Staff Editorial

Our Union no longer student-run

By The Polytechnic Editorial Board September 5, 2018

Just over two years ago, the Editorial Board wrote, “Our Union is unique; it’s completely student run.” After the events of the past year, this is no longer the case.

The Board of Trustees declared that the Union Constitution is “unapproved” in any case where the president’s authority could be challenged by Student Government.

Rensselaer refused to grant permission for students to protest changes to the Union during its Transformative capital campaign launch event and erected a fence in an attempt to keep them away from donors.

President Shirley Ann Jackson appointed a director of the Union without an Executive Board vote, in a remarkably tone-deaf display of her failure to build consensus across the RPI community.

Individually, these events are missteps that the trustees and administration could learn from. Together, they are a prolonged effort to subvert student autonomy, remove students from decisions that affect us, and reduce our stake in our university.

We wrote in 2016, “Our Executive Board, full of student leaders, has the ultimate decision making power for Union-related business. We have the power in the Union, and that’s the reason so many of us spend countless hours involved in the place.” Now that this is no longer true, RPI’s once-unique Union has become like most other student unions in the United States. The Institute has lost one of its most distinguishing features. Students have gained nothing in return.

Director of the Union Charlie Potts: you are in the unenviable position of being appointed to advise a Union that was deprived of its power to vote to welcome you. We can only hope that you do what you can to put the power back where it belongs—with the students.