Joint Top Hat & Derby

Search for director lacks student involvement

By Justin Etzine and Stef Warner May 2, 2018

As many of you know, last fall’s hiring process for the director of the Union was reconstituted. The administration has acknowledged their failure to communicate and made a number of commitments to increase student involvement in a reconstituted, student-driven search for our next director.

In November, vice presidents Curtis Powell and LeNorman Strong made several promises to student leaders to ensure that this reconstituted process consists of ample student involvement. These promises included allowing students to edit the job description and performance management tool, screen the resumes of candidates, participate in candidate phone interviews, select finalists to bring to campus for in-person interviews, and participate in different interview groups in addition to—not instead of—a dedicated student interview group session.

The administration has since reconstituted the search, and none of these promises have been fulfilled. When the interim chairman of the student interview committee brought attention to these failures, Powell simply dismissed him from participating in the search and made several unsupported, libelous claims to a large group of students, rather than address the issues raised.

In March, Powell described the redesigned format to student leaders. He explained that the new search will not include a student interview with director of the Union candidates, but rather will include two students on each panel of administrators and campus constituency groups. This conflicts with the promises made in November. The greatest flaw in the previous search was the lack of meaningful student involvement. The new search process, alarmingly, only further serves to remove even more student participation from the process. Not only has the administration failed to incorporate the promised additional student involvement, but it has also removed aspects which already existed.

Most shockingly, the grand marshal, the elected representative of the student body, was excluded from participating in interviews, and the administration only subsequently included her after her omission was contested. Even still, students of diverse backgrounds selected by student leadership have been excluded. Students elected student representatives to make decisions that align with their interests and priorities; Student Government plays an important role in representing, and advocating for, the students. For this process to succeed, Student Government must play a central and welcomed role. Furthermore, funding for the director of the Union comes from student Activity Fee money. Given this, we do not believe it would be appropriate or responsible to fund a position hired without ample student involvement and formalized support of the Executive Board.

We remain committed to hiring the best possible director of the Union, and are determined to do so through a fair process with sufficient student involvement and respect for the traditions of our beloved Rensselaer Union.

On a different note, as we begin wrapping up the semester, we thank you for a fantastic year and wish you all an enjoyable and exciting summer! If you have any questions, comments, or just want to say hello, feel free to reach out to us via email at and at any time!