E-Board honors Union donor, Young Democratic Socialists of America gets affiliated
The Executive Board started off their weekly meeting by honoring Jon Kessler ’79, ’82G, who pledged to donate $1 million to the Union over the next five years. Kessler, who attended via WebEx, stated that he “wanted to direct it specifically to the Union rather than dump it to the general fund where it would be kinda lost amongst everybody else's contributions.” He went on to say “it is very, very important in my mind that the students have some kind of outlet rather than only concentrating on academics.” Kessler also hopes that the Union is able to "regain the independence” it had back when he was a student.
Kessler then fielded questions from the roughly 50 individuals packed into the Shelnutt Gallery. When asked how he wants to see the money used, Kessler responded that it was entirely up to the Union. He added that he would prefer that the annual activity fee—which funds the Union, clubs, Mueller Center, and more—not be raised so that the Union could plan in the long-term. Kessler was then asked how students should work with Rensselaer’s administration to regain the power lost in prior administrations. He replied that the best course of action was not to be confrontational and to show mutual respect with the administration stating, “they will respect you if you respect them.”
After Kessler fielded a few more questions, the E-Board moved to formally honor Kessler’s donation and his achievements at RPI. Before the motion could be voted on, there was a minor commotion on the location of some commas in the motion. Following a one-minute discussion, the motion was approved unanimously. After taking a group photo with Kessler and a five-minute recess, the E-Board proceeded with their usual business.
American Club Hockey Association Hockey was first on the slate. The team submitted a subsidy request seeking funding to pay for an additional referee per game, in accordance with new ACHA guidelines. The additional referee would cost $138 for 12 games, totalling $1,656. The subsidy request was approved unanimously.
Next up was RPI Dance Team, which was seeking approval for two fundraising ventures, one for tabling and one for Double Good Popcorn. The latter is an online pop-up that handles the purchase and distribution of gourmet popcorn while RPI Dance distributes a link and receives a cut of the sales. Both fundraisers would be used to purchase new equipment for the team such as uniforms and gear along with paying to attend nationals. The motions to approve both fundraisers passed unanimously.
The Young Democratic Socialists of America was up next. YDSA approached the E-Board for the third time looking for Union recognition after failing to gain recognition in March 2023 and September 2022. YDSA aims to create a safe space for students to share ideas and educate the public on political matters. The club also has a faculty advisor and the club’s leaders stated that YDSA is not explicitly a space for debate and it is not a debate club. They also emphasized that the club does not have a specific ideological alignment and they do not require members to follow certain ideological camps. The E-Board then discussed amongst themselves if they should approve the affiliation. Some members had concerns over using YDSA branding since it is a national organization; those concerns were eventually resolved. The Board then approved the club affiliation, 13–1–1, the only motion of the night to not pass unanimously.
The Rensselaer Philosophy Society was then up, also seeking club affiliation. The club holds meetings every Saturday where they discuss whatever topics they want. Prior topics include philosophy of beauty, duty and moral to vote, and vegetarianism. Oddly enough, in contrast to YDSA which had just been approved, RPS is explicitly a place for debate. The club affiliation was approved unanimously.
The final topic of the night was sunsetting four clubs. All of these clubs failed to contact their Union representative or Student Activities Resource Person. They also failed to show up to the Activities Fair or financial workshop. The four clubs were Conversation Corner and Mandarin Club, Isshinryu Karate Club, Juggling Club, and Kung Fu Club. The motions to sunset each of the clubs were all passed unanimously.
This Executive Board meeting was held on September 28. The next E-Board meeting is Thursday, October 5 at 7 pm in the Shelnutt Gallery.