Hello again RPI! It’s good to be writing to all of you this week, especially since this past Monday the Student Senate approved the Activity Fee recommendation for next fiscal year (that would be Fiscal Year 18). This is a great load off of my shoulders. Now that the Executive Board has finished budgeting and the Student Senate has approved a recommendation, next year’s Activity Fee goes to the Institute for final approval. Since working with club officers, staff members, and students to make the budget every year is one of the main functions of the Executive Board, the only thing we have left to do is wrap up the school year. We are going to spend our last two months finishing projects we began this year and leaving our plan for what’s next to our successors.
This year we had a spree of committee work looking into renovations, refurbishments, alterations, and additions to the Rensselaer Union’s facilities. Each of these projects is coming to a wonderful close, but what we learned in the process is that there is far more work to be done to keep what we have running and to expand for an increasing student population. The focus of all of these projects was to improve the spaces students use, and to foster inclusive communities in the Union. By improving performance space in Mother’s Wine Emporium and expanding the kitchen area to be used as a true dining space, we can grant students and clubs opportunities that they have found difficult to make for themselves. By reorganizing our Student Government Suite we could increase club office space and meeting space in one fell swoop. By shuffling current club offices, we can help a group of people who have been overlooked on our campus. Our team has worked very hard to review what we have, what we need to have, and how to reach our goals when it comes to better Union facilities. Our investigative work this year will be the base of much more work to come and will help us drag our Union 20 years out of the past.
One of the trickiest things in the Union and in Student Government at RPI is planning. I don’t mean planning for our event next month, or planning the timeline for the budgeting process; I mean planning for the future, planning for what we want students to have that we couldn’t have ourselves. Each year, a new President of the Union and a new Executive Board take their seats in the Shelnutt Gallery and make their own decisions with minimal thought to actions taken one year earlier. Anything we cannot accomplish in one year’s time will be dropped in transition and passed along until a dedicated, hardworking student takes up responsibility. This is by no means a failure of our system of governance. It’s merely one negative side effect of the great freedom each new E-Board is given to govern, decide, and effect change. It’s a negative side effect that takes a great deal of effort to overcome and an incredible amount of support. To keep our momentum moving, the Union needs a guide that will be here longer than any member of Student Government. By the end of this year, we need a Director of the Union. We need the support they provide and, more than that, we require a fully staffed team who is there supporting us and guiding us along the way. The same is true for every club and organization in the Union and we all deserve no less.
As the Director of the Union search continues, the Executive Board and Student Senate will be reaching out to all students in the Union with information about how they can be involved. I’m happy to say that much progress has been made, and if all goes well, the next Executive Board will have a new Director of the Union to work with.