Constitution and Bylaws not in conflict

THE STUDENT SENATE DEBATED a motion to declare the Union Constitution free of conflict with RPI’s bylaws, and ultimately voted to pass it 17–5–0.

On Monday, October 2, the Rensselaer Union Student Senate held its ninth meeting of the semester. It opened with a report from Grand Marshal Justin Etzine ’18, in which he briefly addressed the current affairs regarding the Rensselaer Union that would be discussed later in the meeting. He also urged senators to try to represent the views of their constituents during this discussion, as opposed to their personal opinions.

During the single committee report, Student Life Committee chairperson Hannah Merrow ’18 shared that the discussion on the revisions to the Student Handbook will be held during the SLC meeting on Wednesday, October 4 at 6 pm in the Student Government Suite.

The Senate then moved onto unfinished business, in which they revisited the motion that would endorse the revisions to the Student Handbook as they were presented by the Division of Student Life on September 25, 2017. After reading the motion, Etzine asked members of the Senate to raise their hands if they had read the document from cover to cover, and if they fully believed they could endorse it at the current time. When no hands were raised, Etzine asked, “Would it be responsible to vote on this motion at this time?” A motion to postpone until the next meeting then passed by overwhelming majority.

Before the Senate moved on to new business, a motion to close the meeting passed 16–1–3. Immediately after, a motion to invite members of the Union back into the meeting passed by overwhelming majority.

After almost an hour of discussion regarding the Board of Trustees’ resolution, the Senate voted on a resolution which stated that, “the Constitution is in full accordance with the declaration of the resolution,” and that “no provisions of the Constitution conflict with the Bylaws of the Institute.”

It also affirmed “the ultimate authority of the president in deciding the employment of the director of the Union,” and “the Executive Board’s involvement in the approval process for the hiring of a candidate for the director of the Union position,” such that “a candidate cannot be hired without the successful completion of the approval process.”

Finally, it confirmed “the integrity of the Rensselaer Union’s status as a student-run Union.” The resolution can be viewed in its entirety at The motion passed 17-5-0.

Some senators, largely through a motion that was released prior to the meeting but withdrawn after the previous motion’s passage, expressed a desire for a committee to handle the interpretation of the Board of Trustees’ resolution. While some people in support of the resolution claimed that they looked over all of the documents line by line and saw no conflicts, others thought it would be more appropriate for the Senate to collectively come to a conclusion with reasoning that would be laid out through the work of a committee.

There was also debate over the authority of the Executive Board in the process for hiring a director of the Union. Some claimed that the E-Board essentially had a “veto power,” and others thought of it as a “step in the process,” wherein the president could not appoint someone the E-Board did not approve. These details, including a concrete definition of the word “approval” as it is used in the Senate’s resolution, were not resolved in the meeting.

Lastly, Senator Joshua Thomas ’20 moved to host a town hall meeting that would help constituents, specifically freshmen and sophomores, understand the current situation with the Rensselaer Union. A resolution to “schedule a town hall meeting before or during the week of October 9 in order to inform constituents of the recent events involving the Rensselaer Student Union” was charged to Vice Chairperson of the Senate Ellie Mees ’19, with at least five volunteers, by a vote of 20-0-1.

On October 3, student government announced a town hall meeting regarding the recent events of the Union. It will take place on Saturday, October 7 at noon in the McNeil Room.