Executive Board

E-Board overwhelming rejects motion to place Rensselaer Voices for Palestine on probation

The Executive Board on Thursday overwhelmingly rejected a motion to place Rensselaer Voices for Palestine on probation. The vote was 2 in favor, 12 against with 1 abstention.

After the Senate approved Gabriel Jacoby-Cooper ’24 as Senate–Executive Board Liaison, his first meeting with the E-Board was a memorable one. Jacoby-Cooper initially brought forth a motion to disband Rensselaer Voices for Palestine for alleged violations of the Rensselaer Union Guidelines and Procedures. The motion was changed to instead put the club on probation since Jacoby-Cooper was referencing an outdated copy of the RUGP when writing the original motion. He referenced the RUGP, stating there is no tolerance for hate-mongering, violence, or discrimination.

RVP approached the E-Board for Union affiliation in February and was aware of the rules regarding offensive content, but Jacoby-Cooper voiced a concern that the club was going against the RUGP. This motion wasn’t on the official agenda but was brought up during the Invitation to Speak section of the meeting. For this reason, the club explained that they were only aware of this that day—the same as the rest of the board. The club added that they do not welcome any forms of hatred and bigotry, but there was a concern that the club hasn’t been strict enough with its policies. Jacoby-Cooper explained that a member had posted a cartoon that depicted the Jewish stereotype of blood libel and that the member self-imposed a first strike, rather than receiving a stricter punishment. The member was in attendance and explained that he was unaware the cartoon contained a Jewish stereotype. He added that the cartoon was meant to criticize Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, US President Joe Biden, and UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. The member also noted that the punishment adheres to the club constitution, which the E-Board approved.

Since affiliation, Jacoby-Cooper referenced more offensive content, which he privately sent to the rest of the E-Board. He also talked about his concern with the clubs affiliation with Jewish Voices for Palestine—an organization that the Anti-Defamation League has deemed anti-semetic. The club explained that they had talked to JVP, but decided not to affiliate. Jacoby-Cooper additionally spoke about the protests with the group SUNY BDS, which, per its website, is not affiliated with the SUNY system or New York State. According to the RUGP, a club cannot have linkage with an outside organization, and he questioned if RVP advertising a SUNY BDS protest counted as “linkage.” The Poly was able to confirm that an individual had posted a link to a protest being held by SUNY BDS in the club’s discord server. However, a representative for RVP told The Poly that they don’t have a relationship with SUNY BDS. He added that comments from that organization advocated for boycotts of Israeli institutions, going against the RUGP for discrimination on national origin. There was little answer from the Board on this specific issue.

RVP members explained that their Discord is meant to be a place of discussion in which people are encouraged to talk, especially if they disagree with each other. The club was frustrated with how this was carried out as they weren’t able to see the content that was being discussed, which Jacoby-Cooper then offered to show RVP executive members. Then, it was noted that the club’s faculty advisor participated in insensitive content. This was later corrected—the faculty member was not the advisor of the club.

To openly discuss the controversial motion, the Board decided to close the meeting to the public. This decision was questioned, but some members of the Board explained they wanted to discuss the matter privately so they could openly share their stance on the motion. In the closed discussion, the motion failed 2-12-1. Once the board reopened the room, there were some inadequate procedures with this motion, mainly surrounding the lack of time and opportunity for the club to defend itself.

The Polytechnic received a statement from RVP:

“We are elated to hear that the Board voted against the probation or dissolution of our club. The Rensselaer Voices for Palestine, since the very beginning, has been pushing to be an open forum for students to speak about the Israeli siege of Palestine. We will use this recent opportunity—however—to strengthen our club further, as well as continue to bring awareness and raise money for those in Gaza who have been affected by the aforementioned conflict. Just one day after the motion, we raised over $1,000 dollars for the Palestinian Children’s Relief Fund during our bake sale. We plan to have another bake sale before the end of the semester, and are in talks with multiple speakers we can invite onto campus to help bring awareness to the humanitarian crisis in Palestine. Finally, we would like to extend an open invitation to all students, regardless of opinion, to our Discord server to help bolster our vision of an open forum of discussion on the conflict. Thank you, and free Palestine.”

As the RVP motion happened during Invitation to Speak, the rest of the meeting also included other club-related motions. The Board started with a few reallocation requests. First, Rensselaer Music Association asked for an additional subsidy loan for a printer and tablecloth, which would be paid back by the unused salaries of directors. The motions to move $500 for a printer and $500 for a tablecloth both passed unanimously. Next, the motion to reallocate $1,000 to UPAC General to host the Union After Dark event at the end of the semester also passed unanimously.

Science Ambassadors then came for Union Recognition. The club, like Engineering Ambassadors, goes to schools to teach kids about science, hoping to inspire more students to enter STEM fields. The E-Board explained to the representatives that if they were to receive recognition, then they could not use outside funding like they did in the past. They were asked if they would still want to proceed with the motion, to which the club responded in the affirmative. However, the board thought they still seemed unsure if they were ready to come for recognition. With the skepticism of their club's standing and small membership, the E-Board unanimously decided to table the motion indefinitely.

The Ultimate Frisbee Club then came for an additional subsidy of $863 to attend the Metro East Division 3 College Men’s Regional Tournament. The men's team qualified for the tournament in Batavia, New York for the weekend of April 26. To cover half of the costs for entry fee, gas, and hotels, the motion to allocate $863 passed unanimously.

Following club motions, there were four confirmations that all passed with an overwhelming majority. Emryn Philogene ’25 as Business Operations Committee Chair, Isabele Lieber ’25 as Club Operations Committee Chair, Kate Goldstein ’26 as Marketing and Strategy Committee Chair, and Faren Thompson ’25 as Multicultural Leadership Council Chair all stepped into their roles that night.

This meeting was held on April 18. E-Board meetings are held on Thursdays at 7 pm in the Shelnutt Gallery.