Grand Marshal Justin Etzine ’18 opened the Student Senate meeting with committee reports. Those began with Interim Academic Affairs Committee Chairperson Varun Rao ’18 who expressed interest in creating a new position for a Senate liaison to the Faculty Senate. The Faculty Senate is a critical component of governance of the Institute and Rao feels that it will be important to have a student representative expressing the interests of the student body during faculty meetings. The AAC is also working with Interim Rules and Elections Committee Chairperson David Raab ’19 to create a new process to elect professors to the tenure committee. Faculty have expressed that they do not wish to appoint their constituents to a committee deciding their own tenure, and would rather an unbiased group of student leaders make the decision. Rao stated that he expects the creation of the new process to be complete by the end of next semester.
Following Rao, the Hospitality Services Advisory Committee Interim Chairperson Jenna Freedberg ’18 was not present to deliver her report, but Etzine stated on her behalf that HSAC has finished creating a survey and has sent it to Rensselaer Hospitality Services to finalize. HSAC hopes to have the survey online by this Saturday. Interim Student Life Committee Chairperson Ellie Mees ’18 continued by stating that the committee is currently working avidly to allow for multiple points of entry to freshman dormitories. In response to Mees’ comments, Etzine, former Student Life Committee Chairperson, said, “It is very unlikely there will be universal access like we did freshman year, but it is very likely there will be multiple points of entry since many of the residence halls were not built for there to be only one way in and one way out.” Following Mees, Vice President of the Union Rasika Ekhalikar ’18 delivered the Executive Board’s constituent report, stating that in their last meeting the Executive Board looked into the operations and leadership of RPI TV. The Phalanx Honor Society also requested funds from the Executive Board for sound and media reporting of their induction ceremony. No funds were given by the Executive Board to support the initiative.
Undergraduate President Kayla Cinnamon ’18 was not present at the meeting, but Etzine gave her report and said that the applications are still open for class council Executive Board Representative. Cinnamon is also currently working to establish a new class council representative to the Student Senate to be elected in two days time. Following Cinnamon, Jennie Miller ’19 delivered a report on behalf of the Panhellenic Council stating that Omega Phi Beta, a Latin-based sorority which is not a member of the national panhellenic organization, is currently seeking associate membership with the Panhellenic Council. Alumni sisters from the Gamma chapter of the Omega Phi Beta sorority at Union College came to present their case to the Panhellenic Council as well as interested women from Rensselaer. The Panhellenic Council will be discussing in its next meeting whether they would like to approve the sorority’s associated affiliation. The Panhellenic Council also recently approved to raise the cap that sorority houses can spend on recruitment in order to bolster recruitment efforts in the coming semester.
Following constituent reports, the Senate began procedures for the appointment of committee chairs beginning with Caleb Caraway ’19 as Rules and Elections Committee Chairperson. Caraway stated that he had served three semesters on the committee including being vice chair of the committee for the past two. Caraway believes that the Rules and Elections Committee should remain under the oversight of the Student Senate and that the Grand Marshal appointing the chairperson “eliminates conflicts of interest.” Additionally, Caraway stated in response to an inquiry that Rules and Elections Committee members should be able to actively run for office in student government and serve on the committee at the same time. The motion for his appointment passed 20-0-0.
Following Caraway, the Senate continued to consider the appointment of Ellie Mees ’18 as Vice Chairperson of the Senate. Most of Mees’ experience has been spent serving on the Student Life Committee, which included acting as Vice Chairperson of the committee under Etzine. Mees also served as Student Government Communications Chairperson, Class of 2018 Senator, Secretary, and Class Ring Chairperson. The motion to appoint Mees passed 19-0-1.
Further, Nino Polletta ’20 was appointed to the position of Treasurer. Polletta, a recent transfer student from the Rochester Institute of Technology, was a part of RIT’s student government and helped organize events there. Polletta also said, “I own my own company,” further stating “this is a first time experience for me,” in reference to the Rensselaer Student Senate. The motion to appoint Polletta passed 20-0-0.
Timothy Wang ’19, a first term member of the Senate, was appointed to the position of Secretary in a motion that passed 20-0-0. Wang was previously on the Student Life Committee, serving alongside Etzine and President of the Interfraternity Council Marvin Cosare ’18 working on Greek life policies.
Jennie Miller ’19, former parliamentarian of the Senate, was appointed again as Senate Parliamentarian in a motion that passed 20-0-0. Miller is an accredited parliamentarian, and has gone to two national competitions and coached a team on parliamentary procedure which also competed on the national level. Sairisheel Gabbireddy ’19 was appointed Academic Affairs Committee Chairperson passing 11-7-2. Michael Gardner, Graduate Senator, was appointed as Community Relations Committee Chairperson passing 20-0-0 in the Senate.
Nancy Bush ’19 was appointed Facilities and Services Committee Chairperson passing 19-0-1. Steve Sperazza ’18 was appointed as Internal Reforms Committee Chairperson passing 19-0-1. Stefanie Warner ’19 was appointed Student Government Communications Chairperson passing 19-0-1. Hannah Merrow ’18 was appointed Student Life Committee Chairperson passing 20-0-0. Sidney Kochman ’19 was appointed Web Technologies Chairperson passing 20-0-0.
Etzine concluded the meeting with his weekly Grand Marshal Report, which consisted of plans for the upcoming week as well as discussion of times for future commitee meetings. In addition, Etzine suggested that the Senate plan social events to engage newly elected members and make them feel more comfortable acclamating with the organization’s membership.