Student Senate

Hiring of director of sustainability urged

Student voices concerns about unaffiliated Greek housing

During its second meeting of the year, the Student Senate approved Executive Board appointments and passed a motion in support of the Climate Action Plan presented by the Student Sustainability Task Force. The Senate also closed a portion of their meeting to discuss the results of the Arch Task Force Survey, and then discussed changes to the Rensselaer Handbook of Student Rights and Responsibilities.

Early in the meeting, the Senate approved three Executive Board positions. Both Mia Lin '23 and Joseph Hinckley '23 were appointed as members-at-large while Michael Liu '23 was appointed as the Class of 2023 representative. All three candidates were approved in unanimous votes.

The Senate also failed a motion in support of the Climate Action Plan from the previous meeting in a 0-14-2 vote. This was done in favor of passing a second, revised motion that was read immediately after.

The motion recognized that Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute has a responsibility “to advance environmental sustainability efforts [to align] with the Global Challenges in the Rensselaer 2024 Plan.” The motion also urged the Institute to hire “a Director of Sustainability or an equivalent permanent staff member” who would assist the Student Sustainability Task Force in developing and implementing sustainability initiatives at Rensselaer. It further emphasized collaboration between this task force and the Institute to complete ongoing projects, as well as to create “comprehensive climate and carbon neutrality plans.”

The motion also officially thanked the Student Sustainability Task Force for their efforts. The motion passed unanimously.

Later, in the invitation to speak portion of the meeting, Greek Senator Peter Gramenides ‘20 invited to the floor PhD student Chris Joanis, a member of the Greek Life community. Joanis expressed his concerns regarding the changes made to the Rensselaer Handbook of Student Rights and Responsibilities in regards to Greek Life residency. According to an email from Assistant Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students Travis Apgar, the Student Living and Learning policy “now prohibits any Rensselaer student from living in the residence of a fraternity or sorority whose recognition has been revoked or suspended by the Institute, or is not formally recognized by the Institute.”

When Graduate Senator Neha Keshan inquired if these changes were made to benefit the students, Joanis replied: “That is my assumption, but that would lack empirical backing,” claiming that there are “no studies out there that show really strong evidence that it’s better for students to not live in Greek housing or that decreasing the housing available to the students will decrease the rate of the certain offenses.”

According to Gramenides, the school created this rule because it was concerned with the living conditions of the houses, as they had no way to regulate what went on inside houses that were unaffiliated with them. Gramenides called it a “well-intentioned rule,” and said, “this would have been great if it had been announced halfway through the summer.”

The Student Senate holds open meetings every Monday in the Shelnutt Gallery at 7 pm.