Senate hears reactor petition

The Student Senate began Tuesday’s meeting with four petitions. The first was “Don’t Shut Down RPI’s Nuclear Reactor,” presented by graduate Nicholas Thompson. The Walthousen Reactor Critical Facility is a zero-power nuclear reactor used for education, training, and research by RPI nuclear engineering students. The City of Schenectady has pushed for its shutdown; however, many faculty members want it to remain in service. Thompson feels that this is a time-sensitive issue, as it is possible that the reactor could be shut down as early as this summer. Graduate Senator Mike Caiola asked if it would be possible to send a formal letter to the administration, should it pass, who have the final say on the decision. The Senate supported the petition in a 16-0-1 vote.

Next was the petition “Don’t Renew Sodexo’s Contract.” Michael Han ’16 said that this was a touchy subject, as Sodexo’s contract does not expire until 2018. James Wheland ’16 motioned to refer the petition to the Hospitality Services Advisory Committee. Joe Venusto ’17 said that while HSAC works with hospitality services, it is not the same thing as Sodexo. Seeing this, Paul Ilori ’17 amended the motion to charge it to the Facilities and Services Committee. This passed 17-1-0.

The third petition, Installing Water Bottle Filling Stations around Campus, was postponed to the next meeting, as the scheduled presenter was unable to attend. The final petition was Expand use of [the] Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center, presented by Chuck Carletta. Since many students feel that EMPAC has not been useful to them since freshman orientation, Carletta proposed some new uses, such as TED talks and monthly movie showings. Jessica Krajewski ’16 and Whelan were charged with investing student usage of EMPAC and possibly expanding its use.

The Senate moved on to appointing new committee chairs. Joshua Rosenfeld ’16 was officially appointed parliamentarian. Krajewski was appointed as vice chairman of the Senate. Graduate Senator Jenn Church was appointed as the Senate Communications Committee chairman. Han was appointed as FSC chairman. Graduate Senator Spencer Scott was appointed Academic Affairs Committee chairman. Ilori was appointed Student Life Committee chairman.

There was then a motion to have some form of electronic voting for Senate proceedings, since the past and current Grand Marshal have had difficulties counting votes. Rosenfeld also pointed out that students can’t tell who voted for what just from meeting minutes. Church said that a whole system is unnecessary, as roll call votes and Roberts Rules of Order should cover everything. However, the motion passed 8-6-4 in favor of charging the Web Technologies Group with investigating a voting system.

Another motion was brought to the floor regarding the amount of time petitions take up of Senate meetings. The motion proposed creating a petitions committee that would handle petitions. According to the bylaws, this would infringe on the Rules and Elections committee’s jurisdiction, so the motion was changed to making it a subcommittee of R&E. Rosenfeld argued that creating this committee would defeat the entire purpose of the petition, which is to allow students to be heard in front of the entire Senate. At this point, the Senate decided it would be best to postpone the motion, and the meeting concluded.