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Excluding members of the RPI community is unacceptable

By Stefanie Warner October 10, 2018

Hello, RPI! I hope you all enjoyed the long weekend. Whether you got the chance to travel home and see family this weekend, took a whole day to catch up on Netflix shows, or went on a hike or another outside adventure, I hope you all had the chance to take a well-deserved break.

Every Monday, the 49th Student Senate holds a general meeting at 8 pm in the Rensselaer Union’s Shelnutt Gallery. This meeting is open to the public, and all members of the Union are welcome to attend. During the last general meeting, the Senate passed two resolutions on topics important to our student body, and I feel they are important to share with you in more depth here. The first resolution aimed to address the recent occurrences of discrimination, in hopes of promoting additional inclusivity across our entire community. The second resolution was a response to the fundamentally flawed and intentionally exclusionary hiring process conducted by the administration for the director of the Union position.

The Student Senate unanimously passed a resolution regarding the continued acts of hate and discrimination on and off campus. It expressed that the Student Senate is “alarmed and disturbed by continued acts of discrimination, hate, and bigotry occurring at RPI,” and the Student Senate resolves “to support any initiatives by groups within RPI with the goal of increasing the safety and inclusion for all members of the RPI community … condemn any and all acts of discrimination and harassment … and reaffirm its dedication to creating an environment guaranteeing equal opportunity, safety, and inclusion.” In addition, an Ad-Hoc Diversity and Inclusion Committee was established for the purpose of “fostering diversity, inclusion, and safety on and off campus.”

As chairperson of the Student Senate, I make it a point to speak as unbiasedly and open-mindedly as possible, though I do believe that the lack of a safe and supportive environment for minority groups is unacceptable. In my own opinion, there is no excuse for making another human being feel inferior or unsafe. RPI is a home for every student, and no student should ever feel threatened or insecure in their own community or home. We’re better than that, RPI. I can’t fathom all of the fear, pressure, or loneliness that some of our fellow students are feeling, but I want to give my best effort to ensure that those students don’t feel voiceless. The Diversity and Inclusion Committee is, and will remain, open to all members of the RPI community.

As for the resolution on the recent hiring process of the director of the Union, President of the Union Justin Etzine and I have shared our dissatisfaction with the lack of genuine student representation in the interview and decision-making process, along with the illicit disregard for policies enacted by the Student Government and the Union Constitution. The resolution expressed that the Student Senate was “dissatisfied with both the recent hiring process for the director of the Union as it has been inconsistent throughout its duration, and with the point to which student involvement was limited.” It also stated that the Student Senate will “continue to examine the hiring process for the director of the Union to ensure any future searches for the director of the Union position include significant and meaningful student involvement.”

If you have any questions, comments, or concerns related to the committee, or any other issues that you would like to bring to the Student Senate’s attention, please do not hesitate to reach out to me at