Retain Student Control Over the Rensselaer Union
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On September 27, 2017, Chairman of the RPI Board of Trustees, Arthur F. Golden '66, J.D., sent a message to the RPI community.
Following three unsuccessful attempts, beginning in 2016, to remove student control from the historic Rensselaer Student Union, Arthur F. Golden informed the RPI community that RPI President, the Honorable Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson, Ph.D., had been granted the sole authority with respect to "...any decisions on the hiring, formal reporting line, removal, and other terms and conditions of employment of the Director of the Union," effectively disregarding any power the Rensselaer Union Constitution and Student Government once had. Students were not consulted about these changes.
For the first time in 127 years, the successfully student-run Rensselaer Union has ceased to be operated by students. Yes, the building is still there, the clubs, organizations, and intramural sports still exist, services like banking and dining remain operational, and study spaces and meeting rooms are available, but the student experience will soon become a shell of what it once was. There will be no more freedom, no more meaningful choices, no more risk-taking opportunities like starting a club or hosting a specific event, no real say in what matters.
The student experience born from a student-run union and treasured by so many RPI alumni and students may soon no longer exist. Students will not have the power or control to shape the present and future of their Union.
The RPI community must unite and fight before our beloved cornerstone of the student experience is lost forever! Please sign and share this petition if you disagree with the Board of Trustees’ recent decisions to give Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson unilateral control over the Director of the Union position and to allow the Union Constitution and 127 years of Rensselaer Union tradition to be trampled.
Let’s send the RPI Administration and Dr. Jackson a collective message of our own: our unwavering support of a student-run Rensselaer Union.
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- Chairman of the RPI Board of Trustees
Arthur F. Golden, '66
- President of RPI Alumni Assoc. Board of Trustees
Kareem I. Muhammad ’01
I write this letter today to express my disappointment in the RPI administration for taking steps to remove power from the Student Senate and the Union Executive Board. For 125 years, the Union has been a home away from home—a place for relaxation, fitness, fun, and camaraderie. Union members pride themselves on the level of autonomy they have, which provides ample opportunity for learning in the fields of finance, management, and social communication. Many of the topics learned by participating in the Union cannot be learned in a classroom.
In fact, the Rensselaer Union closely aligns with the goals of the CLASS initiative, and the Institute has cited its organizations as part of personal development, cultural development, and communiversity. Bear in mind that the student-led Union is what the Insitute cited, not an administration-led one.
I stand with my classmates and colleagues in calling for the Rensselaer Union to remain a student-run institution.
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