Student Senate

Senate expresses dissatisfaction with director of the Union hiring process

On Monday, October 1, the Senate unanimously voted to create the Diversity and Inclusion Committee and passed a resolution expressing its “dissatisfaction” with the hiring process for the director of the Union.

In unfinished business, the Senate picked up on the tabled motion from the previous meeting that resolved to “support any initiatives by groups within RPI with the goal of increasing the safety and inclusion for all members of the RPI community,” “to condemn any and all acts of discrimination and harassment,” and, “to reaffirm [the Student Senate’s] dedication to creating an environment guaranteeing equal opportunity, safety, and inclusion.”

In the previous meeting, the motion was criticized for having “no direct action” and not including measures that the Senate intends to make.

In response to these criticisms, Student Life Committee Chairperson Bryan Johns ’19 motioned for a few amendments—to include the creation of the Diversity and Inclusion Committee and an outline of its goals. Both the motions to amend these changes and to pass the entire resolution passed unanimously.

In an email to the Senate, Grand Marshal Stef Warner ’19 said the goals of the committee would be to “[interface] with public safety to ensure a safe environment both on and off campus,” [work] with the office of Multicultural Programming and the Multicultural Leadership Council to increase diversity and inclusion education on campus,” and “[work] with multicultural, identity, and other pertinent affinity groups on addressing issues of concern.” She also shared that the application for the chairperson of the committee is now open.

During the new business portion of the meeting, the Senate resolved to “express its dissatisfaction with both the recent hiring process for the Director of the Union” for its inconsistency and limited student involvement, “assert the necessity and momentous benefits of genuine student representation,” “insist all participating parties of future processes follow and abide by the pre-approved and agreed upon procedures regarding the hiring and continuance of new employees,” and “confirm that the […] Senate will continue to examine the hiring process for the Director of the Union to ensure any future searches […] include significant and meaningful student involvement.”

The resolution also expressed that the “extensive student feedback regarding the hiring process” was “largely ignored” and that not allowing the Executive Board to vote on candidates was a “violation by the RPI administration to uphold their promise of substantial student involvement in the hiring process.”

While answering questions about the motion, Johns—who brought it to the floor—expressed that this was not “meant to be an end to itself” and that he hoped to see an outline of what student involvement should look like.

The vote was unanimous; however, as shown by the two roll call votes that were taken throughout the meeting, Graduate Senators Kurt Dominesey, Joshua Beard, Andrew DiBiasio, and Kinshuk Panda did not return from the five minute recess and did not vote on the motion.

A presentation on the Graduate Council Bylaws Amendments was given by Graduate Council President Anthony Ashley and Panda. There were three major changes: adding one Graduate Representative, allowing for one additional representative for any schools that are unrepresented after GM Week, and adding one Black Graduate Student Association representative that would be elected by their organization.

During her Grand Marshal Report, Warner shared details of the Student Life Committee meeting with the Board of Trustees and that the Elections Reform Task Force would be meeting on Thursday with members of the administration to review the audit. When asked during the press and visitor Q&A, Warner disclosed that Zachary Taylor, Grace Roller, Nathan James, Sidney Kochman, and Nancy Bush are on the Elections Reform Task Force.

The Senate also approved President of the Union Justin Etzine’s appointments of Nathan Sullivan as Class of 2020 representative, and Majken Rasmussen ’19, Deepika Kothakapa ’22, Dante Mancinelli ’22, and Yaseen Mahmoud ’22 as club financial advisors.

A motion to thank Nicole Hayden, former administrative specialist in the Union, for her “years of service to the Rensselaer community” and “continued willingness to support student initiatives and programs” passed unanimously.