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Board of Trustees updated on Senate initiatives

By Stefanie Warner October 3, 2018

Hi, RPI! I hope you all enjoyed Reunion & Homecoming Weekend. On Friday, September 28, the Board of Trustees and the Student Life Committee held a meeting. President of the Union Justin Etzine ’18 and I were invited to give the Board of Trustees an update on Executive Board and Student Senate initiatives and happenings. In the presentation on the Student Senate, I talked about committee initiatives, supporting Rensselaer traditions, the Elections Reform Task Force, the Greek Life Task Force, and the director of the Union. 

In terms of committee initiatives, I talked about how multiple student groups have been working together to produce a unified student events calendar. Numerous committees are collaborating to produce a common listing of activities for students to benefit from ongoing events and happenings in the area—both on campus and in Downtown Troy. In addition, I talked about the work that the Facilities and Services Committee has been doing with the Department of Public Safety. FSC will continue to collaborate with the Department of Public Safety on participation in active shooter training, adoption of the Rave Guardian app, and other initiatives to benefit student safety both on and off campus.

As for supporting RPI traditions, it is my hope that we are able to create a better timeline for planning annual events in order to increase student awareness and participation. For instance, in light of this year’s Hockey Line, I will be starting to plan next year’s event at the beginning of the spring semester, rather than at the start of the fall semester in order to create a more robust event to celebrate the RPI men’s and women’s hockey teams. In the same vein, the Student Senate plans to provide food, drinks, or giveaways at athletic events throughout the year. This effort aims to help increase participation. 

In discussion about the Elections Reform Task Force, I had mentioned that the Institute’s external auditor conducted an audit of the student elections process this summer. This audit was conducted despite a vote against the audit by the Elections Reform Task Force. Once realizing that the audit would still occur, the task force expressed the necessity of the task force in all aspects of the audit process, and stressed that the task force is the only body that can address the auditor’s report after review. The auditor’s report will be available to the task force on Thursday, October 4, and at that time the task force will be able to review the report and make information public to the student body. 

The Student Senate plans to support Greek life in light of the issues it has been facing. Last Monday, September 24, Vice President for Information Services and Technology and Chief Information Officer and Chairman of the Greek Life Task Force John Kolb briefed the Student Senate on the recent happenings of the task force. While the Student Senate plans to continue to be involved in the efforts and dialogue of the task force, our support will focus on the philanthropic efforts of the Greek community. The Greek community has undoubtedly contributed to the betterment of the RPI and national community through their philanthropic efforts, and the Student Senate will continue to support their efforts in any way appropriate.  

Lastly, I touched upon the hiring of the new director of the Union, Charlie Potts. The Executive Board and the Student Senate have both had the opportunity to meet Dr. Potts upon his arrival to campus. Despite our concerns, we have conveyed our willingness and readiness to collaborate and work with Dr. Potts towards our common interest in the Rensselaer Union, and in the best interests of our peers and constituents—the student body.

I will be sure to keep you all updated as these initiatives and happenings progress. As always, please feel free to reach out to me at with any questions, comments, or concerns.