Student Senate

Senate debates micromobility device concerns

The Student Senate meeting began with a Special Order Presentation from Colette Fishkin ’23 and Gabriel Jacoby-Cooper ’24, who shared their plans to implement handbook changes regarding Electric Vehicles. The pair wants to improve campus safety by addressing Micromobility Device rules and regulations, which refer to vehicles that are electronically powered (like electric scooters) and can oftentimes move faster than the campus speed limit. The planned handbook and action changes included enforcing the campus speed limit, identifying locations where students are required to dismount from their E-Vehicles, and formally stating that indoor riding is prohibited. The Senate discussed additional possibilities like mandating helmets and putting sidewalk stencils up in order to improve on-campus safety.

The presentation was met with much skepticism from the Senate. Graduate Senator Alexander Lutsevich started off what would be an hour-long detailed questioning. He was especially critical of the presentation, zoning in on how these changes would be implemented and what overall issues they addressed. In response, Fishkin and Jacoby-Cooper stated that the changes would apply only to Single Rider Devices and that they will discuss changes with Public Safety to ensure proper safety. The Senate discussed if it was worth putting these changes in the handbook and whether or not students would go along with these changes. Although the presentation provided a description of the desired changes, specific details need to still be hashed out.

The Senate then moved on to discussion, in which the conversation continued over possible student responses to the handbook changes. They discussed mandating helmets, where Lutsevich argued that mandating helmets was not worth it, stating that “We are not high school students, we are adults...that is up to us to make that choice.” Having mandatory training was also discussed. The idea behind the training was generally supported, but Senators were still concerned about the execution if these changes were applied. Senators additionally discussed specifics like requiring statistics of previous accidents and maps of where specific on–campus changes like stencils and markings of required dismounts would occur. However, once asked these questions, Fishkin and Jacoby-Cooper were unable to provide data, prompting previous Grand Marshal Cait Bennett ’23G to speak up. Bennett expressed her frustration with the lack of solidified information or data, calling the presentation “unprepared.” After several straw polls, the queue was closed and the meeting ended shortly after 10pm.

This Student Senate meeting was held on April 12, 2023. The next Senate meeting will be held on Wednesday, April 19 at 8pm in the Shelnutt Gallery.

Editor's Note:

In response to The Polytechnic's coverage of their proposal, Gabriel Jacoby-Cooper '24 and Colette Fishkin '23 stated:

"It’s disappointing that the former Grand Marshal chose to disregard the expressly communicated purpose of the Senate meeting on April 12th. The goal was simply to solicit general ideas from senators about possible micromobility safety policies. The meeting was very successful in achieving that goal, and we presented the senators’ ideas to stakeholders in the Rensselaer administration on April 17th. We then synthesized the ideas into concrete policies, which the Senate overwhelmingly approved on April 26th."