Student Senate

Colonie B residents cannot move back until Spring

The Student Senate held a discussion, led by Class of 2025 Senator Philip Paterson, on the recent flooding of Colonie B. Colonie B, one of the four Colonie apartments on Burdett Avenue, flooded on Friday, November 18. Paterson expressed deep frustration with the administration’s handling of the flooding and the lack of communication with the affected residents. Paterson recounted his experience that day.

On Friday, November 18, between 2 to 3 pm, Paterson was informed by Class of 2025 Senator and roommate Johann Li that their room was flooding. When he got back to his dorm, Paterson was told that he needed to move into Colonie A until after Thanksgiving break while repairs were being made. However, upon returning back to campus, Colonie B residents were unable to access the building. A few days later, the residents received an email stating that they would have to remain in Colonie A until the start of the Spring semester.

According to Paterson, several residents suffered damages as a result of the flooding. Paterson, who is also a member of the Young Democratic Socialists of America, stated that the group sent out a poll to those affected, asking them to note any damages they suffered. The poll also aimed to “garner support for certain actions, one of which [is] calling the administration to be more clear in their communication in emergencies.” He went on to add that it appeared that “no one knew what was going on and different departments were arguing with each other.”

Paterson also expressed concern over the lack of support given to students moving their belongings. The senator spoke with his RAs and according to them, Colonie also flooded three years ago. Back then, “they had vans to help people move out; we were given none of the support when we had to move out.” Paterson requested Rensselaer help students with moving their belongings to Colonie A and then back to B once the Spring semester begins.

The exact cause of the flooding still remains unclear. Grand Marshal Cait Bennett ’23G believed the flooding was due to Troy’s poor infrastructure. Paterson added that from what he knows, the dorm flooded because someone messed with the sprinklers. Li, who concurred with Paterson, was told it was due to someone messing with sprinklers on the upper floors which caused the lower floors to flood.

Class of 2026 Seantor Chris Roe held a presentation on a proposal to allow students to change the name on their student ID to reflect their preferred names. Roe went on to say that many transgender and gender non-conforming students at Rensselaer are forced to be deadnamed, or referred to their name prior to transitioning, on their IDs. Roe then read a quote from a student:

Deadnaming feels like a denial of me, like someone is spitting in my face. Saying that no matter what I do, I will only be seen for who I was forced to be. It makes me hate myself, pointing out all the flaws I still feel. Everything I know is wrong, just reinforced in my mind. Even when I know it's just a slip up or a mistake, it reminds me of all the things I hate. That I will forever be labeled for who I had to be and all it took was a single word.

One of the problems brought up in the presentation was identification from Public Safety. However, Roe reiterated that there are other forms of identifications such as a student’s RIN or a legal identification. He also stated that other universities like Columbia, NYU, Union College, and several SUNY schools allow for students to use a preferred name on some documentation.

Vice Grand Marshal Alexander Patterson ’24 asked if students would be required to pay for the change. Roe responded that there should be a one month grace period, but after that it would make sense for the student to pay. He did elaborate on when that one month grace period would begin. Roe was then asked what his next steps would be if the motion passed, and a possible timeline for the project. In response, he stated he would need to discuss with the Campus Card Office and Student Life and would aim to complete the project as soon as possible.

Fellow Class of 2026 Senator Edward Piontek asked if this proposal would apply to someone who wanted to use a shortened name on their ID. Roe responded that it would. Senators continued to ask questions about the proposal; however, many of the questions focused on specifics that had yet to be fleshed out. The Senate then moved on to voting. The motion to urge the Campus Card Office and Student Life to allow students to use their preferred names on their IDs passed unanimously.

Earlier in the meeting, the Senate approved the appointment of Jacob Fuhr as class of 2025 representative. President of the Union Colleen Corrigan ’23G introduced Fuhr as someone who is “genuinely interested in giving back to the community.” Corrigan went on to say that Fuhr is a “member of many clubs and organizations,” including being a Learning Assistant for first-years, and would bring a “positive perspective” to the Executive Board. Fuhr then introduced himself and stated that he is “really looking forward to getting involved in student government” before fielding questions from the Senate.

Paterson asked Fuhr how he would be able to manage his time since he is involved with multiple activities. Fuhr responded by explaining that although he is very busy, he knows how to manage his time and can attend both E-Board and committee meetings. Bennett followed up by asking, “what are some things that you struggled with that you would change as an executive board representative based on your experience as a club officer?” Fuhr stated that his goal would be to get representatives to engage with their clubs more, learn what clubs want to do, and how E-Board could help. Fuhr’s appointment was approved unanimously.

This Senate meeting was held on November 30. The next Senate meeting is Wednesday at 8pm in the Student Government Suite.