Executive Board

Multicultural Sorority and Fraternity Council becomes Union-affiliated

The Union Executive Board approved a motion to designate the Multicultural Sorority and Fraternity Council and their sub-organizations as Union-affiliated clubs. Additionally, a subsidy reallocation for The Polytechnic was also approved.

The Multicultural Sorority and Fraternity Council represents culturally focused Greek chapters at Rensselaer. Recognized members include the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, Phi Iota Alpha fraternity, Pi Delta Psi fraternity, Omega Phi Beta sorority, and the Sigma Delta sorority.

In an email sent by Dean of Students Travis T. Apgar on September 10, MSFC was granted full recognition by the Institute with “all of the benefits afforded.” The email also acknowledged the contributions made to establish the MSFC by the currently unrecognized Delta Sigma Theta sorority.

During the meeting, Business Operations Committee chairperson and Graduate student Brian Anderson noted that the MSFC was having problems with their constitution and asked members to elaborate. MSFC responded that many of the policies in their constitution were written with respect to singular clubs, but MSFC operated more as a group of organizations.

According to President of the Union Yaseen Mahmoud ’22, when the Interfraternity Council and Panhellenic Council became Union-affiliated in 2019, the Rensselaer Union Guidelines and Procedures was supposed to be updated to differentiate between clubs and Greek councils. However, the update was put on hold for two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Mahmoud and Vice President of Rules and Special Projects Matthew Zapken ’22 are currently working on the changes.

After the meeting closed for deliberations, the Executive Board amended the motion to include sub-organizations of the MSFC as part of the Union affiliation.

Anderson noted that the motion was to approve MSFC as an affiliated club, despite MSFC’s constitution being written in terms of a Greek council. He recommended updating the RUGP before affiliating MSFC with the Union, bringing up the Union affiliation of IFC and Panhel as an example of why the RUGP should be updated first. Mahmoud responded that MSFC “shouldn’t have to wait” for Union-affiliation because it’s “not their fault” the RUGP hadn’t been updated to accommodate the council.

Member at Large representative Kripa Khanal ’24 asked what the implications were if the sub-organizations of MSFC also became Union-affiliated. Mahmoud answered that one implication would allow members of the council to represent their independent Greek chapter instead of MSFC at the activities fair.

Anderson called the motion “unfair” to other organizations that were required to have policies in the constitution that weren’t applicable to MSFC. He said that it was “unfortunate” if MSFC had to wait another week, but ultimately concurred that approving the motion would not set a good precedent for future affiliations.

Grand Marshal Cait Bennett ’22, who was present during the meeting, asserted that the E-Board was the one at fault for not updating the RUGP changes earlier enough. She also called Anderson’s idea “deeply unfair”, since IFC and Panhel did not have to wait for the RUGP changes to be implemented during their affiliation in 2019. Multicultural Leadership Council chairperson Aloni Jordan ’22 agreed with Bennett, saying that having MSFC wait another week was similar to “punishing them for our' mistake.”

Anderson followed Bennett saying that if the E-Board made a mistake by not updating the RUGP after the IFC and Panhel affiliation, then they should avoid that mistake by updating the RUGP before the MSFC affiliation. Anderson also mentioned that Chapter 5 of the RUGP states that it is mandatory to include all required sections in a club’s constitution, which the MSFC constitution did not have due to their status as a council. “There are deeper policy issues at play here,” he started, “and I really think they should be sorted out before we make a decision.”

Member at Large representative Minh Nguyen ’22 wondered what the consequences would be if MSFC had to wait a week for the RUGP changes to be implemented, and Khanal supplemented this by asking what specific parts of the RUGP needed to be updated. Mahmoud clarified that it would take more than two weeks to carry out the changes, because he and Zapken wanted to present the changes to the Board a week before proposing a motion to enact them. Mahmoud then brought up a document that listed possible amendments, some of which include redefining club affiliation and membership for Greek councils, allowing the Fraternity and Sorority Commons to approve starter constitutions for Greek councils seeking Union affiliation, and having different types of organizations receive different policies for their constitutions.

Mahmoud emphasized the importance of self-governance for the Rensselaer Union. He acknowledged that many of the amendments may shift power to the Fraternity and Sorority Commons, which is a sub-department of the Dean of Students office that manages the health and safety of Greek chapters at RPI. As such, the proposed changes would require serious discussion to preserve the Union’s power. Zapken proceeded to call the amendments a “huge and complex issue that needs time.”

Class of 2023 representative Ava Gallagher motioned a call to question, which halts all discussion and forces the E-Board to move into voting procedures. The motion passed by overwhelming majority.

The motion to recognize the Multicultural Sorority and Fraternity Council and their sub-organizations as a Union-affiliated club passed 11-2-1.

For the other motion of the night, the Executive Board approved a subsidy reallocation request for The Polytechnic. The news organization will receive $3204.25 to purchase audio and camera equipment. However, a $150 camera tripod was not approved; the Board said that the Marketing and Strategy Committee possesses extra tripods and instructed the club to work with the committee. This motion passed 13-2-0.