Senate approves student petition website

The 45th Student Senate met last week to discuss the last of the Grand Marshal Week amendments, as well as a presentation of the new petitions website and the formal vote on electronic voting for GM Week.

Amendment seven dealt with referendums and removals. The amendment would allow the Senate to remove a voting member by a two-thirds vote with good cause. It would also allow an issue to be brought to a direct vote to the Senate either by a two-thirds vote or by receiving a petition signed by 10 percent of all members of the Rensselaer Union.

Michael Han ’16 asked what the process would be to remove a non-voting member, such as the parliamentarian. Nathan James ’15 explained that since those roles are not covered in the Constitution, their removal, therefore, is not covered in the Constitution. There was also concern that a two-thirds majority vote would be easier to achieve, if three members voted and the rest abstained. Tina Gilliland ’15 proposed removing the word voting and make it two thirds vote of its total voting membership. Paul Ilori ’17 opposed the change, saying that having 18 members, which is one fourth of a percent of the student body, granted the power to remove the president of the student body is giving the senators too much power. The amendment failed 2-12-5. Mason Cooper ’17 proposed adding “of the student senate’s total voting membership” to the end of the amendment. This passed 10-6-3, leading to the total amendment to pass 14-3-2.

Next, there was a motion to reconsider amendment six, which dealt with judicial procedures. Justin Etzine ’18 explained to the Senate that he initially voted no because he thought the handbook mirrored what the Constitution said, but that is not the case. Andrew Sudano ’17 was concerned that leaving the judicial procedures in the Constitution, which would not be updated to mirror the Student Handbook, could cause students to incorrectly prepare. The motion passed 14-1-4, concluding the Senate’s discussion on amendments for GM Week.

Ilori then presented the new petition website, which allows students to create petitions that other students can sign. Petitions can have descriptions, be tagged, and also shared on social media so that, as Ilori put it, “people that are hiring you can know you give a crap.” The petition website, which was displayed on the projector, was quickly filled with silly petitions written by senators. One of the most popular was making Ilori’s glasses the new GM. Seeing this, Sudano was concerned that the website would get flooded with meaningless petitions. Kyle Keraga ’15 stated that this system was modeled after RIT’s petition system. Their moderation team consists of four members, and even though their student body is three times the size of RPI, they do not have trouble. The Senate approved the new petitions website 17-1-0.

Finally, the Senate voted on using electronic voters for GM Week. Since it was highly discussed last semester, the motion was immediately called a vote, and then passed 16-1-1. Before closing, the Senate approved previous meeting minutes and heard reports.