New official Union logo approved
The Student Senate opened with a busy agenda of special orders including a ceremonial motion, ratification of a composting proposal, approval of the new Union Logo, and the discussion and vote on proposed constitutional amendments.
In the interest of time, initial committee, peer body, and officer reports were skipped and the Senate immediately moved onto the special orders of the day.
Graduate Student Michael Gardner motioned to thank the recently retired Professor Mukkai Krishnamoorthy for his service at Rensselaer. Krishnamoorthy retired after 39 years at RPI as an Associate Professor in the Department of Computer Science. He also served as a faculty advisor to the Rensselaer Center for Open Source since its inception about a decade ago. The motion aimed to both thank and recognize Krishnamoorthy for “fostering a love for math and science in our community.”
Chairperson Senator Nancy Bush ’19 proposed a Composting Proposal which was brought before the Senate by the Facilities and Services Committee. This proposal passed 18-0-1 and can be found at poly.rpi.edu/s/composting.
The Student Government Communications Committee then proposed its new Union logo design for approval from the Senate. Before the presentation, there was a motion to close the meeting to non-senators. This was met with resistance as, according to Gardner, “Students have already voted on this; they already know what the logo is going to look like.” After a lengthy discussion, the motion to close the meeting failed 3-13-4.
Once the motion failed, the new logo and the reasoning for the change was presented. According to the presenter Stefanie Warner ’19, the decision to change the Union logo was because the original wasn’t made by a student and was never approved by the Senate. The logo includes a version for all three facilities that fall under the Union: the Union, the Mueller Center, and the RPI Playhouse. The Senate voted to approve the logo 19-0-1. The official reveal of the new logo is scheduled for the Thursday of GM Week from 4–6 pm.
The rest of the night was dedicated to reviewing the work of the Internal Reforms Committee and its proposed amendments to the Union Constitution. There were four amendments under consideration, with the first proposed amendment having two versions.
The first amendment with two versions had to do with administrative staffing. “Version A” was written by the members of the Student Senate and elaborates on the hiring process of Union personnel. They aimed to create a committee which would work with the Rensselaer Division of Human Resources to receive training so they could better screen candidates and competently recommend finalists to the Executive Board. The proposed amendment also aimed to explicitly define Union job descriptions and the process of performance reviews by the Executive Board.
“Version B” was written by Secretary of the Institute and General Counsel Craig Cook and Vice President and Dean of Students Travis T. Apgar. This version of the amendment removed the clause specifying job descriptions and changed the wording of the performance review section to “Performance Review Input” and specifies that the E-Board shall provide input for the annual performance reviews “in a manner prescribed by Human Resources.”
Graduate Senator Michael Gardner voiced his concerns over the wording in the “Performance Review Input” section in “Version B” saying that, “In a manner prescribed by Human Resources could mean not at all.” There were also concerns that “Version A” did not address concerns over confidentiality, whereas “Version B” did. Grand Marshal Justin Etzine ’18 used his five minutes of speaking time to perform a straw poll in an attempt to “save time.” In the unofficial straw poll, four people voted to approve “Version A” while the remaining 14 members voted in favor of neither version of the amendment. Due to the results of the straw poll, the Senate failed to motion to officially vote on the issue and continued onto the second proposed amendment.
Amendment II aimed to end confusions regarding the relation between Rensselaer and the Union by changing that the director of the Union “shall be employed by the Union,” to, “shall be employed by the Institute.”
The initial concern with this amendment was that to specify that the director is an employee of the Institute is redundant as the Union is a subsidiary of the Institute; according to Gardner, “The director of the Union is an employee of the Union, and therefore of the Institute.”
When trying to discuss the underlying intent of this proposed change, Senator Bush said, “I think this amendment is a power move.”
In another unofficial strawpoll vote the Senate made their feelings on the amendment clear with none in favor and 14 against. No senator was willing to bring the motion to a vote after it was clear what the results would be.
Both amendments III and IV regarded changes that the Graduate Student Council sought in an effort to make their council’s operations smoother. Amendment III aimed to mandate that the president of the Graduate Council be a graduate student for at least a semester, and allowed the number of graduate students on the council to be changed in order to ensure the smooth operations of the council. After a straw poll, it was clear that there was a consensus, and the proposed amendment was approved in an official vote of 18-0-0.
Amendment IV aimed to modify procedures that the Graduate Student Council now follows. The first change was to how graduate class dues are determined. This section made it so that the Council could recommend any change in the amount of class dues by a two thirds vote of its membership. The other section of the changes made it so that the Council would not need to have their bylaws approved by the Senate, and instead that they could change it at any time with a two thirds vote given the new changes are presented to the Senate at a later date. Web Technologies Group Chair Sidney Kochman ’19 asked the graduate senators,“why is this such a hurdle to get the bylaws changed without Senate approval?” Graduate Council President Anthony Ashley responded, “This isn’t a power grab at all, this is just an attempt at a change in our bylaws … The check will always exist; why we are doing this is because this process is procedural, and we don’t want to go through the effort.” Concerns over why the Graduate Council should be able to skip this step in approving their bylaws was discussed, but in the end the Senate voted in favor of the amendment 19-0-0.
The proposed amendments can be seen online at poly.rpi.edu/s/amend2018. The Senate will meet again in the Shelnutt Gallery this Wednesday at 8 pm.