Motion responding to judicial inquiries tabled

THREE MOTIONS PASSED: to approve amendments to the Senate bylaws and to endorse Handbook revisions. (file photo)

The Student Senate had four major motions brought before it on November 13: two motions to approve amendments to the Bylaws of the Rensselaer Union Student Senate, a motion to endorse the revisions to the Rensselaer Handbook of Student Rights and Responsibilities, and a motion to denounce the actions taken against students with regards to the protest. The first three motions passed, while the fourth was postponed indefinitely.

Graduate Student and Internal Reforms Committee Chairperson Steven Sperazza presented amendments to the Senate bylaws. The first motion requires committees without vice chairs to have an acting chair be selected to fulfill the vice chairperson’s duties in their absence. A subsequent motion to insert wording that would have the acting chair be selected by the committee’s chair if possible or be selected by the grand marshal passed 21-0-1. With no further discussion, the original motion passed 21-0-1.

The next motion to be brought to the floor, also presented by Sperazza, was to amend to the title of the vice chair of the Senate to be the deputy grand marshal. Sperazza said that this was primarily in response to confusion from administrators over the role of the person who the title referred to. Vice Chair Ellie Mees ’18 then said that she believes the new title to be a step in the wrong direction and motioned to amend the word “deputy” to the word “vice”. After some discussion, where a suggestion of changing the title to “lieutenant” was also mentioned, the motion to amend came to a draw at 11-11. Grand Marshal Justin Etzine ’18 had the responsibility to cast the tie-breaking vote, electing to pass the amendment. Sperazza then motioned to change the word “vice” to “lieutenant,” which Etzine called out of order, saying, “This is possibly one of the dumbest things…” Etzine’s ruling was challenged, but sustained after the Senate failed to muster the requisite two-thirds majority to overrule the chair. The overall motion to change the title of vice chair to vice grand marshal passed 17-3-2.

Student Life Committee Chairperson Hannah Merrow ’18 then presented a motion to endorse revisions to the Handbook. These amendments included the removal of all Handbook dates, updates of names and titles and changes in the sections regarding grounds for disciplinary action; components of the judicial system; record of disciplinary action; the policy on transcript notation; academic dishonesty; non-discrimination/equal-opportunity; computer use at Rensselaer; security technology, access control system and emergency phones; steam tunnels, designated confined spaces, and roofs; student sexual misconduct policy; and several changes that the Student Life Committee believes to be necessary. After some discussion, a motion was made to delete a section that had been accidentally repeated. That motion passed 22-0-0. After continued discussion, the motion passed 20-0-2.

The final motion, introduced by Merrow, was to denounce the actions that have taken place against students with regards to the protest on October 13, 2017, and to recognize those actions as violations of the Student Bill of Rights. Merrow said, “Many students have brought these egregious actions to my attention. Rights guaranteed first by the United States Constitution and again by the Student Bill of Rights should not be sacrificed for a petty witch hunt to prove a point.” Graduate Senator Anthony Bishop brought up that within the judicial system, there is a panel of students that can sit down with all the facts and render judgment on the issue. He believes that it would reflect better on the Senate if it lets the Judicial Board make its own judgement. He went on to say, “I implore you to just let things run their course.” When it was brought up that cases must be brought before the J-Board in order for them to vote on it, Bishop responded that students would have to appeal, something they can do if they feel that the accusations are unfair. Further discussion revealed that many senators believe that, because there has been no actual punishment issued, and only notices of judicial action, the situation has not become severe enough for the Senate to take action. A motion was made to postpone the motion indefinitely, which passed 19-1-2.