Student Senate

Senate discusses RA Union

Shankar Veludandi ’24 and Hannah Tischler ’24 were removed from their positions within the Student Senate. Veludandi and Tischler failed to attend many Senate meetings, including this one, resulting in their removal as Greek senators. This absence yield a mixed result for the Senate. Since there are two fewer members, the quorum required for voting procedures dropped to 11, which benefits the Senate since recent meetings have struggled to reach quorum. However, the Senate is severely lacking Greek representation, now without their Interfraternity and Panhellenic Senators.

Next, Elections Commission chair Evan Wadley ’23 presented in front of the Senate again to reapprove the changes to the Student Handbook. Although Senators approved the Handbook last week, the original changes were not approved internally by the Elections Commission after amendments were made, the Handbook needed to be approved in its entirety. The new handbook changes proposed that the required nominations for Graduate Senator and Graduate Representative be six and three, respectively. Attending a Student Government meeting would count for three nominations, decreasing the requirements to three and zero. The Senators unanimously voted to approve the handbook.

Recently, a motion for Resident Assistants to unionize had gained traction. The RA Union brought a proposal to the Senate to be endorsed for their unionization effort. The RAs voiced their concern over their working conditions, amount of responsibilities, and lack of fair compensation. Overall, the RA Union believes they need better support systems for their physical, financial, and mental health. Specific details were added that showed how they are “put in dangerous situations that threaten their own safety and the safety of their residents,” such as being asked to stand in negative-degree weather for two hours and unknowingly being exposed to COVID-19. One RA noted the motion’s 75% approval rating among RAs in his testimony, and he believed it may be higher and that some are afraid to show their support, fearing the repercussions of union-busting tactics.

Due to right to work laws, RAs would not be required to join the union, if it is recognized. Unions are often not recognized initially, and Grand Marshal Cait Bennett ’23G pulled up an article from the National Labor Relations Board that said it takes 409 days on average to gain recognition.

The Senate held prolonged conversations about whether their intervention would benefit the RA Union in being recognized by the institute. Philip Paterson ’25, Adrian Alicea Roman ’23G, and Julie Barringer ’23G fielded questions from the senators on the motion and unionization in general. Gabriel Jacoby-Cooper ’24 asked Barringer, who voiced strong support for the motion, if the Senate’s support would hold any weight. Barringer responded, “Yes, I believe that the administration is more likely to willingly acknowledge the union and less likely to engage in union-busting if they believe the student body supports the union, which is the role the Student Senate serves.” Eventually, Vice Grand Marshal Alexander Patterson ’23 noted that no administrators were present and that it may be beneficial to wait to further discuss the unionizing efforts until one was available. Most senators agreed, and the Senate voted 9-3-0 to table the topic until their next meeting. After committee reports and an invitation to speak, the meeting was closed.

This Student Senate meeting was held on February 8. The next meeting will be held Wednesday, February 15 at 8 pm in the Shelnutt Gallery.

Correction: March 1, 2023

An earlier version of this article had the wrong graduation year for Gabriel Jacoby-Cooper. Moreover, an ambiguity in the article implied that the RAs went to the Senate looking for approval to unionize, not for endorsement. This has been corrected to say the RA Union went to the Senate to be endorsed for their unionization effort. The Polytechnic apologizes for this error.