In an email to the Rensselaer community today, Executive Director of the Health Center Dr. Leslie Lawrence reported that “We have had 15 cases in the past seven days. At this pace, we will soon reach Trigger Level 1, unless something changes dramatically.” Trigger Level 1 requires a two week lockdown and will be instituted when there are over 30 confirmed COVID-19 cases within a rolling two-week period, according to the University Pandemic Protocols.
The Rensselaer Union Executive Board voted to reduce Union building hours to ease the burden on staff until student building managers are approved by the Institute.
During the Executive Board meeting on January 26, Siddhi Balamurali ’23 stepped down as Executive Board Secretary, and Mia Lin ’23 was unanimously appointed as Club Operations Committee Chair to replace Cassidy Schultz ’21. Dr. Potts stated that the Mueller Center will not be opening along with the Union.
The Student Senate confirmed the appointment of Rhea Banerjee ’22 as the new Undergraduate Council President on January 27. Banerjee is succeeding Evan Lazaro, who graduated last semester. This follows from Scott Schwartz ’23 stepping down from his position as the Undergraduate Council Vice President.
After an announcement moving the start of the semester to January 25, the new Academic Calendar has updated Spring finals dates, with no change to the start of the Summer semester or Commencement.
An email from Strategic Communications and External Relations announced that the start of the Spring semester will be delayed by a week to January 25, with no specification on the end date of the semester. The email explains that students will return to campus between January 22 and January 24, and that students who will be living on-campus will be contacted with specific arrival dates and times during the week of January 4.
On Tuesday night, students were notified that previous emails approving their remote learning requests for the upcoming Spring semester were sent “in error,” and that the actual decision regarding remote learning requests would be communicated by December 18, one week after the on-campus housing application deadline. This announcement sparked outrage in the student body and a joint email by student leaders condemning the action.
The Student Senate approved a motion to recommend the Institute to consider a tuition freeze for the fiscal year 2021-2022 and for the Rensselaer to make budget information regarding COVID-19 to become public during the Student Senate meeting held on October 27.
In an email to the Rensselaer community, President Shirley Ann Jackson announced plans for the Spring semester. Freshmen, sophomores, and seniors will return to campus, with freshmen and sophomores living in on-campus housing. According to Jackson, this will cause “some increase in on-campus housing density.” All seniors will live off-campus and still follow the Fall semester density standards which include having two people per bathroom. Students will also not be allowed to live in Greek houses. Additionally, all winter sports, including hockey, are cancelled.
The Office of Student Living and Learning shared instructions about moving out for the remainder of the semester before Thanksgiving break and information for students remaining on-campus.
In May, the U.S. Department of Education enacted new Title IX regulations, changing the obligations for campuses across the United States. Rensselaer’s implementation of the new federal and NYS guidelines was emailed to RPI students on August 14. RPI’s Sexual Misconduct Policy and Procedures details cross-examination procedures, expands on the possibility of the removal of sexual misconduct from a student’s transcript, and extends the investigation time frame guideline from 60 to 90 days.
Kamilia Nicolas has been elected Class of 2024 President, and Ria Massoni has been elected to the role of Class of 2024 Vice President. 349 out of 1464 freshmen voted, an increase of 97 votes compared to last year.
The Union Programs and Activities Committee and Election Commission have outlined a plan for students to receive their mugs for voting in the Grand Marshal Week 2020 elections. On-campus students can pick up their mugs in the Union Admin Office whenever the Rensselaer Union is open. Students who can not physically pick up the mugs are planned to have their mugs shipped to them.
President Shirley Ann Jackson revealed updates to the University Pandemic Protocol trigger levels during the Fall Town Meeting. Now, trigger level one will be enacted after there are more than 30 confirmed COVID cases in two weeks, resulting in an immediate switch to remote instruction. When the amount of confirmed cases exceed Rensselaer’s ability to isolate and quarantine students, the updated trigger level two will be implemented. With the activation of trigger level two, the semester will be extended by a week, and students must vacate campus within 72 hours and continue the semester online.
Spring semester plans—including housing for sophomores and spring sports—will be announced after the Institute transitions to remote operations over the Thanksgiving break. President Shirley Ann Jackson explained that Rensselaer plans to assess what needs to be done for the Spring semester in context of the Fall semester and “the overall public health situation.”
Two clubs on campus became Union-recognized at the Executive Board meeting on September 23. Additionally, the E-Board made a decision allowing funds for in person events to be reallocated to virtual events, given that they meet Institute guidelines.
Severe thunderstorms over the Northeast region of the United States have left many Rensselaer students without power.
In an email to the student body, Assistant Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students Travis Apgar announced that if a student misses two COVID tests at any point during the semester they will be required to go remote for the remainder of the Fall semester. Students who are living on-campus “will be immediately removed” with no refund on room and board.
The Union Executive Board unanimously passed a motion on September 16 allowing clubs to decide if they will collect dues this fall. If a club does not collect fall dues, the motion prevents the club from asking the E-Board during the Spring semester for any additional funding on programs in the club’s initial budget.
The Executive Board has passed a blanket approval on a list of virtual activities for clubs this fall. Activities included under the blanket approval are virtual events, including trivia nights, escape rooms, lectures, training, cooking events, crafting, and movie nights.
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s COVID-19 testing dashboard has been recently updated to reflect a new positive test. This has been confirmed by a Rensselaer County Facebook post.
NSBE and SHPE will be hosting its first virtual career fair on September 25 and 26 from 11 am to 5 pm on the platform Brazen. According to the fair's co-director Galiea Overa, Brazen was chosen as it has extensive resources available to recruiters and students and its overall user experience.
This year, the changes made to Rensselaer’s Handbook of Student Rights and Responsibilities reflect challenges and conversations raised by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and RPI's Title IX policies were changed to follow federal guidelines set by United States Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.
Rensselaer switched career management systems from Joblink to Handshake on July 1. Handshake could provide more variety in professional opportunities for students, says the Rensselaer Center for Career and Professional Development.