Student Senate

Student Government discusses facility issues

New mandatory mental health module, takeaways from annual Light Walk discussed

The Facilities and Services Committee presented a follow-up report to the Senate about facilities concerns found during the Light Walk. In addition, the Arch Task Force introduced a mental health module to the Arch preparatory course, and the Hospitality Advisory Services Committee announced several projects that will begin implementation next semester.

Facilities and Services Committee Chairperson Nick Dybas ’20 began the meeting by presenting the results of the annual Light Walk. This is an event where members of the Student Senate walk around campus and take note of every appliance-related or infrastructural concern they notice. Most of the issues were found to be on Freshman Hill and main academic campus. Lighting issues comprised 78.2 percent of all total issues, while sidewalks were 7.3 percent and crosswalks were 9.1 percent.

One specific issue pointed out was that some areas should have sidewalks but are not accordingly paved. Other miscellaneous issues included illegible signage—particularly near Edgehill Terrace—and the lack of a staircase near the entrance to the Office of Parking and Transportation. The full report of the Light Walk will be made available to the general student body.

The Arch Task Force and the Student Life Committee collaborated to introduce a mental health module to the Arch preparatory course. This module will function similarly to the Sexual Health and AlcoholEDU modules that freshmen are required to take. According to the Center for Career and Professional Development, one of the five pillars of the Arch preparatory course is mental well-being, and Student Life Committee Chairperson Maya Ooki ’20 emphasized that the situations presented in the mental health module are “very realistic” and “college-situational.” Ooki later added that this mental health module will be mandatory for all students enrolled in the Arch preparatory course.

Hospitality Services Advisory Committee Chairperson Rhea Banerjee ’22 introduced several major projects and other smaller changes to the dining halls. This included a plan to have at least one fully-operational dining hall at all hours that will serve hot meals alongside the current late-night options. HSAC is also currently in talks with Sodexo to analyze the meal plans of other universities similar to Rensselaer to eventually develop a Flex-only meal plan. Another major project of HSAC is to potentially create a micro-market in the East Campus Class Community Center, where students can use their Flex dollars to purchase food. This market would function similarly to Father’s Market in the Union. The committee announced that the to-go meals at Russell Sage Dining Hall will be available in time for 8 am classes starting next semester.

Some of the smaller changes announced by HSAC included the posting of the hours of operation of each of the dining halls on napkin containers, matching the music played in the dining halls to the food being served, and changing the ingredients offered at "UCook" stations more frequently. A schedule for special events organized by HSAC for January, February, and March will be announced before the next semester.

The Web Technologies Group also announced changes to the Shuttle Tracker, including route toggling—where students can choose to look at only one specific route—and a feedback form directly on the app.

The Student Senate holds open meetings every Monday at 8 pm in the Shelnutt Gallery.