Student Senate

New election reform task force approved

The last Student Senate meeting of the semester was filled with a number of appointments and motions to close out the year. The first motion of the meeting was a resolution to establish an elections reform task force as a special committee of the Senate. The committee would be tasked with reviewing Grand Marshal Week 2018 and suggesting reforms for future elections.

David Raab ’19 expressed concern that the committee felt pushed by the administration, “[seemingly] to come from the vice president of student life.” Facilities and Services Chairperson Nancy Bush ’19, explained that making it a formal committee would give the students more control over the process.

Class of 2020 Senator Chris Duffy asked how the three members at large would be appointed, to which Grand Marshal Stef Warner ’19 said the positions were interest-based. These appointments would not need to be confirmed by the Senate, but Warner said she would “bring them to [the Senate’s] attention.”

Warner is currently serving as the interim chair of the committee.

Class of 2020 Senator Joseph Lyon, asked what role the GM would take. Warner said that she wanted to help, since the process would involve the administration, but “[doesn’t] intend to heavy hand and push the task force in a specific way.”

The task force was approved 17-0-2.

Next, the Senate approved 18-0-1 a motion thanking former Director of Public Safety Jerry Matthews for his years of service. Matthews is retiring after serving as both director and interim director of the Department of Public Safety.

Following that, a number of Judicial Board appointments were made. The first was for a new J-Board chair, for which graduate student Nate James spoke on behalf of Joshua Berman ’19, who was unable to attend due to a co-op. James has worked with Berman for two and a half years, and has been helpful in running the judicial process. The Senate approved the appointment 17-0-2.

Two new regular members were appointed, ​Philip Charles ’20 and Shawn Vollaro ’19, in 16-2-1 and 16-0-3 votes, respectively. Both have served as alternate J-Board members.

Three new alternate members were also appointed, graduate student Heidi Niskanen, graduate student Welby Huynh, and Gabrielle Ford ’21.

A motion was brought forward urging Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute to denounce William Cosby and revoke his honorary degree. Cosby was given an honorary degree from RPI in 2001. He was recently convicted on several sexual assault charges, and many other universities have revoked honorary degrees given to him. There is currently an RPI petition and petition to remove his degree. The motion was approved by the Senate.