The Student Senate approved a motion to recommend the Institute to consider a tuition freeze for the fiscal year 2021-2022 and for the Rensselaer to make budget information regarding COVID-19 to become public during the Student Senate meeting held on October 27.
In an email to the Rensselaer community, President Shirley Ann Jackson announced plans for the Spring semester. Freshmen, sophomores, and seniors will return to campus, with freshmen and sophomores living in on-campus housing. According to Jackson, this will cause “some increase in on-campus housing density.” All seniors will live off-campus and still follow the Fall semester density standards which include having two people per bathroom. Students will also not be allowed to live in Greek houses. Additionally, all winter sports, including hockey, are cancelled.
The Office of Student Living and Learning shared instructions about moving out for the remainder of the semester before Thanksgiving break and information for students remaining on-campus.
In May, the U.S. Department of Education enacted new Title IX regulations, changing the obligations for campuses across the United States. Rensselaer’s implementation of the new federal and NYS guidelines was emailed to RPI students on August 14. RPI’s Sexual Misconduct Policy and Procedures details cross-examination procedures, expands on the possibility of the removal of sexual misconduct from a student’s transcript, and extends the investigation time frame guideline from 60 to 90 days.
Kamilia Nicolas has been elected Class of 2024 President, and Ria Massoni has been elected to the role of Class of 2024 Vice President. 349 out of 1464 freshmen voted, an increase of 97 votes compared to last year.
The Union Programs and Activities Committee and Election Commission have outlined a plan for students to receive their mugs for voting in the Grand Marshal Week 2020 elections. On-campus students can pick up their mugs in the Union Admin Office whenever the Rensselaer Union is open. Students who can not physically pick up the mugs are planned to have their mugs shipped to them.
President Shirley Ann Jackson revealed updates to the University Pandemic Protocol trigger levels during the Fall Town Meeting. Now, trigger level one will be enacted after there are more than 30 confirmed COVID cases in two weeks, resulting in an immediate switch to remote instruction. When the amount of confirmed cases exceed Rensselaer’s ability to isolate and quarantine students, the updated trigger level two will be implemented. With the activation of trigger level two, the semester will be extended by a week, and students must vacate campus within 72 hours and continue the semester online.
Spring semester plans—including housing for sophomores and spring sports—will be announced after the Institute transitions to remote operations over the Thanksgiving break. President Shirley Ann Jackson explained that Rensselaer plans to assess what needs to be done for the Spring semester in context of the Fall semester and “the overall public health situation.”
Two clubs on campus became Union-recognized at the Executive Board meeting on September 23. Additionally, the E-Board made a decision allowing funds for in person events to be reallocated to virtual events, given that they meet Institute guidelines.
Severe thunderstorms over the Northeast region of the United States have left many Rensselaer students without power.
In an email to the student body, Assistant Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students Travis Apgar announced that if a student misses two COVID tests at any point during the semester they will be required to go remote for the remainder of the Fall semester. Students who are living on-campus “will be immediately removed” with no refund on room and board.
The Union Executive Board unanimously passed a motion on September 16 allowing clubs to decide if they will collect dues this fall. If a club does not collect fall dues, the motion prevents the club from asking the E-Board during the Spring semester for any additional funding on programs in the club’s initial budget.
The Executive Board has passed a blanket approval on a list of virtual activities for clubs this fall. Activities included under the blanket approval are virtual events, including trivia nights, escape rooms, lectures, training, cooking events, crafting, and movie nights.
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s COVID-19 testing dashboard has been recently updated to reflect a new positive test. This has been confirmed by a Rensselaer County Facebook post.
NSBE and SHPE will be hosting its first virtual career fair on September 25 and 26 from 11 am to 5 pm on the platform Brazen. According to the fair's co-director Galiea Overa, Brazen was chosen as it has extensive resources available to recruiters and students and its overall user experience.
This year, the changes made to Rensselaer’s Handbook of Student Rights and Responsibilities reflect challenges and conversations raised by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and RPI's Title IX policies were changed to follow federal guidelines set by United States Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.
Rensselaer switched career management systems from Joblink to Handshake on July 1. Handshake could provide more variety in professional opportunities for students, says the Rensselaer Center for Career and Professional Development.
An update to Rensselaer’s COVID-19 FAQ page clarified the housing requirements that RPI announced will apply to students living in off-campus housing. The requirements include a restriction of no more than two students per bathroom.
As the Capital Region moves towards Phase Four of reopening, Jackson and several administrative staff gathered together for this summer’s second Town Meeting to further address and elaborate on Rensselaer’s plan for the Fall semester.
President Shirley Ann Jackson announced that students planning to live in a sorority or fraternity house during the Fall semester will need to seek alternative housing during a town meeting on July 1, “given our protocols and standards and how we think we have to operate Rensselaer in the fall…we could not accommodate having the Greek houses open.” Greek students were advised to speak with both off-campus and Greek commons staff to find appropriate housing.
Rensselaer announced they will not participate in intercollegiate sports during the Fall semester. Athletes who are on campus will be allowed to train as long as they follow all social distancing guidelines.
Services from the Health Center and the Counseling Center will be expanding, as confirmed by Executive Director for Health and Wellness Dr. Leslie Lawrence during the Town Meeting on July 1. Students arriving to campus from certain states will be required to quarantine for two weeks, and all students on campus will have to undergo continuous testing.
Residential life, including housing, dining, and shuttle services, will be undergoing changes to accommodate social distancing measures, as outlined by President Shirley Ann Jackson and other administrators during the Town Meeting hosted on July 1. Campus density is expected to decrease by 55%, students will have to distance themselves and wear masks at all times, and dining services will operate through a reservation system.
In a Webex livestream, President Shirley Ann Jackson announced that the Class of 2023 will not be returning to campus for the Fall 2020 semester. Rensselaer’s plan for a phased return to campus is contingent on the Capital Region moving to Phase Four reopening.