Construction of hearthstone, fireplace in McNeil approved
Director of the Union Charlie Potts and President of the Union Justin Etzine came before the Rensselaer Executive Board seeking approval of “up to $45,000 from Union Reserves” for the “construction of a hearthstone (including an electric fireplace)” in the McNeil Room and “any necessary design and labor fees associated with the project.”
The motion called for relocating, to this new hearthstone, the plaques dedicated to the Grand Marshal, President of the Union, donors towards the 2000 renovation, and portraits of former Director of the Union Rick Hartt and founding Director of the Archer Center Linda McCloskey. The motion was approved 15-0-0 after discussion.
Etzine explained that the north wall of the McNeil Room is “the middle of the middle of the middle of campus.” Potts corroborated this; he recounted surveying the location and noticing the “buzz.” His vision is to reinforce this as the warm, social hub he previously observed. Logistical questions arose, including Club and Organization Representative Justina Thompson asking if this would cut into the existing study space. Etzine said that with the rearrangement of tables, there would potentially be a net gain of seating. Thompson also asked if there would be student involvement in the project, specifically emphasizing the architecture department. Etzine was open to allowing architecture students to help with aspects of the project, although due to the permanent nature and cost, he has been in contact with a professional firm.
Club and Organization Representative Cody Kazakoff said that he liked the proposal, however asked if they planned on coming before the Board once they had a more developed design. Potts agreed to this. In response to Vice President of the Union Anissa Choiniere’s question about who would have control of the electric fireplace, Potts and Etzine explained staff would hold the remote, rather than allowing students to manipulate settings.
Potts and Etzine proposed a second motion for Union space improvements, specifically to “approve the use of up to $20,000 from the FY19 Facilities Budget, Goal C, Program 1, for 1. the repair of the electrical power connection to both sides of the west patio outside of the Union building, and 2. The purchase of outdoor string lights for the trees lining the west patio.” This passed 12-2-0.
During the discussion, Union Policies and Committee Chairperson David Raab expressed concern about that area being used as a smoking location. Secretary Samantha Spano suggested we create a different, more “enticing” smoking location. Etzine explained that the Union does not have jurisdiction over the public sidewalk, although they can make efforts to relocate this behavior.
Another point was made by Graduate Representative John Jacangelo, who moved to amend the original wording of the motion. Originally it specified “white lights,” however a majority agreed programmable lights would be better.
A final concern was brought up by Union Programming and Activities Committee Chairperson Esmerelda Ramirez. She asked about the “green clubs” on campus, and how they would respond to this energy usage. Etzine responded that this would be a fairly negligible amount of energy, and also that many of the “green clubs” had disbanded this year so their thoughts would be hard to gauge.
The RPI Pep Band came before the Executive Board with two requests. The Pep Band is allocated 60 men’s hockey seats per game, paid for entirely by the athletic department. However that is not enough space to accommodate the band. A motion was made to “approve the reallocation of $1,120” for “the purchase of 28 [additional] Men’s Varsity Hockey tickets to each of the eight remaining home games.” This passed 16-0-0, however, it was followed by suggestions to negotiate with the Athletic Department.
The second request made by the Pep Band was for “the reallocation of $500” for “the purchase of 60 t-shirts to serve as giveaways at the 2019 Big Red Freakout! game.” It passed 15-0-1. The Pep Band had previously requested the money as part of their annual budget, but was instead told to come before the Executive Board this year.
During the President’s Report, Etzine said there is now a voting position vacant on the board, and anyone interested should email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. He also introduced the new Vice President for Student Life Peter Konwerski. Konwerski stood up and said a few words, including how this was “very close to [his] heart.” He also brought a flourless gluten-free cake for the meeting. Additionally, during reports, Potts mentioned going home over the holidays, only to realize, “this is home now.”
During an invitation to speak, Thompson brought up a the future request for subsidy for an African American history trip, and Jacangelo updated everyone about the RPI ambulance repairs.