TOP HAT

Codified student roles could resolve concerns

Imagine you were in charge of budgeting for a person’s salary, but had no decision-making say in the job responsibilities that person was expected to uphold or in how that person was to be evaluated each year. This is the current situation in the Rensselaer Union.

Students in charge of building and approving a budget for the Union—including salaries for its administrative staff—no longer have the ability to ensure that the terms and conditions of the director of the Union position align with the responsibilities outlined in the Union Constitution; this ability plays a core, irreplaceable role in classifying our Union as student-run. In the past, grand marshals and presidents of the Union have played fundamental roles in the annual performance reviews of the position aimed to be their advocate.

There have been attempts to reinstate the student voice in the performance review process, but we have only been granted the opportunity to suggest edits to job descriptions and the management tool for performance reviews. Students are elected and appointed each year—by the consent of the student body—to voice concerns and oversee the Union. The students must be able to continue to have a voice in the oversight of the employees of the Union to resume its tenure as student-run.

This forms the basis for what could resolve the concerns involving the Union: establishing codified opportunities for the student government to play fundamental roles in creating and approving the job description and performance evaluation tools for Union administrative staff. These would allow the students to ensure that the Union continues under the framework necessary for a student-run Union, with the grand marshal serving as the leader of the Union, the president of the Union leading the finances of the Union, the student government leading the operations and policies of the Union, and the director fulfilling a vital role that is outlined in the Union Constitution.

The decline of student involvement across the board has been concerning. The electorate by proxy of its officials cannot afford to lose its voice at such a critical time in our Union’s history. Meetings and communications, without opportunities for negotiation, do not satisfy the student body’s need for involvement and support. I believe this schematic will be able to restore our beloved and universally-admired tradition of a student-run Union, enshrining student voice for years to come.

As always, if you’d like to share your voice, your thoughts, your concerns, or your ideas, you can reach me at gm@rpi.edu.