Student Senate

UAR approved in special meeting

The Student Senate held an emergency meeting last Sunday to vote on the Union Annual Report for fiscal year 2019, a document detailing the Rensselaer Union’s budget and the Activity Fee the Union will charge students. The original vote was set to be held on Wednesday, February 7, but the Senate meeting was canceled due to snow. The UAR was due to Interim Vice President for Student Life LeNorman Strong the following morning. Once the UAR is approved by Strong, it is sent along to the Board of Trustees for approval.

Once enough senators crammed into the Phalanx Room to meet quorum requirements, Grand Marshal Justin Etzine ’18 opened the meeting just after 5 pm with one item on the agenda. Union Annual Report Committee Chairperson Joe Venusto ’19 began the meeting by giving a brief presentation on the UAR.

After the presentation, Sidney Kochman ’19 questioned why the document was due tomorrow and why the Senate did not have more time to review its 52-page contents. The UAR was passed out of committee at 6:17 pm the night before, and went out to senators at 2:19 am on Sunday morning. At the beginning of the meeting, Etzine asked if anyone had not had the chance to read the document. Only one senator, graduate student Heidi Niskanen, a new senator attending her first meeting, had not had the opportunity to read the document. The Senate was given five minutes to skim the document before proceeding. Etzine took partial blame for the delay, saying he was unaware of the Institute’s mandated deadline but that he would “work through the night” to make changes and have the Senate approve them. “At worst, I will march to the Troy Building and plead with Le Norman Strong,” said Etzine.

Graduate student Steve Sperazza told the Senate he did not see any issues with the document.

Graduate student Anthony Ashley spoke approvingly of the clarification provided on how the Activity Fee was derived, and that good decisions were made in regards to it.

After the three had spoken, no further discussion was brought up. The queue was closed and the UAR went to vote, passing 17-0-1, not twenty minutes after the meeting opened.

Those familiar with the UAR were surprised by its quick approval. The document had passed out of the UAR Committee 9-7, over controversy on whether or not to include the Rensselaer Union arches on the cover of the document. The vote occurred in a UAR committee Facebook group message. Some UAR Committee members felt that doing so would too closely align student government with Save the Union, who use the former Union logo as a means to identify their cause. The new logo, with the signature hats of the grand marshal and the president of the Union, was implemented in Spring 2014.

The full UAR can be found at