INTERVIEW

Former Union director Hartt interviewed

RICK HARTT ’70 WAS the director of the Union for 33 years. (file photo)

Former Director of the Union Rick Hartt ’70 spoke about his experiences at Rensselaer on Sunday, October 29 in a phone interview with Brookelyn Parslow, a reporter for The Polytechnic.

Following are excerpts from their conversation, which have been lightly edited for clarity, and omit several off-the-record comments and asides.

HARTT: The hiring of a number of staff had occurred during my tenure. The students would develop questions, and then we would kinda sit and work out scripting the questions. So, you know, you ask the right beginning question, you ask the right middle questions, you ask the right end questions, so the students get the answers they wanted.

The same thing would happen with the staff. Staff in the Union would also interview individuals and give their opinion, whether it was for a director position in student activities, or an assistant director, or whatever those positions were. Then usually, someone from the campus would be involved, and depending on the position it might be somebody from the Dean of Students Office.

If it was a position in the Mueller Center, it might be somebody from the athletic department who would also be involved in that interview process.

PARSLOW: So, after the interviews were done, did that group of students make a recommendation to the Executive Board?

HARTT: Yes.

PARSLOW: Okay. Then did the Executive Board vote to approve them?

HARTT: The Executive Board would vote to either approve or disapprove the recommendation. Now, there would be a number of people from student government who would be involved in that process. A lot of Executive Board members would be involved in that process, and those individuals who were involved would make that presentation to the Executive Board.

PARSLOW: Were there any instances in which this group of decided that none of these candidates were suitable for the position, and they started over?

HARTT: Well, you’re asking for thirty years…

[cross talk]

HARTT: I don’t recall that occurring. What I recall, though, was usually what would occur is that there would be such a good review of the resumes of the individuals to whittle it down to three or four or five candidates before they got to the interview process. I don’t recall the Board ever saying they can’t recommend anyone. I don’t recall that. But I think that’s because the process was so student-driven from the get-go…

PARSLOW: You couldn’t really get to that point.

HARTT: Yeah, you didn’t get to that point because there had been a lot of screening done before. When I was hired as director of the Union, there were interviews with at least five other individuals. The interview committee had really whittled it down to make sure that the individuals coming in were at least qualified, then you kinda went from there. You asked about the budget piece…

PARSLOW: Yeah, did you ever have a budgeting authority or a veto power over the E-Board?

HARTT: I never perceived that I had a veto power. I did perceive that, ultimately, if there was a problem—let’s just say the auditor came in and said, “Well what’s occurring here, why is it occurring this way?” Ultimately, as the paid, professional staff person, I would be held accountable for inappropriate expenditures. Ultimately, the director of the Union was gonna be held responsible.

The Board had responsibility for reviewing expenditures and making sure that they conformed to good business practice and procedure. There was a pretty extensive handbook that had been developed by the Board about what was appropriate and what wasn’t appropriate. The Board had a level of responsibility to ensure.

I’m gonna use an example. I recall this one because it was very controversial. This should’ve been in the mid-1980s. There was a person who was on the Board who made an expenditure for a club that that person was involved in that was not an appropriate or approved expenditure. The Board basically said, and I totally agreed with it, you are responsible for this expenditure. This is the mid-1980s, and the expenditure was over a thousand dollars. That was a pretty hefty expenditure. But, the Board took responsibility in that way. Now, on the other hand, if that expenditure had been allowed, I’m sure that I would’ve been held accountable in some form, in some way. I would’ve been held accountable by RPI’s purchasing office.

PARSLOW: But were you ever worried that the Board would make irresponsible decisions like that?

HARTT: No. I think my relationship with the Board, as an adviser and as a mentor, and understanding that Rensselaer students are analytical and understand policy and understand procedure—I really never felt that. I never felt that the Board would make decisions that were inappropriate decisions, or decisions against policy, without an understanding.

PARSLOW: You never felt like you needed to have a veto power? There are other ways to go about it, where you could just prevent it, as opposed to having to override a decision that they made?

HARTT: I can’t recall overriding a decision. I can recall having very, very good discussions with the Board at its meetings, with the president of the Union, with the grand marshal. I really don’t recall ever overriding a decision. Now, the responsibilities—let me just see if I can find something here. The way that the position, if you look in the Union Constitution. If the Union director makes an inappropriate financial decision, let’s just say…

PARSLOW: The majority of the Executive Board may bring charges against the director?

HARTT: Right.

PARSLOW: Yeah.

HARTT: Yeah. That was certainly a reasonable way to state that.

PARSLOW: Do you think that is still appropriate?

HARTT: Yep. I think so.

PARSLOW: Did you think, “I shouldn’t be making decisions where they should bring charges against me, so this shouldn’t be an issue. But, if I do make these kinds of decisions, I should be held accountable for them?”

HARTT: Yes.

PARSLOW: That’s interesting, because there has been talk about that maybe being out of line with current-day practices.

HARTT: Well, I don’t know what has occurred. I retired in 2011.

PARSLOW: Right.

HARTT: I really don’t know what has occurred since that, in the interim.

_________

PARSLOW: So, I know this is a very broad question, but if there are a couple things that stand out to you—what to you makes the Union student run?

HARTT: What do I think makes the Union student run?

PARSLOW: At what point can the administration assume certain responsibilities and powers, and at what point is it no longer student run? Do you think there’s a distinct point?

HARTT: I think when student decisions are overturned, or student decisions are negated in the running of the Union without significant discussion, that’s when the Union becomes something other than student run.

The role in the Union Constitution that was approved in 1970 talks about the Union uniting its members, expanding extracurricular life, coordinating all student organizations, acting as a medium through which student opinion can be expressed, and working with members of the Rensselaer community to encourage student initiatives and lead student actions in all interests that serve the welfare and betterment of Rensselaer. I think that when the student decision making process becomes secondary to the way the Union is run is when you lose its being a student run Union.

PARSLOW: If the administration confirms that part about the E-Board only getting to recommend, and then say the E-Board doesn’t approve a candidate for the director of the Union, but that person is hired anyway, would you see that as overstepping those boundaries?

HARTT: I see it as indicating that its not a student-run Union. If a recommendation is to not hire an individual, and that person is hired anyway, then that’s when you realize that it’s not a student-run Union anymore.

PARSLOW: So we won’t really be able to tell if this resolution has changed the student run nature of the Union until something like that happens?

HARTT: Yeah. I think once you have decisions that overturn student decisions, that’s when you begin to know that things have really changed.

_________

PARSLOW: You wouldn’t say that it was your job to manage the budget, the multimillion dollar budget of the Union? Or would you?

HARTT: The Executive Board of the Union managed, or proposed the policy, process, and procedure for the million dollar budget. The management that I exhibited was reviewing to make sure that, as was called for, that expenditures were being made in the way the budget had been proposed. The budget was approved by the student Executive Board.

PARSLOW: There was a lot of upset in December of 2016, when there was a job description posted for a director of the Union, and it included things like “manage an operating budget of three million dollars.” There was upset about that, and that language was changed. But, in that leaked memo that I mentioned, they noticed the language outlining the director’s role of advising the bodies was changed to directing them, which to some people may be a small difference, but…

HARTT: Well there’s a huge difference.

PARSLOW: That was never changed back. In the current posting that was used for this hiring process that’s happening right now, the language specifying direction is still there.

HARTT: There’s a big difference, I mean the word direct versus advise, I mean they’re two very different actions.

_________

PARSLOW: So, also, I was thinking about it. I’m only a sophomore, so I’ve never experienced having a director of the Union. I’m on E-Board, and as an E-Board member I’ve never experienced having a director of the Union, and a lot of students haven’t. So, do you think it’s something that would make a difference, like I would feel a difference on campus and actively working in the Union if there were a good a director of the Union here?

HARTT: I’d love to say, “Oh I think it would make a great difference.”

[laughter]

HARTT: But, I think if you look at what the role of the director of the Union is supposed to be with students, that’s gonna give you a sense and idea of what that role could be.

PARSLOW: It seems like it would be very helpful to have someone to consult on these types of things, but then I think there’s also the fact that we could have a bad director of the Union. Since there’s so many questions that have been raised about the hiring process that’s been going on, that feels like a possibility.

HARTT: I think if you have a bad director of the Union, the Executive Board acts on that, in consultation with the vice president, and works through. And, I mean, there is a human resource process, you can’t just go up and fire somebody, but there is a process in any workplace. Talk about from a learning experience, the students would have a learning experience in terms of going through that process.

If you have a director of the Union, you have somebody who can advise, and mentor, and be a role model. And that’s probably one of the most important things, I think in terms of what that role can be. That person should have a good understanding of finance, should have a good understanding of activities, and should have a broad base of experience so that they can advise in a way that enhances the student leadership experience.

The full transcript can be viewed below.


Full transcript

Following is the full version of their interview, which has been lightly edited for clarity, and omits several off-the-record comments and asides.

PARSLOW: Before we get started, do you mind if I record this?

HARTT: No, that’s fine.

PARSLOW: Okay, great. Yeah, I actually found that letter to the editor from March 30.

HARTT: Right, which I had posted on the…

PARSLOW: The change.org thing.

HARTT: Yeah, the change.org, the Save the Union piece.

PARSLOW: Right.

HARTT: You know, what I would say is that when, when I was hired as director of student activities in 1978, I think it was, at RPI, I was interviewed by a committee of students from the Executive Board and the Student Senate, and the then Dean of Students Carl Westerdahl. I think I also met, at that point, the person who was director of human resources, Gary Taylor. But, it was primarily a student committee. They interviewed a number of people, and I was fortunate enough to be hired as director of student activities.

When the position of director of the Union became available, I chose not to apply. I had only been back to RPI as director of student activities for three months, I think it was. The person who was director of the Union at that point left, and it was a position at that point that I was not interested in.

PARSLOW: What was the job description? What was the role of the director of the Union at that time?

HARTT: The role of the director of the Union was to be an adviser to the Executive Board of the Union, an adviser to the grand marshal and president of the Union. It was to oversee daily operations, to make sure that the building was operating in the right way that met student needs.

Then the position opened up again about three years later, I think. I applied for the position at that point. There was a student interview committee, primarily members of the Executive Board, and the president of the Union, and the grand marshal. I was interviewed by those individuals. I was interviewed by the then vice president for student affairs, who was Lee Wilcox. Then, I was interviewed by the Union staff, and also the dean of students. It was primarily a student-driven process. I don’t know the kind of training the Executive Board had when it came to—and the PU and the GM and other student leaders had in relationship to—doing interviewing correctly according to the law.

But after I became director of the Union, there were a number of other hires that occurred. We hired a director of student activities, who was Linda Teitelman McCloskey, who became the director of the Archer Center for Student Leadership, ultimately. There was a student committee, primarily. That student committee received training that I received from Human Resources at that time, to make sure that the questions were appropriate questions, that the questions weren’t gonna be in violation of the law. So, the interview process was scripted. There were a number of questions that the committee decided they wanted to ask.

PARSLOW: But students got to submit questions, like students on the committee?

HARTT: Students developed the questions. I wanna say the students actually developed the questions, and then we all sat and reviewed them and made sure that they weren’t asking questions that would be in violation of the law.

PARSLOW: Right, so, did you by any chance see the leaked memo from the Human Resources Interview Committee?

HARTT: No.

PARSLOW: So, a similar committee to what you’re talking about exists now. The way it works—I don’t know how it worked then—but the way it is supposed to work now is that committee, which has a bunch of students, and a lot of them are in student government, they interview candidates and then submit a recommendation to the Executive Board that the Executive Board then votes on to approve, or not approve, a candidate. That memo was actually leaked, and in the memo, the committee decided that they could not recommend anyone.

They talked about how in the performance management tool, this is actually a quote from the memo, it says, “Particularly alarming was the director’s newfound budgeting authority and control in the direction of student government. Among other things, the only reference to the Union student-governed nature was found in quotations, which members believed showed the general attitude of the administration toward the student run Union, that they wanted the Rensselaer Union to be student run in appearance only.”

And they talk about how they weren’t initially allowed to submit questions. They were given questions, and then after some pushback they got to give questions and stuff. So, it sounds like a very different process.

HARTT: The hiring of a number of staff had occurred during my tenure. The students would develop questions, and then we would kinda sit and work out scripting the questions. So, you know, you ask the right beginning question, you ask the right middle questions, you ask the right end questions, so the students get the answers they wanted.

The same thing would happen with the staff. Staff in the Union would also interview individuals and give their opinion, whether it was for a director position in student activities, or an assistant director, or whatever those positions were. Then usually, someone from the campus would be involved, and depending on the position it might be somebody from the dean of students office. If it was a position in the Mueller Center, it might be somebody from the athletic department who would also be involved in that interview process.

PARSLOW: So, after the interviews were done, did that group of students make a recommendation to the Executive Board?

HARTT: Yes.

PARSLOW: Okay. Then did the Executive Board vote to approve them?

HARTT: The Executive Board would vote to either approve or disapprove the recommendation. Now, there would be a number of people from student government who would be involved in that process. A lot of Executive Board members would be involved in that process, and those individuals who were involved would make that presentation to the Executive Board.

PARSLOW: Were there any instances in which this group of decided that none of these candidates were suitable for the position, and they started over?

HARTT: Well, you’re asking for thirty years…

[cross talk]

HARTT: I don’t recall that occurring. What I recall, though, was usually what would occur is that there would be such a good review of the resumes of the individuals to whittle it down to three or four or five candidates before they got to the interview process. I don’t recall the Board ever saying they can’t recommend anyone. I don’t recall that. But I think that’s because the process was so student-driven from the get-go…

PARSLOW: You couldn’t really get to that point.

HARTT: Yeah, you didn’t get to that point because there had been a lot of screening done before. When I was hired as director of the Union, there were interviews with at least five other individuals. The interview committee had really whittled it down to make sure that the individuals coming in were at least qualified, then you kinda went from there. You asked about the budget piece…

PARSLOW: Yeah, did you ever have a budgeting authority or a veto power over the E-Board?

HARTT: I never perceived that I had a veto power. I did perceive that, ultimately, if there was a problem—let’s just say the auditor came in and said, “Well what’s occurring here, why is it occurring this way?” Ultimately, as the paid, professional staff person, I would be held accountable for inappropriate expenditures. Ultimately, the director of the Union was gonna be held responsible.

The Board had responsibility for reviewing expenditures and making sure that they conformed to good business practice and procedure. There was a pretty extensive handbook that had been developed by the Board about what was appropriate and what wasn’t appropriate. The Board had a level of responsibility to ensure.

I’m gonna use an example. I recall this one because it was very controversial. This should’ve been in the mid-1980s. There was a person who was on the Board who made an expenditure for a club that that person was involved in that was not an appropriate or approved expenditure. The Board basically said, and I totally agreed with it, you are responsible for this expenditure. This is the mid-1980s, and the expenditure was over a thousand dollars. That was a pretty hefty expenditure. But, the Board took responsibility in that way. Now, on the other hand, if that expenditure had been allowed, I’m sure that I would’ve been held accountable in some form, in some way. I would’ve been held accountable by RPI’s purchasing office.

PARSLOW: But were you ever worried that the Board would make irresponsible decisions like that?

HARTT: No. I think my relationship with the Board, as an adviser and as a mentor, and understanding that Rensselaer students are analytical and understand policy and understand procedure—I really never felt that. I never felt that the Board would make decisions that were inappropriate decisions, or decisions against policy, without an understanding.

PARSLOW: You never felt like you needed to have a veto power? There are other ways to go about it, where you could just prevent it, as opposed to having to override a decision that they made?

HARTT: I can’t recall overriding a decision. I can recall having very, very good discussions with the Board at its meetings, with the president of the Union, with the grand marshal. I really don’t recall ever overriding a decision. Now, the responsibilities—let me just see if I can find something here. The way that the position, if you look in the Union Constitution. If the Union director makes an inappropriate financial decision, let’s just say…

PARSLOW: The majority of the Executive Board may bring charges against the director?

HARTT: Right.

PARSLOW: Yeah.

HARTT: Yeah. That was certainly a reasonable way to state that.

PARSLOW: Do you think that is still appropriate?

HARTT: Yep. I think so.

PARSLOW: Did you think, “I shouldn’t be making decisions where they should bring charges against me, so this shouldn’t be an issue. But, if I do make these kinds of decisions, I should be held accountable for them?”

HARTT: Yes.

PARSLOW: That’s interesting, because there has been talk about that maybe being out of line with current-day practices.

HARTT: Well, I don’t know what has occurred. I retired in 2011.

PARSLOW: Right.

HARTT: I really don’t know what has occurred since that, in the interim.

PARSLOW: It’s unclear. I’ve tried to find information about it, when Joe Cassidy was the director of the Union, and there’s no record of his approval by the Executive Board, and there were claims that he did things like veto E-Board decisions, but that is in violation of the Union Constitution. The Union Constitution says that the director of the Union can’t veto decisions of the Executive Board. But, I can’t find anything about it, so I really don’t know either.

PARSLOW: I think that’s what students are worried about. With the resolution … You’ve read the resolution from the Board of Trustees?

HARTT: Yes. Well, I saw Art Golden’s letter, which included that resolution.

PARSLOW: This hasn’t been confirmed by the administration, but it’s been claimed that the conflict is in the word “approval” over “recommendation,” with the E-Board’s role in the process. The administration just wants it to be a recommendation of a recommendation, and not an approval of a recommendation. Students are concerned that this change is enough to not make the Union student-run anymore.

HARTT: What I would say is that in 2005, the Middle States accreditation committee, and you’ve read the letter that I wrote?

PARSLOW: Yeah.

HARTT: “Students participate in the governance of the Institute in many ways. Their own activities are largely governed by students themselves through the unique Rensselaer Union and its components, including the Student Senate. Student views of plans and policies are sought by the administration. Opportunities for student development is demonstrated by the unique student-run and student leadership develop programs are excellent learning experiences and distinct attributes of student life.”

There is one additional phrase that the Middle States committee talked about, and that is that the Union should be a source of pride for the Institute. And, you know, I guess in the larger scheme of things, I’m not sure what has changed since that Middle States accreditation report was done in 2006 that changed the way the Union is or should be administered.

PARSLOW: So, I know this is a very broad question, but if there are a couple things that stand out to you—what to you makes the Union student run?

HARTT: What do I think makes the Union student run?

PARSLOW: At what point can the administration assume certain responsibilities and powers, and at what point is it no longer student run? Do you think there’s a distinct point?

HARTT: I think when student decisions are overturned, or student decisions are negated in the running of the Union without significant discussion, that’s when the Union becomes something other than student run.

The role in the Union Constitution that was approved in 1970 talks about the Union uniting its members, expanding extracurricular life, coordinating all student organizations, acting as a medium through which student opinion can be expressed, and working with members of the Rensselaer community to encourage student initiatives and lead student actions in all interests that serve the welfare and betterment of Rensselaer. I think that when the student decision making process becomes secondary to the way the Union is run is when you lose its being a student run Union.

PARSLOW: If the administration confirms that part about the E-Board only getting to recommend, and then say the E-Board doesn’t approve a candidate for the director of the Union, but that person is hired anyway, would you see that as overstepping those boundaries?

HARTT: I see it as indicating that its not a student-run Union. If a recommendation is to not hire an individual, and that person is hired anyway, then that’s when you realize that it’s not a student-run Union anymore.

PARSLOW: So we won’t really be able to tell if this resolution has changed the student run nature of the Union until something like that happens?

HARTT: Yeah. I think once you have decisions that overturn student decisions, that’s when you begin to know that things have really changed.

___________

HARTT: I haven’t seen the proposed job description for the director of the Union.

PARSLOW: Oh.

HARTT: So, the responsibility of the director of the Union as stated in the Union Constitution is to “administer the Union activities and monies, in accordance with the policies of the Rensselaer Board of Trustees, the Union Constitution, its by-laws, and further legislation of the Executive Board. In maintaining advisory status, the director may not veto any Executive Board action but may request the Student Senate to begin impeachment proceedings…”

There was never any situation that required that.

“…against any member of the Student Senate or the Executive Board whom he or she feels is fiscally irresponsible in the handling of Union funds. Should the director overstep his or her constitutional authority or demonstrate serious financial irresponsibility, a majority of the Executive Board may bring charges against the director in the name of the Board before the Judicial Board. The Vice President for Student Affairs shall act as advisor to the director and shall inform him or her of Trustee policy.”

What’s pretty obvious from what the Union Constitution talked about is that, one, I didn’t have veto power. If I felt that there was really a situation where irresponsible expenditures were occurring, then I would be responsible to bring that forward to the Student Senate, or, if necessary, to the J-Board. So the day-to-day responsibilities that were discussed were to be a mentor, adviser, and role model for students in their leadership roles. It was to advise student government, to help Rensselaer Union operations and services, to manage and oversee business operations and financial transactions, and advise, especially on risk management issues for student organizations.

So, as an example, at one point, we had a skydiving club. They wanted to skydive at a facility that didn’t carry liability insurance. That was then discussed by the Executive Board and a decision was made by the Executive Board, but you know I had a role in advising that particular risk, as a serious risk management issue. We wanted to ensure safety.

Administer the personnel management and facilities management, the Playhouse, the Mueller Center, and the Union. Work on student life program development, represent student life and the Union and university committees, and then also focus on major projects for future development of the Union.

PARSLOW: You wouldn’t say that it was your job to manage the budget, the multimillion dollar budget of the Union? Or would you?

HARTT: The Executive Board of the Union managed, or proposed the policy, process, and procedure for the million dollar budget. The management that I exhibited was reviewing to make sure that, as was called for, that expenditures were being made in the way the budget had been proposed. The budget was approved by the student Executive Board.

PARSLOW: There was a lot of upset in December of 2016, when there was a job description posted for a director of the Union, and it included things like “manage an operating budget of three million dollars.” There was upset about that, and that language was changed. But, in that leaked memo that I mentioned, they noticed the language outlining the director’s role of advising the bodies was changed to directing them, which to some people may be a small difference, but…

HARTT: Well there’s a huge difference.

PARSLOW: That was never changed back. In the current posting that was used for this hiring process that’s happening right now, the language specifying direction is still there.

HARTT: There’s a big difference, I mean the word direct versus advise, I mean they’re two very different actions.

PARSLOW: I found, while I was looking at that leaked memo, that apparently questions for the candidates from that student interview committee were not initially generated by the committee, but rather the members were provided a list of pre-approved questions from Human Resources and told they could be modified. Once the committee said they wanted to develop their own questions, and insisted upon it, then they were allowed to create and submit their own questions. But, then, during the interviews, people from Human Resources were still there, and apparently it was uncomfortable and they felt like they were being observed, and that they couldn’t ask the questions that they wanted to ask. And Human Resources representatives interrupted them during that process, when they were asking certain questions, so it just sounds like a completely different environment than when you were there and hiring Union staff.

HARTT: It sounds like a very different process.

___________

PARSLOW: But, also to go back to how people are responding to everything on campus, do you know about the protest that happened?

HARTT: Yes.

PARSLOW: How did you find out about it?

HARTT: Facebook.

PARSLOW: Interesting. And, do you know about Save the Union?

HARTT: Yeah.

PARSLOW: How much do you know about Save the Union?

HARTT: How much do I know?

PARSLOW: You know that they exist.

HARTT: I know they exist. I don’t know who Stephen Van Rensselaer is. I don’t know any of that information.

PARSLOW: Right, I think their entire membership is anonymous. So, you kind of just know that they are a presence on campus?

HARTT: Yeah, I know that they’re certainly a presence in the cyber world. I don’t know if they’re really a presence on campus.

[laughter]

PARSLOW: Right. Yeah, they poster a lot, and then they had the protest, but they haven’t really done much since then. I was kind of curious because it’s interesting to see how people that are not on campus, on a day-to-day basis, get information about what’s going on. When I was at the protest talking to alumni, some alumni had no idea that the protest was even happening, that the protest that happened two years ago ever happened, and what it was about, or why it was happening.

HARTT: That doesn’t surprise me.

PARSLOW: It doesn’t?

HARTT: No, I mean I think that probably the reason I’m aware is because of my role as director of the Union. I’m still in contact with 40 or more GM’s and PU’s, in one way or another. Those GM’s and PU’s are active, in terms of wanting to learn about things, but I’m not sure who Save the Union is, if there is an “is,” shall we say.

PARSLOW: Then you probably know about how there was the application for peaceful demonstration that was denied?

HARTT: Yes.

PARSLOW: What are your thoughts on that, because that happened two years ago as well?

HARTT: In this time of trying to encourage open and free discussion—you know, free speech—I’m not sure what all the circumstances that led to that reaction of denying, but then it wasn’t just the denial, it was the setting up of fences and all those other things—so I don’t feel like I can make a really good comment.

PARSLOW: They said it was because of safety reasons, that’s why they said they denied the protest, that’s why they said they put up the fence. But, can you ever remember a time where you felt like you wouldn’t be able to have a peaceful demonstration or where you would need to put up a fence to keep people out of an area for safety reasons? Does that sound reasonable to you?

HARTT: I don’t recall that, as a student at Rensselaer, I don’t recall that. I really don’t know what was behind it. On this one, I really…

PARSLOW: Yeah, it’s okay, I understand. I don’t think a lot of people know.

HARTT: Yeah, I don’t know if I understand why or what the circumstances were that led people to denying assembly. I’m not sure. I don’t understand the circumstances.

PARSLOW: So, also, I was thinking about it. I’m only a sophomore, so I’ve never experienced having a director of the Union. I’m on E-Board, and as an E-Board member I’ve never experienced having a director of the Union, and a lot of students haven’t. So, do you think it’s something that would make a difference, like I would feel a difference on campus and actively working in the Union if there were a good a director of the Union here?

HARTT: I’d love to say, “Oh, I think it would make a great difference.”

[laughter]

HARTT: But, I think if you look at what the role of the director of the Union is supposed to be with students, that’s gonna give you a sense and idea of what that role could be.

PARSLOW: It seems like it would be very helpful to have someone to consult on these types of things, but then I think there’s also the fact that we could have a bad director of the Union. Since there’s so many questions that have been raised about the hiring process that’s been going on, that feels like a possibility.

HARTT: I think if you have a bad director of the Union, the Executive Board acts on that, in consultation with the vice president, and works through. And, I mean, there is a human resource process, you can’t just go up and fire somebody, but there is a process in any workplace. Talk about from a learning experience, the students would have a learning experience in terms of going through that process.

If you have a director of the Union, you have somebody who can advise, and mentor, and be a role model. And that’s probably one of the most important things, I think in terms of what that role can be. That person should have a good understanding of finance, should a good understanding of activities, and should have a broad base of experience so that they can advise in a way that enhances the student leadership experience.

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HARTT: I will be in touch with you soon.

PARSLOW: Okay, great. Thank you so much.