Class of 2023 and Class of 2024 Councils announce joint town hall

By Ria Massoni, Harshil Patel, Kamilia Nicolas, Kailey Swanson January 8, 2021

This semester, there has been a pervasive lack of communication between students and Rensselaer administrators regarding the procedures and policies put in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In response, the Class of 2023 and 2024 Councils are hosting two student-led town hall events: one for remote students on Sunday, January 17 at 3 pm EST and one for residential students on Monday, January 18 at 3 pm EST. We intend to share students’ experiences and information we received from administrators on student living and learning.

Students can share their questions anonymously to members of the two councils through this Google Form. Neither town hall will be sponsored by the Institute and questions will be answered with the information the Class of 2023 and 2024 Councils have accumulated through meetings with the administrators. Our goal is to address as many of your questions and concerns about clubs and activities, meal plans, on-campus dining, and remote learning requests as possible.

The meetings are open to everyone but are intended to especially benefit students from the Class of 2023 and Class of 2024. Both town halls will be hosted on Webex Events and streamed live through YouTube, which will be made accessible in this Flowpage. A recording will be made available later that day, accessible on the aforementioned Flowpage.

Early on in the Fall semester, the Class of 2023 Council hosted a Financial Aid and Tuition Town Hall, formed a Housing Committee, and created an Online Committee to address other matters pertinent to the sophomore class. While the formation of the Housing Committee was prompted by issues regarding remote learning requests and Rensselaer-affiliated leasing policies, the Online Committee was tasked with connecting with the Sophomore Learning Assistant Staff to create digital study spaces for fundamental sophomore courses on Discord.

Meanwhile, RPI’s stringent COVID-19 policies limited opportunities to connect with others on campus, leaving the freshman class feeling isolated throughout the fall semester. The majority of freshman classes, campus clubs, and activities operated virtually. As a result, many freshmen were unable to make friends on campus and spent the semester alone in their dorm rooms. In November, the Class of 2023 and 2024 Councils began to work together to address student concerns.

In early December, the freshman and sophomore officers reached out to the housing administrators and scheduled separate meetings. After presenting insight into the Class of 2024’s mental health concerns, the Class of 2024 Council were offered minimal support outside of condolences. Since then, the information discrepancy between students and the administration has only grown. For example, it has taken four weeks to receive a response from the housing administration to answer our follow-up questions from the aforementioned meetings. Throughout these four weeks, administrators provided limited information about the housing application and the process to apply for remote learning, despite multiple emails from the Class of 2023 and 2024 Councils. Strained relationships have manifested without consistent communication between student government and administrators, leaving students struggling to find information about the upcoming Spring semester.

Students still do not know when they will be assigned dates to move-in. In addition, many sophomores have lingering questions about how campus life has changed, but the administration has yet to address this. Our proposal of including student leaders in the Student Panel and Q&A: Living on Campus Panel was turned down. As such, the Class of 2023 and 2024 Councils decided to host these two town halls to share the limited information we do have and to relay the Class of 2024’s stories about living on campus during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Remote Students - January 17

During the first town hall, sophomores, juniors, and seniors will share advice and tips from their experiences being remote for a full semester. In addition, lingering questions about remote learning and the remote learning application process will be answered to the best of our ability.

Residential Students - January 18

In the second town hall, we will share details related to return-to-campus and on-campus living and relevant personal experiences. Additional questions about required applications, such as Percipio and the Daily Interactions & Activities Log (DIAL) will be addressed.

If you have any further questions about either event, please feel free to email the Class of 2023 President Harshil Patel ’23 (patelh5@rpi.edu) or the Class of 2024 President Kamilia Nicolas ’24 (nicolk@rpi.edu).