the case of a tie. Shoshana Rubinstein ’16 motioned to separate the parts of the amendment concerning the Judicial Board. Her reasoning was because of concerns that it would be voted against solely because of Judicial Board changes and not because of opposition of the entire amendment. Judicial Board chairman Anthony Barbieri ’15 cleared up confusion, saying he contacted the individual concerned over the changes. That person was concerned that making the chairman an officer of the Union would bring him or her too close with the Grand Marshal. After Barbieri further explained the motion, the individual was no longer concerned. Michael Han ’16 motioned to split the amendment, which failed 4-11-5. The amendment was then voted on to appear on the ballot. It was passed 19-0-1.
Amendment three related to the Executive Board. Executive Board members would be referred to Food is inspected as it comes in the back door.” Receiving personnel check all products for dates, temperatures, damaged cans, and quality of produce. This violation has been corrected as of the most recent inspection on November 25, 2014.
The critical violation identified at BARH was described as “toxic chemicals are improperly labeled, stored or used so that contamination of food can occur.” According to Brown, an unopened box of Sterno, canned fuel used to heat chafing dishes, was left on a shelf with canned food. Upon notification of the violation, the box was promptly moved to a chemical storage closet. As of the most recent inspection on November 5, 2014, this violation has been corrected.
One non-critical violation described as “tobacco is used, eating drinking in food preparation, dishwashing food storage areas” was found at Blitman Dining Hall during an inspection in 2014. Matt Mueller, the general manager of Hospitality Services at RPI, explained that the violation was not for tobacco use, but a beverage placed in the food preparation station. “[Tobacco use on campus] is a violation of both our policy and RPI’s Tobacco Use Policy. Employees are documented if they smoke on campus,” Brown mentioned. “Employees go out to the sidewalk to smoke,” added Mueller.
Various health code violations were found at other campus food service locations. The most frequent violation was “wiping cloths dirty, not stored properly in sanitizing solutions,” which was identified at three campus locations. The Rensselaer Union, with three non-critical violations, received the most violations of any on-campus dining facility. No health code violations were identified at Sage Dining Hall during inspections in 2014.
Brown shared that Sodexo tries to ensure the health and safety of students and employees. An independent third-party auditor inspects the food facilities on an annual basis for food and health safety. According to Brown, “[RPI’s dining facilities] scored an average of 98.6 in food safety and an average of 99.1 in health safety.” Mueller added, “A few of our units scored above 100.” Sodexo’s managers and culinarians are ServSafe certified through the ServSafe Food Safety Training Program. “Certification lasts five years, but Sodexo employees are re-certified every three years, so we exceed that standard,” Mueller stated.
The results of RPI Hospitality Services’ health inspection results since 2005 can be found at http://poly.rpi.edu/s/wgt20. as “members of the Executive Board” rather than “the President of the Union’s Cabinet.” In addition, the Executive Board would have a minimum of 15 voting members, with five additional appointed at the discretion of the President of the Union. Friendly changes were made to the amendment before it passed 18-0-2.
Amendment four clarified the role of the Judicial Board and how members are appointed. New appointments will occur when a vacancy on the Judicial Board exists. New members can be nominated by the Judicial Board chairman, similar to how the President of the Union appoints members of the Executive Board. These appointments would still require a two-thirds approval by the Senate. Barbieri stated that these changes would help prevent the Judicial Board from becoming empty, as it has happened in the past. The motion passed 16-1-3.
Since the judicial procedures are defined in the Student Handbook, amendment five proposed to remove them from the constitution because they are redundant. Han asked what would happen if the procedures were removed from the handbook. Nathan James ’15 stated that the administration has complete power over that and there is nothing the Senate can do to prevent those changes. Rubinstein made the point that keeping the procedures in the Constitution would help keep individuals aware of the procedures. The motion failed to pass 11-6-3.
This was the end of the scheduled amendments, but since it was still early in the evening the Senate agreed to view the next scheduled amendment. There was a short recess before discussion of amendment six about the council system began. The amendment states that the Undergraduate Council would consist of a president and vice president from each council. The president of the Undergraduate Council would be voted on by the students. James stated that currently the Undergraduate Council has little power. This amendment would give them some jurisdiction and help them gain more experience for the class council. There were two motions to amend who could represent either the president or vice president in their absence, however both motions were voted down. The amendment was then voted on as it had first been presented, passing 19-0-1.
The Senate reconvened Monday, March 9. The next amendment up for discussion was changes to the Greek system. The amendment states that the Senate no longer has to approve changes to the Interfraternity Council or Panhellenic Association constitutions, the Judicial Board can no longer rule their actions unconstitutional, and Greek senators are to be voted for by the Greek constituency. Jenna Freedberg ’18 wondered what would happen if a Greek house were to become a “superpower.” Barbieri stated that it could happen, but since they are the majority vote there is no way to change who is voted in. The vote on Greek amendments passed 20-0-2.
Paul Ilori ’17 presented to the Senate on petition and the referendum handbook. There was discussion on Senate bylaws amendments. Ilori then presented on changes to the GM Week Handbook. Rules and Elections will give an information session to go over rules and guidelines. Being closing, the Senate approved the minutes of the meetings on February 5, 12, and March 5.