Rules and Elections kicks off freshman campaigns

The Rensselaer Union 48th Student Senate held its first meeting of the semester on Saturday, September 2. The meeting was held in the Bruggeman Conference Center of the Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies at the conclusion of training for the members of the Senate.

The main item on the agenda was approval of the Class of 2021 Freshmen Elections Handbook. Freshman elections occur in the Fall semester during September and early October in order to elect freshman members to both the Student Senate and the Undergraduate Council. Rules and Elections Committee chairperson Caleb Caraway ’19 explained to the Senate that the Handbook contained no major changes in comparison to the rules of prior elections and only some minor language tweaks. Prospective candidates are required to attend one candidate info session before declaring their candidacy. These will occur on weekdays in the Student Government Suite at 5 pm starting on Tuesday, September 5 and ending on Friday, September 22. Elections will be held on Tuesday, October 5, and all forms related to the elections will need to be turned into the Union Admin Office by Friday, September 29.

A few senators noticed there were some errors within the document. Political parties, which were removed from the Grand Marshal Week 2017 Election Handbook, were still referenced. Grand Marshal Justin Etzine ’18 pointed out that the Rules and Elections Committee can unanimously vote to make small edits that don’t change the overall fairness of the elections without going back before the Senate. The vote of the Senate to pass the handbook passed 16-0-0. The full elections handbook can be found at

The next order of business for the meeting was for the Senate to consider Etzine’s appointment of a slate of six students to a newly-created campus safety advisory committee. Of those six students, three will be actually be invited to sit on the committee. This new committee will be led by Director of Public Safety Jerry Matthews, and it will be tasked with reviewing current campus safety protocols and making suggestions for their improvement. Etzine appointed Ciera Williams ’18, Tnbit Demoz ’19, Zining Liang ’19, Charisse Stakutis ’18, Harrison Leinweber ’18, and Adeel Minhas ’18 to potentially serve on this committee. The formation of this committee is required in order to comply with New York State law, and needs to be made up of at least two students, two members of the faculty, and two other members of the RPI community appointed by the president. According to Etzine, RPI has made a commitment to having three students sit on this group. The motion passed 16-0-0.

Greek Senator and Parliamentarian Jennie Miller ’19 motioned to change the Senate bylaws regarding the appointment of R&E members. Currently, R&E members are appointed by various bodies of student government, and the chairperson appoints a member-at-large who can be any Union Activity Fee paying member of the Union. If one of those bodies does not appoint someone to R&E within three weeks after the start of the Fall semester, their seat reverts to a member-at-large who is appointed by the R&E chairperson. Miller proposed changing that rule to having the Grand Marshal appoint someone from the body that would have been represented by that seat.

Miller explained to the Senate that the RPI Panhellenic Council is extremely busy preparing for their formal recruitment process and they have not had time to appoint someone to R&E. According to Miller, they feel it is unfair that they lose their representation if they do not appoint someone on time. The only currently vacant seat on R&E is the Panhellenic seat, while the rest of the group was formed at the end of last semester. Ultimately, the Senate voted 16-0-0 to postpone consideration of this motion until the next Senate meeting, which will be taking place on Monday, September 11 at 8 pm in the Union’s Shelnutt Gallery.