Protected Class Policy gains approval

Executive Board votes to allow clubs to keep membership anonymous

On Thursday, October 6, the Rensselaer Union Executive Board approved Union affiliation for The RPI Interplanetary Society, represented by President Edrick Drachenberg ’17, Secretary Michael Crisci ’20, Treasurer German Padilla ’18, and member Geoffrey Thomas ’19.

The RPI Interplanetary Society was created last year with the intention of conducting research that could be applied to space science. The club would provide a platform with a “multidisciplinary design experience” for students passionate about space to learn. The research that the participating students would compile is used in a competition that the Aerospace Industries Association hosts.

Members of the E-Board wondered at why this organization, a club unlike the kind usually seeking affiliation with the Union, would not try to align itself with one of the School of Engineering of School of Science. Drachenberg informed the Board that a club affiliated with the Union had a better chance of longevity and would receive a more diverse group of students and majors.

After approving their affiliation, the E-Board encouraged The Interplanetary Society to determine who their faculty advisor would be. Their constitution is being reviewed and will be voted upon in the next meeting.

In the recent weeks, the Policies Committee has been working hard to finalize the Protected Class Policy. A couple of weeks ago, the originally proposed policy had allowed organizations who identified as a certain protected class to exclude other students who did not identify as such.

The E-Board was not in favor of that policy, and consequently Policies made amendments to it. The first noticeable change would be the classification of these protected groups as “affinity groups.” An affinity group is a group with a common belief or interest. However, when referenced in the Protected Class Policy, these groups of students need also be a part of a “federally protected” class as outlined by the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Many clubs could classify it as an affinity group, and can request to be classified as such.

The primary purpose of the new Protected Class Policy is to guard the identities of students. Sections of the policy state that “a formal roster will not need to be kept” and club officers must submit contact information for the sake of “internal use only.” To complete the Union Annual Report, a club would only need to submit the number of students participating in the club, and from which class year they are.

Members of the E-Board were concerned about what protocol they were to follow in the event of an emergency. The identities of specific students might become necessary to have. After much debate, it was decided that the officers of the club would be in charge of maintaining an up-to-date roster of their members and no official roster would be held by the Rensselaer Union. This roster would be made available upon request of the Board or Admin Office. The motion to approve this policy with the added clause involving the officers maintaining their club’s roster was passed, 18-0-1.

Destination Imagination’s budget was approved for a total of $530. This subsidy will help cover the cost of supplies for both competitions, their official challenge booklet, and vans for traveling to the regional competition. No money was allotted for travel to their global competition.

If you are interested in learning more about the Rensselaer Union Executive Board, their open meetings are Thursdays at 8 pm in the Shellnut Gallery.