Student Senate

Senate officers, Judicial Board appointments approved

To complete the 50th Student Senate, members voted to approve Grand Marshal Meagan Lettko’s ’20 officer appointments, some of which created the non-voting membership of the Senate. Along with these appointments, alternate and regular members of the Judicial Board and changes to The Bylaws of the Rensselaer Union Undergraduate Council were approved.

In total, Lettko’s appointments received seven abstention votes and four no votes. Multiple positions received little questioning from members of the Senate, while others stood in front of members for upwards of ten minutes to vouch for their appointments. Officer positions included vice grand marshal, treasurer, secretary, parliamentarian, and committee chairs.

Independent Senator Advaith Narayan ’21 was appointed to the position of vice grand marshal. Narayan focused on his plans to “revamp” committee structures, with a return to subcommittee-focused structure. It has been shown throughout the history of Senate that the subcommittee structure works perfectly,” he said.

The Senate’s main concern with Narayan’s appointment focused on his absence in the Fall 2019 semester as a result of Arch. Lettko offered a solution to this: “I definitely want to explore the possibility of having an interim vice grand marshal to physically be here, if the vice grand marshal that’s away wants to keep working on certain projects they can of course do that, but it’s really important to have a physical body here.”

The Senate also approved Marvin Rios ’20 as treasurer, Varsha Kuchi ’21 as secretary, and Colleen Corrigan ’21 as parliamentarian. Rios and Kuchi were appointed to their first-ever terms in their respective positions. Lettko expressed that their appointments would serve them as good introductions to the Senate.

When questioned by The Polytechnic on if she would support an amendment to the Senate bylaws that would require Senate materials to be made public, Kuchi struggled to understand the question, but said she was in support of making documents publicly available after some clarifications. Corrigan has served as parliamentarian for the past two senates, and received words of support from Lettko, Gramenides, and former Grand Marshal Stefanie Warner ’19.

Nate Sullivan ’22 was appointed to Student Senate-Executive Board liaison; Rhea Banerjee ’22 to Hospitality Services Advisory Committee chairperson; Aloni Jordan ’22 to Community Relations Committee chairperson; Peter Graminides ’20 to Arch Task Force Committee chairperson; and Jonathan Bao ’21 to Academic Affairs Committee chairperson. Each of these appointments passed unanimously, with short discussion and no concerns voiced by the Student Senate.

Lettko’s preferred candidate for the position of Facilities and Services Committee chairperson, Nick Dybas ’20, is currently off campus for his co-op, and therefore is not an activity fee paying student. Because of this, the Union Constitution prohibits his appointment to an officer position. The Senate instead approved Nancy Bush ’19 as interim Facilities and Services Committee chairperson with the intent of transitioning Dybas into the role. During discussion, senators questioned qualifications for the future appointee, who held the position of vice chair at the time, and approved Bush’s appointment unanimously.

Undergraduate President Evan Lazaro ’21 was appointed to the vacant position of Web Technologies Group chairperson. He has formerly held the vice chairperson position in this group and, in response to question from The Poly, explained his dismissal to be a result of a difference in opinion with then chairperson Joseph Lyon ’20 about the Student Government website. Lyon is a technology coordinator for The Polytechnic.

Lazaro listed his goals as chairperson as “restoring relations” with other groups in Student Government, as well as looking for new projects. When asked what current or past projects he has specifically worked on, he said that “in the fall I was actually away on co-op, so I wasn’t able to too actively contribute, but this semester I took a little bit more of a look at the elections website and also helped as part of the new petitions website.” He acknowledged that he wasn’t comfortable deploying projects, but intended on learning this skill. When The Poly asked if Lettko or Lazaro had communicated with past leadership of WebTech about the need for this transition, she replied, “I haven’t spoken with them exactly about that transition yet … but I’ll be emailing them tonight.”

The nominees for the chairperson for both the Student Life Committee and the Student Government Communications Committee were questioned at length before the Senate.

“I want it to be so that we’ve given students the information that they need … you can’t inform every single person on what we intend to do, but you can put the information out there,” said Christine Magunga ’20 when expanding upon her goals as chairperson of the SGCC. Maya Ooki ’20 was a returning member to the SLC from her freshman year, though she had never been on the Senate or Executive Board before. Multiple people in the room vouched for her experience and passion for the committee. The vote to approve her appointment was unanimous.

The only appointment to receive votes against it was for the position of Elections Commission chairperson, which is now filled by Lucas Davis ’20. During Lettko’s introduction of her appointment, she highlighted that he will be this incoming Commission’s only returning member, and therefore the only person with direct experience. During questioning, Davis cited his “number one goal” as improving the Rensselaer Union Voting Suite, as well as training new members. He plans to graduate in the Fall semester and a new chair will need to be appointed then. When asked about his thoughts on nominations and general requirements for candidates, Davis replied that he would “think about” it in the future.

Five Judicial Board appointments were also approved by the Senate. Owen Lockwood, Emily Vallee ’22, Nicolas Pezzullo ’21, and Katelyn Zarrelli ’21 were all approved unanimously as alternate members, with short discussion on each candidate.

At the end of their meeting, the Senate also voted to approve amendments to the Bylaws of the Undergraduate Council. These amendments were “loose ends” referred to in Undergraduate President Evan Lazaro’s campaign. Changes included the creation of Undergraduate Vice President, requirement of the director of public relations’ to attend Student Government Communications Committee meetings, allowance for electronic voting, and a decrease of vacancy advertising to one week. The motion passed unanimously.

An earlier version of this article incorrectly said that Narayan would be away from RPI during the Spring 2020 semester for Arch. He will actually be taking off the Fall 2019 semester.