The Student Senate met last Wednesday, opening the meeting with an approval of the previous week’s minutes and a summary of the committee progress from the week.
Grand Marshal Marcus Flowers ’16 then motioned to appoint two new committee chairmen. The first was the appointment of Samantha Notley ’18 as the Community Relations Committee chairman. This committee has recently been inactive, but it was Flowers’ intention during his time as GM to improve relations with local colleges and universities. The role of the CRC would be to improve student life through interaction with schools like Russell Sage College and the State University of New York of Albany. With no objections, Notley was appointed chairman of the CRC.
Flowers also motioned to appoint Chris Hoskins ’16 to the Communications Committee chairman, which sparked more discussion than Notley. Justin Etzine ’18 asked why Hoskin was not present for the appointment, and whether or not he was still the Marketing, Advertising, and Publicity chairman for the Executive Board. Flowers explained that Hoskins had a phone interview come up late and was therefore unable to attend. Although Flowers stated in the meeting that Hoskins had resigned from the MAP committee, President of the Union Nick Dvorak ’16 clarified that he is still currently serving as the MAP committee chairman. Paul Ilori ’17 supported the appointment, saying, “I have confidence in him doing a good job.” Graduate student Mike Caiola motioned to postpone the discussion until Hoskins was available. This motion passed 19-5-1.
The main discussion of the evening came from the Vice President of the Faculty Senate, Professor John. A. Tichy, invited by the Senate to attend the meeting. He asked whether or not it would be worthwhile to look into academic integrity. Graduate student Spencer Scott called RPI’s culture “relaxed” when it comes to academic integrity and, after being a teaching assistant for five semesters, feels that it should be taken more seriously. Thomas Alappat ’17 disclosed to the Senate that he had observed students in his classes using their phones during the tests. It seemed to him that the teaching assistant did not care that the students were cheating. Jenna Freedberg ’18 pointed out that students are always going to find a way to cheat, so a catch-all solution would be difficult produce. In whatever solution was implemented, Etzine wanted to make sure that there would be a way for students to argue their case if, for example, they were allegedly cheating on a homework assignment. With the penalties as harsh as they are, it can be difficult for teaching assistants to give out. With a more balanced system, it might be easier for teaching assistants to punish cheaters, said Joshua D’Amato ’18. Graduate student Timothy Krentz added that training for teaching assistants would be helpful, allowing them to be better prepared for handling difficult situations.
Keegan Caraway ’18 motioned to establish an ad-hoc committee to further investigate and collaborate with the Faculty Senate on the issue. Ilori pointed out that the committee should go under the Faculty Senate because, otherwise, a student would chair a committee on academic integrity, which has the potential to cause issues. Scott agreed, saying that the committee should mostly be faculty with one or two student representatives to provide feedback. The motion for the committee failed.
The meeting concluded with postering for the fall Senate Survey, organized by the GM.