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Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

Student Life Committee Meeting - December 2016

From the President's Desk

Re: Student Life Committee Meeting - December 2016

Student Life Committee Meeting
Friday, December 2, 2016
11:00 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.
Fischbach Room
Folsom Library

Trustees Present

Neal Barton John Carr
Janet Rutledge
Daniel Pickett, III
Nancy Mueller
Ronald Zlatoper
George Campbell, Jr.
Wanda Denson-Low
Mark Little
Arthur Golden, Chair
Curtis Priem
Shirley Ann Jackson, President, Ex-officio

Staff Present

Craig Cook
Frank E. Ross, III
Richie Hunter
Stanley Dunn
John Tichy
Lee McElroy
Claude Rounds
Jon Wexler
Linda Schadler

Students Present

Samantha Bliss
Paul Ilori
Jen Church
Claire Lukasiewicz
Chip Kirchner

Review/Approval of Minutes

The meeting was called to order at 11:05 a.m.
The minutes for the October 2016 Student Life Committee meeting were approved as distributed.

Trustee Golden announced that his term as Chair of the Student Life Committee was ending and Trustee Campbell would be assuming leadership as Chair of the Student Life Committee in January 2017.

Campus Climate Presentation

Frank E. Ross III, Vice President for Student Life

  • Campus climate is focused on/determined by the current attitudes, behaviors and standards of faculty, staff, administrators and students concerning the level of respect for individual needs, abilities and potential. It includes perceptions and feeling about belonging/ inclusion.
  • Numerous studies have concluded that how students experience their campus environment influences both learning and developmental outcomes, and that discriminatory environments have a negative effect on student learning.
  • Research supports the value of a diverse student body and faculty on enhancing learning outcomes.
  • Students thrive in healthy environments, free of the negativity of discrimination, where inclusion and respect for diversity is the norm across campus.
  • Ross shared data from the administration of a campus climate survey, including open ended responses.
  • Next steps for Student Life includes: an African American Male Success research project and qualitative research with undergraduate students that will shape FY18 performance planning. Additional research will allow us to gain understanding of the ways that diverse students experience Rensselaer. Based on this inquiry we will develop specific recommendations for both short-term and long-term strategies Student Life can implement through CLASS that will enhance the campus climate.

Questions and discussion items included:

  • What is the purpose of a university?
  • The President announced that we will have a campus-wide discussion on campus climate and how to optimize the beneficial environment for students. The intent is to form a task force to include students, faculty, and staff. The President asked students to send her ideas on this.
  • It was noted that many graduate students would like to participate in this process, and this is an exciting opportunity for the campus.

Graduate Council Presentation

Jennifer Church, Graduate Council President

  • The Graduate Council serves as the representative body for graduate students, goes beyond social programming, and collaborates to improve graduate student life and professional development through workshops and events.
  • The Graduate Council held a town hall meeting on October 25, 2016 to discuss health insurance for dependents, development of a workshop for TA training, Summer Arch and its implication for graduate students, and interdisciplinary communication and socialization.
  • Graduate Council initiatives include developing a formal networking event with local companies and organizations, focusing on workshops and teaching opportunities to prepare graduate students for academia and roles as educators, and expanding leadership opportunities for graduate students through programs like the Graduate Research Symposium.

Questions and discussion items included:

  • Thanked President and the Board for increasing the graduate stipend
  • Great collaboration with the Graduate Class Dean
  • Impact of SA – Impact on summer teaching schedule
  • Suggest to add communication skills – important in the real world and the "three minute thesis" is one strategy
  • The topic of support from the administration was raised, and it was reported that the Graduate Class Dean provides tremendous support and there is assistance with event planning.

Student Leader Presentations

Chip Kirchner '17, President of the Union

  • The Union is working on increasing study spaces. They are completing the first of several space revitalizations in the Union.
  • Moving forward the Union will focus on larger spaces (50-100 seats), promotion and availability, and better utilization of existing spaces.
  • The Union is involved with Bystander Intervention (BI) Training. "Enough is Enough" legislation passed in New York State, and this requires training programs for students. The goal is for the Student Health Center to train all club officers this year. The Executive Board is requiring all clubs to meet training requirements, developing software to track officer training year to year, and providing this information to clubs and the Student Health Center.
  • Goals for spring 2017 include: continuing to increase multiuse spaces for students, implementing software solutions for BI Training, and developing a Student Veterans Lounge.

Questions and discussion items included:

  • Are there still student concerns? Yes, but Union leaders are meeting regularly with Dr. Ross and Dr. Jackson and having discussion to address any ongoing concerns.

Paul Ilori '17, Grand Marshal

  • Student Senate projects/ updates include: cooperating with Administration portfolio, Student Life portfolio Executive Board on creating/publicizing study spaces, installing a message box in Union for student outreach/concerns, and bylaw revisions.
  • Cooperation with shareholders on campus includes working with Public Safety on campus light walk, working with members of RCOS and RPITV on relevant projects to their expertise, and potential cooperation with CS department on preferential voting platform.
  • There is a new survey platform developed by WebTech that requires login with
    RCSID/password. It is open source and the detachment of login and data allows for anonymity of verified students.


A motion to adjourn the meeting was made and seconded. The meeting was adjourned at 12:16 pm.