Executive Board revokes Union membership of policy-violating student
Editor’s Note: While the motion on the Executive Board's public record has redacted the student's name, The Polytechnic has learned the student's identity. However, for reasons of privacy, The Polytechnic has decided to withhold the student's name at this time.
The Union Executive Board revoked the Union membership of a student for violating the Rensselaer Union’s COVID-19 policies. The student, who is currently on their away semester, and was a former Class of 2023 President, had been attending various in-person student government meetings and events. This was in violation of the Union’s policy restricting the entrance of Union facilities to Rensselaer community members with campus access.
Worries about the student’s presence on campus were first brought to the attention of student government leadership by a member of student government. The student was reported to have entered first-year dorms promoting student government. In Greek life, this advertising practice is known as “dorm storming,” and is prohibited by the Institute to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
President of the Union Yaseen Mahmoud ’22 and Grand Marshal Cait Bennett ’22 then brought the matter to the Dean of Students' Office. The office informed them that the student did not have campus access. Bennett told The Polytechnic that when she had asked the student if they had campus access, the student said they did.
The motion to revoke the student’s Union membership was then drafted and brought to the E-Board. The meeting closed for debate on the motion at 8:34 pm and did not reopen until 11:07 pm. The motion, brought by graduate student Pronoy Pant and seconded by Riaz Rao ’22, passed unanimously 18-0-0.
While none of the Executive Board’s guiding documents, including the Executive Board Bylaws, Rensselaer Union Constitution, and Rensselaer Union Guidelines and Procedures, mention procedures by which the E-Board may revoke a student’s Union membership, some legal maneuvers made the move possible.
The Rensselaer Union Constitution defines a member of the Union as any student who has paid the Student Activity Fee. The Constitution also gives the Executive Board full control over all financial matters of the Union. Therefore, the E-Board can direct the Bursar’s Office to decline a student’s payment of the Activity Fee, which would, in turn, invalidate the student's status as a member of the Union.
Mahmoud told The Polytechnic that the E-Board had previously revoked students’ Union membership in a 1992 event involving RPI Ambulance. However, The Polytechnic could not verify this incident.
In January 1992, The Polytechnic reported on the sanctioning of three members of RPI Ambulance for taking a joyride to Atlantic City in the club’s ambulance during winter break. The members had their driving privileges revoked by the E-Board and two of the three members were stripped of their ability to run for student government positions for the remainder of the Spring Semester.
Editor's Note: The article was edited to clarify that the practice of "dorm storming" is prohibited by the Institute due to COVID-19 regulations.