Student Senate

Senate discusses transfer difficulties

The Student Senate held its weekly meeting this Monday, October 22. The meeting started off with Grand Marshal Stephanie Warner ’19, introducing the new senators for the class of 2022: Emi Ahlo ’22, Rhea Banerjee ’22, Aloni Jordan ’22, and Naya Murdock ’22. The meeting then moved forward with Warner recapping the audits of the Elections Reform Task Force. Warner remarked, “ Over the summer, an audit was conducted, and the report came earlier this year, but after looking over it we—the elections task force—and the Union staff decided this was not what we were looking for.” The audit looked at the system but not the process. The second report had typos which prompted the Senate to wait on the third audit report that will be coming soon. After looking over it with Interim Vice President for Student Life Le Norman Strong, the audit will be distributed to the public. 

Isabella Arroyo ’20 introduced the struggles of transfer students during the invitation to speak portion of the meeting after having had conversations with transfer student struggling to acclimate to Rensselaer while working in the Office of Student Success. “There is not a lot of representation for transfer students specifically. Especially since they face different challenges than the traditional student.” She recounted an encounter with a transfer student where the student had the credits of a sophomore but since they had transferred, was considered a first year student. “They don’t have the same experience than other first year students,” since transfer students are unable to go to NRB and partake in other activities. Josh Beard, a graduate student who transferred to RPI as an undergraduate student, said that he had the same experience at each of the schools he transferred to. He remarked that the transfer students were often the “ugly stepchildren of the entire campus.” Zachary Taylor ’21 commented on what he saw at transfer student orientation while he was working as an advisor, and noted that, “they don’t have normal registration, they have credit evaluations. […]  They are kept entirely in CBIS and then are released and sort of expected to become students.”

Nancy Bush ’19, offered to have questions added to the Senate survey and to “work off of the concerns we find in the survey.” Advaith Narayan ’21 presented the opportunity to open a Senate seat specifically for transfer students. Senator Mary Clare Crochiere ’19 then proposed to have special seats on each class council representing transfer student interests. Senator Anthony Dai disagreed, citing reasons such as not having special positions for international students, a group on campus that comprises of a huge part of the student body, and suggested that having a special seat for transfer students could come off as negative discrimination. Graduate Senator Kinshuk Panda also expressed his concerns that if seats were to be added for the transfer students, it would negatively impact the proportion between the undergraduate and graduate senators. 

Nicholas Luczak ’20, a transfer student and reporter for The Polytechnic provided his perspective as a transfer student and suggested that the Senate expand their outreach to introduce transfer students to different clubs and Union facilities. He claimed that this could help students feel more comfortable with life at RPI.