Citing sections of the Rensselaer Union Constitution, the Student Senate postponed confirmation of President of the Union Nick Dvorak ’16’s appointment of John Fantell ’19 and Matthew Beaudoin ’19 to two Member at Large seats until the Rules & Elections Committee can issue a ruling on the legality of the appointments. The issue at stake was the fact that some sections of the Constitution say that the Executive Board only has four weeks from the start of the semester to make its Member at Large appointments.
Matthew Rand’s ’19 appointment to the Class of 2019 Representative seat was approved by the Senate effective at the conclusion of the Class of 2019 elections because some senators expressed concern that the Constitution states that the Class of 2019 Representative seat on the E-Board has to be appointed within three weeks after the elections. Prior to the votes, Jeremy Feldman ’16 stated that, in his conversation with Rensselaer Judicial Board Chairman Anthony Barbieri ’15, Barbieri said he was confident that the appointments would most likely be ruled constitutional if brought before the J-Board. Furthermore, Feldman told the Senate that he believes it is obligated to appoint these freshmen so that the E-Board has freshmen representation, citing specific language in the Constitution.
The two E-Board hopefuls that spoke prior to the postponement reiterated their desire to be appointed to the E-Board, explaining that they’ve already gotten involved in clubs and other activities around campus. They also talked about their experiences with student government in high school and how they wanted to make a difference at Rensselaer at the start of their student careers. Senator and Web Technologies Group Chairman Justin Etzine ’18 asked if they fully understood the time commitment involved with E-Board and if they were prepared to fully commit to the work. They both said that they would make E-Board one of their first priorities and realized that they need to interact with their assigned clubs, in addition to attending meetings.
Committee reports were presented first, keeping with Robert’s Rules of Order specifications. The R&E committee update, given by co-chairman Paul Ilori ’17 reiterated that elections for the class of 2019 are Thursday from 9 am–5 pm in the Darrin Communications Center and from 9 am–6 pm in the Union in the lobby facing The Quadrangle.
Graduate Senator Jen Church, chairman of the Student Government Communications Committee, said that there will be a day later in the month when all members of student government will wear their polo shirts around campus.
Michael Han ’16 from the Facilities and Services Committee said that he will meeting with Vice President of Administration Claude Rounds this week to discuss whether or not their projects can be realistically implemented.
Etzine told the Senate that his meeting with Alan Powell and Nigel Westlake from DotCIO went well and was very productive—a member of DotCIO is interested in having students help boister the web presence of RPI across all of its departments.
WebTech members Mason Cooper ’17 and David Raab ’19 presented a proposal for an electronic voting system to be used in Senate meetings. The proposed system would take attendance before meetings so that only Senators present at the meeting can vote. Senators would then access a secure website on their electronic devices using RCS credentials and vote on motions as the parliamentarian enters them into the system. At the end of the meeting, a report would be generated detailing how each Senator voted on the motions of the meeting, and then automatically uploaded to Flagship Docs.
Senators raised questions on how such a system would impact current practices. Namely, the concern was brought up that all votes would turn into roll-call votes with the new electronic system. Etzine addressed that concern by saying the votes of individual Senators was publicized last school year when RPI TV recorded all meetings of the Senate.
Also, the implementation of such a system would require a change to the current no electronics policy of the Senate. Concerns were raised that senators would be distracted during meetings if they had to have their laptops out the entire time. Jennifer Freederg ’18 suggested the possibility of using iClickers in voting instead of laptops.
The meeting concluded with a brief update from Grand Marshal Marcus Flowers ’16 on the continued progress on the implementation of Summer Arch. Flowers detailed that Rensselaer administration wants the Senate to help the rest of the student body buy into the program and stressed that it is still a work in progress. Plans are in the works for an open forum between administration, faculty, and students to discuss specifics of the implementation. The only timeframe Flowers could give is that it would occur “sometime before Thanksgiving.” He stressed that students from all backgrounds are needed at this forum because it will be the main forum for student input into implementation of the program. Finally, Flowers stressed that the program is going to be implemented and that it will only go well if students are a part of the process.