Provost working for student life improvements
With no new business, Grand Marshal Ben Viner ’24 began the Student Senate meeting with his reports. He first informed the board that Vice President for Student Life Peter Konwerski is stepping down at the end of this academic year. His future plans and reasoning for leaving remains unknown.
Viner then stated that the Student Life office is moving into the Provost office in the Rensselaer Union. He spoke about recent accomplishments of the Provost, Rebecca W. Doerge, specifically highlighting new changes to the absence policy. Currently, students do not need an excused absence if they are sick and should discuss attendance one-on-one with professors. Doerge's work on academics is very connected to student life and mental health, so the office of student life has moved into her office. Doerge is working on various projects, including lowering textbook costs and improved academic resources for students.
Hospitality Services Advisory Committee Chair Chris Roe ’26 later spoke about recent projects with Director of Auxiliary, Parking and Transportation Michael Ramella. The committee and the RPI administration are working on dietary training for staff and a dining quality of life project, which will involve adjusting dining hours, adding new machines, and fixing broken machines in the dining halls.
After committee reports, Graduate President Alexander Lutsevich brought up remarks from Jon Kessler ’79, ’82G, who spoke at last week's Executive Board meeting. Kessler informed the board of old traditions to have frequent guest speakers at Rensselaer, which Lutsevich encouraged. In discussion, they thought that the Undergraduate and Graduate Councils would be more equipped to run those events. Undergraduate Council Liaison Miles Thomas ’26 liked the idea, but the Senate was unsure if an event like this would fall under the jurisdiction of the councils or UPAC.
Lastly, Ramond Lin '24 started the discussion raising concerns of illness and encouraged students to wear a mask. This led Gabriel Jacoby-Cooper ‘24 to remind the board that RPI is providing free flu shots for students. The Student Health Center had also made a warning about the spread of hand, foot, and mouth disease, advising everyone to wash hands and wear a mask.
This Senate meeting was held on October 2. The next Senate meeting will be held on Monday, October 16 at 8 pm in the Shelnutt Gallery.