Handbook tasked to SLC

On October 16, 2017, Grand Marshal Justin Etzine opened the Student Senate meeting by welcoming its new members, asking them to introduce themselves by sharing their majors, and reasons why they chose to join the Student Senate.

After a series of brief committee reports, Jennie Miller ’19 moved to endorse the revisions to the Rensselaer Handbook of Student Rights and Responsibilities. At the start of the queue Hannah Merrow ’18 moved to charge that motion to Student Life Committee Chairperson and to the GM with the full authority to act. This means that it would be their responsibility to meet with Assistant Vice President and Dean of Students Travis Apgar to decide if the changes should be endorsed, then report back to the Senate. Joshua Thomas ’20 raised the question of whether the revisions could go in effect with or without Senate approval. Etzine responded that this would be just an endorsement and changes could go in effect either way. The new motion passed unanimously.

Another motion was made by the Undergraduate Council to resolve and enact the amendments to the Undergraduate Council Bylaws, which was presented by Stefanie Warner ’19. The motion was to open the pool for candidates for vice president and president of a class to the entirety of that class after two separate meetings with inconclusive voting. The motion passed 18-0-1.

Finally, Etzine opened a queue on the Student Handbook changes. Recent alumnus Evan Barr ’17 expressed concern that one of the amendments did not include alumni in its definition of the Institute community. He said that, “I believe that everyone who has attended this institute has a powerful interest in the direction it takes, and protest is one of the few ways that our voice can be heard.” Within the comments section of the Facebook livestream, Alex Norman ’18 stated his concerns regarding the limitations the changes place on freedom of speech. Apgar clarified that the two main stages the administration wishes to follow are to, “First, update the handbook as shared with the Senate.” and, “Second, work with Student Senate to explore additional updates.”

The Student Senate meets Mondays at 8 pm in the Shelnutt Gallery in the Rensselaer Union.