Student Senate

Senate approves changes to Good Samaritan Policy

The changes to the Rensselaer Handbook are not currently in effect. They must be approved by President Martin A. Schmidt ’81 before they go into effect.

Director for Student Rights, Responsibilities, and Conduct Samantha Tymchyn and Associate Vice President and Dean of Students Travis Apgar presented changes to the Rensselaer Handbook of Student Rights and Responsibilities. The proposed changes were to the following sections: Institute Regulations on Alcohol, Specific Area Policies for Alcohol, Rensselaer Good Samaritan Policy, Interim Suspensions, Judicial Inquiry & Appeals, and Exotic Dancers.

In the Institute Regulations on Alcohol section, the proposed changes would allow for more flexibility in punishments if a student organization serves “alcohol to an underage individual at any Institute or group sanctioned or sponsored activity.” Instead of the student organization being immediately suspended for two years, the hearing officer will have the ability to apply appropriate sanctions based on the details of the incident. However, the two year suspension will still be an option. In the Specific Area Policies for Alcohol section, most of the edits were slight wording changes. During the discussion period, Elections Commission chair Evan Wadley ’23 questioned why the qualifying factors for when the Specific Area policy applies does not include percentages or more specific language. Tymchyn responded that she did not want to have a situation where one small factor could tip the scale one way or another.

Tymchyn then introduced an update to the Good Samaritan Policy for student organizations. According to Tymchyn, she had received feedback that people “were worried about being in trouble or what consequences they might endure.” She emphasized that there will only be non-punitive action, such as a risk management course, when the Good Samaritan Policy is applicable. Apgar later stated that the new Good Samaritan Policy would supersede all other policies, adding that “people were not reading the [current] policy and [didn't think] their judicial consequences would be mitigated.”

The Senate then voted on approving the changes to the Alcohol and Other Drug Policy in the handbook. The motion passed unanimously.

There were also changes to the Judicial Process. Starting with the Interim Suspensions Policy, the current version lacks details about the process and does not inform students of their rights. It also includes the ability for a student to appeal the interim suspension and return to campus while the judicial inquiry takes place. In the Judicial Inquiry and Appeals Policy, most of the edits updated language to provide more clarity. Changes to the Exotic Dancers policy were also minimal, mainly relating to clarification.

The motion to approve changes to the Judicial Process Policy in the student handbook was passed unanimously.

Tymchyn also stated that after approval from President Martin A. Schmidt ’81, the changes are expected to go into effect by April 1. A rough scan of the packet containing the proposed changes can be found here.

This Senate meeting was held on March 1. The next meeting will be held Wednesday, March 15 at 8 pm in the Shelnutt Gallery.