Enforcement of policy due to coronavirus frustrating

By Caitlin Kennedy March 4, 2020

As I am sure you have noticed, in the last few weeks, the school has been updating us about the flu and coronavirus and the measures they are taking to ensure students are safe on campus. I believe that it is important that we, as a school, do everything we can to keep students and staff safe and healthy. However, there were some issues with how many of these policies were implemented. 

To begin, there was never any formal communication of what these policies were. It was later discovered that events were being vetted through Student Activities in collaboration with Executive Director for Health and Wellness Leslie Lawrence. However, clubs were only notified when their events were affected. It was also brought to my attention that club events were postponed or canceled with little notice or explanation. This is not okay. We quickly began reaching out to administrators to understand what was going on and why we were not notified of these policies. 

Grand Marshal Meagan Lettko ’20 and I met with Vice President for Student Life Peter Konwerski to address many of these issues earlier this week. He was made aware of how it was affecting clubs and we expressed our concern that no information was given to us while this was happening. He quickly acknowledged that mistakes were made during the implementation and how intention and action can sometimes come across differently. Our biggest issue was that these policies were not applied universally to all campus events. Club events were heavily affected, but the career fair, Big Red Freakout, and admissions tours continued without disruption. Understandably, this was very frustrating. Konwerski acknowledged these discrepancies and apologized. 

As vice president for student life, Konwerski’s main focus is students and student events, and there was a lack of communication between departments on campus for how to enforce these policies. He attended the Multicultural Leadership Council’s meeting this past week to give some of the clubs the opportunity to share their story and how it negatively affected them. 

At this point, all we can do is explain the mistakes that were made and offer suggestions as to how to avoid situations like these in the future. We have been continuously telling the administration that we, as students, want a seat at the table. At Rensselaer, we are trained to be rational, intelligent people and we want the chance to use these learned skills. We may have different perspectives on many of these policies. If we were told of these updates as they occurred and were implemented, we could have pointed out the inconsistencies across campus. In the future, I urge administrators to inform students and give us the voice we deserve. 

I applaud the clubs that were affected and thank them for complying to these restrictions, even if they were poorly communicated. They cooperated because we, as students, understand the need for safety. We care for each other and will do what it takes to protect our community. With that said, we need to speak up when we recognize something is wrong. If you or your club has any issues or experienced something you didn’t think was right, I urge you to reach out to me at We are stronger together! As a final note, be sure to protect yourself and get the flu shot—stay healthy RPI!