Student Senate

Senate impeaches two senators, debates Elections Handbook changes

The Senate impeached Greek life senators Shankar Veludandi ’24 and Hannah Tischler ’24. Both senators have failed to attend a Senate meeting in several weeks. The impeachments come after the previous Senate meeting where the senate failed to meet quorum due to a lack of attendance of voting members. As per impeachment procedure, both senators will be given the opportunity to appear at the next Senate meeting to plead their case. The Senate will then vote on whether or not to remove both from the Senate. The motions to impeach both passed with 12 votes in favor and one abstaining.

Under the proposal of the GM Week Elections Handbook by Elections Commission chair Evan Wadley ’23, students who wish to run for Graduate Senator or Graduate Representative would need eight and four nominations, respectively. According to Graduate Senator Alexander Lutsevich, some graduate students, specifically PhD students, tend to struggle to get the necessary nominations since they are focused on their thesis. He then asked Wadley why the required nominations for senators was eight instead of five. In response, Wadley did agree that some graduate students would have an easier time getting nominations than others, such as MBA students. However, since graduate senators represent graduate students as a whole, they should be able to get enough nominations from their constituents.

Wadley also emphasized that graduate students can reduce the number of nominations needed by three by attending a student government meeting and filling out an attendance form. This would mean a graduate student would only need five and one nominations for senator and representative, respectively. Despite Wadley’s comments, Lutsevich was still unhappy with the high nomination requirements and debate continued among the senators for several minutes.

After a five minute recess, Lutsevich motioned to amend the Handbook to lower the nominations needed from eight to six for graduate senators and four to two for graduate representatives. Shortly thereafter, Class of 2024 Senator Austin Jefferson ’24 proposed a change in the amendment that would lower nomination requirements even more. Under this change, the requirements for graduate senators would be five nominations and graduate representatives would be zero nominations. The Senate then approved the amendment, which contained additional unrelated changes, eight to one, with four abstaining.

After passing the amendment, the Senate voted on the motion as a whole to approve the Handbook. The motion passed 11‒0‒2. However, due to the wording of the entire motion, the Elections Commission has to approve all of the changes that were contained in the amendment. If the Elections Commission does not approve the changes, then the Commission will have to present the Handbook again to the Senate.

Along with the Handbook changes, the Senate approved the appointments of Aaryan Bhatt ’25 as E-Board Club and Organization Representative and Raven Levitt ’26 as Member-At-Large Representative.

During the invitation to speak, Philip Paterson ’25 mentioned that the students employed at RenXchange were allegedly laid off and replaced with robots. According to its website, RenXchange is “a calling program that consists of student representatives who serve as liaisons between the Institute and its alumni, alumnae, parents, and the community.” The goal is to raise awareness about Rensselear’s Annual Fund and other fundraising events and initiatives. The Poly reached out to Institute Advancement for comment:

There were no layoffs. We [Institute Advancement] signed a contract with Ruffalo Noel Levitz (RNL) to upgrade our calling program software effective January 1 because our existing contract was expiring. When we returned from break after the New Year, we finalized the arrangement for continued employment for our current group of student workers, which was our priority. During the transition period (January 1 through June 30), our student workers are employed through RNL as opposed to RPI. This allows them to keep working while the system is being developed. They have guaranteed employment at the same rate of pay with flexible hours. The student workers were asked to complete a form as a formality to get into the RNL system. Once the system implementation is complete, the anticipated plan is to resume in-person calling for the Fall 2023 semester. This information was communicated to the student workers at the start of the semester.

This Student Senate meeting was held on February 1. The next Senate meeting will be held Wednesday, February 8 at 8 pm in the Shelnutt Gallery.