Last Wednesday, the Student Senate met to discuss two of the most important motions of the year; the approval of the Student Activity Fee and the Union Annual Report for Fiscal Year 2017.
Graduate student and chairman of the UAR Committee Jen Church began the meeting with a presentation on the UAR, discussing its purpose and the information contained within. The full UAR can be found on Flagship Docs at http://poly.news/s/q6dmk/.
The first motion was to approve the Activity Fee, which for this year was calculated to be $374 for undergraduates and $329 for graduate students. This fee does not include the cost of Intercollegiate Athletics, which is an additional $300 for undergraduates and $32 for graduate students. Jennifer Freedberg ’18 asked for clarification on how the athletics fee would factor in. President of the Union Nick Dvorak ’16 explained that while the athletics portion is technically separate from the Activity Fee, when the bill is viewed on Bursar it will appear together with the Activity Fee on one line item.
Justin Etzine ’18 spoke out against the plan to remove athletics from the Rensselaer Union’s budgeting procedures. Etzine wants to “put the ball back in [the administration’s] court” by “[omitting] all funding for RPI Athletics from the Fiscal Year 2017 Union budget and all references to athletics funding from the UAR.” His reasoning was that the Union has been budgeting athletics successfully for decades and that the administration should sit down with the students and discuss the matter further. Church and Dvorak said that this had previously been discussed. The recommendation already took this into account. The inclusion of athletics in this year’s UAR was minimal and only occurred because budgets had been approved before the decision to move athletics was announced.
Graduate student Timothy Krentz moved to amend the motion, adding in a clause stating “the Executive Board and Senate request and recommend that the athletics fee be listed as a separate line item for billing purposes.” After some discussion, Paul Ilori ’17 added two clauses to explain the purpose of the addition, one stating that the Activity Fee represents the budget of the Union generated by members of the Union, and the other stating that since athletics is no longer budgeted by the Union, it should not be included in the same line item as the Activity Fee. This motion passed 21-0-1.
Shortly after, Etzine pointed out that the class dues also needed to be listed separately from the Activity Fee, for record keeping reasons. The change was ruled friendly, putting the Activity Fee as $360.50 for undergraduates and $317 for graduate students and the class dues as $13.50 and $12, respectively.
The motion then went up for a roll call vote. The senators voting in the affirmative were as follows: Thomas Alappat ’17, Nancy Bush ’19, graduate student Mike Caiola, Etzine, Alex Fox ’16, Jennifer Freedberg ’18, Michael Han ’16, Ilori, Jessica Krajewski ’16, Krentz, CJ Markum ’16, Bill Mehner ’16, Austin Miller ’17, Samantha Notley ’18, Victoria Phan ’18, Cameron Riley ’19, graduate student Spencer Scott, Steve Sperazza ’18, Joe Venusto ’18, Wilbur Velarde ’19, and graduate student Amanda Youmans. Church abstained from voting and Caleb Caraway ’19, Keegan Caraway ’18, Josh D’Amato ’18, and graduate student Benjamin Walcott were all absent from the meeting. The motion passed 21-0-5.
The second motion was to approve the UAR itself, as moved by the UAR committee. Etzine and Joshua Rosenfeld ’16 expressed concern over many unanswered questions relating to the UAR. Church asked for clarification, wondering if it was relating to the document itself or the athletics situation. With the latter, Church suggested producing a second document with a more thorough explanation of athletics. Freedberg supported the idea of a second document, but also advocated for keeping all of the current information in the UAR for clarity. After more senators agreed that athletics should be kept in, Krentz called the question, which passed 15-5-2.
The approval of the UAR was then voted on by a roll call vote. Those in the affirmative were Alappat, Bush, Caiola, Freedberg, Han, Ilori, Krajewski, Krentz, Markum, Mehner, Miller, Notley, Phan, Riley, Scott, Sperazza, Velarde, Venusto, and Youmans. Those against were Etzine and Fox. Church abstained from voting and Caraway, Caraway, D’Amato, and Walcott were all absent from the meeting.
In the essence of time, the Senate quickly moved through committee reports. The Senate then closed the discussion to the public for the remainder of the meeting.