Top Hat

Clarification on Union director interviews

Recently, a document that was sent to members of the Executive Board was leaked via Reddit. This document was a pledge of confidentiality that members of the Board were asked to sign prior to participating in interviews for the director of the Union position. From my understanding, this document was intended to ensure that the integrity of the search and that the identities of the candidates would not be compromised.

It was noted that the original recipient list for the email containing the pledge did not include the Grand Marshal Justin Etzine ’18 or the Interim Chairperson of the Human Resources Interview Committee Michael Cuozzo ’17. To clarify this point, this email was sent primarily to the Executive Board detailing information regarding effective interview training hosted by the Division of Human Resources, so that the Board could be trained in the same way the committee was trained. The committee already participated in that training earlier this semester, and thus did not need to be retrained, which is why some members of the committee were not included in the email.

Now, some members of the committee were included in that email, but not everyone. The reason for this is because the training did not apply to the committee. Why some individuals from the committee were included and some were not is not certain, but after pointing out this discrepancy to Deputy to the Vice President for Human Resources Jackie Turner, all of the members that were not originally included were updated on the training and told that their attendance was not required, but they were more than welcome to participate.

The director of the Union process is set to move forward in the coming weeks. The members of the Executive Board have been trained on effective interview techniques, and will act as observers in a second round of interviews that the Human Resources Interview Committee will conduct at the request of the students. The questions for the interviews were created solely by the committee, in conjunction with feedback from the Executive Board. The interviews will be concluded by Friday, November 10. Before the Thanksgiving break, the Executive Board plans to hear a proposal from the Human Resources Interview Committee regarding the search.

Once that process has concluded, the results of the Executive Board’s vote on the Human Resources Interview Committee’s proposal will be made public and sent along to the parties responsible for the next steps in the hiring process.

Throughout this semester, the Executive Board continues with its daily business of managing the funds and operations of the Union. We have accomplished much—from officially opening the Student Veterans Lounge, to revamping our social media efforts, to exploring how clubs will continue to operate during the Arch Summer Semester, and even to working with over 30 prospective clubs to expand the variety of organizational offerings the Union provides. Our efforts have not halted, and will not, especially with the approach of budgeting season.

As I have made clear previously this semester, I stand by Etzine and the Student Senate in advocating for our students and accurately representing the student voice. As the chief representative and legislative body of the Union, it is their job to represent the student voice. This responsibility includes making edits to the Union Constitution as they see fit. My role is to support their efforts and, primarily, to ensure that the Union still operates each day. However, my role is not to speak on behalf of students, unless it pertains directly to the finances and operations of the Union. That role lies with the chief representative body of the Union, the Student Senate.

Now, in light of the Board of Trustees resolution, I understand that it opens the door for the operations of the Union to be fundamentally altered. However, the Student Senate is working hard to ensure that, should any changes be necessary, the student voice will not be diminished. Until the time comes for our Constitution to be finalized, we will continue to operate as we always have. The student body has voiced its stance in quite a public fashion, and I have faith that the Student Senate will continue to advocate for the student body and what they believe in, as well as work with the administration to maintain the sanctity of the Union.

The Executive Board will continue with their day-to-day operations as currently outlined in the Union Constitution as the Senate works on any necessary changes. I will continue to work with Etzine to support the Student Senate and to advocate for the student body, as it pertains to the operations of the Union.

I want to leave you all with a thought, the same thought I left an administrator with a few days ago. We all love Rensselaer, and we want to see our institution prosper. However, multiple students have expressed that they no longer feel this is true. They feel as though the Union is still student-operated, as the Executive Board still manages the finances and operations of the Union, but it is no longer the student-run entity that it once was. So the thought I would like to leave is this: if our Union is to continue to be student-run, then the student voice can’t just be a part of the equation. To truly be student-run, the student voice needs to continue to be a deciding factor in all of our operations. As long as we, as a community, can say that the student voice is not just a part, but a deterministic factor in any process pertaining to our Union, we can say that our Union is student-run.

I truly believe that the student government and the administration will continue to work together to ensure that everyone comes to a place where we can continue to proudly say that the Rensselaer Union is student-run, and we can look to spread the model we are perfecting to the rest of the nation. One day, Rensselaer will not be the last holdout for the student-run model, but the beacon on the hill that becomes the model for excellence across the country.

Matthew Rand

128th President of the Union