Rensselaer Union

Dominoes delayed, funding approval recently granted

The “Dominoes Project” is a series of club, organization, and business location shifts throughout the Union, approved in an Executive Board meeting last spring. The plan was set to be executed over the summer; it is now the Fall semester and there are still some dominoes left to topple.

In an interview, Director of the Union Charlie Potts gave a rundown of the progress so far and a list of remaining projects. On the third floor, The Polytechnic has moved to its new office, and its old office has been converted to a meeting room. RPI TV has moved from its office on the first floor to one room of the old Poly office. The shift of the Union Programs and Activities Committee office is still a work in progress, held back by the conversion of the old Photography Club darkroom to the UPAC office. This conversion was approximately 50 percent complete at the time. Union Show Techs—previously known as UPAC Lights and Sound—has moved to the old location of Statler & Waldorf, next to the Student Veterans Lounge.

Meanwhile, the Clubhouse Pub awaits the completion of the UPAC move so their space can be expanded. According to Potts, this expansion will most likely not begin until November, as they are waiting on a liquor license from the state of New York that is necessary when expanding such an establishment. Following this will be a bidding and design process, after which the expansion will begin. The expanded Pub is expected to be ready for student use in January.

On the main floor, Potts and his “team” are working with different multicultural committees to establish a theme, ambiance, and organization for the new Multicultural Lounge, which will take the place of the current Patroon Room. They will then “backfill” the current Multicultural Lounge with a lounge for LGBTQ students.

On the first floor, the construction of the mailroom inside the RPI Bookstore is 70 percent finished. The installation of equipment and training of staff will follow the completion of the build-out. Then, after two weeks, the relocation from the current mailroom will begin.

THE NEW UNION MAILROOM IS nearing completion. August Gehrman/The Polytechnic

The old RPI TV space will become Ben and Jerry’s, whose place will be taken by the Campus Unisex Salon. Meanwhile, the room across from Father’s Marketplace is in the process of being converted to the new Photo Club darkroom. This work was completed earlier but has to be redone due to the flooding that occurred at the end of the summer. These shifts are expected to be completed in November.

Outside, the team is working to find fixtures that balance aesthetically pleasing lighting with durability for the winter. These will be installed in the west-facing trees and will be one of the last things to happen, other than the Clubhouse Pub expansion.

A large reason for the delays in the “Dominoes Project” is the funding behind each move. There are two types of funding for this project. One is for small-scale, low-cost work such as painting walls; this comes out of the facility operations budget.

However, the Union needs to maintain a certain amount of money in this budget for repairs, in case of emergencies. The second source of funding is a savings account for large scale projects.

The money in this account comes from the previous financial year’s surplus. At the end of the year, the Executive Board must submit a proposal listing the applications of the money to the Office of the President, who approves it. For the proposal regarding the “Dominoes Project,” the approval did not come until very recently. Potts attributed this to “the way the summer happened, in terms of timing and people being gone and people coming back, and some changes, and some certain types of financial procedures that are way past me, it just took a lot longer for that approval to come.” He later assured, “There were no issues, there were no problems, there were no doubts or questions, it just took longer to get through.”

Throughout the process, the administrative team was aware of the need to respect club spaces, and Potts commended the Board on their communication of “the intentions and practicality to each group impacted” throughout the winter and spring. They tried to maintain this level of communication during the shifts. “We stayed in touch with everybody throughout the summer,” he said.

When The Polytechnic asked Chair of the Multicultural Leadership Council Samuel Harrison '20 if his group was clearly communicated with about the delays in the movement of the current lounge and the creation of the new one, he explained that "although there was never an official communication about the delays, I, along with several other council members have been involved in the entire process, including over the summer."